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Our friends electric – Writer-insighter
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Our friends electric

One of the reasons I bought a wooden boat was that I like traditional ways of doing things. Or I thought I did, anyway. On Friday I spent six hours stripping old varnish with a heat gun and a scraper. Saturday I managed four. Sunday three and a half. I ache all over. By the end of each session when I get home I eat, shower and sit down. Within half an hour all I can do is grunt every time I move and I live on my own. This is how people used to spend their lives, until they died.


I sanded from the bow to the metal post in about two hours.
I sanded from the bow to the metal post in about two hours.

Today I made a start on sanding the paint down on the hull. I did the bad thing. I used an electric sander. After I went to the shop and bought some new sanding pads, enough to do the whole boat and some left over for £9 something, because the old ones had got damp in my friend’s shed and all the scrapey stuff had come loose and then spent the obligatory half hour fiddling about with the other sander, the savage belt sander that strips deep grooves into things because that’s what it’s for, not roughing up a paint surface, I got started.

A friend from a famous yard walked by. I didn’t know he was working here today. Sometimes he plays keyboard behind my spoken word stuff, when we’re Frank Admiration & The Extraordinary Renditions, but today we were wooden boat guys. I felt pretty wooden anyway.

As a break from the paintwork I ran the electric sander over the wooden rail I was going to strip the old way, the one that in three days I hadn’t got near to starting. It took all the varnish off in about a minute instead of ten.

The lighter part? About five minutes of sanding.  The old ways are the best? Really?
The lighter part? About five minutes of sanding. The old ways are the best? Really?

My mobile kept ringing and I made some arrangements for Thursday and Friday night because I have some work to go and do in London and I need to sort that out and not mess it up, but working on the boat is going to be a lot faster now.

I still ache. I will for a couple of days. Now I feel stupid as well. But that will go. And the boat is going to be fine.


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