I am not, definitely not, going out in this weather. Force Seven on the Beaufort Scale gusting Eleven means the wind at noon on Friday is going to be 38mph, rising up to 65 mph. That’s the forecast for Storm Eunice, here on the Suffolk coast on Friday, which is supposed to be my day off. Twelve, in case you’re wondering, is a hurricane.
I’ve done Beaufort Six before, on the Deben, by accident, last November. It was not fun. I’d gone upriver, which was the closest similarity to Heart of Darkness you can get in Woodbridge, up past the Tide Mill, where the trees can shield the wind and also set it off in a completely different direction, past the Yacht Harbour that a lot of people blame for silting-up the river downstream of it, all the way almost to Wilford Bridge, which is as far as you can go with any kind of mast. That was a difficult day. What I should have done is what you should always do on a Drascombe Lugger as soon as there’s any doubt – get the mainsail down fast.
One of the things I’m doing this winter is replacing the olde-world allegedly cute parralls which are just loops of string with wooden balls on them which link the sail to the mast. All too well, quite often, because they stick and jam and you’re then stuck with a sail blowing the boat over while a sheet of synthetic canvas flaps in your face or the pulley block on the end of it threatens your bridgework. This year I’ve bought some 10cm plastic creel rings to slide over the mast which will slide a lot faster. By a happy accident I managed to find some proper spring-loaded brass sail hanks on Ebay. Unbelievably, they were less than £1 each, so they spent two days in vinegar and lemon juice which helped clean them a bit, but not as much as Brasso. Just as your gas mileage may vary, your brass may not be quite as brassy as you hoped.
But still, this is what winter evenings are for, apart from finalising my parnter’s application for Italian dual nationality, learning some myself, which might be useful if we ever do get it together to buy a 1901 lighthouse on an island off Corsica for a euro, which is sort-of a plan. That and learning how to use a sextant, which is another story in itself. That and do some work on The Walk, of course, more of which anon.
I managed to sand the gunwhales and get some linseed oil on them last week before rain and wind stopped play. That’s made the woodwork look a lot better but it still needs Tonkinoise over the linseed when I get the chance. The idea is to get the boat in the water around March 1st. All I could do today was make sure the cover was tied on securely, so it didn’t fly away or fail itself into shreds. Proper boat cleaning gunk and polish is on order. So are some new gloves.