Thursday, 29 March 2012

cc -50: St Patrick’s Day Steelworks

Jimmy makes it happen
What a week of it… Peccadillo’s bow structure (now what could the seafaring term be for that… there’s bound to be a word for “the-dismatlable-steelpipe-structure-fitted-to-the-bow-of-a-canalboat-going-to-sea”) is finally taking shape after some to and fro design between Jimmy and me. As the day dawned for the steelwork to be done, Jimmy had a solid enclosure planned, a single fixed unit that would have to be cut off, be lifted by several strong people and that would completely block access to the bows while in situ. He is bent on protecting me from the ultimate storm at sea and it took some grim determination on my part to swerve the design to something assemblable that could be removed by me, on my own, and stored while on canal transit.
Brian tickles clouds

 Dialogue spiced up with the unfortunate appearance of a sundry lurking boatman who took it upon himself, in the middle of this critical debate with Jimmy, to interject with some inane anecdote about some other seafarer who got into bother out on the open sea… and did I know that you get some big waves out there?

Now what is it about us women… a genetic disposition towards courtesy in these face of such unsolicited advice? There is no question that it would not have been proffered to a man standing in my position… a total stranger to him… I could have been skipper with 20years experience on the Waverley for all this man knew. But no, it was assumed that by dint of my gender that I knew nothing of the tidal treachery… that I embark willy nilly on a journey of patent silliness.

Valiant attempts to ignore this intrusion on our pressing design negotiation finally evaporated when Jimmy, whose advice I respect second to none and who, I know, respects my knowledge and experience, succumbed to the man-to-man oh-what-a-daft-lassie quips.
Who are you anyway? I barked (only discover I had actually met him last year). Oh but it was delicious to abandon myself to the discourtesy of it! A lifetime of tiptoeing around the egos of unsolicited advice, criticism, interest or anecdotal anaesthesia! You know what I mean ladies? The two of them stood there blinking till eventually, I confess, I said sorry – but we need to get on with this and it’s ME who’s gonna be out to sea with this baby so I have to be comfortable with it.
Right, said Jimmy, you’re the gaffer and I’m the contractor from here on. Part of the same gene then sapped my confidence and left a cool wind of agoraphobic uncertainty whistling around my head.

This is to be an interesting aspect of the voyage to be sure. When we went to the Tall Ships in July the world of boaters were split quite distinctly into two groups:
- those that were heartily delighted to see you out there boating, whatever the vessel
- those who felt at liberty to make disparaging remarks or faces at the idea of taking a canal boat out there (despite knowing nothing of planned boatwork or skipper experience)

Cathy & Lynne
Back in Bowling unruly texts were coming thick and fast from the Dunoon boys who Billy had rallied at 0630 for their arduous journey to Bowling. It being St Patrick’s day they all sported Louis Walsh masks and were still marginally drunk from a relentless Friday night. Billy was goading me into bossy reprimands by demanding Irish Whisky on arrival, but Jimmy had been clear there was no drink to be mixed with welding gear so bacon rolls it was and several hundred Caprisuns that had been left by the Yomego crew. No sooner had the last mouthful of bacon disappeared than they all leapt to their feet and dropped their trousers to don overalls. I was heartily impressed after their mischief, to be presented with four pairs of thinly clad buttocks and just so much enthusiasm… let’s hear it for the boys!

Richie, Brian, Kev, Billy, Steve & Swans
Jimmy immediately set Billy to hack sawing chain links in half while ferry Kev tackled the bows with gusto. It should be said that a few hours on this turned to gutso as he fed the fish over the stern, but you’d never have known he was feeling that bad. Stevo and Brian grappled each new task with such efficient alacrity that the list was dwindling fast. The gorgeous Lynne arrived and saw to the interior,  and Cathy arrived at last so the catering breathed a sigh of relief.

And Billy was still cutting chain. He had decided that this task had in fact been invented by Jimmy to get him out the way… that his questionable technical skills had somehow been divined. To try and reassure him this was not the case I showed him where the half links were to be welded astern for safety lines… and I gave him a serious job to do: check the batteries for water. After several taps to my shoulder saying he couldn’t get the tops off and much ribbing for his inadequacy I suddenly remembered… ahem… that it was actually a dry cell battery I’d bought at Wilsons in Rutherglen… I haven’t told him yet.

The day was glorious and all was soon well underway. Jimmy, despite apparent acquiescence to my design performed his usual boat-building magic and before long a fine profile began to appear. Then the day was over. The sun set ominously red over lock 38 and I shuddered for the thousandth time to think how Cathy fell in there… pitch dark… the middle of the night… how … hmmm I still cannot write that.

And then it was dark. I lay under the new ribs, the beautiful new bars of the bows and saw two bright, bright stars, one above the other… that’s Venus and Jupiter below said Gerry Loose, his boat next door. Next door? Next moor? Next pontoon? Venus so bright! And Peccadillo happy to be so well attended again.


No comments:

Post a Comment