Paying The Price
I’ve stopped beating myself up about not getting ‘Gleda’ to warmer climes for the Winter…… almost. But now we’re beginning to pay for that failure.
We’re paying with discomfort, every morning we spend time mopping up the cabin condensation that’s built up during the night and on the rare dry days we open every hatch to try and get air through the boat.
Despite buying some expensive mesh mat that was supposed to combat condensation under our mattress it’s still got damp and slightly mouldy and I’ve now put some timber slats underneath to try and improve things but there’s no way of drying the mattress out until the warm Spring sun returns.
The aft section of the main cabin went completely black with mould. Gail spent all morning washing it out with mould remover to get it clean again. I bought some foam and foil insulation and stuck it on the lower side of the aft deck then re-painted the whole compartment with anti-mould bathroom paint. The insulation didn’t help, it still gets wet with condensation but at least it’s no longer mouldy.
We’ve packed a lot of clothes and possessions into poly bags and boxes to keep them dry but we can’t do that with everything. We keep moving stuff around to make sure nothing gets permanently damaged.
For all intents and purposes we’re living outdoors during the day, it’s impossible to keep heat in the cabins when we’re living onboard as it escapes through the hatches as we move from one hull to the other. If it’s raining you need to dress for the weather just to move from one side to the other and then it’s a dash to get the hatches open and closed before too much rain get in. Woolly hats and coats are worn all day.
The last few nights have seen temperatures drop below freezing. Gail has gone back up country for a week and I’m glad she was warm and snug inside bricks and mortar. We have two small electric tube heaters in our cabin and at night they’ve generally been enough to keep off the chill. Not last night, my fingers went numb while I was reading in bed so I cracked and plugged in the small electric fan heater. The cabin thermometer read 2’C (36’F). The fan heaters will stop us freezing but using them costs money we can ill afford so they’ll only go on when absolutely necessary.
As I slid back the hatch this morning ice crunched along the slider. The decks and cabin tops were covered in heavy hoar frost so thick it buried the anti-slip and made moving around on deck difficult. We’re in the warmest part of the UK but we’re not going to escape all the time and I’m very much hoping The Universe delivers a mild Winter.
As I type this I’m lying in bed with a hot water bottle on my feet I’m thinking how crazy it is to be sleeping in what is after all just a box made of 9mm plywood floating on freezing water. But there are people sleeping on the street not far from here who’d envy my comfort.
So as I pull the duvet further up and the feeling gradually returns to my hands and feet I’ll be grateful. It’s going to be tough for the next 3 or 4 months but the shortest day is less than a month away and then we’ll start moving back towards the Sun, it really can’t come soon enough.
Having just re-read what I’ve written above I can see that perhaps it comes across as a bit negative, Neil having another one of his moans. That’s not my intention, I just think it’s important to highlight that living aboard a boat is not always easy but it’s the life we’ve chosen and right now I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I realised the other week that my depressed mood was rooted in my failure to fully embrace the wonderful opportunities I have available to me now, to fully embrace the freedom I have to use my time in ways that benefit me rather than an uncaring employer. I was automatically reverting to my years of conditioning, and looking for a job was not only the wrong thing to do, it was a betrayal of everything I want this project to be. I’ve built a boat and that’s great but unless I can now build a lifestyle that allows me to live aboard and sail her as I want to then I’ve failed.
So for the rest of the Winter I’ll be working for myself, I’ve always wanted to write so that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing a book about my time aboard ‘Mor Gwas’, the working title is ‘A Foolish Voyage’ and it’s not just the story of my failed attempt to cross Biscay it’s the full story of how I came to be living aboard her in the first place and of all the fantastic adventures I had in the two years before that final voyage.
I write everyday now, I take my laptop to town and I do my work. I’m a writer.
To all those who commented on my last post with their thoughts and ideas, thank you. I’m ruling nothing out (except Jons idea) and it may be that at some point I’ll be forced to revert to the old ways. For now though I’m going to follow my own path, I’m dying to find out where it goes.