Blue Mistress has twenty lockers with removable lids, twelve of them in the bunks. Laid out across a worktop and painted white, the lids looked surreal – bright islands in a dark sea.
There is a new folding lid across the stove as well as one above the portable loo. (Before, both these lids were a little tight to remove. There was a trick to it – meaning that I could manage them fine because I knew how to do it, but the occasional crew didn’t. Therefore, they found the loo difficult to use . . . and said so.)
The varnished trim around the bunks has been matched along both sides, but is yet to be fitted.
The chart table has been revamped. The old one was slightly too big to keep shipped all the time, although it was a very good dining table. Unfortunately, it also had a split in it. So it has been shortened, reworked with fiddles and, although still removable, will be fitted securely across-ships.
There is a concern that giving. the main cabin an eggshell white finish makes it look clinical. Well, not with all the gear I put in it it won’t! At the moment it looks stark but the cushions and trim will soften it. It’s a boat with a parlour in it, not a parlour with a boat around it.
But it is a boat of just under 26 foot with less than five foot headroom in the main cabin. We are not talking ‘large yacht’ we are talking ‘making a small space as comfortable as possible in circumstances that can be quite uncomfortable’.
Therefore, the art of stowage is magnified here. I have only a hazy idea how the long distance voyagers manage their stowage in boats of this size. A lot of gear must be piled on spare bunks, every nook and cranny filled. Single-handed, it must be tight; two of you must be very tight.
Stowage is not a static art – hiding things away in the bowels of the boat. It’s a dynamic art. Everything has to be accessible, able to be reached when needed and moved to wherever it’s used – sometimes in a hurry. It’s about lockers that open easily (but not too easily in a sea). It’s about knowing where everything is, and having an instinctive ability to move around the boat to reach it.
It’s about establishing regular habits to be able to give measured responses to irregular events.
It’s about seamanship – handling yourself, handling the boat, handling the gear.
This week, I have noticed a sea-change in my thinking.
For the past four years, I have been concerned about the fabric of the boat – “should we do this or that, change this or that, keep this or that the same, or what?” Each year, I have concentrated on one part of it. Each year I have taken countless images and studied them for this or that reason. I have sometimes followed outside advice, and sometimes followed my own intuition and, with the help of Richard Banks at DickyB Marine, we have progressed.
There’s plenty still to do – it’s a boat, there’s always plenty to do . . . and even more to learn.
But the major work is over. From now on, “it is what it is – get on with it”.
I am looking to get Blue Mistress back in the water and go sailing.