HE’S great, my brother. When he and I decided to club together and buy a boat a couple of years back, I was a bit hesitant because of the possible technical problems that have to be overcome when you take on the responsibility of owning a vessel.
As any experienced skipper will tell you, owning a boat is a balancing act – set against the idyllic days when you can meander down the rivers and canals, sipping a Pimms and thinking beautiful thoughts, are those times when things go wrong.
And the older your boat is, the more frequent are the things that need fixing. Our lovely Seamaster 25 was built in the late 1960s – need I say more?
But having a brother like mine – everyone calls him Mort, too, (the full surname is Morton-Smith which just got shortened) – is fantastic because, as I’ve discovered over the years, there is nothing this man can’t turn his hand to.
Which is brilliant from my point of view because he’s totally revitalising our boat.
So far he’s fitted new tailor-made doors to the cockpit lockers (beautifully stained and varnished), built and fitted a lovely wooden boarding step, built and fitted a new drawer for the cutlery and galley tools, replaced the cabin headlining, fitted new navigation lights and completely rewired the beast.
But his piece de resistance has been the installation of a hot water system with the intention, ultimately, of fitting a shower.
When we bought Terra Nova it belonged to two enthusiastic anglers who used her to potter out into the Thames Estuary from the River Medway to fish. Great fishermen they may have been but boat maintenance experts they certainly weren’t.
She was filthy dirty, stank of fish and diesel and had a rotten old cabin top, which sagged in the centre, attached to a cockpit cover that looked as though it was made from old GPO mailbags and leaked like a sieve.
Thanks to Mort 1 (I’m Mort 2, (cos he’s older) all that has been replaced and he’s now very proud of the fact that we have hot and cold running water aboard. This has come courtesy of a calorifier (a metal barrel which holds cold water in the centre and which is heated by hot water from the engine’s cooling system to quite a respectable temperature.)
When he first installed the mass of hoses and wires that were a necessary part of the system I did politely inquire whether he had a clue what he was doing.
“Yeah – just read about it and put it together he said jauntily.” If I was at all sceptical it vanished the moment I turned on the hot tap and found hot water coming out of it.
Like I said, he’s great, my brother, I’m just waiting for him to unveil the button you press to produce a perfectly-mixed dry martini. Shaken not stirred, of course.
DON’T forget to wander along to enjoy the spectacle of Sunbury regatta on Saturday. The fun starts at around 9am and the best place to watch the proceedings is from Rivermead Island on the Lower Sunbury Road. Aside from the races on the river, there will be all kinds of entertainment for the family culminating in a huge fireworks display in the evening.