SO THE clocks have gone back, Marks and Sparks have got all their Christmas merchandise out on display and the youngsters are letting off fireworks left right and centre ahead of Guy Fawkes’ night. The summer is officially over.
What that also means, alas, is that it’s time for Terra Nova to come out of the water and get tucked up in hibernation over the cold, dark days of winter.
The old Seamaster 25 Admiral cabin cruiser that I co-own with my brother and my wife has served us well this year. We’ve taken her out for a number of relatively short but pleasant jaunts on the Thames and she’s also carried my brother and me on a long distance trip through the centre of London and down to the River Medway in Kent where we spent four wonderful days in June.
How long ago that all seems…
I was due to take some colleagues from the paper out for a jolly (yes, my old stand-in mate Roger Jolly was due to come along, complete with his pesky parrot) before she came out of the water but the cooling system on the engine suddenly decided to have a tantrum and stopped. Cooling, that is. In fact things got decidedly warm and the old Perkins diesel engine complained mightily about the situation. Thus causing the aforementioned jolly to be postponed until the spring.
(Note to self: I wonder if I could postpone Roger Jolly until the spring as well?)
So that’s one job Bruv and I will have to try to sort out during the winter months – persuade the cooling system to go back to what it does best by keeping the engine cool. It’s not a lot to ask, really, is it?
Trouble is, I just know that’s going to mean a lot of rummaging around and getting covered in filthy bilge water trying to work out where there’s a leak. And then we’ll probably have to wait three months to find the part needed to get the old girl working again. (No, the engine, I mean, not the wife).
Being the efficient old salts that we are, Bruv and I have started compiling a list of other jobs to be attended to over the winter.
Like rubbing down the peeling varnish on the inside of the windscreen casings in the cabin and re-coating them; and finally getting round to fixing some new linings to the inside of the forecastle cabin; and re-stuffing the stern gland (no thanks, doctor, I can manage without the anaesthetic, this time…) On reflection, perhaps I should explain that last one before I ruin my reputation completely. The stern gland is the hole in the hull that the propeller shaft passes through on its way from the gearbox and engine. Obviously that represents a weak point and unless the gland is regularly re-stuffed with grease (and occasionally fitted with a new seal – no, not that kind of seal, silly) it tends to let in water. This is not recommended unless you’re driving a submarine of some sort.
Anyway, back to the list which includes re-attaching a hand rail; sorting out the engine’s rev counter, which hasn’t worked since it was fitted; painting the cabin top; re-antifouling her bottom (no, I’ve told you already, I’m talking about the boat); varnishing the shelf in front of the steering position, etc, etc, etc.
And that’s why, in common with most other boat owners, I’m not a big fan of the winter months.
It’s all right owning a boat and having friends and family think that all you have to do is sit in the cockpit soaking up the sunshine sipping strawberry daiquiris all the time but there is another side to boat ownership which is a shade less glamorous.
Notwithstanding any of the above, I wouldn’t change a thing. Now, where’s me stuffing gland seal….?