Sunday, June 25, 2006

The refit begins in earnest

Above: Acres of space! Arabella's former half-bulkheads have been removed. Will I regret replacing them with full bulkheads later?
The old tidies have also been stripped out in readiness for replacement, port and starboard, except for the fiddled shelves over the v-berth.

I'm not proving to be very good at keeping this blog up to date. It's not my fault. I blame the British marine industry. A string of small-time operators masquerading as a multi-billion pound combine and charging its customers accordingly. So despite my paying money on account, giving clear instructions and not chopping or changing them - well, not much, anyway - the yard had spent from January until the beginning of June doing what they often did, namely not very much at all. Of course, they had made a start, a sufficiently good start indeed to ensure that Arabella was effectively unusable, despite being afloat at her marina berth.

So you haven't missed much, because there hasn't been much to report. Anyway, I finally remembered to take the camera with me on a quick trip down to a bright, sunny Southampton today to check how things were coming along. And sure enough, fate smiled upon me and proved me wrong - there had indeed been progress.

This may or may not have had something to do with the hassling calls I had put into the yard after that weekend, a few weeks back, when Mario, my Italian brother-in-law, returned to view progress on Arabella once again, this time accompanied by Giuseppe, my other Italian brother-in-law. They stood on the dock and watched perplexed, as the outboard started almost on the first pull and I leapt ecstatically around the cockpit, yes!yes! A certain amount of sotto voce commentary was going on as they smiled and nodded appreciatively... Si! Si! It's true, you see? He keeps calling it a "yacht"..where do you think he keeps the oars?. After that, the yard came under what might be politely described as some customer pressure.

Back in the present, Arabella was bobbing happily at her berth, still as dry as she always was when I went to check on her. Just as well really, because now that work had started in earnest, I didn't fancy the idea all of that sawdust and other debris getting into a damp bilge and turning to wood-paste.

The old half-bulkheads had been stripped out, as had the tidies to port and starboard in the saloon. This had turned out to be something of an ordeal for the carpenter, who had adjusted his invoice accordingly. Try as he might, he could not get those half-bulkheads to budge. In the end he took a saw to them, or was it an axe, and had begun muttering darkly about how the hell he was supposed to get full bulkheads in there to replace them.

At some point in the Spring, it had been decided (by me) that the sliding worktop to port would double as a nav station with repeaters to the cockpit instruments. Actually, it was quite a good idea, but it wasn't easy to implement. The space for instruments and distribution panels below decks on Arabella was limited, to put it mildly. The putative nav station was on the port side, but the 240V consumer unit and the battery charger went to starboard, which opened up significant wiring challenges, especially as I was insistent that I didn't want cables trailing like spaghetti across the saloon. In the end the cables were run in a conduit up the starboard side of the cabin, under the V-berth forward, and back down the port side to the aft corner of the saloon, whence they erupted like maddened serpents.

After doing all the usual checks and taking pictures, I sat in the cockpit for a while, basking in the sun, and dreamed how she might look when all the work is finished, then gave up - it was just too difficult now that the bukheads had been removed. Arabella's interior seemed incredibly light and open, and twice the size that it had been before. I toyed with the idea of telling the yard to leave her like she was for a few minutes, before giving myself a good shake and telling myself to stick with the original plan. In truth, I was also a bit unsure sure whether the bulkheads provided support to the mast. I'd seen pictures of other Pandoras with compression posts, and didn't fancy having to resort to that if I could avoid it. Space was tight enough up forward as it was. So I drifted back to contemplative bliss, while all the people who had boats that they could actually sail enjoyed one of the nicest days of the year out on the water.

Above: Looking aft, starboard side - the 240V consumer unit has been installed against the rear bulkhead. The battery charger has yet to go in.

Left: Port side aft - a tangle of wires reveals where the electrical panel will be installed.