Triumphant return or tactical retreat?
My sincerest apologies to all the avid (and less avid) readers of the blog for my 'radio silence' but things have been, ahem, somewhat busy recently. Just to get the really painful stuff out of the way first, the total bill has been calculated which breaks down as below:
Hull UHP strip and airless sprayer: £11,500
Paint : £2000
Yes you did read that correctly. Twenty of your finest grand. I'll just let that sink in for a while.... And do you know why dear reader? Because the half blind monkey we hired to do the survey didn't do his job. Pure and simple.
Anyway, on the plus side the barge is back in the marina. On the negative side we are no longer living on the marina. We decided that our initial plan to rent a flat for a year and a bit before moving on board was doable, but that was before the true extent of the work required was revealed. Burning £1200 a month on rent, bills and council tax seemed ridiculous. Hence, we have moved out and back in with my beloved's mum in London. I will however be gainfully employed as a gyro instructor from the end of April and also doing another part time job as business development for an electrical safety company, but will be inhabiting a small caravan (as soon as I can find one) and bouncing between the airfield near Silverstone, Portishead Marina and London. It's not ideal, but needs must when the devil drives and right now that pointy headed, red douchebag is in no mood to give up the seat with the steering wheel.
Zee back into the lock
Poking her nose tentatively into her home turf
Taken from the side of the marina with my beloved and her mum totally convinced it was the pilot who was manoeuvring her into her berth. "Oh yeah, it's definitely the pilot"... "Yeah I agree. Must be. Look at the skill and slick handling..."... Glad my barge handling has reached such a level that it can be confused with a 'professional'. That said, I must thank the pilot who did give me some pointers in barge handling and how she steers quite nicely even without power.
Back at home plate
As much as would like to say it has been worth it and I feel a sense of achievement, I actually feel nothing of the sort. I go into the cargo hold and still see the same crappy steel staring back at me. It's still dirty, damp due to the sweating steel and in need of many tens of man hours in order get it looking even mildly ordered. Everywhere I look I see work which needs doing and every job I see is linked to 8 other jobs which need doing first. I try not to do it but sometimes the thoughts just ambush you and it can overwhelm you if you let it.
The next things on the list are:
1) Prep the bilge and paint in sections
2) Continue painting the topsides in pieces
3) Finish welding over the portholes
4) Paint the inside hull walls in red oxide then an enamel
5) Wooden batten the wall on every other frame
6) Cut holes and fit new portholes
7) Get skylights and vents fitted
8) Sprayfoam the main cargo hold
Sooooooo, not much then.However, I must get it sprayfoamed by Autumn. I cannot go through another winter with the sweating steel and the associated degradation of steel and frames etc. This is my hit list. There are a billion other jobs like fitting a woodburner, electrical system (shore power to distribution board), water tanks, plumbing, sewage system..... I try not to think about it. However, getting her painted and insulated is the primary job.
I must at this stage give massive thanks to Steve Beacham and all the team at Sharpness Dry Dock. Despite the size of the bill, they have helped me out in so many ways and not charged for things here and there which would have added up to a considerable amount of money. There is no doubt that the 'heavy skills' available at the shipyard were absolutely perfect for Zeelandia. A lesser yard may well have overlooked much of what REALLY needed to be done. If you are considering purchasing a vessel (of any ilk) I cannot recommend highly enough engaging with Steve and employing him to give your potential purchase a good going over. What he doesn't know about vessels isn't worth knowing and, as someone conversant with all marine codes and repair schedules, he can give you a pretty good idea if you are buying a bargain which needs a bit of work or an overpriced floating turd which will need the national debt of Liberia spending on it before it will float safely again.
In terms of what is next, as someone said to me the other day, "It's like eating an elephant. You do it one spoonful at a time...". Andy (my willing helper), grab a spoon buddy and dig in...
(And now for some arty shots from our return journey... At least the weather was nice)
Brownian motion-type musings on barge renovation, life and other bits of flotsam.