JOHN LAING is back in the water!!!!
The first voyage starts in 7 days’ time!!!!
Yes, I know, it hardly seems possible – JOHN LAING is afloat again, despite the efforts of a certain helper who shall remain nameless - but is surely a credit to the merchant navy – who today filled the fresh water tanks with such enthusiasm that we came very close to having an onboard swimming pool until Craig noticed and got the hose turned off. (On second thoughts, I bet we could put up the voyage fees a bit if we had an indoor pool….wonder if we could fit in a cocktail bar and dance floor as well? There’s a thought for the next refit…)
Anyway, the few days leading up to the launch produced yet another spectacular burst of activity from our loyal band of committed helpers. Joining Wolf, Little Princess Craig, Dinghy Boy and Sarah for some very long days and late nights on the boat were: John Parkin, Gary Newton, Di Francis, Mark “Sunny Delight” Boggis, Si Holman. Andy Royse, Caz, Matt Bland, Rob Harwood, Chris, Adge, Joe and Ian from Contact Marine, and Jamie Seymour.
Lots of seacocks were put back on, the engine mounts were replaced, the engine aligned, the heater was put back, the new mast winch bases went on and the winches were serviced and put back; the anchors and liferafts came back on board, the fire extinguishers were returned, as was all the navigation gear, the portholes were filled and the masts were put back in. And Andy has done his usual sterling job correcting all our charts.
Meanwhile, the interior of the boat was painted from the mast cabin to the companionway at enormous speed by a sort of crazed cartoon crocodile of people: at the front we had the sander, closely followed by someone to clean up the dust, getting in the way of the person putting masking tape on the edges, who was barely keeping ahead of a painter with a brush who was in charge of edges and fiddly bits, whose heels were being trodden on by Gary wielding a paint tray and a roller. Gary is probably the only man alive who could be stationed with a paintpot and a brush alongside the track for a world land speed record attempt and actually have the car finishing a different colour from when it started.
Students of natural history will know that walruses also change colour, though they normally rely on a change of temperature to achieve it. So when the galley was painted on Sunday, an experiment was conducted to see what colour a walrus turns when painting inside the coolbox locker. The answer turns out to be white, pretty much all over, apart from the back flippers which were sticking out of the door. It also turns out that walruses don’t like being white.
The galley painting was done under just as much pressure of time as the rest of the boat. In this case the technique was to have a couple of people painting above waist-height, one on each side, while someone else doing the lower levels got extensively trodden on.
All of this painting obviously added to the convenience of the other workers on the boat at the weekend, as it got to the point where there was almost no surface anywhere which wasn’t covered in wet paint, so that it was hard to walk through the boat but equally dangerous to stand still as you would have risked being lightly sanded and covered with a coat of Homebase Pure White Gloss.
While all this was going on, it turned out that Phoebe has got herself a job as a deck hand on a square rigger in New Zealand. None of the rest of us is at all jealous. Honestly.
Anyway, the boat is now in Ocean Village and the pressure is still on. There’s a lot of cleaning and tidying to do, plus a huge amount of kit which needs to go back on board. On Tuesday we have our coding inspection, and everything has to be right for that. On Wednesday we have sea trials, and on Friday the first crew join. So we still need all the help we can get – call Wolf on 07771 771864.
One major job that hasn’t happened so far is to paint the deck – it keeps raining every time we want to do it. This is an important job because it’s vital to the first impression people get when they see the boat. But unless we get a good team of helpers over the next few days, in addition to the usual gang, we won’t be able to do it. If you haven’t done anything for the refit so far, this is your final chance – can you bear to miss out? I seem to recall Henry V in very similar circumstances (I think he was doing a refit of Agincourt) said: “…gentlemen in England now-a-bed, shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here.” Very good point, I think (though ladies in England now-a-bed are welcome too, especially Kylie).
When our voyages start, remember that those who came to the refit are the people who made this year’s sailing season possible. Genuine excuses cheerfully accepted, but I look forward to seeing all the rest of you over the next few days.