John Laing

Newsletter

OYT South bulletin 27th February 2004

JOHN LAING goes back in the water in 10 days’ time!!!!

The first voyage starts in 21 days’ time!!!!

All we need to do now is master the science of human cloning and clone the refit team so they can get through 48 hours’ work a day each, and we’ll be ready with no trouble at all.

In fact, now I come to think of it, what we really need is a complete genetically-engineered refit team….if we could take Mark “Wolf” Todd’s leadership skills and inspirational qualities, Craig “Don’t call me Little Princess in the next refit bulletin” Dickerson’s technical expertise and muscles, plus a selection of the talents of all our volunteers, and combine them into a body simultaneously small enough to fit into all the awkward spaces that need painting, tall enough to reach into distant corners, agile enough to climb the scaffolding (how on earth am I meant to get onto a second rung that’s at the level of my ears when I’m standing on the bottom rung?), energetic enough not to need tea breaks or sleep, and then clone the result twenty-five times, everything would be fine.

However, until we can add biotechnology to the list of requirements on the bosun’s CV, we just have to make do with the helpers we’ve got. And some of these certainly do have unlikely abilities. Katy and Julia from Steve Lacey’s voyage came to visit and did some excellent work painting the bilges – but also left a painted footprint halfway up the wall. We have tried to work out how they achieved this but can only conclude that you should never try kickboxing in a confined space full of wet paint. A number of other people have been bilge painting this week – Steve and Ollie Watts, Steve Boyle – but none of them managed to leave footprints on the walls.

It’s been a big week for painting. The hull exterior is gleaming all over; Dinghy Boy finished the last bit of top coat in one very late night; and we have also painted the black rubbing strake and the boot topping – a total of around 540 feet of black stripes and over 1000 feet of masking tape when you take two coats of paint into account.

We’ve gone through a great deal of paint of many different kinds in the course of this refit. Obviously the first requirement is the ability to get the tin open, and Matt Bland was recently foxed by the sort of tin that is sealed with a metal strip and opened with a key. Phoebe explained that the principle was the same as a corned beef tin, but this only puzzled Matt further: “You mean the same key would open lots of different tins? That’s not very secure.”

Sarah has meanwhile spent a contented week bashing the rust off the scuppers with a big hitty thing, and the scuppers are being painted today. Gary Newton came along and did a lot of filling and sanding on deck. The fuel tank lids are back on. Steve Lacey, Andy Royse and Mark Boggis all came and joined in the fun. Ian Webster has been back again, working hard on the fridges and in the engine room. Wolf and his Little Princess ignored all their own previous rulings and took yet more things apart, notably the echosounder, which left a sizeable hole in the boat. Luckily the new one arrived in time and fitted neatly into the hole - and has the additional advantage of not having been painted over with antifouling on the outside like the last one. Craig has also done great things with the wiring in the chart room. And Wolf has done massive amounts of sorting and tidying, so that it begins to be possible to remember what the boat might look like during the sailing season.

Which brings us to Phoebe, a refit stalwart since the very beginning, who has left us to join her family who recently emigrated to New Zealand. Her last day on the boat was Monday, and she finished with the usual amount of paint on her arms and in her hair to remember us by. On Tuesday she took the day off to pack, a chance to demonstrate the disciplined organisational skills she has learned on the refit. When the rest of the team returned to the house in the evening, she had managed to put several items – perhaps as many as three – into her bag. This standard was maintained when Wolf drove her to catch the early morning bus from Fareham to Heathrow, when she was ready in such good time that the bus only needed to be running a few minutes late in order to ensure that she caught it (the bus obliged). We were naturally a little anxious about whether she would find the right flight (or even the right airport) but were reassured when she phoned to say that she had found a big plane with “Air New Zealand” written on the side and was planning to get on it.

We were all relieved to get an email assuring us that she had coped well with the rest of the journey and arrived safely in Diamond Harbour (http://www.canterburypages.co.nz/explore/banksp/diamond.html).

At the stopover in Los Angeles she was asked: “Are you entering the United States with the intention of committing any criminal or immoral offences?” but as she only had 45 minutes to spare (and was anyway resisting a bet made with Craig and Dinghy Boy) she felt it was safe to answer in the negative.

The flight was two hours late arriving in Auckland, which meant she had to get a later internal flight. This led to an encounter which could only happen in Phoebe’s world: she met, getting off the incoming flight on the plane she was waiting to catch, none other than OYT South second mate Alice Poyner, en route for Australia (Dinghy Boy, work out the probability of that).

Anyway, Phoebe sends love to everyone (in a brief interlude between arriving and heading for the beach). As her old home in South Devon was marked on one of JOHN LAING’s charts, she’s sent a special message for Andy Royse: “Chart correction for my house = approx 10'000nm South; 43' 36S 172' 50E”.

Phoebe’s absence will leave a huge gap in the refit team. It will probably take at least half a dozen people to fill her place. This means we need YOU! It will be a huge effort to get everything finished over the next few days and weeks, and we need all the help we can get. Call Wolf on 07771 771864 – pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!






“This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.” Sam, aged 16

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