Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Is it a boat? Is it a poem?

We're one anode and about a 30cm square short of antifoul paint of having the boat ready to go back into the water.

This is why we need a new anode
It's meant to look like this. It's its job. It's a sacrificial anode - one of my favourite (of many favourites) names of bits and bobs on the boat. It sounds so melodramatic. It isn't really. It just quitely corrodes so the propeller and prop shaft don't. So the propeller, in its shaft, can spin and move the boat forward and back when we want. But once its corroded, we need a nice new one to corrode all over again.

The blue background of this wonderful picture is the old antifoul paint. That stops barnacles and weed growing on the hull which would slow the boat down. And since we're already going pretty slowly - a good speed is 5 knots - we don't need any unnecessary drag. It is now a brighter, more turquoisey blue, and I'm making the most of it since we won't see it for much longer.

Antifoul paint has been one of the many contentious issues during our overwintering jobs. Four people owning one boat means a lot of discussion. Obviously the paint is not designed to be 'green' and have no impact on the environment. That would negate its job. Although you can buy other clever ones that flake off and turn into water and copper based ones that don't need repainting every year. We need to research more, argue more and then put off the decision for another year.

As well as servicing the winches we've serviced the water system, smartened up the galley, polished the topsides, checked the rigging, washed a whole heap of ropes, sanded and varnished any wood (fortunately not a lot on a fibreglass boat), filled cracks in the decks and lastly serviced the roller reefing. This is a mechanism than allows us to roll up the foresail around itself.

It has 40 ball bearings, in two separate compartments, glooped in grease and packed inside a swivelling drum. It looks so innocent, doesn't it?
Getting them out was, sadly, easy. They danced all over the piece of cardboard we wisely put on the ground. Getting them back was, understandly, frustrating.

It required patience, a steady hand, calm head, perseverance and a lot of very thick grease. Lucky, I thought, I'm used to this. Substitute ball bearings for words and I've years of experience at this. Although they didn't have to go in any particular order, just in.

It's the simpliciy of these bits of equipment I love. Like wonderful poems appear simple. This is a seacock It allows water in or out of the boat. They needed greasing too. Lovely conical brass fittings with a small hole in one side to line up with the pipe if you wanted to let water in/out or to turn away from the pipe if not. You might be able to gauge from the picture the tiny space these seacocks are located in. This makes unscrewing tight bolts awkward. If I was lucky I got a quarter turn of the nut before thwacking the spanner against a protruding piece of boat.

Could I stretch it here and make an analogy between this and the rigours of metre? Certainly my focus on keeping the spanner on the nut and inching it minutely round freed me from any "fetters of myself" for at least an hour (per seacock).

Constraint is good, sometimes. It forces new angles, requires flexibility, and, on completion, provides a huge rushing expanse of achievement. Yes, this, too is a poem. I have missed their short lines while writing Edith and Marlene.

Maybe this is why I haven't been able to write many poems about the boat or sailing. It'd be like writing about writing. And I hate that.

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