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All he wants for Christmas is ...

…a couple of kiddies lifejackets, a Virtual Skipper 2 Computer Game, a Harken Ball Bearing winch handle, a YachtMaster manual and…

The Sailing Fanatic has been making a festive wish list, which is growing longer by the second. It’s all to take his mind off his not-so-festive need to do list, which also seems to be increasing rapidly. In fact, every time he goes down to the boat another 'must do' item is added on.

Take the simple matter of clearing the boat, for instance. All the sails, cushions and mattresses are now safely stashed at home, fragrancing the spare room with the delicate aroma of damp sailing gear. [Note to Sailing Fanatic – please remember to get more air freshener, stain remover, new cushion covers and a larger house, preferably with a double garage.]

But mouldy material is not the only new arrival in our home. Every piece of wood that could be removed from the boat without sinking it, is now sitting in our loft, ready to be sanded and revarnished. [See above re new house. Also please find circular sander, varnish and an extra four hours in the day]

Wood and mattresses I can cope with. I was not so happy last week when my father-in-law (the Other Sailing Fanatic) turned up with a chunky bit of metal, which he explained was a new seacock – vital for fixing the yacht’s portside head.

The need for a new seacock is, I have to confess, our fault. We must have been in possession of the boat for a good three weeks when, in a fit of new-owner anxiety, we decided it would be a good idea to close the seacocks before leaving the boat. They closed perfectly. But only one re-opened. The other has remained resolutely jammed shut, leaving one of the heads out of action ever since.

The Sailing Fanatics are now on the case, and have promised to get the toilet operational again, and – most importantly - not to bring any old working parts into the house! [Definitely need rubber gloves, clothes peg and a very hot shower!]

In fact the Sailing Fanatics have been delving deep into all parts of the boat; fiddling with the bilges, checking behind panels and generally smoothing over the scrapes that occurred over the season.

One of these is actually quite a large scrape – a bit of a dunt just at the point where the navigator’s chair slots into the floor. This was broken before we bought the boat, and fixing it is one of the main tasks set for this winter [epoxy resin, patience, a bit more patience and definitely no helpful suggestions].

The Sailing Fanatics got to work on the dunt earlier this month, lifted a bit of the floor to access the repair from the underside, and found themselves looking at a strange metallic substance. It was silver, alarmingly crumbly and there seemed to be an awful lot of it. What could it be? Was it – heaven forbid – something structural?

The Sailing Fanatics dug anxiously, heaving out a large mound of the worrying substance, only to find that it was the old aluminium plate that had held the navigator’s chair in place. This had cracked and then deoxidised when it came into contact with water from the bilges, expanding into a silver mass under the floor. It was nothing serious!

[Note to Sailing Fanatic –the trauma counsellor says she can see you on Thursday, but keep taking the pills!]

All in all, it looks like the Sailing Fanatic is going to be pretty busy for the next few months. So it’s probably just as well that he’ll have a day or two off over Christmas – time to relax and enjoy the presents I’ve bought him: a shiny red bucket; a wooden scrubbing brush; paintbrushes; antifouling…

For the other Reluctant Sailor articles go to the Reluctant Sailor Index

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