Readers with long memories might recall that last October Cleddau was delivered to Stoke Boats for a midlife makeover. Work was to be done mainly to the rear cabin and engine room, but there were also a few other tasks on the job sheet. There had been a couple of checking out visits in mid-November but then Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year diverted attention elsewhere.
Out of sight, maybe, but not out of mind. Cleddau has remained in her shed at Stoke,
safe from storms and floods, but as the days begin to lengthen the desire to get back afloat steadily grows. A date was made to return to Longport Wharf.
Techno Son-in-Law was in tow, eager to see what changes had been made. Across the cobbled yard, round the side of the boatsheds, through a back door, squeeze past a new build boat, get lost in the joinery shop – find a way through to Cleddau’s slot… How can such a large object be so very hidden from view…? “Thought we’d never see you again,” said Mick, the joiner, on Thursday morning. Did he think the crew had absconded to America for good?! Up the step ladder at the bow. A gaping hole on the front deck revealed the water tank readied for painting.
Galley works had been seen before – the additional drawers and the side shelves beside the cooker. Now though, underneath the cooker, is a freezer,
questions about which were being emailed to and fro between Stoke and California in early December.
On – past the bathroom – no changes there.
Then, at the side hatch, the real transformation begins: neat access ladder from the exterior;
rebuilt airing cupboard in the “glory hole”;
bedroom slightly enlarged by the repositioning of the dividing bulkhead;
a cross built bed (5’ 11”, brilliant for regular crew,
hopeless for the vertically greedy Techno Son-in-Law);
bedside lockers and overhead shelves. For Boatwif the greatest joy is – an accessible wardrobe!
Doors open freely without jamming and the clothes rail is easily reached. A closer look – the radio is fitted and radio speakers are neatly mounted above the bedside lockers.
Now those who know him will agree that Techno Son-in-Law is a gadget obsessive. A stern warning had to be issued: “If you want to take this boat out more than once you’ll re-tune the radios to Radio 4 before your departure.”
There was technical discussion of course. To the uninitiated eye the Beta 43 engine
now in place looks taller, broader, shinier than its predecessor, the BMC 1·8. There’s techno-talk ongoing about the dual throttle installation. Then there is the positioning still of the Captain’s Perch on the back deck – and the hull blacking still to go.
Back in reception there was an unexpected exchange. A contractor engaged in some hole drilling near the canal edge came into the office. “Is there going to be a high tide?” he earnestly asked. Looks of puzzlement crossed everyone’s faces. Tide – on the canal? Set up by his workmates…? … Perhaps it’s as well Cleddau is still high and dry if a tidal surge is anticipated at Stoke-on-Trent! But being aground in Beds rather than afloat elsewhere will be hard if there’s a very long wait ‘til project completion…