Tuesday, 15 July 2008

I got a 'phone call on Tuesday evening from someone asking if I still had the dinghy for sale? I said I had just sold the dinghy but I would be finishing another one very soon. He said could he come round on Friday evening to view the dinghy. At first I agreed then realising there was no way the boat would be ready on time I 'phoned him back and arranged for the following Monday. He said his name was Dave and he would be round at 7 p.m.

Well the pressure was on to get this next dinghy finished. As usual there was a mountain of other stuff to do - but none of it to do with the dinghy. One of my daughters wanted to change her car for a newer one, and wanted my advice. Not a 5 minute activity! Some friends wanted the wife and me round for a BBQ on Saturday - right in the middle of my fibreglassing process!

As I was trying to get the shell out of the mould, as usual it was putting up a struggle and I had an idea of using boiling water to pour between the mould and shell (as mentioned in my last blog, not a good idea). However, the shell became distorted with the heat from the boiling water! Just what I didn't need. Eventually, the shell popped out and I inspected the damage.

It was only a small area that needed filler to put it right. However, when I sealed it with the gel coat to make it watertight, the finish was not the same as the rest of the hull. What to do? After a restless night the decision was made to cover the whole dinghy hull with a new layer of gel coat.
Once this was complete, I used wet and dry paper of various grades to sand the hull until it was lovely and smooth. I polished it over and over and over again. Aiming for a near perfect finish. It was a long Sunday but I thought it was worth it as I could now feel comfortable about selling the dinghy in an as new condition.

So by Monday afternoon the dinghy was complete with a last minute second topcoat of pigmented resin painted over the inside of the dinghy, just to finish it off!

At 7 p.m. Dave showed up with his 2 children. I quickly explained that the dinghy was ready but still "tacky" with resin. But it would soon be dry. The 6 year old child called Carly immediately put her foot into the dinghy and left a footprint mark in the resin. Good start! Dave thought it funny. After a few minutes Dave said he would buy the dinghy and asked if a cheque would be alright. He seemed OK, drove a nice Saab estate, dressed well, so I said yes. I heard myself offer to deliver the dinghy the next day, as the resin was still not dry. We arranged for 4p.m. SHARP! as Carly had Drama club at 4.45 p.m. and the 10 year old, Liam had Karate club at 5p.m. So I would drop the dinghy off at the dinghy park and chain her up. I said I could provide the chain if Dave brought the padlock. This was NOT a good decision!

At 4 p.m. the next day I was there at the slipway next to the dinghy park with the dinghy already to be lifted over to get chained up. Dave pulled up in the smart Saab estate and immediately opened the boot. Out came lifejackets, wellies, outboard motor and some very old oars ( his grandfathers!). He said he would like to put the dinghy "through her paces". So within minutes we were all kitted out - apart from me - no wellies! The tide was well out as we carried the dinghy down the slipway. In fact we ran out of slipway and there were only some ugly looking rocks at the waters edge. I was not keen to launch at this point but Dave was enthusiastic. In fact nothing seemed to bother him. He was one of these types were everything was an adventure, so it seemed.

With us all in and the bottom of the dinghy scraping across the rocks ( my dinghy's gel coat! ) we were afloat. The outboard motor fired up and we headed out to Dave's lovely 35 foot (11.5m) yacht. As we approached I noticed Dave was reluctant to slow down - that enthusiasm I mentioned previously. I was in the bow seat and as we hit I remarked on the sturdy fendering I had on the dinghy. Soon we were off again this time heading along the bay towards where lots of dinghies were stored on the beach. I asked Dave why didn't he want to keep the dinghy there instead of at the deserted dinghy park on the point. He said he might consider it.

Then we were heading at full throttle towards the beach. I mentioned to Dave that the sea bottom came up quite swiftly in this bay and soon we would be in a foot of water (3ocm). He seemed to deaf ear that comment, but said to Liam - who was in the bow seat - to shout out if he saw any rocks. Within seconds there was a constant screaming of "Rock, Rock, Rock". We surged on. I heard the bottom of the dinghy scraping over the rocks as we headed in towards the shore. Dave was not happy with the inaccurate information coming from Liam and told me to change positions with Liam. I was now lookout.

Well it was only inevitable wasn't it. A large rock straight ahead, dinghy travelling at full tilt, no time to alter course, CRASH! Carly said " Is there a big bash in the bow?" Dave stopped the outboard motor and ordered the oars slipped. At last we were going in slowly. But with the noise of the outboard motor gone we could all hear the sound of the dinghy scraping over the rocks ( my dinghy's lovely gel coat! ). We came to a halt. Stuck on a rock. Everyone over the side was Dave's instructions. I took my shoes and socks off and entered the water. It was cold! Of course Dave said it was surprisingly warm.

Then Dave realised the time. Carly's Drama lesson. Liam's Karate lesson. Quick. Well it was like a scene from one of those war movies as we attacked the beach on the run with the dinghy between us. When the sand ran out and we were on the grass, the dinghy was dropped. I continued on the run towards the car at the point. As I jogged round the bay, I could hear Dave shouting at Carly to get out of the water. Needless to say, as I glanced over, Carly was blissfully splashing about in the rock pools, with the wellies full of water. I walked swiftly towards the car and got in, soaking wet. The dinghy had taken water over the bow when Dave was "putting her through her paces" in the swell out in the bay.

I drove back for Dave, dinghy and the kids. With the dinghy on the roof of the car, the outboard motor in the boot and everyone in the car we drove back round to the point and the dinghy park. The dinghy was chained up and Dave - full of grins - happily shook my hand, pleased as punch with his new boat. He drove off. I looked round at the dinghy and tried not to focus on the gel coat. My dinghy's lovely shiny gel coat! It was in for a beating over the next few years, no doubt.

As I drove home reflecting on that eventful 40 minutes. It seemed longer. My car seats were wet. I was wet. I shook my head all the way home. What a guy! I hope that cheque clears!

No comments: