JOHN LAING’S refit has got off to a great start: the boat came out of the water on Monday 24th November, which involved an immense amount of work by many people in de-rigging and getting kit off the boat.
However, the mood in the refit camp is still a little hard to gauge. When the refit team were asked recently “How are you feeling?” the puzzling reply came back “Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”.
Certainly there are four (so far) permanent residents of the refit house: Mark “Wolf” Todd, the skipper; Craig the bosun; plus Phoebe and Dinghy Boy, longstanding crew members who have recently qualified as relief bosun and 3rd mate respectively, and are both generously donating a lot of their gap year time to the refit.
And one of the Horsemen is Pestilence, which makes sense because Phoebe has been suffering from a cough for weeks. Luckily the girl who reacted to being half-drowned on the foredeck in the Bay of Biscay by saying brightly “I didn’t know it was possible to get this much of the Bay of Biscay inside my knickers” is not daunted by illness and has worked on heroically.
However, the second Horseman is traditionally Famine, and he stands no chance on this refit, thanks to the outstanding efforts of Penny Buckley, who has taken on the refit catering and provided an endless supply of hot meals, puddings and cake – thanks Penny!
The last two Horsemen, Death and War, have no place in this refit either, where all is friendly and harmonious, thanks to the fact that many people have turned up and grafted so enthusiastically. On Sunday 23rd we had to prepare the rigging for taking the masts out, which meant outdoor jobs in horizontal driving rain for Phoebe, Craig, Caz and Andy Royse, who all got frozen and increasingly bedraggled in a worthy cause. Wolf’s friends Sam and Steve came to visit but oddly couldn’t be persuaded to stay and join in.
Huge thanks to everyone else who has helped so far. Chris Hirst and George worked some very long hours. John Parkin came down to help with the lift-out and stayed for the following day. Pete Yeoman took photos of the lift out. The deck has been cleared of rigging, booms, anchors, liferafts and pretty much everything else that isn’t screwed down. This year we did diagrams of some of the things we wished we had done diagrams of last year when we tried to put them back together and realised we had forgotten how they went.
The soleboards are all out (thanks in advance to Fraser Old for doing the work on them) and the temporary refit floorboards have been put in their place. Andy Royse has taken all the charts to do all the winter corrections (his favourite job). Much of the running rigging is in the garage at the refit house, where Phoebe and Dinghy Boy are enjoying their whipping (allegedly). Chris from Contact Marine is servicing the boat’s heater, and has safety tested all our electric tools, which means they are ready to go and just waiting for more volunteers to use them.
The next big task is the hull: the lettering is about to come off, and then everything needs preparing for painting and antifouling. Last year’s paintwork is still in excellent condition thanks to the many helpers who did a superb job, so we need to make sure we keep up the standard this time.
Some stories talk of a Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Chaos. There may be moments when we look round and wonder how it’s all going to come together, but believe us, there’s a clear plan, a lot of skill and experience, bags of enthusiasm and no room for chaos at all. What we do need is MORE HELPERS!!!! So please come and join us, even if you can only give a few hours.
The boat is at Universal Marina, Crableck Lane, Swanwick, Hants (on the Hamble River). The refit house is at 19 Lower Swanwick Road, Swanwick (it’s a great house, well done to Yvonne for finding it, with loads of room for more people to come and stay).
So please, please, please call Wolf on 07771 771864, and tell him when you are going to turn up!