Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Resting place for the winter

I realise that by now my regular reader will have chewed her/his finger nails to the quick, waiting to know the answer to the question "where is Vagabond?"

Please contain your excitement, the answer will be revealed in a few moments.

In mid August I left the kitchen fitters in charge of the kitchen and the owners agent in charge of the fitters, reclaimed the trailer from the farm and headed north.
The M40 and M6 were (relatively) empty and we zipped along until the end of the M9 at Perth. Then commenced the crawl along the A9 from Perth to Aviemore. I have vivid memories of being driven along that road in the family Morris Minor in the late '50s and am convinced that some parts of it have not changed. Eventually we branched off along the Distillery trail to Elgin and on to Lossiemouth.

More than twelve hours had elapsed since leaving home.

Vagabond was still afloat in the Marina. The Marina manager had left her keys at the Steamboat Pub, where the beer was most welcome, although I had to wonder what a Scottish pub was doing selling London Pride. What's happened to 40 shilling?

The following day, I took Vagabond round to the slip and lowered her mast. The slip looked steep and slippery, so I opted for a lift out rather than trying to get her out on the trailer. (I must get a front tow hitch made up, so that the weight of the trailer and boat is transferred to the front driving wheels when pulling the rig up a ramp).

Duncan (the harbour master) was delighted to play with his huge boat lift and threw in a "free" high pressure spray; in next to no time Vagabond was on the trailer, dripping water from the ballast tanks, as I dismantled this and that and tied down that and this, ready for towing.

In the middle of this I discovered that the splice at the top of the port stay had almost failed.

Everything had been fine when I inspected the rigging when at Stonehaven where, at low water, the splice had almost been at eye level.

I assume that the splice had started to fail during the beat to windward in my aborted attempt to reach Inverness. It looks as if my decision to turn back to Lossiemouth was quite right!

Resolving to discuss the matter with Swallow boats at the earliest convenience, I carried on getting the boat and trailer ready and by 12:30 we were ready; I went off to find some lunch whilst mulling over whether to bring her south or take her to Balvicar.

The answer was obvious really - leave her at Balvicar where she would be ready to resume the voyage next year in the wonderful Western Isles. But I would need a week or so to get her ready for the next year and this would mean more time away from home. I consulted the Owners Agent.

And so it was that Vagabond was towed across Scotland that after noon. We followed the line of the Caledonian Canal and the traffic was so slow that we didn't hold any one up, eventually arriving in the boatyard after tea. Vagabond was parked in a corner and wrapped in a tarpulin. The keys were given to Mike and Morag who were charged with keeping an eye on her for the next six months or so. Perhaps I should rephrase that: "tasked to keep an eye on her" would be more accurate; I'll be the one to be charged!

The following morning I drove home, with Freddie in the boot for company. The kitchen was almost finished and the next phase of the alterations had started with a chap called Tigger knocking out the partition walls on the ground floor.

So the second part of the voyage round Britain is ended. Next week it's the 100th birthday followed by the Southampton Boat show (where I have offered to "help" Matt on the stand).
Then there's the allotment to knock back into shape, the pocket handkerchief garden here to do something with and a few days in Florence with the Owners Agent.

I might be allowed north to check Vagabond out during October.....

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