The boat is virtually ready to sail now. In fact, it has been for some time now – though I’m not as unshakeably confident in the hull as I was up somewhat over a month or so ago. I found an anomalous area of corrosion (the steel had puffed up rather strangely), which on being chipped at opened a hole to the water. Probably the single biggest rule about boating is that the water belongs on the outside – water fountains are not an appropriate feature (even if the hole was really rather small – only a few millimetres in diameter). I had been delaying pending improvement in the weather outlook when I found the suspect spot.
I slowed it to a trickle with whatever came to hand and then plugged it with hydraulic cement until I could come out of the water again (just for a few days) and did an emergency repair on that part of the hull. I took an air chipping hammer and aggressively tested all other rusty areas on the inside of the hull (and I have a depressing amount of them, I still need to get those under control, and before much longer) without finding any more suspect spots. Unfortunately the anomalous spot was not in an area where I would have expected it to occur, ie not an existing trouble spot, and I haven’t literally inspected/tested 100% of the hull from the interior to rule out any other concerning spots.
Hence my somewhat diminished confidence in hull integrity until I can do that, and the concern that when I do finally do that – I’ll only have a beach to make repairs upon, presuming the boat floats that long. I still need to see my son in Russia, though the relationship is dead now with significant enmity from his mother. That’s one reason I haven’t been in a hurry – although I need to see him, the carrot to hurry is a lot smaller than it used to be. Losing the boat means being homeless and losing the project as a whole.
That said I’m much less convinced of the merits of this project than I used to be. In 7 years of work and talking to people I have failed to find 1 single other person truly prepared to act, and precious few even willing to acknowledge that there are near term risks to the continuity of civilisation (or for that matter even medium or long term risks – there is a real blind spot here in the collective perception of things).
I can sail now. I will sail soon. It will probably be some years yet before the boat will really be habitable or nice inside by western standards, and I’m damned if I’m going to go to any efforts to make it ready for more people before everything else. I have enough things to spend money on without worrying about all the original goals I had.
Unfortunately I’ve been rushing for so many reasons for so long that there are still some big projects that ought to have been done ages ago. I cannot treat the engine room rust underneath the engine and in the unreachable parts of the engine bed. I need to rebuild the engine bed, which means lifting the engine. Worse, if the rust proceeds too far, I will need to replate the hull which cannot be done in the water and could be challenging on a beach (to say the least). Worse still, I could sink a hundred miles offshore before I finish the watertight door seals?
So when I do sail, it’ll probably be into the sunset and with rather more selfish goals. It’s been a long and hard journey to reach the point I am at now – and I don’t just mean the last 7 years, but rather the whole story of my life. It’s time I made some time and priority for myself.