A carefully planned double act today, combining a trip to Dingwall to take Fly’s engine to Brae Classics for blasting and repainting with a run over Ben Wyvis, and everything going like clockwork till my five-week-old windscreen got chipped (fortunately nothing like as badly or conspicuously as the one it replaced) by a flying stone somewhere down Loch Lochyside on the way home!
Not much to say about the engine here except that the original paintwork’s not very robust (repaint should be better), with the photos not surprisingly saying more about a unit that sat in a laid-up yacht with broken dehumifier for several years than one that’s only done three seasons (2002, 03 and 05) afloat…
And so to the run, with Ben Wyvis proving ideal at this stage of my WHW Race preparation not just for its proximity to Dingwall but for being the sprawling mass of clean, springy ridge terrain and gentle gradients (giving me 18.2 miles of delightfully easy going for only 4,800 ft of ascent) that possibly makes it the best summer running hill I’ve tried yet. So of course I’m ‘tapering’ now but, having already cut this week’s Tuesday to Thursday mileage and taken Friday evening off to try the new mower that brought the curse of the rain with its order and delivery several weeks ago, today’s run was both planned and needed. Some indecision on the descent, perhaps, with my instinct that straight off Tom a’ Choinnich looked the way to go fighting my curiosity to see why Irvine Butterfield’s book gives the more roundabout route off Carn Gorm (you can even see the wiggle in my track as I wavered on Carn Gorm itself)… to which I can only add that instinct seems right in this case with the ‘Butterfield’ route adding nothing but the only boulder field on the mountain, a path that’s taking you further and further in the wrong direction and a longer bog-trot to get back to your starting point. But not to worry when that bonus boulder-hopping practice and boggy mileage could yet prove crucial in realising my big race aspirations (yes, I’m joking) and, notwithstanding the unforeseen, unwanted and unavoidably unlucky sting-in-the-tail glass chip, it was still a great day out!
Some photos taken after another day spent gutting the boat this Monday, with Fly’s main cabin now stripped of pilot berths, galley, partial bulkheads and (our main target) most of the delaminated cream-cracker plywood of the original bunk tops. Quite a sight if you know what Hunter Impalas should look like inside, but Twig’s already working on the new bunk tops (talking proper marine ply and epoxy coating here) and this one will be going back together better than new after we’ve taken this unique opportunity to get all the normally inaccessible bits cleaned up and properly finished for the first time in her life.
Now, I know that’s (slightly) misquoting Kenneth Grahame, but there’s no doubt we’re making a mess in the boat! New forehatch went in today, but windows, pilot berth backs and acres of internal lining all came out. So Twig’s away with the windows (to make new ones) and one of the pilot berths (to study before replacing the tops) and it looks like I get to keep ripping out the linings (now planning to replace the whole lot), which at least has the beneficial side effect of removing some of the mankiest stuff instead of having to clean it! Not a pretty sight in the photos (remember the previous dehumidifier broke down, the hatch and windows leaked and things got/stayed wet), but no time for half measures when it’s worth making a real mess now to put a better boat (and there’s still a great boat here) back together in the end…
So perhaps this post’s something of a misnomer when it’s not so much about clearing the decks (done last October?) as turning the boat inside out, but it’s a catchy title and surely removing just about everything that moves to facilitate the planned repairs and renovation still counts as clearing the decks for action…
Whatever, Twig came up this morning to get the engine out and then (motivated by that little nudge in the right direction) I set to on the removable head-lining panels and bunk tops, hinged pilot berth sections, heads door, chart table, cooker, engine box, cabin sole and that kind of thing. Meaning that I finished with a great pile of stuff under the boat needing storage elsewhere, but it’s going to be so much easier to get at what’s left. And we’re working for 2012 now, because that little white lie (which I believed at the time) from last May about having Twig ‘lined up to help get her sorted for 2011 (when I’m not going to be training obsessively for running ultras!)’ has been retrospectively awarded joke status with another sub-20 West Highland Way Race attempt driving some further, ahem, obsessive training this year. Speaking of which, I still had time to get out for a hard hour’s trail running when done this afternoon!
Not exactly rapid progress with so much else going on but, three weeks after building the tarpaulin frame for Fly, the decks are 95% clean (approx. six hours of hard scrubbing to test my ‘recovered’ ribs yesterday) and the cover fitted (another cold, wet job today). Have to say I’ve got mixed feelings about this particular tarpaulin (chosen for its combination of 5m x 4m size, decent weight and transparency) since it turned out to have reinforced strips rather than eyelets for the tie-down points and a couple of the holes I put through these have torn/distorted noticeably on first use. So naturally hoping it’ll last the winter without constant attention, but half expecting trouble with the next strong winds! :-/
Can’t say that Fly’s been a pretty sight sitting neglected for too long, but Twig came up yesterday morning and we made a start to putting her right. So we built a tarpaulin frame from Alkathene water pipe, then I finished it off with some smaller white overflow pipe and guy lines before taking the pressure washer to the worst of the grime on topsides and deck. Still want to get the deck properly scrubbed before fitting the cover, after which we need to lift out the engine for blasting/repainting, clean the insides (never my favourite job, and least of all now!), fit the new forehatch, replace the leaking windows and get to work on the delaminated bunk tops. But at least it’s a start, she’s looking better already and that’s something to feel good about…
Still not recovered enough from the rib injury to think running or climbing a good idea, but hoping to take my camera for a walk somewhere this afternoon (a cracking day, as shown by the photos of Fly) to get my first real exercise for three weeks. So it’s a fair road back for Fly and a bit yet for me, but we’ll both get there! :-)
Sometimes these things are just so unexpected but, with Fly still out of the water needing work and Twig Olsen lined up to help get her sorted for 2011 (when I’m not going to be training obsessively for running ultras!), I was taken aback to get a phone call last night from a short-crewed Peter Watt inviting me to join Vaila for Glencoe Boat Club’s first race of the season tonight. So I thought aloud for about ten seconds (‘can’t afford to miss a night’s training… need to get out for a run straight after school… yes I’d like to come!’) before agreeing, then kicked myself out of the house for a quick blast up to the Penstock and back (4.6 miles/c.1,200 ft ascent) almost as soon as I got home this afternoon.
But this isn’t a post about running (!), and tonight’s sail was great. Peter had asked me to drive, leaving himself free to trim/manage sails with Jill Mills and young Ruaridh, and what sheer joy it was to be back at the helm of a thoroughbred racing yacht (this one’s a lovely, sleek, Scandinavian-designed BB10) again! With a steady (but never excessively fresh) breeze by Glencoe standards to make things easy for us and a boat that quite simply tracks beautifully, it’s also a relief to able to report that Vaila’s high standards were upheld and, despite a couple of fankles with gear (not to mention nearly joining two other competitors on the reef east of Eilean Choinneich after the buoy marking it was discovered to have drifted), we finished far enough ahead of everyone to save our time on them all and win the race. After which I quickly found myself agreeing to sail Wednesday evenings through May until Peter’s regular crew get home from university… which should sit quite tidily with the running when I can work things like I did tonight with a lighter training load already planned for the weeks either side of the Cateran Trail Race. :-)
First sailing post (of what you might expect to be many once I get Fly back in the water) for my blog, but yesterday I was Race Officer for the Glencoe Regatta. The morning started unpromisingly with obstinate flat calm and rain forecast, and it took some juggling of the schedule (postponement of the morning race, early lunch and a proposal to run back-to-back afternoon races if the breeze kicked in) to give the day a fair chance. But luckily we got some reasonably consistent breeze in the end, the sun even chose to brighten up the second race, and everyone seems to have gone home happy after getting what they came for when it really looked for some time like they might get nothing. So I guess we ‘got a result’! :-)
Also took 200 photos which I hope to upload to the site ASAP.