I really need a decksail at the moment because my hatch boards are not sealed and I have no steel roof under them. However, I have to say it's been quite an adventure getting the new one in place - what with my limited transport means on one hand and the torrential rain we've recently had on the other.
I ordered the decksail a few weeks back from a company based in the north of Holland (the province, not the country). It arrived at our boat yard in the Oude Haven in a big box last week, so I went to the post room and looked at it in some perplexity. Trying to lift it proved beyond me - it was not only heavy, but very bulky, so I came up with another solution. I have one of these shopping trolleys that lots of elderly people use. I barely used it for ages, but I now know why they are so useful.
They are brilliant (both the people and the trolleys) because they can carry all sorts of stuff quite apart from shopping - a real boon if you have to move of things around without the help of motorised wheels. In most cases, this includes things like the weekly washing and materials for the re-cycling bins. In my case, I decided mine could carry my decksail from the yard to the barge. Luckily, one of my neighbours, the benevolent Bas, was there while I was wrestling this loosely rolled length of brown pvc out of the packing box. Given that it was rather like manhandling a drunk and out-of-control snake, I was really grateful he was there and he very obligingly helped me control the beast and get it into the shopping trolley ready to transport to the Vereeniging.
This is what it looked like:
So then I wheeled it down to the Vereeniging and managed to load it on to the gangplank. To my delight, both wheels fitted neatly between the sides of the plank and I could push it carefully down to the end. Then I lay it on its back, nipped back up to the quay and went down my neighbour's plank so that I could lift it onto the deck from its recumbent position on my own plank. I know none of this is all that interesting in itself, but it goes to show how patient you have to be with some of these things - especially when you're on your own (Koos was busy with other things in another part of the country). Getting it inside would have challenged me just too much if my daughter hadn't turned up and helped me heave it through the hatch and down the stairs. It stayed in a corner until this last Thursday, which I dedicated to the day of the decksail.
The first step was to remove the old one - another exercise in problem solving. I had to get the mast out of the way and move everything off the hatch boards before I could take it off. As I'm not all that strong, moving the mast proved interesting. It involved a five pound hammer and a good deal of grunting peppered with wild expletives. Removing the chimney from my stove was much the same except I avoided the hammer for this stage of the proceedings. The risk of polluting the whole harbour with carbon from its rather encrusted lining was enough to incur a several thousand euro fine. Lastly, I took off the roof window, which needs some repairing anyway. This required the help of a large screwdriver which I used as a mini crowbar because all the screws holding it in place had rusted solid.
Eventually I managed to clear everything and clean the underlay ready for the new decksail, which I heaved out of the hold and spread out. But then the Dutch weather decided to play its usual summer card. Up to this point it had been sunny and warm as the men on the news had predicted, but as if from nowhere, a huge black cloud sneaked over the buildings behind us and deposited its load directly onto my barge. Leaving the decksail untied and unfixed, I threw everything vulnerable inside, grabbed Sindy, who'd been snoozing on deck, and rushed for shelter. We spent the next half hour in the yard post box chatting with a charming old gentleman who'd also taken cover there while we watched the deluge going on outside.
So much for the forecast of a dry day.
When I made it back to the barge, I was much relieved to find nothing had blown away, so I continued fitting and fixing my wonderful clean, shiny, neat and very brown new (but wet) decksail into place. It took two more downpours before it was done, but this time I stuck them out getting totally soaked in the process. As a result, its arrival on the my barge's scene feels like something of an achievement.
So, in honour of the first day on show, here are a couple of photos. You might not notice much difference yourselves, but to me, it's quite magnificent. And at least it won't shrink or fade (much). Or get mouldy. Or be difficult to clean. Altogether now…a huge sigh of relief!
|Note the still wet decks. In fact we had three downpours|
during the afternoon.
|"This is my good side"|
|A beautiful pair of historic barges|