So, another week on the helling is over and I have to admit to being thoroughly and completely knackered, inelegant though the word may be, but then elegance is not what this world is about. Remember that expression "koop een boot, werk je dood"?
Still, apart from getting extremely dirty..(someone even said I looked like Philip the Teeth of Watery Ways fame ;-))
And picking up my own war wound in the form of a scratched eye (chips of paint gain remarkable velocity and power when spinning off an angle grinder)
the work is very rewarding when I see my little barge gleaming and freshly painted as in the pics below. Note the celebratory poses being struck by my sterling crew who have helped me tremendously these last days. Mo has been an absolute trooper the whole week, never failing once, and Craig put in his money's worth in heaps by being my official sander of paintwork today. The results are really amazing, I think.
In short, we have
1. scraped cleaned and painted the bottom with 2 coats of tar substitute, known in the UK as 'blacking'.
2. Frits (the star) welded a new plate to the bottom to protect a vulnerable place that collects condensation inside.
3. Koos removed the propeller and took it to a specialist to have it adjusted and shaped.
4. Mo and I chipped and scraped a hundred years of old tar off the rubbing rail that runs all round the barge. A horrible job that can only be done on the helling as dropping tar scrapings in the water is a seriously fineable offence. What's worse is that it burns your skin as well, so we both feel as if our faces have been sandblasted.
5. We also sanded, scraped and filled rusty places on the red strip (the boiesel), and then re-painted it (it still needs a second coat though).
6 Then while Craig sanded, Mo and I painted the back cabin, the engine room and the front of the hold in a new bright and luscious green. The place where I used to buy my paint has closed down, so we had to mix our own. It's lighter than the old version, but will definitely darken down when the shine wears off. All the same I rather like it.
7. Lastly, I repainted my foredeck which is always difficult as it's where everyone has to walk, so I was up with the lark this morning to do it before anyone else was awake. Luckily it dries very fast, but it's aleady been well used.
Oh and by the way, when you click to enlarge the photos, you can see loads of small seed pods stuck to the bottom and sides of the barge. They've nearly driven me crazy today, and my newly painted areas are covered in the things, especially the foredeck.
Well, back in the water we go tomorrow, and I'll be pleased to be swaying with the motion of the boat again. It feels really weird to be on land, and the barge feels hard and rigid. Not nice at all. Still, I think Sin prefers it! In a couple of weeks, there will be some big changes, but I'll fill you in on that later. For now, the Vereeniging is fit to fare for another two years...which reminds me - I must book now to get the week I want next time. Yes, really. You have to book it two years ahead if you want to choose your time!