Some of you might remember I had the Vereeniging on the slipway last year. Others might even remember that we call it a helling in Dutch. This word always amuses me as in some ways it's always a kind of hell. But then I must also admit that once the first anxiety of getting the barge out of the water and seeing what has been going on underneath is over, I actually enjoy the work, tough, rough and dirty though it is.
Well, it's about to happen again and this time, I'm a bit more anxious than usual. I normally wait two years before lifting it out, but I felt I couldn't afford to do that this time. You see over the past months, I've been working on board and I noticed woodworm has eaten away parts of the floor in my little back cabin. My heart sank and I started ripping everything out but then got distracted. I saw something worse than rotten wood. I saw rust and lots of it.
I don't know how I've managed to overlook this before, but I have. The bottom of the barge below the wormy wood is encrusted with rust and it doesn't look good at all. I started scraping at it and it was damp underneath the first flaky layers. This was even worse and so I stopped. It occurred to me I could easily scrape my way through the bottom of the boat and then I'd have a real problem. As a result, I made a date with the harbour master to have the Vereening up on the helling this coming week so I could attack the nasty area with vigour and without fear of sinking more than just my feelings.
Rust is strange stuff though. It can expand dramatically and look much worse than it really is. But you can't take chances can you? Not when it's your home. And it could quite easily sink if it has even a small hole in the bottom. My plan is therefore to get my friend Tim to give it hell (pardon the pun) with a hammer from the outside, while I do the same inside. If it's all right, then I can relax, but if it's fragile, then Tim will fix it for me, he being an excellent welder.
So that will be my moment of truth on Monday. I hope the rest of the week will go as smoothly as the rolling of all the paint that will follow. Luckily I have Koos to mop my brow and work alongside me with another roller, but I'll keep you posted on how it all goes.
By the way, I am quite close to being ready to publish my latest memoir, Walloon Ways (our three years as weekend Belgians). It's in the final proofing stages and the cover still needs sorting out properly, but my aim is to have it ready to go by mid November. Another anxious moment to come!