Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Pox

Not the boat but skin - but you get the idea.

If anyone should give you the choice of either owning a boat or having medieval thumb screws applied, opt for the thumb screws, it’s less painful.

Having spared no cost in having Starquest renovated we were proud of her and although we were looking forward to moving on to our dream 40 footer it was going to be sad to say goodbye to the old girl. Imagine our horror, therefore, to discover this Essex girl had picked up a social disease and her bottom was covered in ugly blisters.

The potential new owner had arranged for a ‘doctor’ to give her the once-over, a mere formality we imagined knowing that just about every nut and bolt on the boat had either been replaced or serviced. However, when she was lifted it did not need years of medical training or qualifications to see that all was not well below. She may have a stunning top but down below things were not good. The word Osmosis echo’d all the way from Chichester Harbour to here in Oxford. “Osmosis? How can that be? Her bottom was only given a good seeing to last year, coated in a protection that was supposed to last ten years and only a few months ago she was lifted and given a good hosing down under pressure. All looked well then.” Galloping osmosis has transformed a sleek, smooth, rather attractive bottom into a pitted, ugly, festering mass of pungent ooze.

Needless to say no one would blame a potential new owner for running a mile, that’s what I’d do, so the chance of rescuing the sale were zilch.

Osmosis, largely thanks to scare mongers in the yachting press, is the nautical equivalent of the plague. I hardly dare admit to knowing a boat, let alone owning one, which has the disease. It’s all very well the experts saying “It’s only cosmetic no boat has ever sunk because of osmosis” but who wants to be seen with a boat covered in blisters – even if the only creatures who’ll see it are fish, barnacles and plankton out for a jolly. Imagine the talk at the yacht club “He’s got osmosis you know” Oh the social stigma.

Cosmetic it may be but that does not make it any the more appealing. The hunchback of Notre Dame’s deformities were only cosmetic; Gordon Brown would be attractive except for his looks; take away the piercing and tattoos and Sid Vicious was a nice lad. Yes, just cosmetic veneers all of them. Cosmetic they may be but that does not make them any the more desirable.

So, here we are with a boat which has been thickly sheathed in fifty-quid notes only to discover she’s got a diseased bottom covered in blisters.

Bang go our plans to buy a new 40 footer, bang go our plans to put the new boat in the Med for 2010, bang goes our plans for a summer afloat on our new dream yacht.

But hey, it could be worse. The ‘doctor;’ could have found a terminal illness and given the old dear just weeks to live. In fact, he couldn’t fault anything else. So it’s not that bad. True it’ll take more than a pot of Max Factor to sort out the blistered complexion but a thick application of yet more fifty-quid notes should do the trick and the cosmetic surgeon I’ve spoken to assures me she’ll regain her youthful looks and what’s more he’ll guarantee the work for years to come. Blimey, wouldn’t mind some of that myself.

Here, have the keys to the boat and pass the thumb screws.

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The Crew

The Crew
On board at Lymington