Jonty Pearce makes the most of a quiet weekend to get some work done on his boat before the season kicks off

Jonty Pearce: I had planned a nice gentle weekend on Aurial. Carol had ‘other duties’, and I always enjoy the being alone when I’m planning or maintaining. There is a peaceful absence of, ‘What are you getting that drill out for? no more holes!’ or, ‘Why are you moving that?’ or, ‘Why do you make such a mess?’ In case the Indoor Dragon actually does read this I must herewith state that I do her an injustice. She is a cherub (for a dragon) and nagging is not one of her foibles. But she does hold to strong opinions.

But where was I? Oh, yes, anticipating a quiet weekend considering updates, namely the new chartplotter that won’t fit, where to squeeze in the new Fusion entertainment centre that is irritatingly slightly longer than the radio CD it is replacing, and where to put the active loudspeakers and handsets of the new modular VHF at an already clustered chart table and companionway. I’m glad to say that I pretty well solved all those quandaries, though, as usual, other issues raised their heads.

Firstly, my old friends, the bilge pumps. The Whale Supersub fired up, but didn’t sound quite right, so I lifted it out to check the one-way valve and clear the strum box. And it fell apart in my hand, revealing a corroded motor; obviously not a short-term issue. With a new one ordered, I checked the second bilge pump; all well, though I did proceed to make a better job of the support for the solid state bilge switch, swapping its plastic support for a metal one.

It was while I was getting metal for the support that I realised that the leak dripping down behind the wood trim in the aft cabin was getting beyond a joke – the bunk cushion was damp. With a moulded GRP headlining leaks can announce their presence far from the source; we had decided to leave this one till we had more time to trace it after retiring. Meanwhile, we tried to limit its effects with a dessert bowl complete with a kitchen roll wick, but each time we arrived the bowl was always brim full; the damp cushion was evidence of where it was going.

Although it is a hateful task to remove the wooden trim, it was soon done. And there, right above the drip trail, was a hole where one of the bolts securing the rubbing strake should have been. In fact, there was a line of empty holes alongside the existing fastenings suggesting previous work done at some unknown point in Aurial’s past. It was clear that the leak was coming in from behind the teak covering the hull/deck joint. A quick look at the top sides confirmed a gap in the sealant – solved! I got out a tube of sealant I’d used for a previous job, solid and unusable as expected. After sawing the tube in half, however, I was able to scoop enough out with a wooden skewer and soon had all the holes filled with sealant (with a close fitting bolt in the leaking one as a belt and braces approach) as well as re-sealing the gap between the teak and the hull. Some more misery refitting the trim and hey presto, an unexpected job done. And hopefully all will be dry on our next visit when we return Aurial to her home berth in Neyland.

It is always satisfying to make real progress on a working visit to the boat, but there always seem to be jobs other than the planned ones which attract priority. A restful weekend? No, but a lot of progress made, and a happy though tired Jonty. Now there’s just the three hour drive home…