Rough Under Canvass

Most of my family holidays took place in Britain and it rained a lot. When we progressed from camping to caravanning my Dad would “bet it’ll be rough under canvass tonight” , on numerous occasions. It became a family saying. The sound of rain pattering on canvass and drumming on caravan roofs always brings with it a fond sense of being on holiday. Just as well really as at present the rain is hissing down onto the Bimini. It is cold too, long trouser and fleece weather. Very reminiscent of holidays touring Scotland and Wales.

A Bimini is a device primarily designed to provide shade, when sailing in hot climes, a canvass roof held aloft on a chrome frame. Up until now we have been unable to sail with ours up as the metal framework interfered with the winches. The further south we sail, the more of an issue this has become, so we made enquiries ashore about fitting a new one. Someone is due to come see us this afternoon. Encouraged, we had a bit of an explore into new territory and managed to finally locate a Ferreteria, an iron mongers, one of our favourite types of shop, which was begging to be ferreted about in. John wanted some chain and a couple of padlocks and I found a medium sized paella pan, which would fit on our small cooker. As we came to pay at the till a woman hurried over with a carton of paella, which came free with the pan. It is like a carton of orange juice, sounds liquid when shaken and keeps unrefrigerated till next March, despite containing seafood and rice. We have stowed it for emergencies. Back at the boat we researched Bimini designs, found some photographs online and John made a sketch. The Bimini man arrived just after three, complete with tape reel and notepad. He had no interest in our researches. Needless to say, we have pulled the Bimini this way and that in order to try to sail with it. The man had to try for himself. He was quite small, but wiry and clearly used to grappling with Biminis. He managed to splay ours further than we have ever been able to do and was convinced we could just change the angle of our frame to improve matters. As we were adamant we were off next day he said we should have a go with some temporary clips he had on our return, which he noted in his pad and left without using his tape measure in anger. Resigned to another season under the umbrellas we felt a bit fed up.

Two hours later there was a knock on the hull. This is a startling event, especially when you are not expecting anyone. John went out and there was the man, returned with his clips, which he duly employed, wrestled the Bimini into shape, so that it is free of the winches, flat on the top and tall at the back. There was a slight sag in the front, but John has since managed to cure this by feeding an old brush stale down the front stitching. This time the Bimini man took some measurements and said we could borrow his clips and see how we managed and if it worked out he could make a better fitting cover. With that he left us, without even asking for a deposit on his clips. The only trouble now is we dare not move the Bimini in case we are not able to gemmy it back into the new position again.

The weather forecast had changed when we checked it this morning and was dire, as has proved to be the case, so we did not set off after all. We have not gone very far at all, being in hiding from the Bimini man, who put such effort into sorting us out prior to our previously proposed departure. John went up into town with the bow roller to Roberto’s chandlery to see if he had a replacement, having not found a suitable one in Vidals. Roberto was actually in the shop with his wife at the time. He laughed at our Heath Robinson arrangement and volunteered to take it over to the engine repair shop, where they had tools to turn us a new one. As we are now probably weather bound here till Friday John agreed. He came back very cheerful with fresh bread for lunch. After lunch we fitted the passarelle, the last outstanding item on John’s checklist. We have finished the jobs!

There was not really time to go anywhere and the rain clouds were gathering overhead anyway, so we contented ourselves with the all weather pursuit of trying to work out how the rear toilet is plumbed. We have undertaken this quest before. The problem is we cannot observe it all directly and our conjectures keep proving false. They have managed to find the Higgs Boson while we have been wrestling with the knotty question of where the pipes run and how the system is best evacuated. John burrowed deep into the engine room with the good torch, fought his way back out, foraged into the under sink locker in the heads, all familiar territory yielding no new answers. Then he discovered a hatch through the over sink cupboard leading to the top of the holding tank. He could see how many pipes went into the top and we worked out what they were all for. We took turns banging pipes and feeling for vibrations, him in the engine room again, me in the locker. We dug out the paperwork for the pump and compared the sample diagram and instructions with what we could surmise of our pipe work. John drew another diagram, which we have put in the file. We now know a bit more. We are still not sure whether using the waste pump helps or hinders the whole process, so are back to square one. I am reminded of the saga of the anchor. Still it helped pass an otherwise dull afternoon.

Now it is raining so hard we would be drenched just going to the clubhouse, so John is cooking, frying up onion, peppers and courgettes with chunks of chorizo to make a stew to have with the fresh bread. It smells gorgeous and the boat is full of a warm, pleasant fug. Happy holidays.

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