Wednesday, 8 February 2012

15 years

This is my first blog. I prefer online anonymity- I don't 'do' Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any other flavour of digital socialising. But I've decided to take the plunge to document the re-fit of my Polish tugboat Anetka, which I've owned for 15 years and, frankly, done bugger all with. There have been a few false starts over the years, an occasional rush of bloody enthusiasm to the head, which have jointly amounted to little: a galley kitchen ripped out here, a bit of Hammerite brushed there. I'm currently in the throes of one of these optimistic dizzy spells, and having been entertained by the blogs of others in the same, ahem, boat in recent years ( , for instance,) I thought it might be of interest to a few people like myself (I know you're out there...) The more interesting, and also more selfish, reason for the blog, is that I've noticed that this kind of self-documentation seems to engender a greater desire to finish the project- an online audience regularly checking progress presumably has the same effect as the boss standing nearby at work. Even if the audience for this blog is a solitary person, I'll consider them my online employer. So here goes. I bought Anetka to live on, which I did, blissfully, for a year or so, until my as-then new partner Rachel moved on with me, an idea which proved so successful that within a few months she had moved 3000 miles away, where she vowed to stay until I had sorted out somewhere decent to live. So I walked out on Anetka. I'm glad to say Rachel and I are still together, nowadays sharing a house with our two fantastic sons. I didn't blame her at all, since Anetka was, when I acquired her, a working tug with no hot water, no bathroom, no toilet, no wardrobes. And no bed. I hadn't previously noticed any of these omissions, concentrating more on the advantages of intimately living alongside a 12 foot-long 2-stroke diesel engine, but the light of a female presence suddenly threw them into stark relief. So for the next decade, we lived in various East London flats, whilst Anetka lived a parallel life, changing moorings a few times (including a few years in the middle of the Thames just downstream of Tower Bridge, which was a fantastic position with a minor access problem- I kept a little skiff hidden between the wharf pilings on the riverbank, which at low tide necessitated a 25-foot climb down a ladder and a timed lunge into a bobbing dory. Often in darkness.) But, as some princess or other once said, there were three of us in this marriage. In the early years of my separation from Anetka, she occupied that area of the imagination which obscures whatever part of the brain is responsible for sensible decision-making, both financial and practical. Boats are expensive, even (especially) when you visit them only twice a year. But she did at least still figure in my imagination, from where she'd occasionally offer a dream or a reverie, usually involving a glorious homecoming to the seaside town of my childhood, Anetka proudly steaming between the piers towards the waving arms of my beaming family. As the years passed, these images grew fainter, and were almost blotted out entirely after the arrival of first one, then another, baby, with their innate ability to compress time into a dense block without spaces. The decree absolute for me and Anetka was surely imminent. I made enquiries about sale value. I checked out the best websites on which to advertise her. I cleared lots of my old junk off her. And then she sent me a dream in the night. Me. Rachel. Two Boys, a few years older than now. Anetka, carrying us into an as-yet unvisited harbour, somewhere possibly foreign, but an adventure even if not. I awoke, dizzy. If I'm taking the family with me, I need a good, reliable engine, no argument. So I bought a new engine. Then I started this blog.