“Ship shape and Bristol fashion”

“Ship shape and Bristol fashion”

Many have debated the origin of this expression- I don’t really care. I’m not usually so callous with language. In fact I’m rather a huge fan of how things are said and what meaning they carry. But I feel like with any art, what is observed from one person to the next can be different.

All I know is that I’m a fan of this expression for describing a boat, ship, or craft that has had lots of care put into its appearance and functionality.

I have acquired a 16’ sloop. Wooden hull with fiberglass sheathing, gaff rigged, with lovely lines. She is sound and just needs cosmetic work: sanding, painting, and a small amount of patching up fiberglass on her port rub rail.

My goal is clear to me- restore her, get her into the water and explore the lake. Maybe even coastal sailing after I have the feel of her and confidence to match.

This work would not be at all daunting to most, but I’ve never done it before. I know how to weld, and as far as carpentry I have attempted the obligatory spice rack as well as a rickety trestle table. However my trestle table and spice rack never had to worry about if they could float or not. My spice rack never had rigging or complicated lines to care for. My Trestle table never had a sail.

My deadline:

Late summer/early fall for initial refit completion and launch. To be certain- she is, as many are, a work in progress and I can see this work continuing on longer than this deadline.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The reflections of cleaning

Sunday really didn’t see too much as far as work on the boat. Mostly I just took the tarp off and opened the cabin hatch to let her breathe.

While out running errands I was unaware that a storm was moving in. All I could think about was the clean up that I had just done and how I’d have to go back to square one if the skies opened up and saturated the exposed wood on the cabin. Upon reflection it probably wouldn’t have done a lot of damage or caused too much trouble, but I was filled with dread of another 80-90 degree day below deck with cleaners and safety gear. Sooner or later the heat gets to me and I wind up talking to the little animals. Little animals that are not actually there. Animals shouldn’t talk- unless they are in a C.S. Lewis story and I don’t think there is enough room for Aslan in my boats cabin.

Aslan: “Sand wisely my friend, and oh yeah it’s a bit hot in here don’t you think?”

Me: “Yeah ahhh sure and could you maybe move your tail over? Thank you.”

Aslan: "No problems. Oh you missed a spot."

Me: "Don't push it cat, I've got a stone table with your name on it."

This would still be preferable to Mr. Miyagi telling me to sand a floor and then punching me repeatedly.

where was I...? Oh the rain. So with all the effectiveness of a fat kid peddling a bike up a steep hill I managed to get the cabin closed and the tarp lashed back down just in time for the rumble of thunder in the distance.

It rained for a total of 2 minutes… then it was sunny again… figures.

Anyways… I’ve been thinking about what a boat means, it is more than a thing, more than a means of travel. It’s art. It truly is form and function married with expression. The doing of a thing, the action, all of this can be empty even though it accomplishes something. It is when you can express yourself within that action that there is meaning.

One of my favorite movies is the razors edge. There is a great line that is along the same line as what I’ve just mentioned, “work without meaning is an empty motion”.

How true, how true. Wow that cleaning solution is strong stuff.

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