MC 36 Cabin Boy is getting dressed

The lights of Dunedin

And so we took our leave from Picton and headed south. It was dark by the time we reached Dunedin but the journey back was spectacularly uneventful with no sign of the threatened storm force winds for which I was immensely grateful. In fact the weather had been so benign that we actually managed the entire journey in one go - a far cry from the insanely slow trips which had been the norm on previous occasions.

Our return to reality came complete with the realisation that we only had about five weeks before we were due to fly out to the UK.

"OK, so over the next couple of weeks I'm just going to have to spend as much time as possible working on the boat so that I can make sure all the glassing is done before we leave," Howard announced. "That way it will have the couple of weeks we're away to cure properly."

"Are you absolutely certain those guys will be able to get the glassing done in four days?" I queried. I hated to sound pessimistic but somehow it seemed so improbable but then again, what did I know.
"Well that's what they said," Howard pointed out. Did he sound just a wee tad uncertain too? I suspected he might! So over the next couple of weeks Howard's days seemed to consist of planing, sanding, more sanding, yet more sanding, applying fairing compound, sanding, more was as if it was never going to finish.

Applying the fairing compound before doing yet more sanding!

Then one day I came home from work and asked my usual 'So what have you been doing today?' question and was blown away to hear Howard say:

"I've finished! It's all done and I'm ready for the glassing to start."
Now this I had to see. I raced into the shed. The boat was looking great.
"So when can those guys come?" I asked
"Hopefully in a day or so. With a bit of luck we should be able to start earlier than I'd planned."
"Hey, that's great." It was good to see Howard looking so happy especially after he had been working so hard.

A couple of days later all the gear for the glassing started to arrive. The huge drum of epoxy was even wrapped in our electric blanket so that it didn't get too cold - ah bless (and yes, I know, what about poor old me?)! And then the day dawned when everything was ready to start. When I left for work in the morning the excitement was almost palpable.
"Just think," I said, "by the time I come home tonight she'll have her first layer of glass complete!"
"I know. It's going to be so good getting this done before we go." Howard was beaming at the thought.

So I waited for what I thought would be a reasonable amount of time and then phoned Howard to find out how things were going. I didn't have to be psychic to work out that things were not going well - in fact they were going very badly! I decided it would be politic not to ask too many questions at this point in time so muttered something about hoping things got better as the day went on. I got a cursory 'Hmmm' in reply which didn't exactly sound imbued with optimism!

Four days plus a considerable amount of angst and grumpiness later there was one complete layer of glassing on the boat. So only another four to go - woohoo (note to reader: that was an ironic 'woohoo')! No chance then that it would be done before we left for the UK. That was a huge disappointment. Howard, needless to say, was gutted.

One layer of glassing done - only four to go!

And setting aside the disappointment of the glassing not being completed before we left for the UK, it was also beginning to look as though having these guys in to do it for us was not going to make economic sense. They'd made a good job of what they'd done so far but the cost of continuing at that application rate would be prohibitive. On the other hand, not having them do it would slow everything down. It reminded me a bit of those maths problems we used to have to do at junior school - you know the sort: 'If it takes three men four days to do one layer of glassing, how long will it take one man to do five?' Answers on a postcard please!

All-in-all I believed it was probably a good job that our UK trip was coming up.
"It'll give us space and time to think." I tried to make this statement sound quite philosophical but I'm not sure Howard was convinced.

"It doesn't alter the fact that it's really going to delay things." Howard was despondent. "And if the drum of epoxy is still not going to be warm enough even with the electric blanket wrapped around it and the shed is too cold to use the epoxy in spite of the diesel heater being on, what on earth am I going to do all winter?"

Now he had a point there. I felt I needed to keep being upbeat though.

"Remember that the winters in New Zealand are fairly short so by the time we're back from the UK we should only have a few weeks before the weather starts to warm up." Howard looked at me - I could see he was unconvinced. I decided to try a different tack.

"Maybe you'll just have to have a rest for a few weeks until spring arrives," I continued. "Remember you're always telling me that your hobby is sleeping? Well, here's your perfect excuse!" Howard scowled and looked at me over the top of his glasses. Oops, maybe I'd judged this all wrong and really hosed him off with my slightly flippant comments. Suddenly the corners of his mouth twitched and then turned into a huge grin.

"I guess you're right," he said.

"What do you mean 'you guess I'm right'?" I countered. "I thought you knew that I'm always right!"
"Whatever!" We both burst into fits of laughter. It was all going to be just fine.

Cabin Boy is a Multichine 36 being built by Howard Bennet in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand, with the assistance of his wife. The Bennets intend to retire and live aboard, this endeavour being the main goal in their lives, for that matter choosing the home-building way of having a safe and sound yacht, capable of inspiring confidence on their dwellers. To follow the story of Cabin Boy you can enter their blog:, or by our link page: Multichine 34/36 Cabin Boy.

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