The Joy Of Sailing And Lessons Learned (Part 7)

We were definitely not good poker players!   We had sold Kantele to this couple when we needed to return to the US in a hurry.  And now we had signaled that we wanted to buy her back.   Oooops!   Kirk started speaking to the husband, who told us what a lot of work she needed, when they had purchased her from us, and what amazing things they had done with her since.   We contacted the naval architect who had designed and built her and asked for recommendations for a good surveyor.  He was getting too old to go crawling around in tight spaces, or he would have done it, and besides, he was down in Cornwall, and Kantele was in Suffolk.   We asked him for someone my Marine husband described as “rough and tough and hard to bluff, and mean as a red-assed spider.” He found one for us.  It’s not pleasant to see a boat surveyed.  One of the main tools they use for wooden boats is an awl and they stick everywhere.   The couple who owned Kantele complained bitterly at the way he treated her, but we were glad he did.

[ Editor’s Note: See Christine’s entire Series HERE ]

The deck was teak planking on top of very thick plywood.  It appeared that the deck had not been caulked since she was first built.  The result was that rain-water and spray had gone past leaks in the caulking, and had pooled in places on the plywood.  Peter, the surveyor, was disgusted, and he let his opinions be known.  He told us that 80% of the plywood deck was completely rotten, and the whole thing would have to be replaced.  Water had also seeped through it and into parts of the interior – the bulkheads, the berths and more.   The head, a Baby Blake, known for its reliability, was completely seized up.   Sails and sheets were chafed.  Peter’s recommendation was to forget it.   He told the owners that he would recommend that, if we were foolish enough to want to purchase her, he would recommend that we pay no more than one-quarter of that which they were asking.  Which he did.   He told us that she was close to sinking at her mooring.

The problem was that, not only did we want her back, she was “our baby.”  And we didn’t want to think of her sinking at her mooring.  She was so beautiful, and had been built with such love and care.   Our poker playing skills were non-existent, as I mentioned.  The owners denied there was anything wrong that a little paint and caulking wouldn’t fix.   Peter took a very good boat builder with him to see her.   Between them, they detailed and costed everything that needed to be done – took photographs and sent them to us.  The cost of repairs was going to be horrifying.  But still the owner denied anything major needed to be done.   In the end, we decided we had to bite the bullet, buy her back and get her into shape.   We liked the approach the boatbuilder had taken, so we commissioned him to rebuild her, with Peter performing oversight.

We had to get her from the River Orwell round the E. Coast to Brightlingsea, where the boatyard was.  So we flew to England, traveled to Suffolk, and saw her for the first time in 13 years.  The previous owners had made a few superficial changes – new curtains and new upholstery, but that was all.

The weather forecast for the week was not good, so Peter, who knew that coast very well, volunteered to sail with us.  He said that he could show us shortcuts that could take several hours off the journey.  We were very glad he did.   It was the top end of a Force 5 (21 knots) when we set off.   We had stocked up on hand-held food – pork pies and Cornish pasties – to keep us going.  We needed them.   Most of the journey was into the wind, so we were close-hauled and heeling with the rail under water much of the way.  It was quite exciting, except the wind was steadily picking up.   With the spray, it was difficult to see buoys, even the large, bright IALA marks, so navigation was difficult.   We had to trust that Peter knew the coast as well as he had said he did.   All went well in that respect.  I steered most of the time with Kirk and Peter handling the sails.  (And, by the way, we had a tiller, not a wheel.)

But, after a few hours, as I went down below to get some food for all of us, I saw that we were taking on water.  We had an electric bilge pump that came on automatically, and that was working valiantly, but it was clear that it wasn’t keeping up with the inflow of water.   Kirk and Peter took turns every 15 minutes with our large manual bilge pump, and we radioed ahead to the harbor-master in Brightlingsea (a friend of Peter’s) to ask him if he could come and meet us as soon as we entered the harbor.

We made it!  The harbor-master came out with one of his people, got us into a very easy and convenient berth, and brought an enormous pump.  Since it was already going dark, we decided to leave Kantele there with the pump going all night, watched over by the harbor people.  The boat-builder was to come out first thing in the morning.   Everything down below was drenched – including sleeping bags and clothes.   Peter’s lady-friend, Peggy, took pity on us and offered us a bed for the night.   But before we settled into her home, and had a wonderful hot shower, we all went to what must be the best Fish and Chip shop in England, and had a wonderful meal and a couple of beers.  It really was a case of “all’s well that ends well.”


Christine MacNulty
Christine MacNulty
CHRISTINE MacNulty has forty years’ experience as a consultant in long-term strategic -planning for concepts as well as organizations, futures studies, foresight, and technology forecasting, technology assessment and related areas, as well as socio-cultural change. For the last twenty years, most of her consultancy has been conducted for the Department of Defense and the Services, NATO ACT, NATO NEC, the British Army’s Force Development & Training Command, and the German BBK. Prior to that her work was in the commercial arena where she had Fortune Global 500 clients. During the last thirty-five years Christine MacNulty has contributed methods and models for understanding social and cultural change through people’s values. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1989. She is the coauthor of two books: Industrial Applications of Technology Forecasting, Wiley, 1971 and Strategy with Passion – A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016. Her paper: “Method for minimizing the negative consequences of nth order effects in strategic communication actions and inactions” was published in NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal, p 99, Winter 2015. Two monographs “Truth, Perception & Consequences” (2007) and “Transformation: From the Outside In or the Inside Out” (2008) were published by the Army War College. Perceptions, Values & Motivations in Cyberspace appeared in the IO Journal, 3rd Quarter, 2009, and The Value of Values for IO, SC & Intel was published in the August 2010 edition of the IO Journal.

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