It took me a long time to gain the confidence to develop my own methods of working in the yard. The way a 6ft 2 man would get something done is not the way a 5ft nothing girl would do it. I love learning from the experts and absorbing all the knowledge they have to offer. However I often find myself reinventing their manly shouldered wheel to suit my less than adequately shouldered body. It often takes the strength and weight of my entire self to accomplish something that my boss would just nudge with his shoulder.
I am very self-conscious about being watched whilst I work because I am so aware of how completely ridiculous I look.
When I’m properly stuck into re-planking a hull you’ll stroll past and find me with my arse braced against the slipways walls, my feet wedged against the boat, with a sledge hammer in one hand, a stick in the other, trying to convince some massive hunk of wood that it does in fact want to be curved round the bosom of a rotten boat. I use my whole body to make this happen and when I get home I certainly know it! When you see everyone else doing this, it appears to be some elegant act of craftsmanship but when I do it is an act of contortionism, determination and a pure battle of wills. On more than one occasion I have been likened to a Troglodyte (I’m still not sure what this is…probably some kind of beautiful butterfly), hiding in dark corners talking to the bottoms of boats whilst I try to meet my deadline.
Last week I had to have 5 days off from Peggotty so that Guy could steam all the ribs in. Not a job that I wanted to do. They are 12 ft long and you have around 3 minutes to shape them before they split, send you flying across the yard and land you on your ass. It would take me 3 minutes to arrange enough ladders so that I could reach the top of the boat. Guy was the man for the job. I did quite enjoy my 5 days off though, don’t get me wrong I was itching to get back to it but after having manoeuvred all those stern planks and accomplished what I had everything else felt pretty easy. This was a nice confidence boost. My boss pointed at a boat with a hole in it and said “ find anything with a hole in it and get them all fixed by the end of the week”, by the time I’d finished I had re planked 3 different hulls. Stuff like that used to have me up at night stressing, not eating at lunch coz I was so eager to get back so I could figure out the problems. Bloody hell I lost 3 stone in 2 months when I started…a third of my body weight! But last week I just breezed through em, not a care in the world. With all my own methods finally figured out I can crack on with this stuff and not feel as though I want to jump in the river from the stress of it all.
From this post I’m sure I come across with a mild air of arrogance but don’t be fooled…I know full well that tomorrow could be the day I learn so much old things start oozing from my ears to make room. I also know that the rise in confidence can only last until the next knock and when you’re working with wood (and men) this is never far away.