Well its been a big learning curve for me, not so much the practicalities of transforming a motorised boat into a sail boat although that’s complicated enough, more the politics and intrigue of it all.

First off, the wood I paid for wasn’t all good and wasn’t even all there. The wood for the long beam, the sal de mar, turned out to be the wrong type, on this everyone agreed. Casuarina is the best wood (interestingly sometimes called Australian Pine) then eucalyptus, what I had bought was neither. The strong right angle pieces never arrived, they stayed with a boat builder which I later discovered was a ploy to ensure that he got the job of renovating the boat, and the hole where the prop shaft had been removed never got plugged so the hull was still taking in water weeks later.

The sail – where to begin? I bought 100m of sail which unrolled to just 50m. The sailmaker did a fantastic job of making the sail anyway even though it was obviously way too small. The fabric I bought was too heavy apparently, meaning it wouldn’t catch a breeze and would be impossible when wet. All of this ‘advice’ came to me from different sources with contradiction pilling up on top of contradiction – everyone had a view, which wasn’t all that helpful.

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What next? Ah yes, the man providing the replacement wood for the sal de mar pulled out for reasons unclear but quite likely because of pressure from those who already figured they had their teeth into me for more than he was charging. I got a 2nd alternative boat builder after the first alternative pulled out, again for reasons unclear. I got, for a higher price, a beautiful length of freshly cut casuarina which is now standing vertical, its base dug into the ground so that the sap can drain out of it. An alternative sail maker is coming over tomorrow (the original is threatening me with police after I paid him a correspondingly small price for his small sail), I’m assured he will do a proper job. Phew!

And the good news? Well the boats actually taking shape and I’ve enjoyed watching the traditional skills displayed. What a master boatbuilder can do with an adze, hand drill, crow bar and hammer, its amazing.