View Full Version : Lulu's Quiet Weekend

John R Smith
12-05-2001, 04:32 AM
This one is dedicated to Darryl


Tides, as I keep reminding you, are funny old things. If Lulu, Kate and I chanced to live elsewhere, perhaps on the Baltic or the glorious Med, then things would be much of a briny muchness whatever the time of day. But here in Cornwall things go in and out somewhat, and nowhere is this more pronounced than at good old Sunny Corner. Here, by way of example, is Lulu's home port with the tide resolutely out -


A nice autumn afternoon, looking up river towards Truro, with Sunny Corner House and quay in the centre of our view. At this state of the tide (low water) you can easily walk across the channel to our left in your wellies (gum-boots for you lot). The boats, as you can see, all moor up to the wall bows-first.

Our lives have settled into a bi-weekly rhythm, matching the phases of the moon. One weekend in two, the tide is high during the day, giving us the opportunity to slip away down river for four or five hours of fun. These are the voyages which have formed the basis of our Lulu sagas right here on the illustrious Forum.

Each alternate weekend, however, the tide is out all day. Unless the hardy yachtsman rises with the dawn, dashes down to the quay to catch the fast-flowing ebb and runs with it to deep water, his pride and joy is firmly on the mud. These, then, are Lulu's quiet weekends, as she sits dreaming in the Cornish sun of a glorious past when all little sloops were wooden just like her, with portholes and a bucket for a loo.


For her crew, though, such times are anything but quiet. Now is our chance to address the lengthy list of Jobs To Be Done. An endless list, it seems, for as soon as one task is ticked as done, a fresh one takes its place. Working on our beach has its own distinctive problems, most compelling being the nature of mud. Up by Lulu's bow the beach is in fact quite firm, firm enough to stand and walk in normal human fashion. But back towards the stern the mud thickens. Work on the after hull or transom is accompanied by horrid sucking sounds as mud clings to wellies with a glutinous tenacity, gluing the unfortunate shipwright to the fundus.

And of course we drop things. Screwdrivers, scrapers, sanding blocks, and worst of all, the matches, just when the blow-torch has expired. Each has to be groped for, retrieved, and cleansed in the dinghy (which provides a handy bath). The matches, well, they were a lost cause . . .

Matches? Blow-torch? Sounds like we could have used Doc's help. All we were missing was the marshmallows - but no, we resisted the temptation to claim on the insurance and buy a plastic boat instead. Our efforts were not in vain -


It has taken us the whole season, working every alternate weekend, to burn-off and scrape the top-sides back to bare wood. Judging from the build-up of paint, no-one had done this since the boat was built, forty years ago. Here is Kate, as we approach the finish line - just three and a tiddy-bit strakes to go. As I write, the starboard side is now in top-coat, the port side (this one) all in two coats of undercoat.

In case some of you can't quite believe it took so long, I should perhaps explain that each precious Sat or Sunday goes like this. We have just six hours between the tides when the water has receded far enough to work around the boat. An hour or so is lost to lunch. The paint was, as mentioned, VERY thick, so at least two passes with the flames and scrapers are required. When scraped, the mahogany must be sanded, nail holes are puttied, we sand again, and a coat of paint must be applied before the tide returns. All this by hand, of course, for there is no power on our beach. If we are lucky and we find no rot, and the weather holds, we can manage one 23 foot strake a day.

Ho hum. The joys of (wooden) boat maintenance, folks http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif


Still, we can dream. Here is the Skipper, firmly aground but in his imagination racing under full sail to the Scilly Isles or the French coast. And when you are not up to your armpits in mud or grappling with the dreaded rot, Sunny Corner is really a rather pleasant spot to pass those quiet weekends.

Best wishes to you all



[This message has been edited by JohnRSmith (edited 12-05-2001).]

Ron Williamson
12-05-2001, 06:02 AM
Your threads about Lulu are always a treat.
I don't mean to complain,but this thread would have been wonderful solace in February at -20 with 4' of snow.Presently it is 13C.
Could you please save some for the winter? http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Mike Field
12-05-2001, 06:27 AM
Thanks once more, John. You describe the delights of mud, glorious mud, with meticulaous exactitude and absolute veracity,,,,

12-05-2001, 07:12 AM
Hi John---good tale, good show "mucking about" like you do---by the by, is that hat of yours for sale?---it is "spot on!" ole boy. Where can I get one ? http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Can you tell us anything about that black hull boat next to your boat--it is just what I'm looking for---the right length and shallow draft--able to sit up in the mud---perfect for the New England coast here in the colonies. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by Norske1 (edited 12-05-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Norske1 (edited 12-05-2001).]

12-05-2001, 08:13 AM
John, Always a pleasure to read of you, Kate, and Lu Lu. And the mud - Yes , I too have fond memories of such mud where I grew up. When not in school, I could be found out in the creeks, salt marsh, and tributeries near where we lived; and we had some good mud there! Black as tar & smelled rather like it. If you stood still to long your shoes/boots would remain firmly stuck in place and left behind when you tried to take a step. - Good memories.

12-05-2001, 09:25 AM
Chalk up another.

Thanks, John.


ken mcclure
12-05-2001, 09:30 AM
Good feelings. Good stuff. Thanks, John.

Dave R
12-05-2001, 09:42 AM
Ah, John, thanks again for another delightful interlude. I always look forward to the next chapter and once read, I can hardly wait for the next one after that. Keep up the good work.

John R Smith
12-05-2001, 10:24 AM
Glad you enjoyed the news from Cornwall, folks.

Norske - the big black yacht next to Lulu is a 1930s Hillyard schooner, about 36 foot LOD. She is carvel built, pitch-pine on oak, but unusually has a hard-chine hull.

Her forward saloon is beautiful, all original in mahogany, with a huge brass clock and barometer. She also has a full set of signal flags in linen pigeon-holes.


Alan D. Hyde
12-05-2001, 10:42 AM
Another good tale, told and illustrated well.

Thanks again John, Kate, and Lulu.

What's the name of Kate's new boat? Or are Lulu and the dink jealous of the new arrival?


[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 12-05-2001).]

John R Smith
12-05-2001, 11:04 AM
Alan -

no name for the new punt so far, but lots more problems. Hood ends at the stem on the port side are rather gone, I'm afraid. So major re-think time, possibly two or three new planks. But now winter has closed in, we will have to wait till spring.

I know I shouldn't say it, but I am really rather pleased that Doris the dink is other than wood (no, stop it fellas, I didn't mean it, honest . . .)

John http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Ed Harrow
12-05-2001, 01:41 PM
Mud, glorious mud. Reminds me of Watkins Glen, and the time when I was a little kid when, well, ... thankfully Mum and Dad never asked me what happened to my "hip boots".

John B
12-05-2001, 02:56 PM
I really think you're going to have to dig out your Arthur Ransome John. Splatchers is what you need. Never seen em but I'm sure they will solve those mud issues. Inline skates? Segway ?PAH. Splatchers is the thing.

Coot club wasn't it ?

[This message has been edited by John B (edited 12-05-2001).]

Scott Rosen
12-05-2001, 04:14 PM
Thanks, John. Stories like yours mean a lot to us here in Connecticut in December, with our boats all covered for the winter.

12-05-2001, 05:48 PM
thanks john for reply on the black hull----
about that hat---where can I get one---does it have a name? CHEERS

Mike Field
12-05-2001, 05:49 PM
Not "Coot Club," JohnB -- "Secret Water."

I made some splatchers here a couple of years back, but I didn't make them large enough. They worked okay where the mud was firmer, but still sank in in the really soft stuff.

Good clean fun, though. Har.

12-06-2001, 12:57 AM
This little gem reminds me that some of the brightest little baubles in English were originally written for entertaining friends and family - the Tolkien sagas, Alice's Adventures, and of course the Wind in the Willows.
So John - need an agent?

Bernadette & David Hedger
12-06-2001, 02:36 AM
Great little read...enjoyable! Would a board/s full length of the boat laid out on the mud suit the purpose of access to your boat by spreading the load somwhat?

martin schulz
12-06-2001, 02:56 AM
Wow-another nice Lulu-Story.

As for living at a "tide"-free sea, you are welcome in Flensburg any time John.

John R Smith
12-06-2001, 03:57 AM
Yes . . .

"splatchers", gosh that brings back memories. More years ago than I care to remember, I grew up and went to school close to the Kingsbridge Estuary in Devon. One of our friends was a lad called Tim, who ate, drank and slept "Swallows and Amazons". He made himself a pair of mud-shoes as per the story, and they did work quite well.

But mud-shoes were not allowed in the annual Kingsbridge Mud Race, where contestants had to race over a course laid out at low tide, to finish (unrecognisable as human beings) and be hosed down on the quay. In fact, the best kit for moving quickly in mud is just plimsolls (sneakers) laced up very tight. (No bare feet - cockles and razor shells can really cut you up).

You would think that boards laid around the boat would help for maintenance, but the problem is that you can't get 'em up again - the suction is tremendous. And when you do, the board weighs a ton, covered in gloopy slime on the underside.

Mud is kind to boats, though http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif


Andreas Wiese
12-06-2001, 06:15 AM
Yet another treat!

Thanks John!!

BTW what was that you had sealed your deck with - I remember you told me when I dropped by early this summer.....it seems I have forgotten...I just remember that you were satisfied!


Mike Field
12-06-2001, 06:39 AM
All the same, I've got a permanent "board-walk" down to Sanderling's mud berth, made from railway sleepers tied down to embedded star pickets. It takes me down far enough to reach a permanent little hinged ladder that I use for getting aboard at low tide.

There's a minor problem in that the boardwalk acts as a little groyne, though -- the silt accretes alongside it until it's covered, and I have to keep cleaning it off.


John R Smith
12-06-2001, 06:44 AM

didn't use anything special on the deck, just International Interdeck deck paint. It's non-slip, of course, and pretty thick - you almost need to stipple it on, rather than brush it out too much.

But actually, now I come to think about it, we were in the process about the time you visited of sealing the side decks with Thompsons Roof-Seal, which is a sort of gooky acrylic paint meant for flat-roofs. Then we put the Interdeck on top of that.

So far, so good.

Hey, Mike, our posts just crossed. Great photo, what a snug little berth you have there. I bet you can go sailing all year round . . .


[This message has been edited by JohnRSmith (edited 12-06-2001).]

Andreas Wiese
12-06-2001, 08:03 AM
Ah, Thompsons + Interdeck, yes!

I used something else this summer, and it came to look like someone had been dancing the foxtrot on it for 50 years or so by the August...

12-06-2001, 12:35 PM
if wanted, you could probably make a mud-proof thingy using old shipping pallets and large-dia pvc pipes. they would basically float on top of the mud. hope the terms translate into briddish.

12-06-2001, 12:52 PM
In really glutinous mud, such as we have here in Suffolk, an Avon dinghy (preferably not a very new one) makes an excellent working platform. If burning off, however, lay some wet tarpaulins over the tubes first!

10-31-2004, 06:47 PM
It is great to see this series reposted! I am catching up on the ones I missed when John orginally posted them

One question, I see references to "Tea and cake". I also see this reference in some British bicycle publications I read .I understand what the tea is, But is there a specific type of cake that is served with the tea?