Thursday, August 4, 2011

Carval Knowledge

I've had a few great ideas for the Pearl. The first one was to patch her up, install a diesel Lister and go fishing. My last great idea was to upend her above a mud brick plinth so she could crown a shop full of great books in the middle of nowhere.

This was long after I had given her away. So I reclaimed her in another fit of wooden boat self-flagellation. All the people who had fallen for her siren song shook their heads but they understood. My new plan was that the Boatshed Bookshop could be a go-to destination. Like a drive from Port Hedland to Broome, it is the journey through the desert that makes the oasis so gorgeous. Imagine driving for days and then finding Another Roadside Attraction (thanks Tom Robbins) in the form of the best boat shed bookshop ever, out the back of beyond. Poetry.

However nice the idea was, the reality of getting the Pearl out there started to do my head in. (Yes, I really was quite serious about the book shop in the desert thing, This is not another WineDark yarn.) The trailer chassis was rusting through. The wheel bearings were, well, not bearing up. I needed a truck with a tip trailer and a winch. Once I got her curvy half-ton self out there, white ants had to be kept at bay with rock salt or something harder.
Then I had to replace all the ribs, because they were rotting into the stringers and terrible things would happen to inhabitants of any bookshop she roofed. I don't know how to steam and bend 98 kauri pine ribs of a 20 foot 1920s carval. If I did, and I had the time, I'd steam the bastards, put the Pearl in the water and go fishing.

I guess the moral of this tale is that if you fall in love with the Siren of Wooden Boats, you should be a rich, retired carpenter. Do I sound jaded or just a bit tired? Yes. She has nice lines this girl but her witchery is cruel. I'm worn of old wooden boats. Give me an ally hull and an outboard any day.

Tonight, under the cover of darkness and some illegal  borrowed hastily-attached number plates and lights, I took her to the tip. The plan was to miss peak hour traffic while I negotiated the major roundabout with her hull creaking and rocking behind me. I completely forgot about Thursday night shopping. Crazy. Anyway, Greedy, who works at the dump, wants to turn her into an installation, surround her with sunflowers and cover her in poetry. He is the right kind of siren lover - one who does not go to sea.

So, the Pearl has returned to where I found her three years ago.


  1. Filled with dirt she would have made a nice vegie garden until the white-ants broke her down for compost. Living in marinas for 3 years I saw quite a few wooden boat tragics. I love them, but we opted for steel!

  2. I think that may be her fate yet.

  3. Magic ... happy ending and a new home for the wooden boat .

  4. Three years. That's not a bad life for an affair which was always going to be a bit one sided (or end in tears).
    Lovely journey.
    PS I used to have a very old wooden sail boat (NS14). I eventually sold her and the replacement had a fibreglas hull and timber deck, mast etc. It cost me $700 including the launching trolley and the unregistered trailer. Still sails well. Drys out in the off season. Comes last every time.