Lately, pretty much every conversation I have begins with something along the lines of: “So…when are you actually going to go to the UK? Why don’t you have your visa yet? What’s taking so long?” Just for future reference, these are top on the list of the worst questions you could ask someone applying for a visa. The answer is most definitely that I do not know. When I do know, rest assured, everyone with whom we are even marginally acquainted will hear about it.
New developments on the visa application, for the curious: two weeks ago I received an e mail informing me that “Unfortunately, the processing of your application has not been straightforward and we will be unable to decide your application within our customer service targets. We are continuing to work on your application and aim to make a decision as soon as possible.” Below that was an earlier e mail requesting that I send in an additional form by the beginning of March. Needless to say, I had not sent in the additional form by the beginning of March. Yikes. I guess that is why my application is “not straightforward,” whatever that means. While all of this did initially provoke a massive panic attack on my part, it is at least encouraging to learn that my application, along with every single document necessary to my survival in the 21st century, has not been lost and that somewhere there exists a human being who is in possession of them.
Meanwhile, life goes on aboard Pas de Deux. Benn has been working on the headlining of the boat, and I think it looks wonderful.
We decided to cover the insulation with wood instead of the more common vinyl or plastic alternatives, mainly because we have been seduced by photographs of classic boat interiors. Yes, catamarans are usually ultra-modern affairs, but no way are we going to give up living in the pseudo-Georgian interior of my dreams just for the sake of a little design consistency!
Despite its reputation for warping, Benn chose pine for the headlining, primarily because it costs less and is relatively lightweight. Pine is what is used in the interior of most modern boats, anyway, and it tends to work out just fine if it’s been properly treated. If we have any problems, we can also choose to replace it with something nicer later without feeling that we’ve wasted lots of time, money, and effort in its installation.
The big question now is the finish. Initially, we planned to use a glossy white paint similar to what we’ve seen in photos of classic boats, but after making a test swatch, Benn thinks that it will clash with the white fiberglass sides. A medium-colored varnish would match the rest of the wood in the boat nicely, but pine is so absorbent that a varnish stain looks blotchy and uneven without a billion coats and lots of sanding and waxing. Even though our boat is fairly small and treating the entire ceiling wouldn’t be impossible, it would still eat up lots of time that we’d rather spend either using the boat or working on more pressing matters, like our helm, which is falling apart, or the rotting bulkhead in the bathroom. (When people tell you that a boat needs constant work, they aren’t lying.)
We have read a lot about Danish oil, which is a mixture of oil and varnish that combines all of the prettiness of oil with the durability of varnish. This seems an attractive option, but unfortunately it isn’t really all that less time consuming than the varnish. It still requires lots of rubbing in to get a smooth finish, plus sanding between coats. Nor does it give us the option of darkening the pine, since a colored oil finish will sink into the pine as quickly and become just as blotchy as a varnish stain. There are clear oils available, however, and according to the Internet, they can be really beautiful. So, our plan is to go with that.
Exactly when the ceiling will be finished, however, is as yet unclear. Do not criticize, dear reader! This is not due to indolence on Benn’s part! In fact, he has been very industrious of late, as he’s accepted a new job as a boat valet (American readers, you know how to pronounce this in the proper British manner if you have seen Downton Abbey), which means that he does a lot of maintenance and basic repairs for people who, unlike the two of us, are not too cheap to hire another person to do the work for them. This involves lots of hard manual labor, which, believe me, he does not hesitate to complain about. It is an excellent way for him to gain experience, however, and we’re hoping that if one day we ever do go cruising, he’ll be able to do similar work to help us earn a little cash on the side. This is actually more my hope than Benn’s.
So, those of you who, like Ian, our most faithful (and possibly only) reader, have noticed that the posts have grown a bit sparser of late, rest assured: you are not missing anything. Very little has been happening, a fact which I trust has been sufficiently demonstrated by this blog post. Yes, there are all sorts of other posts I’ve been planning to put up, and I will most likely get to those sooner or later, but lately I’ve had a sort of aversion to all things boat-related, as they only serve to remind me that I am not actually with my husband, on our boat, sailing off on all of the maritime adventures that we will hopefully have sometime before the end of life on this planet as we know it.