One of the best parts of this project has been hanging out in and getting to know Rye. It might be a hell of a drive and feel like you are practically in France, but it is a really pretty town with plenty going on and plenty of people more than willing to help out on Betty. We have literally searched high and low for a mooring so that once she is back afloat, we can keep her there. Alas it is not to be. There are relatively few large moorings in Rye, due mostly to the fact it is relatively small and the rivers are tidal with steep banks. They are too narrow and the bed slopes away too steeply to moor her stern on, like most of the smaller boats round here, and there aren’t spaces to put her side on. We have been hunting since the start of the year and pleading with anyone with any access to a bit of river bank. Alas, it isn’t to be. There simply isn’t anywhere. End of.
So, on to plan B and a new era for Betty in SUFFOLK. More on this later
Things are cracking on a pace. Really moving full pelt. Tom (deputy sub-captain, cabin boy) has been down there with Ian (Chief engineer) pretty much everyday and the hard graft and hours is really starting to show. We have all the panelling done and painted, the kitchen has gone in and the first fix of the wiring has been started on. Who’d a thought we’d start thinking about kitchen appliances?
The only downside about going into this in more detail is that Ido most of my comms with the boat over FaceTime so there actually aren’t that many photos… yet. We will be doing a bit photo session next time I’m down next week but in the meantime there are only a couple of pics of the panelling.
Most of the fit out is quite plain at this stage but we do have these plinths covering the larger ribs. They look unintentionallyquite Art Deco which does fit in with the age of the boat. From fireboat to 1920s gin palace 😊👍🏼
Final bits of paintwork before it is back in the water. Betty has basically been dipped in jotamastic 87 and there isn’t hardly an inch that hasn’t had at least one coat of the stuff. Below the waterline, we are topping this off with a couple of coats of ballastic black, a more traditional style blacking that has some bitumen in it and is less prone to showing any minor dinks (of which there will be none of course!).
Half way through putting two coats on and she’s looking a mean ass boat. A stealth torpendo, black bottomed Betty.
A shout out here to SML paints who I have called endlessly over the four years. They have been faultlessly patient and responded to all my questions about what I can layer on what, antifoul, different thinners for two pack paint… you can imagine how painful this must have been for them at times but they were never not charming.
When I took on beta iii, it didn’t look quite how it did when it was first built.
We took the weird structure off the top and reinstated half the deck which had been lowered when she was a tour boat. The final cherry on the top was to put the square windows back, three on either side. Now I have searched for LITERALLY four years to find some square portholes or other windows the right size. Either too big or too small – nothing in the uk, Europe, India or the US. So Ian made them, and now they are in and she is her original silhouette back.
The back cabin, which will be the galley is totally transformed. It looks so smart and she now looks just like she did when she was pootling up and down the Thames nearly 100 years ago!
(The post is for Ben of Liquid Highway who has been sending me a steady stream of pictures of beta iii over the years. He seems to be able to identify her whatever the angle or the quality of the photo, I think in part due to the square windows)