A Boat For My Potplants


My nautical project took me to glorious places, metaphorically speaking. There were parties on board. There was The World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station. Of course there were plants. And one day even a gorilla.
The boat also became my 'Writer's Retreat'. I decided to become an author, writing my debut novel aboard the boat. The book, called MUDDY WATER, was naturally set in Wivenhoe. Amazingly, several local people paid good money to have their names appearing in the book, and a lot of cash was raised for worthy charities - the RNLI, MIND, The Samaritans, and The Royal British Legion.
Now, my next multi-singular selling novel, FLORIDA KEY, is in 'production', due for publication in October 2017.
I'm sure to be visiting writers' block along the way, as well as euphoria, self-doubt and inspiration.
See how my book goes through all the stages - from initial concept to final print. I'll take you with me on my personal journey as I work on the words, on the cover, on the marketing, and on the publishing.
Maybe it will inspire you too to have a go at bringing out THE BOOK IN YOU. Everyone has a story in them, just waiting to be told, and after all, if I can do it, anyone can.
(Click on the tabs below to see more about the Writer's Retreat In France, the old Boat For My Potplants, Tallulah the Motorhome, Alfonso the Car, and Jane the Woman. And to find out more about MUDDY WATER the novel, click the cover to be transported to its Facebook page)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

At Last - Some Progress

Finally, after waiting ages for some clear days away from decorating work and other commitment, I'm finally able to get a couple of 'boat-days'.

So today I can move on a little.

Firstly though, I must confront my demons. I'm coming to the engineering and mechanical bit where the steering wheel and other controls are. There are wires all over the shop, some of which I can see don't connect to anything. Where should they be going? This is territory outside of my comfort-zone.

Basically, I haven't a clue. And I have to sort this lot out before getting the motor.

I'll be going to introduce myself to the Suzuki dealer this morning, with whom the Suzuki management has arranged to 'deal with this boat with the potplants'. I sure hope I can get on the right side of him and that he'll agree to help me figure out what goes where. My fingers are firmly crossed.

And then there will be the little problem of how to get my boat a few miles down-river without a motor and without a trailer.

'One thing at a time, Neil', I say to myself. 'Steady at the helm'.

Monday, 20 February 2012

W.O.R.C. Helps To Swing The Deal With Suzuki

Thanks to the kindness of a local blog-reader, I was flush with funds for an outboard motor. But I had soon discovered that it would only be enough for a secondhand one from Ebay, if that.

So a wrote a nice letter to Suzuki, explaining my debacle.

On Friday the day finally came for my meeting with Suzuki's Sales and Marketing Manager, Gareth Lumsdaine, and I set off at 5.30am for the hundred mile journey to Milton Keynes. This was one meeting I didn't want to be late for, and I arrived an hour early. As a sat in my van waiting for the allotted time, I made a mental note of my objectives:

a) To get a motor. Ideally a 15hp 4-stroke long-shaft outboard, with electric start and remote steering. And a warranty would be nice too.
b) To get assistance from a local dealer
c) To get a photo for my blog

We discussed transoms and propeller sizes, motors and boats, and how I might be able to try out different sizes of props and give my feedback. I would be pleased and honoured to assist. We also discussed W.O.R.C. (Wivenhoe Ocean Racing Club), of whom I am a proud member. Luckily I'd brought along a spare lapel badge with which to hopefully swing a positive outcome to the meeting.

An hour later I left in a bit of a daze.

I made a mental tick against a), b) and c), and thanked my stars that I'd remembered to bring that lapel badge. I metaphorically punched the air, the way footballers do after scoring a goal.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My First Blog - This Is What It's All About...

Sunday, 4 October 2009
This is my Tale Of A Boat For My Potplants. It is a new adventure for me - blogging and boating coming together for the first time.

I have moved to a new flat, which doesn't have a garden, but it is by a river. Wouldn't it be great to have a boat that I can sit on surrounded by my potplants?

Well, I visualised it happening, and I'm now on the first step of the rope ladder, now that I have been given a boat by a good friend.

The boat is a hundred miles away.

I know absolutely nothing about boats - a minor problem, indeed.
I don't have a trailer.
I don't have a car with a tow-bar.
I don't have a mooring.
The boat doesn't have a working motor.

But I do have some potplants, so all will be okay.

You are welcome to read my blog to see what happens.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Deja Vu All Over Again

My lovely old Grandad used to tell me when I was nee high that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. As it was when I began my love affair with The Boat For My Potplants. And I do still have many miles to go - not least getting a motor - and I'm crossing my fingers that next Friday's meeting with Suzuki will present a positive outcome.

But while all this is going on, somebody told somebody that I'm a painter and decorator and that I've been working on "that boat by the pub with the potplants on it". Back in the balmy autumn I was asked to visit a lovely old wooden sailing vessel that's kept in a farm-shed awaiting renovation and painting, and its owner and I fixed a date for me to begin my first 'professional' boat job, and that date has now come up.

I arrived on Monday morning at 9am. By 10am I was frozen to the bone. Why I had to pick the coldest week of the year is anybody's business - but I'd agreed to do it, so I'd better just get on with it. Cold it may be, but what a privilege it is to be entrusted to work on someone else's pride and joy. And to be paid for it!

I looked at the extensive task ahead and had that deju-vu feeling all over again. The same one that I got when I first began working on my own boat. Just where to start? I had to reach deep inside my mind and pull out a gallon of positive energy to pick up a scraper, and start at the very beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start.

It's funny how things work out. I would never have been given this job if it hadn't been for the Boat For My Potplants. I could instead have been decorating Mrs Smith's living room this week. Nice and warm. Cups of tea brought to me. 'One sugar today, Neil?' 'Yes please, Mrs Smith'. Nice.

Nah. Boats is more fun. More of a challenge. More rewarding. Give me that deja vu feeling any time.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Breaking News...Suzuki Outboard Sensation

On Tuesday evening I'll be going along to see the wonderful group of people that is the Alresford Creek Boat Owners' Association. Nobody there cares two hoots that I don't have a 'real, proper, sailing boat', and that instead I have a floating garden and shed that doesn't actually go anywhere, except vertically with the tide.

That's why I like going there, on the first Tuesday of every month. There are no airs and graces. No one looking down their noses at me.

Of course, I admit my Boat For My Potplants has indeed been lacking in the motor department ever since I became its proud owner.

But all that is soon about to change, cross fingers, with the help of those very nice people at Suzuki.

Incredibly, I have been offered one of their finest outboards, no other than a 15hp little beauty, all shiny and black, with long shaft and electric start.

I can't wait to tell my friends on Tuesday evening that it will only be a matter of time till I'll be joining them on the river, thanks to the powers-that-be at Suzuki GB. I may even take along a bottle of Carver to celebrate with them.

To discuss things in finer detail, I've been invited by Marketing Manager and top-bloke Gareth, to visit their offices in Milton Keynes. I'm counting down the days until that all-important meeting.

In the meantime, the recent heavy snow has prevented me from doing the planned varnishing of the rear deck today. So I thought I'd go along and just gaze adoringly at the Suzuki catalogue and dream of being out on the river this summer.