Now there are two types of leak on a boat. There is the leak below the waterline where seawater enters the boat and there is the leak above the waterline where rainwater enters the boat. One might imagine that the former is the more serious but this is seldom the case unless it is a catastrophically large leak. Seawater leaks do no more than accumulate a little water in the bilge and generate some damp. They can be managed by occasional bilge pumping. Rainwater leaks however are the real enemy that transform life afloat from mild hardship to abject misery. Everything gets soaked. Books soak up water and expand like toilet rolls that have been accidentally dropped down the loo, computers, radios and televisions commit hari-kari in hours, bedding doubles in weight and mugs taken from the shelf are found to be already filled.
Eddie’s boat had both kinds of leak.
It was just about possible to find a position where one could sleep without being dripped on by moulding one’s body into the right shape and not moving all night. Even then you have to be prepared for the ‘stealth leak’. This is the leak that accumulates on a ledge or other interim surface and builds until its pregnant meniscus rises to the limits of captivity, the surface tension ruptures and a torrent of cold water descends onto the sleeper/computer/book below. A joy to experience.
I thought I could withstand this existence for three nights a week but the combination of discomfort, lack of sleep and too much driving meant that every time I returned to the boat my resilience was eroded. The damp was permeating my body and it felt as though I had entered an accelerated aging programme. The boat was turning me into Eddie.
It was clear that I would have to make alternative arrangements, but there was another problem – trouble was brewing in paradise.