Stacey Belbin continues her tale of an unusual life. She has finally got her dreamed for boat and named her Lady Grace. Now she has to put in the time, money and effort to get Lady Grace sea-worthy.
Stacey Belbin continues her fascinating tale. She has found her boat and now she has to put in the time, money and effort to get Lady Grace ready for sea fishing customers.
I named my boat after my husband’s Grandmother, whom I had loved dearly. We were very close and Grace had an amazing personality with great determination in life.
She had unfortunately passed away the year before, but I hoped that naming my boat after her would help keep her memory alive in our hearts.
When I first bought Lady Grace she had a small cabin area (cuddy) from the bow to about the middle of the boat. Inside were very small low seats and a little Thornycroft engine. There was an enormous amount of work to be done.
We had to cut the cuddy off, rip the old seats out which in turn meant we had to build new seats and decks. We also needed a steering console built and fibreglassed in too.
The cuddy was built into the side structure of the boat (gunnels) which meant we then had to replace all the woodwork round the gunnels to retain their strength and shape. Luckily Scott is an excellent carpenter and could handle a lot of the woodwork.
We knew it was going to be hard going but probably didn’t realise quite how hard. Both Scott and I were still working full time in our day jobs as well as running the angling boat at the weekend.
This left just a few hours in the evenings to work on our new venture.
The constant starting and stopping meant all the jobs took ages and it seemed we were making very little progress.
We bought the boat at the beginning of March 2011 and planned to have her in the water for May/June time, ready for her first summer.
That spring brought a lot of bad weather which made it very awkward to work on the boat during the few evening hours we had.
To try and compensate I would cycle home in my lunch break to do odd jobs then cycle back to my day job.
In the evening we’d get straight back to the boat as soon as we’d eaten and work on as late as possible. Scott and I were putting every spare minute into getting it finished and the frenetic pace started to take its toll.
We were missing out on evenings as newly-weds – curled up on the sofa together relaxing.
We were tired and agitated, June and July passed us by and the seemingly never ending task was wearing us down.
I thought Lady Grace was never going to be ready.
Then a strike of luck hit us – we were blessed with a few nice weekends.
It was time to prepare for painting. I had to grind down every inch of existing paintwork to get it ready for the gel coat – a special nautical paint which does not peel.
While I donned my overalls, gloves, mask and safety goggles and got ready for the heavy and dusty task at hand, Scott took an angling party out on the warmest, calmest day of the year.
I was so jealous. It was a physically hard job I was tackling but it was even harder to remember it would all be worth it when my Lady Grace was floating on water.
It took two full days to prepare Lady Grace for the gel coat, but it was worth it to know I would not have annual maintenance to worry about.
Another two days saw the back broken of the painting job. It surprised me how just two weekends of good weather could make such a huge difference – she was almost looking ready to go.
New steering cables and steering wheel, a stainless steel mast, stays for passengers to hold onto, fenders all the way round, rewiring, and all the safety gear onboard… Lady Grace was launched within hours of being completed.
After our statutory inspection Lady Grace was issued her council licence and it was all official and within hours on our first day we had a paying customer.