Think of Wimbledon and you probably think of Andy Murray, strawberries and cream, warm summer days, grass courts, hawkeye, and if you’re old enough, Robinson’s barley water.
You might also think of rain delays and the covers going on.
But what does all this have to do with Steam Yacht Gondola, I hear you ask?
Well, the company that makes the covers for Wimbledon, Stuart Canvas Products of Warrington, also made the cover for Gondola - if it’s good enough for the aristocracy of tennis we figured it would probably be good enough for Gondola.
Obviously we don’t bring out Gondola’s cover every time it rains which is a good job given the changeable nature of the weather here in the Lake District.
Gondola’s cover is only used during the off-season to provide protection to the boat through the harsh winter months and allows us to work in the dry whilst carrying out repairs and maintenance.
In preparation for the task of covering the boat we first have to assemble the framework.
We were a little late getting started this year, partly because we ran our cruises for a couple of weeks longer than usual, but also because the cover was back at Stuart’s for repair - last year, whilst we were shot blasting the engine room in readiness for repainting, the cover took some ‘collateral damage’.
Anyway, as soon as it arrived back with us we got on with fitting it to the boat.
Unfortunately, you can’t just line up half a dozen men and tell them to run the cover straight across Gondola. Those Wimbledon guys don’t know what an easy life they have!
The cover is a 90ft long one-piece heavy canvas. Putting the cover over the boat requires some careful planning and certainly involves a fair amount of manhandling.
It took six of us the best part of two hours using rope and bare hands to get the boat covered before the arrival of the gales and torrential rain that were forecast that night, but eventually everything was secured in place.
Now that Gondola is tucked up in her winter outfit the real work can begin in the dry and relative comfort of the covered interior.
First job – varnishing the engine silencer lagging.