Fire in the Hole

A poorly played horn blasted through the silence of the shipyard. A bugle was discovered onboard the ship, and in the amphitheatre of the dry dock, once you found the sweet spot it truly made an impressive sound. Men laughed joyously or nodded approvingly, depending on what the player could produce.

There was no time for fun while the boat was high and dry, but we had fun anyway. Like six wine soaked men crammed into the wheelhouse blasting a bugle. It would carry on until the dude that was getting it delivered straight into his earhole couldn't take it any longer. One unlucky player even held up the instrument, closed his eyes and prepared to play, when five other men's saliva ran into his mouth and put him off playing the bugle ever again.

The plug was pulled and as the winter sea drained from the dry dock, Starlight began to rest on the blocks being strategically placed by the shipyard divers. Everyone knew the magnitude of the day – we were about to see the underbelly of the vessel and could be peering at a rotten mess, like a dentist’s day at Sunset Retirement Village. But good fortune prevailed, and although the list was long, it seemed within our capabilities and possible within the time frame we had allowed.

The task that laid ahead however, was far greater than just Starlight’s owners. A bugle cry for help was sounded, and promptly answered by several men – of whom thewetwayhome will be forever indebted. Bless you Mantooth, Stevo, Brio, Nick, Chris and Mark. Long hours were spent toiling well into the night. Your blood, sweat and tears will be returned with adventure, waves and beers.

Christmas came around and after a tiresome month buried deep in the shipyard, it was time to let the cat out of the bag. There was talk of venturing out into the world, but like a family of moles poking their heads out after too long underground, we squinted at the blinding sun and decided it was safer to stay put in familiar dirty territory. Fires were lit, motorbikes lowered in and the sounding of the bugle signified the beginning of the games.

Days became nights and suddenly it was well into the new year and a pile of work still awaited. A giant clock now loomed and ticked over the hole. When everyone had found their heads and wallets, we had to get stuck in. A crazy couple of weeks ensued, with the troops rallying and working right up to the eleventh hour. Tomorrow Starlight was to feel the cool embrace of the Mediterranean Sea.

Charlie blew his whistle and Seppy opened the flood gates. Millions of cold salty litres roared into what had been our grimy home and playground for well over a month. Some major works had taken place and we anxiously awaited as the water level rose and the boat began to float again. To the delight of all, the repairs and works were successful, and the leaks that were once a torrent had been reduced to but a trickle. Jetski’s and tenders were launched and we celebrated Kevin Costner smoker style, while shipyard management watched and checked on their insurance policies.

Now back on sea level, the winter sun glistens off the waters around Palumbo Shipyard. Together the crew inhales the clean salty air and enjoys the warming sun upon their faces. After a memorable few months in the dark belly of Palumbo, Starlight edges a little closer to riding the deep blue rollers once again.