Damage wreaked by a confused Norfolk woodpecker; Slantendicular in flight,
photographed by Mary Moore of Moore & Moore Exposure
Joe Field of Navigators & General insurance got in touch with an oddball story late last week. It seems that a boat kept in a Norfolk Broads boatyard came under attack from a feathery predator. I’ll let the owner Steve Law tell the story:
‘On a couple of occasions during last October, on arrival at the boat at the yard we found what looked like wood chips scattered over the cover. The first time I merely brushed them off and went sailing, as you would. The second time, a week later, I became suspicious and asked the yard owner if he could shed any light. He came, looked, pondered and declared he knew nothing about it.
‘Then we competed in the end of season Downriver Race from Horning to Thurne, and pushed her quite hard. Wet decks are not something our boat Slantendicular normally suffers, but she did that day.
‘I muttered something about having to tighten the shrouds later, since they looked a little slack. Having returned to base, forgotten about the shrouds and gone back to work for the week, we returned the following weekend to find yet more woodchips on the cover, even more than before and now there were even hard varnish on one side of some of them!
‘Was it the lads in the yard having a laugh? The boss came and looked, looked again, looked up – and suddenly knew what had happened.
‘”So that’s where the woodpecker’s been hammering! We’ve heard him for a few weeks now, but every time we came to look it all went quiet. But now we know – he was up your mast all the time!”‘
‘I’d like to say thanks to Nav & Gen, who have accepted the claim and a new mast will shortly be made – they have been first class in their handling – no fuss, just accepted the story, rolled over laughing, and gave the OK!’
Navigators & General approved replacement with a new spar, as the policy covers damage caused by external accidents which means including vermin – though of course it isn’t strictly fair to call a bird such as this woodpecker by that name.
On the boat itself, Steve has this to say: ‘My boatbuilding career started with an old Enterprise dinghy, which I almost had to rebuild, and a Selway Fisher canoe I built from plans. And then I built Slantendicular from my own drawings, with much help from David Williams, who has built several Broads Cruisers and other boats. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
‘Building Slanty then took three years or 1500 hours in the garage, leading up to her launch in April 04.’