Yesterday was a landmark occasion for Hawisia and her crew. Finally, after months of languishing in the darkness – reading by paraffin lamps and tea lights, we emerged into the light. The dramatic transition from the pre-industrial to modern age was enabled by two modest innovations supplied by the excellent electricians Maplins. These devices were small pin-ended LED lights. Now instead of rolling out 240 volts of electricity to ensure that we have lighting on the boat, and hence running out of energy very quickly – we can rely purely on our 12 volt supply.
The small pin-points of light look like stars behind the mica-like glass of the lampshades. They have transformed our lives. We are no longer scrambling in the darkness, as strange stragglers of pre-modernity or atavistic cosmopolitans. I feel like a civilised human being once more.
There was something romantic about our incarceration in the boat with only lamp oil and tapers. But even this ‘romance’ began to wear down and grind on me after some time. After all we still have the hurricane lamps, we still have the lovely, ceramic ‘squirrel’ (our woodburning stove). But now we have also engineered a way to read properly at night, or watch our friends faces when we invite them over for dinner.
They are not all done yet. We have put up three – two LEDs in the old light casements in the kitchen and one spotlight. We still have to fit them in the bathroom, bedroom and living room. We plan to fit three downward-facing lights in the belly of the boat – more atmospheric that way. The brass LED ‘Knightsbridge’ light fittings from the chandlers are also quite expensive – £18 each. I imagine the more money we find the more, light will eventually spill from the small windows of our 60 ft boat into the surrounding night.