Monday, 5 October 2015

Just a few more yards to go

While Jan was off looking after Ben (bad back, v. painful) I put the stuff which had been in a neat pile on the towpath back onto the Fertanned but unpainted deck. We had to move; I'd run out of time for painting. I took Jubilee up Cosgrove Lock, stopped at the services, and then continued to tie up opposite the Navigation Inn by the entrance to Thrupp Wharf Marina. Below the lock I topped up with diesel from Jules Fuels. When I had finished tying up Jan appeared, having parked by the bridge.

This afternoon we did more packing and loading of the car, then I checked in with Val and Roy, the proprietors of TWM, to find out where we had been allocated a mooring. We decided not to move there tonight as it was raining and getting dark; we'll move the few yards across the cut in the morning. For a short time we'll be online, outside the marina itself but on the offside and with no electricity hook-up available. We're looking forward to having an online mooring, but we won't be here long to enjoy it. We're off home tomorrow after a wonderful six months of boating. I'll have to calculate (or let Canal Plan calculate) how many miles, locks and tunnels we did.

Somehow I neglected to take any photos today, so here's my not very good shot of the lunar eclipse from a few nights ago.

As I explained at the time I'd left the camera in macro mode and had been too sleepy to realise.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Worrying about the BSS

The gas locker received its first coat of fresh paint this morning after I'd rinsed off the Fertan dust and allowed it to dry. With the boat facing the sun it dried very quickly - the canal water must be warm.

I rinsed off the well deck too and gave it a second coat of the rust converter. I'm glad I bought a large bottle (at Crick a couple of years ago). I'm now expecting tomorrow morning's rain to do the next rinse for me. I just hope it will dry in time for me to paint it - and that the paint can dry before the next rain comes. I have decided not to replace the "Versatile" matting, at least, not in high use areas.

I borrowed Ben's vibrating power tool to cut a slot in the panel behind the fridge. It looks neat with the brass ventilator over it. It would look even neater without my pencil marks (at the last minute I decided to move the slot); we don't seem to have a rubber on board.

I have also spent a considerable amount of time reading the requirements of the Boat Safety Scheme. (If you click on the link it will download a PDF of - I think - almost 1Mb.) It's 87 pages long and is surprisingly easy to read, but I keep finding things to worry about. I have got as far as the gas section and now need to check that the regulator can't be damaged when lifting the gas cylinders into or out of the gas locker(see top photo). Also that every gas pipe connector in the boat is accessible for inspection.

There were other concerns earlier about the electrics; I think I will need to wire up a changeover switch to select between shoreline and inverter - or use a clumsy plug-and-sockets arrangement.

It must take hours for the BSS examiner to check a boat. Our first safety exam is due next spring so there's still time to fettle. I don't know how it all works, though. What happens if it fails? How long will I have to fix any faults? Does the same examiner come back to do a retest? Would I have to pay the full fee? What is the fee for a BSS test? The CRT licence is due at the same time as the BSC; if it fails I will presumably not be able to licence the boat - then what happens?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Derusting the gas locker and well deck

I was just about to start on the day's jobs when Andy and Sue on Spring Water went past. I hailed them and they stopped for coffee, which turned into lunch. It was great to see them and I think they enjoyed seeing us too.

During their visit another boat I knew went past. This time it was Darley, with both Blossom and Dawn on board.

I called out to Blossom and he responded with a friendly wave.

This afternoon, then, I removed everything from the gas locker and wire brushed the rusty bits, mainly on the bottom. I had originally expected to have to somehow contort myself into the small space, but it was easy enough to do reaching in through the hatch. Then I sloshed some water in and used a washing up brush to eject most of the excess through the handily positioned drain holes. This done, I poured some Fertan into the bottom section of a four-pint plastic milk container and painted it on. This was a very quick job with a 3" brush, but I did have to pull my head out of the hole a few times so the fumes didn't get to me too much.

This is what it looked like after the treatment.

Now I have to leave it for a day or so before dusting off and painting. (I'll have to stoke up the fire or we won't be able to make tea!)

Then the job I'd been putting off. The well deck. I dreaded taking up the "Versatile" deck covering with its little plastic feet keeping the surface you walk on a few millimetres above the deck. First I had to remove the various bits of accumulated stuff, ranging from the heavy - full 25 Kg coal bags - to the light - 2p coins to open the water filler with, plus a lot of bits of wood, plastic and iron. Then the Versatile matting came up. Underneath was quite as bad as I had feared. The tiles' little feet had worn through the paint covering the well deck and made little rust spots.

Like this.

These rust spots had, for the most part, joined up to create large areas of thick corrosion. I knew I'd be wasting my time with a wire brush - and wasting the wires of the wire brush - so I used a spade to scrape away at the flaky paint and flaky rust.

After a lot of noisy scraping and less noisy (but dustier) brushing I had the well deck in a state ready for its first treatment of Fertan. More water sloshing (the Fertan instructions say the area to be treated should be dampened), more use of the washing up brush and it was time to paint on the brown smelly liquid.

And here's the result.

You can see how little of the original paint on the deck is left. If it's another fine warm day tomorrow I might just do the painting slightly before the recommended 24 hours is up, especially where the gas locker is concerned (we need to be able to cook). And I hope it will then pass muster in the eyes of the BSS examiner when the time comes.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Meeting the boss of CRT on the towpath

As it had been several days since we last topped up with water we cruised slowly along the straight half mile to the water point immediately below Cosgrove Lock. While filling up I carried a full Elsan cassette to the disposal point, passing two people wearing small CRT name badges. At the time I wondered if one of them might have been Richard Parry, the chief exec. of CRT, but they had gone before my brain got into gear.

After emptying the cassette I returned towards the boat, but there were the two CRT people by the lock. They asked me if I'd seen NB Barnet, which I had; I was able to tell them that it was moored near the aqueduct. And this is when I found I had been right: it was Richard Parry, accompanied by photographer Liz Waddington. Mr Parry was meeting up with Barnet for a cruise to Fenny Stratford.

Now we were having a proper towpath chat. Richard Parry was delightful, asking me where we were based and asking about our summer cruising, taking a genuine interest. Of course, this led to a bit of a discussion about our experience in Standedge Tunnel; I was able to express my disquiet about CRT's failure to send in an inspection boat after the Network Rail beams-in-the-water fiasco. Mr Parry asked me to send him an e-mail so we'll see what happens.

The pressure was low so it took an age for the tank to fill. I had time to wash half the roof and one side of the boat before it was done. We returned to The Galleon, tying up this time on the 48 hour moorings to be nearer the car for unloading. (NB Emjay is still there; it hasn't moved for at least a week.)

The weather has been fantastic. Here is this evening's silhouetty sunset shot.

During the day I finished the painting job on the front doors, getting both the undercoat and topcoat down. I also primed around the previously Fertan-ed areas by some of the windows; I also did some more rubbing down and Fertanning below the gunwales. Inside I fixed the stove to the hearth with angle brackets. I had thought that drilling holes in the stove legs would be difficult, but it was actually quite easy. I used a hand drill with a 3.5 mm bit. A harder job was drilling into the tiles on the hearth. The only masonry bit I thought I had was a Poundland one. I managed one hole, starting off with the hand drill and moving to the electric drill, but this is what happened on the second hole.

Yes, I know. What do you expect for a quid? But at this point I remembered that I had some proper masonry bits with the Black and Decker so I popped one of those on and finished the job in no time. I'm trying to get through rather a backlog of boat jobs before we go home. Tomorrow's important job is to derust the gas locker ready for the boat safety inspection next spring.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Helping Ben build a cupboard

While we're moored near Galleon Wharf, Old Wolverton, we went to help son-in-law Ben on his day off today. The task was to build a cupboard high in an alcove to hide a fat extractor fan pipe. We spent a long time thinking it through on paper before measuring and cutting battens. We got these screwed in place successfully eventually. Why does an apparently straightforward job take far more time than you can possibly imagine? After several hours, during which time Jan went shopping, washed some shirts, did washing up and cooked the tea, we had three horizontal and two vertical battens in place and had cut a shelf from MDF to size. Still to do is to construct doors and a front. We're going to concentrate on boat jobs tomorrow so Ben will have to finish off the cupboard on his own. All the difficult stuff is done now!

I neglected to take a photo of the work in progress, so here are Ben and Jan eating lunch outside.

It has been T-shirt weather again and prospects look good for tomorrow. More work on the front doors, I think, plus some touching up of the steelwork.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

No wonder the paint was peeling!

I started having a go at the front doors today, scraping the flaky paint from the woodwork.

I started using sandpaper, but found a much more effective tool was an old knife. This got under the old paint, flaking it off easily. The wood underneath looked completely untouched by paint. I suspect primer hadn't been used, or perhaps it had been stained in an earlier incarnation. It looks very dark.

I sanded and primed the bare wood, ready for an undercoat later.

We are currently near The Galleon, just east of Cosgrove's Iron Trunk Aqueduct. It's an excellent mooring, getting the full effect of the sun during the day and with great views of sunsets over the canal in the evening.

When October comes we'll move up to Thrupp Wharf Marina for overwintering. We won't be back on our original pontoon but online initially; we'll move to a pontoon with electricity when one becomes free. We had been looking forward to an online mooring with its greater connection to the canal and passing traffic, but mains hook-up will be useful when the weather gets colder. We have a small thermostatically controlled fan heater to reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing up.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

90th birthday celebration

It was Jan's mother's 90th birthday recently; today we joined a family gathering at the Ivy Hill hotel in Margaretting, Essex, to celebrate the occasion.

There was a similar bash last year for Jan's dad's 90th birthday.

26 members of the family enjoyed good food and conversation.

And there was, of course, a cake to cut.

Next year they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

Oh, by the way, spot the deliberate mistake.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

The axeman takes a break

By a bridge a little way below the Buckby/Whilton Locks I was surprised to see someone apparently taking a boozy break from log splitting.

It didn't take long to realise that the whole scene was a carefully constructed tableau. (Brian of Harnser mentioned this a day or so ago.)

I love these random homemade pieces of art. Others on the system include the old man holding a lamp (or is it a glass?) on the Trent and Mersey near Armitage, I think, and the sculpture of (I believe) Christina Collins near Stone, also on the T&M. There must be many more; please use the comments box to tell me about them.