Monday, 14 April 2014

Up in the air with a clean bottom!

We got up early so that we would be ready for moving if required. As it turned out, we could have had another hour or two - or more! - in bed. One boat was lowered back into the water, then boats were lifted out, pressure washed, put onto a trailer for moving across the yard into covered bays; other boats were brought back from the bays to be replaced in the water. Then, at last (at about 1430) it was our turn. We turned into a 7' wide trough, over two slings suspended from a cradle. The motors were energised, and the boat was lifted out and moved sideways to be rested on timber baulks on the concrete pad next to the trough. Think of the cranes used for moving containers at a port such as Felixstowe - that's the sort of thing. We were off the boat during the lift and the next stage of the operation: pressure washing. Dean used a trigger-controlled lance to direct high pressure blasts of water at the hull sides to remove the two years' worth of algae and other muck. This took about half-an-hour, including the underside of the uxter plate.

We watched and took photos, and I wondered whether I should have asked for the baseplate to be blacked as well as the hull sides. To help me decide Dean washed a small area of the baseplate. He pointed out that the large areas of bright metal were not just where the steel had lost any previous blacking, but were areas of pitting. Corrosion had been eating away at the 10 mm keeping the boat afloat. It put the cost up, but I checked with the office, and then said, yes, I'll have the baseplate done too, please.

One school of thought has it that blacking underneath is pointless as the first time you go aground, or run over a submarine obstruction, the coating will be scraped off. But, as Dean pointed out, any blacking on the pits will tend to stay put, thus protecting the important thinner parts. It looked as though the baseplate had never been blacked in its 11 year life, so doing it is probably a good thing.

While Dean was washing the bottom we cycled to Gumley, a village two miles from Debdale Wharf. As soon as we were away from the noisy pressure washing we were in peaceful countryside, cycling up and down gentle to steepish hills with sheep on one side and oilseed rape on the other. The smell of the rape was very strong, but I suppose you get used to it (not if you suffer from hayfever, I imagine). Gumley is a one-street place with a church and a pub. I went up to the church to try the door, but it was locked. We had been spotted, though, and a man came up and asked if we wanted to look round. A key was produced, and we were let in. One of the first things I saw was a lovely old chamber organ. It had been in regular use, but was difficult to keep in tune owing to damp in the building. The ceiling of the chancel was brightly painted wooden panels.

But we had to go back to the boatyard as we'd promised to be there by 1730, when Dean was supposed to be knocking off. I had to give him our electric hook-up cable so that he could plug us in. Well, the service was offered, so it would have been silly to refuse! It was more downhill than up on the way back, especially the last half-mile which I freewheeled all the way.

One more thing I'd asked about was if they had any red paint I could do the tunnel band with. Two tins were found, of different shades; neither of which was right. Then a third tin was produced. This was exactly the right shade of red, so we sacrificed potential pub meal in Foxton for me to paint the tunnel band. This had had a few knocks, removing the red to reveal black, so it needed doing. Having painted it the original scars are still visible, but not quite so much. Perhaps I should have touched up those bits first, waited for them to dry, then gone over the whole area. Too late now. I might be able to touch them up later, but I fear it will show. I painted the dollies too.

Now we're aboard, but not on the water. It's a strange feeling being so high up and the boat not rocking! The bottom is probably only 2' 6" to 3' off the ground, but standing on the rear deck you feel a long way up! We have been provided with a set of steps with a handrail so we can access the boat.

Tomorrow Dean will apply the blacking, and we will explore Foxton village.

This post really needs photos: I can only apologise and say I'll put them up when I can.


Anonymous said...

would love to se a photo of you moored up in the air!

Alf said...

Red is a horrible colour, it just does not cover well, no matter which make or type !

James Davies said...

I'm always surprised just how much repainting the tunnel bands lifts the appearance of the whole boat. Well worth doing.

Jim said...

Aaargh! It's not "James Davies" it's me, Jim from Starcross above. I've been using my other "non boating" Google account on my phone (sign of things to come) and has forgotten to switch back before making that last comment!

Halfie said...

Jon - and I would love to be able to post one! We're a bit limited in terms of data allowance at the moment, having got through 1Gb in a week and having to fork out for another top-up. So I'm reluctant to download the necessary photo resizing program in case it sucks up loads of data. When we're back at home I'll put loads of photos on, fear not!

Alf, I happen to think that red is a lovely colour, just right for a tunnel band!

Jim/James (I thought it was you), yes, it looks all shiny now. I gave the upper white band a good clean, to the back end looks good now. The first coat of black is now on - the difference is amazing!