Sunday, 26 September 2010

The day we went toSwarkstone

We decided to head to Swarkstone and then turn and moor up just west of the Swarkstone lock.  Whilst a tad cold on Saturday morning it was otherwise a lovely day.  For once, no gripes, the boat turned in the direction intended and behaved itself completely.  A kingfisher was spotted wandering up the bank just south of Stensons Marina.
This picture shows Saturday morning just before Stensons Marina. Lovely puffy sky day and not too cold.

And looking forward...

Bridge 20 going east on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

The Swarkstone Stand. This strange building stands in the meadow above the village of Swarkstone. In 1630-32, a banquetting house, called The stand, was built, set in a sward of rhomboid shape called The Cuttle. It was intended as a 'bowl alley house'. It was built at a cost of £11 12s 4d by the mason Richard Shepherd to a design which Girouard attributes on stylistic grounds to John Smythson. It is made from fine ashlar Keuper sandstone. It is decorated with the coat of arms of Sir John Harpur. After three centuries of dereliction, it was sold to the Landmark trust in 1984. Swarkestone Hall was demolished by 1750, This pavilion survivied thanks to the Harpur Crewe family.

This splendid building is now owned by the Landmark Trust, and YOU can rent it for a holiday.
Sunday started very bright and clear, a beautiful morning it has to be said.  I took the next pictures from the bow of the boat with a simple Canon A550.  Off towards Leicester end of October, the colours then merit the bigger camera me thinks.  Problem is tat the blog only allows I think 150k for photo downloads so these do not really do justice to the view.

The journey back was evenful by virtue of nothing falling off the boat.  We had yet another recommendation to got to Nadee, an indian restaurant at Findern, google it.  We will probably find a mooring week after next and try it out, with the boat we can feed the girls, stick X Factor on and go and have a quiet dinner, our oldest is trustworthy and so long as they have a tesco sweet cup all should be well.

The Morso stove is like having a sauna in the boat.  I need to learn better control and find some smaller logs, a place of the A38, south of Derby seems worth a look.  The same place which is next to the Trent and Mersey.  We left the boat Sunday at noon after doing a bit of maintenance, more hammerite touch ups, checking the oil level, checking the stern gland, filling the greaser and such like.

The boats new name is still undecided. The front runners are:-

Up Sticks
Work in Progress
Original Cover
and the third is a drawing of a single finger in the italian position! 
PS I forgot to say, I actually reversed the boat alongside the pontoon, perfectly!  I have now learnt about the gusts of wind that hits Mercia Marina and how to manage the boat with, and against, the wind.

Friday, 24 September 2010

A weekend away (ish)


Once again Aqua Narrowboats have come up trumps.  It is a surprise how a small company can deliver so promptly.  It seems a new charge indicator has been fitted and the temp guage seems different somehow.   Thanks Guys.

Well, we are on the boat, landline in use.  We were going to hit the canal, usually literally knowing my driving!  but the weather convinced me to stay in the Marina till Saturday morning.  We lit the morso and sweated a  tad but the boat is nice and warm now.  We may head towards Shardlow, lets see.

A new name for the boat beckons, either Up Sticks or ???

More tomorrow

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sunday maintenance day


I decided to get down to some maintenance.  I used Hammerite anti rust on the worst bits, not bothered about too much prep as it will all be grit blasted next year, a winter protective coat.  So the boat is starting to look like it has german measles.  I also fitted a dual smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector as we will be using the morso during October half term.
I checked the rope around the door frames of the Morso and they look ok, Locking the doors showed some pressure still there.  I then fixed a door which lacked some pva glue (any actually!).  And fixed the self opening doors under the fixed double as well as installing the wheeled boxes.  What next?  I decided to double check the bilge pump so turned all power off and it would not operate.  Left a note with Aqua but fear I have made a fool of myself.  I reported that the bilge did not work by pressing the button with the power off, but then again nor should it.  It should work if the water level creeps up.  I should have physically tested it, stupid me.  Anyhow, I tested the Morso by fuelling it up a little, it worked fine and the co detector and smoke detector stayed silent whilst I sweated.

I also bought an eco fan, top stuff.  The heat made it all over.

Next is to consider a low power heater whilst away from the boat over winter.  Either that or drain down.  I suppose if I turn the pump off and drain that should help, early days yet.

I have also decided to go down Leicester GU for Octobers holiday, possibly making north of Foxton locks, possibly getting beyond.  The latter would be unpopular so I will probably turn after Saddington Tunnel.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Boat stress

Went to the boat today to plan some maintenance painting.  Weird, but as oon as I got on board I de-stressed.  It was almost embarrasingly obvious.  It also made me a little jealous of live aboards.

I delivered some wheeled crates which fit under the bed to improve storage (aka handbag) space.

I checked out the paint situation, looked at the scrapes and decided that there was little to do before winter.  I will use some hammerite anti rust to cover for the winter, next year its grit blasting to swedish 2.5 for above the gunnels.  This will allow us to get the protective cover I want and thence time to prepare and create a nice finish.  The whole paintng thing at home would be stressful, but the boats is different.  No stress.

Decided I want some better rope and I did notice a boat on the River Trent had its middle line split on each side so it reached the stern on both sides, removing the need to swap it over when the towpath moved sides - good idea.

I also need to take my camera and photograph all I say to provide more context.

More soon

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

One of those days (well two really)

There  I was hanging around our cul-de-sac with other parents and one says, "your narrowboat".  I says "yarse". He then tells me he has a mate who is a welder and experienced in narrowboat fabrication.  I think tops stuff, important and rare find, seems my keel cooling problem got a step closer to solving.

Before then another neighbour tells me (a previous day) that her dad used to fit our narrowboats(well the carpentry bit) aha me thinks, this could help solve the how do I make a dinette fixed double into two singles come double and a dinette.  I have the plan and a man that can.  I have decided that narrowboats are infectious.  In all my years, only on the boat am I chilled and work is a distant reminder that bills need paying.  Talking to a colleague today reminded me that I do need to get out early for those dawn photos, the ones wiht the red sun and mist.  Stress now lives in my teenage daughter and her homework, physics tonight.

More ramblings later.  Hang on, is this a diary or my boat life?  Cancel homework, lets get back to boats.

Been reading about base paints and discovered Micaceous Iron Oxide.  Seems to do the job.  I will go to the canal forum and seek opinions.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A Trip to Wychnor

Hello again,

Went to the boat Friday 10/9/10 after a call from our engineers that the work was complete.

Apparently the batteries, supposedly purchased by the previous owner in September 09 were all nadged (a technical word for knackered, itself a technical word for buggered, and so on!!). One battery even had its protective cover on one of the terminals! The alternator was also US as was the battery indicator on the starter panel and the electrical connections were a death trap, so not much wrong eh!. Anyhow, thanks to Aqua Narrowboats, the work is complete and we could have a weekend away. We decided, due to inclement weather, to stay in the marina Friday night and make an early start Saturday morning. It hissed it down sat first thing so we eventually got out at 9.30 am. Remember, I bought 87 gallons of fuel in July for the trip from Oxford? Well, I have about 62 gallons left! So I reckon about 18 months supply (or longer). Travelled from Mercia Marina past Willington, busy as usual and then on to Burton on Trent. Reasonably quiet so the locks past easily. We did not want to hoof it so we ambled on Saturday and got to Bridge 34 for lunch, very nice mooring spot so we decided to come back to spend the night after turning. We turned at Wychnor just before bridge 42. Text book wind so that was nice for a change. Back to Bridge 34 for the night. We had to pass the bridge because it was rather popular, arrived about 6pm so its was to be expected. After the bridge I was fearful we would not find a mooring. My wife jumped off the boat at the bridge to recce ahead and suggested a spot which looked a tad tight but the boat nearest offered to move if needed. Another text book mooring. I went with the bow just forward of the spot, threw the line, a little reverse and hey presto, might be gettin the hang of this at last. The neighbour was mightly impressed as I was relieved!

We decided to have our Fray Bentos rather than eat pub food and then sat with the girls watching Merlin on the telly. Batteries were working well, fridge lights and telly, no bother. What is strange is that the light in the fridge was much brighter, I suppose a good indicator in the absence of a battery monitoring unit (shopping list for 2011) that the batteries are healthy.

An excellent nights sleep and we made our way back to the Marina at about 9 am. Our hirer friends (yes the midgies) had already kicked off at 7 am.

The turn into the Marina I have now sorted. I had been turning to early and because the entrance is offset (try googling Mercia Marina on google maps thingy). The trick is to go further than you want to and then turn hard to port. I will test the theory next time, yes I tapped the side of the entrance this time.

The boat thermostat was playing up again, suddenly hitting 120 when it normally operates at 95. I turned the engine off and the indicator never moved, just stayed at 120 with the electrics still on. So another job for Aqua to look at. I wonder if these little engine jobs are worth it if I am going to put in a new engine next yar or the year after, but it is better for us to make repairs while we can, a new engine (beta 43) is circa 6k fitted so I hear, but then I guess you will need to add the "extras".

I have decided to have the cabin grit blasted next year, the number of pre-exisitng colours is about 4 so its time for a fresh set. Below the gunnels can wait a tad longer or I might do them at the same time, I dunno.

Thats all for now, more later, including a set of times from Bridge 44 on the oxford canal to mercia, woopey doopey!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Back from Holidays

Went to Egypt for a ten day break - too hot!

Anyways, headed for the marina, two issues:-

1. Got an email from a neighbour, I had a tin of bitumin on the well deck, oh dear - rusted and leaked, thankfully only a little.  Easy to sort, nice to have such good neighbours.

2. I also needed to viiew the work done whiulst away, shoreline etc.  Nothing done and a little bit peeved.  It so difficult for marine engineers with summer being where most of the work is, I can appreciate the odd delay etc, but my delay is a tad too long.  I have given them this week to do what was requested and if not I will use my reserve electrical engineer, don't want to but if there is no alternative.....

Took the boat out for a short run, did a nice turn and back to the marina, set up to reverse in and got completely buggred by the prevailing wind, all over the place like a worm on coke!  Eventually, my kindly neighbourse rose to the rescue and assisted - thanks guys!

I hope to get out next Friday for the weekend, we shall see.