It’s been a while

Hi there eager readers, it’s been a while since the last update. I’ve got a number of things write about but today it’s all about the joys of spring (yup it’s summer but sure does feel like a sunny spring day). The BBQ is lit, the jerk chicken and corn on the cob is ready to be cooked. The cracked wheat salad is ready and I have a large glass of rum & ginger beer in hand. Suppurb!

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Mini bucket BBQ

Nomads

The time has finally arrived, we are officially nomads.

We emptied (something in the region of 1001 black bin bags), scrubbed (to the bone) and polished (until we got tennis elbow (I’m sure that is painful, old people like to complain about it)) the flat over the weekend. Keys were handed in, gas & electric board notified, broadband cut off and the TV given away! Phew!

Time to settle down and enjoy our new lifestyle, well after we:

1. Sand & paint the bedroom from top to bottom
2. Paint the stern, gunwales with anti-slip paint (paint with budgie sand mixed in)
3. Buy and install pump out toilet and change the bathroom layout
4. Fit new flooring throughout the boat (probably stranded bamboo)
5. I’m sure there is a 5th..

Well, for the time being I’m just going to sit here with a cat on my lap purring, sipping a cold but deeply refreshing gin & tonic and enjoy the soothing sound of the engine ticking over. Perfect.

Uxbridge

Today was pretty much the end of our two weeks on the tow path at West Drayton. We needed to use the British Waterways facilities to fill up our tank of water and dispose of rubbish, all not very exciting but very much needed doing.

 

Using the facilities at lock 88

Using the facilities at lock 88

We’ve swung by Uxbridge Boat Company to pick up some new fenders, paint for the anti-slip coating on the rear deck and ordered a rubber seal for the oven. The chandlers had a pretty awesome dog that kept making Amy jump by licking the backs of her legs which unsurprisingly made me chuckle.

We’re now just by Uxbridge (Denham Marina) with a large Margarita! Bottoms Up!

Day Seven

Again we took it really easy today as we knew we’d be able to find somewhere to moor. So easy in fact that we stopped to pick Elderberrys for wine and blackberrys for crumble, we also took the time to chop up all of our driftwood as it had now dried.

Ready for winter

Ready for winter

We’re currently moored in Yiewsley, just timed it right for a quick shop before settling down with a good book and my favorite lady by my side.

Day Six

We have had a very relaxed day today, not traveled very far but just enjoyed the sunshine. Laura has joined us and has been helping out on the locks.

We’ve called it a day now (17:30) as we was told our scheduled stop over in Denham had a truly rubbish pub and had nothing else to offer. Instead we have moored up just outside Hareford, lock 83 by a pub called the Coy Carp which was recommended to us by a couple of different boats.

We are now officially in London as we went under the M25 though you may not be able to tell by the photo.

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P.s. Hopefully I have fixed comments so you don’t have to sign up. I think I was a little over eager on stopping spam.

Day Five


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Wet Wet Wet

It has not stopped raining since the middle of the night, however some cheery anoraked fella informed me it was getting brighter. Jog on….

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Update:

It rained all day and is still going so we have lit the little solid fuel stove and now we are all very very hot.

Day Four

Today we tackled eighteen locks, seven of which was a flight. It’s been a long day and both of us are tired. It’s been quite a calm and relaxing day, nothing of note happened. We are currently moored outside a town called Berkhampstead which is not that far from Hemel Hempstead.
However as it’s Friday night we made it to a restaurant and a pub before a long walk back to the boat.

Day Three

Woke up to the sound of rain clunking on the roof, reminded me of days spent sleeping in a tent as a youth. We really didn’t fancy getting up and standing on the stern in that, instead we waited out the rain with tea and bacon sandwiches. Around ten the rain stopped and we headed out on our scheduled route.
We tackled twelve locks, one swing bridge, spotted five herons, one kingfisher and one red eared terrapin (we can only assume he was once a pet but now is the size of a dinner plate).

The locks were made much lighter work as an older couple called Peter and Joy with a pair of dogs was travelling in the same direction to meet there kids and grandchildren. For me the locks were easy as all I had to do was drive in and out where as Amy had to run back and forth opening all the paddles and gates. I did get to practice my equivalent of parallel parking when dropping Amy of before a lock

We moored up just past a canal junction in Slapton which is just on the outskirts of Tring.

Bite to eat couple of pints, now I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. It’s been three long hard days cruising but has been great fun.

End of Day Two

Today’s travels took a lot longer than planned, there was so many boats moored along the way which meant that we had to drop down to a slow walking pace as we passed each one.

We made it to our second night mooring spot at a place called Three Locks, which surprisingly has three locks. We made bit of a cockup at the locks, we left both paddles open on one of the locks which emptied the middle winding hole of about eighteen inches of water. The worst part of this was that this was outside the pub we were going to have some food in later. Thankfully we are quite sure all the spectators had no idea of what was going on, I still made sure Amy had to go in the pub first!

End of Day One

Yesterday was a tough but fun day.

We set off at about midday and first had to reverse about ten boat lengths to get diesel. The reason it’s hard to reverse on a narrowboat is that there is no steering and the boat drifts so we had to keep putting in the forward gear to correct the alignment.

Our starting point was Whilton Marina from there we headed south towards the dreaded Blissworth tunnel.
It was a very gentle journey down as we are both new to cruising narrowboats.

We cruised for about three hours before we hit the very unremarkable entrance of the Blissworth tunnel. The tunnel took about thirty minutes to go through, it was pitch black and you couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
After the tunnel was a flight of seven locks at the bottom was a perfect spot for mooring. Pint and food in the pub then straight to bed as we were both exhausted.

This morning we opened the scuttle (side hatch) to a couple of ducks which then quickly became twenty ducks

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First Night Aboard

Yesterday we finished sanding & painting the bathroom in an off white with a touch of blue.

Last night we spent our first night on board and tonight we are preparing for the journey down to London which should take somewhere in the region of five to seven days.

We’re currently sitting on the stern with a pint whilst feeding the ducks. This white duck has been dubbed Jemima, it’s our favorite of the bunch.

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Many Hours of Sanding

We have found out something about marine varnish over the past couple of days, if you want to paint over it you need to take it back to bare wood otherwise the paint will separate and collect in a horrible way.

Before

Forward Cabin Before

After

Forward Cabin After

We have some touching up to do after peeling of the masking tape but that is all quite easy to deal with and as we found out paint no matter what sort (we tried a fair few) will not stick to the varnish no matter how much you key it!

Say Hello to Pernickety

On Tuesday we went to have a look aboard Pernickety with the idea of doing of measuring up for a couple of the jobs we needed to do, it turned out that the engineers had the keys as they were about a week ahead of schedule.

Today we have spent the day prepping the internals walls for painting as there was waaaaaaay to much varnished veneer for our liking. This turned out to be quite a long and tiring job as marine varnish is a stubborn bugger.

Any way, most of you have been asking about her name, as you may be able to tell by the post heading she is called Pernickety.

Here are some basic pictures of the outside (click for full resolution images), once we have painted internally I will upload some more.

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2_Bow
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4_Port5_starboard

Time for more wine then bed….

Boat Handling Course

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The boat handling course was such a good experience but very very tiring. We arrived at eight thirty in the morning and left about seven.

It was a pretty easy start, lots of chatting and tea. Then we moved onto lassoing, then knots and then hitchman’s/tugmans knots for mooring.

After a spot of lunch we took the narrowboat (a 72ft Trad stern) out onto the regents canal heading North East. The first challenge was to use the Hampstead Road and Hawley locks in both directions with a turn after the second starting down hill. This doesn’t sound that challenging but when you’ve never used a lock before this is quite daunting experience, I was given a windlass and told to open the lock paddle, I had no idea but thankfully another boat was about to use the lock too so I asked the very nice lady how it works.

For those of you have no idea (much like me before yesterday) the following diagram (thank you wikipedia) should explain clearly

pound_lock You open the appropriate paddle, this lets water in/out and raises/lowers the boat. Once the water is at a equal level with the direction you are aiming to go you can open the lock gates.

After doing this four times I was pretty tired but we then set off in the other direction towards Little Venice where we all got a chance to steer the boat, go through the Madia Hill tunnel and turn round at the Paddington basin.

Once we had moored the boat we went through the post trip checks such as checking the propeller via the weed hatch for debris, ingress of water in the bilge and greasing the propeller seal.

We both really enjoyed the day and now feel fairly confident on navigating the British canal system.

I think anyone who is contemplating going on a boating holiday or buying a narrrowboat should go on one of these courses.

Post-Survey

We has just left the marina after discussing post survey works that need doing to comply with the Boat Safety Scheme, nothing major.
here is a summery:

  • Engine – The diesel flexible hoses are not marked BS7840 and have gone hard. Recommendation: Replace the diesel feed and return flexible hoses.
  • External Lights – The lights and connection box have signs of water ingress. Recommendation: Remove the 240v external lights and all associated cabling and junction boxes.
  • 12 Volt System – All batteries have excessive movement and battery terminals require covering. Recommendation: Restrict all battery movement and cover all battery terminals.
  • Gas Locker – Extend the bow blanking plate to above the height of the cylinder valve.

The only thing additional that needs attending to is the hot water/ heating, this is produced by an Eberspacher Hydronic diesel heater, this was not working at the time of the survey.

They have said this will take a couple of days to complete and will all be done within our offer price.

We will be exchanging cash for keys hopefully in the next few days, the but, as there always is, is when they are able to carry out the work. They have said that the worst case scenario is to start on the 19th August. At least we will have some time to do a few of the things we wanted to do before moving her.

Boat Handling Course

We have now booked ourselves onto the Boat Handling Certificate via the Pirate Castle in Camden in a couple of weekends time. This will be a full day cruising, navigating locks and going though tunnels. Also this will include day to day running and maintenance, the following is a quote from the course guidance:

This is a practical, hands-on course based on the Complete Crew Course. It is designed for people and small groups with their own boat, or those contemplating a boating holiday, who would like to get some training to enable them to operate their boat safely and efficiently.

The Hunt Continues

The following weekend we went around a couple of brokers that we didn’t have the time to see the weekend before.

At a broker near Crick we looked aboard a 57′ trad stern (click for diagram of types), I personally thought that trad sterns were solely for the purists but the lady showing us the boat changed my view. She rightly pointed out that the engine room is commonly used as a wet room, “where do you dry you washing? What do you do with your wet shoes & jackets?” what will I do with my sweaty cycling kit? Again another item that I had not considered.

Later that day went went back to have a look the 60′ & 70′ narrowboats just to clarify a few thoughts and to see if anything new had come in.

A boat had just been moored alongside another by one of the broker reps, we went up to the marina office to get the keys so we could have a look aboard. The internal finish definitely lived up to the boats name, though I wont write it here, very neat and thoroughly organised.
This is the rough layout:
Rough Layout

On one of the surfaces was years of receipts, manuals and past certificates, just another example of the organised nature of the owner.

We sat on board for about 45 minutes getting the feeling for her. We both really like her, so much so the next morning we went back to have a look before putting a deposit down with a conditional offer.

Now we just have to wait for the survey to take place and get the results….

The Hunt…

We decided that trying to find a boat in London within our budget was a bad idea. If you look further afield you can get a lot more boat for your pound, so we started looking at brokers in and around Daventry which happens to be on the Grand Union.

The weekend before last we had a look around a couple of broker marinas, which is a fantastic way to look at a very large number of boats in a very short period of time I can only imagine its the same as going to massive car dealership. At one of the marinas we found two boats we really liked, one was 60′ and the other was 70′.
They both had many admiring points, both were in a less than traditional layout meaning large saloon and no fixed seating (dinette that converts to a bed), good positions of the solid fuel stoves, sensible layout of the kitchen and radiators. The 60′ had a very high quality to the finish but the 70′ had the extra space which really does make a difference when you’re within the space.
The down side to both boats was the insulation used, the 60′ had rock wool and the 70′ had been fitted with polystyrene neither of which is ideal, spray foam is the best.

After a afternoon in the glorious sunshine hoping between boats we went to the marina office to ask for further information on the two boats and to discuss the process of putting in an offer. The offer process is pretty good, you put in an offer with the condition that it passes a survey by a third party (this isn’t necessarily needed but is highly recommended and it will certainly flag up things a novice like myself wouldn’t even have considered), if the boat fails on BSS or insurance items then negotiations take place with the idea that either the owner gets the work done or the cost of the repairs/modification is deducted from the price. Once he boat is yours the surveyor signs off the work.

We left the Midlands with a lot to think about.

Weekend Searches

We had a look at four different boats over the weekend, two of which were broads cruisers, one wide beam and a Dutch barge.

The first boat was a 12x40ft broads cruiser, it was a reasonable internal size but would need some serious work doing to it before we could live aboard.

The second broads cruiser was in much better shape, the owner loved her but had moved to another part of the world. It was kitted out for shore power, which as it currently stands may not be so suitable for us. This was about 7ft shorter than the first one and we agreed that it way to small for the pair of us.

The wide beam was great, very good living space but out of our price range.

The Dutch barge had been sold that morning but was advised to still have a look aboard to get an idea of what you can get within budget. it was in a very traditional style, lots of dark wood and in need of modernising.

One piece of advise we keep hearing/reading is to see as many boats as possible, in budget and out of budget, this way we have a much clearer idea of what to expect.

The search begins…

Caribbean_Broads_Cruiser

Tonight we are off to have a look aboard a 12′ x 40′ Caribbean Broads Cruiser that we found on ApolloDuck. There are a number of boats listed with one persons name attached that we would like to take a look at but they have turned out to be very tricky person to contact. Hopefully tonight once we meet them we will get an understanding of their ways of business (if indeed this is a business).