Monday, 29 March 2010

Fame at last

Fame at last! Duncan was flying out on holiday and picked up a copy of Canal Boat magazine. Later, in jet lagged confusion, he seemed to think that a photo on the front cover reminded him of someone ...
And so it was that a little 3 by 2 inch photo of John and Duncan inspecting one of the narrow boats at the Birmingham Boat Show appeared on the cover of the April edition of a national magazine.
Was it the two handsome men who caught the eye of the photographer? Was it that we look like typical boating types? Was it the delicate but professional way that John inspected the water hatch? I don't know - but now we are cover boys. Why do I hear such hollow laughter from our wives? I'l contact my agent ....

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Spring has arrived at the Lazy Otter

Patience (in centre of photo) basking in the spring sunshine, a marked contrast to a couple of months ago when the Great Ouse was frozen over.

John went over today to check some dimensions on the benches/bunks that are being built back at base. These are just about ready for varnishing, which will be done this week. We heard from Darren at Whalin Upholstery that the upholstery is also due to be finished by the end of this week.

A brass lifting ring has been fitted to the engine hatch, which will make it easier to raise.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Chief Engineer's Update

The most welcome warmer weather has enabled us to tackle some more of the recommendations from our survey.

We have installed a new gasket on the weed hatch, which has completely eliminated any water getting through into the bilges.

The second (and much less pleasant) job has been right at the other end of the boat. We have wire brushed and repainted the inside of the water tank in the bows with two coats of 'Ruberoid' bitumen potable paint. Not a job that you want to undertake very often! The photos show the tank before and after. This task should only be attempted with caution. A face mask is needed when wire brushing the old paintwork and great care must be taken when applying the paint, as you are working in a confined space. The paint will be left for a week to completely dry and we can then recommission the water system.

Meanwhile back at Patience's Engineering HQ (aka John's garage) one of the new bunks is almost ready for installation. They are designed to be free standing so that we can minimise the amount of work required on site and we will only need to screw them to the floor without needing to drill into the panelled sides of the boat. They have two hinged lids to access storage space underneath. Brass piano hinges were used, which although expensive, are well worth the extra cost. The benches will be installed in Patience as soon as we take delivery of the upholstery, which is being made by Whalin upholstery (see earlier blog).
These photos are © John Coppendale.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Twenty Pence Marina

Today we ventured down, by water, to Twenty Pence Bridge and their Marina. It's a subject of some sadness to us that some of the local waterside pubs hereabouts have closed in recent years. The pub at Twenty Pence Bridge
apparently closed some ten years ago (after 1996) and the Fish and Duck at Pope's Corner

closed a couple of years ago (c2007) - though there is some hope that it may be rebuilt. But see our blog entry on The Fish and Duck.
(Photos taken from The 1996 Tour)
Note also that turning a narrow boat in the entrance to Twenty Pence Marina is not easy. Twice we've been caught in the weeds attempting a quick U turn. It may be better to nip in to the marina itself and turn there. Either that or have someone at each end of your narrow boat to fend off the bank.
So I offer you - The Lazy Otter! A friendly pub by the side of the A10 between Chittering and Ely. Use it or lose it!
And the 
Stretham ferry marina

[see also later post on this Marina, March 2013]

Monday, 15 March 2010

Bottisham Sluice

I happened to be in Waterbeach (bech is OE stream or valley, there's no beach here) and wandered over to see the Bottisham Sluice being maintained by DEFRA.
Soon Patience will be heading this way on her way south. The electrically driven guillotine locks are common hereabouts, with tidal rivers, rather than the more traditional winched locks elsewhere in the country.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

First Voyage

Today we took a short trip up to Pope's Corner - our first journey in Patience - and despite sometimes biting winds we not only resolved the last questions about our berths / bunks but removed the carpet tiles (excellent invention) for cleaning at home and gave dear Patience a blow in watery sunshine.
Here she is on the Ouse approaching Stretham Old Engine from the north. This was a Victorian pumping station draining the fens into the Ouse.

Walkers can get to Ely easily from here on the Ouse Valley Way.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Gunthorpe Lock

While in Nottinghamshire we stopped off at The Unicorn for lunch (good value, good service, range of real ales) at Gunthorpe Lock, on the River Trent.
A wide array of boats there, narrow boats in excellent condition and one being restored, different cruisers and wide barges, plus a marina and boatyard opposite with more narrow boats in hiding.
A jolly Cornishman whose name I didn't catch has (on the right) this 60 foot live-aboard, "Kookaburra" in excellent condition, including  a boatman's cabin. All freshly painted and very well maintained. His girlfriend lives next door (the boat on the left) and today, apart from giving Brasso to everything in sight, he was practising on his newly acquired klaxon to the general amusement of local dogs, who joined in.

Foam topped benches

A visit to an upholsterer today, Darren at Whalin Upholstery in Plinxton, Notts (phone 01773 812813).
It's always good to talk to someone who knows what he's on about, can tell you the pros and cons, but without being pushy. So thanks to Darren for good value and good advice
Here Darren is explaining to John the benefits of medium density foam, the curved and slightly raised edge, the buttons to keep its shape. Meanwhile John calculates the height and thickness of both foam and base. And that was before we started on the different fabrics, their "rubbability" and whether washable or dry cleanable.

There's more to this bench making / bed making lark than meets the eye.

However we've ended up with two parallel 19 inch high by 6ft 3 inches long benches, 2 feet deep, each with two back cushions, plus one folding table, which will provide us with either 2 narrow beds, 2 wider single beds or one double bed, depending on how we lay the cushions.
Here's the pattern we've chosen.
We start work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Painting the Water Tank

Patience is equipped with a large integral water storage tank built into her bow, with a capacity of several hundred litres. One of the recommendations from the survey was to repaint it with a potable tank paint, as some rust is beginning to appear. Today I plucked up courage to climb into the tank through the rather small hatch in the foredeck, which is visible in the photo at the top of the blog (not for those with either claustrophobia or a bigger than average waistline).

This enabled me to remove the final few inches of water that was trapped below the outlet pipe and make a closer inspection of the tank's condition. I should add here that the tank had previously been drained down as part of Patience's preparation for winter! Although the galvanised steel is in pretty good condition, it does indeed need repainting, with some rust visible and paint flaking off in places. I found a part tin of bitumen paint on board that is advertised as being suitable for drinking water tanks, although Patience is also equipped with a separate plastic drinking water tank in the galley, so we won't be drinking the water from the bow tank. So the next task is to wirebrush the old paint and apply a couple of new coats, wearing a boiler suit and a facemask.