Monday, 30 September 2013

Even Keel again.

Well, we’re back afloat at last after a luxurious drying time for our blacking over the weekend.  Doug left fairly early this morning(travelling by bus and train) to collect our friend Birgit, who was flying into Birmingham from Germany today.


The launch this morning went extremely well -  ‘Chance’ slipped effortlessly into the water. Rachel was asked to take photos of the launch, which she tried very hard to do, but with a flat battery in the camera we’re sadly lacking in slipway shots of today. 


However, we soon got ‘Chance’ on the visitor moorings to get things finally ship-shape.  It was a case of lots of little things which seemed to take all day – including washing down to remove all the spider poo from our time under cover on the slipway.


With new rope and rolling fenders, and the blacking as black as black, ‘Chance’ was looking splendid.  At 4:30pm Doug arrived with Birgit after a tiresome return railway journey from Birmingham.


After she’d settled in Birgit presented us with some wonderful German Christmas decorations straight from the early German Christmas markets and small enough to use on a narrow boat.

We took Birgit on a guided tour around the boatyard, giving her an insight into the strange world of boat building.  After that, as we will be leaving in the morning before Mark, Martin and Rachael arrive for the day, we said farewell to them before they left work this evening.  MGM have been so very helpful over the last three weeks we’ve been with them – nothing’s been too much trouble and we thank them very much indeed.


This evening we tucked into a fish and chip supper before having an early night – we’re all very tired from our various and productive activities today.  Tomorrow will be an early start for us, as at last we can start cruising again!!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Technical Stuff

We’re coming to the end of ‘Chance’s’ improvements and we are very much looking forward to cruising again next week.  James is getting tired and Doug is complaining about the dust everywhere!


One job which we decided was necessary was to install a charcoal filter in the breather line from the black water holding tank.  The tank is under the bed and there was plenty of room to cut the tubing and position the filter.  It was an instant answer to the poo pong problem (which sometimes comes out of the vent on the outside of the boat) when we flush the loo.  The filter should be changed every year but it’s well worth the £25 spent at Aquafax.


The weed hatch (or should it be the plastic bag hatch these days) also got a makeover.  For the non boating readers this hatch is the regular source of much angst when we get a plastic bag caught round the propeller.  Sometimes it can be  something much more difficult to remove and the poor volunteer has to get the lid off and get his (or her) arm down to the prop and unwind whatever is caught.


It wasn’t too corroded so it was a quick scrape and an application of rust inhibitor, then a couple of coats of paint.


If it hadn’t been for Geoff on nb ‘Seyella’ the other day James would have forgotten to do this while the boat was out of the water.


Luckily the propeller is in really good condition with no major nicks out of it.  We’ll replace the split pin, which stops the nut coming off, tomorrow just as a precaution while we can.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Light at the end of the bow thruster tube.

Last evening we had a wonderful time on board nb ‘Seyella’ with Mags and Geoff (and Geoff’s brother Andy). Geoff cooked a marvellous chicken casserole with mashed potato and home-made apple and blackberry pie for afters. 


Doug, Mags (doing her impression of the lady from the Scottish Widows advert!), Geoff and Andy after dinner and about to have a piece of Mag’s superb ginger cake.


James showing Mags his appreciation of her ginger cake.


This morning, before their departure, Geoff and Mags came aboard ‘Chance’ for coffee (and to experience our slope) – and they brought the rest of last night’s ginger cake!


We said a sad farewell to Geoff and Mags and their lovely bearded collie Meg.  It’s been a wonderful couple of days with you both.  Thanks for your great hospitality and help, and take care.


The day carried on with a lot of small jobs on ‘Chance’.  The work has certainly followed the 80 /20 rule :- 80% of the work done in 20% of the time then the last 20% of the work takes 80% of the time.  The one job James didn’t look forward to today was blacking the bow thruster tube but, after a lot of cussing and hands covered with bitumen, the job was done. 


Bow thruster grill renovated and back in place.


James gave himself a break from the mucky jobs and retrieved from the chandlery store, all the stuff which makes ‘Chance’ look like a finished boat and started to put things back together.

As the next boat job on the slip isn’t due until Monday, MGM have let us stay out of the water for rest of the weekend so the blacking will be super-dry by then. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The End in Sight!

With the kind offer from MGM we moved Geoff and Mags on nb ‘Seyella’ from their first mooring on Watermead Park to the visitor mooring at the boatyard during the afternoon.


‘Seyella’ looking very dapper in her new colours.  Geoff has done a brilliant job.


Mags, James and Geoff after the fish and chip supper we all enjoyed on board ‘Seyella’ last evening.


Geoff very generously offered James a couple of hours labour and helped with the final coat of blacking.  You can imagine the precision with two retired engineers together!  Thanks very much Geoff it was more than a couple of hours!


‘Chance’ is now sporting a row of very shiny new mushroom vents. 


A perfect rear end! ………


………. and the front end’s pretty good as well.


Much of the ‘big’ work is complete now so there are a few small jobs that can be fitted in while we’re on dry land.  The weed hatch is having a bit of a make over and James is going to tackle the bow thruster tube tomorrow – that should prove interesting!

This evening we have been invited on board nb Seyella to have dinner, so we are looking forward to another great evening…

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

From paint shed to slipway.

Well, we’re back to normal now (with pictures!).  Doug got back to the boatyard on Tuesday and brought the spare camera.  There were some shots on the one that went into the water……….


……… showing ‘Chance’ in various stages of new paintwork and, while James was stuck in the paint shed enjoying all the rubbing down  ……….


…….. Doug was in Selsey enjoying the seaside.


With the paintwork almost complete ‘Chance’ was taken out of the water on Monday and made ready for blacking.  Two years ago we applied “Comastic” and, although it has protected the hull very well, it was about the right time to re-black.  Rachel, Mark and James worked hard all day Monday scraping off the old blacking and finishing things off with a high pressure steam clean.  We also needed to be on dry land for the painting of the stern at water level.  So, yet again, it was rubbing down and masking up.


By Tuesday we got the first coat of bitumen on and ‘Chance’ really started to look good.  Living aboard, with the slope of the ramp to contend with, takes a little getting used to.


Mid afternoon saw the arrival of Adam and Adrian on nb ‘Briar Rose’ which we’d been looking forward to.  Being on the slope made no difference to the enjoyment of drinks and nibbles on ‘Chance’.

In the evening we all walked down to The Harrow in the High Street (where last Monday we found they didn’t do food that day) only to find that don’t do food on Tuesdays either!  So, we collected a Chinese takeaway and went back to ‘Briar Rose’ (which wasn’t on a slope) for a very enjoyable evening with good food and good chatter.


This morning we said farewell to Adam and Adrian as they continued their holiday cruise. We helped them through Thurmaston lock………..


……. and watched them disappear into the early morning mist.  It was great to see you again guys and we’re looking forward to the next time.


After the second coat of blacking today, we saw the arrival of Geoff and Mags on nb Seyella, Geoff came over to see how the repainting was going.  Being an expert himself in boat painting!  He gave us the thumbs up.

Tonight we are looking forward to joining them for a fish and chip supper aboard Seyella.

Friday, 20 September 2013

While Doug's away - James will work very hard.

Wed Sept 18th.

Doug caught the train to Chichester mid morning while Mark, Rachel and James started preparations for the final top coat to 'Chance'.
The small bits of roof, not covered with sand, were the first to be done today and that went very well in the afternoon.

Thurs Sept 19th.

The newly painted roof was covered with brown paper to stop any contamination from further painting. When James' phone started to ring it was a good while before he realised that Mark had purposely sealed it under some brown paper (which didn't show at all and had James extremely confused!) Anyway, back to the important work - the rest of the areas got their final preps and then it was over to Mark for the last job of the day. Before the final sealing up of the back door, James thought he ought to take out his phone, camera and Ipad. getting off the boat he forgot there was no deck boarding and stepped onto the brown paper (which, unsurprisingly, didn't take his weight) - one foot went down into the engine room, he then fell off the deck and into the water (well his lower half anyway!) and plop went the month old camera to the bottom of the River Soar!

Soggy clothes, a grazed shin and a very damp retrieved camera (which is now sitting in a bag of rice to absorb the water), the painting of the day continued with a very successful outcome. 'Chance' is now looking very good indeed, albeit, still in the brown paper wrapping.

Doug, in the meantime, is getting his work done on the South Coast and enjoying meeting up with neighbours and friends.

(No photos at the moment - sorry. Not because the camera is out of action but because James can't seem to transfer them on this Ipad!)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Who pulled the plug out?

After getting back from our “nightcap” with John and Louise on nb ‘Blue Moon’ Monday night we arrived in our shed to notice ‘Chance’ on a slight lean.
Keeping an eye on things (which certainly weren’t right) by 3 o’ clock in the morning we were on a distinct tilt!
The wardrobe doors wouldn’t stay closed and the glasses in the cabinets were about to start journeying of their own accord.
James’ scientific /engineering bent came into play and he started to measure the water level in the river – it was dropping and we were touching the bottom!  To confuse things a bit, the shed floats as well as the boat inside it so, apart from the tilt, we wouldn’t have known the river was draining away.  Anyway, after a fairly fraught night, the morning brought better news – the water level rose and we slowly started to right ourselves – in sympathy with Costa Concordia!  Goodness knows what the problem was.
Today has seen some great progress on the repainting front but not until some further rubbing down. 
After vacuuming away all the dust, followed by ‘tacky clothes’ to get the bodywork ultra clean Mark got to work with the base coat and transformed the look of ‘Chance’ in a trice. 
After an hour or two locked inside while the painting was done, Doug emerged to inspect the new appearance.
Our beautiful bow looks superb in its, off white matt covering.
It’s a tricky exit and entry we have to make with no door and a paper roof. 
Today will see two more changes.  The roof will have its blue (two-pack) top coat and Doug will be taking shore leave for a few days and go back to Sussex by train.  He will be taking the computer with him so the blog will be a bit lean for a short while, and photos of progress in the paint shed will have to wait until he returns.  Hopefully progress will continue and, by the time he gets back, the paintwork should be finished and the hull blacking will have started.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Preparation is everything………

……..well, James hopes so anyway!  We didn’t blog yesterday as there was nothing to write about, except you know what – rubbing down.


Today consisted of rubbing down as well, also masking up………..


……. and generally doing all the little things which, if you don’t do them now, you very much wish you had in years to come.


We can’t get anything out of the gas or bow thruster lockers now that everything is well masked and taped up.  All is nearly ready for the base coat to go on tomorrow and then, of course, it’s more rubbing down – what fun.


James helped Mark do a splendid job of masking the roof as we don’t want the base coat over the sand areas,  There’ll be enough paint on the sand later when we roller on the oil-based top coat.


As a very welcome aside to boat preparation, fellow bloggers Louise and John on nb ‘Blue Moon’ arrived mid afternoon to meet up with us, after their long run through Leicester from Kilby Bridge this morning. After walking their dogs they sat down among the sculptures next to their boat for a little picnic.


They moored opposite at Watermead Park so it didn’t take Doug long to nip over the bridge to meet them.  James carried on with the boat preparation with Mark and Rachel but he managed a quick dash across to say hello during a lull in the schedule (and enjoyed a small glass of port and WKD, before getting back to work!)


In the evening we all took a walk into Thurmaston village to the Harrow Inn for a meal together but soon discovered that they don’t cook on Mondays!  So, walking on further we came to Paprika where we had a great Indian meal in their almost completely empty 250 cover restaurant!  Bizarre to say the least but here we are - James, Doug, Louise and John enjoying portion sizes so large we could barely eat half. 


Louise created a work of art with her poppadum!

After heading back to our moorings we enjoyed a very nice Baileys coffee with Louise and John on board nb ‘Blue Moon’ before getting back to ‘Chance’ at 11:30.  It was a splendid end to a busy day for all of us.


This morning John and Louise popped across to say goodbye with their lovely dog Jasper the border terrier and his friend Penny who they are looking after on their trip.  Thanks for a great evening guys and hope to see you again soon!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A Good Rub Down.

This morning we said goodbye to Gary and Della as they departed for their maiden voyage.


nb ‘Muleless’ looked very good indeed as she silently pulled away from the jetty this morning.


Have a good voyage guys and we hope you enjoy your lovely new boat!


As soon as ‘Muleless’ had disappeared round the bend James got on with the weekends work of rubbing down and then rubbing down.  And when he’s finished that, there’s more rubbing down to do!

He did get a break when the customers for MGMs next build arrived to have a look at ‘Chance’ and to make some decisions on their rear deck design ……


……. then it was back to rubbing down!  At 5 o’ clock with hardly any finger nails left, and no finger prints to speak of,  he decided to call it a day.

Doug wasn’t idle either – he supplied refreshments all day and replanted the flower tubs outside the office.  He’s now gone to get a fish and chip supper which we’ve been looking forward to all day.