Monday, 30 January 2012

Kennet and Avon Canal Trust

Paul extended an invitation to accompany him to Newbury where he was considering listening to a presentation from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (KAT) about volunteering.  I immediately accepted the invitation seeing it as an opportunity to view more of the area.

We found a vacant parking spot adjacent to the canal and close to nb Jubilee, which is a KAT trip boat based at Newbury. 

Paul beside nb Jubilee

She is certified to carry a maximum of 30 passengers and it appears that many were already on board listening to the first presentation.  We waited around for an hour watching the frozen crazy canoeist training for the annual Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon.  I can’t imagine anything more unpleasant than paddling a canoe in winter.  The water from the paddles goes down your arms and neck.  There must also be a significant wind/chill factor.  Once out of the water most of the canoeist started to seriously shiver <brrrrrr>!

In the end we tired of waiting and headed back to Aldermaston via Greenham Common and Padworth.

Along the way Paul stopped to check on a couple of locals he knows.

Not recognised as one of my relatives

Meanwhile I wandered across the lane to look at the view across the valley and the church clock tower at Padworth College.

An interesting afternoon and I appreciated the invitation.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Going the wrong way right

With a forecast of colder weather and possibly snow, we decided to do a pump out this morning.  I hadn’t envisaged we would ever get so excited about pump outs.  But then this is our three weekly cruise on Ufton.   All of 20 metres!  The fun part is reversing back onto the mooring skirting around the other boats moored three abreast.  I’m pleased to report I’m getting better at this “going the wrong way right”! I’ve learned where to position the rudder to keep the bow and stern inline when reversing and this morning I even managed to give it a “tweak” so the stern came across against the side of the wharf.  The pole didn’t get wet and no heaving on ropes!   However I’m not getting too “cocky”.  One successful movement doesn’t make me proficient.

After listening to Paul I even managed to get the bow away from the wharf by keeping the stern rope secured to the wharf whilst simultaneously engaging reverse.  Jan did the pump out.  Well I could be ill one day and she would need to know how it’s done!  I also dipped the diesel tank and we are currently all right for fuel.

Meanwhile Jan had decided to fatten up more of the local ducks using the remnants of yesterday’s home baked bread. 

Only one duck decided to enjoy the feast.  I’m not sure whether this is because he just happened to be in the right place at the right time or it’s an indication of the quality of the food?  The former I think!

No Painter

The bilge and locker paint arrived which enable me to start briskly slapping it on.  I chose white thinking it would improve visibility in the dark corners of the engine hole and lockers.  Darren, the boat painter, asked me if my painting ”drooped”?.  Hell… Everything about me droops these days!

Only the bottom of the Bow Thruster locker has yet to receive a second coat of paint.  The colour in the photo isn’t all that good.  The white in the original photo came out blue because the cratch is covered by a blue tarpaulin.  I fiddled with the colour settings in the computer program and this was the best I could do.

A similar colour problem with the cratch locker.  However you can at least see the small bilge pump sump.  It’s required because the foredeck is below the waterline and therefore not self-draining.

The port rear locker has only been given one coat of paint and as there isn’t any further white bilge and locker paint in the chandlery it will have to stay this way until later in the week.  I haven’t started on the starboard locker (gas locker) as it has water in the bottom and some surface rust.  I’ve already removed the bulk of the water with the wet/dry vacuum cleaner but the area needs to fully dry before I can tackle the rust.

First coat in the engine compartment and no…… I didn’t run out of paint.  The unpainted portion of the engine mounting rails is where I was standing to paint the floor.  I surprised myself by being able to reach lower than my toes!
As you can see I’ve been slopping the paint on with all the confidence of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.  Still, it’s all “out of sight – out of mind”.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Even More Cladding

We were back near the River Kennett today and I noticed more dwellings with rough sawn slab cladding.

Only the upper storey of this dwelling has the timber cladding.  This isn’t much in the way of mould on the timber which I assume is because this particular home appears to get full sunlight.

By contrast this dwelling is surrounded by trees and the mould is quite apparent.  I suspect the recessed window is a former second floor doorway (red arrow).  I think the building is probably a former flour mill and assume either raw or processed produce entered or exited via the doorway to the road below.  It even has a water channel directly underneath the building which probably turned a water wheel.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Thank You Nick Thorpe Boat Building!

On the 3rd August last year I wrote about all the victims of Ben Harp Narrowboat Builders <click here>.  One of these was Nick Thorpe Boat Building at Hixon.  Nick was commissioned by Ben Harp to complete the modifications to Waiouru without realising we were the rightful owners.  The requested modifications were part of Ben Harp’s strategy to steal our boat.  Of course Nick and Wendy Thorpe were never paid by Ben Harp, which must be hard on a small business.

During my August 2011 telephone conversation with Nick about what had occurred, he mentioned Ben Harp has requested the exterior cabin doors and rear hatch be fabricated.  Nick had completed the work and still had the doors & hatch.  He then very generously offered to give me both the doors and hatch and they arrived by courier today.

Nick and Wendy appear to be very genuine couple with a passion for the canal industry and who are attempting to develop a successful business.  We are most grateful for their generous offer and wish them every success for the future of Nick Thorpe Boat Building.

It restores one’s faith in the canal community when you meet honest and genuine people like Nick and Wendy.  Hopefully we will be able to meet them one day when we get out on the cut.

Oh Dear!

Well I managed to stuff up the application of the two pack blacking and now I will have to get Doug to return and grit blast it all off…….. <@#$%&*>!!!!

Eventually I worked out what I’d done wrong and I’m not happy with myself.  The Hempadur two pack epoxy comes in two tins.  One large (the black stuff) and one small (clear resin).  The large tin is the same size as the standard Intertuf 16 black.  However the two products are incompatible.  I hadn’t noticed the Hempadur tin had a blue band and the Intertuf a red band.

Because the epoxy two pack will start to set quite quickly the advice I received was to only mix half the amount.  I did this in the paint store.  It was good advice as it was getting rather hard to apply the epoxy mixture using a roller towards the end of the first mix.  The second mix went on much easier, but didn’t dry as fast.

The next morning the guys in the boatyard told me I’d mixed the second batch of black using the last of the two pack resin with the remains of a container of Intertuf.  That’s when I realised I’d used the second half of a previously opened tin of Intertuf in the paint store for the second mix of the day rather than using the last half of the Hempadur tin. I hadn’t noticed or realised the difference between the blue and red bands.  So I had added the Hempadur resin to the Intertuf.  It doesn’t appear to have affected the Intertuf but it does mean we don’t have two pack on the boat.

But wait…… I’d painted one half of the boat with the correct mix of Hempadur so only one half of the boat needed to be grit blasted (again).  Then we realised Jan had gone around (at my request) touching up the first half of the boat using the contaminate Intertuf.  So the first half is also contaminated.

I can’t afford to leave any Intertuf on Waiouru, so it will all have to come off.  An expense we don’t really need.  I am very annoyed with myself and will undergo a session of self flagellation tonight! Crying face

The good news for the day is the portholes and houdini hatches have arrived.  I haven’t actually examined them yet as they are all carefully wrapped and boxed.  After the spray foam applicator has done his work we’ll be able to get Waiouru weather tight.

Colour Scheme

Jan and I have been discussing the colour scheme we want for Waiouru.  The good news is one of us is more artistic and has a much better sense of complementary colours than the other… And it’s not me!

I sat down at the laptop and started to develop different colour schemes using Microsoft Word.  Darren (the boat painter) had given me his copy of the Craftmaster paint chart and I’d asked Jan to see whether she could develop a couple of colour schemes.

Most boats appear to be either, red, blue or green.  Should we try something different?  Jan must have been in one of her dark Goth moods as we started with Waiouru in battleship grey with black panels.  Then I added red coach lines around the black panels.

After looking at it for a few minutes Jan said to try a dark blue.  “NOT the blue that has a hint of purple in it!”  More playing around and we have a second colour scheme consisting of cream for the roof and sides with Union Blue side panels and red coachlines.  The cream is almost sand coloured and should (hopefully) be cooler in the summer. 

No…… second thoughts…… remind ourselves we don’t want blue, green or red!!!  Jan’s latest idea is the main colour will be light grey with the side panels in graphite grey (dark grey).  Coach lines to be buttery cream.  All gloss finish (of course)!

No doubt there will be more experimenting until we run out of time. Open-mouthed smile

Monday, 23 January 2012

Skirts Up

With little wind this morning I took the opportunity to lift the tarpaulin onto the roof of Waiouru and expose her sides.  After sweeping them I managed to apply a second coat of primer.

Waiouru is almost back to the condition she would have been when she left Tim Tyler’s yard.  We’re waiting on the spray foam contractor to repair the insulation and will then be able to fit the portholes and houdini hatches which are due to be delivered this week.

I must remember to get the tarpaulin back over her before it gets dark.

Slip Slap Slop

More painting today.  Sorry no photos; I was very busy… Maybe tomorrow!
This morning I managed to get the second coat of primer onto the roof.  The wind quickly dried it which enabled me to get the tarp over the roof and sides.  I was surprised to find the two pack blacking was still “tacky” but Darren, the boatyard painter, told me it wasn’t unusual given the weather.  I checked the blacking before leaving the boat this afternoon and it’s now dry.
In the afternoon I painted the engine hole and the cockpit lockers.  Then I gave the cratch a second coat of primer.
The plan for tomorrow is to pull the tarp from one side onto the roof and continue with a second coat of blacking.  I want to get two coats on as quickly as possible.  Then I’ll get the second coat of primer onto the sides and finish the cockpit.  This should keep me going until Tuesday evening.  The forecast for Wednesday is rain, which should provide some recovery time (please!).  Boatyard deliveries are made on a Thursday which will (hopefully) mean the arrival of the bilge and locker paint.
After two solid days of painting I’m starting to think Waiouru is growing longer! The more I paint; the more boat there is to paint. Open-mouthed smile

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Doug’s back and we’re stuffed!

Doug returned today and completed the grit blasting.  The area below the gunwale needed to be cleaned back to bare metal along with the cratch area and cockpit.  I also requested he clean the inside of the water tank under the foredeck and the engine hole.
He managed to do all this by 12.30 leaving the “domestic goddess” and me with the painting.
The grit blasting does a very good job of removing the old paint and rust.  However it leaves black grit everywhere!  The stuff is inert but it still has to be removed before any painting can commence.
My strategy was to sweep up the larger areas and then use the boatyard wet/dry industrial vacuum cleaner for the remainder.
It was possible to start priming the cratch whilst Doug grit blasted the stern end of Waiouru.  Another pair of hands is always useful and this elderly gent spent the afternoon with me. He has a pair of overalls the same colour as mine and even the same coloured knitted beanie.  Actually, if it wasn’t for the fact he looks so old I’d swear it was me!
There are no further photo’s of the priming and first coat of two pack blacking onto the boat as we were both totally committed.  On reflection; I didn’t stop from 9.00AM to 5:00PM.  Jan offered to make me a sandwich for lunch but I just “boxed on”.
We managed to get all the exterior bare steel either primed or blacked.  Actually I think we’re both stuffed!!  Tomorrow I’ll primer the remainder of the cratch and the engine hole.  I’m going to leave the two pack blacking for at least one day to give it a chance to harden (and my muscles a chance to soften). Smile
Jan didn’t wear a hat and now has grey, black and brown speckled hair. Open-mouthed smile

Friday, 20 January 2012


The British Waterways building at Aldermaston Wharf has me rather bemused.  It looks very dilapidated and badly in need of some urgent maintenance.  Who would keep anything of value in such a structure?

Yet it has a a security alarm and keypad?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Galley Problems

You wouldn’t bl**dy believe it!   The two porthole openings in the galley are in the wrong place. When entering the walk-through galley from the back cabin there is a wall oven, gas hob and some bench space on the right.  On the left is a full height pantry followed by a sink and then bench top.  In both cases the problem is the current porthole opening overlaps the planned wall oven and pantry. 

Even more galling; now the shell has been grit blasted you can see the faint lines in the shell where the original porthole opening has been filled in on one side of the boat. AND IT WAS IN THE CORRECT LOCATION!!!!  So we now face having to weld up the current galley porthole openings and cut out the original portholes for a second time.  

One option we are considering is to mirror (flip) the galley layout.  This would place the pantry on the opposite side of the boat where it wouldn’t interfere with the existing porthole opening.  It would mean only one porthole needs to be moved.  However it would also result in the gas appliances being on the opposite side of the boat to the gas locker and the sink on the opposite side to the shower.

But wait………… I remember the photos we took of Waiouru back in June last year when we found her at Hixon.  Ben Harp had fitted the wall oven.  How could it fit then but not now?

You can see in the June photo above the two galley portholes along with the oven and the pantry opposite.

After carefully examining the markings and screw holes on the timber battening I now realise this was achieved by reducing the length of the back cabin.  We probably wouldn’t have realised what had been done until we attempted to fit a 6’3” mattress into what would have been a cabin less than 6'ft long.  Only height challenged guests would have been able to sleep in the bed!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Grey Day for Waiouru

Modesty prevents me from showing many revealing photos of Waiouru minus her clothing but here is one of her bare derriere.

Actually the real reason why there is only one photo is because the moment Doug had completed the grit blasting Jan and I went frenetic with the rollers and primer.  With only three hours of daylight we needed to get all the bare steel covered.  I painted the last of her bare derriere in the dark.

This morning we went to inspect our work.  No sign of rust at this stage but then she is covered in a heavy coating of frost. 

The black grit gets everywhere so there will be more vacuuming the inside once the second session of grit blasting is completed tomorrow.

I managed to sweep all the grit out of the cockpit and give it a coat of primer.

The sides above the gunwale look OK.

The plan was for Doug to return tomorrow to clean the cratch, engine compartment and the area below the gunwale line.  However the change in the weather may delay his return until the weekend.  No doubt Jan and I will both then have another busy afternoon with the rollers and brush.  We have managed to get the tarpaulins back over Waiouru whilst waiting for the second session of grit blasting.  Obviously we will have to remove the tarpaulins first!  Then we will have to paint a second coat of primer and two pack blacking.

I must admit it will be nice to see the final piece of Ben Harp’s work gone!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Show us you underwear

Doug, the grit blasting contractor, made a start on Waiouru today.  He and I dragged the covers off Waiouru and lay them over the adjacent boat which is out for survey.  It’s not necessary to cover the boat on the opposite side of Waiouru as it’s our for repainting.

After getting the covers off, Doug and I discussed where to start.  I asked for the roof to be completed first as this will be the area most touched by the covers at the end of the day and I wanted to give the area maximum time for the fresh primer to set.  The tarpaulin covers barely touch the sides of Waiouru so I’ve assessed they are of lesser importance.

However the very first thing we wanted to do was test whether it would be possible to remove Waiouru’s outer garments leaving her underwear behind.

Doug did a test patch on the side.  It looked like it might be possible to remove all the top coats of paint and leave at least some of the original primer on the steel.  We’ve also gone around Waiouru and blocked all the orifices which might have been contaminated with grit.  Mostly this means the diesel and water tank filling points.

Doug then made a start on the roof.  I reminded him (twice) there were three Houdini hatch openings as I don’t want him stepping backwards into one.  He assured me he will be working forwards and it therefore shouldn’t be an issue.  Notwithstanding this I suspect I’ll spend most of the time he’s on the roof carefully watching him ready to call out a warning.

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Frosty Start to the Day

Probably our coldest morning since arriving in the UK.  The fields were white and there was scattered ice on the surface of the canal.
The field beside Ufton
Ice on the canal
The water tap froze last week.  In an effort to avoid any future incidents Paul delved into the boatyard rubbish skip and extracted an old duvet and plastic rubbish bin.  These were then placed over the nearest services pod in an attempt to avoid the water pipe freezing in the future.
Great to take the photos but I’ve now scurried back to the warmth of Ufton in search of a mug of hot chocolate.
The tops and sides of the unoccupied boats are all frosty.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A Dry Engine Compartment….. I Hope!

The roll of reinforced plastic hose Andy had ordered arrived on Friday.  Yesterday I asked him if I could cut an inch off the end to see if the internal diameter of the hose will fit over the steel drain pipes in the engine compartment.

The deck has four drain holes in the engine hatch gutter; one in each corner.  On the underneath side of the hatch there is a short length of steel drainage pipe for each of the four drain holes.  There are a further four lengths of short steel drain pipe welded to the exit holes on the side of the boat.

My task was to connect the drain system together so any water than enters the cockpit will drain into the gutter under the deck hatch and then via the pipe and hose to discharge through the side of the hull.  The first thing I discovered was the flexible plastic hose wasn’t quite large enough to slip over the steel drainage pipe.  The obvious solution was to make the pipe more pliable. (a difficult task on a frosty morning) This would allow me to force it over the steel pipe.

To achieve this I used Jan’s Christmas present (hair dryer) and the dishwashing liquid.  I’m so glad I didn’t buy her the pink concrete mixer for Christmas!  Two of the local ladies observed me walking to Waiouru with the hairdryer and thought I was going off to dry my hair.  They almost appeared disappointed when I informed them my hair was so short and thin I’ve no use for a hairdryer.  Jan didn’t appear to be upset about her missing Christmas present dryer but had some words to say about the missing dishwashing liquid!  Don’t know why…. I sometimes do my share of the dishes!

Measure twice and cut once!  I’m pleased I followed this strategy and also glad I measured each of the required lengths of hose individually.  They were all different.  Waiouru narrows towards the stern so the front hoses are longer than the rear.  The engine hatch is also offset so the left hoses are shorter than the right.

It seem somewhat surreal sitting in the engine compartment with my feet in icy water using a hairdryer to warm plastic pipe.  But it worked!  I hope this now results in no further water entering the engine compartment via the engine hatch. 

One done and three to go!  The rear steel pipe is the lower gas locker drain.

I discovered the dishwashing liquid did make it easier to push the hot hose onto the steel pipe.  But even more effective were the grunting sounds I could make.  The louder the grunts the more the hose pushed onto the steel pipe! Smile

Whilst down in the ‘hole’ I measured the top of the swim and confirmed there is sufficient room for the planned domestic battery bank.  I also noticed the underside of the deck hasn’t been primed.  Actually it’s looking like there is a significant amount of surface rust so I shall have to ask the grit blaster if he can clean it up whilst down there cleaning the baseplate. Finally, I used the boatyard wet vacuum cleaner to suck out all the water and ice sitting in the bottom of the compartment.  This afternoon I check the bilge and…. Hooray it’s dry!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Crane Day

The large mobile crane arrived back at the wharf today.  There were five boats to move with one for survey coming out and back in the same day.  The other came out for blacking or were going in after blacking and survey.  It made for a busy day.

Yes; more frost on the tops of the boat.  But at least it was a clear day.  NB Benbow was the first to be taken out.  She is a shared ownership boat based at Aldermaston Wharf.

The return of the cold weather has reminded us of the need to ensure we have sufficient warm clothing.  Jan has now knitted me a second “beanie” out of surplus wool and last night she finished a scarf.

Usually the ends of a knitted scarf will curl up but this scarf is different and the ends lay flat.  I asked Jan “Why?” and she told me she had knitted it using ‘moss’ stitch.

She has probably used this stitch before… but I can’t remember it!  Anyway, it works; and the ends of the scarf don’t curl.  Actually it’s probably not cold enough at the moment to wear the scarf, although I can imagine it would be necessary when we get to cruise in winter.  There will obviously be an additional chill factor from the wind blowing off the surface of the canal.

Oh….. I can knit. (don’t tell Jan!).   My mother taught me when I was in my early teens.  Although the way she tells the story I apparently taught myself to knit left handed after watching her knit right handed.  She is 83 and still knits.  These days she knits caps for new born babies at the Perth hospital maternity unit where my sister is a midwife.  Expectant mother are informed they are required to bring their own caps for their babies.  However many don’t; so mum has been coerced into knitting a supply for the ward.  Unfortunately there is a significant loss rate so mum has almost a full-time job.  At my sister’s suggestion she has been knitting the initials “LW” (Labour Ward) into the front of the small white caps.  One of the younger nurses told my sister this was wrong.  It wasn’t the Labour Ward but the Birthing Surgery.  I know; a fancy new name acquired during one of the many restructures!  My sister said “Don’t be daft….. what mother would want the letters ‘BS’ on their new child’s forehead”

Actually, it might reduce the loss rate!   But then knitting the initials BS is more difficult than LW. Smile

Friday, 13 January 2012

Even more cladding

A chilly start to the day.

Yes….. That’s frost on the boats!  Oh….. It’s the moon… not the sun (pre-dawn photo).

Now these homes interested me.  Initially I thought the upper cladding was untreated iron or steel tiles.

The plaque above the door gives the date as 1876, however the lower floor brickwork looks quite modern.

After staring harder at the upper cladding we decided the tiles are probably made of clay.

The fact that the tiles on the corners of the house curve at 90 degrees initially made me doubt the “clay” theory and revert to metal tiles.  However Jan assures me it’s possible to produce right angle clay tiles.  And I know better than to argue. And of course she is right!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Corn Exchange

The shore power failed at 6:00pm last night.  Of course it was just after the last of the boatyard staff had departed for the day.  I checked all the shoreline connections in the dark using Jan’s penguin and none had fallen into the cut creating a short circuit.  As all the boats had lost power it was obvious the circuit breaker in the workshop will have probably overloaded and tripped.  Back at Ufton I discussed the situation with Jan.  The domestic batteries on the boat are somewhat old and tired (like me) so we decided to run the engine until 8:00pm to ensure they we fully topped up.  Then we’d turn off as many of the consumers as was safely possible.  This should leave sufficient power in the batteries for Jan to do the most critical thing that evening…… watch the latest episode of Midsomer Murders on TV.  Don’t you love it when a plan comes together!
With no heating in the boat last night we cuddled together under the thick white duvet like two large maggots!  This morning I volunteered Jan to get up and make us a nice hot cuppa.  This decision was a “no brainer”….. It’s perfectly logical that the person who sleeps nearest the toilet and galley should be the one to get out of bed first!  There would be a complaint if I tried to climb on top of her in bed. Smile
As for the daylight activity…… All of our previous visits to Newbury have been on market day (Thursday) and as a result I hadn’t taken much notice of the imposing building surrounding the market.  The latest visit to Newbury wasn’t on market day and as a consequence the market square was emptier than usual.
I immediately noticed the Corn Exchange building (AD1861).  It’s an impressive looking structure.
As the name suggests, it was built with the purpose of marketing locally grown corn.  However with the decline of the local corn industry it was turned into a meeting hall before eventually becoming an arts centre.  It also contains a theatre.
Those of you who know your agricultural history will remember corn isn’t native to Europe.  Like potatoes; it’s native to America and were bought to Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries by European invaders explorers such as Columbus.  Interesting to think prior to Columbus there was no potatoes or rice in England.  The majority of the population would have been eating a diet that mostly consisted of grain gruel, a watered down version of porridge!  How tasty……  Aren’t the effects of international trade interesting.  The natives of South America gave us corn, potatoes and tomatoes.  We gave them smallpox, measles and syphilis.  
On the opposite corner of the market square is the old Town Hall.
This building dates from 1910.  Newbury Council has outgrown it moving to new premises close to the railway and bus stations.  I know they moved because I went to the new chambers to apply for my seniors bus pass.