Thursday, October 24, 2013

A dry day!

Not just dry, but sunny and mild, so we took the opportunity to take Kantara out, albeit just for an hour and a half. When Colin replaced the bottom hose in the engine, we had to refill with coolant. There were air-locks, and they took time to get rid of, and after all that we needed to run the engine for some time in order to mix the new water with its antifreeze with the coolant which remained. This is so that we are able to measure the specific gravity of the coolant and make sure that it's got enough antifreeze for the lowest temperatures that winter might throw at us.

So we set out at 2:00 and headed north to the nearest winding, turned, and came back. No big deal, but very pleasant nonetheless.

Back at the marina, Grace used the wet vacuum cleaner we bought the other day to suck some of the spurious water out of the bilge under the cabin. I'd found a way to attach a narrow plastic pipe to the cleaner's tube, using a rubber doorstop, and Grace got a good amount of water out. We'll keep looking down the inspection hole to see if the level rises with the movement of the boat.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Very strong winds and torrential rain...

...have been the order of the day - and night - for a week or so now, although there have been the occasional breaks for the odd hour, and the weather's been quite mild most of the time, too. We managed to find a space between the downpours today; first of all to fill the water tank, then later to go to Sainsbury's for a major shopping.

Yesterday, we went to see "Blue Jasmine" at the cinema. It's typically bleak for Woody Allen, but Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins' performances were superb, and the film as a whole was enjoyable - in a bleak sort of way!
A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love...

Friday, October 18, 2013

A good day for a wander... car. We have a list of places we passed on our Leicester Ring cruise, even stopped at for a short time, which we thought might merit a visit another time. The weather yesterday was mild and mostly dry, so off we went.

Our first stop was to be at Newton Harcourt which, according to the Nicholson map book, "is a well-known Leicester beauty spot, popular on Sunday afternoons." It being Thursday morning when we arrived probably didn't explain why we were mystified by that description. So we passed on through and arrived at Wistow, pulling into the Rural Centre, which looked interesting.

And it was interesting; a cluster of shops and workshops selling a range of foodstuffs, art and craft work, gifts and assorted ephemera. We bought supper - a locally produced lamb and vegetable pie - today's lunch - Italian cheese and dried tomato bread - and various other consumables from the delicatessen,

and spent some time just wandering, admiring the variety of goods on sale. We had lunch in the bistro,

then, deciding that we might well have made some poor decisions when considering which places to visit, we took a longish, countryside route back home. All very enjoyable, and to be repeated.

The day before that, we joined five others(!) at the cinema to see "The Fifth Estate".
A dramatic thriller based on real events that reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century's most fiercely debated organization.

It doesn't seem to have attracted much enthusiasm from hoi polloi, nor from the critics, but it was a good film; gripping, intense, and not short of pathos. However, having read the letter from Julian Assange to Benedict Cumberbatch, I have to say the film lost some of its edge. Assange told Cumberbatch that the book upon which the film was based was the least accurate and reliable of all the books written about him and Wikileaks, and that it didn't reflect the truth. Having said that, Assange is a first-class propagandist...

As for boating, the weather forecast is not encouraging.

Not only would we love to have one more cruise of a couple of weeks or so, but we need to get fasteners on our cratch cover and hull so that we can fasten the cover firmly along its bottom edge. If we're not going to get our foredeck soaked - and we'd rather not, since it's not really intended for that - then we need a couple of dry days when the cover can be off.

We've booked Kantara with John Barnard for April 2015! to be repainted. He's that busy!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wind, rain, and more wind

Although we've had a few bright, even warm, days, the theme for October seems to be very strong winds, heavy cloud, and a fair bit of rain, from thick drizzle to heavy downpour. Not the sort of weather we want to be cruising in.

We found a suitable dry period the other day during which we re-waterproofed the cratch cover. Having washed it again a few days earlier, and it being dry largely thanks to the high winds, we brushed Fabsil over the outer surface. It applied really easily, soaked in well, and dried within a very short time. The whole job didn't take the two of us more than half an hour. We used less than 2.5 litres of the liquid. It rained that night, and most of the day, and it was gratifying to see how effective the Fabsil was repelling the water. 

On Thursday, we drove out to Debdale Wharf to see John Barnard, boat painter, with regard to th repainting of Kantara. He was dusting off a fifty foot boat of about the same age as Kantara, which he had stripped to bare metal in preparation for painting. There was not a tiny patch of paint to be seen. We chatted with him for some time, and he showed us a number of examples of his work, moored around the adjacent marina. They all looked superb. John has a long history with boats, and a good deal of experience of this work, and we left certain that he would be the man to do the job on our boat. An indication of his reputation is the fact that we couldn't have the job done until September next year. Since that would take six weeks out of our cruising time, we won't actually get the work done until February 2015! But it's worth waiting for. In the meantime, we just have to find a way of making sure Kantara doesn't get shabby.

As I write, we're back with the kids in St Albans for a couple of days. It's really good to catch up with them and their lives.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Water, water everywhere!

Well, not quite, but it's been quite an issue these past couple of days.

Colin came yesterday to replace the bottom coolant hose in the engine compartment. One of the RCR engineers we met on our Leicester Ring cruise had told us that it needed replacing with a newer, more durable type because that one was perishing. Far from it, it turned out! When Colin removed it, he showed it to me. It was like new. I hadn't doubted the RCR guy's word - why would I? He's supposed to know what he's talking about. Colin thought that it had two or three years life in it, but did point out that the one he was putting in would last longer that the boat, and that we would have had to have the old one replaced some time in the future. He was simply doing a job sooner rather than later. It's a way of looking at it.

Taking the old hose out resulted in water flowing from the engine casing into the bilge - gallons of it! Today, I determined to pump it out, to empty the stern gland bilge, and to dry the one under the engine. I have a pump for the job. The previous shower waste pump. Perfect working order. Except that it clearly needed pump-priming, which we found impossible in the confined space afforded to us in the engine room. So it didn't work, and, after an hour of trying, I gave up and used instead the hand pump we bought in the first week of having Kantara. It worked a treat - as it did then! How I wish I'd simply gone for that option in the first place! All the bilges at that end of the boat are air-drying now.

The weather today has been very mixed, but we took advantage of a dry spell to take the cratch cover off and give it a good scrub to get off the algae and any possibility of mould. When it's dry, we'll paint a water repellant onto it and give it back the waterproof qualities it once had.

Tomorrow, we go to see John Barnard, the painter at Debdale Wharf, to hear what he has to say about repainting Kantara.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Banbury Canal Day

A year ago last Sunday, we were on the return leg of our trip to Oxford, and we arrived at Banbury on the day before their Canal Day, staying on to enjoy the event the next day. We went again this year, but by car, setting out under a sunny sky and arriving at the car park right next to the canal less than an hour later.
click logo for link
Again, it was an excellent event with a superb craft market, charity stalls and a wide variety of other traders. There was lots of live music at a couple of venues, dance down by the arts centre, a number of shop-boats selling craftwork, cheeses, and take-away food, as well as the many other various places to eat and drink. Tooley's Boat Yard was open again with a programme of talks and demonstrations, and a very popular trip boat made the journey between windings on either side of the main venue.

The weather, as last year, was perfect for the occasion, and people turned out in their thousands. I was very impressed with the local council who, regardless of the huge number of additional visitors to Banbury that day, and the opportunity to make a lot of money, didn't increase their usual weekend car park rate from the usual £1.50 per day.

It was a great occasion. I think the fact that I wasn't quite so delighted by it as I was last year can be entirely attributed to the facts that we weren't on a cruise this time, and the event wasn't new to us either. 

Friday, October 04, 2013

Two films in four days

In the space of just four days, I have seen the best film I've seen for a long time, and the very worst film seen for a very long time.

When "Man of Steel" came to local cinemas, we were enjoying our long cruise, so we missed it. We regretted it, but thought we'd probably hire the DVD on some occasion. I was a little suspicious when the film had such a short run at Rugby Cineworld, but happily took the opportunity to see it when it returned for one day, as part of Cineworld's "Take 2 Thursday" series.
A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.

I'm no film critic. I just know what I like and dislike, and why. This film is dross. It has very little human interest - and not really much Kryptonian interest, either - no humour, little pathos. It has a lot of special effects, most of them conveniently high-speed (it must be much easier for the effects guys to do), with Superman and Zod throwing each other around Metropolis, destroying huge swathes of it as they do so. The Man of Steel may have amazing strength, but there doesn't seem to be a lot going on between his ears. A brighter superman would have taken the fight elsewhere and saved millions of lives, and destruction such as gives insurance companies nightmares. Those sequences were dramatic for the first two minutes, but I sympathised entirely with the under-12s in the audience who were very bored after the first half hour.

This is a film to miss.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Back to Warwick

There's not been much to write about since our return to the marina. Routine sort of stuff, catching up with email, Twitter and so on. We have a number of smallish jobs to do before the end of the month, so those are in our sights.

Yesterday, however, we went to the cinema to see "About Time", an excellent British film with a superb cast; funny, clever, fascinating, poignant, very well scripted and directed. Possibly the best film I've seen for some time.
At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

Then today, we drove out back to Warwick to see St Mary's church which was closed when we were there last week. After a very good lunch at the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms close to the castle, we went to see what we'd missed.

It's a fascinating building, dating way back to 1123, the original crypt being still usable, with various additions being built in the 14th, 15th and 18th centuries.

Some of the visitors were asleep!

After enjoying the church, we climbed the 160 steps - worn stone, very narrow spiral - to the top of the tower for a spectacular view. I had pictures of the church, taken from the castle. Now I have photos of the castle taken from the church, too.

Road works and confusing diversions forced us to postpone an intended visit to the little church at Flecknoe. We'll have to do that another time.