Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Emerging from the depths

The depths, that is, of realising that we're half-way through February, and most of the UK inland waterways are closed due to the departing Storm Ciara or in anticipation of the impending Dennis, or for maintenance and repairs. My visits to Twitter, far fewer now than at this time last year, have revealed almost no Tweep excitement about cruising, only tales of deluge and gale and blizzard and freeze.

Sunny St Albans has had little of such weather. We're still here. There are still jobs to do around the house that we'd like to have had the verve to do - largely interior crack-filling and painting - but I don't think there's anything else we can do to help Steve and Karolina now. Steve's more than capable of the cabling, plumbing, wall removal and rebuilding on his own or with Karolina or any one of numerous helpful friends. I think we can best serve them now by returning to Kantara and freeing up some space for them while they're still in our house. It gets a bit crowded at times! Returning's still out of the question, though.

Having taken the car into Marsh Motors (who have been servicing/repairing our cars for over forty years) with an intermittent but not dangerous fault with the steering, and having agreed with bossman David that we might as well wait for the intermittence to become a permanence before forking out the £1300 it'll cost to replace the offending component, the flipping engine control unit started to send us messages that it wasn't feeling very well. David sent it off for repair. He's now had the car for nearly two weeks, and hopes we'll have her back by the end of Friday. So do we, needless to say!

When we do get back on board we at least have the assurance that Kantara is ready to venture forth. We'll be able to head off at a moment's notice, that moment being the time it'll take us to stock up with food. Everything else is raring to go - fuel tanks, batteries, engine oil and coolant, Bubble stove and Alde boiler. The lot.

I can't remember if I've said this before, but this year we're being entirely selfish and not having any visitors travelling with us. We really need the freedom to go where we like, when we like and at a pace we like, without having to take anyone else's needs into consideration. And we've not planned anything. Decisions on the matters of where, when and how will be made as needed. Freedom!!

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Locusts next? Frogs?

Time was running out to get Kantara's paintwork thoroughly cleaned and waxed before the harshest weather arrives. And it seemed horribly close as we set about doing the job. Grace had hurt her hip somehow, worked with me nonetheless, and the whole job was done in around eight hours over two days. The result was very impressive.

We had brief moments of envy as friends passed on their way out onto the canal while we were hard at work - Mike and Marion on NB Duxllanding who will be spending their first winter on the cut, and Chris and Alison on Doo Lally Ally having spent a very full summer of travelling and now setting off for more.

Our time will come again.

What they won't be very happy about is the very extreme wind and torrential rain we've had here since that day. Other parts of the country have suffered flooding.

The Plague of Flies continues, with up to a dozen finding their way into the cabin every day. I've just killed twenty or so under the cratch cover and fed them to the fish. We were somewhat gratified to learn that we are not alone in this. Ed from Emma Jane told me they'd experienced the same extreme invasion too. "Locusts next? Frogs?" we mused.

The Said the Maiden gig at The Big Comfy Bookshop in Coventry was excellent, by the way, and in a superb, very unusual venue!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Making the most of it

We're taking a break from the decorating now. All of our jobs in Steve and Karolina's house are done for the time being, so we made the most of that and drove out to Kantara.

She was cold, of course, and the Bubble stove took a while to drive the cold out of the furniture, carpets and walls, but we didn't hold it against her. She'd tolerated as low as 5° while we'd been away. The weather was good, though, and the skies were fabulous as the day slipped into night.

And the next, cold morning, too, after an 8° chilly but well-fleeced night.

We'll be here for a week. On Friday, we'll be driving to nearby Coventry, to a Said the Maiden gig at The Big Comfy Bookshop. It would be good to go there by boat - Coventry has a good canal basin - but we've not allowed ourselves the time to get there.

Before then, there is the usual list of  "to do's" on the boat, though not too many of them. Largely, this week is going to be a break, a rest, a change. 

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Jobs to do, time to do them.

Because of our concern about the risk of diesel bug because of  the fuel tank being half empty (the bug thrives at the point where diesel oil meets the water it's floating on, and water arrives in the tank as condensation forming on the cold sides) - and because of an irrational need to finish fitting the stern gland greaser - and wanting to sweep the chimney so that I can be confident of it not being a problem when we next light the stove in a wintry hurry - and needing to spin the boat around simply because we didn't do it at the start of summer when we should have done (it's good practice to ensure that the sun doesn't fall predominantly on one side of a boat, so that the paint fades pretty equally over time), we came back to Kantara yesterday.

It was rather cold on board. 8°C when we arrived, but up to 23° within a few hours of  lighting the stove. Then it was a massive 16° when we awoke this morning, quickly pushed up to a more comfortable level by our trusty Alde.

The temperature was no surprise to us. What did astonish us was the plague of flies! Houseflies. Okay, the Egyptians had it worse, but we did away with two dozen or more of the things yesterday. They came out of the folds of our six Roman blinds when we lowered them in the evening. I literally sucked most of them up with the vacuum cleaner. Those that missed that treatment got swatted. Their reflexes seemed to be impaired. Why they were there and how long they'd been there we have no idea. I squashed the last two as I was going to bed, and we've seen none today. Very strange!

The wind yesterday had been rather too strong to move the boat, but the weather forecast suggested that today, Thursday, it would be better. We'd do it then, we said. So I fitted the greaser with Heath Robinson flair, forgot to clean the chimney, and then kicked myself when... we filled both fuel tanks as planned, and returned to our berth, backing in to point the port side to the sun. The chimney is now on the water side and I won't be risking sweeping it, lest I fall in in the process. [Three hours after writing that, I took the risk and did the job without getting the slightest bit wet. I also remembered that I had intended to Hammerite the rusting edges of the stern hatch, and did that, too. Now I'm feeling dead chuffed!]

To round off our busyness, we found the ideal solution to the loss of 56lb of ballast from the front, right-hand (forward starboard 😁 ) side of the boat when we removed the safe from there. It was easy, really. We moved the anchor from the forward port (front left 😜 ) hold to one on the other side where we've been storing paints and varnishes. The combined 16kg weight of the anchor and the 7kg of the chain, added to the effect of taking that weight away from the port side, will give us just the trim we needed to correct the bit of a list to port we've had for a long time.
Now all we need to do is get out there and test it!

PS - It's Friday morning and I just killed another flipping fly!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A much-delayed post - and an apology

There's very little - okay, nothing - happening on the boating front at the moment. All of our hectivity has been focussed on things domestic, and I quite forgot to post the following...

Arriving back at the boat on Wednesday, we were amazed at the temperatures registered on the max/min thermometers in the boat.

In the dinette...

the bedroom...

and under the cratch cover
Yes! 50.7° Celsius!!

Lee and Roy of "Days Afloat" visited to fit a new floor in the "cupboard" (I really don't know what to call it) under the well-deck. They did a really nice job, of course. It was good to be able to look under water tank before they fitted it, to see the internal condition of the hull at the front of the boat - some mild surface rust that doesn't merit any kind of treatment. Fitting the floor involved removing the safe from the cupboard, a 56 lb steel box that had been fitted when the boat was built. Having nothing of any great value small enough to put in the safe, we would rather have the space it occupied. We call this cupboard "the larder"; it's always pretty cool, and we store vegetables and fruits in it.
A tidy version of our safe!
Our water pump had been operating poorly for some months, and we were considering replacing it and/or the accumulator. Roy gave the latter a casual poke and, strangely, normal service was resumed! Magic!

Having decided that the stern gland greaser was definitely knackered, we drove out to Calcutt Marina's chandlery to buy a new one, still to be fitted.

Bob visited us on Saturday morning to regale us with horror stories from his BSS certification experiences. He tested Kantara while he was there, too. She passed. The next day, we drove back down the M25 to snorbans for more domestic stuff.

We might get back to Kantara some time!


The apology.

I know that several of you are readers of my "Hints and Tips..." book, and I have in the past made a habit of telling you on this blog whenever I update the book's Addendum Blog. I fear I've not done that with the past few additions, so please visit the blog now (web address in the book) to see what you've been missing.