Sunday, 30 May 2010

Duck Egg

Whooop... Whooop..

Got up early, because it was a beautiful morning.

Cleared the clutter off the roof in preperation for painting it, and discovered a duck egg next to the UFO vent. So that's what those ducks were doing up there last night.

Slapped more light blue everywhere, so it would have a good chance of drying properly before Mister Pillock got his sander out. The man's a walking disaster area, and can't even climb two steps up a ladder without there being an 'incident' of some description.

Steam Launch Achilles
The steam launch was ferrying passengers up and down the thames all day. It's steam whistle freaked Sumo out at first, but he's used to it now, and doesn't bat an eyelid. Nice gig for musicians, as they get to sit on the rear deck, amusing the passengers with light oldschool river type jazz tunes.

blue blue electric blue

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Pizzled Down

It really heaved it down. All day. So I took the opportunity to light up a small fire, and dry the boat out. Sumo hogged it all evening. It got unbearably hot, and we had to have all the windows and doors open. Next morning, there was an inch of rainwater in the bilge. As we still have the luxury of shorepower, I managed to suck it all out with Steve's bilge hoover. Advice from online narrow boaters is.. "live with it".

pinched it

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Water Tank

The new taps are connected, in the kitchen and toilet. The antique shower pump has been changed for a proper 'whale gulper' (which can handle toenails and long hair). The shower works. The gas heating for the hot water system works. But the water was coming out brown.

The water tank was the only place we haven't inspected, cleaned, or checked out. Mainly because it's hidden away in the well deck, underneath a big bolted down chunk of steel. And secondly, because cleaning it out is one of the worst jobs on a boat.

This is what it looked like when we lifted the lid...

OMG....rust concretions!after being pumped out and scrapedI think it'll be two or three days filthy work with an angle grinder, and copious amounts of rust converter. We're investigating the option of a plastic liner, so our drinking water doesn't have to sit next to the hull all the time. Not exactly a job i'm looking forward to, especially with my experience of the bilge and gas lockers. But I'm glad we've discovered the state of the tank, before we set off into the wild.

Spade Oak

Mayfly infestation at Spade OakThere was a nice little breeze blowing, which would help push us out into the middle of the river. And the sun was much less fierce than at the weekend. So we decided to take the boat out for some more practice. Cruised half a mile upstream to Spade Oak, and moored up. Then we untied, turned around, and headed back for the marina. It was Sheena's turn to manouever the boat around in front of the pub audience this time, and she did it very well. We pulled in a bit slower than last time, just to be on the safe side, as there was a little plastic boat in front of us. But I'm happy to report we didn't crush it.

the boat we did not crush

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Malcolm from narrowboat 'Isabella Rose' moored alongside us last night.

This morning we chatted in the sunshine, and were sad to hear he's selling his boat after having spent the last 8 years as a liveaboard. He generously gave us a complete set of Nicholsons guides, which he and his wife have updated and annotated. and a 40 litre water container with a tap. Then they both wished us good luck with our journeys, and set off on their last trip upstream.

We've met some really nice people here on the river.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Black Smoke

Diesel Dude
It was a baking hot day, and I was keen to retrace what we'd done yesterday. But this time, on our own. The journey started badly, because as soon as our back end swung out into the river, we were hit by a crosswind, which pushed the front end back into the bank. Tiller unresponsive! No option, except to wait it out, keep going backwards in a straight line, and hope for the best. We very nearly ran over the shallow water marker buoy. Had visions of it fouling the propellor, but thankfully that didn't happen. When the front end was clear of the jetty, I popped the throttle into "full speed ahead" mode, and went for it. Straightened ourselves out, and headed off upstream. Phewwwwwwww.

Sheena said "What's that smoke?", and drew my attention towards the black plumes that were pouring out of the exhaust. Was a bit worried something was going to break, and us end up drifting off downstream without an anchor, so I eased off on the throttle. Which seemed to stop the smoking. Then we did the journey slooooowly, and it went without further incident. Enjoyed ourselves, even though it was 100% concentration all the way. Managed to turn the boat around in it's own length again.

Got back to our mooring safely. turned the boat around in front of a pub full of people watching, no problem. but came in a bit swiftly and nudged the marina tug. was glad to be back alongside, with the engine off.

Consensus opinion from online boaters, is that we're "over propped'. that is, our propellor is too large. not a big problem, as long we don't go everywhere at full speed.

But it was a bit worrying at the time.

Friday, 21 May 2010


"Aim for that Swan."

Filled up the tank with Diesel. Declared it as 20% propulsion, and 80% heating. So 130 litres cost us £120. Peter, from the 'Big Baloo' kindly accompanied us on our first river cruise. Dogma behaved really well, and was very responsive to the tiller movements. Even though the wind and current was pulling her about a bit. We didn't crash into anything, or run aground. Quite proud of ourselves. It was a baking hot day, and it was nice to have a slight breeze from the forward movement.

Sheena steering downstreamKen steering upstreamTo Marlow!
Pulled off a nifty bit of maneuvering, and reversed back into our mooring. Glided in gracefully, and didn't ram the jetty, in front of a pub packed full of boozed up witnesses. Well chuffed.

buffed up navlights
These are going back outside tomorrow. They were caked with years of grime, and took a fair old bit of buffing. Made some new cork gaskets for them, too. Sorted.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Young Ones

We didn't get to stay very long at Estoban's nice mooring, because he whinged a lot about being moored up in a boatyard. Perfect place to get some work done, you'd think. But he wasn't very happy about it, so we got tugged back to the duck feeding area.

chuck me!The Merlotcute cygnetscute ducklings
Steve finally got round to fixing our engine, exhaust and sink taps. The boat's electrical system is 100% sorted, and the weather changed dramatically, for the better.

strange sunset lightingstrange sunset lighting
It was great to see Allan & Debbie from narrowboat 'Keeping Up' cruising by, one sunny morning. Their red and black colour scheme is very striking & distinctive.
They were escorting one of their friends up the Thames. And it made me happy to be able to give them a friendly wave as they passed, to thank them for their helpful advice about changing our gas bottles safely.

Keeping Up

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Lock Stock

Guy Ritchie just bought Black Dog Towers (version 1) for six million quid.
Language School ~ Fitzroy Square
This is the building where I lived and worked as the resident caretaker. Before blowing it all off, for a career in rock 'n' roll superstardom. ha, that was the grand theory, anyway. So I was actually paid to live in there. And he's just an annoying mockney film producer with way too much money. Sherlock Holmes?! arse.

View from the Roof