Tuesday 15th December was the day of Patience's survey. On Sunday Alan steered her into dry dock, Cyril drained the dock (and repatriated the fish that followed) and Patience was bare to the world. Bare except for a layer of mud and slime.
So John and I met up with Alan and Andy the surveyor at the Lazy Otter, unlocked the gates to the boat yard and gazed, rapt, at Patience in all her glory. We were greatly relieved to find that everyone thought she was in good shape, with no obvious problems apart from the odd flake of paint and the occasional dent. Inside and out Andy measured her steel, tapped her welds, scraped her muddy bottom, while Alan disentangled some fishing line from her propeller. Soon Alan, John and Andy were discussing the finer points of the engine, the plumbing, the pump out and the galvanised this and that while I stood around taking photographs and keeping out of the way.
At this point I have to say I was delighted at the good condition of Patience but struck by how big a job it will be to scrape her and black her with bitumen. It's not just that she's 45 feet long, but that she's just a couple of feet off the ground and I'd have to lie on one of those little wheeled mechanics trolleys with my nose just inches from the bottom plate first scraping then painting - three times, with sticky black bitumen paint. One good point is that you simply can't do this in the cold, because the surface has to be dry and warm enough for the paint to adhere to the steel. So no scraping over Christmas ....
But I am excited by it all! I'm no engineer or mechanic but I have plans for two extra berths (because Patience is only kitted out for two at the moment) and for exploring East Anglia from the river side.
A few weeks ago we dithered over having a survey, but it was the right thing to do. For a few hundred pounds we know the boat is sound and have guidance on future improvements. Well worth while.