Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Meanwhile, elsewhere ...

While Patience lies gently at her moorings and we have pipe dreams of the summer to come ... (and blacking her bottom, building bench seating and decorating her lovely steel sides) there seems a rash of narrow boat and canal incidents.The sinking in the Cam I've referred to before, and now from Lothian in Scotland comes the tale of two joy riders who bet they could drive the length of the local canal. Apparently they managed a whole mile on the ice before the car sank. More here.

And in Northamptonshire an unfortunate novice boatman (this could be me ...) found his 65 foot narrow boat wedged athwart a bridge in a fast flowing current, needing several fire and rescue teams to pull it away. More here.
So warning: Beware fast flowing and high waters.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Chandlery

Long ago my wife's grandfather, Thomas Grieve, ran a busy ship's chandlery on Tyneside. In those days rope was of hemp, wood was tough hardwood like teak or mahogany and metal fittings were of brass. As a student, John worked in such a shop when he was young, but now such places are few and far between. Like Simper's Ropeworks in Cambridge they've been replaced by clean and spacious warehouses on industrial estates and the ropes are of nylon and the wood replaced by plastic and glass fibre.

So we visited the Ely Boat Chandlers, just yards from the Ely marina, with low expectations, half expecting it to be closed on a wet, dark and miserable Friday afternoon at 4.30pm. (This photograph was taken near Patience the previous week, when the snow and the sun were out; on the day of our visit all life had drained from the sky and the world shuffled around heads down with hands in pockets and its collar up.)
I'm delighted to say that this is a really useful shop with a wide range of goods for both cruisers and narrow boats. And what's more the proprietor obviously knows what he's on about. Which is a wonder rarely found today.
He gave us sound advice on solar panels, bilge pumps and galvanic isolators and we browsed a small but exquisitely selected range of books, maps and manuals plus everything from brass fittings to buoyancy aids, narrow boat chimneys to waterproof grease.
It may lack the ancient charm of the gloomy salt-infused sea but it's a great place to get that essential kit for boating. And no, I don't have anything to gain from advertising this shop; I just think it deserves to have our custom.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Well Winterised

Today, in the midst of the coldest sustained winter for 30 years, we thought we'd better check that the winterising was working.
Nothing worse than finding your boat wallowing under water like this one by the riverside in Cambridge this week (picture left, video clip here)
or with water spouting from a once-frozen pipe.
Of course old sea salt Alan had done everything necessary - draining the water tank, the loo, the fresh water jerrycan, switching batteries off and battening down the hatches.
Nevertheless, it was useful to browse the switches and knobs to check which ones had to be turned on again. And we started the engine (first time!) to warm her up, as well as to recharge the batteries, left her running for a while and set the wood stove going to heat its associated radiators and dry out the inevitable damp. All is well and Patience relaxed quietly as the warmth reached her chilled metal sides.

Outside, the picture was very different, with a bright low sun and a firmly frozen river everywhere except near the bridge. I also chanced upon these pics of a narrow boat as ice breaker.
So we retired to the Lazy Otter to consider our options and plan our next moves over a pint of Rocking Rudolph Seasonal Ale (Greene King, 4.5%).

The main project is to decide on the best way to create two more berths. I had looked at the current double bed in the aft section and noticed it was made up of chunky cushions. Closer study this time reveals it is in fact two fixed bench seats convertible into a double bed with the option of a table between, "pullman" style.
This adds another variation for us, as we could now choose to have any combination of tables and beds fore and aft. By building two bench seats forward with an optional table, we have maximum choice for eating, sitting, and sleeping up to 4 people.
Only time will tell the most popular combo for us, but it will be worth providing the options.

So enthused are we, and so happy that winterising has worked, that when the ice has melted we may take Patience out for an overnight trip very soon, perhaps down to Cambridge, and test our mastery of locks.

If we take a jerrycan of water, a few basic supplies and avoid using the loos we won't even have to de-winterise her.

What fun!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Another Family Visit

John and one of his sons (David) paid Patience a visit on 3rd January. Patience looked wonderful in the crisp winter sunshine, although the temperature was only 1 deg C above freezing (about 35 deg C cooler than the Queensland coast from where David had recently travelled). We worked out which of the many keys open the rear hatch so thet we can get a duplicate set cut. As well as the cabin, we inspected the gas bottle cupboards and engine compartment and came up with some ideas for improvements. Patience met with David's approval - we now need some warmer weather to start cruising!
These photos are © David John Coppendale