Friday, 28 January 2011

Boat Poles and Hooks

A narrow boat needs both a pole and a pole with a hook. Dropping something over the side or clearing debris from the water, even drifting away from shore and needing to haul yourself back will require a boat hook on a long pole. The ever-present possibility of running aground and having to push yourself away from an obstruction is better done with a pole without a hook, saving you a lot of bother as you punt yourself off the silt or muddy river edge.
Patience came with a galvanised boat hook on a pole that needed some attention so I sanded down the pole, filled a couple of cracks and soft areas then coated it with 3 coats of Sadolin.
However she had no simple pole so we looked around for a new one. Our local boatyard had no spare lengths from broken punt poles and online chandleries charged anything between £30 and £50 for ash poles. One actually described an 'ash pole 8" long x 44mm dia'. By my reckoning an 8 inch pole isn't a great deal of use ....
Anyway, the solution for us lay in the local wood yard where you can readily buy lengths of 50 x 50 mm Mopstick Handrail. This really is intended as a handrail and is 50mm diameter (that's 2 inches in practice), circular in section except for a flat edge intended for stair spindles - and ideal for resting on Patience's roof without rolling back and forth.
So it is that we have bought 3.6m (just short of 12 feet) of softwood and will chamfer the ends to avoid splintering then paint in 3 coats of Sadolin. We might find 12 feet a touch too long and cut it back to 10 feet but experience will tell. [Later: 12 foot is fine!] Undoubtedly ash is the best timber for the job, but this is an economical and readily available alternative.
I note the Boaters' Handbook says that if you are stuck:
"use the pole to push off against a solid object or the bed of the waterway - if you put the pole straight down and try to use it as a lever, it'll either break or you'll fall in. And keep the top of the pole away from your face and body, in case it slips suddenly."
A simple rack might raise the poles from the roof by a few millimeters to avoid rot setting in, but meanwhile we'll just move them around from time to time and tuck them inside over the winter.
The decorative arts and crafts side of me was inclined to try painting the pole in candy stripe like an old barber's pole, but my (and John's) practical side won out: get it waterproof, cover it plainly. Like brass boat hooks and floral painted watering cans on the roof we'll leave the fancy and the floral to the trad boats. Patience is a good old girl and we love her plain and healthy, not got up in frills and curls.
See also Boat Poles and Hooks 2  which might suggest a structural improvement to avoid narrow poles sinking deep into the mud. Or an Egyptian trumpet ....

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Miscellany on a winter's afternoon

As it was a relatively mild afternoon, I went over to check out Patience and attach her new 2011 Gold Licences. I also put up a small watercolour of some narrowboats that I had been given for Christmas on the bulkhead in the rear cabin. It has been painted by an architect friend and ex-neighbour of ours, Ian Taylor. I then climbed into the water tank in the bow and sponged out the last 3 or 4 litres of water that is below the level of the outlet pipe and can not therefore be pumped out. The inside of the tank is in very good condition with only a small amount of rust coming through. When the weather warms up I will give it another coat of potable bitumen paint. Finally, I ran the engine under load for about 20 minutes to keep the batteries charged up and circulate the diesel. I reflected on how much I am looking forward to our first cruise of 2011.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Canal Passport

Pleased to see, on my new biometric passport delivered today, that page 17 has a picture of a narrow boat, with cratch, by a bridge over a canal. Anyone dare to identify the area?
Good to know that our waterways are considered part of the identity of our nation.
No picture of it here as I'm not prepared to risk national security by scanning it in ....