Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Scrubbing and Scraping Patience

A sunny day, warmest for a while, so thoughts stray to boating and to boat maintenance.
Last time we visited Welford, John opined that the reason Patience was looking so green and mouldy could be because we sluice her down with a mop dipped in the canal. That may wash off some superficial muck but actually creates a mould culture which grows and creeps into every corner.
Looking at dear Patience's increasingly green roof it became clear that the first thing to do before painting or at least patching the rust areas was to scrub the whole roof down. So today I gave it a go. And lo and behold, with a bit of elbow grease, a long hose, some clean water with detergent (marine variety, suitable for waterways) and a scrubbing brush, Patience's roof is now clean and bright for the first time in quite a while. Patience and I are very pleased with the result.

The aft section, however, needs more than a scrub, as with water drained from the bow tank the tilt of the boat is altered so that surface water collects in the area by the hatch, which is peeling and showing first signs of rust. So this bit I scraped clean and painted first in anti-rust, then in red oxide, as a preliminary to an undercoat and then non-slip top coat.  As the scrubbing shows most of the roof is in good condition, I think painting in the small patches on the edge of the roof will be all that's necessary next time we carry out maintenance. A triumph of common sense - and elbow grease!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Floating with The Boat Barge

In these chilly days with a biting wind I prefer to read and dream about boating instead of freezing my exposed parts.
So after starting to browse Waterways World Annual with its canal map and favourable comments about every canal and river, I rediscovered "The Bookshop That Floated Away" by Sarah Henshaw. I'd popped it on my shelf for future reading and it popped out again to remind me this was a good time to be read. Some books are good like that. And this book is well worth reading, especially if you like narrow boats and books. It's an eccentric read by a self-deprecating writer with some fascinating turns of phrase and good quirky stories to tell.
Look out for the narrow boat if it comes your way, check her progress at The Book Barge site, buy and read the book - you'll find it amusing and you'll get to like the author with her erratic approaches to steering, mooring and safety, her honest descriptions of operating locks at the limit of exhaustion and her determinedly non-business-like approach to selling (could swapping a couple of books for a Victoria sponge ever be financially profitable?). I enjoyed the book, relished her quirky written style and liked the author. I hope she has found love with the ever-patient and romantic Stu (stick with him love!)

It's also reminded me that I should re-read Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Best of luck to Sarah, currently enjoying the delights of Kerala waterways (as I saw in this photo in 2010, a darn sight warmer than The Grand Union in March).

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Patience awakes to 2015 - and maintenance

A couple of weeks ago I drove over to see Patience and check she was feeling OK. she was fine except for a moderate amount of water in the engine room bilges and an unaccountable damp patch near the stern port window. I left the engine room alone, with its oily inch of water, moved things about under the stern port window and made a note to seal it more effectively in the spring.
Today John (newly returned from adventures abroad) and I returned to Patience to find that someone had kindly taped a plastic bag over the open window to the loo and that the leak under the stern port window was no better, in fact a little worse.
So we spent the morning mopping up the oily engine room water and wondering how so much had got in. We also looked more closely at the stern port window and John saw the seal around the top of the window had cracked  and would need replacing. I called myself an absolute idiot for forgetting that I'd removed the toilet window in a cleaning fit two weeks ago - and forgotten to put it back in.
And so we move on. Having planned a maintenance day or two in a fortnight we sat in The Wharf and listed all our maintenance jobs, making note of what we had to buy and bring. I'd already brought a new mop, rubber gloves, sponges and small durable carpets. How can you tell I was expecting a damp and grubby Patience after the winter ....
Fortunately nothing serious is amiss. My stupidity in leaving the window opening simply added an inches of water to the basin and the shower tray. The damp under the window will dry and the cork tiles will probably be none the worse. Little has failed, but a lot needs attention.
So this is the maintenance list:
  • Check all windows for old sealant, rake out where necessary and renew with new silicon
  • Seal chimney flue (there's some evidence of water dripping onto the stove)
  • Check floor tiles - possibly use adhesive, possibly remove carpet tiles and wash (marking position of each tile if removed)
  • Check water tank for rust, paint (patch) where necessary with bitumen, leave to dry then fill
  • Wash roof thoroughly with fresh water and detergent (using canal water increases mould!) using scrubbing brush
  • Clean then undercoat necessary areas followed by at least one coat of International Interdeck Slip Resist Beige 090 (large tin)
  • Tighten up loo pump (slackened off during winter to avoid cracking if frozen) - need spanners for this.
  • Wash sides and wax
  • Check gas bottle lids as they are delaminating and need treatment or replacement with new marine ply
So - some few things to keep us going until the warmer season begins.
The complete list would include checking all bilges, ropes, all surfaces for mould and damp, engine (a long list in itself but it has been recently serviced), safety of gas and electrics ....
In due course we will add bedding and resupply food stocks. Then it's all aboard!