Sunday 31 January 2016

A Tearful day - RIP Terry.

Wasn't it horrible this morning, waking up to the news that Terry Wogan
had died in the night? - I can't believe how sad so many people are feeling... including me.  I've had tears in my eyes on and off most of the day... So much so, that I've had to switch Radio 2 off today - something I rarely do.

All credit to the presenters this morning, paying tribute to him.  To many - as I suppose to me, he was "Uncle Terry"... and it really feels like a close family member has been taken.

Thinking back to childhood, I HATED being forced to listen to him by my parents on a morning...  In early adulthood however, he drove to work with me every day for many, many years...  His radio firework displays had me in stitches, year after year - NOT to mention the Janet and John stories that he so regularly struggled to get through as a result of laughing so much.

And as for the floral dance record he made back in the late 70s ... he was having as much of a laugh at himself as we did:

I shall miss him.   I shall miss the "dream" of being able to lay in bed on a Sunday morning in the boat, listening to him do his show... I'd only just gotten used to not having him on a weekday morning - Chris Evans was and remains a poor replacement...

So - that's January over with... a sad note to end on but there we have it. Brighter skies ahead? - I hope so.

Until next time...

Saturday 30 January 2016

Good & bad news - mooring related...

Sometimes when you want something you can't have, you make a choice to accept something you can have and make the best of it.  This applies to most things in life as nothing is perfect as I'm sure you all know.  Compromise is something we're actually very good at.  When some people are desperately trying to clutch for the latest gadgetry or fancy cars, we're happy to bumble along with our knackered old laptops and ageing cars...(although we do currently have 4 between the 2 of us but that's my fault... buying and selling cars is a bit of a hobby of mine) -  we don't usually make much/any money but conversely, neither do we tend to lose much either.

SO - last night I was reading a posting about cheap moorings  - apparently such things DO exist... but in the example given on the posting, it was clearly an error.  A mooring in a marina for £222 per year.  Anyway, in the posting there was a link to the CRT (Canal & River Trust - successor to British Waterways but now a charity) mooring vacancies site...and being nosey inquisitive, I thought I'd take another look around to see if any thing local had come up since my last visit.

Low and behold, there on the page before me was a 57' 1" mooring at Stanley Ferry

It's a lovely place... behind the relatively safety of the flood gates off the river Calder again but more interestingly,  MORE local to home... AND with a decent facilities block - not to mention a pub on site.  What more can anyone ask for?

This threw me into a bit of a state of panic...given we were still waiting to hear back from Fairies Hill - you remember, the place we'd convinced ourselves that was perfect.    Anyway, on checking my email *note to self - check email BEFORE stressing in future* I find Chris had replied:

 Hi Mark

thank you very much for the email below, sorry for the delay in getting back to you, had a couple of days off and then on catch up. 

After looking at the boats that are coming in we are now completely full.  That doesn't mean that boaters will not go within the time scale you are looking for.

A couple of options available are

1. You can give us a call closer to the time you require a mooring and see what is available if anything.
2. I can put you on a waiting list for an admin fee of £40 - when a spot is available I will contact you but you will have to take and start paying for that spot as soon as it comes available.

As we are full we currently do not have anybody waiting on the list so you will be number 1 if you take option 2.

I would appreciate what option you require if any.  

many thanks

Panic over then.  I mused over the details of Stanley Ferry - which is a bit silly really given we've been up there 100's of times over the last few years... either walking or pubbing so know it very well.  The only consideration is paying £150 a month to hold a space open for the somewhat open ended period of the build.  

When Andy came in from work we had a bit of a discussion and decided  to apply the "oh stuff it let's just do it' approach and I pressed the "buy it now" button... now we need to sit and wait patiently (again... have you noticed there's a lot of this "waiting around" in the boating world?) until the CRT office opens on Monday morning for them to get back to me and begin their process.

So there we have it - another example of fate altering things but the outcome being perfectly palatable anyway... AND once again, we'll convince ourselves this is what we wanted all along and roll with it... whoever  it was that said I can't be flexible, clearly doesn't know what they are talking about ;-) 

At some point today, we'll have a walk up there and chat to a few people to see if we can work out exactly where this 57'1" space is - I'm going to have to get better at parking though as 1/2 and inch back and front is not a lot of manoeuvring space is it? 

Until next time...

Thursday 28 January 2016

Securing a Mooring

In recent months, we've been actively looking around for somewhere local (ish) to moor the boat whilst we complete the fit out.  It's harder than you might think.  Here 'up north' there just aren't very many places near enough.  It wouldn't matter so much if we were buying a fully completed boat as travelling 50 miles or so "to play" would be fine... but travelling 50 miles after work with a car load of materials would very quickly become a pain in the proverbial harris.  We've visited a few places where a vacancy does exist and have found one only about 10 mins drive away that has a good feel to it.  It's a branch of the Calder and Hebble Navigation near Castleford.
 There are no facilities as such (well there's water and a paid for Elsan point) but it does have a good feel to it and despite the slight risk of it flooding - like it did on boxing day when the Calder exceeded it's record, it's usually ok.  On boxing day however, the river was 2 foot over the TOP of the lock gates and flooding back up into the cut... the flooding was exacerbated by additional water, coming in from the top of the moorings, where the river was flowing across the main navigation.  This  is a bit of a concern but there is always someone on site and if it does happened again, we can get there in about 10 mins to help loosen ropes as the waters rise, but more importantly perhaps, PUSH boats back into the main channel when they begin to recede.  That's very important as once the level of the water has exceed the top of the channel by more than 2 foot, most narrow boats can then become stranded up on the bank when the level lowers again - like happened over at Broad Cut.

This poor fellow got stranded as there weren't enough folk around to be able to push him back into the channel when levels began to drop.  Whilst it will be a problem (access wise) getting back in the water, he's very lucky... many others near by weren't 
This is about 100 yards further along from the chap stranded on the tow-path...

Sorry, back to the plot... I had a chat with the manager/owner before Christmas when he confirmed they do have 2 vacancies at the moment - 1 individual linear mooring on the tow-path at circa £140 pcm ... OR a double breasted one - currently up against a boat for sale at circa £116 pcm.   When we spoke (seemed a decent sort of bloke too) he did say that whilst he'd happily take a monthly rental fee from us to keep the mooring, we could take a chance and try contacting him again when we have a more definitive completion date for the boat.  This of course DOES make sense... especially financially as let's face it - we could end up paying over £1.5k for nothing... that money could be used to buy and install the multi-fuel stove!

That WAS the plan...  or at least was the plan until we placed the order.  Since then I've had  niggle that what if the spaces have been taken and we can't store the boat  anywhere local enough to make the process enjoyable? - With that in mind, I've emailed the chap and asked him to think about letting us have either first refusal if someone else comes along OR (and I suspect this is the fairest option) letting us pay a nominal retaining fee for keeping it vacant longer term (still on the basis that if someone else wants he, he'll get in touch and we'll have to cough up full price from that point) or if he can sublet it short term for extra money he can - so long as it's free from November.  That was 3 days ago and ever patient... I'm not stressing that I've not heard back from him yet... much :-) .

Until next time...

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Contractual Amendments...

Last evening, on the canalworld forums, I spotted a post asking for recommendations for IFAs.  Well, in my most recent former line of work, my main customer base were the aforementioned.

A couple, approaching retirement were seeking advice - ideally in the west midlands area and as happens, I know just the company.  I wont go into details here, but the basis of my recommendation was NOT on my experience of their financial ability... but on my knowledge of them as people...  I've worked in and amongst the key operators AND their employees for many years and without a shadow of a doubt, trust their integrity - in short, I'd happily buy "them" or rather what they stand for, their commitment and desire to do the best they can for their clients.

Why am I babbling on about this? well last night -21.44 to be be precise, an email popped into my in box with an amended contract attached.  Basically it was from the boat builder and he'd taken into account  my request for the prm150 gearbox and also altered a couple of other things too.  My point? - well it's back to buying "people"... Receiving that email, when most of the working world has given in for the day, was an affirmation we'd made the right decision when choosing builders.

The modern day world is full of people, all trying to get the most for their money by researching every little purchase they make on the internet or trying to get something from China for buttons.  Whilst I totally understand this can be acceptable - sometimes the "price" of something or rather VALUE of something is in the little things... and for us, that email last evening has engernered even more positive feelings.  Of course it's very early on in this process to be singing praises but you have to look through good eyes  sometimes or the world can seem a miserable place!

I've not much else to report  really today - oh btw,  yesterdays hospital visit went well. The consultant confirmed they'd got all little skin cancer out and to basically spend the rest of my life wearing factor 50... it'll be like sunbathing under  a sheet!    The plastic surgeon was a lovely chap though - very up beat and in his words "if you're going to get a type of skin cancer - this is the one to hope for"...

SO if you have anything that looks like this lurking on your person,
get it checked out and taken off - don't be surprised at how much skin around the area they need to take though - my lump was only about butter bean sized but they cut out about 4 inch circle and then pulled it all back together.  It was a bit tight for a while and I couldn't lift much for  a month or so (although with my knackered back that was no different to normal really) but the plus side was a complimentary/accidental neck lift!!!

Until next time...

Monday 25 January 2016

Sleepless Night - gearbox related...

Ok I know.... most people don't lose sleep over gearboxes... unfortunately, I'm not most people.  It's been a very long night - tossing and turning thinking about "stuff" - NOT helped by the fact last evening between having tea and going to bed, I manged to put my neck out.  NO idea how.  Which of course has meant every time I moved in the night, it woke me... (during those rare moments when I fell asleep that is).

So - gearboxes... After Saturday's initial excitement about having placed the order, I was reading through the mechanical spec on the sales contract and noticed the set up.  Basically, it's a Canaline 38hp engine with a prm120 gearbox.

 The trouble with being me - and having had 6 years to look into things, is that wherever I've read about gearbox problems, the prm 120s have come up time and time again.  There's nothing wrong with them per se, it's just they are mechanical... ie 2 metal plates, SLAMMING against each other.   The PRM150 however is much more civilised beast ...of a hydraulic nature - which if maintained properly (and she will be) should outlast the 120, 5 times over.  I know this fact from one of my research calls to an installer, prompted by various articles I've read about them.

I've emailed Chris and asked him to price up his end to change it to the 150.   - Calcutt boats are doing them for £989 inc vat verses  £817 inc vat... which  in boat yard terms will probably mean it should only  add about £400  to the boats cost .... ONLY....  It's another one of those things you want to have right at the beginning.

Another thing that was on my mind during the dark hours, was getting the boat back here.  Initially, when I'd done my route plans, I'd scared us both, thinking we're have to come over the top via standedge tunnel - ie 3 miles in the dark in a boat we're unsure of, with neither interior or proper fixed tunnel lamp.  I hate tunnels, in fact, it's the one thing about boating that will make me miserable at times.... More so than rain.    When I'd looked on route planner, I'd gotten it into my head it was going to take us about 2 weeks to get the boat  here - assuming 5 hour days given it will be November/December and dark early...  Since having a discussion with another boater about it, it was pointed out we could come OVER rather than through by using the Rochdale.  That would take about a week and only encounter "short" tunnels.

We're going to think about that one - it's dooable but will still not be pleasant on a half fitted out boat with no heating.  The yard will fit a fire but charge £2400 for the pleasure...  given the stove in mind, is under £500, we can't stomach that and STILL have to spend the holiday time on an endurance run. So the current plan is still to have it lifted out and taken by road transport.  Ironically, this will probably cost not far off the fire figure but at least it will mean our time off work can be spent doing stuff instead....  free time at this point in our lives is shorter than money if you follow... not that we're rolling in it - far from but I'm sure you know what I mean.

That'll have to do for now  - I'm off to the hospital this morning to see the plastic surgeons.  Just a follow up for an op I had a few months ago... I'll need to shave a bit of my chest so they can have a proper look at the scarring.   Without going into gory details, I had a small bcc (basil cell cercinoma)  which was removed by taking a 3 inch circle out of my chest... it was done by the consultant's assistants as he had to go home ill on the day.  It's a bit wonky, and the dis-solvable stitches didn't dissolve.  It does't matter...  I am too over the hill to worry about ugly bits - I've enough everywhere else anyway ;0-)

Until next time...

Saturday 23 January 2016

Build Slot Secured

We've done it!

Today we went over to Lymm to meet with Chris "properly".    We were early of course (we always are - that's my ocd for you)... and it was good to be able to have another look around some of the boats in build.  There were quite a few in various stages with chaps beavering away on a Saturday.

It's also good that they've plenty of work on - Although that will mean about 10 months before we can get our boat... hey ho.

Sitting down with Chris, I proudly unrolled our plan - half expecting him to pull it to bits.  On the contrary, he got out his graph paper and proceeded to transpose our sticking & gluing on to working palns for them.  We've had to remove a few portholes - apparently 7 down each side is a bit overkill - 9 overall is the norm and at £400 each for additional ones, an extra 5 would prove rather expensive.... we've compromised and just had 1 more...  a nice even (or rather odd) 5 own each side.  The extra hatch also adds another £400 ... In short, it will cost a little more than planned but that's the way my life tends to roll anyway.  No matter... we're only going to do this the once, so it may as well be the way we want it.

Not sure if this will work but here's a link to a scaleable version of the plan  so you can actually read what's where... Don't worry - you're not seeing double ... we did  1 for Chris, and 1 for us...DOUBLE PHOTO  .., assuming it doesn't work, heres a compressed one anyway :

We talked through each section of the boat and Chris updated his plan accordingly.   His notes look a little less flamboyant than ours don't you think?

 Nothing major was pointed out and he agreed to fit the additional bulkheads at a discounted cost of £100 each rather than the standard £200.   It's things like that which make such a difference.  A side from the obvious savings, it engenders a spirit of goodwill.  He's also happy to alter the standard calorifier from 55 to 75 litres and increase the battery bank from 400ah to 540ah.  

By the time we'd driven back home and called in to Sainsburys (other supermarkets are available) to get some rations, Chris had emailed boat sales agreement through.

SO that's the ball rolling - I've transferred the Deposit this afternoon and now we need to wait patiently...  ... ...  hmmm... 

until next time...

Thursday 21 January 2016

Life-jacket delivery...

Yes I know... it's a bit premature ordering life-jackets but whilst reading through the canalworld forums, a respected member recommended these Challenger II 275N Life Jacket So I ordered a couple from Ebay *other auction sites are available*...(apparently) but lets face it, Ebay is the only one I we all use.

Eric next door came out to see me when I was taking the bins out after work - in my pants I admit as the bath was already running.  It's good living next door to oldies - you NEVER have to go and collect a parcel from the post office OR delivery depot and it gives him a chance to have a natter.  He's impressed with my organisation - although he doens't approve of me being in the street in my underwear... that didn't stop him chatting for 10 mins though whilst I shriveld up  shivered.

A lot of folk don't bother with life-jackets on the canals.  Historically we've never either.  We did however last year when taking Andy's 11 year old nephews on holiday with us wear them... briefly during the Foulridge Tunnel on the Leeds/Liverpool Canal.  Unfortunately, the ones supplied by the hire company were the old bulky foam type that a) stood out a mile and b) made you feel both uncomfortable and stupid.  However, being responsible uncles, we wore them all the same.

I doubt we'll wear them very often, but I WILL certainly wear them in wet conditions or when I'm half single handing - what I mean by half single handing is when Andy has gone off to set the next lock in a flight and I'm coming out of a lock on my own ... stopping on the landing to close the gates.  It only takes one slip and you can be in a lock, knocked unconscious and dead.  That's the good thing about self inflating ones with a high rating - upon inflation, they'll turn over a dead weight in the water, so if you are out cold, at least you won't drown face down... I've gone for the best we can afford on the basis that if you're gong to do something - you may as well do it properly.  There are lots of cheap ones on Ebay which might seem a good idea but when your life (or the life of someone you are responsible for) depends on it, it's just not worth taking a gamble with Chinese rubbish (no offence China)... no, Good old British made and used in oil rig installations... they're the ticket.

These don't need testing again until 2019 - at which time I might push Andy into the canal - just to check of course ;-)

We'll still need to buy another 2 but for now it's a start and it does feel good to be getting things we need.
Hopefully, my next post will mean the boat has been ordered...  meanwhile, its back to that ruddy 12v bible - hmmf!

Until next time...

Wednesday 20 January 2016

A Broken Leg?

This morning I phoned Chris at the original boat yard to try and arrange an appointment for this coming Saturday.  They only open (to the public/customers) for 2 days a week and as I can't take time off work, any meetings will have to be done on a Saturday... ANYWAY,  it turns out the poor chap has a 'nearly broken' leg... I'm not entirely sure what that can mean but he's hobbling about on crutches he said.

The outcome of the conversation was that he has a new boat handover to do on Saturday and until he has a confirmed time for that, we cant agree a definite time for our meeting.  He said that if I call back on Friday afternoon, he should know what the plan is and he'll confirm when he can fit us in.
That's all fair enough ... it'll either be about 10.30am or 3.30...  either is fine with us as it's the only thing we have planned for this weekend.  Well I say that, ideally I need to get sorted in the greenhouse and get the seed propagators ready for my 1st February kick off but the boat order has to take priority.

During our conversation, Chris explained that he needs to allow plenty of time for the boat handover/commissioning and that is why he can't really guess when he'll be finished.  This is a good thing - it's very reassuring that he's fully committed to the folk who's boat is complete and not prepared to rush them, just so as to be able to chase a new order.  By the sounds of things, they don't NEED to chase orders anyway as from placing the order to delivery is now somewhere between 8-12 months...  wars have been won (and lost)  in shorter times.   Waiting and being patient is not something I'm particularly good at.  Ideally, in "my world" - we'd turn up on Saturday... do some sketches and then come back a week later to pick up the boat.... if only lol.  Instead, we'll be paying a deposit and hopefully running through some preliminary plans.

Whilst I'm not very good at waiting, the longer it takes, the better position we'll be in financially - the greater the number of pay-days, the more savings we'll have squirreld away.  Hopefully, we  will have paid off the rest of the money we spent doing the bungalow by then too - luckily, it's all on interest free credit cards which have come in very useful... it's meant not having to use boat fund savings.   If someone had said to me even 10 years ago that by the time I was 43, I'd be 'almost' financially secure, I 'd have said they were bonkers.  The reality is, whilst we're not rolling in money, we've learned to be very sensible about what we spend and now make sensible choices rather than spur of the moment decisions.   My dad thinks I'm a penny pincher (he's not - quite the opposite) but even little things like timing the dishwasher and washing machine  to start at separate times, during the sunniest hours of the day (when the solar panels at generating their highest output) reduces the power taken from the grid.  -  As Tesco keeps telling us, "every little helps".

In addition to the main boat savings fund, we have this:

I think the label is obvious enough.  My oldest dearest friend gave me this as a birthday present a few years ago.  She even put some notes in it to kick us off.  Since then, every 2 pound coin that's passed through our hands had gone in AND numerous notes when we've had a bit spare.  The current state of play is that we've not got the first clue how much is in it.  This is a good thing.  We've already agreed that it's going to be spending money for the first year we live on the boat.  It's not the only pot around... we gave my parents one with a similar label (saying "for Mark & Andy's narrow-boat")... I don't know if they're putting anything in but we live in hope :-)    

Until next time...

Monday 18 January 2016

Finally winter has arrived...

Apparently, this has been the warmest and wettest winter on record...  well this morning, Jack Frost paid us a visit in the form of this:

We knew it was coming of course thanks to the mass hysteria on the TV and radio...  warnings of 1-2 cm... yes, you read that right - warnings of less than an inch of snow.

What is the world coming to.  When we were kids, there'd be snow drifts higher than cars yet the school bus always made it through and rarely did we miss a day due to the weather.

If you are living on a narrow boat however, a sudden cold snap can catch you unaware s, causing misery if you're water tank is low or poo tank is full.  Reading the forums earlier on, there were a few postings from sensible folk, topping up their fresh water tanks and repositioning themselves nearer to amenities.  Getting iced in is no fun ... it's OK for 24, maybe 48 hours but any longer and it can be really miserable.  A couple of Easters ago, we'd hired an old tub from Braunston and we got stuck.

 We only had the boat for 5 days - 2 of which were somewhat wedged in going nowhere. Luckily, we'd taken notice of the forecast and not gone too far.  At that time, we'd not quite got to grips with the stove and were either boiling hot, sitting there in our pants with the doors and windows open , or shivering wearing all the clothes we had with us, whilst trying to get the ruddy thing burning.

I've been looking for a photo of it and the best I could find was this:
Not the best photo really, as by this time the ice was thin enough to push through - the noise it makes though is awful.. OK for a hire boat I suppose but not something you'd really want to do in your own.

Writing of our "own"...  the decision is made... We intend to place the order this coming weekend.  I've a couple of reservations in that I don't know how amenable the builder will be to our design.  I suspect we may have to offer to pay increased deposits to compensate for any perceived difficulty he'd have in trying to sell it on, should we shirk on the order.  Which we won't of course but I can understand his point of view.

The snow of course has now gone. 

Until next time...

Saturday 16 January 2016

A bit of a rethink...

For whatever reason, last night when I went to bed (bearing in mind I'm still poorly) my brain was racing - thinking about the boat of course.  I don't know why but it came into my head that if the gas-locker was to be at the rear, it might be too high to have a seat on the top of it.
SO - at about 2 am (having given up trying to switch my brain off) I decided to get up and measure the height of a 13kg propane cylinder... well when I say measure, I mean google it.  It turns out they are 580mm high.  By the time you allow for fittings/gas fuse a bit of a gap, metal and a buffalo board seat on top, that brings the overall height up to about 650mm if you're lucky.  650mm whilst ok for a seat, would mean very little in the way of back support - or rather, back support to stop you (or your guests) from toppling into the canal.  WHICH I suppose you don't really want - then again , that rather depends on who they are ;-)... anyway, that being the case, it was time for a bit of a re-think.

On many boats, there is a gas locker at the very front and I think we'll have to do the same.  Which of course leads us to a problem with the original design.  Namely, HOW to get the gas pipe down the boat on the side the cooker and oven are on.  Under the gunwhale is the normal route but on the starboard side, that would mean some fancy routing (possibly  dangerously) around the eventual vent, pumpout and rinse pipes for the planned macerater toilet.  This has meant we need to change either the side of the boat the bed head is on - and the loo or leave the bed and loo as was and move the oven and hob to the other side.

This is what I've done - I've also therefore had to move the sink and washer over to the other side to... which on reflection is probably a good idea to balance the weight out a bit... originally, the washer had been on the same side as the multi-fuel stove ...ergo, a lot of weight to port.  Now at least these 2 will help balance each other out on opposite sides of the boat.  The dishwasher will also move accross and help further offset the stove's weight.

On this latest photo:

of the freshly re-drawn boat, I've also inserted 12v dc and 230v ac power outlets where I think they'll need to be.

I need to check the ratings of the 12v appliances and do some calculations in regards voltage drop to determine the required thickness of the cable.  To help me with this, I've been consulting this book:

It's good (apparently) but boy it's heavy reading... I'm considering "war and Peace" instead for something a little lighter.

You may also notice (aside from my left foot), I've put chrome portholes where I think they need to go.  We're thinking about half opening ones from a security point of view at the moment...  that could change of course.  We'll need to  consult other owners and look at a few more boats to see if 7 down each side will be enough.

Meanwhile, I had better get my nose back in this book... zzz zzzz zzzz

Until next time...

Friday 15 January 2016

Disappointing setback...

Still suffering with the man flu, I spent most of yesterday lounging around watching day time television.  Oh my word - I don't know how people do it... it's basically rubbish and by tea-time I was ready to "organise and pay for my own funeral"... "take out a plan to leave some money for my loved ones left behind"..."claim for compensation for accidents at work" - you get the picture.... oh and of course I can't wait for my "free Parker pen" just for inquiring.

When I get to the point in life that  I don't have to go out to work as such, I WILL be reading with the radio on in the background rather than being glued to the telly box!

Right - back to the plot.  I spoke with Gordon yesterday... we discussed what I'm trying to achieve and the amount of money we can scrape together.  To cut a long story short - Gordon isn't able to help us.. at least not for amount we have. To give him credit though, he suggested several different ways to go about achieving the same end result.  Unfortunately, due to the long hours I work, buying a boat at any earlier stage than lined is just not feasible.

Oh I know it's not beyond my ability to cut out portholes and line the thing etc. it's just with our health the way it is (various incurable but controllable) conditions between us, it would take too long and become all consuming... in the same way doing the bungalow up did.  OK, so the end result is ok, but it's taken over a year to physically recover from it and neither of us feel we have the strength to undertake such a commitment so soon.

The outcome of our conversation was that we can moor the boat down with him in Sheffield under a bridge and his chaps would help out where they can.

I put the phone down feeling totally deflated... I think I already knew he would be unable to do it - folk have to make a living and that's fair enough... I suppose there is some solace from his kind offer of help though.  Even in tight financial times, folk ARE good and genuinely do want to help others.  Humanity/human kindness is still live and kicking... just not kicking quite hard enough for us lol.

So the plan now is to regroup, look at mooring options locally, get proper estimates for delivery by road and find somewhere to crane it on to local waters,  We'll place the order where we originally intended to and get things under way.

On the plus side, doing this research HAS put us in touch with people locally who may be able to help in the future.   It's also reassured us that our original plans were actually quite good.  I know we could bring the boat back here via the canal network ourselves, but given it won't have horn, tunnel light, interior lighting, toilet, running water etc. that would be an unpleasant 2 week endurance so it's better to save for a couple of extra months and cut that one out... that way, when we do get it home, we'll have an instant honeymoon period to work on it.

As a reminder, this is what we'll be ordering shortly - but with portholes only.  It's not my photo but I'm sure whoever it belongs to won't object... if they do, please let me know and I'll delete it and replace it with one I took (mine was a bit blurry)

For the rest of today - well as I got up for work as normal but by the time I'd gotten dressed felt like death again, I'll spend it on the sofa reading with the radio on in the background... the telly can stay off!

 Until next time...

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Time to think....

Today I'm under the weather - I've got a very serious condition... to simplify though, we'll refer to it as "Man Flu"...

I've finished work early and come home to lay on the sofa and feel sorry for myself.    Trouble is, I'm not very good at lounging around...  I'm not good at doing nothing.  That is something that I hope will change in time once we get the boat.  I'm SO looking forward to having free time to read a newspaper and watch the world go by.  Since leaving school (at 17) and going straight into full time work, I've never had much free time.  When the boat is finished I plan to pick up reading novels again rather than doing research.

Speaking (or rather writing) of research, after years of 'thinking' - we've come up with a boat layout that we hope will work for us.  The photo below is the 'final' layout plan... at least we think it is.

I'll talk you through it - front to back (front being the pointy end on the left) ;-)   

Coming in through the front doors, we enter the bedroom - boaty people like to call this the cabin.  Coming down the stairs (not on the plan yet) to your left you'll find a triple floor to ceiling wardrobe with a finned radiator in the back of it to keep things from getting damp.  Opposite the wardrobe on your right will be a small cupboard containing a small tumble dryer.  Now I know most people won't have one on their boats due to the complications regarding generating enough power to run it but at some point we'll install travel power so that won't be an issue.  The bed will be a 4'6" wide  cross bed in 2 sections... (4'6" by 4' and 4'6" by 2'3") and our heads/ feet should just fit under the gunwhale.  For those who don't know what a gunwhale is, it's the bit that sticks out which you can walk along outside the boat.  The other side of the bed is another wardrobe (also with fin rad in the back) and the door (centre line) to the main bathroom.  This contains a macerater toilet (which sends its contents to a holding tank under the bed), a quadrant shower cubicle with storage shelving behind and a wash basin.  The door (to starboard) leads us through in to the lounge.  A relatively compact room joining on to the open plan kitchen.  In the lounge there will be 3 portholes and 2 side hatches, a multifuel burning stove (5kw), 2 reclining chairs and a TV cabinet.  

.... sorry - been away lemsip and a snooze.  Where was I? -  oh yes, heading through the open plan lounge into the kitchen..  Contrary to most boaters, we are having a slimline dishwasher...  I know it's a luxury when space is at a premium but quite frankly I hate seeing a sink filling with pots, waiting for there to be enough to justify using a bowl of hot water.  Instead, we're happy to hide them away all evening and set them on a 1 hour cycle when we chug off the following day.  As well as the dishwasher, there's a shallow depth washing machine (only 40cm), the usual gas hob and various cupboards,  For now, we want to try and avoid wall cupboards.  At the far end of the galley are 2 full height larder units (1 each side) to house the eye level oven, fridge freezer (12v model) and microwave.  The remaining space will be food cupboards.   

The other side of the larder units are another 2 floor to ceiling cupboards about 2 ft wide.  One is a wardrobe and the other a 2nd (cassette) WC/basin.   Finally, the last 8ft of the boat forms 2 single dinettes which turn into beds (storage underneath) and finally a couple of cupboards at the back housing the calorifier (hot water tank) and inverter/electric panels etc.

A few people we've talked to have been quick to say "it's not the usual layout is it?" but there is method in our madness.  On such a small boat (57 foot), when you have visitors on board, it's hard to have any privacy.  This way, we can be as far away as possible, with our our own toilets to use.  The cassette being the backup plan too in case we get iced in or the macerater breaks... or should I say for WHEN the macerater brakes lol.

You may notice the circles on the outside of the boat - they are portholes.  Some people think all porthole boats are quite dark but with enough of them, they're fine.  Not having large areas of glass will also make the boat warmer in the winter months  and conversely, cooler in the summer- even more so when they are covered of an evening with either 'bungs' or hinged wooden doors (not quite sure how to make the latter but I'll have a bash when the time comes).

oh - btw before I lay back down to continue feeling awful, earlier today, I couldn't wait any longer so I phoned the boat yard  - alas Gordon wasn't there but whomever I spoke with did confirm my email had been received so at least that's a relief.  I'll try him again tomorrow.,,, like I said ... "no rush"  ... grrrrr.

until next time...

Tuesday 12 January 2016


or lack thereof.  Today has been difficult.. as was yesterday come to think of it.  I'm TRYING my hardest to be laid back about the whole buying process.

When I say trying, what I mean is constantly checking my phone to see if I've somehow missed a call from the builder.  Of course, I'm my own worst enemy here because when we spoke on Friday, I categorically told him there is no rush... not wanting to put him under any pressure as he had plans for both the weekend gone and the one coming...  (I can only do weekends due to inflexible work commitments - *read ran out of holiday until April* ... I've also got a few hospital appointments booked off so don't really want to take liberties.

So nothing has happened - or rather, nothing has happened to my knowledge.  Gordon may well have spoken with Jonathan and agreed a price subject to getting an order in writing from us if you follow.

I'm sorry by the way - when I write I slip between "I" and "We" without thinking sometimes....  As you might gather, I'm the organised/organising/obsessed/control freak one... Andy (the other half - same sex if it matters) is far more relaxed/laid back/ying to my yang I suppose.  It helps sometimes and his sense of fatality (that's not a good word but I can't think of how else to put it) should be a calming influence and something I could learn from.  I'm trying - I really am.

What I would say is that I will call him tomorrow if he's not called me first - just to see if he's got my email wish-list etc.  .... that's another word I hate - "just"...  I try SO hard not to use it at work... people are forever saying "can't you just do this or that"... YES I can.. but saying "just" doesn't mean it's not a whole lot of work or hassle.  People who say "just" clearly have no idea about what is involved how how much effort goes into achieving "just that".....

Right - given that I've written nothing of either interest or worth, I'll sign off now.  This blog thing... I don't really know how it works yet but in my head, I'm thinking of it as a 'dear diary' kind of affair.... somewhere to record my obscure thoughts and perhaps achieve some kind of cathartic absolvence.

until next time...

Oh btw  the photo (if it works) is just one taken on our last hire holiday ... in November during hurricane Edna (or whatever she was called)

Sunday 10 January 2016

Pre-build Blog Begins.

OK - so here we are.  It's January 2016 (already)...  nearly 6 years after the savings began.  Well I say savings - it's been more of a 'don't spend anything we don't have to' endurance event... there's still not enough money in the bank of course but will there ever be?

No - that's the short answer.  SO - why has it taken so long?... Well the original plan HAD been to save up, buy a sail-away, move aboard and fit it out around "life".  Best laid plans and all that... Instead, we had a bit of a 'lets plan for old age' epiphany I suppose and bought a house (well bungalow but let's not split hairs) to retire to when our knees/backs *insert any other bit that'll be knackered* can no longer mange access to the boat or lock landings... and here we are.  The bungalow is as finished as it's going to be (it was a bit of a wreck that hadn't been touched in 40 years) - new kitchen, bathroom, rewire, new boiler,garage, floor and garden re-modelling all complete (ish..)

Presently on our dining table is a scale plan -  when I say scale, what I mean is a big roll of squared paper with a boat hull drawn on it 57 squares long by just under 7 squares wide.  Yes I know in this hi-tech world I should have been using some clever software to design it but cutting out photos of things and 'prit-sticking' them to the plan is a) more fun and b) adds to the point of narrow-boating... in a get away from stuff that stresses you out kind of way.

In an ideal world,  we'd be on our way to Sheffield to meet with Jonathan Wilson and ask him to build the boat we want.   Nothing is ideal about the world though is it? so the next best thing is to try and get hold of a "proper" Tyler/Wilson hull.

Things are a little up in the air right now as plan f (I think it was) had been to get a "lined sail-away additions  Mike Christian shell from Lymm Boat yard - it might still be as having met Chris briefly on a visit before Christmas, we were quite taken with him both personally and professionally.  Having also been fortunate enough to meet up with several boaters who (whom?) have already bought sail-aways from him, it's clear his boats are well produced and have a well deserved positive reputation.

Reading that back,  I realise I've not explained WHY things are up in the air... quick version is that having spoken with Jonathan on Friday, he confirmed he can't match the spec of the boat for the price. That's a shame as getting a sail-away back from Sheffield to Wakefield would be a lot easier than from Lymm... however, from reading one of the many marvellous posts on, I discovered that Calder Valley Marine ALSO produce sail-aways using Wilson's shells - and they are in Sheffield AND have Saville Warf Marina in Dewsbury... ergo right on our doorstep!

Watch this space!