Friday 30 December 2016

New Rear Steps and a few easy jobs...

Having struggled on using those steps I made a few months ago (before I had chance to take measurements) I decided to construct another set.

We'd been climbing over the wood on the boat floor for weeks now and having had the "Christmas tidy up" it made sense to  make the steps rather than take the wood home and plonk it on the garage floor with the rest of the stuff that has been in the way.  

I'd originally planned on making a set of those ones with cut outs on alternate sides - that idea was quickly dismissed as we've discovered I'm goofy (in water-skiing terms)... that is I lead from the opposite foot to most people .... WHICH would mean a high chance of me repeatedly going arse over tit stumbling and having an accident.

SO - "normal" steps have been made

I've given them a few coats with the low sheen Morrells again - it's not slippery and maintains the appearance of unvarnished wood which we like.

It's a bit of a pain doing things that require cutting wood now though - Andy has decreed I make any cuts outside... which means getting muddy on the tow-path or end up dropping things in the canal if I try and do it on the rear counter...  *note to self - GET a SEA SEARCHER MAGNET ASAP*... there are loads of tools currently languishing in the canal by the side of the boat !

I've also gotten around to a couple of those little jobs that get over-looked once you get used to them... for example, the tv in the main bedroom was wonky and needed the bracket removing to get access to the nut on the rear to tighten it up.  Whilst doing that, I decided to put up a blackout blind (longer term we're going to have wooden venetians blinds but I couldn't be faffed with cutting them just yet) - the blackout roller blind did need cutting down but it's quick job compared to the other one.

Over Christmas, we've had the pan set balanced on top of the microwave so after work today, I made a shelf and cupboard to "hide stuff away" in the spare space.

We've also brought the stove on board and have been trying it out in different positions in the lounge - at the moment, the favourite is port... it had been planned to be on the centre line but doing that does make passage through the boat a little difficult - not impossible but it increases the potential for falling against the flu and burning your hand.

The heating is all well and good but during this latest cold spell, we've had to have it on most of the time and diesel use a side, it DOES quite hammer the batteries.  Yesterday they started at 100% (well according to the smart-gauge) and what with the fridge/freezer, the TV, lights and heating on, by morning we were down to 79% - I've used the engine to bring it back up to 90% followed by the genny and the charger set to 35amp to get it back to 100% again by the time I left tonight - as we're not going to be on-board until tomorrow, there'll only be the fridge and heating (which is set to come on at 5am) so we'll see how they fair tonight .

Once the fire is properly installed, the demand on the batteries will be much lower  - hopefully!

Another easy win is the shower gel dispenser - I've fixed it on with 3m sticky pads AND clear silicone... quite a lot of the latter actually and I'm confident it won't shift.

I've stamped my feet at work and I am NOT working tomorrow as requested - instead, I hope we'll have a chug up to town... perhaps having lunch at the Ruddy Duck - we've STILL not been on the river yet and it's time we just got on and did it ... the weather hasn't been bad so the levels/flow are ok.... the longer we leave it the harder it will be... we just need to man up and do it - after all, the anchor is attached and we have self-inflating life jackets.  

I'll report back

MEANWHILE - Happy New year to all... Thanks for reading and taking the time to make comments - we really appreciate it.

until next YEAR😉...

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Christmas on the boat and a couple of losses.

I'm a bit late posting this but Merry Christmas folks...

Couple of reasons for the delay - the first being that having decided to spend the big day itself on the boat, a bit of emergency bed frame construction was required.

You'll recall the other evening we brought the fridge on to the boat - it (just) fitted through one of the murderously expensive side hatches into the lounge... where it stood for a couple of days getting in the way.

I took the doors off and put them to the correct side - I avoided writing 'right" then as they were already ON the right  side just not the 'right side if you follow.

It came with a LED warning light which needed connecting in at the back  - I don't know why they don't plug it in and just tell you to refer to it in the event of a fault occurring.

No matter - it's in now and is the smallest most expensive fridge-freezer we ever intend to buy!

Having made the decision to spend Christmas on the boat, we decided that rather than using the dinnette as a bed, I'd set to and make the "cross bed" in the main cabin -  There are 2 reasons why it's called a cross bed; 1) it's across the boat and 2) you GET cross when you sleep in it as you bang your head on the gunwhale and get your feet wedged under the other one if you stretch out.

The decision to have a cross bed rather than in line was not mine - I went along with it for an easy life but having now slept in/diagonally in one,  in hindsight, taking turns to be pressed against the cold wall in an in-line one, might have been a better option.

I'll sort out some proper support for the foot section in due course  - it might even get lowered depending on the height of the toilet tank we end up fitting.


I mentioned in the title, a couple of losses.  IT's not been a good week really.  Firstly one of my Uncles died after a long illness.  He' was in his 80's and although I was never close to him, it's another reminder of how fragile family life is.  It's transpired he's left me (and I presume my cousins and his siblings) something in his will which has come as a nice surprise.  

The other loss was Edna next door -  she'd been struggling with dementia and cancer at home ... supported and cared for by Eric her husband of 63 years I think.  She was taken in to hospital in the afternoon and by 11 pm had passed away in her sleep.  Eric is understandably totally lost.  We had them both for LAST Christmas dinner and enjoyed their company.  

It felt awful, packing up the car with things for the boat.  I spent a while with him talking about her and suggesting he might like to come with us as a distraction.  He didn't want to come and chose to spend the day at home.  We've called home a couple of times to check in on him and provide food.  It's not enough but hopefully just him knowing that people DO care may help him through the dark days ahead.


Having unpacked the car with "things" we thought we needed, the boat was chaos but we decided to go off for a chug on Christmas morning down to Fairies hill

BEING British, we decided to wrap up well, drink our champagne and ignore the wind - which to be honest wasn't THAT bad early on.

OFF we chugged down towards Fairies hill (feel free to comment ;-) ) and I executed a perfect turn in the wind... in fact, with a fair few people watching I felt rather proud.

AFTER that it all went down hill - especially at Foxholes lock...  I couldn't get off the side after dropping Andy off - then, ended up being blown into the water point landing losing 2 fenders.... ONE of which ended up wrapped around the blooming prop.

Once I'd sorted that out i attempted a dash for it into the lock but the wind side swiped me into the lock approach and took off the front button  - it appears the "weak link" worked well!

Add to that a fair few scrapes and waves washing over the well deck  so by the time we got home, we  were quite relieved to be tied up!

NO one else ventured out - us being idiots apparently lol

Lessons learned perhaps but no serious harm done -  We were hoping to head off the other way today but it's been too windy again so I've made a new set of rear steps instead and done a load of washing/drying.  

Considering we only had a microwave to cook with, it didn't turn out TOO bad - The gas STILL not connected (the quote came back at £450 which is WAY too much right now)

As you can see, the webasto has kept us toasty warm - WAY TOO WARM but it's either on or off .  Once the stove is installed it'll get less use and we'll have to learn how to manage the fire instead lol

BACK to work tomorrow. -so until next time...

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Sink waste and 12 volt fridge-freezer...

Where where we?

ah yes... the kitchen sink waste fitting game...

Of course the one that came with the sink wouldn't do easily so I thought I'd been really organised - buying a right angled "universal one" from either Ely or Lime-kiln (can't remember now)...  there I was, poised ready to fit it to the bowl, only to find it JUST too small to make a reliable seal against the bottom.

Lateral thinking was required then - it being rush hour in town...  INSPIRATION came in the form of using BOTH the one supplied AND the angled one (with 19mm outlet) I'd bought for the job.  Luckily, whilst never really being a boy scout, I'm OFTEN prepared for any many eventuality and in the car (the lads at work refer to it as my mobile skip) I had some of that strong glue used to bond plastic waste pipes together

As  luck would have it, the one that came with the sink fitted nicely (and was glued) into the one I'd bought - I THEN wrapped it with my favourite tool box backup:  "self amalgamating tape" - it's marvellous... it lasts forever and so long as you put it on properly has never yet let me down.... come to think of it, it's even making a watertight seal around the boiler vent which goes out of our roof at home - *note to self... get up on the roof and check all is well there soon*.

AFTER I'd faffed on with this for ages - the ages bit being the awkward position of the hose-clip against the skin fitting it dawned on me I'd NOT taken the washing machine in to account (doh)

SO I set to, using what was to hand cobbling together a T junction using 22mn push fit, waste- pipe joiners and MORE of the aforementioned tape.

The end result was OK.... the pipe let me down but as it was all I had to hand -this being another one of those things to "make do with what B& Q have in" whilst waiting for the mail order stuff to arrive.

The important thing here is that it doesn't leak.  OK so when the washer pumps out, the sink bowl does fill up a bit but I hope that will improve once I fit a better bit of braided pipe to the outgoing side of that "T"...  

SO we now have a working kitchen sink.

Given we plan to spend Christmas day on the boat, it seems as good a time as any to get the fride-freezer installed and working...

It's been sat (sitting?) in the garage for  a short while now and on un-wrapping we were underwhelmed:

650 quid for a "converted" LEC tiny fridge-freezer JUST because it's 12volt.  OUCH.

AND the door didn't even open the right way either :-(

This is the expensive bit - the Danfoss compressor thingy... 

I'll update next time with photos of it in place... for some reason, my phone won't talk to my laptop any more today.

Until next time...

Sunday 18 December 2016

Galley taking shape...

The kitchen on Ellis is tiny - by anyone's measure...  just 1500mm either side in a galley format.  Andy was keen for us to avoid having any wall cupboards and thus closing in the combined space for the lounge/kitchen.

Whilst I would  have been happy with a few small wall mounted cupboards, it wasn't worth the fight so I caved in early on this and we agreed we'd try it and see.  The good thing about our bungalow is that we're already used to a small kitchen... in fact, the one on the boat (by the the time you include the full length larder cupboard and the opposite fridge/freezer space) is about the same size anyway.

I started assembling the various sized units earlier in the week, in preparation for the gas connection.    THAT isn't happening for a while now - it was supposed  to be done yesterday (Sat) but the chap didn't come back with his "price" until yesterday morning anyway ... and at £450 he can whistle.  The pipe is already in so HOW it can cost £450 for a few fittings and a chap to connect them is beyond me.  Oddly enough, I've not heard back from him when I sent him a rather offensive  direct text message suggesting he's a bit expensive.

Not to worry - we'll manage xmas dinner in the microwave.

Back to the units - just B & Q's "cooke and lewis" oak effect with oak doors - we couldn't find internal drawers from their range do decided to just buy the basic drawer carcass and cut planks to fit behind the cupboard door (it keeps the dust down a bit having the drawers inside a cupboard)

Next to the drawers, is the little Thetford oven that's been sitting in the garage for ages - the instructions suggest it needs  vents below and above so I drilled a selection of holes and "modified" the housing to accomodate it.

I have since changed the one at the top for a nice bit of sapele left over from the track we've made a work.

WORK top wise, we'd have like granite of course but our budget doesn't stretch to such things - SO it's Wickes' sparkly black stuff - still 120 quid a side (typical we needed 1650mm x 2 because of the "extra" cupboards we decided on last minute)...

Cutting out the hole for the 2 burner hob was simple enough - although it DOES look a bit close to the tumble-home (if that's the right name for the slopey bit above the gunwale)...  I've got a bit of aluminium plate I'm going to fit as a "splash back"/fireproof bit.

The other side was easier - well before I began the plumbing that is.

The tap turned out to be very easy - the fitting being done from above rather than below ... it went in without issue and for a budget model (remember it was on offer a few months ago) looks the part. 

NOW I need to sort out the sink/washer wastes and I suspect that's going to be a bit of a pig.

Until next time...

Thursday 15 December 2016

False Memory...

The last time I used a sewing machine was about 30 years ago... I've a memory of me being a bit of a whiz, on a school mini business project - making xmas stocking decorations.

On reflection, I now feel that was a "false memory" - either that or I've dreamt it!

Either way, it's fair to say that master tailor I am not.   Talk about a faff.   Even threading the ruddy thing up took me about half an hour - the instructions may as well have been in Chinese.  Hmmf.  Anyway... when I DID eventually get the thing threaded up - within minutes I snapped a needle ... lord knows how but I did.  Luckily, Andy's mother is an organised sort and there was a new pack of 3 "in the box" - the box that contained other things I knew nothing of until I started this task.

For starters, there's a stitch un-picker thing that very easily gets jabbed in your finger -   THEN there's the "zipper foot"... I had NO idea what what was until I found a video, made by a charming American lady with lovely nails.    IF you've an urge to make some "box cushion covers", you could do worse than give her 8 minutes and 20 seconds of your time:

A vicious, evil machine with a mind of it's own!

Before I could get to the good stuff (as in the fabric we bought that was 6 quid a metre) I thought it wise to make cotton covers to go over the foam first.  In hindsight, that was a bit of a mistake as by the time I'd faffed around with them, I was well and truly sick of sewing.

However, once I start a job, I tend to see it through - no matter HOW naff it ends up lol.

It was going ok until this stage:

Alas it was down hill from here onwards...

They will have to do for now but once MORE of the boat is complete, I'll buy something a bit more stretchy and have another go - using these as the under covers...  Annoyingly, by the time I'd done the last one (of the 8 required) I'd attained "acceptable" rather than "rough as hell"  "amateur"...    

It's been a difficult week at work so I've not had time (or energy) to make much more progesss although I did cut a couple of hanging rails to fit above the calorifier and in the smaller wardrobe in the main bedroom.  Just cheap and cheerful but at least we can hang our coats out of sight now.

Did I mention btw, the other week I also made and fitted a wardrobe door too?

It lines up quite well really, and I'm pleased with it.  I've fitted a shelf above the hanging rail now for longer term storage ... no photo of that yet ...well there is but its in my phone and Andy's took it with him earlier to use the sat nav on it... 

Next job, kitchen units in preparation for having the cooker and hob connected.

Until next time...