Sunday, 27 January 2013

Quid Pro Tow

Well, not actually. We didn't really charge any money for towing, but I thought up that title a few weeks ago and have been dying to use it.

Right, let's start at the beginning.

Two friends, Other Amy and Kirsty, are in the process of buying Pyewacket, the ex-Merchant Navy lifeboat owned by another friend of ours, that we towed to Waterbeach in 2012. Unfortunately, the hull needs some work, and so we arranged to tow them to Ely to have the work done; their engine, a lovely Petter PH2, requires some cossetting and is on my list of fun projects to get involved in. Amy Duck just gave me a look that clearly meant, "we've got lots of projects already", though, so that's probably on hold for now...

Yesterday morning we took Pyewacket across from her normal mooring outside Jesus Green swimming pool to the visitor moorings, where the interior could be stripped out and taken by van to some lock-up storage, to be reinstated once the work has finished. We breasted up for the short trip, and despite the fairly strong stream, managed to turn and reverse into a handy space.

Sunday was to be the long trip to Ely, but it didn't get off to a good start. Strong winds and torrential rain resulted in the river level rising and the flow increasing, the Environment Agency calling and texting flood alerts at 3am, and a boat coming loose meant we had very little sleep between us.

The planned 7:30am start was delayed by an hour whilst we remoored a rogue narrowboat, but soon we were underway. I put our pair of long cross straps on a Karabiner clip attached to a HUGE shackle on Pyewacket's stempost, where I think the davits and lifting blocks would have attached when it was a lifeboat on a ship.

We made very good progress out of town on the strong stream, only scaring a couple of rowing boats, and were soon at Baits Bite lock. The wind and the stream had picked up, and it proved impossible to get a line off the back of Pyewacket onto the lock landing stage, so it blew around 180 degrees and ended up alongside the Duck, facing the wrong way. Not a major problem, though- attaching a few ropes together let us pull it back around from the bank before we went into the lock.

Baits Bite lock

The wind intensified as we got out of town, and by the time we got to Bottisham Lock, it was strong enough to rock the Duck around a lot and blow the unballasted, empty shell of Pyewacket about, making steering difficult. We made it to the lock landing stage, though, and Pyewacket again gracefully pirouetted around alongside. Not to worry though; Amy Duck set the lock, and Big John, who nicely took on the role of volunteer lock keeper for us, supplied some useful grunt to turn her around again so we could get into the lock.

Once through Bottisham lock, the Fen landscape opens out, and the wind, checked by fewer trees, was fierce and meant we had to crab along at times to keep the skittering Pyewacket away from the bank. But we made reasonable time in the stream, and arrived in Ely on schedule at just gone 12:45, so a trip of 4 and a quarter hours- the stream making up for the fact that we were towing.

We moored Pyewacket at the boatyard where the works will take place, and retired to the Cutter Inn to celebrate.

Safe arrival. Other Amy and Kirsty celebrate.

Unfortunately the increasing stream, and the lack of sleep last night, made us both extremely tired and unwilling to face the slow, upstream slog back to Cambridge, so we're going to stay in Ely for the next few days and commute to work by train, coming in one evening once the floods abate.

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Snow in Ely

We were in Ely at the weekend, as the snow started to settle properly. The Cathedral was looking magical in the snow, and we enjoyed a walk around the town, stopping into Waterside Antiques (aka the Gnome Factory) to look for things we might need for the new old boat. There's a brass bilge pump there which has been on display for about 5 years, and we have promised ourselves that when we cruise back through Ely on our new old boat, we'll buy it!

Hope everyone is staying warm and safe!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Narrowboat Lucky Duck for Sale

At the weekend, we decided to officially put the Duck up for sale, in the knowledge that these things take a while. Here is the Apollo Duck advert: Please share it widely!

Lucky Duck is a 48ft traditional stern narrowboat first registered in 1986, with a reliable BMC 1.8 engine. It sleeps 2 + 2 on a sofa bed, makes a great live-aboard boat and is well adapted to coping with being away from shore power. Easy to handle and well laid out inside with a traditional 'saloon forward' layout, it would be a good starter boat for anyone looking to begin a life afloat, or enjoy some holiday cruising. All systems are in good working order.

Last out of the water July 2011, BSC until Dec 2013. Hull surveyed 2008.

Guide Price: £27,500 ono

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

And now we wait!

Having agreed a price for the boat and got all excited, we now find that we can't get it surveyed for another 4 and half weeks. It is the wrong side of a stoppage, there's another boat without a bottom currently in the only dry dock and it's not clear exactly how long it will take to get it watertight. Have booked a recommended surveyor nonetheless and he's aware that there's some uncertainty. Ah well, boat stuff always happens slowly, plenty of time to keep planning the fit out and talk to people about joinery etc. Our plan is to go to the boat for the survey and then if it passes (we don't expect it to have any major problems as the boat was rebottomed and refooted in 2010) we will get the money transferred and start work inside. 

We plan to fit the plumbing and electric systems ourselves but have the flooring and kitchen joinery done professionally. We don't want fitted furniture at all, and will be looking to fill the huge living/dining room with a nice second hand table and chairs as well as a sofa and lots of bookshelves! Many of the key bits and pieces come with the boat, such as most of the flooring, the shower cubicle and an oven. I will leave you with another taster - of the one thing that is fitted, a beautiful, gigantic, green enamelled stove. You can also see the quality of the ribbon grained oak with which the boat has been lined, in this photo.

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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Boat News

We are excited to be able to report that we've had an offer accepted on a full length converted historic boat, subject to an imminent survey. Here's a taster!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Winter Cruise

On Sunday we went for a cruise, taking our friends Simon and Ann out to the Bridge for Sunday lunch. It was a grey, damp day, but despite that it was nice to be out on the water. We moored up, had a delicious lunch at the Bridge and then pootled back just in time to get back before dark.  

Things are a little quiet round here because we've got a lot going on behind the scenes that we can't talk about right now. But rest assured that we will when we can and it's all positive at the moment!

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Friday, 4 January 2013

Hammer and Trickle

Today I managed to get a lot of jobs done on the boat.

First up was to fit a new mounting for the bilge pump and float switch under the stern gear. I mounted them in a large Tupperware box so that hopefully any drips can be caught and dealt with. I used Sikaflex to glue the float switch down, and screwed a wooden batten across to hold the bilge pump itself down.

Working out the electrical connections was a bit harder. I wanted to wire it so the bilge pump could be turned on manually or by the float switch. A bit of thought led me to put the two switches in the circuit in parallel so that either can complete the circuit and run the pump.

I also had some modifications made to our mooring pins. We use cut off lengths of scaffolding pole as well as normal pins, which although they are far more fixed in the ground, the rope is less secure and can be just lifted off. So I bought two U bolts and had them welded onto the sides of the tubes by the Mackays metalworking workshop. A very good result, two pins - one about 3' long, the other nearer 4' - with loops on the side to stop the rope being lifted off.

Sledgehammering them into the ground was hard work, but we're now securely moored.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone all the best for 2013! Our year began well - we went for a midnight cruise with friends and then breasted up with our friends' boat for a little party.

Here's a selection of photos from our Christmas holidays. First time I've used this app, so lets see how well it posts!

Branscombe beach, Beer Church bookstall, salmon & scrambled egg at Beer, Jurassic concrete, fishing boats, Christmas pudding truffles, Dundee cake and the Christmas dinner table