Thursday 29 June 2023

Back to the marina, eventually.

The forecast said it would be rainy and dull until almost lunchtime, and then clear up.  In fact it was wall to wall sunshine as soon as I woke up.  I did a couple of hours work on Tuesday’s boat test, and then felt I needed to have a walk.  I decided to walk down to the marina, and go to B&Q to get some wood treatment, to tackle some water damage in the engine room, from many years ago.  As it’s dried out, the wood below the porthole has gone very soft.  I walked back to the boat and got the treatment on the wood; of course it now looks worse, and needs filler.

I had a zoom staff meeting at lunchtime, then I did more boat test writing, pretty much completing the first draft by the end of the afternoon.  At some point around lunch time, a homeless chap I’d passed yesterday came by, and asked if I had any tea.  I put the kettle on and made him some, in his own thermos cup.  He was apparently on his way to Northampton.

There had been hopes of doing the second boat test this evening, but various problems arose and by mid afternoon it became clear it wasn’t going to happen.  I decided I’d stay where I was until after dinner, so it was gone 7pm when I set off.  It was a lovely evening for boating.

Back at the marina, I was pleased with my turn in, and even more pleased with getting into the berth without touching the sides.  I did another little job, on the side which had been on the waterside where I’d been moored.  A couple of windows had lost the rubber strip covering the screws along the top.  None of the window firms at the Crick Show had the correct thing, but one of them told me where to look online.  In truth the trim I bought was still a little wide, meaning it wouldn’t just slide in.  I found that a little blade on the corkscrew was ideal for helping it into place.  Anyway, here’s the before and after, and I’m absolutely certain it’s not going to fall out.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work.

1 mile, 0 locks.  (4 miles, 0 locks)

Wednesday 28 June 2023


A second morning when I walked along the towpath at a relatively early hour back to the marina and the car.  I’d made fairly last minute arrangements to go and see my dad in Kent, to deal with some paperwork.  On the way, I stopped at Curry’s at Lakeside just north of the Dartford crossing, to pick up a cheap printer, as some of the paperwork needed printing out and scanning, which I could then do from my phone.  By lunchtime I was heading back.

I have removed the masking tape from the handrails, and I’m pretty pleased with how they look.  They are certainly better than they were before.

This afternoon, to finish off my steps, I went for a walk along the towpath.  I’d planned to use the offside path between bridges 62 and 61, and the start of the path even has a nice new gate.

Unfortunately beyond the gate, the stinging nettles were just too thick.  I got through the first few metres unscathed, but round the corner there was no way of getting through, not in shorts anyway.

During all the driving today I had an idea for the intro for yesterday’s boat test, so I really should get on and start writing it, before I forget what the idea was.

Tuesday 27 June 2023


To Oundle for a boat test today, so I was up fairly early and making the 25 minute walk along the towpath back to the marina and my car.  The boat test included a trip up (and then down) Upper Barnwell Lock, which has Oundle Mill alongside.  These days it’s an upmarket kitchen and bathroom design centre.

Although there was some sunshine when we arrived, it quickly clouded over.  It was still dull when I got back to the boat at about 2.30.  I was in two minds about whether to get a second coat of paint on the handrails, but I decided I’d go for it.  Dull, warm, and dry conditions are actually quite good for painting.  

Monday 26 June 2023


I came up to the boat after a night shift, mostly because I was due to have two boats tests tomorrow, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  I also wanted to spend a few days repainting the handrails, which I last did almost five years ago.  I’d thought about doing them in the week before Crick, but as so often happens, we went boating instead.

Anyway, I called in at Tesco on the way, and still arrived at the boat at 9am.  I unloaded the car, did the loo, and filled the water tank.  Then I got ready to set off, at a little before 10.  There was a stiff breeze making the turn out of the marina tricky, and I had to put the nose on the towpath and swing round.  I only went as far as the nice mooring through Bridge 63, less than half an hour away.  Once tied up, I quickly got to work prepping the handrails.  Last time, the paint had completely failed, there were big rusty patches, and I needed to do fertan, primer, undercoat, and top coats.  This time, the paint is actually still pretty good, it’s just that it’s faded and lost its shine.  I cleaned them, gave them a bit of a sand, and then a really good dust, and got the masking tape out.  I started with the existing reel of blue tape by Duck, which no longer seems to be made; when that ran out, I switched to the red Craftmaster tape.  Low tack doesn’t even begin to describe how non sticky it is, and it’s also translucent.  Anyway, it meant I had blue and red tape in use, which looked a bit odd.

When I’d masked up the towpath side, I set off down to Baxter’s to turn around.  Here the wind helped, and I spun round very easily.  There was a breasted up pair heading towards me, going very slowly, but I easily got round before they were too near, then I retraced my steps.

When I got back to the same stretch, I lined up the galley window with the hole in the hedge, for the view.

I masked up the other side (you really need to be on solid ground to get it right, which is why I turned), then got all the paint out.  I was reminded about the saying that there are only about two days a year in the UK suitable for painting outside — and they often turn out to be yesterday and the day before.  But actually it would have been too hot recently, whereas today was warm but not hot, and with a nice breeze. The painting has to be done fairly quickly, and I really wanted to get it on before lunch, to give it a good chance of drying.  I did the towpath side first, then worked my way back on the offside.  They already look so much better.

Last time, the inside of the handrails only got one coat of paint as I ran out, and I fear the same might happen this time.  And the forecast has deteriorated for the next few days, so it might be a little while before any more painting gets done.  Boat tests have also been rearranged — the afternoon one is now in the morning, and the evening one will be some other time.

3 miles, 0 locks.

Thursday 8 June 2023

Kilmouski on test

The July Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test on Kilmouski by Finesse Boats.

Thursday 1 June 2023


After leaving the boat yesterday, we didn't actually go home.  For various logistical reasons, we were staying the night at the glamourous Travelodge M4 East at Reading.  But it turned out this was just a 20 minute walk from the Kennet and Avon (which is actually the River Kennet hereabouts).  So we walked up to the river and first went along to Burghfield Lock.

Then is was the other way to Burghfield Bridge, and we had dinner at the Cunning Man -- sitting in the sunshine with a view of the boats moored outside.