Thursday 26 September 2019

In the dock being a troll

I've never been in a dry dock before. I should clarify that, I've never lived on a boat in a dry dock before and I'll never do it again. The reference to being a troll is made as living on a boat in a noisy dark dry dock is as close as I might imagine the poor troll's life is like living under his/her bridge !

Despite cracking on with the work needed (blacking paint touching up new anodes roof re painted) it still got me down. The dock and Gary the dock manager were fine, being in a city centre next to a pub and main road was so much different to either being on the boat on the cut or being in our lovely quiet moorlands cottage.

The planning was spot on, all materials were on the boat and the blacking went well, hard on the arms as the blacking is 'gloopy' and I was 'bollocking it on' as suggested by Gary the dock manager. But the times inbetween especially when I was on my own were hard times and I was soooo glad to be out and back on the cut.

Here was the 5.50am sight on Friday 6th September

Day Five  first day in the dock - Friday, the alarm went off at 5.45 am and I put the kettle on and looked out to see the dock all lit up. Tea in hand I ventured out to see the top plank lifted and the dock filling up  - it took about 45 minutes to get the boat in the dock afloat ready to be pulled out. Then our turn to slowly motor in and be roped in place.

Then the reverse started with the large pump taking nearly two hours to empty the dock. I passed Gary my landing net to help get a couple of large Perch out before they went up the chute so as to speak.... Then we were on the supports, a strange feeling being on a boat that does not move. Gary was straight on to pressure washing the hull. He gets boats in early so they can be washed down and dried off and if the person wanted to get the first coat on that day. Not for me, I wanted to give the hull a good scrape and I treated all the bits of rust I could find with Fertan  - that took me a decent part of the day This is the first part of the reason I wanted to do the blacking myself, I'm sure most yards just wait for the boat to dry and then put the first coat of blacking on  - over rusty bits?

See what I mean about the location ?

The anodes had worked well but were due 

Not a lot of draft  - made me think again of the boat with all the weight on top we say on the way down 

The old blacking had stood up well 

Luckily for us there was  a street food market on adjacent to the basin so we had beer and food laid on for us. After a nice walk into Stourbridge for some shopping we repaired to the boat for a much needed sleep.

Day six second day in the dock - Saturday another early start as Gary was readying the welder to put us four new anodes on so I was busy disconnecting the battery neutrals. By 9am the job was done and we started readying ourselves for the blacking. I wiped and dried the Fertan ' dust' off  the hull and by 12 we were ready to start blacking.  John the boat painter  had also arrived and stripped back the bad roof where the filler had lifted and discussed what was needed.... so I also set to cleaning and clearing any other bits of roof damage so when the roof got a new lick of paint all areas were picked up. Five and a half hours later we had got the first coat on. I was down in the dock doing the bottom and Rachel was on the upper area doing the upper Gunnels. There is some pitting on the hull - notified on the survey so I paid attention to getting them filled with blacking as seems to be the best advice. As we have no land line hook up I have to assume this was from when Tony had Percy on a hook up somewhere. Another good reason to DIY.

Then it was a mad clean up as we were due in Aldridge for Luke our nephews 18th birthday meal at a local Italian. We went home from there as the boat smelt bad of blacking and we could do little on Sunday on the boat as I was there for the rest of the week(ish).

Day seven third day in the dock  - Sunday. At home sorting out fused spurs for the new porch wiring and test driving cars as the Rover is getting a bit long in the tooth (150,000 miles) and will need a fair bit spending on it to get it past the ever draconian (for older diesels) MOT.

Day eight fourth day in the dock  - Monday. Early start again and a drive back to the Dock in Stourbridge (one of the down sides of using a dock a distance away) 48 hours after the first coat of Intertuf  16 we started applying the second coat. Same MO as before but this time rachel used the roller for the upper gunnels area whereas I stuck with the 4 inch masonry brush to as Gary the dock manager suggested - Bollock plenty of  blacking on !

Did the weed hatch and put new tape on  - not sure how many yards do this - I know of one !

This is I'm sure where DIY'ing pays off as most yards would have put the second coat on all over with a roller ? Also Rachel was well ahead of me so in effect she did the water line then I did it so all in it got four applications. I also did the weed hatch for the second time. Again the smell was a bit much so we booked into a local spa hotel  - only £49 for both of us and Leia, better than a three hour round trip home and back.

Day nine fifth day in the dock  - Tuesday. Not a great day to be honest for me, Rachel was heading back home to ready for work on Wednesday leaving me to live like a troll in the dock. Its not a great place to be aboard. There is a road at the end which can be noisy and a pub next door that has had some custom from me  ! After she left I set to rubbing down the bits of filler on the roof (John did this Friday )  - not a lot but where I had taken off the many layers John put on when he did the roof three years ago. Then I primed them with a little gloss to help the roof coat take to the primer.  I also rubbed down some areas of paint on the two front areas just above the rubbing strake that had got some wear plus the same at the back as well as the lower tunnel band (red) I primed them ready for the next day. I also set to painting the red ends to the pole and hook ready to paint the middle black later in the week ..... then I went to the pub with Leia !

Day ten sixth day in the dock - Wednesday. Another lonely day working away. I rubbed own the primer and masked and painted the gloss black of the areas done yesterday. I also masked off the red tunnel band and painted that after a light rub down.  Second coat of red on the shafts. Took Leia for a decent walk back down the canal, went into Stourbridge to get cash out for the roof and the dock  and did some shopping  - finally treating myself to a Chinese that was average.

Day eleven seventh day in the dock  - Thursday. Set to painting the black main section of the shafts only to drop the short shaft into the dock that knocked the tin of black paint all over my welly ! Just enough to finish the shafts with just one coat, I'll have to give them a second coat on the moorings before the winter sets in. I also remover the amplified aerial off the front of the boat and put in a joint so it can be mounted when needed. We watch little mainstream Tv on the boat it just looks wrong and the suckers no longer suck. It had also slightly lifted the paint where the suckers had been - finally it was a haven for spiders, always covered in webs. Then John the painter arrived and we set to giving the roof a key for the pending paint.

For my record it was so simple ...

Light rub down, john used a sander and I followed all the difficult areas with a scotch pad
Then it was a good wipe down with white spirit to remove all the dust and bits.
Let that dry off then it was another wipe down  - this time with 'tack' cloths that left no residue other than on my hands?
Then with a 3 inch brush john painted the roof !

After he left I pottered, generally clearing up the dock and the boat. A good shower then off to the pub again!

Day twelve Seventh day in the dock - freedom day ! I have negotiated a later start (7am) for the dock to be flooded as there was no other boat following me in..... the freedom cruise was about to begin.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

On the way to being a troll

A cruise of some planning. Way back in March (IIRC) I booked Stourbridge dry dock for a week to black Percy.  In the past I've just delivered my boats to a boat yard and left them to do the work. Now in retirement I wanted to do it myself to both see how hard/easy it is and also to understand how Percy's hull is holding up. My other reason for choosing Stourbridge was the roof paint needed some attention and John Sanderson who painted Percy three years ago now was at Dadsford wharf just up the road and we'd arrange for him to come and sort it.

First a car shuffle. We needed to have a car in Stourbridge to get us back so Sunday PM saw me drive to the boat with the animals, drop them off then drive on to Stourbridge. At the same time Rachel went to Derby to see her mum then drove on to meet me in Stourbridge.

Parking was fine and we left the old Rover to await our return later in that week while we drove back to Shebdon to overnight on the mooring before setting off to bring Percy to Stourbridge (Phew).

We calculated an easy trip and planned a stop to go to Wightwick Manor, a national trust property that we have past before and not had time to visit.

Day one Monday got us to Bridge 8 on the Shroppie. A pit stop many use as the last stop on the Shroppie going south. The cruise was as good as it could be - warm, no wind, little boat traffic and what we past were not at bridge holes ! That day was about 6 and a half hours about as long as I like to cruise.

Always nice to get onto another book...

I just love the bridges on the Shroppie

Stretton aquaduct  - always a favourite to see the cars speeding past 

It could do with a haircut 

This boat never moves and is never seemingly touched quite sad as I'm sure there are manny who would love to get such a little project boat

Day two Tuesday saw us get to our planned stop at Wightwick. Stopping just behind Lesley and Joe on NB Steadfast. It was good to see them back on the cut on a lovely boat. I had a tour and chat with Joe while Lesley was meeting friends then later they both came to Percy for a looksy and on our way to the Mermaid pub (not great food) Rachel did her first 'other' boat tour. The cruise was just short of four hours  - about right.

This boat was scarily top heavy !

The Manor was well worth a visit  - a beautiful building and only 5 minutes from the canal.

In a time when craftsmanship was important 

Day three Wednesday saw us just south of Swindon lock opposite the cricket club. Not a place we have stayed before but a nice mooring with a chippie just up the road as well as a post office and general store.  About 5 hours IIRC. Through the Bratch locks and Bottersham staircase locks for interest but otherwise a steady cruise with the locks comings regularly and the weather still holding out nicely.

I've never been on the locks at the Bratch (apart from returning but thats another blog post)

 Despite the warmth some still had their stoves lit  

The canal is very rural now, quite peaceful and quite lovely  

I have a similar set up on Percy minus the weight. might one day save a nasty collision on a bridge of lock bridge 

Day four Thursday we overslept not waking up until  nearly 9am. Luckily I'd done the engine lubrication the evening before so we were off about 9.15 am as I'd wanted to get to Stourbridge basin around 2pm to enable me to meet Gary the dock manager.

Another nice cruise, slightly autumnal feeling with leaves starting to drop onto the cut. We met the trip boat out of the basin just above the Stourton locks  heading for the winding hole. We moored up for half an hour to allow him to pass us as I was not sure where we would be mooring in the basin waiting for the dry dock. In the end we allowed him to pass then went on on down the arm and breasted up with a boat waiting for a very early start Friday morning.

The Stourbridge canal is quite rural all the way into Stourbridge. Very clear water teeming with fish.

Here we are at the end of the arm breasted up waiting to go into the dock in the morning..... then the black mood descends - literally !!