Thursday, December 25, 2008

I blame Santa Claus

I have been on board the narrowboat Abigail Jenna for 3½ days. The total number of jobs I have been able to complete seems to be just one.

Not to be caught out I had carried out some research through the canal discussions on the internet on the subject of washing machines. I didn’t want to get one that wouldn’t work onboard. I had already noticed that the electric kettles were all more powerful than I wanted to use. Luckily the travel kettle I had purchased for the OU summer schools worked fine.

The washer turned up on Monday as promised just as I arrived at the marina. Oops. Rather larger than I expected as I had bought the same model as one already in use on a boat. It was huge. Well it was bigger than the hole that it was supposed to fit in. Never mind it wont take long to alter that. BUT where are the tools? Home! Fetch the tools. So that is Monday gone and nothing done.

Tuesday. Need to go to the bank today so that rots up doing any work to get the washing machine in. At the moment it is sat in the steering position under cover. Still I can pick up a few more odds and ends.

Wednesday. The 240v went off line last night. Still the batteries have only been on board a few days and the engine hasn’t been run to fully charge them. Run the engine then to charge up – easy – problem solved. Except the engine won’t start. No power. Have to use the jump leads to start it from the car battery. Where are the jump leads? Home.

Mustn’t waste all the time. I can fill up the fresh water tank while I think of what to do next. Hmmmmm. Although I had brought the tap connectors with me I didn’t have the right one from the tap. Get one when I get some leads.

Items needed purchased and back on board. Water going into the tank so on to the engine. Climb into the compartment and fit jump leads. Nothing. Check all the switches are on. Nothing had a word with friendly neighbouring boater who knew the engine. And he noticed the isolator was out. Put it in and switched on. Nothing. Couldn’t easily get at the engine compartment as the washing machine is sat on the hatch but eventually he found a blown fuse. Hooray. Engine starts first time and batteries charging. While the engine is running use the tools to alter the washer position and an hour later the machine is in.

Thursday. It must have been Santa Claus fault. Dash the cat is only now venturing forth and during yesterday evening must have gone out. At 0600 there was an almighty commotion outside. It seems that he must have been frightened by some reindeer passing over and commenced to fall into the canal. He managed to get out by himself and made a mad dash for the narrowboat and laid a trail a water throughout. I hadn’t realised just how much water a cat can hold.

Took the boat out and charged batteries and after stopping engines gave it a trial start just to make sure that it could do it.

Lets hope that things run somewhat more smoothly in future.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Afloat again

Monday was not the best day to have a trial run.

Abigail was out of the drydock by the time I arrived. All the checks had been made to make sure that the canal was staying outside and she was ready to go.

It is only a short run to the lock but even here there was a small problem as the ice did not really want to move and I found the boat moving sideways. After a quick reverse I lined up and broke up the ice before the lock was reached.

The lock at Thorne still has a problem with one of the paddles not dropping completely and water is coming in almost as fast as it is going out.

Alan's brother-in-law from Scotland was on board for a ride and stood in the bows getting frozen. He did look slightly worried as we entered the lock as the lock is listed as being 61 ft 8 in in length and the boat is 60 ft. I did manage to stop before hitting anything. It is believed that those at home won't believe that he has been narrow-boating but you can just see his head at the bows of the boat.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Third Time Lucky

As I have said before - Abigail Jenna does not like the cold canal water. As if to prove this point she developed a leaking stern gland which her present owner Alan decided to correct in the Stanilands Dry dock.

There are no two ways about it - she is going to go into the water and she will get used to it - or else. What the 'or else' is I don't know but that it is in reserve.

As few people have seen both Abigails together there was a thought that one of them did not exist. To correct this opinion here we have them both with Abz eating - as she was asked - eating the apple second and before the chocolate cake.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

She didn’t want to get wet.

The great day arrived and I only just made it in time to see Abigail hoisted onto the trolley for the first small leg of her journey.

But she didn’t want to go. With an audience of boaters from the marina Kevin & John were gritting their teeth and were not treated to rounds of applause as they worked. Having been put safely onto the trolley she then managed to find a nice soft patch to sink into up to the axle. The crane was re-employed to lift her up while the hole was filled.

With a little to-ing and fro-ing she was lined up to the ramp and the canal. But she still wasn’t happy with getting wet. Taken to the edge of the ramp she should have slipped serenely into the water. Did she? Like heck she did. She had to have assistance from the onlookers to get her in.

Finally afloat I thought she looked rather good in the sun. I had complained :-) about the muddy footprints on the roof and it was intimated that at that moment it would not be a good time to mention it to John.

The trial run is on Saturday when Abigail Jenna will be helping to take nb Abigail Jenna for a trip. It’s a pity that the crane couldn’t have come today as it is Abz 8th birthday so Saturday will be part of a birthday treat for her.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Look-out Canal Here We Come

Boatmans Cabin

I now have a day for the arrival of the crane. Next Tuesday is to be D-Day and the start of life for nb Abigail Jenna.

I picked up the transfers for the name panel from Raynards - Sign-makers of Caistor - and at £15 per side I thought very reasonable. It was in fact the same price as the lettering for Mozart 4 years ago.

This is going to be the week-end to collect together all the items that will be needed to have a narrow boat in the water. It will need ropes, boat hook and fenders, both for the sides and fore & aft. I already have a Sea Magnet which is very handy if you are prone to dropping the windlass into the lock.

I hope to be on hand when the boat hits the water armed with camera to record the moment. Although the sale will not be finalised until the successful trial run I think we can say that the likelihood of a failure seems remote. With this in mind I have started my Log Book. The Log book is one that I have designed and made using my bookbinding skills and which I hope will be a source of employment once afloat.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Picking the Name Plate Design

We are now just waiting for a crane to become available to put Abigail Jenna into the water. It is hoped that this will be done by the second week in December.

Over the past few weeks I have been deliberating on the new nameplate that I will need. After a number of trials I came up, with some help from Abz, with the example above.

I am still undecided as to whether the name should be further out of the frame but I think that this will be very much like the one that will be put onto the narrowboat.

One of the first trips that I shall make is from Blue Water at Thorne via River Trent to the Humber and thence through the lock at South Ferriby and up to Brigg. A couple of weeks here should be sufficient for me to load up the boat with all my goods and chattels before moving on to Lincoln and the Foss Dyke. This must be the oldest canal in the country and to call it a dyke is bit of an understatement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Abigail Jenna

Well this is it.

I am in the process of buying the nb Lady Piper. At the moment she is high and dry at Blue Water Marina. Whilst she is on dry land I am going to take the opportunity to change the name. Being ex-RN I feel (as do many others) it is unlucky to change a name whilst it is afloat.

Her new name is to be Abigail Jenna in honour of my grand-daughter who is, as you might guess, the very apple of my eye. Although I have been looking on-line for a number of months and found a few that were better equipped the advantage here was that it would not take me a week to get the boat to within striking distance of home to load up. That aside when I took ABZ out to look at boats I had already decided on Lady Piper and she duly told me off for "buying the first one you see". Serves me right for saying it to her so often when we are in shops.

Lady Piper is quite live-aboard-able but I will be making changes - as one does - to suit my new life style. I hope that living afloat will also give me chance to be a little bit more green - environmentally - by using solar panels and heating with fallen branches picked up as I travel.

As the boat changes I will record these with the camera and blog them periodically.

While I was searching for a narrowboat and had found Lady Piper I put the name into Google on the off chance that I would find some of her history. Well she did get a mention in a November 2006 on the Canal World Discussion Forum after she had arrived at Thorne. The feeling at the time was that it looked as though a bomb had gone off inside. As you can a lot of work has been undertaken to remove all the shrapnel and make her presentable.

Once she is in the water we can get to know each other.