Category Archives: Moving Aboard

Throwing it all Away

Tuesday 29 June 2020

Throwing it all Away

You know that most people, when deciding to move onto a narrowboat get rid of all their worldly possessions (mostly), right? They take the opportunity to ‘clear out’ stuff,: sell, give away to charity, throw away? In readiness for a smaller living space? Minimal if you will. Well, we didn’t. Well, we did but not enough.

Today is the day we had to hand the padlock to our lock-up back to the Marina Office and they would have expected the lock-up to be empty – I know, crazy isn’t it?

The lock-up is empty, the boat is full.

Hopefully it will all get assimilated in suitably Borg fashion but only time will tell (there’s no way we’re throwing it all away).

On another front, the Makita came today and it was the right one – hooray! It’s a beautiful piece of kit. I went to Toucan Tools (very good service – I recommend) and went for the 2x 5AH batteries. I love the Macpak 3 case. It’s a tool for life. Oh, I haven’t got any attachments for it yet so I can’t actually use it, or get that excited about it.

rp – peace and narrowboats

It’s Hot on a Boat

Friday 26 June 2020

It’s Hot on a Boat

murpworks - The Tales of Siverdale - It's Hot on a Boat -

Just for a change, it was very hot today. Trying to keep a narrowboat cool in hot weather is difficult unless there is a breeze blowing through, from stern to prow or vice versa. You can open both ends and the problem is solved. Not so, today. There was a cross breeze but with the sun coming in, we had to have the blinds and curtains closed, which negated the breeze.

It’s hot on a boat and there was only one place hotter than the narrowboat and that was the lock-up. And yes, we had to visit it. Several times. Back and forth. In and out. We did fortify ourselves with a drive-thru coffee first. It didn’t really help though.

Our lock-up is basically a shipping container. Although in extremely good condition and clean inside and out, that’s it. No air conditioning or humidifier. Just a big metal box. Now I’m no scientist (ooh, actually I am a bit of a one) but sun > metal box > hot! Our lock-up comes to an end at the end of June and it was fast approaching. We were emptying the metal hot box and loading, sorry cramming the last of our worldly goods into Silverdale. We hope she won’t sink!

She didn’t sink and we did get everything out and onto the boat. There’s very little room to do much but it does feel good to be surrounded by my books and vinyl (yes, vinyl) and CDs and magazines. I will get it all organised soon.

rp – peace and narrowboats

All the Gear, No Idea

Tuesday 9 June 2020

All the Gear, No Idea

Late up today, a bit of a lie in. The defining wake up moment was a buzz on the phone stating that ‘My delivery would be between 08:41 and 09:41. Very precise and potentially in 15 minutes time. Then, the remembrance that an Engineer was to visit. He was going to come and suck the residual water out of the bilges with a wet/dry vacuum, spurred us into motion.

Speaking of motion, there is very little on the boat. We are tied off well onto the pontoon and the marina acts like a harbour. There is the occasional sense of motion, when looking at other boats moored next to us, as they move back and forth slightly. It’s nice though.

The parcel arrived. It was a big box. It was heavy. I left opening it until later.

I opened the parcel. The excitement of a pro-level tool (I know, I’m easily pleased) was dashed as, upon opening the box, stroking the superfine Makita case, to my horror: the label said Drill! It was the wrong tool – completely. They had sent a drill and not a Multi-Tool – I have drills! It did look like a really good drill but it was not what I wanted and not what I had ordered. I now had all the issue of contacting the company who passed me off onto their Amazon Seller (a seemingly separate part of their company), contacting Amazon, waiting… It went on and still does. The upshot was, I had no Multi-tool – No Gear, No Idea.

It cast a cloud over the whole day

rp – peace and narrowboats

We’re on the Move

Monday 8 June 2020

We’re on the Move

Mu started some washing and then moved onto some more interior painting. I was planning on checking the engine bay, filling the water tank again (wanting to keep on top of things this time ), find out about diesel and purchase some diesel conditioner. The plan then was to clean the other half of the bathroom (we have a walk through bathroom: shower to port, toilet to starboard). I had cleaned the shower area yesterday. The best laid plans…

I had just connected the hose to the ‘welded on’ tap adaptor when a marina employee asked if we would be ready to move in 10 minutes. Move? As in actually start the engine? And steer and stuff? We were moving out of the work area (which was becoming busier by the hour) into a more suitably residential area of the marina. This was good news and sooner than expected. But still, move the boat? I don’t know…

Moving on Up

I abandoned the water tank fill, got into the engine bay (as I’d planned to do, just not to move the thing). It had been a year since I had done anything remotely boat-related but I did remember

  • Check the bilge and turn the stern gland greaser
  • Check the weed hatch was sealed
  • Check the engine oil
  • Check the engine water

I also had to turn off the 240 volt appliances, switch off the battery charger/conditioner and unhook the shoreline hook up (most important). The ignition sequence of this Isuzu Marine diesel engine was the same as the BMC Diesel in our previous boat. It started first turn and with the guy from the marina, I cautiously backed Silverdale out of the bay. I turned it around and moved it the whole couple of hundred yards to Pontoon 13. Silverdale eased in between ‘Purple Witch’ on one side and ‘Old Toby’ & ‘Capricorn’ on the other. Capricorn didn’t look like it had been lived in for quite some time and exuded a ‘Ghost Ship’ aura. We were loving our new mooring. The beauty of it was that the pontoon was now on the port side so we could get to the windows here now and clean them.

With the impromptu move accomplished (deftly I might add), we had to empty the toilet cassette again. Again? We only have one cassette and the marina Chandlery was only open until 14:00 (and they controlled the important Elsan key) so that was the next task.

A Walk, There and Back Again

The weather was great so we decided to go for a walk. Up the Buckby Flight from Buckby Bottom Lock (Whilton) – Lock 13 to Buckby Top Lock (Buckby) – Lock 7. This is a lovely stretch of the canal. It has a Cafe at Lock 13, a small shop in the middle selling canal art & brasses and ice cream and a pub (The New Inn) at Lock 7 (currently closed due to restrictions) – the perfect walk!

Back aboard Silverdale, the reluctant cook started making a Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. Perhaps with hindsight, this should have been pre-prepared prior to the walk. Gordon Ramsey came out looking like Snow White! I will do more cooking but at present I’m the sandwich king, tea master and coffee barista. Our new mooring gives us a much more interesting outlook. There are multiple boats and ducks that frequent an as yet unused pontoon. The nearby but ‘not too close so as to mess up your boat’ Silver Birch provides a pleasant aspect and a perch for various birds. There’s even a small Pear tree starting to bear fruit.

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Socially Distanced Full English (Vegetarian)

Sunday 7 June 2020

A Socially Distanced Full English (Vegetarian)

We awoke to Sun. Well, it was Sunday. We ordered a Simploo. As you do. As discussed previously, we have a cassette loo at present but the composting loo presents a greener option. We were also hoping to get a little more mileage out of it, as it were. We had decided upon Simploo a while back during discussions. Its has a simple design, a small size and an affordable cost – we feel it’s fairly priced. I’ll review more when it arrives.

At 10:00 Whilton Marina Cafe opened, for its second day of socially distanced takeaway. We walked around to the door of the cafe which is now the counter, in the sun. An employee with full visor and gloves took our order of two Vegetarian breakfasts. While we waited, we shut the lock gates for Tim whose narrowboat was towing the Butty Bakewell.

The Socially distanced Full English (Vegetarian) breakfasts were fantastic! Served on bamboo plates in cardboard boxes to keep them warm with toast on compostable plates and tea & coffee in disposable paper cups – all recyclable. We sat at a table by the side of the Cafe, by ourselves in the sun. We chatted, at distance to Stuart who was walking Hettie (his dog) about the local Cruising Club for Whilton boaters past and present (Old Whiltonians?). It was a pleasant Sunday morning. the proprietor of the Cafe came out to check all was well with the meal – as always, it was.

We thoroughly recommend Whilton Marina Cafe and are so pleased with its attention to detail to social distancing and green credentials. The Cafe’s location by the Buckby Flight Bottom Lock makes it an ideal stop for walkers, cyclists, boaters and Marina locals alike. I can see we’ll spend quite some time there (we’ll need that Simploo) 🙂

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Euphemism By Any Other Name

Friday 5 June 2020

A Euphemism By Any Other Name

A day of cloud and rain showers interspersed with sun. If we had been at sea, they would have been squalls. It was a fitting setting for a trip to Thetford. As anyone remotely conversant with narrowboaters and narrowboat life knows toilets are a common and frequent topic of conversation. I say conversation* I suppose more akin to discussions between Celtic/Rangers supporters or Liverpool/Everton supporters. There is rivalry shall we say. And yes, there is more than one type

  • Pumpout – think of a slurry/holding tank meets Mr Dyson‘s worst nightmare
  • Cassette – no, not the music format of the ’80’s but a small box that fits into a toilet-like affair
  • Compost – conjuring up the garden idyll of everything coming up roses, except that it’s your waste

We didn’t actually travel to Thetford. We currently have a Thetford Cassette toilet. It looks brand new. It looks like a normal toilet right up until the little indicator thing on it goes from green to red. Then it becomes a pain in the somewhere a lot lower than the neck.It’s a simple affair to empty: turn the toilet around, fiddle around looking for some kind of release mechanism (I wore gloves) and lift out the cassette. Could I do this? No!

I eventually found the catch (after Mu had cranked up YouTube – be careful what you search for) but it wouldn’t budge. It turns out I had the flap open rather than closed (could have been fatal if I had forced it). Flap closed, it came out with ease. It was heavy. We drove around to the sanitation point (Elsan point). No point in struggling by foot, parading what you are doing if you don’t have to 😉

I have carried out the above procedure before in the past. It’s not for the squeamish but after cleaning commodes for a living at one point, it’s old hat. With the cassette back on the boat, I cleaned it to within an inch of its life and clipped it back in.

It’s Simploo Delightful

Mu and I have decided we are going to get a composting toilet. We think the Simploo suits our style. A composting toilet separates fluids from solids, at source. The fluids are more easily emptied, the solids dry out (shrinking down by 80% of their original volume and can be bagged and binned. If you are interested in more detail (no, not that kind of detail) this YouTube video is the one to watch.

So, next time you go to the toilet, spare a thought for us. Oh, maybe not.

On loftier news, our oven shelves and oven grill pan arrived today – no more singed arm! The sun came out later after lashings of rain and we went for a walk along the canal towpath. It was windy but gorgeous. It meant that afterwards, we could sit out and enjoy our evening meal on the stern. Still using the baking tins.

The wind stayed into the evening. The trees by the canal swayed in their uppermost branches and the water rippled past between our boat and the one moored next to use. It gave the feel that we were were on a river. the clouds glowed pink against a blue sky and the sun fell.

*The ‘discussions’ on the merits of the different types of narrowboat toilet are fiercely debated and opinions are rigorously held.

rp – peace and narrowboats

I Am Officially…

Thursday 4 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - I Am Officially... - coffee cups image

I am Officially…

Elevenses – I am officially a Hobbit!

Twoses – doesn’t have the same ring about it but I’m going to make it a thing!

Mu spent most of the day looking for a ring (not the one ring), to connect the water filler cap key, so I don’t drop it in the canal. It’s innthe lock-up somewhere…

We insured Silverdale today. It’s a lot easier than insuring a car (cheaper), we have belongings cover included. We used Collidge & Partners as we used them before to insure our previous narrowboat: MIRRLESS. We feel better now.

I discussed yesterday’s incident with the lost nozzle with the Marina Office and they said they would get someone onto it. A little later, true to their word, Tim knocked on the roof. I explained the novice boater mistake . He went off to get a torch (a long thin one). He came back (phew!). He looked in the tube then went off to get a tool or implement or something. He came back (double phew!). I left him struggling to retrieve the nozzle from the pipe. There was little help I could provide. After some time, a hand pushed open the door, holding the offending item. It meant success! I just can’t thank Whilton Marina enough – thank you Tim.

I continued filling the water tank (without the nozzle this time). It filled much quicker with the obstruction removed. The nozzle was consigned to the spares box. Everything was back up and running and working as it should. Oh, I fixed the horn! A bit of sandpaper on the terminals, re-connect and the horn tooted! We can go in tunnels and warn oncoming boats they are about to ram us or vice versa. Does this qualify me as a Marine Engineer now?

For evening repast (we skipped fourses) we had barbecued pasty- unintentionally. The oven is an Indesit gas oven. It’s full size, fully functional and really pretty good. All except for there being no oven shelves or a grill pan. It makes using it tricky. Toast is effected by holding slices of bread in a frying pan, under the grill by hand. The frying pan we have, while not cast iron certainly feels like it in weight when you hold it at arms length for any length of time! I have no hairs left on my right arm due to singing. The aforementioned pasty had to sit in the trusty baking tin (it’s a multi-functional marvel). The trouble with this was that the tin was in direct contact with the base of the oven. This is also the source of the heat i.e. gas flame. The pasty cooked quickly but with a black base. Charcoal would be a good descriptor.

We have now ordered oven shelves and a grill pan.

Nineses – a cup of tea and a chocolate from the box in my hamper. Then off to bed to officially read Lord of the Rings (I’m inching my way through it).

rp – peace and narrowboats

It’s Like Something Out of Waterworld

Wednesday 3 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - It's Like Something Out of Waterworld - water point image

It’s Like Something Out of Waterworld

It was overcast to start with. Then it started to rain. It has been so hot and sunny so far that it was quite a shock. Work defined the day. That was until I got a call to explain I had to take an unpaid two week break to satisfy regulations. Hey ho! There’s plenty to do on Silverdale – as I was about to find out.

In the afternoon, we drove up to the marina office on our way out, to B&Q to collect what we had clicked. At the office, a package had arrived for us, so post is getting through. B&Q is in Northampton, a nine mile drive: scenic route there , ‘A’ road back. This was interspersed with me queuing in the rain in a queue of one, me. Collecting what I’d forgotten we had ordered and it transpiring to be three blinds and what looked to be 25 gallons of Brilliant White emulsion! Mu had ordered the large or rather gargantuan pot. It brought a whole new meaning to supersize me. We have enough paint to cover all the narrowboat interiors in the marina!

Pump Problems

Back on Silverdale, the water pump that had worked flawlessly since it had been switched on started to run for longer when we ran the tap. Water flowed but it stayed on for longer. It hit a point where it just stayed on. I flipped a switch (that skill coming in handy again). We surmised it was that the water tank was running low. I unpacked the new blue, food grade, flat water hose and stepped out into the forward well deck. It was raining.

Pipe Problems

I connected the hose to the tap, unravelled the flat hose and connected the nozzle to put into the water tank inlet. Said inlet was opened via a white plastic key type thing, designed specifically for the job. I turned on the hose at the stand pipe which was just at the end of the pontoon, by the path. Water flowed, forcing the flat tube into a tube shaped tube and then, the hose shot off from the tap. It had left the attachment on the tap, the tubing coming loose from the collar. I fixed this by pressing it into the crimp and tightening the collar. Water was back, flowing down the pipe. A fine mist sprayed from the tap/attachment interface but nothing too onerous. Now back to the business end.

Water was flowing into the tank via the inlet pipe. I knew this was the correct location as it had a sign: Water, not Pump Out (don’t go there) or Diesel so we were on the right tank. I was stood in the drizzling rain. Suddenly I was soaking wet! The pipe had pulled out of the inlet and was flailing about, like some angry blue snake. Worse still, the nozzle was nowhere to be seen. I managed to wrestle the snake into submission and then check the inlet. My worst fear was confirmed, the nozzle was at the bottom of the very long inlet pipe into the tank. With no way of getting it out! The tank could still be filled but only very slowly due to the added constriction.

No Problem

The good news was that some water had made its way into the tank and the water pump now cut in and out as it should. Low water causes the pump to be used more. To cap it all, the cap on the tap for the hose to connect to, it wouldn’t come off! It was as though I had welded it on 🙁 I went in to change my wet trousers.

I did have another try at filling the water tank (very slowly) but it was cold and still wet so I abandoned it until tomorrow.

I didn’t fancy watching Waterworld so we watched an episode of Breaking Bad and suddenly, the hose pipe incident seemed trivial.

rp – peace and narrowboats

Wash and Tumble

Tuesday 2 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - light play on roof image

Wash and Tumble

Water reflected light skittering of the roof interior of Nb Silverdale. Another glorious day. Coffee on the forward well deck.

Mu used the washing machine today. It is a Superbrite AGP1445 Twin Tub washer spin dryer and is a 240 volt machine (not 12 volt as we had originally thought). After a thorough cleaning and pouring of excess water, from the hose onto the carpet, the wash went well. The tumble was started, just as I answered a call from work. The tumbling started out as more of a grumble and built into a full blown argument. It thrashed and banged. At the same time a high speed train shot by on the line, up above us, on the embankment. Then another shot past in the other direction. Mu realised she hadn’t put the little ‘hat’ (her word) onto the washing, as it span. This reduces the noise to whisper levels. I was falling about laughing, trying to keep the call together.

I don’t think Matt on the other end of the call knew anything about the chaos at this end. If he did, he didn’t let on. Priceless!

After washing, the excess water has to be drained into a bucket. As we are only using small amounts of nature-friendly washing products, we can empty the bucket straight into the canal. You are allowed to empty grey water into the canal as it does not affect the wildlife.

The washing machine now sits toward the back and to starboard, next to the steps – in readiness for its next wash and tumble. It’s tucked out of the way until next time. For a small footprint in both size, water requirement and electrical usage, we recommend it. With its little hat on.

rp – peace and narrowboats

The Dawn Chorus

Monday 1 June 2020

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The Dawn Chorus

The Dawn Chorus is loud. It is also very early. I don’t know the exact earliness (it obviously varies depending upon the Dawn). I didn’t (couldn’t) get my phone out to check the time but it was early. Too early. Early as in ‘I’ve just gone to bed, closed my eyes and here’s the Dawn Chorus’ early.

After getting up (after being awoken by the Dawn Chorus – not that I’m bitter) we went to the Chandlery. This is going to be a regular occurrence due to it being a small food shop as well. We were greeted by good news – the Whilton Marina Cafe, which is just next door will open for takeaways this coming Saturday – yay!

Today is my first workday – post retirement but not really. Working remotely, everything is working. It is a beautiful day once again. We have the louvre windows open to extract a breeze where we can (I love the louvre windows). In the background, the droning sound turns out to be Silverstone and not a bluebottle (Silverstone race track is not too far from here). Once you realise this, it’s quite comforting in a way).

We’ve Got Mail

A Birthday card from my team arrived. It had a narrowboat on it which was nice. A large Retirement card arrived also. It had a large (too large) picture of me on it, taken at Uffington White Horse last year. A smaller image of me on the back was taken at Dartmouth and Nb Silverdale pre-overplating adorns the inside. These were pulled from my Social Media feeds. I never thought they’d be put to such clever use – thank you Simon.

After work, mu and I went for a walk around the marina. The Buckby Flight Bottom Lock is literally just off the marina basin. Nb Darth Wader was just coming down through 🙂

The evening meal was partaken out of baking tins as our plates were still in the lock-up. We could have walked over there but it was hot and the route is very dusty, due to its crushed hardcore nature. Think of it like going to Glastonbury Festival (a sunny one, not a wet one) but without the music or the Cider bar or the village. We rolled up the stern cover to let in a breeze and a view of the marina – tranquil waters. A duck sat quietly on the end of the pontoon we were moored to. It had found an idyllic spot.

Ah well, here’s until the next Dawn Chorus.

rp – peace and narrowboats