Well, we found two actually and when you’re living on water, the last thing you want is more water, in the form of a leak!
Friday 10 July and it was sunny, after three days of rain. Listened to Barclay James Harvest on vinyl. As it was a non-working day it meant I could do that type of thing.
The cratch cover cup feet we had ordered arrived (two were missing, presumably lost at sea canal). This meant we could put up the front cratch cover (soft canvas, no cratch board). This is important as we have no scuppers in the front well deck. This means that when it rains, the water gathers, has nowhere to run and consequently rusts the metal decking. We had it partially erected but rain gathered in the droop of its top. With the frame up, this would hopefully be taught and the rain would run off (no more trying to tip it off and getting soaked through). Success! It’s not my favourite look and we reserve the right to change to a hard cratch board and canvas cover in the future.
We went into Daventry and sat outside, at a socially distanced table at Coffee Number 1. This is the first time for over three months we have been to a coffee shop, sat down and enjoyed a cup of coffee – takeaway cups, masks before and after and lots of hand gel. How things change.
Out With the Old
Out with the old chair, in with a new one. The old one was too big and it wasn’t adjustable. I ordered a gaming chair – it is something to behold. More on that in a later post.
Leak Number One
Wednesday 15 July saw a potential change in fortunes – we found a leak! This one was under the sink, in the bedroom/bathroom area. It must have been there for some time as lifting the old carpet (it needed lifting as it was old and horrible and was going to be replaced), found a small amount of moisture. There was a tiny leak, a drip from the water pump. Me jumping in would have turned a drip into a flow so I consulted with the Marina Office. Once again, they were extremely helpful and would send someone to check it out for us.
A couple of Marina mechanics arrived, knocked on the hull of Silverdale and Tim proceeded to address the pump leak. After a look, a walk back to the workshop and return with an O-ring and some grease, the problem was solved. The leak was resolved and it has been bone dry to this day.
Leak Number Two
On to leak number two. The second leak was actually the first we found but was addressed after leak number one, hence leak number two.
Leak Number Two was in the front well deck. On top of the port gunnel is the water tank inlet. From here, a pipe leads down into the water tank. We had no idea the type of tank as it is completely sealed away and thus, inaccessible. Down in the well deck, a pipe comes out of the deck and out, through the hull, into the outside and canal. Or at least it should. This pipe was the water tank overflow outlet. It had corroded with age and when filling the tank, excess water leaked into the well deck. So, even when it’s not raining, the sell deck gets to rust! Barry took control over resolving this issue. It was a thorny one.
The reason the issue was a thorny one was that the pipe was short and badly corroded, leaving little in the way of being able to weld to. Worse still, his evaluation showed the inlet pipe would at some point go the same way. That ‘some point’ would be sooner rather than later. However, deciding upon what to do needed a view of the tank and this was hidden away, behind panelling, inside the boat. The well deck floor, as far as could be seen through the rust was sealed and impregnable. Inspection would have to be from the inside. Barry called in Adrian- the resident site woodworker.
Eve of Destruction
Adrian brought a multi-tool with him (I’ve got one of those). As it was getting late in the working day, he decided to cut a small inspection hole – simple. Not so. Behind the pine panelling, thicker boarding was revealed (from the boat’s Anglo-Welsh days we think). After a lot of cutting, a small part of a tank was revealed. This was good news as the existence of a tank meant the water wasn’t held integrally within the hull.
With very little to see, it was decided to call it a day and return first thing in the morning to cut a larger inspection hatch, after removing the steps. All mu’s hard work on painting the panelling a pristine white looked like it was all going to be undone.
A Window on the World Beneath…
Thursday 16 July saw Adrian arrive early (just as he said he would) to remove the steps, cut through the panelling and then through the older, thicker boarding. We had a window on the world beneath our well deck. This revealed a stainless steel water tank – hurray! This was a result. Barry returned with Tim. Adrian nearly disappeared into the hold but thought better of ‘full immersion’ as he would have probably have got stuck. It seemed strange to see legs and feet sticking out of the front of our boat where the steps had been.
Barry commented on the ‘novel’ pipework around the tank but set to coming up with a solution to our overflow outlet pipe leak. A welder was called in to cut both the outlet and inlet pipes and then Barry connected flexible hosing. A new outlet via a new skin fitting (higher up the boat) was made by Tim, leaving the old skin fitting as a hole to be welded over at a later date. It was a neat solution that would mean years of trouble-free water tank filling. I do admit, there is a bit of work I need to do in fixing up all that rust 😉
All Finished and Then Nothing
After tidying up, the water pump was turned back on – nothing! We ran the taps – nothing! Basically, after worrying, fiddling about and worrying some more, it all suddenly worked. It was most probably an air lock.
Adrian would return the next morning and fix the boarding and steps, leaving the access hatch easily accessible – just in case…
Phew! We had found a leak! Well, two in fact but both were addressed by Whiton Marina and we couldn’t be more grateful – fantastic job guys.
So, living in a Marina is very different to living out on the cut. The marina gives you the luxury of everything on tap whereas out on the cut, you’re lucky if anything comes out of your tap! We have a home, it’s long and thin and there are compromises that have to be made but by and large, it’s pretty much like being in a house. We will, at some point move onto the canal system and travel but for now, we are loving the freedom of not moving anywhere – Marina Days.
We travel because we have the luxury of a car and went back to the West Country for a day, to collect a package that got sent to the wrong address. Friday was my non-working day, a luxury.
Saturday saw me performing socially distanced queuing to get into Waitrose (yes, they let me in). I also spoke with the Marina regarding a small bit of welding that needs to be done. The water tank breather pipe has a hole that needs fixing, so I don’t have to sit there watching the tank being filled. Currently, if I don’t, the forward well deck gets filled with water. Someone will come along and evaluate it at some point.
Pirates loom heavily at the moment, as I’m attempting to write a story – The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters (you can check it out on Ko-fi), we watched Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest. It’s research.
Sunday saw me release Piece 3 of The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters – you can read on our Ko-fi page. We then visited Wilton Marina Cafe for a Vegetarian Breakfast, sat out in the sun. Mu got the final quarter of the saloon masked and washed down in readiness for painting. We then walked to the local farm fruit & veg shop for provisions. I then managed to start my Lego Yellow Submarine. We finished the day watching Breaking Bad.
Monday I was back to work (remotely). I emptied the loo at the Elsan point. The hi-light of the day (no, emptying the loo wasn’t) was that the money for the Makita Multi-tool that wasn’t the Multi-tool had been refunded (see All the Gear, No Idea) – Hooray!
Tuesday was fully back into working remotely. I bought milk from the marina chandlery to support local. We went for a walk along the canal, to The Heart of the Shires, a shopping village outlet in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside. It was hot, very hot. There was a little shade with the trees but not a lot. We bought a knife for cutting tomatoes and cucumber – Victorinox (ignore the fact that it says cheese and sausage – it’s great for tomatoes and cucumber) at the Abraxas Cookshop. I was fed up with using the bread knife.
We also had an ice cream from the Darlington’s Tea Room there. It had opened for takeaway. It was very good and there was lots of it. A good antidote to the sun. We walked back (no cooler) and had a cup of tea sat out on Silverdale. It had ended up being an idyllic day.
Wednesday. It was very hot again. We’re not complaining. It was another of those Marina Days but I went shopping in Daventry which required the car. It was 31 degrees. I complained about that.
Thursday. It was very hot. I know, it’s getting a bit samey. There were ducks tho’. We had the windows open, the doors open, the parasol (which we found in the top box on the roof of the boat) up, water in the fridge and no hot meal. It worked. This was also the first week of work completed and it had gone well.
Marina Days – this is the way we roll in the Shire…
Whilton Marina is situated in the idyllic Northamptonshire countryside. The Grand Union Canal runs beside it. Oh, and it is nestled between the M1 Motorway and a high speed train line. The trains are fast and fairly infrequent but there are times when there seem to be a glut of them.
Oh, yes. It’s just when you come to a crucial, quiet moment in a tense TV Series or when mu and I are trying to talk with one another from opposite ends of the boat. It is more noticeable at the moment due to the damned glorious weather we are experiencing – we have to have all the windows open. At night, they seem to operate them with a special ‘extra engine noise’ function operating. It can sound like they are passing along the pontoon we are moored to, at times. It’s probably just the hearing being more sensitive upon waking, as the rest of the senses are dead to the world. The greatest is the 197-long container truck train that travels at 1.5 miles per hour, through the dead of night 😉
The trains are not a problem really and they don’t put us off being here. You mostly switch out their sounds. The beauty of the railway line being atop an embankment is, that the view from Silverdale’s front door is one of green bushes. Elderflower bushes are in flower at present – a delicate cream now that will eventually bear purple fruit.
The motorway is wind dependant. If it blows toward us, we hear it. If it doesn’t, we don’t.
All in all, it is a fantastic place for us – we can’t recommend it highly enough.
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).
We got up early to face the packing of the car in readiness for moving. It took a long time. A VW Golf is not that well known in moving circles, it’s not the ‘go to’ vehicle. It strained and groaned at the extra weight after being used to its minimal aesthetic. With the task eventually completed, we set off approximately on time, as planned. However, we had to fill up with petrol and then stop off at the Chemist. We finally got off and drove slowly so as not to shift the load. The route was familiar and Guns and Roses accompanied us as we made our way to Northamptonshire.
We arrived at 15:00 and met Harvey of Whilton Marina by the socially distanced window. “How different from when we were here doing this last time”. We had been here in 2018 at approximately the very same time purchasing Nb MIRRLESS.
Paying for Nb Silverdale was simple (too simple). Just like that we owned a narrowboat again! It was a beautiful baking hot day. We were told Silverdale sat at a pontoon by the workshop and was ready for handover.
Whilton Marina via Harvey had purchased a flexible, food-grade water hose, on our behalf as the Chandlery only opened until Midday due to Covid-19 restrictions being in place. We would have had to go through the weekend without a way of filling the water tank. They kindly refused payment for it! A nice boat warming present but it wasn’t the only one.
Unbeknown to me, my team from work had arranged for a hamper of delights to be delivered – a Birthday/moving aboard present 🙂
I felt we should have been piped aboard but it doesn’t work like that. We drove down the drive by the marina and pulled up just outside Silverdale. Down metal steps to the marina-side, and onto the pontoon, The windows were open, the doors were open and a faint breeze blew through from stern to prow. We stepped onto Nb Silverdale – home. Our Nb Silverdale. Stepping down through the open doors, the new Morso Squirrel multi-fuel stove, replete with fire bricks gleamed black in the corner, by the entrance.
We shunted bag after bag from car to boat, the VW sighed and relaxed. It was still hot and continued to be so into the late evening and eventually, our things were aboard. So far, so good.
It became apparent , very quickly how clueless I was regarding the dark art of boat electronics. However, before I enter into the murky world of bespoke narrowboat electricals, I feel I have to mention the sink. I believe it is in part allied to the electrical as will become apparent. To cut to the chase: it was blocked. No problem, we were prepared. We had a plunger and to hand. Big mistake!
That Certainly Doesn’t Smell Like Teen Spirit!
The plunger brought up foul-smelling ichor, as though from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker (straining the metaphor as it’s a canal and not the sea but you get my meaning). Now this would have been fine, had the plunging released the blockage, to be flushed away by flowing water. There was no flowing water. This was due to the sink being connected to a Whale Gulper (don’t ask) and said Whale Gulper requiring electricity to run. What we were now left with was the whole boat smelling as if something had died aboard it. Quite some time ago.
The 240 volt hookup was working – we could plug anything we liked in: vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, Laptop, curling tongues, juicer, grill… You name it, we could plug it in. However, the lighting and the water pump runs on 12 volt and that wasn’t working. I flipped switches and flipped them back again, I really did. Nothing happened. The Dodo had more life.
Our new, gleaming 12 volt fridge and 12 volt freezer we had purchased and had the marina install on our behalf, cooled nothing. They weren’t on. They were 12 volt. I flipped the switches but nothing.
If you need someone to flip switches, I’m your man.
After the Cool Hand Luke locker-like stifling heat of the sun, its descent, as evening came was welcome. However this bought a new challenge: the lack of light. We started to bumble around like moles with no whiskers but our trusty torch saved the day. We had used this on our previous boat: MIRRLESS and it had never failed to illuminate our way.
And So To Bed
The bed. Ah, the bed. The mattress we were to discover, although extremely comfortable, resembled an 8-piece Tangram puzzle, with multiple solutions. All of which didn’t just quite fit correctly.
It was very quiet and peaceful. Lights at the marina provided a subtle illumination. I managed to snatch a few paragraphs of Lord of the Rings via torchlight before the day had faded into sleep.
Yesterday saw us hire a van, load it with our worldly possessions and drive up to Northamptonshire – to our soon to be new home. The reason? To deposit said possessions in a locker, in readiness for moving next week.
In under a week we purchase Nb Silverdale if all goes to plan. So, with little to no time to effect a move, due to Coronavirus mayhem we headed to the shire. It was the first time out for a long drive in a long time…
We were up early on a bright sunny morning that was forecast to be cloudy with showers. We picked up a van from goselfdrive.com in Frome, a totally no contact, socially distanced transaction. The Ford Transit Custom was upgraded to a bigger Ford Transit but we weren’t complaining, we had stuff to haul. I stalled it on a roundabout on the way back to load it but apart from that, it drove really well.
Loading took place in the bright, hot sun. Better than in the forecast rain but it was hot work. A break for a cup of tea and a yogurt replenished the lost body fluid. then back to it. A second cup of tea, a few final items, then we were ready for the off.
Coffee Stop, Yes There Was One
We set off at approximately 11:15. We stopped at Solstice Services in Amesbury and Costa were selling socially distanced drive-thru coffee and a cinnamon bun – Cinanabon! Refreshed, we drove on and on and on.
We arrived at Whilton Locks and the marina at 14:00. All was good. We obtained a locker and then spent an hour doing the exact opposite of what we had done back in Wiltshire, we unloaded the van of all our worldly goods (well, most of them. Some things had forgotten to pack themselves).
We hired the locker for one month. I felt like a character out of The Sweeney with an East End Lock-up. We were lent a fat-off lock which had me spending 10 minutes trying to figure out how to lock up the Lock-up. With the unloading eventually all finished and locked up, we drove around to the marina car park and went to pick up the receipt/agreement.
The fridge and freezer we had ordered had arrived and were scheduled to be installed in readiness for our move aboard. Things were getting real! A parcel had arrived.
Whilton Marina Cafe was closed due to Covid-19 restrictions therefore we went and sat in the van and had a sandwich . Looking out across the marina, it was then that we realised this was to be our new home. It was quiet, peaceful, with birds singing – idyllic. Oh, apart from the trains thundering past on the nearby high speed line. Ah well, with Covid-19 restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, at least there might be less of them for a time 😉
The drive back was uneventful apart from the services being closed and us being unable to source a coffee or a tea. We had to wait until we were back. Tea was welcome as we unwound from the run by watching a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad. I tried to draw some parallels between our plans and the series. Thankfully, I couldn’t!
Time is on our side – it just doesn’t seem like it at the moment. We’ve been waiting and have been extremely patient throughout these uncertain times. It can’t have escaped anybody’s notice (except the couple who had been at sea for months and had missed all the news) that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc with plans. Whether of men or mice.
Time has ticked inexorably on like a one-handed Grandfather clock and much of the anticipation of our purchase of and move to Nb Silverdale has had to be stifled. We make plans, not daring to hope they will come to fruition in our desired time frames. We have purchased items and packed them away in readiness. A dialogue with Whilton Marina and especially Harvey via email and phone (keeping more than the 2 metres social distance required) has been kept open.
One thing that helped jolt time out of its complacency was an email from Harvey on 30 April 2020. It contained a picture of Nb Silverdale overplated, blacked and *anodes added. Thanks Harvey!
A lot of things have to come together for the purchase of Nb Silverdale and timing is important. The uncertainty of when, can be a great disabler. We press on, with our goal in mind hoping against all hope. However, through all this we do have time. Time to prepare, to think, time to reminisce. We’re trying to make the most of our time.
The Stones recorded it aptly in Time Is On My Side
*Anodes: sacrificial anodes are chunks of metal welded to the underside of a narrowboat (or other metal-hulled boat). They are a different metal to the hull and as such, erode in preference to the hull. We welcome this 🙂
Buying a second hand boat is fraught with problems.
“Does the person selling it, own it?”
“Has it been looked after?”
“Will everything that seems to be working now, just breakdown as soon as you sail off into the sunset?”
“You do know they say that BOAT stands for ‘Bring Out Another Thousand’, don’t you?”
So, how do we sleep at night?
We are purchasing Nb Silverdale from a broker – Whilton Marina. Our previous narrowboat: Nb MIRRLESS was purchased from there also, in 2018 (see Tales from the Bilge for some detail). We are return customers.
The reason we chose a broker rather than a private sale is because we believe there is a level of assurance afforded by this. You will generally have to pay more in the beginning but it could pay for itself in the long run. A second reason is that you can see several boats in one place. This cuts down on multiple jaunts across the country.
The reason we chose Whilton Marina again was because of the staff. We wanted to go back and give them our business because they are great people. No boat will be perfect, no matter how much you pay. Things will go wrong but the experience Whilton provided was to enable us to pursue our goal of owning a narrowboat. They have a selection of narrowboats and a turnover that ensures
So, what was the reason we chose Nb Silverdale? We didn’t, it chose us. Just like a cat…
I live by this boating mantra
Does It Float? Does It Leak?, Does it Go?
You got three ticks? Your’re good to go. Anything else is just background chatter…