About Me

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The name describes my demeanour and voice! I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' couple. The Best Mate and I.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Been away.

This week SONFLOWER has been to Thrupp and back. Some of you boat watchers have wondered why the Best Mate has turned blonde and I have lost my beard. Its because it was not us enjoying the mixed weather of this English Summer! SONFLOWER was in the charge of friends and fellow BCF members and Waterways Chaplains.

They are waiting for their own boat (about 12 weeks late now) but needed to take their daughter boating while she was on a brief holiday in the UK from her work in Afghanistan. We were pleased to be able to help. They had a great time enjoying the primitive facilities that SONFLOWER provides as compared to a brand new Elton Moss fit out. No electric shower pump, macerating toilet, central heating, microwave, electric fridge, bags of storage and a wardrobe etc etc.

Still she had windows, upholstery and new paint!

SONFLOWER behaved impeccably as I knew she would.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Freshening up

We took our granddaughter to see another boat, smaller than ours, and asked "What has our boat got that this one hasn't?" thinking that she would immediately spot that the smaller boat did not have a dinette and table in the lounge. "Dust" she replied.

So, before we lend our boat to friends we thought we had better do a spring clean and freshen it up!

One of the pictures in our Sunflower gallery had seriously faded. It was an inkjet print of a copy of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers in vase" that I did in acrylic quite a few years ago. So I have "freshened it up" by repainting it in oils. Here is the result:


It is drying on the easel and just about ready to remount.

I am glad it is out of copyright!

Monday, 24 July 2017

New hand on the tiller

School's over for the summer and we had two of our grandchildren for the day while their mother is working in Warwick.

After the Sunday chicken dinner we headed for Sonflower's mooring and set off on the mini cruise we call "The Water Run".

To the Grimsbury Arm to turn, back down the length of the moorings to the town centre where we had to suffer the jibes of blogger nb Herbie "Have you come far?". (Being local too, they know this is the first time we have been off the mooring this year except to visit the Boatyard!). On the way our eleven year old took the tiller for the first time. He did very well!

Thence through the lock. My granddaughter asked "Why are we going down?" in the lock. Out came the very useful leaflet produced by Boaters Christian Fellowship How locks work. So onward to Bankside Winding Hole and then up through the lock again. This time we stopped at the water point and the first signs of boredom started to appear as we waited and waited for the tank to fill.  Our youngest son, Piglet washed down the roof which has got particularly dirty with the attentions of the local heron adorning the side.


Refilled we checked out the weather. Ominous dark clouds hovered overhead but nothing came of them. No thunder storm today as promised by the weather forecasters.

So we returned to the mooring and let the grandchildren loose to play on the equipment in Spiceball Park. Our grandson picked up a stick and beat nettles and brambles on the way past. That is a tradition that will never die.

As we walked back we had a nice chat with the crew of  nb Dutch Courage who are our colleagues in Waterways Chaplaincy and part of BCF. They are "Roving Chaplains" so had no fixed plans except to get north of Braunston.

We headed back to meet our daughter and a beautifully eggy tea.

                                                         2 miles, 2 LB, 2 locks, 3.1/2hrs


Thursday, 20 July 2017

FInished and ready

Yes:
Here is a proud GasSafe engineer who has just completed the installation of our replacement Morso water Heater.

I can recommend him. He is more than competent, diligent, caring, and persevering. He will not give up on the smallest suspicion of a leak. He has returned to refit pipework and olives that he has been doubtful about. On a boat that is 35 years old there are bound to be bits that are past their use by date. He has made sure that our gas system meets all the relevant standards and has issued us with a certificate to that effect.

Thank you!

If anyone needs a GasSafe engineer who knows boats and the Boat Safety Scheme regulations etc. I will willingly pass on his details. His van displays the slogan  "Advice is always free"


Friday, 14 July 2017

Broken and Postponed. . . now almost finished

Yes, the Morso was not fitted on Wednesday.

It has been fitted today.

On Wednesday, while waiting for the GasSafe man, I managed to break two drills and shear off a self tapping screw while attempting to drill the bow deck and fix two fairleads. Finishing that job was postponed too! Today I only broke one screw while waiting for the GasSafe man. Now I have replaced the brassy screws with steel ones and all seems adequately secure.

B & Q must do a fair trade in 3mm drills. They do out of me anyway!

He arrived approximately 1.5 hours later than planned, but The Best Mate also filled that time with an Aldi big shop: my only duty was to get her there and back in between drilling and screwing the fairleads.

Now, after 4.1/2 continuous labour the Morso is fitted, commissioned and almost complete. He only needs to return on Monday to leak check as gas fittings can "ease"!

Oh! and we will need to pass over some money!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Sonflower BSC

Yes, she passed! The Examiner was very pleased with Sonflower.

Just two small pieces of advice:
  •  to change a hose on the diesel tank vent. The hose is old but serviceable but does not display the current BS number.
  • changing the glass in the stove door because it is cracked.
Just before the Examiner arrived I fitted up a flag pole at the back of the boat for the AWCC and BCF Burgees. Unfortunately, before I could fix it with a bungee, a boat came by and rocked our boat dislodging the unsecured pole which fell into the canal. It took me quite a time with the sea searcher to locate and  retrieve the pole!

All fun by water!

Examination Day

Today we will be examined.

There is an old Morso water heater on the boat waiting to be taken to a scrap bin. The gas pipework connection to the place where the new one should be is blanked off as are the water inlet and outlet pipes. The rules are such that if a piece of gas equipment is on the boat it should be in good working order and gas sealed. This certainly isn't! My Gas Safe engineer, Steve, has been in touch with the Examiner telling him the sorry tale of the defective unit that was supplied by the largest and mist popular Chandlers in the Midlands. Steve will supply full documentation and certification when the installation is completed with a new unit that is water tight, as the one we unwrapped last week wasn't. The water inlet connection had not been soldered to the unit and therefore washed our ceiling when the water pump was turned on! The leak was spectacular! There is no doubt this boiler had never been factory tested. So much for Quality Assurance!

Zero hour is 1300hrs. But it may vary a little becasue it is a bit dependant on the punctual birth of a grandchild to the Boat Safety Examiner. That is a scheduled event because a Caesarian Section has been called for in Milton Keynes. Our Examiner is coming straight from the hospital, I understand. What can go wrong? Nothing, I pray.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Preparing for Boat Safety Certificate Examination

There is always so much to do.

The Morso water heater has been burning with a yellow flame. So I got a GasSafe man to have a look at it. "Good News or bad news?" "Good news is it needs a full service: bad new is that will cost more than a new heater!" Good news is he will come back and fit the new one in Wednesday. Today.

A clip will also be needed in the gas feed to the heater where it passes through the bulkhead. It is supported by the bulkhead but this does not count. The local heating suppliers do not stock saddle clips smaller that 15mm dia. What do I do?  They suggested cable clips of which I do have a few.

Then there are the batteries: just 3 inches clearance to the top of the engine bay bit enough if a gap to be able to lodge a spanner onto the terminals. So I have cut plywood covers. And there are jump leads in the gas locker that must not be there when the Examiner comes. Apparently only gas bottles should be in the gas locker!

And the glass in the stove door is cracked and WD40 will not shift the bolts.But a crack is not a 2mm gap so I should be able to talk my way round that one!

The examiner comes next Monday.

I hope that he is not reading this.

Since the first draft this afternoon I have been working onthe boat to clip cables, secure gas pipes and support the very excellent GasSafe Engineer,,Mr Steve Williams. Unfortunately he highlighted a gas leak on the existing installation caused by the use of wrong materials (a brass olive instead of a copper one). It has not been resolved and needs more attention tomorrow. So at 8.45 pm we left the the gas isolated, the cooker removed and there are tools all over the boat awaiting more action!