A kind of record of a narrow boat and what has to be done to keep her afloat and usable.
We might even be able to tell you where we get to as well.
Hoping you enjoy the intimate detail of boating on the UK canals.
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.
The Met Office says that the winter will be mild. Not as mild as last year but not a hard one. Nevertheless. We are sure to get rain at some point and fog and frost and all the other weather types that degrade the boat.
So now, while the sun shines it is time to put a bit of paint on the boat to cover up those rusty bits where the boat has seen the wear and tear of a good cruising year.
The boat is booked into Tooley's Yard for a full repaint next spring so I have decided to go for the cheap and least time consuming option of a quick coat of Hammerite Smooth Dark Green paint over the gunwales and patching in the rest of the superstructure.
The cost of this little lot about Thirty Quid, including a new wire brush, roller and tray!
Must turn the boat round now to paint the other side before the sun goes in.
SONFLOWER is back on the South Oxford Canal having turned at Napton today and is waiting to ascend the Napton flight. With Hatton flight and Stockton locks behind her, the hard wide stuff is past and she is expected home early on Friday afternoon.
That's more like our normal cruising speed.
Progress has been good and the crew is better. A fall in the basin in Stratford meant a sore back slowed the crew down. They were glad of a locking partner down the Hatton flight and up the Stockton locks. Now the soreness is all but gone and they report that they are still very relaxed.
You may remember my moan about the BW workboats that clutter up the Banbury town centre when no-one would mind them mooring below the lock where leisure boaters feel vulnerable. (A Popular Place)
Well as you can see, BW have now made the mooring adjacent to Tooley's yard their official place of abode. Now they can charge any boat that moors here a charge and stick on one of their red stickers!
The Banbury Mooring Restriction Zone was ostensibly instigated to ensure that visitors could moor in the town centre for a reasonable time (48hr). Obviously BW do not think that leisure boaters should have priority above their work boat.
By the way, there is no vehicular access to this particular mooring. The BW workmen have to approach the canal and park BELOW the lock adjacent to the Facilities building. So why can't they designate a mooring there for themselves?
Stuart texted me 11/09/2008 19:04 "been a gr8 day afta early rain. Made it up Hatton in 4 hours (on own!) in just unda 4 hours! Boat very smooth- we r v relaxed (and pleasantly tired!) aiming 4 Stratford Sat eve. frm us S/M"
I will keep you up to date.
Anyone the sees SONFLOWER disappearing into the distance, please give her a wave!
They won't be held up by gate replacements 10/11-09 at Lapworth flight as I feared.
SONFLOWER is making fantastic progress and behaving well.
Last night she was at Radford Semele after "a fantastic day". They had sunshine and pleasant boating from Marston Doles: 13 miles and 31 locks.
There are stoppages ahead for gate renewal at Lapworth Bottom Lock 27 on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal but the rain this morning makes it improbable that they will get that far today. A partner boat is needed to ascend the 21 of Hatton Flight in quick time. And who wants to do a flight in the rain!
I have been busy, but not with blogging. We went to visit our granddaughter in Kent over the last weekend and the Best Mate has stayed down there to spend some time with her and the family. So we are now boys alone in Banbury. And we are boatless!
We have lent the boat to a couple who were once boaters, were intending to buy a share in a boat, but things didn't work out. They needed a break from a stressful job and so we have lent them SONFLOWER for a holiday. I showed Stuart the ropes on Monday morning and I hope that they are now heading north. They have targeted Stratford. However, the weather doesn't seem too good to be doing 118 miles and 183 locks in nine days. Who knows what they might achieve. That, however, seems like stress in itself to me! They have just sent me a text message to say they are relaxed, and at Marston Doles. (18 miles, 12 locks) That would take me two days!
On Monday we got a phone message from some friends who used to moor and work in Banbury but now moor and work in Birmingham. We had had a chat a couple of months ago and had heard that they were having their boat blacked at Tooley's late in September. We had offered them the boat while this was undertaken as Tooley's do not like people staying aboard! Now they had arrived and the boat is going into dock on Thursday! The other friends who could have lent them their boat are on holiday in Malta and return at the end of the week.
It isn't late September yet is it?
We had a lovely evening last night catching up and drinking a beer together and I told them that our boat, which they had passed on its mooring in the afternoon, was no longer there but was heading north!
Today, I arranged for them to stay in someone's spare room and I met them at lunch time. "Thanks, but no thanks",they said "We have booked into a local B & B, we need a holiday!"
I don't really like being down the engine hole. It is not really my idea of fun. I love playing with engines but the position of this one is too far down! I am too old and stiff to bend to reach the bottom of the engine now. The engine is also fitted just underneath a bulkhead so that even taking the cap off the cooling water header is difficult. This also means that the water pump, drive pulley and alternator are very hard to get at.
But today, I had to change the oil and oil filter. I usually do this after a Summer cruise. It is probably well over the recommended interval. 250 hours cruising is equivalent to 7,500 miles motoring and BMC recommended an oil change every 3000 miles in 1962! As canal usage is generally at under 1500 revs/minute, I feel that an extension is not unreasonable. A modern diesel engine would be working most of it's life at about 2500rpm and accelerating and braking a lot more than a narrowboat. Another consideration is that one does not really want to be up to one's elbows in oil and grease in the middle of one's holiday!
Still, it's done now.
However, an engine full service at the local boatyard costs £130. This is becoming more and more appealing every time I do it!