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.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Back at Tooley's

I had a novice friend as crew for the trip from the mooring to Tooley's Boatyard. Nothing serious this time but we return for a small joinery modification. Refitting the central door between galley and bunkroom prevented our new under bunk drawer from opening. The only solution is a new door.

So off the mooring again and back to town.We passed the time of day with several hirers who were traversing the lock. A Norwegian couple used the lock ahead of us on the return form Calthorpe Winding hole and left the top gate and paddles open. This gave us an opportunity to chat to them and welcome them to Banbury, recommending two pubs as possible evening meal options.

2.5 miles, 2 LB, 2  locks, 2.5 hours

Friday, 26 May 2017

PRM or Hurth that is the question.

The gearbox has failed. Or rather half if it has: the reverse half.

The gearbox fails to engage reverse gear properly making stopping a dicey process. It is a Hurth. To recondition it cost the same as a new PRM.

So SONFLOWER is getting a new gearbox.

Calcutt Marine are supplying the box for Tooley's Boatyard to fit.

SONFLOWER is now an exhibit at Tooley's Museum of canal life, she has been there so long! She will be available to view on Castle Quay for the foreseeable future.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sonflower being floated in Tooley's Boatyard this morning. She was then reversed out and moored on Castle Quay for leak testing (in the rain). When the sun shines I will take some better photographs but she really does look nice. We are very pleased.

I would recommend Jez Steadman * at Tooley's Boatyard to paint any boat. He is a genuine craftsman.

There is still a lot to do. Inside now needs our attention. We have taken one bunk out to make the bunk room airier and provide drawer storage underneath. The galley will be the next big adventure.

Sonflower is just under 57ft long but every bit of her seems to need our constant attention. There is always another job to do.

The next hurdle is a Boat Safety Scheme examination later in the year. But hopefully that will be done when she is afloat.

Coach Painting & Specialised Paint & Varnish Finishes
(Enquiries to Tooley's Boatyard)

Monday, 24 April 2017

Update on Painting

The painting of SONFLOWER is going really well. The painter is now putting on the sixth coat, the first of the top coats.

The boat was taken back to bare metal and rust treated. A couple of perforations were found in the steel which were repaired by the skilled craftsmen at Tooley's who seem to be able to tackle any boat building tasks: well they have built boats in the past!  Here is a little bit of welding done to repair a perforation at the foot of the gunwhale near the gas locker.
Plate repair at gunwhale end

This had been letting water into the engine bay.

Bare metal

More bare metal

Shiny bow

The full paint treatment is:
Above the rubbing strake:
  • rust treatment
  • primer
  • undercoat 1
  • undercoat 2
  • top coat 1
  • top coat 2
  • finishing coat
  • lining
  • sign writing/graphics
And, of course the hull beneath the top rubbing strake will be blacked with bitumastic paint.

I did discuss sand blasting and epoxy coating. But Tooley's do not offer this at present. That the epoxy might also need bitumastic protection was also suggested. So epoxy to stop pitting of the steel and bitumastic to stop the epoxy being rubbed off or coming away in sheets.  I will continue with the age old treatment. Bitumastic to stop pitting.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ready and Waiting

I had a weather window this morning form 1030 to 1200. This morning's rain was on its way to Northampton and the next shower was not due to arrive form Stratford-on-Avon until afternoon.

I went and collected the SONFLOWER from her mooring near Samuelson Bridge and took her up to the Grimsbury Arm turning point and back to Tooley's boatyard. I had a great assist at lick and lift bridge form the crew of a hire boat that had gone the other way to Bankside turning point. After lunch in General Foods Club, as it is Wednesday, I met John and Matt to discuss the details and handed over the keys.

So she is in dock for survey, blacking and painting and will be there until early May. Herbie wants pictures.

I will see what I can do.
                                                                                         1.1/2 miles, 1 lock, 1 lift bridge, 1hr

Friday, 24 March 2017


We have sent a little time on the boat preparing for her to go into Tooley's for a makeover. All the windows will be coming out so we have taken all the curtains for washing and  cleared a lot of the bric a brac away.

The damp has got in and there is evidence of some more fungal rot. The window frames have been leaking again so some repairs will be necessary to the woodwork inside the boat as well as the external treatment.

As we moved her we chatted with Matt from the yard. She is booked in from Monday 3rd April and not Thursday 30th March so we are unlikely to be cruising this year until mid May.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Flat and Rescued

I went to the boat yesterday.

CRT have not given me permission to stay on the mooring for March. I have won the auction for the mooring but the contract does not start until April 1st.  So I went to move to another mooring for 14 days to then move to another mooring for 14 days and then into Tooley's dock for the whole of April!

But the gremlins had got under my engine covers and flatted the batteries. My small pv array did not keep up with the cold!

So I called RCR out this morning (that's what I pay them for) and Paul from Pershore jump started the engine and advised me to ditch it because spares are getting impossible to get and a new Kibota 44hp would only cost me £3500. I like my BMC 1500! He said the batteries were charging ok when he left.

Anyway, I boated into town and left the boat with Tooley's to test all the batteries and give me some good advice.

                                                                                          1/2 mile, 18 hours

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Back on our mooring

I backed SONFLOWER up from opposite Sovereign Wharf, through the Marsh Footbridge 163 and onto her mooring this afternoon. (The link show a picture of her on it)

We have permission from Canal and River Trust to put her on the mooring for the month of February.

We are away until the 24th in Devon and cannot comply with the 14 day rule so are very glad of CRTs help. The mooring is empty and will be let through the usual process. We have expressed interest.

We will need to wait for a week or two to see whether we can successfully secure it for the foreseeable. If we do, our "continuous cruising" will be suspended for a year or so.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


A two hour leisurely cruise back toward Banbury today. Little traffic: Just nb Clara heading north after a short sojourn in Banbury. I was pleased to see her coming out of Bourton Lock but not so happy to see that the strong stream of the bywash trapped her against the weir edge. She had to reverse back party into the lock to free herself. There is a lot of water about today and excess is swirling down the bywashes.

By the new flood meadows there were loads of birds in the air. I saw a bird of prey that could have been a falcon and a pair of Jays. I haven't seen many of them around here so this was very pleasing. At Hardwicke Lock I met a man with a stick who was public spiritedly playing with floating sticks and relieving the build up at the bywash culvert  entrance. After filling the lock, he closed the top gate behind Sonflower and walked off north on his way.

After the lock I met a paddle boarder. She was the first I have encountered on the canals. CRT are encouraging them I understand. I had seen her going the other way this morning nearer to Banbury so I asked whether she had been shopping. There was nowhere to stow shopping on the board however.

I moored just short of the bend opposite the blue cottage, behind nb Freestyler. As I moored the paddle boarder came past again going the other way.

                                                                                          3miles, 3 locks, 2 hours

As I

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Crisp January Cruise

A Sunny Period
We have to get out of town and today was one of those lovely afternoons with a forecast of sunny periods. The canal was clear and the birds were out in force. Kestrel, heron, cormorant, gulls of all sorts and the hedgerow birds like tits and robins were all around.

There were boaters about too. I came up behind nb Mirrlees who were ascending Hardwick Lock. They had followed another boat into the lock, possibly a Kate hire boat that we saw passing earlier or nb Hermione who when was moored behind Sonflower but not when we left. "three in a row and a bonus mark", I quipped. Nb Mirlees was flying the white ensign and I asked the helmsman about it. He had served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines so was entitled to wear it, he said. I closed the top gate for them as they left and as I approached the next two locks I was very pleased to see that they had raised a bottom paddle to speed my way. Thank you very much, nb Mirrlees.
At Little Bourton Lock 27 I noticed that there are unwanted vandals in the lovely lock garden.

This garden used to win awards when lock cottages were the homes of lock keepers and their wives.

I was glad to see space on the 14 day moorings at Cropredy and noted nb Hermione moored up there. I waved as I passed and turned at the Cropredy Coal Wharf and returned to moor just north of him. 

A very pleasant afternoon cruise. 

                                    3.9 miles, 3 locks   2.1/2hours