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, 23 February 2009

Ingredients for a great weekend

First, there is a boat: and what a boat. We were a little worried about the accommodation but there was no need for that. This is everything one could want to cross the atlantic and cruise the carribean. I thought it would be a bit better appointed than SONFLOWER but never expected a huge saloon and three double bedrooms!
Then the refreshments:here gin and tonic (of course)and the wine and nibbles that preceded a fish and chip supper on Friday night. We were provided with everything we could have wanted for a wonderful weekend. Breakfast al fresco on deck in the sunshine and tapas for lunch on Saturday. Wonderful filled baguettes in the Landers bar at the marina on Sunday after a bracing walk on the beach.

Of course wonderful company, plenty of laughter and entertainment. We enjoyed both with the boys enjoying a couple of dvd's to boot while we caught up with the news of the last year and where our grown up children were at the moment.

Then places to go and sights to see. Of course we crossed the water and visited the Spinnaker Tower to get panoramic views of the dockyard and harbour. Marina spotting was a must. There were some who did more on the water than take the ferry, but the wind was so slight there was little chance of a meaningful excursion this weekend under sail.
We went round the dockyard to see Warrior and the energetic ones among us circled HMS Victory. The rest of us just enjoyed a beautiful day.

We thank our friends for their hospitality and showing us a different type of boating. We loved their boat. I still think I want to stick to the flat water though, the lumpy stuff and standing at a tilt all the time doesn't really appeal. Great fun in the marina though!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

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We're going boating!

We are off to visit our good friends who live in Portsmouth.

They have had a bit of a fire in their home. A lodger's cigarette lighter mal-functioned causing a conflagration in his bedroom and smoke damage to the remainder of the house. They cannot put us up in the house. We suggested a weekend in the local Hilton Hotel but they suggested that we go on their 43 foot sailing cruiser.

As we are suckers for the wet stuff under us their was no contest. The sharp end is going to be a bit sharper and the beam is a bit wider ( a luxurious eight feet or so). The only drawback as far as I can see is that it is winter and the water goes up and down all the time!

So SONFLOWER's crew are going to be sailors for the weekend. I am not sure we will get a trip round the marina or Portsmouth harbour but I will try to get some photos.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Progress Report

I went to look at progress this lunchtime and had a chat with John the carpenter and Matt the boss at Tooley's Historic Boatyard. The sink unit refurbishment is almost finished. The carcass has been rebuilt and the drainer now drains toward the sink! It sports a fine new full depth shelf that is high enough to allow a lot of storage underneath and low enough to allow a few of the bottley type of things to be stored on it. I checked it with an aerosol of "Raid", a very important product to keep handy.

The fire work is progressing. The picture above shows the new flue prepared for welding and the fire door in a gleaming re-furbished state. All looking good.

Of course, with good news comes the bad news. Tooley's are behind programme because of the snow and cold. The cold is not good for painting and the yard was shut for a few days because the staff could not get there. In the old days, the Tooley family used to sleep on the premises. (In fact the last Mr Tooley was found dead one morning in the dry dock!) Matt promises the boat will be ready for Easter! The other 'bad\ news was that he wants some money in advance to order the windows. I am glad to get ahead with it.

Fortunately he doesn't want it in used fivers!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

No Harm Done

I visited the boat this afternoon to check her out after the cold period. Those kind people at Tooley's have put an electric heater on board to keep her above freezing while the fire is in pieces.

No visible damage. It was thawing nicely this afternoon so any leaks should have been evident.

Another cold snap is just around the corner.

I spotted fieldfares and redwings this morning. They come from Scandinavia to escape the cold weather. I bet they don't think it was worth the journey this year!

Friday, 6 February 2009

More Snow

More of the pretty snow. Pretty cold that is brrrrr!!

Pictures of Banbury and SONFLOWER

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Started already.

I handed the keys to Tooley's man and have perused, queried and received answers to their estimate. They said thay would start work on Friday so I went to the boat today to light the fire to keep the frost at bay.

I trudged through virgin snow six inches thick to get to the boat and brushed the layered snow from the cratch cover to discover that they had started the work! And the first thing they have started is the flue pipe! Without a flue I couldn't light the stove and without the stove the boat is entirely without heat unless I light the cooker!

Tooley's staff obviously had difficulties with travel in the snow today as there were locks on all the gates. The heaters were on in the dock! My boat is not.

I had expected that his would be done when the boat was in the dock and am dreading 'frost damage' when the thaw comes. At least I had drained the Morco water heater this time before we left.

It does make a change for someone to be ahead of schedule rather than behind!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Another Tragedy

The sad news of the death of a 63 year old at Willington on the T & M yesterday, reported in This Derbyshire Today brought back to mind those we have lost on this section of the system.

Maybe, with this hindsight, those funny things that BW employees wear (and we laugh at as being superfluous) are not a bad idea.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Lots to Do

Those of you that are familiar with the area will recognise that SONFLOWER is moored at Castle Quay, Banbury in the pictures below. The reason is because she is nice and handy for Tooley's Boatyard.

We have commissioned them to do a long list of jobs. The main one is a repaint. The last full paint that Sonlower had was while we were navigating the Warwickshire ring in 2004. We went from spill wier to spill weir to sand her and bridge to bridge to paint her. We used Dulux Weathershield, miles of masking tape and a kilogram of builders sand which we got from a site in Tamworth in exchange for a look through the boat by the site agent.

So it hasn't worn badly. But now we want it done 'properly'! In Masons boat enamel so that she gleams in the sunshine like a posh boat! We will be keeping the colour scheme the same.

We have been fighting leaky windows all the time we have had her. Last summer we removed a couple and re-sealed them to no real avail. To paint 'properly' all the windows will be removed. So we are having new windows as well!

Inside, we are having some work done. The boat has no calorifier to make use of the waste heat from the engine. This seems a very logical thing to have so we are having one fitted. We should save on gas and save the planet. To fit the calorifier means losing a cupboard in the bathroom and repositioning a bilge pump. To do that means refitting the back steps so that they can be removed to give access.

We had a problem with freezing and water leaks inside the boat. One of the problems was the waste pipe from the sink joint to the skin fitting. What we discovered was that the whole sink unit is loose fitted and has come apart at the joints making it come away from the wall and breaking the connection. We are having the unit rebuilt.

Other bits on the list are necessary to meet the boat safety scheme requirements. We are replacing the stove flue, which has three loose joints in it, with a purpose made doglegged all welded flue. This will prevent the possibility of leakage within the saloon.

The rest of the work is routine engine maintenance and leak control.

Once she comes out of the water we may have more to do! I will try you keep you posted.


I have been silent for too long.

It is not because things have not been happening but that too much has been happening.

It is the winter now! I thought that you would like to see some photos of SONFLOWER in the snow. The pretty nature of snow disguises the fact that it is cold.

The cold freezes the canal and eventually everything sitting in it! I have suffered a bit of frost damage. Fortunately, there is an antidote.

Here it is!