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, 29 June 2009

More Publicity

I have just had a call from Tooley's Boatyard.

They want to put the signwriting from SONFLOWER in their publicity!

No objections from me. It looks great.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Celebrations continue

When I invited friends and neighbours round for a drink I put "No fuss, no presents" on the invitation. Most of them ignored this and bought me a bottle of wine to help me celebrate. The result is that the celebrations will continue for quite some time. You can see this by looking at the collection of wines that are in the photograph. And this does not include those that have been consumed so far!


Sunday, 21 June 2009

A weekend of Celebration

Wow! It all started with a few of the neighbours and friends in for a drink on Friday evening. I must say it was a balmy evening and we had a very enjoyable time overlooking the canal and sipping margharitas, sangria, wines a many and a few beers accompanied by tapas/antipasta of various oiley olivy varieties.

Then on Saturday we moved down to Portsmouth to celebrate the Best Mate's cousin's 60th birthday at a Tapas Bar/Spanish restaurant. The same heady mix without the margharitas and with professionally prepared Sanish delicacies. This time the company was mainly family with a few friends from childhood around as well! Talk about catch up time!

Back to Banbury today missing the Grand Prix crowds at Silverstone. Tired but still celebrating.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Result

For those of you that are waiting with bated breath......it failed!

Two reasons: 1) A gas leak 2) One battery tray (wooden) was not fixed down so the batteries could move.

Not to worry. These are pretty easily fixed. Matt at Tooley's will do the fixing and all will be well.

Strangely, we don't smell gas except just before a bottle runs out. I think the fridge pilot gets jittery and combustion is incomplete. But there is apparently a pretty reasonably sized leak. Good thing it has been found. The main problem with gas leakson a boat is that, because LPG is heavier than air, the gas builds up in the bilges and then a naked light sets the whole lot off BOOM! Far better to get it fixed.

Thank you Lee

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Examination

It is hapening at this very moment.

I met with Lee, a Boat Safety Examiner, on my boat this morning. I couldn't stay long but I wanted to see him to point out a couple of things.

> The diesel leak! The BSS says that "All permanently installed fuel systems and fixed engines must be designed, installed and maintained in a way that minimises the
risks of explosion, or of fire starting or spreading.". I wanted to point out that mine was maintained to be leak free by wrapping self amalgamating tape round the known leaks.

> The gas locker floor: "Within the required LPG-tight area, the bottom, sides, and seams ofevery cylinder locker must be free of holes, cracks, damaged welds,
significant corrosion, or other damage." This is one of the reasons the boat is at Tooley's. The repair is sufficient to prevent gas getting into the engine bay and the rest of the floor will be replaced this week.

> Battery covers: They are there! One has just temporarily slipped down the back of the battery bank.

> Ventilation: The cooker fan does not work but the ventilator around it still acts as a ventilator.

I showed him all this and then left him to inspect the boat, making decisions on safety from, hopefully a practical engineering view point rather than a dogmatic following of the rules.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

More decisions

The sword of damecles, the Boat Safety Scheme examination hangs over our head. The engine repair, which would eliminate the oil and diesel leaks and belt chewing that has been the plague of our cruising life for the last three/four years, will take three weeks plus removal and refitting time. We don't quite have it before we head off for our Summer Cruise this year. Matt the mechanic is off for his hols for two weeks in July and will not be back to complete the job before we need the boat again on the 10th.

However, our BSS certificate expires on the 24th July. We need to fix the diesel leaks. I have examined the BSS documentation and it is emphatic that the fuel system should be maintained such as to remove all sources of fire or prolonging fire. Having deisel leaking out toward or in the vicinity of hot engines seems to me to be BSS unacceptable.

Alternatives must be sought.

The boat is booked in to the boatyard for next Tuesday. The engine work is not to be done then but postponed until later in the year so we need a miracle cure on the fuel spill lines. Almost every marine engineer from Thrupp to Braunston has had a go at this leak and a man in a van from RCR looked at it last week on the Thames. Someone must be able to stem the flow!

Monday, 8 June 2009

When all is said and done

SONFLOWER is back on her home mooring. All the post cruise duties have been completed and she is ready to go back to the boatyard on Tuesday next week for a little more attention. Today I have: pumped out the loo (at Sovereign Wharf), filled the stern tube greaser, emptied the drip tray under the diesel leak, pumped out the bilge, checked the water, checked the boat for laundry etc. What I haven't done is touched up the scratches on the gunwhales sustained during the cruise and fixed the shelving in the bow locker so that I can put the painting things away.

But I did have a long chat to Matt at Tooley's about the work to be done next week. There is a skylight to remove and refit so that the shape of the skylight and the shape of the frame match. The rear gates need a bit of attention having been attacked by Godstow lock landing and there is the collapsing floor in the bathroom which needs shoring up or replacement before putting the new calorifier on it. The engine thermostat needs fixing before the calorifier will work and an oil seal needs doing as well. Both of these need the engine to be slid back or a large hole to be cut in the bathroom. The former is preferable! While slid back, why not replace it? That gets rid of the diesel leak and the mal-aligned belt pulleys as well!

Ching, ching..... what's that noise?

There is much more to be done another time: electrical fuse panel needs renewal and the wiring needs tidying up and the Boat Safety Scheme Examination is due.....there are bound to be more that needs doing......the list must be endless.......

Friday, 5 June 2009

The wanderer returns

Dave and Sue have returned SONFLOWER to her accustomed berth on Castle Quay to disembark their goods and chattles after what they described as a fantastic time on the Thames.

We had dinner with them this evening and enjoyed some of their tales. Another 117 miles and 56 locks under the keel for the boat log.

No serious problems on the way either. A loose alternator belt and a loose decking board on a lock landing causing most consternation. The belt was handled satisfactorily by Canal Rover Rescue and the decking board resulted in David getting wet to his thighs.

Well done Sonflower. More happy boaters.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

WHY do they do it?

I have had someone scratch the new paintwork on SONFLOWER using a sharp implement to cut 2cm long lines through the paint like a bar code.

Having sanded them down and primed the damage, 'they' did it again in four more places. Because they could?

I have just heard from our friends that they have had the fire extinguisher stolen from the cruiser deck of the boat. It was probably discharged to cool some overheated young person in the recently barmy nights. There was no sign of it in the adjacent park in Caversham the next morning. Why? It is no real loss to me. I found the extinguisher floating in the canal and had it refilled and checked when I had my other fire appliances checked. I paid as a job lot so I think it cost me about 50p extra! I kept it for the purpose of extiguishing towpath fires that one comes across occasionally. Usually started by ....I don't know why?

Vandalism has been with us for years and many of us have got used to it. Has anyone ever really investigated the reason it is so prevalent? I just cannot understand it.