Saturday, 28 March 2015


Saturday morning the dock was flooded and FL floated out on to the canal in her newly painted hull. Its a sharp turn out of the dock and into Yard lock, I had two guys stopping any scraping out of the dock entrance and one pushing FL's bow around from the opposite bank.

FL easing out of the dock.
FL,s bow gets a helping hand

Geoff stopped work on  the hull of his boat  Seyella in the other dock and  kept FL of the sides in Yard lock. Just staving off the inevitable, at Star lock I removed some of the blacking a little more came off at Aston lock. Oh well that's all part of ownership.

Friday, 27 March 2015

FL's bottom, day five.

We had a good pie in the Blue Rooms, a nice warm room in the Crown Hotel with a full English breakfast which set us up for the last day of working on the hull.

There wasn't much left to do, the weed hatch was rubbed down and coated with Intertuf - it looked to me that this is the first time the hatch has ever been painted - you have to despair at some of these so called professional boat yards, this is probably the third/fourth time FL has been blacked. - Sue went over to the chandlers to get new weed hatch sealing tape.

Weed hatch blacked.

The tunnel band curves were painted in and the engineer fitted the Vetus stern tube seal, I did enquire about having a conventional grease seal fitted at some future date, it can be done but I'll have to save up for it.

Smart bands

The old scruffy bands
Glad that's over with, I'm now coming down with Sue's lergy so instead of going to the pub for that well earned pint I'm staying in the warm.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

FL's bottom, day four.

FL looks the same as yesterday, so no pics.

I didn't have enough Intertuf left to do all the hull so only gave the waterline area another coat. then the gloss on the tunnel bands was flattened and a second top coat applied.

Tomorrow will be a drying/hardening day before relaunching Saturday morning just a little bit of painting in the curves for the tunnel bands (Sue has made some templates to do the curves) and refitting the stern and bow fenders.

I did fold myself in half to tackle the prop shaft seal but felt my back tweak when using the spanners so I've asked the yard to fit.

We have had a couple of visitors, yesterday Roly came to inspect the job and today Rob stopped by, a welcomed distraction for me. They didn't stop long, probably didn't want to stop the work in progress or maybe they didn't want to have a paint brush thrust into their hand. Tomorrow Richard and Sharon will be along, I should be all finished by then so a trip to the pub for a well earned ale is on the cards.

It has been cold today, Sue has booked us in for bed and breakfast at the cheapo Crown Hotel. I've just had a nice soak in a hot bath to relax my aching limbs.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FL's bottom, day three.

We can't light the Epping stove while we are in the drydock and we don't have the central heating on overnight,  last night went down to zero and it was flipping freezing in bed, I had to get out and put an extra layer on.

This morning I started putting the second coat of blacking on I used a 4 inch brush, putting blacking over blacking is a little easier although the overnight frost had made the paint stiff to brush on, it became easier to apply by midday after the sun had warmed it up.

 After the hull was completed I put the first  topcoat on the tunnel bands, this part of the job was most satisfying as I have wanted to get them painted ever since we got the boat two years ago. A coat of black gloss on the port gunnel was the last job of the day.

The rudder has been  refitted with the new cup and bearing in place.

New top bearing

And bottom cup

Tunnel bands painted 

That's another day over, tomorrow will be more of the same.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

FL's bottom day two

First thing I took the car for an MOT check , (Sue was going to do that job but she's thrown another sickie) then walked back via Costa's for a couple of coffee's. That done it was overall and wellies on to black the port side of the hull. It takes along time to paint a 58' hull with a two and a half inch brush, a bigger brush  make's my hand and wrist ache. I did try a roller in places but prefer my trusty brush, it can be used almost like a trowel to get a good thick coat on below the waterline. I have now completed one complete coat, just two more to do.

The welder turned up to fit four new anodes, another two chaps came with big hammers and took the rudder off as FL is having a new top bearing and lower cup and bearing fitted.

Welder in action
Old anode

New anode

Skeg with rudder cup removed


I put an undercoat on the tunnel bands then rubbed down and cleaned the starboard gunnel ready for painting. I thought I had some black gloss in the locker, when I checked I only had a small amount of Hammerite black and Craftmaster black enamel left, the two I could of probably stretched along the gunnel, after a bit of humming and harring I decided it best to nip over the bridge to the chandlers and pick up a new tin, they only had  International jet black so that's what I got.

Yesterdays primer on the tunnel bands
In between painting I've been nursing Sue making sure she is fed and watered. Pondering what to fetch for her lunch it suddenly occurred to me if I was ill what would make me feel better. It has to be 'Pie' so that's what she had steak and gravy variety an alternative medicine for womenflu.

At 5 O'clock I went and picked the car up from the garage, it passed with no advisories, not bad for a 12 year old that has never been MOT'd before.

Monday, 23 March 2015

FL's bottom, day one.

 Sue is very poorly with  womenflu  so while she kept warm and arranged a visit to the doctors I single handed the boat though Yard Lock and wait to be called into the dry dock . A skillful reversing manoeuvre got FL positioned in the dock, the plug was pulled and we settled on the beams.

No idea why they call this a dry dock it should be renamed nearly empty dock. If you don't wear wellies your feet and ankles would get wet. No bother, I hired the on site  high powered petrol driven jet washer and for four hours I blasted away at the hull removing all the accumulated slime muck and flakey bits.  Then it was out with the angle grinder with wire brush attachment to go over the whole hull and rudder. I did have the mouse sander out at one point but dropped it in the puddle and it went bang. Next it was out with the wet & dry and flatten the paint on the tunnel bands.

I gave the tunnel bands a coat of primer and managed a coat of blacking on one side of the hull before bad light stopped play.

Before jetwash

After Jetwash 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

We're on the move.

Saturday - We decided to stay on board to watch the rugby fest, 7 hours is too long to spend in the pub and we are both getting over colds.

My second team, Italy put in a much better first half performance than when we watched them from a wet terrace in Rome but capitulated in the second half to a rampant Wales side who racked up a good points score of 20-61.

Wales were top of the table until the Irish finished of a Scottish side that gave away penalty after penalty which left them a man short for 25% of the game with two second half ten minute 'Sin Bins', final score was 10-40.

England knew what they needed to do, win by a margin of 26 points. What a thriller, real end to end stuff with 12 tries scored, how I envied my mate Glyn who was at Twickers watching.
Even though a record 55 points were scored by England against France they were 6 points under the target to deny Ireland the Championship. All bodes well for Stuart Lancaster in World Cup year, he now knows tries will come from this team when he unleashes the backs.

Sunday - It's moving day, a short trip in the bright supring afternoon sunshine, through a couple of locks so that we can position FL for the drydock at Canal Cruisers first thing tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


It's that time of year when the winter mooring gang start to drift away to commence their 2015 cruising plans, some will head north, some south, others will head towards Wales and a few will stay marina based for a change. Tonight (Tuesday) before we go our separate ways we all joined for a night of beer and wine in the Royal Exchange followed by a meal in Weatherspoons.

Carol, Roly, Lynne, Dot, Diane, Jim, Sue, Sharon, Gordon, Ray, Joan, Richard, Phil, and Bev.

Wednesday morning while waiting for the bacon to cook I heard the Aston lock paddles being worked , thinking this could possibly be Ray & Diane heading south I left Sue at the grill and walked up to the small hill that overlooks the canal. There I found and joined other early risers to wish Ray & Diane a bon voyage.

Bon Voyage

20L of blacking warming by the fire.
Our plans are first to get FL's bottom smartened up, to this end we have booked a dry dock for a week at Canal Cruisers next week where we will jet wash 2 years grime off the hull, wire brush the flakey bits before giving her three coats of blacking using Intertuf 16, the tunnel bands will be repainted also. I'm hoping in between the coats drying I may get time to repaint the roof.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Rugby weekend in Rome

Saturday was a glorious sunny day in Rome, we visited the Coliseum, and the Trevi Fountain before retiring to Scholars Lounge, an Irish sports bar, to watch the Rugby. The French were here in numbers along with Irish, Welsh, Italian and a splattering of English fans who all helped to make a great atmosphere. National Anthems were sung with gusto with the French fans being a tad louder than their hosts. Guinness and Peroni flowed and a great afternoon of rugby was enjoyed by all.

Wales beat Ireland 23-16 and England won 25-13 against the Scots the weekend results put England at the top of the table with everthing to play for


No water in the Trevi Fountain which is getting a face lift.
Sue with two Welsh fans.

All the reports you may have heard about Italian drivers is true, they all speed and dive in and out of the smallest gaps, some pay no heed to red traffic lights or pedestrian crossings and like to travel within a foot of the car in front. One taxi we took got side swiped by a vehicle coming straight out at a junction without looking, luckily it hit close to the front of the taxi and not a door, or somebody may have been hurt.

Our cab driver surveys the damage while waiting for the police to arrive.
Sunday was a damp day so we took a taxi to the Olympic Stadium for the France V Italy game. On the day the Italians were very poor and the French won easily with a score of 0-29.

Christine, Glyn and Sue.

The Sampdoria football team were staying in our hotel, in town to play Roma on Monday evening. Sue and Christine made use of the hotel's spa and hot tub, I think they were secretly hoping share the tub with some of the team! They had to make do with glimpsing them during dinner Sunday evening.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ladies that do tea and men who don't.

The sexes went in opposite directions today. The second in command or  'ladies that lunch ' went off to the Dog and Doublet for afternoon tea (poncy triangles of egg and cress with no crusts). While the captains went into Stone in search of Ale.

Sue kindly delivered the lads to the first port of call, The Star, before collecting the girls for high tea.

Dot, Joan, Sharon, Diane, Bev and Sue 

The mates had a whale of a time drinking tea.

Roly, Sue, Bev, Richard, Dot, Gordon, Ray, Jim, Joan, Sharon and Diane.

We all ended up back together in the Titanic later in the day.

We are off down south tomorrow to meet up with friends, then off to Rome to watch my second team Italy take on the French in the six nations rugby.......andiamo Italia.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Brewing in Stone.

It's been a barmy couple of days (Friday & Saturday), sunshine all the way and very little wind. At one point I was in T-shirt while I washed down FL's port side and roof. Even so this warm weather did not stop a trip to Harrison's to pick up some more coal for our stove.

Stone had been a brewing town since 1780 when Francis Joules built his expansive premises beside the Trent & Mersey canal, a smart move as the canal provided the transport links to enable the brewery to prosper. With the link's into Liverpool docks Joules was able to sell his products to Europe, America and even Australia. Brewing in the town continued for nearly 200 years until Bass Charrington acquired the company in 1970, demolishing the brewery in 1974 (only the warehouse remains today alongside the canal).

Joules warehouse now houses several light industry's
Fast forward 33 years and brewing started again in the town with Lymestone 'Micro Brewery'. It was here we found ourselves Friday evening for a tour of the facility and tasting of their ale's. Roly organised transport from the marina and nine boaters joined up with 30 other like minded souls to learn about the brewing process and sample some fine ale's my favourite on the night being 'Stone the Crows'. Not sure I learnt much about the brewing side of things on the night but I did learn their ale is very palatable.

Andy, Sue, Gordon, Dot, Richard and Sharon

Roly, Vinney and Rob.

Sunday we awoke to light rain which steadily became worse, we were pondering what to do with the day over tea and toast, until a bout of early morning texting between Diane, Dot and Sue sorted out an unexpected Sunday roast at Sutton Hall and a trip to the flicks to watch 'Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' in a Macclesfield.

Monday, 2 March 2015


We have just got back from a weekend in Edinburgh, our daughter bought us all tickets to watch Scotland take on Italy at rugby in the Six Nations. There was division in the family, the two girls supporting Scotland while I wanted Italy to win because they are probably the only team out of the opposing five teams that don't actually hate the English..(in a sporting way!)

Murrayfield is a great stadium with a fantastic atmosphere, I did join in with the singing of Flower of Scotland as I don't know the words to II Canto degli Italiani. A tremendous game with Italy pushing the Scottish pack over in the last minute to be awarded a penalty try to win the match. 

Pre match refreshment.

My new scarf.
A wee dram for half time.

Edinburgh is a wonderful city steeped in centuries of history, the powerful architecture in and around The Royal Mile leading up to the castle and Princess Street is very impressive.

Edinburgh Castle

Sir Walter 'Scott's' Monument

Looking back towards the Royal Mile from Princess street. 

The Royal Mile
We will definitely be going back to Edinburgh for a longer visit some day, the short time we were there was only a taster which included Haggis Neap's and Tatties with a pint of Heavy.