Thursday 1 June 2017

My last UK blog

Hello, how are you? Nice to see you again.

The pilot deferred our passage to Portishead from Tuesday to Wednesday because the tall ships were due to go out on Tuesday. It worked out better for us anyway as the weather was much better on Wednesday and we got to share the lock with The Mathew, the tall ship that moors in Bristol.

We followed them into Sharpness Docks

and then followed them out into the estuary

We soon left them behind though. This was the view through the back bedroom window.

This is Rick, our pilot for the voyage.

He was great and let Roger drive

Chico wondered what all the fuss was about and curled up on his bed and slept for most of the way. We fasten him on whenever the side doors are open or when we're in locks but he's so lazy he probably wouldn't go walk-about anyway.

It was flat calm going under the Severn bridges

and 3 hours later we were at Portishead

We shared the lock with a pair of rowing boats and a fishing boat

When they let the water into the lock it's pretty spectacular and makes a lot of foam

which almost swamped the rowing boats

When you get into Portishead Marina you could be forgiven for thinking that you were somewhere in the Med. The boats are big and expensive and the mooring fees certainly reflect that. £42 for one night!!!

This morning we completed the final stage of our journey starting off by sharing a very packed lock with several fishing boats.

This is the third time we've cruised through the Avon Gorge but the site of the Clifton Suspension Bridge is still pretty awesome, don't you think?

You can see all our solar panels on the roof. They're working really well and the big solar collector in the centre is the one that heats our water. It's working so well that I think we need to fit a temperature restrictor on the hot water taps before one of us gets scalded.

It only took  us an hour and a half to reach Bristol

where we were welcomed by three of the lock staff. The guy on the left actually remembered us from when we were moored here last year.

Once we got through the lock and into the harbour guess who we met? The Mathew was full of excited children going for a ride and being entertained by a couple of "Captain Jack" look-alikes.

We've got a good mooring and will stay here until Monday morning when Bluey will be lifted out onto a big wagon and transported to Belgium to start our new life.

So that's the end of our UK travels. Thank you for following us over the past 8 years and I hope you'll come with us over to Europe and join us in our new adventures.

You'll be able to find my new blog HERE

I'll start posting as soon as we get our European internet up and running so please bear with me until then.

A Bientot!

Saturday 27 May 2017

One week to go

Hi, welcome back.

The pilot phoned this morning so we're now booked to go back to Portishead on Tuesday with an overnight stop in the marina before heading to Bristol on Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather please.

Roger's finished the painting and the boat now looks like it belongs to us, rather than the previous owner. We just need to replace the tatty sign writing and it'll be perfect.

We've had LOTS of lovely comments from passers-by and have been asked a few times if it's a new boat!

It's the Gloucester Tall Ships Festival in Gloucester Docks this weekend and yesterday 3 of the boats sailed past our mooring.

I couldn't do his job, it's a LONG way down!

Our old friend the Mathew from Bristol. 

They wanted to come alongside us as they didn't quite know where they were. I would have loved that photo, being boarded by pirates....... but we told them where they were supposed to moor to await entry into the docks and they carried on

and then the Lady of Avenel 

who was going so fast that she pulled out our new ground anchor and the mooring pins of 2 other boats moored in front of us!

The new solar panels that Roger fitted are working amazingly well and charge even on the dullest of days. With the brilliant sunny weather that we've been having recently I even managed to run the washing machine through them. They won't cope with the dryer though, although they easily manage the hoover and the hairdryer.  The solar water heating has also been working extremely well and yesterday the tank temperature reached over 60'C. Diesel consumption for domestic use has dropped significantly and on a sunny day we don't have to run the engine or generator at all.

When Out Of The Blue goes onto the wagon for transport to Belgium I'll be starting a completely new blog.  I'll post a link on here and really hope you'll come with us on our next adventure.

Bye for now, take care and see you soon

Sunday 21 May 2017

A boat of two halves

Hi, Lovely to see you again.

We're now into our last 2 weeks here in UK. The boat leaves Bristol on a wagon on Monday 5th June and we get it back again in Belgium on Wednesday 7th.  We'll be homeless for 2 days!!!!   Scary or what?

In the meantime, we've been having beautiful warm, calm evenings so Roger started painting the outside of the boat.

By doing some clever maneuvering along the end pontoon in the docks he managed to paint half of the bow and one side under the gunwales with matt black.  We used a matt black on Fizzi last time we dry docked it using "proper boat paint" but it was quite expensive and still had a bit of a sheen to it. We wanted a really matt finish this time and I found the perfect paint in Wilko. At only £7.95 a litre it's really good value, is touch dry in 30 minutes and is totally matt. It doesn't smell either.

The paintwork on Bluey has always been pretty dreadful. Having never been polished by the original owner it was very faded and patchy.

You can see how much better it looks in matt, with the added advantage that any scuffs and scrapes can easily be touched up at a later date.

Last night we managed to reverse up to a pontoon adjacent to the water point at Purton so that we could wash and paint half of the stern while the water tank was filling. I even managed to clean the back windows for the first time!

It was such a beautiful morning today that we were both up at 7.00 and as soon as the dew had dried Roger started putting the shiny paint on.  NOW it's starting to really look like our boat!

Tomorrow we're going to turn round and do the other side. David's come to stay for a couple of days so I told him to bring his old clothes.  Well there's no reason I should have to get mucky when he can do it instead now is there?

Bye for now, please come back soon.

Monday 1 May 2017

Almost ready!

Hi, lovely to see you again.

We had a fantastic Easter with the grandchildren.  Aged 3 and almost 5 they're the perfect age for making Easter bonnets and hunting for hidden clues in search of the prized eggs. To be honest, I'm not sure who enjoyed themselves the most; them or me!

Since then we've had more visitors. Friends Maggie and Martin from Macclesfield came to stay for a couple of days.

They both enjoyed driving the boat, especially Maggie who's never really had the confidence to steer their narrowboat but is now going to do it more often.

Roger has been working hard, continuing with the upgrades to the boat and we now have solar electric and solar water heating.

As soon as the sun comes out I keep rushing over to the panel to check the water temperature. It's brilliant and will pay for itself in about 18 months with the amount of diesel we'll save by not having to run the generator to power the immersion heater. Obviously we'll still get hot water from the engine whenever we move, but on the sunny days when we don't move we should be engine & generator free. Less euros spent on diesel = more euros available for wine = RESULT

We've now found a crane suitable to unload Bluey from the wagon in Nieupoort, Belgium so this weeks job will be booking all the cranes and transport. Hopefully by the next time I write the blog I'll be able to give you a date.

In the meantime, Bluey is still open for visitors. We've had so many lately I'm thinking about opening up as a B&B..................

Bye for now, take care and come back soon.

Monday 10 April 2017

Summertime and the living is easy........

Hi, nice to see you.

We've had a great week. The weather has been FANTASTIC with wall to wall sunshine, so much so that I had to go and buy sunscreen!

The swans have started nesting

 photo - Paul Drinkwater

I think this black swan must be a visitor from the nearby Slimbridge Wetlands Bird Sanctuary. I never knew they had white on their wings as I've never seen one in flight before.

Chico made sure that David knew he was sitting in HIS spot on the sofa and helped him check out his emails.....

On Friday we had our ICC (International Certificate of Competency) and CEVNI tests.  Basically they're the boating equivalent of driving theory and practical tests and we need the qualifications to take Bluey to France.  It was a lot of fun and the conditions were perfect for the manouvres required by the examiner. The "man overboard" test had to be done with a life ring as none of us fancied jumping in to be rescued.

David's now left us to go back to his own boat and we're just pottering up and down enjoying life.

We're having more visitors this weekend as our grandchildren are coming for Easter and I can't wait! Grandkids PLUS Easter eggs is about as good as it gets in my view................

See you soon, Bye for now

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Getting ready for France

Hi, nice of you to drop by again.

We're still cruising up and down the G&S and still having fun.  The weather has been glorious for the past few days and the sunsets have been amazing!

There's very little light pollution down at Sharpness and the night sky has been really clear with millions of stars. I really must get the telescope out and have a look, the only problem is remembering where I've stashed it away..............

We're now well under way getting ready to move over to France. Roger has upgraded the central heating system as the one that was originally fitted wasn't a boat unit and couldn't cope when temperatures dropped below freezing. Hopefully (fingers crossed) this new one will have the boat nice and toasty next winter.

He's about to fit solar panels for electric and hot water and sort out a filtration system so that we can take water out of the rivers and canals. This blog by w.b Avalon has been extremely helpful, thanks Kevin.

Our friend David is staying for a few days while his boat is out of the water being blacked and he's helping Roger with all the fiddly technical stuff that I can't do. He's also a dab hand at splicing ropes and has made me a special mooring rope to lasso bollards in locks. It's made it really easy but I'm still playing getting lots of practice in.

Chico is ready to go as he's now had his rabies vaccination and has his own passport

We needed diesel last week so teamed up with another Dutch barge and got a bulk tanker delivery. There's a canal-side diesel depot at Fretherne but they don't give any discount for bulk purchase and this worked out a lot cheaper. We reckon we saved over £100 each on a tank full.

That's all for now, see you soon.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

A Tale of a Tall Ship

Hello again, welcome back.

We were up early on Saturday morning to see the Tall Ship Kaskelot come up from Sharpness Dock en-route to Gloucester Dock.

She's a three masted Barque built in 1948, being comprehensively refitted in 2013, and has been used in many films.

She was being pulled by a small tug boat but was also steering under her own power. I would have LOVED to see her in full sail.

She's now in Neilson's Dry Dock in Gloucester undergoing some maintenance and repairs.

Her twin anchors and chain are huge, ours look like toys in comparison!

She looked big when she was afloat, but out of the water she's massive.  You can see how big she is compared to the workman at the bottom of the photo repairing her hull.

Because she's so big below the waterline, they've had to carry out some dredging works in the dock to get her in.

This is the little dredger that has been sucking up silt from the bottom of the docks for the past month or so. It's been working all day, every day and mooring in the basin has been suspended until all works are complete.

The silt is piped out into the river through this pipe

Kaskelot isn't the only Tall Ship that will be seen in Gloucester Docks this Spring.  There's a Tall Ship Festival here over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend.  That should be quite spectacular, so if you can make it I don't think you'll be disappointed. Full details are available HERE