Thursday, 26 January 2017

Time flies

Hi, welcome back

Doesn't time fly?  I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog.  It's been an eventful 3 weeks too.

First David came to stay for a few days at the beginning of January.  Both Roger and I were still struggling with the lurgy, but that didn't stop the men going karting.  David had never been before but enjoyed it so much that he's coming back again next month for another session.

After David had left us we took the boat to Sainsbury's to stock up. You can moor right outside the supermarket which makes it really easy to do a big shop.  We were just about to set off again when Roger spotted a man in the canal.  He rushed over and with the help of a passerby tried to pull the man out.  It was an elderly boater who had slipped in as he was pushing his boat away from the bank. The canal is very deep here and he couldn't touch the bottom. I'm sure you can imagine just how cold the water is at the moment and the poor man was in shock. The two men couldn't haul him out as his sodden clothes were so heavy they kept dragging him back down.  Luckily we'd recently bought a combined safety ladder/gang plank which I carried over for them to use.

We managed to get a rope underneath his armpits and it then took the three of us to haul him up the ladder onto the towpath. In the meantime another passerby had phoned the emergency services who arrived a couple of minutes after we'd got him out of the water.  Because he'd been in the water for 30 minutes he was suffering from hypothermia so the paramedics took him to hospital where they kept him in overnight.  After securing his boat and making sure the fire was damped down we moved our boat to moor beside his to make sure nothing untoward happened to it until he got back.  He'd told me that he was 75 so I was a quite concerned for his health but he arrived home at lunchtime the next day and apart from being tired due to lack of sleep in the hospital he said he was OK. I won't mention his name of that of his boat as he was very embarrassed but we've seen him since and he seems to have recovered from his fall.  He was a very lucky man.

Living on Bluey is quite different to living on the narrowboat.  Because we'd built Fizzical Attraction for us to live on it had under-floor insulation, secondary double glazing, a solid fuel fire and a cooker extractor fan to make sure that we had the minimum amount of condensation in the boat. Condensation = Damp = Mould and apart from ruining clothes mould can be seriously bad for your health.
Bluey had none of these features and we've been fighting a losing battle against damp patches, so for the past 2 weeks we've made a concerted effort to get rid of the cold spots that have caused condensation & damp and consequently mould.

The first major job was fitting a Dometic cooker hood. Being vented outside this has made a dramatic reduction in condensation in the boat caused by cooking and washing up.

We store a lot of things under the beds but as there is no under-floor insulation these are intense cold spots and were getting very damp.  We dried the area out using a de-humidifier (best thing we've ever bought) and then lined it with silver foil backed bubble wrap insulation which is sold in Wickes.

The foil insulation made a huge difference to the temperature in the bedroom and should cure the problem.

I've also put a tray of silica gel cat litter under the bed to soak up any further damp but I doubt it'll be needed.

We've also insulated inside the wardrobes and underneath cupboards and later on we'll insulate under the floor which is the ceiling to the engine room. That should help keep the living room warmer and also deaden the noise from the engine a bit.

While it's been very cold recently, it's also been bright and sunny and the solar gain through the windows has been very noticeable. Unfortunately that also means we have a lot of heat loss through them at night and secondary double gazing is high on the list of jobs to do before we head off to France.

Chico is a real sun worshiper and loves it when the rays land on his bed.

That's all for now
Take care and come back soon.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year

Hello, Nice to see you again

I'm a bit late wishing you Happy New Year as we're both a bit under the weather with the dreaded lurgy.  We've had it for a week now and neither of us can remember ever having had such bad colds before.  On the plus side, we don't need to make resolutions to go on diets as neither of us has felt much like eating so haven't put on any weight over the holiday period. 

We did have a wonderful time over Christmas though.  Our daughter and her family came to stay and Christmas morning was just magical.  We'd had all the awkward questions about how Santa would find the children to leave their presents and how would he get into the boat as we don't have a chimney.  All I can say is thank heavens for B&M Bargains.  A magic key plus "Santa Please Stop Here" sign and door mat calmed all fears. 

Spiderman is all the rage at the moment and Santa managed to find a suitable playsuit for our grandson.

We had a major panic just before Christmas when the generator packed up again.  It's a good job Roger can fix most things and once again the problem was down to shoddy initial installation and loose connections.  He's got lots of work planned for as soon as he's better. The next job is insulating all the heating and water pipes under the floor and yesterday we moored near Two Mile Bridge so that we could walk to Wickes to take advantage of their sale and buy lots of the foam insulation.

That's all for now. Take care and come back soon

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Do you believe in Gremlins?

Hi, nice to see you again.

We've been away for a couple of days visiting family "up north" so David came to stay and boat and dog sit for us.  As a reward when we got back we let him drive the boat.

He liked it so much he's coming back again early January.

He also helped Roger put the decorations up


and in

Our grandchildren are coming to stay over Christmas so we've gone a bit over the top this year......and I LOVE it!!!

Now for the Gremlin.  Ever since we moved onto Bluey odd things have been happening and small items go missing all the time only to turn up again a few days later. For example, I looked everywhere for a t-shirt that should have been in one particular drawer. I emptied every drawer on the boat but it was nowhere to be found.  A week later I opened my sock drawer, which I go in every day, and there it was right on top of everything else.  My computer mouse went missing only to turn up at the end of the bed!  At the moment all the adapters to fit the hose pipe onto the water stanchions are missing.  It's always small things and they always turn up in plain sight.  I told David I was certain we have a Gremlin living on board and he jokingly suggested we get a priest in to exorcise it.  No sooner had he said it than a ceramic plaque that has been firmly fixed on the wall since we moved in fell off and smashed into smithereens.  Spooky or what?????

Providing the Gremlin doesn't make me disappear for telling you about it, I'll wish you all a very Merry Christmas and see you again soon.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Sharpness Success

Hi, how are you?  We've had a fantastic day, let me tell you about it.

It was a beautiful sunrise with no sign of mist or fog in the marina.

We were in the lock by 8am where we were met by Carl, our pilot for the trip.

They let us down the lock and opened the gates

to the big expanse of the Bristol Channel. It wasn't quite high tide and the sand bank outside the lock was still just about visible.

Carl drove, Roger watched his every move picking up hints and tips along the way and I sat on the upper deck taking in the views

The light was perfect and there were some spectacular views

Originally the wind had been forecast at Force 4 but in actual fact it was flat calm

This is the New Severn Bridge

and this is the old one

It was like a mill pond with the only ripples being the ones made by our wash.

It was just too nice a morning to be indoors so I stayed up top for the whole trip, only going inside to brew up and make bacon butties. As we got closer to Sharpness it got a bit misty in places, but the channel marker buoys were still clearly visible.

This is the approach to Sharpness. We'd come out from here on the narrowboat back in June, never thinking for one moment that we'd be returning on a different boat.

The wooden staging at the lock entrance is to stop damage to the huge commercial ships which also use this lock.

It only took about 10 minutes to raise us up to the docks level and it was a good job we'd bought our CRT licence on Monday because you're now no longer allowed to buy one on arrival. It all has to be done online before you're allowed passage into the docks.

Carl told us the docks are busier than ever and this year there have been more narrowboats than ever doing the crossings between Sharpness and Portishead. If you're reading this and considering doing it yourself, I'd say go for it. We've now done it both ways and it's a wonderful trip. It's not cheap though as it's a requirement of a narrowboat's insurance that you have a pilot and he charges £200. We're now a Cat C boat so don't actually have to have a pilot and next time we'll probably go it alone, but seeing as it's our first "proper" voyage we thought we'd better be safe than sorry.

This boat came into the docks yesterday, we'd been tracking it online in case we met it en-route. Carl will be back again tonight to take her out of the docks at 1 am.

They opened the swing bridge for us and let us out onto the Gloucester & Sharpness canal

where we've moored in one of our favourite spots overlooking the estuary.

It's wonderful to be back in the countryside. Bristol was OK but being out of the water and then moored on the brokerage was making me stir crazy.  We bought a boat, not a floating apartment, and boats are meant to cruise so that's what we'll be doing over the winter; cruising between Sharpness and Gloucester. If the River Severn stays out of flood we hope to have a few trips up that way as well.

"Out of the Blue" really feels like our home now, especially once I'd hung the washing out!

That's all for now, see you soon.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fog stopped play


We were up early this morning.  6am to catch the 7.30 lock. That's way too early for me, I didn't realise there were two 6 o'clock's in the day!

We made our way into the lock as soon as the green lights came on

only to be told by the lock-keeper that the pilot had been trying to phone us to cancel due to thick fog out in the channel.   We have our phones set automatically to go silent between midnight and 8am and had stupidly forgotten to alter the setting so we'd missed his call.

Oh well never mind.  It was good practice at reversing out of the lock and back to our mooring spot. We struggled a bit with the manouvre as it's the first time we've gone any distance in reverse but we managed.  When we get on the G&S we'll be practicing reversing a LOT!!!

See you again soon to see if we manage to get away.

Bye for now

Monday, 5 December 2016

And we're off......

Hi, nice of you to drop by again.

Well we did it!  We finally left Bristol, three months after we bought Bluey.

The bridge out of the harbour was booked to be opened at 10am so I stuck the L-plates on and we moved the 100 yards from our mooring to the bridge.

Just as we were waiting for them to open it Roger had a phone call from the Harbour Master's Office......"that'll be £27.90 please".  I suppose in the scheme of things that's not too bad, considering that they had to stop the traffic, swing the bridge to let us into Cumberland Basin and then operate the lock just for us.

It wasn't butterflies fluttering in my stomach.....more like a herd of elephants having a disco!  We've done scary things before but always in the company of other boats.  This was different, we were all alone.

They opened the gates and let us out onto the River Avon

By the time I'd stowed the ropes the elephants had buggered off disappeared and it was time to settle down and enjoy the journey.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge looked lovely as we passed underneath.  While we've been in Bristol at least 2 people have jumped from it, one caught on the CCTV cameras stark naked! He/she must have been more concerned with ruining their clothes than ending their life.

This was the first time I've had a decent drive of Bluey and I LOVED it.  It's very different to steering a narrowboat but I don't think it'll be long until I take the L-plates off.

We've got two steering positions, inside and out, but until we feel more confident we've decided to use the outside upper deck. After all, we've been used to steering the narrowboat from outside for the past 8 years.  It was cold but we were well wrapped up so it wasn't too bad.

It was just before high tide when we set off from the lock and slack water as we cruised up the river which was like a mill pond. It was great to be mobile again and we saw lots of different birds, which made a great change from those awful seagulls that had pooped all over our roof while we were in the harbour. It's going to take me ages to clean their muck off the roof once we get onto the G&S canal.

It didn't take us long to get to the M5

Once we'd passed under that we had our first glimpse of the shipping channel. Roger used the VHF radio to contact the Bristol VTS office to make sure there wasn't any large ships in the vacinity

David and Bob, this photo is especially for you. We missed the green buoy by a long way this time (we'd hit it when we came up the river on Fizzi back in June)

The waters in the Severn Estuary were quite a bit rougher than our last trip, but Bluey coped admirably and we didn't rock and roll too badly.

Portishead soon came into view

Radioing ahead meant that the lock was set ready for us

and we were met by Kelly, one of the engineers who'd worked on the engine. He lives locally and came to make sure we'd had a safe passage.

They opened the gates and raised us up to the marina

where we're moored for the night

Providing there's no fog in the morning we're booked to go out of the lock on the morning tide, accompanied this time by one of the Gloucester pilots.  If for any reason it's cancelled we'll have to wait here for the next available passage, and at £42 a night I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that it all goes to plan!

Please come back again soon and find out how we went on.
Bye for now.