And a special greeting to the readers who came to visit us in the dry dock today. Sorry I missed you. I was in Tesco stocking up on essentials. Roger also appologises for not being able to chat to you properly. If he'd stopped painting the gunwale he'd have lost the "wet edge". Hopefully we'll meet again for a proper chat soon.
The boat that had been in the dock before us was refloated and had sailed away by 9am on Saturday
Roger reversed into the dock and we were joined by Stuart and Coral on n.b. Bobyn who were to be our neighbours for the week.
The sluice gate was opened and the boats dropped down onto the bostocks that would support us while we carried out the works.
We thought the boat was in a bad state as it was quire bashed and rusty in places
It was also covered in weed which didn't make it look very pretty
Once the water had drained out of the dock Roger could power wash the hull and see the true extent of the wear and tear.
Considering we haven't blacked the boat for over 3 years and also taking into account the fact that we average over 800 locks and almost 1000 miles a year, the hull was in remarkably good condition. There was hardly any new pitting in the steel which meant that the mill scale had finally finished falling off and there was a considerable amount of blacking still firmly attached from last time we did it.
Our gunwales were in a terrible state as last time we'd used paint which turned out to be faulty and wouldn't dry and harden properly. Roger wanted to strip it back to bare metal so he applied copious amounts of Nitromors paint stripper but it hardly made any difference. He ended up having to strip back as many layers of paint as possible using the sander. Not ideal and not a perfect result but it was as good as he could get it.
After applying some rust converter, primer and matt black paint the gunwales now look much better.
Actually blacking the boat is a fairly easy job once you've done the power washing and the hull has had time to dry properly.
We always use Comastic. It's more expensive than other blacking materials but is easier to work with and drying time between coats is much shorter. That meant that we could do 3 thick coats in 2 days before leaving it to harden properly for 3 days before we go back in the water. The other advantage of Comastic is that it doesn't dissolve when it comes into contact with diesel, so when you cruise through diesel coated water from somebody's leaking engine your hard work isn't getting washed off.
It's also worth mentioning that we use really good quality rollers. We used these Harris Powercoat Jumbo 4" masonry rollers which I bought in Wilko (much cheaper than B&Q). You can get them in 10" but even Roger agrees that they are too heavy to use easily once laden with blacking. Cheaper rollers are available but I've found in the past that they tend to shed fibres and collapse after a while. The pile is also much thicker on these which means that the blacking is easily pushed into all the little pits and scrapes. Between coats you need to wrap the roller in cling film or foil to stop them drying out and we did 3 coats using only 2 rollers for the princely sum of £3.50 - bargain!
Obviously, as we were staying on the boat we still needed to use the drains etc. so we had to shove some pipe in the holes to direct the waste water away from the hull until the blacking had dried and hardened off.
If you've got a bow thruster, don't forget to black up the tube
and don't forget the weed hatch either. They're both places that rust easily.
I've mentioned a few times before that we've got a "Prop-Protector" fitted behind our propeller. This cuts almost everything that tries to get tangled round the prop and Roger hardly ever has to go down the weed hatch.
You can see in this close up that something really strong has taken a nick out of the blade. It was probably the cable strippings that we picked up in Birmingham a couple of years ago, nothing would have cut through that! While it was easily accessible I've sharpened it with a sharpening stone and it's now as sharp as my carving knife so should easily cope with plastic bags etc.
We've still got a bit of touching up to do to the tunnel flashes on the stern but apart from that we're finished and just waiting for the blacking to cure ready for re-floating on Friday.
Chico's been on his holidays while we've been in the dock. He wouldn't have liked all the noise and I doubt we'd have managed getting him on and off the boat easily as access has been via a ladder. The kennel's will bring him back to us on Friday afternoon and we'll be all set to continue with our cruising.
Hopefully I'll see you back here very soon.
Bye for now