Monday 28th September to Monday 5th October 2009

The week (in brief).

Boat bottom blacking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and whilst we happily did it ourselves two years ago I thought we’d give someone else the pleasure this year.
While Sileby Mill Boatyard did the dirty work we would be free to walk the countryside, sit and read the papers, watch TV and more or less please ourselves for the four days the boat is out of the water. But it wasn’t to be, there’s much to be done while she’s on land like repairing the stern band paintwork, repairing bow and stern fenders and messing about with the steelwork that sits under or near the waterline.

For me this week was business as usual while I tested painting skills and ‘prepared’ for our first Boat Safety Examination.

This is our first ever visit to Sileby Mill Boatyard and our choice for bottom blacking turned out to be a good one.
Sileby Mill

The staff were friendly, efficient and they accommodated all our needs. While Dave did the dirty work I pottered about doing my bits, tidying up the gloss paint and pulling away four years of accumulated clutter from near the copper pipes between gas locker and cooker.

My experiment two years ago where I brushed on extra thick layers of Intertuf produced no noticeable differences to the rest of the hull below the waterline.

Out of the water she looked to be in good shape with hardly any rust spots showing but once Dave had done his work with the jetwash several million rust patches the size of new penny pieces came to light and it looked the same as it did after I’d blasted it two years ago.

Since International’s Intertuf is fetching a price in the high 30s we’ve switched to Rylard’s bitumen at £24 a tin and Dave rolled rather than brushed two coats with a third coat at the waterline.
We’ll see what that looks like in two years time.

Now that the bitumen is on and dried I have to say it’s a pity the best part of the boat can’t be appreciated because it’s under water.

Gas safety examination was done by Chris Williams of Ovation Boat Services who lives aboard a couple of boats at Sileby. I shall try to use him again in another four years because he completely relaxed me with his friendliness and boat chat, so much so that I almost forgot to ask him if we’d passed. V didn’t want to be around so she went exploring but you really wouldn’t know an examination was happening, he almost does it without you noticing. He travels a fair distance for installation, repair and BSS exams and to cover the Midlands he bases his work at Braunston as well as up here.

Apart from the paintwork and gas safety there were plenty of distractions as Dave and Dil from nb.Trundle at Raysway Marina called in at the yard to prepare for their blacking on Monday and Keith and Jo from nb.Hadar called in on their way south to the Foxton to Mkt Harbro boat procession on the 10th October. You do meet some super people on the canals don’t you.

What I thought was a candle making business next to Sileby’s mill has turned out to be a workshop making candlesticks, clocks and unusual household objects from iron.

If you’re stuck for a Christmas present this year then how about iron foxgloves or an unusual log basket for the fire or a clock made from a steel RSJ. I think I can safely say you won’t find these things in the shops, they must be unique to Sileby Mill Candlestick factory.

I found the workshops fascinating with presses, lathes and stamping machines banging away below the exhibits on the floor above. The shop upstairs is worth a visit if you’re passing through and while you’re there take a look at the sign on the boatyard gate.

Blacking and boat safety done (passed first time) we were trailered back into the water on Friday.

Saturday was crew change day with V going to her Mums and Mike (ex Hyperion) joining for a weekend cruise. There was food in the fridge and instructions on how to get it out and onto the plate. Mike brought bottles galore and a whopping great cake (thanks Pat) so we had no excuse to be miserable.

Our cruise down river to Zouch and back went like a dream with neither of us falling in, though someone did lose his hat in the high winds.

The food turned out alright, the bottles disappeared at an alarming rate and I have to say I found Mike’s company very agreeable, this last couple of days being a bit like a holiday for me.

V’s back at any moment and I’m running late so while the floor varnish is drying, the washing machine spinning and newly acquired music belting out I’ll upload this drivel before I run out of time.

Normal service will be resumed next posting, my editor will be back to correct mistakes (facts, dates and spelling), and I shall be rid of this silly smile that the mouse gets when the cat is away.