Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas present

All present and correct, except we're still clinging on to our house and only visiting Archangel.  Only just tho'.  We start to live aboard in the next few weeks;  our few visits have shown we still have a few problems, including water in the bilges, possibly from the seal where the drive shaft goes thru', but certainly a leak of engine coolant (which is pink!).  That certainly is new, and means we dare not use the engine until it is found and cured.  I put several litres into the expansion tank a week ago and yesterday it was dry.  Time for a picture, showing the two pieces of furniture bought expressly for the space:

The carved chair and shiny table in fact.  Yes, I know, there's a cat, Bollinger.  It was his trial visit, and pretty much at home right away. We were surprised the chair went down the stairs (just!) which was good as it was raining (not forecast!).  We had plans for more jobs, but time, weather and fortune were against the idea, also we helped another couple whose barge was trying to leave the mooring due to the high current around them;  the Thames is again flooding into the marina and takes the shortest route to the fields.  It took some time and more ropes to secure them close enough for safety.  Another snap:

I refer you to earlier, tidier versions of this, but detailed examination will show bookcases pretty much filled, That Cat again, rheindeer hearth rug, plus 2 chairs and table.  Exciting stuff!  No, I mean, I've not put on an  up to date view for ages, and it wasn't 'staged'.  So the outboard is out and locked on, the inflatable deflated and dumped in a too-small hold awaiting relocation, and we just have to move onboard the remaining detritis of our lives before vacating home to make Archangel our long-term new home.  Pix:

Bollinger looks as tho' he's always been there!
The chair also fits in beautifully
Bye for now!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

This will be a short entty, as I don't have many new pix of the boat, as it hasn't moved much, just to the usual moorings up and down from Reading!
So what did I mean by chaos, well it's less so now that we've decided what to do this Winter.  First a pic, just to break matters up:
This is just another pic from the rally organised by our boat builder to launch their new one.
The chaos is really complicated to explain properly, because it's caused by all the canal closures in UK and France, by how hard it is to get a decent mooring in France, also we haven't let our house yet;  also we wanted to accomplish a few tasks, which is much easier while we are local, whether Reading or Bampton.  Another pic, from the previous DBA Rally at Mapledurham:

I took this really for the photo competition but I didn't have any means of uploading it onto the computer they used to register the entries, and neither did they, but at least it meant I had a reason to make some more interesting pictures!
Anyway, the upshot is that we've decided to stay on the Thames, at T&K Caversham Marina chiefly, right up until the locks open again as they will in early March.  Access downstream was to close 1st November, just now delayed to 5th, but also the Thames has been so high and fast that going downstream has been a real challenge and danger to those who decided to make the dash to France.  Overall we're pretty happy to have made a decision that allows us to take our time about things.  Another pic:

Just a pic of the two of us resting on the bank way back when there was a touch of Summer.  By for now!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

It's been chaos here.  They told me 'Boats & Plans incompatible", but they didn't mention Chaos.  Time for a picture that has nothing to do with that:

Ignore the hire boat in the background (dreadful apparently), you can just see here the orange RibMat (from MobMat = ManOverBoardMat) but in our case, dog, but that's not the Chaos, he hasn't needed rescuing with this yet.  In fact the MobMat we ordered first turned out to be far too large and we returned it to the Southampton Boat Show and this replacement just arrived.  It'll be fun using it (not really!).
Another picture:

What's so special about that?  Well Burdock is on the bank and the fender is on the boat, he nearly leaned enought to fall into the boat or the water.  Well, the house has been 'up for rent' for 3 weeks (patience!) and we've had lots of friends to stay on board (and at home), Tad's moved out and we're approaching Big Decision Time about where we go.  It's like Desert Island Discs but with pix, so here's one more:

I know it's from an earlier trip, but it's nice and cheery.  The flowers are pretty dead now tho'!
So anyway we braved the Thames in spate, well Yellow Boards anyway (Red means the insurance don't pay up, and Yellow is next down).  It was quite exciting and we had a mission to be at a sort of weekend Rally to launch a new boat from our boatbuilder, combined with my birthday with sons & daughter-in-law, hosted at their barbeque.  The first two locks were fine, but at Marsh lock I made a real hash of it and wound up wedged at 45 degrees across the entrance.  In the end the Self Service lock turned out to be attended and he towed us in!  I blame a strange wier stream, but no great harm was done. 
The new boat they were promoting looked like this:

I know, all portholes, who'd ever think of that?!  This amazingly compact boat (49 feet) has two large double bedrooms with large en suite bathrooms (I'll take a commission thanks).  That's Temple Island in the background (not part of the boat) at Henley, so we did 3 locks down (gosh!) and the two notorious bridges at Sonning (known as Sodding) and Henley.  Nik helmed us back up through Henley very skilfully and I didn't bash anything either.  We learned loads from other owners, which is great when one is as green as we are, hence we have green P plates on our wheelhouse, as a warning to others!
Oh dear, are we out of time?  Well about that Chaos, oh sorry, I'll have to explain that next time.  Just one more picture, showing what strange characters use the Thames:

So, if you know the person on the right, who may serve as a fender, do contact Le Boat company.

Friday, 14 September 2012

So I've found some pictures that can break up my little story about changing the gearbox oil.  Here's just one from a while ago, showing how the saloon looks with a few books in it:

Sorry it's a bit skew.  In brief here's what happened;  I bought a pump to empty the oil ( a friend spend hours cleaning up when he used the drain plug!) and all went well.  I even found the manual to be wrong by a factor of two in how much oil was in it!  Then we went for a nice trip up river, went shopping and bought a nice ready meal courtesy of Tesco.  For some reason (maybe the smell) I went into the engine room and was horrified to find most of my oil had been sprayed around the engine.  I had left the filler cap off the gearbox, meaning to check it last thing.  It took Nik & I hours to clean up my mess, and she really pitched in.  Horrid job, smelly, sticky, goes on everything.  Not a mistake I'll make again.  So, Pride does come before a Fall!

Another day recently we took ourselves back up to Mapledurham for a night by the riverbank, with Burdock, and it looked like this next morning:

He was so cold next morning when we brought him in (he sleeps on the aft deck) that his teeth were chattering!  It was the first night we've managed to sleep in our own bed in the front, without him worrying.  We left all the doors between wide open so we could hear him, and he us, so maybe that worked.  Here he is deciding whether to mount our new Burdock Ramp:

Most of that day he spent on the bank, which was nice for him, but a shame as he had been fully groomed and shampood for the trip and lying on the cow's field (you could tell) made him smell like one!  Here he is in the field, far left:

Oh and we have in the T&K Marina a family of black swans who come for food, and receive lots from all;

Sadly the little white signets are now just one, but much larger and unlikely to fall prey to any predator (e.g. pike, carrion).  They also have one from last year's brood in tow. 
Regarding the boat, we have most everything perfect now and working.  I'll leave other stories until I have some relevant accompanying pictures.
On the house, all new flooring is down, some last minute painting will happen tomorrow (our decorator comes at 8am) and I'm mid-way through putting a panel on the bath.  We've also had two agents call to start advertising the house;  it may take some time!  Tad is on the verge of moving out, and is tomorrow testing the internet at a house he plans to move to.
That's all for now!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Currently the catch-phrase is "Where is it?  Oh I know, it's on the b*** ###" meaning whichever is the most inaccessible, the boat, the house or the campervan.  This figures as one of my best excuses for this (again) tardy update to our blog, because my two digital cameras are "on the boat";  in fact the other reason is that I couldn't find the relevant card reader due to the rush to evacuate my desk and all in the kitchen prior to decoration.  I found that last night, when I wasn't looking for it, but those pix will have to wait until I bring back the memory cards.  So enough excuses, here's another nice picture of Burdock on Archangel that links to the last entry:

He's been on and inside Archangel now and has adapted well to sleeping on the back deck;  we started this when we went to the Dutch Barge Association's annual rally at Mapledurham from Thursday to Monday mid-August.  We slept in the wheelhouse to be within nose-to-nose distance!  After 3 nights like that we've recently managed to sleep in our usual bedroom (other end of the boat) while he is 'contained' on the stern deck.  So what have we been doing, well, two whole day lessons with lovely Roy May of Bisham Sailing School.  That didn't quite stop me scratching the paintwork, but so far (!) we've not had any serious accidents, that is, no dents or bits of the superstructure coming off.  This is not true of several new boats near to us in the marina! 

Anyway, one of the things in Marius's photoshop designs was inclusion of our 30 hour grandfather clock in the saloon.  Yes, I know pendulums need a steady base, but it's only 30 hour.  So we tried it out:

No we've not lost the movement and face, that's at the clock menders.  And yes it is 1/4 inch too tall, hence the old guy pretending not to be there.  Well, it didn't work, as you can see, both colour (old solid oak vs. modern solid & veneer), and size.  It either blocks the entrance into the side cabin, or the corridoor.  That's a shame, but it was always a flight of fancy.  Besides, it just means we need to buy a clock that does fit!  Time for a photo, rather intriguing, of a young friend of ours & our children, proving that we have more than one emergency exit/entrance:

So now to some pix of Mapledurham, and some other nice boats:

The boats at the rally were all moored 3 or 4 abreast;  here we see Le Coq, the boat of our tutor Roy used usually for training, and Dorchester which is a '"timeshare";  this didn't stop the current share-owners from entering the Barge Handling Demo', and doing well too!  Here is a picture during that:

The boat furthest away is in the demo', a lovely one with a big wheel right at the back, and yes this is taken from & overlooking Archangel, with boats 3 & 4 moored alongside.  There were about 33 barges there in total, so we learnt a lot, which was rather the idea, and not just an excuse of eating and drinking!
I'll finish with just one picture of Archangel taken underway, kindly taken and sent to us by friends on our sister boat Reverie (who are already in Calais, beaten us to it!) :
That's Nicola at the wheelhouse door with the car klaxon we use to hail friends!  The mast is down, as that was before we discovered we can do all the bridges with it up (just!).  More pix when I retrieve my cameras, later.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I'm embarrassed to be so late with this blog entry;  to keep in chronological order I'll just report on the delivery and launch at Caversham's Thames & Kennet Marina.  We had some pix from the boatbuilder of Archangel's departure, where you will notice it has just the steel part of the wheelhouse in place (the higher wooden parts are stowed in the saloon) as you can see:
We had seen her outside with her wheeelhouse when we stayed aboard her a week before:

So then on to the launch:

That crane has a 50 tonne capacity, just as well !
Next into the water:

So that's Archangel's first experience of being afloat, and she did, and no leaks (not that we know of!).  The next step was for the boatbuilder team to fully erect the wheelhouse, and then motor her around to the mooring I'd just booked.  First the wheelhouse:

Then later, we took Burdock to view Archangel.  In our haste we forgot to take the keys, so he only saw the outside but soon settled down (more than can be said for the weather):
How beautiful?  Which one I hear you ask, well, everything of course!
That's all for now.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

What we chiefly need now are pictures, so I won't disappoint.  The following ones are how we saw it on Thursday 28th June '12, indoors still, when it was due to be completed and we were due to pay our final large payment (apart from the Extras and the 'Sea' or rather river trial following delivery).  We deemed it completed.  The poor guys at the sharp end had laboured to 9pm and returned to complete and tidy from 5am, so we could see it at its best, and we did!:
Okay, so it's just a bedroom with some nice Tiffany style lights, but it's cosy, even with the plastic cover on the king size mattress!  So, turning around and around the corner takes us into the corridoor:

Nice feeling of anticipation?  Well, good, so enter the saloon and look back at this point, you see:

What a lovely view, gorgeous rich wood grain, corner stove & fireplace, elegant & marine-style bookcases with golden grills and yet very light and airy (not so obvious here, but we are in the construction hanger still!)
Then behind me is the galley:

The partition you see is demountable, the wall light has a decorate opaque glass in a box on the shelf to the left, and the wooden kitchen surface has yet to be toned down using Danish Oil.  Even so, it's very pretty.  Another view? (I know people like kitchens!) Okay:

Even the stainless microwave, and fridge/freezer, and gas cooker (full size, under the glass cover on the right) all blend in and reflect the wood colours everywhere.  There's masses of cupboard and especially drawer space.  One cupboard has plumbing & electrics for a dishwasher, wait a minute, this sounds like a brochure.  It's not for sale, and I'm not on commission.  And you can't copy our boat!  I know plageurism is the greatest form of compliment, but we want Archangel to be unique.  Oh well, so long as you don't tell us or go to the same marina.
But why do you want to see the smallest rooms now?  Oh well, here goes.  The shower on the left and the basin & usual utility on the right are the main bathroom.  The other one (en suite off the main bedroom) is lovely too, but rather small to photograph well!  Use your imagination.  It's like the usual one apart from also having a lovely porthole in, which has to open upwards for obvious reasons.  Lukily it has a poweful extract fan so opening the window should be scarcely of value, and also luckily the windows are very still on their hinges so it stays up without danger of coming down and braining the occupant!
There's also a small bedroom or side cabin:

Also hard to picture, and the lamp is missing its glass funnel and brass cowl, which make it far more elegant.  There's a wardrobe and drawers on the right, oh, all right:

So this is a sitting room, with a bed that pulls out to a small double.  I forgot this visit to open it up, but the bifold doors behind me make it form part of the saloon.  Next time I'll show you.  That's enough for this entry, of pictures.   We returned home thrilled and very happy, barely able to wait for the rather bizarre experience of staying 'aboard' for the weekend (Sat & Sun nights) Archangel while 'moored' in the boatbuilder's yard!  This gave us the chance to find anything we wanted adding, fixing or ask questions on any equipment we'd managed to use (not the engine, navigation, generator or aircon!).  We only had a list of about 2 dozen, and some of those were just our misunderstanding and others were easily fixed.  Only two remain as I write, and these are promised in a fortnight.  We took delivery on Tuesday 4th July as planned, and have been aboard since on Sat & Sunday, loading it with clothes, furnishings, clocks, and other essentials.  Lots more to do, but mustn't make it cluttered.  Next blog will show her on the trailer leaving and then arriving, but it's late and lazing in the sun (and rain), eating and drinking, well it takes it out of you!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The previous visit was last Thursday 21st June, the longest (but not quite the wettest) day!  Our task was to deliver to fireplace tiles which we'd picked up the day before from near Henley.  These have Delft style galleons on plus similar style Archangel/mermaids created by Nicola's imaginings.  They look just perfect, and we only went into the saloon that day to go over with the tiler-man how they could be laid out, the fit, and how to ensure the stove didn't hide the best pictures.  It was harder than we thought, but the result is great, as you may be able to see (imagine a little black stove in front of the plainer ones!):
You can see the larger portholes, open on the right, and the lamp (without glass) in centre, also the TV and HiFi unit below.  The bookshelves above the fireplace will have some doors with brass grid in to stop them falling out (no glass) in nautical style!  Next the side cabin:

Here there's a large bookcase (doors to come), a smaller porthole and a sidelight you can't see!  The wardrobe is on the right (doorless).  It's cosy, but all space is useful!
So what does the saloon look like?
Yes, you're right, it's still work in progress, but not as much of a mess as our own house (in process of sorting, storing, painting, packing, etc.).  The little black stove on the left goes on the right in that little corner of tiles which we grandly call a fireplace!  The central corridor is, well, in the centre.  I've said enough on the obvious.  Next the master bedroom (!):
The Tiffany wall lights would be nicer lit, but they look good to me.  The bow window is pretty and quite small considering it is our escape route in case of emergency!  The centre shelves double as the exit steps.  I'd like to show you the "wet room" but none of my pix were much good (it is small!) and Nik's were sideways on.  I'll try tho':
I told you it was small, but bijou.  That's quite enough for now.  The outside doesn't look too great yet because the cabin walls are covered in brown paper to protect them from the blue painting of the hull.   But it will look great, we had a peek and the portholes look soooo good from outside too!  We're up again on Thursday 28th June, then staying the weekend in the boatbuilder's yard (odd, or what!) to test out most things (not the engine or steering they say) and give them any tasks needed before it is transported on Tuesday night and 'launched' into the Thames on Independence Day (that's a coincidence right?)
Wow, a lot has changed since the last visit.  We've been twice in quick succession, but first I'll try a picture as the last time I tried it failed to insert it!  Here goes:
So you can see the wheelhouse is now in place and the steel is painted shiny Flag Blue, just awaiting a white line above the rubbing strip.  This was how it looked yesterday (Monday 25th June) when we visited;  we went to meet the signwriter, to ask him to make it like Marius's design (font and letter A).  I'd attach his Photoshop image (which looks lovely) but it's a bit large and might just not load!  The deck is blue now, but it will be done in non-slip grey.  The oak floor in the wheelhouse is good, so we have to keep it that way.  I'll post this now, but just add a picture of the inside of the wheelhouse, from the outside!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Our visit on 13th June to view Archangel was also to bring up the bathroom flooring, and the sound & TV system for installation;  these last helped clear a little bit of space in our crowded and confused house!  We were again very pleased with the lovely work they have done to realise our dream.  The pictures a bit messy because of lighting (big fluorescent tubes!) and all the parts, wires, etc., but I hope you can see through that to the beautiful interior emerging:
The portholes are not in place yet, but just look at the lovely wood colour and how it goes with the white panelling!  It keeps looking better.  This is our bedroom;  the other way is a bit less tidy and I had to put my hand in the way of the light tube!
The saloon is harder to see, but the view from the side-cabin gives an idea of how much move feeling of space is given by Tad's idea of opening it up into the saloon-galley:
and the view the other way, from the galley, is a bit better, showing two of the bookcases in place (but awaiting doors):

The engine and generator are now in place, which is comforting!:
The outside is similar to before, with a bit of wood inside it;  the hinges for the fold-down wooden wheelhouse are there.  They have fitted it apparently, but keeping it apart keeps it from harm while there are so many trades on the boat in the last minute rush.  It is supposed to launch at Caversham on Independence Day, 4th July, assuming all is done.  We have to inspect it before and are supposed even to spend a weekend 'aboard' in the boatbuilders back yard (not on water) which would be very odd.  That way they can deal with all the snagging issues in their workshop rather than a long way off!  Good idea when you put it like that.  Watch this space!