I promised not to wax lyrical about the boat BUT (not to put a finer point on it) It’s a BEAUT!
Collected the boat (and pilot).
Then after a thorough check of the engine systems,
Him and I puttered along 3 hours of river to our first problem i.e. the master lock that links the two waterways.
It’s a bit daunting when you don’t really understand or have vast experience of the system of doing things BUT the lock keeper (a really nice guy) was extremely helpful when he could have caused me all sorts of strife.
OK, through the lock sharing with a rowing boat who hung onto our side for security, and into our now home port.
Small tiny problem, the towns bridge.
A NARROW, 30 degree ANGLED affair with a wicked wall just after it that meant turning almost immediately on exiting.
Close maneuvering of the “Oh Shit” type.
From there it was a short distance to our berth where one of the marina staff was waiting to help us.
Now come on, you’ve got to be thinking staff WAITING to help you, in the UK?
Yep, no matter how stupid it sounds, the process was painless.
After that we were cabled up to shore power, water systems explained, and a good brief on what’s what and who’s who (in the nicest possible way).
So far the boat had performed flawlessly.
Problem 1. Shore power.
I reached for the ships manual.
Written by someone with loads of experience with narrow boats BUT NOT with how to impart knowledge simply and obviously a complete lack of knowledge on how to draw simple diagrams.
Good job I know my way round a switch panel or four as it turned out in the end.
I don’t know what the rest of the world is like BUT having switches labelled AUX 1-3 without a clue about what they do is a bit of a turn off and YES that bit in the instructions was missing.
Then, quite by chance, I found a torn off bit of card the last owner had scribbled and on it was (this time in plain English) the function of each switch.
If he was present I could have kissed him.
(Disgusting, but about then I was feeling a bit “fragile”).
SWMBO was dispatched to get a chip and pin card to get some credit on the shore power and guess what, it didn’t work!
How unusual I’m thinking..
She left to get help, me struggling with the electrical systems and thinking “SOLAR, SOLAR, SOLAR”!
The same staff member arrived and sure enough the card reader was set to ignore the new card and had to be reset.
10 minutes later, POWER!
No problem, except the shore line was at FULL STRETCH to reach us.
Memo to self, buy 15 feet of extra pipe. Better still, 25 meters of garden hose on a reel all for little old us.
150 liters later, we have water.
Next problem, GAS! Propane type.
Now I hate gas. I always have.
Electricity, fluids, fine BUT GAS, it scares me.
Guess what? Yep, no gas.
I opened the gas locker to find two bottles and an isolator switch (off), a leak detector (off), that the bottles were reverse threaded, and yet FULL!
So why no gas after turning everything on?
It’s simple, the last owner had changed the bottles yet NOT run them through thus the pipes were full of air.
Turn on the tap and wait for “that smell” to hit my nose.
In case you don’t know, gas is heavier than air so with all the doors open and a friendly wind, I purged the boat free of excess BOOM gas.
Kettle on, first cuppa tea since 5h (am) that morning. It was now 17h (pm).
In walked SWMBO, frazzled, upset, DRY, and I handed her a cuppa which got roughly the same reaction if I’d given her a million pounds.
Then, No hot water.
Jeez, the problems kept on coming didn’t they?
Except there was hot water, just not been pulled through yet.
OUCH, you could have made tea with the stuff it was so hot when it arrived at the spout.
The thermostat was set to 70 Celsius.
WAY TOO HOT and we cranked it down to a more respectable 50 Celsius.
Toilet aka loo, aka bog, aka, Thetford cassette toilet.
Electrically powered, (nice) except, wait for it, NO POWER!
Switch panel? Misc circuits and of course undocumented.
To sum up so far.
Electrics, fine, but still needs investigation
Hot water, too good
Cup of tea (x6 by now), LOVELY.
Move stuff from car.
Little boat, big stuff.
SWMBO not too happy BUT we get everything together ESPECIALLY THE BED!
Every time I looked at that bed it said “CRASH OUT”, “HAVE A NAP”, “For Gods sake Paul, have a break”!
But not yet.
Into town and I’m not cooking tonight.
Chinese take away.
And so to bed.
Well not exactly, a dog walk first.
Another 20 minutes, a chemical bomb to shut out the pain and ZONK, I’m asleep.
Except all night the fridge was running.
Why? Because the darn boat surveyor had turned it to maximum.
4h (am) sees me, torch, ‘manual’, and with a twist of a knob SILENCE.
AND THEN BACK TO BED!
Next morning, today, 14 hours of sleep.
Best sleep I’ve had for about 6 months.
The imaginary smell of the brine is beginning to fill the nostrils.
I can almost hear the surf breaking (must remember to fix that leaking tap).
The gulls are squawking (well the chickens are anyway).
The payment process has been started BUT because of the stupid UK government laws, it has to go through the banking system as opposed to dealing with folding stuff. How can anyone “negotiate” when you can’t use folding stuff!
It also makes you want to puke the way the government force an audit trail.
So now we wait, and wait, and (wait for it) WAIT!
Of course the banks don’t mind, they get to charge you for using their services.
I’m guessing around lunchtime before we get on the phone to make sure the payment has arrived.
But WAIT, flash news, a phone call from darkest India.
It seems the bank hasn’t finished peeing me off.
So that’s 3 hours from first walking into the bank to getting the
“The funds have been released”.
My friend then goes and freaks me by muttering
“Are you sure it’s going to be in pounds and not Rupees”
Remember my fondness of working with folding stuff?
That things in the UK are dire is painfully true but I saw this in Sky news and haven’t stopped chuckling since reading it.
Best bit about it was when the French sent them BACK to the UK.
After that I dissolved into tears of laughter when I read some prat of a home office official stating:-
“If those questioned are found to have no right to remain in the UK we will take action to remove them.”
I’ve got a message for them though.
You’ll NEVER GET OUT NOW, British justice just won’t allow it.
Just finished splicing the anchor rope (warp) onto the chain.
I cheated though.
After spending all morning trying to tie one a neat one from memory (waste basket is now full of cut ends) I gave in.
On the web is this LOVELY SITE showing the tying of knots in a step by step animation.
I have never been afraid to seek expert advice and in this case I’m well chuffed I did.
Important tip that. Whatever you are doing.
The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask!
That and let the person with the expertise lead.
On another matter.
I’ve been wondering what to do regarding Thoughtfully Prepping.
Where to take it now sort of thing.
After all our whole prepping ethos will be changing.
Partially because we’ve sort of bugged out and gone off grid.
(After all you don’t really get much more off grid than living on a boat.)
Thus apart from a basic bug out bag, the usual thoughts about prepping will need a MAJOR RETHINK.
For instance we’ll definitely NOT be stockpiling loads of supplies.
Quite simply, there ain’t the room!
It does however fit into my foraging and scavenging thoughts.
I don’t really want everything to become boat living orientated but the major issue is power as power is everything on a boat i.e. making it, storing it, and eeking out it’s use.
Having said that our learning processes (and probable failures) are going to be mightily funny to document.
Things have been settled in one respect though.
SWMBO is still captain.
I’m the official deck hand.
And the dawg is now on strike after finding that hard tack is blooming hard!
Yep, it passed the survey!
The one “major” thing that was picked up?
No TV fitted and the surveyor looked at me like I was demented when I said I was not worried as we hadn’t watched a droll box for over 7 years.
All “i”‘s are dotted, all “t”‘s crossed.
Berth secured, training organized (never hurts to have an expert run over just how much you have forgotten does it)?
WE ARE A GO, it’s going to happen, and the best bit about it?
The marina that owns the berth has JUST installed WIFI across the site AND IT’S FREE!
Ever got over excited but thinking you shouldn’t?
Yep, that’s me at this moment.
Calm on the outside (sort of), boiling with excitement within.
Our little escape from civilization comes out of the water tomorrow and our pet marine surveyor flexes his muscles over it.
All going well (and according to quite a few folk who know the little tub), she’s a little gem. We’ve both got our fingers crossed, thinking happy thoughts, and bowing to the merciful sun-god for good luck.
Then, if the world is a happy one, folding stuff changes hands and two fingers will be extended to conventional living for quite a few years to come.
After that, it’s a 3 hour trip down the river to its mooring.
There we’ll tie up, and I’m going to sleep for about a week before I so much as raise a paint brush.
All that’s left apart from that is to :-
- Throw away the remaining chattels of house living.
- Reduce our already few possessions to below what would be considered “essential” or even “conventional”.
- Sell our van,
- Buy a new mobile phone (PAYG)
- Burn our address book, and
- Find some new unsuspecting town to rout.
After that apart from buying a few more bits from the chandlers we’re dun!
Did I mention the weeks sleep?