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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Well Black My Bottom!

(This particular post is written by us both and will switch back and forth from Le's voice to mine!) 

   After talking about blacking the boat for the past six months, Jaq took things in hand and booked the boat in to The Ashby Canal Centre before we left for the U.S. We bought 20 litres of bitumen in October when Midland Chandlers had a 20% off sale on it and so we are stuck into the job now.
   Monday morning dawned crisp and bright. We cruised into the marina at half past nine and the crew here guided NB Valerie onto a set of wheeled axles attached to an electric motor which was previously in use in a coal mine winding the lift up and down, taking miners down and bringing them back to the surface again. The folks here at The Ashby Canal Centre are a lovely lot--friendly and helpful.
The Ashby Canal Centre, Stoke Golding
Setting the axles in place
A view of the slipway with axles set to accept NB Valerie. The engine with tow rope attached is located in the shed at the front of the slipway.
Engine with tow rope and winch
View from overhead bridge of Les backing NB Valerie off the Ashby canal and into the marina entrance.
The captain bringing her about!
NB Valerie coming into the slipway and onto the axles
Here comes the bow...
...followed by the stern!
Long shot of the process from the overhead bridge
    After a very smooth glide out of the water, we dressed in old, warm clothes. Jaq wore three layers to keep warm, while I dried the underside of the boat with rags, poured bitumen into paint trays and started pressure washing the hull to remove, dirt, flaking paint, old layers of bitumen and plant debris. It took us three hours not counting breaks to roll on the first coat of black, tarry bitumen, which protects the steel hull from rust and corrosion.

Les in wet gear, pressure washing the hull to remove corrosion and debris
The bow as Les begins pressure washing. The silver lozenge attached at far left is a sacrificial anode made from a highly active metal used to prevent the boat hull from corroding.
The pressure washed section to the right provides a good example of the contrast: before being washed, left.
An example of pressure washed hull to the left and freshly blacked metal on the right.
   We took a break Tuesday while the bitumen dried, to walk into the village of Stoke Golding (birthplace of the Tudor dynasty and one of Jaq's favorite places along the canals) and mailed parcels of canal and boating magazines to Stateside friends. We caught the bus into the neighboring town of Hinckley for some groceries and other bits.
   Wednesday Les painted the inside of the bow locker as well since it floods with water and the gas bottles sit down inside there. He is also contemplating pulling the batteries out to treat the metal in the battery compartment before putting them back in again. We also purchased the bits and bobs to change the engine oil and mount a new solar panel on the roof. Les certainly doesn't lack for jobs to keep busy! He painted a second coat of bitumen on in the afternoon once it warmed up somewhat.
   The average night time temperatures have been hovering around freezing, with a couple of degrees below freezing Tuesday and Wednesday nights. As soon as the sun comes up though it warms up by early afternoon to decent working weather. We just have to allow more time for the bitumen to dry in the cold. Jaq plies me with tea and coffee, and spoiled me with homemade Spaghetti with meat sauce last night.
   In the evenings we have been enjoying reading as we sit in front of the fire, surfing the 'Net, or enjoying the advent calendars our Stateside friends Sandy Field, and Larry and Lael Turnbow sent us from Jacquie Lawson's website.
   Les has the London advent calendar on his desktop and I have the Alpine village on mine. These e-calendars are amazing! Such tremendous detail and a lot of fun to explore. The London advent calendar features famous places including Big Ben which actually tells the correct time whenever we look! The Alpine Village is filled with wonderful activities to pass the time.
   Jaq is geared up for holiday baking, with fat loaves of Pumpkin Bread and a large double batch of Golden Ginger Cake cooling in the galley! I've even heard a rumor that a pan of Angel Bars may be forthcoming soon since we stocked up on graham cracker crumbs while in America. Al De Meola's holiday instrumental music flows from the speakers as we sit together at the table and write this post.
   We hope to get at least one more layer on the boat before she goes back in the water on Monday morning.


John Witts said...

Hi both,

While nb Valerie is out of the water, it might be a jolly good idea to put a couple more anodes on either side of the hull, as they only protect metal up to six feet away from them in either direction.

(Pippin has a total of ten of them...... but she's a big girl..)

Are you doing the base-plate? Last time we got Pippin blacked, the yard said it wasn't necessary.

Me-thinks it is........

What do you reckon?


John. said...

JL's e-Cards are ideal for boaters on the move, or to save costs on overseas postage. I use them all the time - esp. at his time of year.

Les Biggs said...

Hi John
trouble with the extra anodes is they are susceptable to getting ripped off.
i think very few people black the base plate as it is constantly scraping along the bottom. Looking at what I can see of our base plate it seems to be in good condition.

Unknown said...

Hello Jaq and Les, I having been following your blog since Jaq first started writing with you Les. I have a huge interest in the UK and narrow boats, though I doubt I will ever see a real one or be in the UK. Thanks for all of the detail, I even have my husband reading your blog now. Soooo, thanks for all of the wonderful pictures and daily goings on and history.
We Live in Lebanon Oregon, so we know the area Jag is from well.
Thanks again for the wonderful blog and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


PS, How do you put the bitumen on the very bottom of the boat.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hello Karren!
thank you for leaving a comment. It is always a treat to hear from one of our readers.

We do not black the very bottom--called the swim. Les says it doesn't need it this time 'round and I will defer to him as he is the experienced boat man!

Lebanon, Oregon is a lovely slice of the PNW. It warms my heart to know you are following along on our journeys. Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!
Jaq and Les

Les Biggs said...

The very bottom is the base plate. The swim slightly higher around the propeller area gets a god coat of black bitumen.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs