It has been too hot to blog. Anything over 72F (22C) is redundant and unnecessary as far as this Alaskan is concerned. It was hovering in the range of 89-90F for five days and dropping to 60-65F at night with full on humidity. The weather has been insufferable. The heat makes me ill and all I can do is stay inside out of the sun, take cold showers (and exhaust my water supply like a mad woman), while waiting for reasonable weather to return--which it has at last! I've always said I would like living in a climate that may require me to wear sweater in summer. I do get that over here a fair amount of time, but when there is a heat wave Holy Smoke!! Living in a metal tube can be hot, hot, hot.
The week before the heat wave struck, the weather was dominated by high winds which kept me pinned in place. Had I known about the heat coming our way I would not have complained so much!! I moved on from the lovely spot I had enjoyed on the N. Oxford and headed for Napton to spend time with friends Andy and Tina on NB Ytene. They live and work nearby so it was lovely to have some quality time catching up with them both, sharing good suppers, playing The Great Game of Britain (AKA the railroad game), laughing madly and remembering Les.
Since they both have many years of experience as boaters and working with hire boats, I was able to benefit from it in relation to many of the projects still requiring attention on NBV. Andy sorted out the stern seats which Les undertook to resize. My Best Beloved made new boxes for them but he didn't have a chance to sort out the padded lids/seats so Andy did it brilliantly. He also stood by to coach me through my first engine oil change. Andy had to remove the filter which was practically welded in place! All in all it is a quite easy, though messy, job to do. I also took the opportunity to register with a local dentist. One cavity needs filling, and I picked up some tools and items needed for the work ahead. What work is that you ask?
|Clean engine bay after an oil change.|
|My new mop with adjustable handle. It lives in the engine bay where it is used to keep things clean and tidy.|
I am in the process of completing the boat paint job which Les and I began in 2014. This requires finding the new patches of rust and treating them with rust converter, painting each patch with primer, letting it dry and sanding it, then giving each patch two coats of Highland Green paint with sanding in between. Once this has been accomplished the patches will be up to the same degree as the rest of the boat. Then I can tackle each side individually, the bow, the stern, and the roof with two coats of Highland Green (with light sanding in between the coats) and painting the tiller. the bow door bonnet, and other bits and pieces in accent colors. I have decided to go with vinyl decals instead of hiring someone to paint the sign writing, but the paint needs to cure for several months first. After a six month cure I can polish it.
The outer stern deck doors, the inner stern door, the side hatch doors and the bow doors have water damage and will need to be sanded and painted, rather than stained. Then I will look into either decals of roses and castles or I may try my hand at painting them myself. The window frames all need attention as well. I will be painting the metal frame black as the original black paint is now peeling inside and out. The wooden frames will be painted inside with a soft cream paint to match the curtains. The dinette table and the galley counters need sanding and refinishing. The bow fender buttons need replacing, as did the boat hook, boat pole, and plank, and the side fenders--two of which were missing. My mooring ropes are fraying after four years of heavy use so they will also be replaced. I picked up two new "nappy pins" as the mooring pins are called, one new mooring chain and one new mooring spike. I will be painting them bright colors so I don't lose them in the tall grass of the towpath when I am un-mooring, as I have done. It is amazing how rust colored mooring pins seem to disappear into the grass and become one with the dirt.
|New side fenders, ropes and adjustable cleats. As a single handed cruiser I no longer have time to tie and untie fenders to the boat and adjust them when I am mooring up. The adjustable cleats make this chore a snap.|
|Tidy bow. I can only manage to keep one pot of flowers alive for now. I am in training for next year when I hope to keep a roof garden going through summer.|
Solar Afloat is coming sometime in July to sort out the solar panels. The large 240 watt house panel Les installed in 2012 is too heavy for me to lift. I nearly took the tips of my fingers off four weeks ago attempting to get at the wood stored underneath. I cannot tip the panel to maximize solar gain and I cannot clean it properly. Everything on this boat has to work for me now, as a solo boater doing the work of two crew. I am replacing the large panel which will go to its new owner once Solar Afloat installs two new smaller 125 watt panels. This, combined with the small 100 watt panel we already have, will give me 350 watts--a gain of ten watts over what we have now, providing plenty of energy for the batteries. Just as important to me, I will be able to maneuver the smaller panels, clean them, and clean the roof underneath them. The current panels hadn't been cleaned in nearly a year. I did what I could and wow what a difference in energy readings! It is one more system on this boat that needs to be consistently cared for by me now--one more thing Dear Sir used to take care of for us once upon a time.
I cleaned out the bow and stern lockers--Ewwww!!! My darling hubby was such a pack rat and collector of "anything that might come in handy some day!" Spiders large enough to harness and ride crawled up out of the bow locker prompting me to scream and the bloke on a nearby moored boat to ask if I was all right.
"Spiders! HUGE spiders in the bow locker!!!!"
"Sorry I don't do spiders either," he said with a shudder of distaste, disappearing quickly inside his cratch cover. Dangerous times call for BIG ammo. I found a rusted hammer in the locker and pounded the bastards to oblivion.
I remember once when we were moored up at Apsley for a week, waiting for a doctor's appointment and blood test for Les in 2013, we noticed the woman on the boat in front of us came out every morning with a broom and swept her boat from side to side, end to end, stern, bow, and roof--every morning. Les wondered why she engaged in this peculiarly OCD cleaning behavior. I get it now; she was sweeping away the spiders. Good move!
|...and after! I still need to go back and paint rust convertor on the locker floor.|
After the winds of the second week in June finally died down and just as the heatwave was setting in, I cruised away from Napton Marina, two miles to the bottom of Napton locks. It was a sunny, calm morning and I started off early so as to avoid as many other boaters as possible. The North Oxford is a contour canal with few locks but a sinuously winding path around any and all hills and dales. Napton hill is quite large, spreading out for at least three miles around its bottom with a rise of 500 feet above sea level. The parts of the village at its feet are at 300 feet above sea level so this "bump" in the landscape commands one's attention. The canal was completed in 1774 and contouring or avoiding such obstacles by going around them is what gives it the winding twists and turns for which it is known. I winded (turned) the boat for the first time on my own, doing a splendid job if I do say so, and moored up in a lovely spot near the very end of the fourteen day moorings, just opposite a large sheep farm and its house sitting prominently on the brow of Napton hill. Two arms of the Napton windmill appeared beyond it in the distance. Not ten minutes later I received a text from our friends Mike and Phyllida Muir on NB Garnet. They were moored up in the pound just before the bottom lock. Off I went to meet them.
We last saw Mike and Phyll in 2012 at Brinklow where Les found a downed tree near the car park there and cut it up for all of us to share. Four years later we finally caught up with one another. Although born and raised in England, the Muirs spent over thirty years living in Canada and so they speak and understand North American! The next morning their boat moved down through the final lock and moored up behind me. Mike has extensive expertise in computer technology and he sorted Les' and my old computers, creating an external hard drive for me from my computer, moving all relevant files from old computer to new, and essentially cleaning up and wiping Les' hard dive so that the computers can be turned in to Curry's PC World for recycling. Thank you Mike! Another item ticked off the two mile long List of Things To Do.
|Quelle surprise!! Mike Muir attempts to take a Selfie of the three of us aboard NB Garnet.|
|NB Valerie in front with bistro set and sun umbrella out and NB Garnet behind with BBQ at the ready.|
That evening Mike and Phyll treated me to dinner at The Folly pub. I can highly recommend the steak and cheese pie. It was delicious and a good time was had by all as we repaired to their boat for wine and chatter. Sadly the heat wave was building ominously each day, and I woke with a hangover to wilt in the steaming weather. No more wine for me then...suffice to say I spent the next three days in hell, extremely ill from the effects of the ridiculously hot and humid weather. I have no ability to function in hot weather. It sucks the life right out of me. I literally burned my way through my water supply, taking three cold showers a day, and spending the rest of the time stretched out on the bed with nothing but a pillow case soaked in cold water and rung out, draped over me, while I dreamed of snow. June 18th was our sixth wedding anniversary and my first without Les. I did my best to keep busy. I fixed dinner for Mike, Phyll and I: Les' favorite Nevi's Nooner sandwiches (poached chicken, cooled and shredded; crisply cooked streaky bacon, thin avocado slices on bread spread with mayonnaise mixed with diced fresh Tarragon), potato salad, and brownies. We played a round of The Great Game of Britain and toasted Les' memory.
|NB Valerie with a fresh line of laundry out to air dry.|
I managed to scrape and treat the rust spots on the towpath side of NBV. Thankfully the weather has turned cooler once more, bringing with it rain. The sky leaks water and so do my eyes. My momentary remedy is afternoon naps and back-to-back reruns of the Big Bang Theory on E4. They make me laugh out loud at the smart, absurd comedy inherent in putting four science geeks together and watching the absurdities they get up to. It is lighthearted, frivolous telly, and for awhile my heart takes a rest from breaking.