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A Boat at last
My purchase and learning curve
Monday,28 October, 2013
12:23 pm
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Near High Wycombe, Bucks.
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Monday,26 November, 2012
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It’s some time since my last post (Livaboard Conclusions 26/11/12) and if you read that you will know I was searching for a suitable narrowboat. It had to be capable as a ‘livaboard’ even though that was not the initial intention – in other words it had to have all the facilities of a ‘livaboard’. 

As I have said before I was relatively new to narrow boats and the canal – my last time was two weeks holiday in 1961 on a Maidline cruiser out of Brinklow and before that my only association with canals was cross country runs on the tow path of the Trent and Mersey in the early 50’s. 

Well here is the update. I had been looking since late last year, both in magazines and the internet. I’d looked at hundreds online and made dozens of inspections. There was plenty I liked which met my criteria, but couldn’t negotiate a price down to my upper limit. I eventually found a boat  which fitted most of my criteria (I would have liked a bow thruster). This was “Bombadier” (originally named “Hamba Gashle”), a 57′ cruiser stern by East West Marine built in 2007, then lying at Whilton Marina. It had two previous owners and was commissioned by the first owner and built in China to his specification. 

The boat had a 12mm base plate and counter, which measured 11.3–11.7 at the survey. Internally the boat was fitted out in T&G Bamboo, as opposed to the usual veneered ply. Most of the older boats I viewed had more water damage to the inner lining that I thought was acceptable, whereas Bombardier was only damaged slightly at the ceiling around the flue

and at the rear steps where a rubber backed mat had been left in place on the floor (a caveat here). 

Having agreed a purchase price, subject to a satisfactory survey the boat was duly brought out of the water covered in snow. There were a number of minor points noted by the surveyor and those needed to be rectified for the safety certificate to be issued and were paid for in part by the previous owner. As I was informed the blacking was two part and last done in 2010 it looked in good condition – the surveyor agreed and said he would not need to remove any to do his inspection. 

The engine is a Barrus Shire 35 showing 1,167 hrs., with a PRM 150 gear box and 18” propeller. 

The alternators were connected together before they entered the Sterling Alternator to Battery charger. This was queried by the surveyor and the on site electrician as seeming rather odd. On examining the instructions and an email to Sterling it was confirmed that this was correct, providing that the combined amp output of the alternators was within the capacity of the A to B charger – one alternator at 110 amp. and one at 50 amp. The A to B charger is an AB12210, 210 amps., with an optional Sterling Power Management Panel (PMP1). This panel shows the output current and voltage from the alternators, the voltage of the starter battery, the amps going into the domestic battery bank, the voltage of the domestic battery bank and the amp hrs. used from the domestic batteries. 

The batteries, open lead acid, comprise a 110 Ah starter and three 135Ah leisure batteries.

The batteries on this boat are inaccessible with regard to knowing the level of the fluid in the cells.

In order to do this I devised the following method. I removed the centre of a see through ball point pen, inverted it into the cells, down to the top of the plates, placed a finger over the top end then withdrew the pen. The level of liquid in the “pen” is the level above the plates. Hold the “pen” over the fill hole and release the finger from the top and the liquid will return to the cell. The level should be above the plates by at least 6 to 10mm.  Be careful not to overfill.  This needs attending to more often using the fast charging of the A to B charger. The first time I did this two of the batteries were OK, but the third was empty and revealed a brown “sludge” on the end of the “pen”. Rather than just replace the one battery, I replaced all three, like for like (Numax M135 deep cycle) on the premise that the other two may be close the end of their life. There is a circular “magic eye” on the top of these batteries, indicating the state of charge, although on most narrowboats this is probably inaccessible. The state of charge is indicated as follows: GREEN, battery OK, DARK GREY battery needs charging, BRIGHT WHITE, battery needs replacing. 

The shoreline supply is via a Victron Pheonix Multiplus 3Kw inverter and 120amp. charger.

This was originally sized to accommodate the washing machine, although this has not yet been used. 

The heating system comprises a Webasto diesel heater to the calorifier, four radiators and a towel rail – very hot.  And a solid fuel stove. The stove needed replacing as it was in very poor condition and without air wash or convection plate. Physical  size was  important as it needed to fit the space available, safely.  After due consideration I installed a Hobbit with new flue and double skin chimney, together with a 9” coolie hat. As the double skin flues sold in chandlers didn’t  fit the combination of roof collar and flue size, I made up an inner flue from galvanized sheet to make a tight fit inside the flue and the single skin flue to fit over the roof collar. The outer flue was held in place by wrapping a couple of turns of fire rope, held in place with high temperature fire rope adhesive, around the collar. This made the chimney a snug fit and is easily removable when not in use. The coolie hat clips were held in place between the inner and outer chimney by their own spring fit, so the whole chimney was demountable in seconds. For the seal between the flue and the fire and the flue and the roof collar I used Geocel Plumba Flue which is specified to stand up to 300  deg. C.    

I have read many complaints about the Webasto being unreliable – well I had two problems, both of which are brought to your attention in the manual. The first is low battery – the unit may start and then shut down. The second problem  was that the heater started and again shut down. I discovered the reason for this was that I was moored against a pontoon, restricting the free flow of the exhaust. This was due to the thin fenders I use. To alleviate the problem it’s as well to keep a couple of more chunky fenders when mooring up on that side of the boat.  

The toilet system is a Thetford CS-200 with spare cassette, within a slatted floor wet room, although the area of the shower tray has been curtained off to minimise too much wiping down. The cassette is my preferred system and I’ve been used to using it in our motorhome. I know some people with pump outs carry a Porta Potti if they can’t get to a disposal point. With a pump out of course you have to move the boat to the disposal point and that, to me is a disadvantage, so we have a personal choice. 

There is an undersink ceramic water filter to the cold water supply. The worktops in the kitchen are of black granite, preferable to and cleaner than tiles. 

Cooking is by gas hob and oven and a microwave when plugged into the shoreline. 

Well after the safety certificate had been issued, insurance and Canal and River Trust paid it was time to move the boat. I had booked in at the newly to be completed Cropredy Marina. As we had the worst Winter for many years, little work had been done on the marina and temporary moorings had been arranged at Crick. 

Whilton to Crick was about 10 minutes by car, but 4 ½ hrs. and 6 ½  miles by canal with 14 locks and the Crick tunnel, a daunting prospect for someone on his own, not having handled a boat on the canal for over 50 years and in addition, a force five “breeze” whilst exiting from marina.

With minimum bumps and scrapes I settled into Crick Marina and awaited the completion of the marina at Cropredy. There was free WiFi and good TV reception with very friendly staff and fellow boaters, so my time at Crick was to be very comfortable. 

My wife and I spend quiet a bit of time on our computers, so we needed some type of mobile WiFi for when we were out cruising. After searching the “livingonanarrowboat” forum for ideas I opted for a Huawei E5332 MiFi with a 3 Mobile PAYG SIM card, together with an external magnetic aerial. This works wireless throughout the boat and ”3” seems to have the most coverage of all the service providers.  At Cropredy there is free WiFi with aerials at different points around the marina, so you get an “EXCELLENT” signal wherever you are – I took Paul’s point though and added a USB extension cable terminating with a Belkin F5D8053 v.6 wireless USB adapter, which at present I clip into the window with one of the window catches -eventually I’ll make waterproof housing and place it on the roof.   

At this stage my wife suggested we have the boat repainted and she also thought it’s name was a bit too masculine, so we decided that given our associations with Australia we would call it Waratah, the national emblem of New South Wales and the name of the NSW rugby team. 

Our search for a painter eventually led us to S&G Refinishers, in Heather, Leicestershire. They are lorry and truck painters and have branched out into narrowboat painting. They crane the boat out, transport it to their yard, remove windows, portholes and deck fittings and sand blast the whole boat. The two part Glasurit finish is applied with airless spray. This is the same finish used on lorries and other road vehicles, so it should stand up to the more gentle use on the canal. I also opted for a two part finish for the blacking. The finish I was told would be used was Intertuf.  I’d seen a number of complaints about Intertuf on the various forums online, so I decided to investigate. Well there are nine different types of Intertuf, all with different suffix numbers. I asked which Intertuf would be used on the boat and was told it would be Intertuf 362, an epoxy anti-corrosive primer, with a part B, KHA362 curing agent. I was concerned this was shown on the data sheet as a primer and not a finish. A closer look at the data sheet revealed it could also be over coated with the same material. A quick call to International confirmed this could also act as a finishing coat, although it would “chalk” (go grey with age). As the old blacking had been sand blasted back to the original steel before the Intertuf was applied  I was happy that it should now last up to 5-7 years before it needs to be redone. The boat is now a nice blue with cream coach lines and a large Waratah flower painted on the side and was returned as promised in 2 ½ weeks. 

A number of jobs needed doing whilst awaiting the new mooring. First were the doors at the bow end – these were in poor condition and were mentioned on the surveyor’s report. The cratch slatted bench seats and back rests together with cappings to the cruiser stern rails all needed renewing.

I made all of these in West African Sapele. Not the easiest of timber to work as it has alternate grain, although I managed to achieve a near mirror finish with a belt sander and fine grade hand sanding, finishing off with Ronseal Yacht Varnish. 

Also recommended on on the survey was the fitting of a Galvanic Isolator. So what does this do ? – sounds as though it isolates any zinc (galvanised) metal from anything else on your boat. Not so of course, probably meaning it applies to sea going vessels using zinc anodes, whereas we use magnesium anodes on narrowboats. Well it’s nothing to do with these either. As all the other boats in a marina, the pontoons and any other items on the shore are all earth bonded to your boat the isolator prevents stray earth currents entering your boat via the earth wire when you are connected to the shoreline, whilst maintaining the integrity of the earth in the normal manner as a safety measure. Perhaps it should be be more appropriately called a “Stray Earth Current Isolator”. Without one of these your anodes will corrode much more quickly and your boat and propeller also, if you have no anodes. There are a number of makes on the market and  a couple of methods of fitting. The simplest method, if you’re not handy with terminals and wire strippers, allows for just plugging into incoming shoreline. I opted for the second method, using a Sterling Pro Save E which involved cutting the incoming earth and routing it through the Galvanic Isolator  – quite simple job. 

During this time I took the opportunity to take an RYA Helmsmans course. Coincidentally this was along part of the route I would use for my journey to the new marina at Cropredy. The course took place starting from Fenny Compton Marina and heading south in a 70ft. Narrowboat. This was a one to one tuition and was a thoroughly enjoyable day. 

Well, mid September arrived and the new marina had been filled, tested by the C&RT, pontoons built and electric and water on, diesel and gas available and pumpout in operation, so it was time to make the journey from Crick to Cropredy. This was over 31 miles, through 30 locks and two tunnels and estimated to take 16 ½ hrs. I was warned that I would be lucky to get through the Braunstone tunnel without scratching the boat and it had recently been repainted – ouch!! Although it required concentration to negotiate the many minor twists and turns (it also had a “dog’s leg” in the middle due to a mistake when it was being built) I managed to emerge from the other end without a touch. Fortunately there were no other boats coming in the opposite direction. 

The journey was accomplished in 2 ½  very pleasant days and Waratah is now on its permanent mooring in the new Cropredy Marina and as they say, the rest is history.

Monday,28 October, 2013
2:44 pm
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Hi Mel,

Congratulations on your settling into your new boat and new place of home. You sound like you have put much work into getting to where you are. I so hope that you and your wife will be so happy.

 

Kim

There is nothing in the world as precious as the gift of life itself.

Monday,28 October, 2013
6:15 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Now that is what I call and informative post. I’m going to settle down later with a mug of coffee, maybe two, and absorb it all!

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Monday,28 October, 2013
6:26 pm
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Great post, Mel.  Enjoy your new life.

Retired; Somerset/Dorset border when not out and about on Lucy Lowther

Days without name and hours without number

http://thelovelylisanarrowboat.blogspot.co.uk
 
Monday,28 October, 2013
9:30 pm
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Near High Wycombe, Bucks.
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Cratch1-1.jpgImage Enlargercratch2-1.jpgImage Enlargercratch3-1.jpgImage EnlargerThanks Alan, Paul and Kim

The next job is making a cratch board. I have done the design – it will be glazed with a centrally opening door for access to the gas locker.

I will post the design here as an attachment sometime during the next couple of weeks

 

EDIT

The Cratch design is now attached. As you will realise the dimensions only apply to Waratah – the height and width dimensions are specific to each boat as is the length of the top board.

 

The Cratch board design can also be seen here http://www.compassplane.co.uk/…..hboard.pdf

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Thursday,31 October, 2013
4:49 pm
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Welcome to the wonders of life afloat and thanks for the tip about the ball point pen for checking battery levels. I’d been wondering how I was going to manage with out taking the batteries out each time. 

 

Nige

Friday,1 November, 2013
10:18 am
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Hi Mel

It took two cups of coffee but I got through your post.

Most informative, thanks.

 

I have just bought a boat that is currently moored at Crick Marina.

Subject to survey on the 11th Nov I will have the daunting task of bringing it back to Droitwich Marina, singlehanded, and my first experience ever on a narrow boat.

I am really looking forward to Braunston tunnel, thanks.

 However there are lots of hostelries en route.

The journey could take weeks.

 My boat has a strange name too “SANNOX” (sounds like a toilet cleaner).

 At least the previous owner was thoughtful enough when he recently had the boat painted for the sale and didn’t add the name.

 I am holding a competition for a new name amongst friends and relatives and of course the name with the most votes at this time is “TITANIC”!

 

When I first started this venture a year ago I thought “it’s a narrow boat it’s not rocket science!”

After reading your post and the many others on the forum I realise I have not got a clue.

Galvanic Isolators, wireless USB adaptors, air washes, convector plates, what?

It sounds like the battleship Enterprise. Much to learn.

 

I was booked on a Helmsman course, at Stourport, two weeks ago but the training boat is stranded in floods on the Severn. I am hoping I can do the course before my epic journey begins.

 

Good luck, see you on the cut.

Thursday,30 January, 2014
8:49 pm
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Hi Mike

Sorry I didn’t get back to you until now, but haven’t checked back in while.

I hope you have made it to Droitwich by now. Quite some journey on your own.

I’m sure we would all like to hear about your experiences on your journey, warts and all.

You should have some valuable experience by now, albeit a few pounds lighter – although you may have put it back on over Christmas.

 

Mel

Saturday,6 December, 2014
7:53 pm
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THIS MAY BE THE WEIRDEST COMMENT EVER BUT… you might consider having your Chinese made boat check with a Geiger counter for radioactive steel. Around the time when your boat was built, China produced and shipped for export quite a bit of radioactive steel…which has been found to cause cancer in those near by….

 

LOVED you informative post!

Mexicalialan

Monday,8 December, 2014
1:33 pm
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WOW!!! thanks for that Mexicalialan,

Radio active steel can be found in almost anything, even items not originating from China, although I believe they found, among other things a cheese grater in the US which was imported from China with low levels of radiation.

Most countries have a scrap metal industry and this is now a multi million pound international industry and radio active materials can get mixed into the “melting pot” from all over the world, albeit maybe at low levels and later be incorporated into consumer goods. I believe scrap metal contractors in the UK probably don’t have radio active detection equipment.

So when you go shopping don’t forget you wallet/purse, credit card and – your geiger counter.

We mustn’t forget that we are all subject background radiation of up to 10 microsieverts each day and receive about 40 microsieverts during a flight from the UK to the USA.

To put this in perspective, you receive a dose of 100 microsieverts from a dental Xray and a 3,000 microsievert dose from a mammogram.

The Pure Earth website states that 100,000 microsieverts is the lowest yearly dose likely linked to an increased cancer risk.

Perhaps I’ll get a geiger counter.

Wednesday,31 December, 2014
6:20 pm
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Further to my reply to Mexicalialan, I have now checked the boat with a Geiger counter and recorded the following readings.

Sievert (Sv) is a unit of radiation absorption, mainly used in Europe

µSv/h = micro Sieverts per hour              CPM = Counts Per Minute

        On the wood table on the boat 0.02 µSv/h 1.2 CPM

        Face down on the granite worktop on the boat 0.03 µSv/h 1.8 CPM

        Ditto in a different place 0.05 µSv/h 2.8 CPM

        Face down on the floor of the Cratch 0.02 µSv/h 1.2 CPM

        Face down on the roof at the stern 0.03 µSv/h 1.6 CPM

        Face down on the roof at the bows 0.03 C 1.6 CPM

        Face down on the rear deck 0.02 µSv/h 0.8 CPM

        Face down on the granite worktop in the Kitchen at home 0.12 µSv/h

        Background reading at home (what we are all subject to) 0.06 µSv/h

 

The radiation was measured using the latest version, Type 6 of the Radiation Watch Pocket Geiger Counter manufactured in response to the concerns with regard to the Fukushima Daiichi incident in Japan and was certified for accuracy by the Dutch Metrology Institute. This was hooked up to my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 to allow the software to read the results. The Pocket Geiger measures both gamma and x-rays.

All granite is to some degree radioactive with large concentrations in Cornwall.

Public Health England calculates that we are all subject, on average to about 0.31 µSv/h from a number of sources – natural radiation such as radon gas, thoron gas, cosmic rays and building materials – radon gas seeps from the ground into all buildings, so the largest exposure is to naturally occurring radiation in homes and workplaces. There are also significant contributions from naturally occurring radioactivity in food and from medical exposures.

To conclude I think that is enough evidence to indicate that Waratah is of no greater source of ionising radiation than the normal background radiation we are all subject to.

Wednesday,31 December, 2014
8:35 pm
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GULP, i read and reread but couldnt find anything in there that i thought would help me in the next quiz.

There is nothing in the world as precious as the gift of life itself.

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