Boatbird Blues

20 Apr

A few of my loyal readers have complained about my lack of presence here of late, notably missing March completely. So, suitably admonished, BB is back on the blog.

Truth is, Boatbird has been a bit blue. Miserable in fact.

No boating, no flying, no adventures (and the longest winter that ever was) makes BB a dull girl and therefore a dull read. That was my thinking.

I blame the lack of a first mate. Now that might seem tantamount to believing that life stops just because you’re on your own but that’s not what I’m saying. I’m fine with my own company and can quite easily keep busy and motivated but fun and adventures aren’t so easy to come by. It’s just not the same, however you paint it. Not in my world anyway.

To this end, I need and should get a new first mate but I don’t want one. I want the original one back. But no amount of wishing on my part will make this happen. I know that. Get over it and get on with it I must.

So what have I been up to?

Ever hopeful that Spring will spring sometime soon, I have cleaned inside the good ship Hobo from stem to stern. So that’s 40+ feet of walls (x2), 40+ feet of ceiling, plus bulkheads, cupboards, windows and so on. I’ve tackled this in bite-size pieces, as one must with any 40+ foot job, and am happy to say that it is now complete. And looking very clean and shiny now that the grime created by burning the stove 24/7 all winter has been removed. It is something of a chore but no way would I be without my little woodburner, so a small price to pay for the cheery warmth and anti-suicidal tendencies it dutifully delivers.

I’ve also been getting a bit creative; knitting squares (took me back – used to do this as a child for the poor kids in Africa) to make a top blanket for the bed, fitting new curtains, making new cushion covers, rugs and re-arranging stuff, as much as one can here. But little changes make a big difference in a small space.

The knitting I found to be calming and good therapy. A true winter pursuit. In fact now that that project is finished, I am missing it. Doctor Who scarf anyone…?

A neighbour machined a couple of old denim skirts into covers for some foam I foraged from a skip at a marina on the Thames, where one finds a better class of rubbish. Two cushions then for the roof, so less numbing on the bum when perched on the roof at the tiller.

You see, I told you it would make a dull read.

There was the battery experiment though: pulled the plug on the shoreline (good to discharge the batteries from time to time) and it was a whole six days later before the inverter cut out. Meaning that I can sit for six days if I want, when cruising, without running the engine. That’s not dull, that’s a result.

And I did join some of my neighbours in the drinking shed last night,  an outdoor space where we light a fire, chat, laugh, swap stories. And drink; the clue being  in the name.  BBQ’s in summer. Most pleasant. There’s a few ‘big nights’ coming up when boaters from far and wide will pitch up and swell numbers so that should be fun. Or a damn nuisance if I’m feeling anti-social.

We’ve all bitched ferociously about the weather; the mud down dog-dirt-alley has been legendary, finding its way into the boat, car, onto my clothes, up my nose, in my ears and hair – everywhere really. Wellies an absolute must. But hasn’t today been marvellous? At least I can at last open up the hatches and let the sunshine in. Many boats have been on the move and at least two of my neighbours are readying for their summer cruises. Lucky buggers.

Talking of moving boats, even the ones that never do are. As in swapsies. The neglected, unloved and rarely visited specimen that moored behind me has changed places with the shiny bright red one that has been undergoing total renovation on the hard for the last twelve months or so.

There is a definite advantage of being parked next to a scruffy, dejected boat though. Yep, you got it,  must crack on with the the great Hobo spruce up.

Seems to be a feverish doing up of boats going on right now. The slipway is seeing more traffic than the M25 – keen DIYers blacking their bottoms, tiddling up their tops, sealing their windows etc. It’s definitely the cheaper option (for blacking – no haul out to shell out for) but hard work, and I’m not sure I’m up to it, but a decision I can defer till next year. There have been a few crane-ins and outs, always resulting in my car being in the way and me being dragged from my bed to shift it. Always a good start to BB’s day. Not.

If it carries on like this tomorrow, I shall be up on the roof finishing off the painting that I couldn’t last year – because of the weather. And then there’s the rest of the boat. More grinding, priming, painting and varnishing needed. Brass to polish. Pots to plant. Endless  little chores to be done. Relentless. It’s a bloody good job I (almost) enjoy working on the boat as much as I do cruising her.

There’s also a whole host of improvements and additions that the first mate and I have started that need finishing, not to mention those ‘good ideas’ that still need implementing. I shall just have to get a bit clever and give them a go myself, although some may be outside my skill set/ beyond my strength. But that’s not to say it will stop me trying.

Or perhaps I should just smile sweetly at some random bloke…

Just think, about this time seven years ago (just before my birthday) I had secured the purchase of Hobo and was winding down the house, getting ready to move aboard and making plans to cruise her for two weeks to her then new home at Hartford Marina near Huntingdon. I’d hardly set foot on a boat before, let alone driven one.

Exciting times. And I loved every minute.

Still do.

14 Responses to “Boatbird Blues”

  1. allaboutwriting April 21, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Nice to read your blog post. We have been missing out boat, Patience, moored in Braunston. Might only get to her in mid July though.

    • Boatbird April 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      Thank you, glad you like. I know Braunston, though only been there by road as yet! It is on the cards for the next cruise (whenever that might be) Thames, Oxford, Braunston and beyond with luck. July will be here soon enough so until then,,, patience I guess.

  2. charmwah April 22, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Hey BB, glad to see you’re back on the blog. And even happier to hear the new batteries are working out well, Bellas are not even lasting an evening now (possibly due to the alternator fault) so i’ll need a new set soon. Now that you’ve finished Hobo’s spring clean do you fancying starting on mine 😉

    • Boatbird April 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      Glad you’re glad and I’m glad to be back too. Sounds like you need to bite the bullet and sort that alternator and fork out for some new batteries – at great expense to yourself of course..!
      And, as lovely as I am and as much as I like to help out my fellow boater, I think you know the answer to the cleaning question. No? Need a clue? Second word is off. : )

      • charmwah April 23, 2013 at 8:36 am #

        I have sorted the alternator, it had a faulty regulator and was sending out a high voltage (16v) which effectively fried the batteries 😦

        Are you sure you wont reconsider, Bella is missing that female touch 😉 I gave her a wash all over a few weeks back, she was looking rather fine! I need to black her bum soon, if not this year definitely next…

      • Boatbird April 23, 2013 at 10:12 am #

        Halfway there then. Could ask my mate if he can still source traction batts and get you a price if you like..?
        As tempting as it is, I have so much to do externally on Hobo that I must decline..
        A couple of the blokes here have started blacking – £375 for boats our size and looks like they are doing a good job – but a long way for you to bring Bella I guess.- am thinking I might let them loose on’s a good price.

      • charmwah April 24, 2013 at 8:46 am #

        I did get a quote for the traction batts actually, a very good price too. Mind you, the plastic housing boxes they offered me were extortionate! Still, I havent got a spare £400 yet :/

        My mate got a quote at Fox in March to black his 60ft for £589, I know I could do it myself for less, but never having done it before i’m a little wary…

      • Boatbird April 24, 2013 at 9:34 am #

        When we were up that way, we called at ‘Little Ouse Moorings’ on Brandon Creek – just down from The Ship.
        They have diesel, water, tip out etc and were just developing a floating dry dock. You may know it – worth a call…?

      • charmwah April 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        I do indeed! The first time the fella went to test his floating dry dock it sank 😉 I think its working fairly well now though. I’ve heard he’s pretty expensive, but everybody seems to be getting more and more competitive so might have to just make him an offer…

        If you carry on down Brandon Creek theres a great nature reserve full of birds of prey; Hobbies, Marsh harriers, Sparrowhawks, Barn Owls & Kestrels I spotted in a single afternoon 🙂

      • Boatbird April 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

        We spent a few days on Brandon Creek, loved it and went right as far as we could. We saw hordes of people trekking that we assumed were twitchers so, in light of what you say, they probably were. Sadly we saw no birdlife – probably because of all the foot traffic!!

  3. Mick May 13, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    Hi, I was interested in the comment about running batteries down until the inverter failed. Batteries of all kinds have a number of cycles that they can go through. Leisure and traction batteries tend to have more charge / discharge cycles available than automotive batteries. However, the deeper the battery is discharged the fewer recharging cycles are available. A good rule of thumb is not to discharge below 50% capacity.



    • Boatbird May 13, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Hey Mick,
      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I am advised by a good and trusted friend on matters electrical and battery but I think what you say is correct. I do know that my inverter will shut off before batteries reach the 50% point, so as not to harm them or shorten their life. The destructions on the website suggest that, especially when newly installed, these batteries should be made to work and recommend this most strongly.
      It was also a very interesting experiment..!
      I am by no means an expert and appreciate your input. Anyone that stops me trashing quite a hefty investment is a hero in my book…

  4. Lynn Pettitt May 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Hiya, just popped in to read your blog, much enjoyed x

    • Boatbird May 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Hi Lynn, thanks for stopping by, glad you like x

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