Tag Archives: concrete boat

We’re Getting There..

21 Aug

It may not seem so looking at this…001

But, trust me, progress is being made. This clearly has to be fixed before the splash as has this…004And other nasty bits here and there.

All this loose stuff has to be dug out, right back to the chicken wire, then re-filled with a stiff old mix of concrete. It’s a case of eggs and omelettes really. Scary stuff nevertheless.

The little boat’s new position, as well as the prospect of sharing the cost of a crane-in, has spurred the John on big time. There’s now the space to get around the boat and to set up a useful work station – and that makes it all so much more do-able.

Realistically though, it’ll never be done by next Tuesday. But no matter, real efforts are being made to get her ready for the water – the operative word being ready. No point jumping the gun – would only result in disaster for sure.

While John concentrates on the structural side of things such as rebuilding the rudder…IMG_20150809_090534

Our very kind neighbour Peter, who is very taken with Ijcvogel, is enthusiastically putting in time on the essential prep work…006003005

Which is so, so important.

I’m itching to get some paint on now – she’s going to look so good – that will be my contribution. The thinking is to keep the same colour scheme, more or less, then the crowning glory will be the addition of a rope fender…007

Which John has acquired from one of the temporary residents. It will be fitted all around the boat’s middle and, as well as looking the business, may even be strong enough to act as a means of walking around the boat, once she’s launched.

For now though, the prep work continues. The oiling of the woodwork is not only enhancing – greatly – the look of the boat, but has totally eliminated all leaks from the superstructure. Rain if it will – none of it ends up inside now. And that’s a real result.

There’s some superb wood…

002Which is really coming up a treat.

The trick is to not get too side-tracked with the cosmetics and concentrate on what has to be done to get her afloat. Painting will, obviously, be a whole lot easier while on the hard. John can be busy with the repair/rebuilding as well as fine-tuning the engine while this is being done by his dutiful slaves the little boat’s other adoring fans.

It’s hard sometimes to find the time/energy/inclination to keep at it but we are surrounded here by unfinished works-in-progress and abandoned projects.

And John is determined that his little boat will not become another.

Cranes and Boats and Planes

5 Aug

Fun on the farm last week…048

…with the help of this bad boy.

A total of seven lifts scheduled, the sequence carefully planned and starting with a move for none other than…002

…the little boat.

Here goes…005




and away…009

To her new spot…011013015

And John wasn’t at all worried…010

As you can see from his relaxed demeanour.

Space now…021

…for two narrows to be inserted.



And down.

Next up…030032036

Not without a scary moment…039

But on the ground…041

Safe and sound.

One for the back of the truck…052

…and away to the field.

It was getting late as the dutch barge was lifted…062

The full moon showed up…057

Here she comes…066072

Pretty eh?

A wide beam was due out too but was getting dark…076

And cold.

So the fat boat slept in the slip and BB headed for Hobo and the removals were completed the next day.

Thirsty work…IMG_20150731_085204

The little boat is now shored up…054055

In her new, bigger, more open spot. With garden…047

And – allegedly – the best blackberries for miles around.

There’s now lots of grinding and scraping going on and many new faces about. It’s good to get to know these new folk, all with their own stories, and watch the progress made on the boats.

In two or three weeks the crane will be back to lift in those who are heading off – back to their former lives or, in some cases, pastures new.

Which has concentrated John’s mind somewhat. As in trying to get the little boat to a stage where it will be ready for the water, thus sharing the cost of the crane-in. This mainly involves making sure the hull is watertight and the engine runs.

He’s almost there with the exhaust now…001

Just needs to connect up inside.

Ideally would like to get a coat or two of paint on and fit the lovely old rope he’s sourced, by way of a bumper strip. Thinking this will look the business.

Everything else can be done when she’s afloat – assuming she does float. Indeed will probably be a better way to work on the interior; only then will we really know how she sits and therefore how stuff needs to be. She looks level as she sits on the hard but, judging from the ghost of the waterline that can be seen, it will be a very different picture when afloat: the sharp end will sit way up in the air while the stern lies low in the water…IMG_20141126_0001

A bit like this, only more so. We think.

You may remember that some time ago we invited suggestions for a new name for the little boat here. Thanks to all those who offered alternatives, even if we never really made a decision.

I, for no real reason, googled her original name the other day and was asked if I’d like the page to be translated. I said yes and what do you know…the Dutch Ijsvogel translates to Kingfisher, which we didn’t know – but like – so seems we’ll be sticking with that.

In English or Dutch?

I favour one language on one side and the other on the other but we shall see. It’s all up to the John of course – as is whether or not she’s ready for the splash when the time comes. There’s a bit to do before then and, when one has to go out to work, time may be tight.

John is keen to get her in the water though. And what a day that will be..!

PS: For the plane spotters among you, this is a McDonnell Douglas MD11F…041

Bought and upgraded by Boeing.

The farm is under Stansted’s flightpath and we always know when one of these cargo planes, often FedEx, is coming as they are very low and noisy hand-flown and have a very distinctive sound. Screechy I’d call it.


27 Nov

Pronounced I-c-e-v-o-g-u-l and translates to Icebird for those non-Dutch speakers among us. It’s the original name of the little boat and not one that John feels he could live with. I think, he being a tropical flower, it’s the ice part he has trouble with.

Tradition/superstition has it that it’s OK to change a boat’s name when out of the water so, if he ever makes up his mind which name that might be, it won’t bring bad luck.

Remember when we waded on board in those early days of just having acquired the little boat… ?100_3100

Well amongst all the watery wetness, we found a handwritten letter from the first owner to the one before John…001

How lovely, what a find, and joins up a few dots. There were also some old photographs of her build, launch, test run and subsequent trips on the water. Shame about the missing engine room pic – would have answered a few questions. Water damaged and curly edged, we rescued these and stowed in a safe place – ie Hobo – until such a time that we (I) could be bothered to scan them on to the computer.

Having found that time yesterday afternoon (and shelled out on a new printer/copier/scanner to replace my old defunct one) I am now in a position to share these with you.

It’s quite something to have just these few pics – a little bit of her history.

This one shows the armature construction in April 1976, according to the back of the snap…IMG_20141126_0007

Sadly, many of the build shots were too damaged; hard to make out from the photo so wouldn’t scan so well I figured.

These show her being loaded for transport – November 1976 – to the river Kennet…IMG_20141126_0006

IMG_20141126_0005The hull, engine and cabin completed.

And her trial run on the Kennet…IMG_20141126_0002

Also November ’76. What a beauty and cutting along by the looks.

The sharp end is quite different now…IMG_20140530_133436

Much needed extra cabin space having been created by the previous owner. This makes the bow tiny from the outside – barely standing room – but does make a much more usable space inside…

As she is now…IMG_20141117_210515

A lovely space for the John. He’s gradually putting his stamp on it by adding a desk, restoring the little stove which works very nicely..IMG_20141126_180110And John’s hand-crafted chimney doing the business…

And will look the business too, once he adds the copper strips.

There’s many ideas/good intentions/plans/stuff still to do in the cosmetics department but all this has to take a back seat until the major things have been dealt with. Notably the engine and hull.

Much has gone on that can’t be seen: like pulling 12 and 240 volt wires through, connecting (after first unblocking) the fuel lines and painting the under-bed storage spaces white – and filling them with stuff. It makes such a difference when you are looking for something under there.

And of course, that perennial problem with boats, finding somewhere to put everything. Just his tools would fill an aircraft carrier. Twice over.

But it’s coming.

On this one, back in the day, the sailing mast is visible…IMG_20141126_0003

And here in use for a family trip on the river Kennett, summer 1977…IMG_20141126_0004

You’ll note that windows have been added by now.

Much of the work that John is gradually now doing is of the not very photogenic variety. As in the engine. He’s found a couple of snags – things sticking that shouldn’t stick and bits that should be bolted on that aren’t. He’s just discovered that it’s the fuel pumps that are jamming up the works, so they’ll be taken to bits now and inspected.

He’s very methodical and takes great pains, which is good, to ensure all is as it should be before he winds her up. Thus avoiding any calamities. Both dying to hear her going though and hoping that the Lister sounds good and is as bombproof as we think it is.

So, we have the proof that she floated and ran once upon a time. Lets just hope she will again. Soon.

The Little Boat

8 Jun

We’ve been thinking about a name for the concrete boat and have come up with several but, so far, nothing seems quite right.

In fact the only one that seems to have stuck is as in the title.  That’s how we refer to it so The Little Boat it is, until we get a better idea. We like short names like Hobo and Bella so I thought LB or Elbie but J is not convinced.

Girl’s names and flower names also good but haven’t found the right one yet.


Maybe you can help us here..

Please put forward your suggestions for a name in the comments section and whoever comes up with the one we like the best will win a trip up the river on her. How’s that?

Always assuming that she does float of course.

Second prize: two trips up the river.  And so on…

We’re a little way off the launch mind but we have been busy.

The first thing on John’s agenda was to get the back deck covered because a) to stop any more rainwater getting in and b) in order to get an idea of how to make the best use of the available space. This being at a premium on a 25ft boat.

John’s idea is to create another room – like a sun lounge/conservatory with fold down-able windows and greenery. Somewhere it would be comfortable and pleasant to be – sheltered if chilly and greenhouse-like if we get sun.

In an attempt at assessing the sort of space it would make, John assembled a makeshift covering. We’ve found it pays to work this way and, while living with the temporary structure, the ideas start to come and the whole thing evolves.

He started with the windscreens that were already made though never fixed in place…009_stitch

And then continued building a framework for the sides and rear… 021

Then cutting and rigging up pieces of the tarp that originally covered the roof…100_3186

Speaking of the roof; it is covered in canvas and painted. This has come away in several places so we’ve acquired some copper tacks to remedy this. It is now all pinned down neatly so can go ahead and apply fresh paint – before it all turns to powder and blows away.

The above image shows boarding ladder mk 3. It’s much safer and easier to use, providing you have really, really long legs that is. In the absence of these, I shall just have to get yet more agile. Good job I am practising Pilates then…

To the right of the leg-stretcher is John’s new workbench, from where he can operate his tools and craft all sorts of incredible works of art and useful contraptions – all made from items found on the slag heaps.

I’ll have to detail these and other goodies we have already unearthed (literally) and put to good use. Another time.

It really is a treasure trove right in the back yard! Quite a few items have found their way to the Hobo funnily enough.

John cleverly cut out a suitable picture by way of a muriel for the back end…



Remember, this is a temporary fix.

It’s working well though on a practical level, not to mention creating a lot of interest among the other boat owners here but, more importantly, demonstrating how the space will work.

And one thing is clear… 002 (2)

It won’t work very well with the tiller as it uses up the entire space just to operate the rudder…001

John ponders on this…061

And decides that a smaller rudder could be fitted and maybe operated by a wheel to save all that wasted space in the arc of the tiller.

She was once a sailing vessel it seems. We found some pictures on board and managed to salvage some – interesting – has a mast and that would be the reason for such a large rudder we think.

I wanted to scan them onto my computer so could share with you but my printer is misbehaving. It seems to have died on me but not before it tripped out poor Hobo’s electrics and giving me a fright as smoke puffed into the room.!!

It may be the transformer or plug but will have to wait for another day to get fixed I’m afraid.

Of course the little boat’s hull has to be top of the list for attention and needs to be watertight. Obviously.

John has just about been all around the wooden top with the sealer gun now and – fingers crossed – this seems to have stopped the majority of the leaks. The only one left to deal with (above the waterline) is from the poorly fitted chimney, which has now been taken out as needs replacing, along with the roof collar.

I’ve prepped and painted the little stove in the meantime but prefer to wait until re-installed with new stove pipe/chimney before I share the pics. But it is looking good so far.

John has also worked on the back doors, making them secure and fit properly. Long-term, we think bi-fold doors would be good and again, space saving. Easy enough to do for a man of John’s calibre.

He also sawed off a chunk of wood that hung from the centre of said doors; its sole purpose seemingly to provide the ideal object to clang one’s head on.

Several problem areas below the waterline have been identified.

Like this…100_3170

If you zoom in I think you will see those stalactites. Not good.

And this…100_3176

John has done a lot of looking on the internet and found the official ferro-cement boat site, which warns of spider cracks like these.

And this…100_3182

Being the inside floor of the boat.

This is what it should look like…


But only one of these metal supports still exist; the rest having been removed or rotted away. Without these, there is nothing to hold the hull together and leaves quite a cavity for water to find. John plans to clean these out and shoot in something – to be decided – in order to shore things up.

We’re thinking maybe fibre glass to repair/paint over the entire bottom with swimming pool paint and then a good coat or two of of bitumen over that.

So there’s a way to go before we can really get into the cosmetics, which is my department.

I need to break out the mouse and sand all the interior woodwork…011

Which, as you can see, is somewhat flaky. Then on with the paint, oil the rest of the wood…008


002 (6)Going to look so good.

Foam to be acquired for the bed/seating area and floor covering. John is in favour of a rubber type matting – there is precious little headroom so nothing thick and luxurious is an option.

We know that we should be concentrating on the hull but, all the same, John wants to make his little bolt-hole comfy. A place to chill, now that he is spending more of his time here – even taking on a little work on the farm.

You may have spotted one of John’s finds in the above shot. A telescope, brand new in the box. He just has a knack of finding treasure.

Don’t forget to submit your suggestions for a name for the little boat and indeed, if anyone has knowledge of these unusual craft, we’d love to hear from you too.



So What’s New…?

28 May


Most excitingly, the blue guitar…006 Which John bought for my birthday. Big thank you John – I love it!

As a lapsed pianist, I have been missing making music. Piano into a boat won’t go but thought a guitar would, so went along to the shop in Sawbo for a free taster session to see if I had any aptitude for strumming. Whilst I didn’t find it easy to hold correctly, let alone make music, I thought that, with practice, it would come.

I relayed this to the John and off we dinced to Gig Gear in Harlow (mega music store with hundreds of guitars to choose from) to set me up with an instrument on which to learn. Initially I thought the choice would be overwhelming but then this bright blue specimen spoke to me and I had to have it. Fortunately for John it was not one of the expensive ones and was duly purchased, along with complimentary set of strings and a handful of plectrums.

Even as we loaded it into the car, the guy from the music shop called me to see if I wanted to sign up for further lessons. He must be psychic! I was so impressed with his swift follow up that I agreed to 7 lessons, to commence this coming Monday.

In the meantime I am learning the exercises he gave me, diligently plucking away twice a day for 20 minutes or so – I’ve even cut the nails on my left hand really short to make holding the strings down easier. And I’m getting there. And I’m really enjoying it too.

So that’s a result.

Chestnut Avenue finally came about…003001 Close up… 100_3167And from the other end…100_3166 100_3164 100_3163 These last three being taken only a couple of days sooner but the difference is very noticeable. Though am not convinced that any of these these pics really do it justice. Still, gives you a flavour/some idea of what I was raving about. Maybe. The last one is, if nothing else, an interesting shot of a moody sky, a fork in the road – with a signpost – and the best side of my car.

The veggie patch is coming along…003 Really looking forward to sampling some of the broad beans. Love ’em. Have added some marigolds for colour along the front edge. There’s lots of buds waiting for the sun to appear and open them up so will do another pic when we have some blooms.

Extra radish and courgette have been planted in pots…004 005 Along with Nasturtiums…002 Which aren’t looking great but maybe with time..?.

And have hung up some bird feeders too…001 Already attracting some attention. Need more.

Lucky John has been given a car by a very nice man and good friend. It’s a very nice car…001 Which almost went through the MOT – just needs a couple of tyres, rear caliper freeing off and washer pump made to work. Nothing serious. We’ve sourced some very reasonable/inexpensive part worn tyres and, with luck, John will be able to fix the other stuff. He’s busy with that right now.

Speaking of tyres, cars and the fixing of…

Last Thursday I drove John to the airfield where he parks the aeroplane when down on the boat. He was ready to fly back to the fens for a day or two but the S10 had other ideas.

A flat tyre…005 Pumped it up but lost more air as we watched so was considered unsafe to fly. That is to say if flat by the time he came to land on the farm, unsafe to land, given the 10ft dyke on one side of the strip – you get the picture!! So off with the wheel…006 And off to the bike shop for a puncture repair kit. By this time the weather had deteriorated so went into Bishop’s Stortford to upgrade my phone at the 3 shop. I am now the proud owner of a Nexus 5 Android phone and, so far, am getting along very nicely with it – the old Samsung was about to die on me I suspect.

When we returned to the car park – guess what – my car also had a puncture!! Can you believe it, 2 punctures in as many hours.

When you live on a boat, the car boot tends to get packed out with stuff. Said stuff then has to be unpacked to get at the spare, which is stowed handily under the floor (and all the junk). My job then before wheel can be changed and John’s job after that.

Fortunately, the rain that soaked us when we arrived in BS had gone away so job done. Then I re-packed the boot. Really must have a sort out.

What a day.

And then there’s the little boat.

And when I say little… 100_3194_stitch Perhaps this picture gives you an idea of scale. It is standing next to a 60 footer  here, once you pick her out – just right of centre if you are struggling.

But more of that in the next post. Deserves one all of its own I reckon – lots of pics, progress made and ideas.

Coming very soon.

When is a Lemon not a Lemon..? (An antidote to all those marvellous boat fit-out blogs)

4 May

This is what we hope to find out.

But first, we need to do a little detective work, solve a few mysteries and partake in some tracking and tracing.

Stop talking in riddles I hear you say. What on earth am I on about?

Let me explain.

John has bought a little boat. A 25 footer…002

Made of concrete, or more correctly, ferro-cement, which we hope isn’t, but fear may well be, a pup/pig in a poke/lemon.

I plan to chart our progress (or otherwise) with pictures and words so do stay tuned and follow this scary journey, this being the first instalment, I suspect, of many.

She was filled with water when we first looked at her; the tiny wood stove being knee-deep in it…100_3100

And there must have been a few gallons under the engine…100_3101

See the paint can floating just the other side of the cabin door?

As the stern was completely open to the elements all winter, despite (interestingly) the entire rest of the boat being covered in a tarp…100_3104


It’s hardly surprising.

That’s what we told ourselves anyway.

It’s a real pretty boat though…078

If not a little unusual…006

The wooden frames on the roof are actually the bones of a windscreen that was started (but not finished) by the last owner.They have – we think – been designed to fit onto the woodwork that is fitted all around the stern.

It’s a feature I’m not sure about and, for now, am calling the garden fence. Time will tell though and it could be that, when finished, it’ll be the bee’s knees (John thinks so) or maybe an abomination of the first order (I’m leaning this way).

Someone else’s empties by the way.

First job for the John was to syphon out the bulk of the water, then we could employ my marvellous aqua vac to hoover up the rest. At least we’d then be able to properly see what we were up against.

Then I (being Mrs. Sensible) declared that we must remove all the shite and detritis, which we did by tossing most of it over the side – to be sifted through and sorted later…002 (4) 003 (3)

Now whilst this may look like a heap of junk/untidy mess to you and me, believe me, this is not out of place in this marina. Fits right in with the character of the place.

It’s John heaven. He will have hours of fun going through this lot at a later stage, no doubt discovering many treasures and a whole raft of things he didn’t know he didn’t want. Trust me and watch this space for future finds.

With Health and Safety being on the top of John’s list, he being its most ardent exponent, he set about constructing a secure boarding platform…004 (2)

I doubt he would have bothered but, needing Mrs Mop here on board (in every sense), realised this was essential.

Naturally, I am now reassured so here goes…100_3099

Into the abyss.

We took these out before John started drinking…005 (2)

And this…081

Full of course.

So, that done, what do we have?

Well, there was an engine under all that rubble…077

An air-cooled Lister SL3, which may be overkill but can’t wait to hear it run, though bits are missing or not connected so could be fun. John has already made a smart cranking handle…002 (5)

As yet, there is no battery.

A cosy cabin…067



That works!…076

Nice butler sink…068

Although no hole cut to cupboard below, let alone pipes.

Have you spotted a theme yet? As in lots of things started but not finished.

A future shower/wet room…070

Opening windows…066

And the stove may be tiny…064

And needing much TLC, not to mention some serious wire brushing and stove paint.

But it works wonderfully well…004

We are keeping it in as much as possible in order to dry out the boat’s insides.

It’s doing a damned good job of it so far, though some of the woodwork is going to need attention – nothing a good scrub/coat of paint won’t fix.

My home-making tendencies and talents are crying out to be employed – I can make this ship good and ship-shape, cosy and home – and am keen to get cracking on it.


The water has been syphoned and hoovered but still seems to seep back into little pools on the floor.

This is where the detective work comes in. Is it just innocent and slow running, to stop once it is ready?

Or do we have a leak?

To be fair, the little concrete boat does have a bit of a history according to the boys around here that knew its previous owner. Apparently it cruised down from Bishop’s Stortford to here – no more than 4 miles – then was rather hastily hauled onto the slipway as was taking on water.

So, is it a lemon? Our latest discovery would have one thinking it is…002 (3)

The jury is still out but BB is getting that sinking feeling.

What do you think?