Saturday 29 October 2022

Northwich Dry Dock. River Weaver.

 It’s a widely held belief that there is no point blacking the base plate of a steel narrow boat. The theory goes something like this;

1. It’ll all get scraped off as soon as you are back on the canal.

2. All the corrosion takes place near the surface and at over 2’ below there is very little electrolytic activity.

3. The base plate is 10 mm thick and it’s the sides you should be more concerned about.

While there is merit in all the above, after getting underneath Legend for the first time in our ownership, and possibly the first time in its life, we can tell you, Dear Reader, that the base plate does indeed corrode. Northwich have a 4000-psi pressure washer, a beast of a thing, and after Matt had gone over nb Footloose, Dave donned his waterproofs and goggles and began removing all the weed and loose material from Legend’s bum.

 After attacking the sides on the back quarter and getting used to how flippin’ powerful the big pressure washer was, Dave lay down on the sophisticated Low Level Mobile Access Device (the bottom of an Asda trolley with a bit of wood on top) and started of the base plate.

 The amount of material that came off was frankly shocking. Big chunks of rusty crap went flying everywhere leaving Dave wet, filthy and with his eyes smarting despite the goggles, and worrying for the rest of the week about the integrity of what he’d left behind.

 It took him all his grit (sic) and the rest of the day to finish the job, but it was very much worth the effort.

We are now firmly converted to the “Yes It Does” camp, along with Matt, who’s had nine years of seeing boats come into his dock in a similar state to ours, and our new favourite marine surveyor, Mike Carter, who’s surveyed an endless procession of boats with severely reduced base plate thickness. They both think that the belief that it doesn’t need doing is supported and encouraged by all the boatyards where it just isn’t possible. Discuss.

While Dave was in his own little wet, rusty hell underneath, David was busy sanding down the red and cream on the back end and the black on the tumblehomes.

David with the sander and Dave under the cloud of spray.

By lunchtime on Wednesday the Boyz had 3 coats of blacking on, the back end and tumblehomes were finished, Dave was wondering why he hadn’t found out before that pile rollers are a lot more robust and at least twice as quick as foam ones, and David had washed down the cabin sides leaving Legend looking very smart.

Dave had also taken the decision to rub down the name plate on the bow and start again.

 For the time being, Legend will become the Boat with No Name and we haven't decided what to do about that yet, but we think having the name on the back of the boat and a pattern on the bow would look quite good. David got two coats of cream on the bow as a canvas for whatever we decide. In the afternoon they got the tiller and rudder back in their slot (always a struggle because it’s just so damned heavy) ...

Legend's tiller and rudder. it should split into two parts, but it won't, and although it heavy, it's easier for two people to manhandle it as it is.

...refitted the rear fender frame and painted Legend’s name on the dock wall.

It wasn’t all work though. While various coats of paint were drying, they looked around the lock island...

... and Dan, the chap who owns Safe Hand, invited them to look around his monumental “project”.

He’s converting the old tanker into a houseboat and the amount of work is colossal. It will no doubt be amazing when it’s finished, he’s been at it for four years and has at least four more to go, but what he’s accomplished so far is impressive.

On Thursday Dave pulled the weed hatch out and blacked it, something he should have done on day one but, with all the pressure washing excitement, forgot. David left for home later on in the morning, He’d been a real help and Dave wouldn’t have got anywhere near as much done without him. 

After he’d gone, Dave put the front and rear fenders back on
 and had a clean through inside ready for Ann-Marie’s return. She came back with tales of lots of good times, girly days out and lovely food.

Despite going to the moon and back, she’d had an awful six-hour drive home through fog, rain, roadworks and accidents, so we had a lazy afternoon on the sofa catching up with strictly.

Friday was spent mostly putting as much washing as we could find through the machine while we were still plugged in and getting us all set to go back in the water.  Ann-Marie had a Covid booster booked in town and on the way back we stopped at “The Cod’s Pollocks” for a chippy dinner.

In the morning Ann-Marie went through the boat with the hoover while the power was still on, then the dock crew arrived and began the refloating procedure. While the water came back into the dock, Dave kept a close eye on the inspection hatch under the wardrobe.

 He really was quite concerned that the pressure washer might have compromised the integrity of the hull; if there were any leaks, that was where the water would end up. Happily, by the time the dock was full it was all still dry and remained so for the rest of the day. (Dave’s anxiety gradually decreased over the next few weeks and he went from checking it every five minutes to hourly, then daily, then every few days.  The inspection hatch is on his monthly check list, so before long we’ll be back to normal.)

The dock crew hooked the gantry crane up to the lock gate and hauled it out...

...then Hamish backed Footloose out into the weir channel. With lots of thanks and goodbyes to Matt and his crew, we carefully backed the Boat with No Name out, being so, so careful to not bump our shiny paint on anything, then turned and followed Hamish round to the lock landing. The only thing that we didn’t tick off our list in the dry dock was painting the tiller swan neck, but that will get sorted somewhere along the cut over the next few weeks. Otherwise, it was a very successful docking. Of course, painting the base plate had set a precedent; we would have to do it every time from that point on, which would mean finding boat yards where that was possible. However, that was for the future. For now, we had our little (nameless) home back in the water and looking lovely, life was grand, and the next horizon awaited us.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We had the base plate on our boat blacked a number of years ago and most of it is still good. There's a bit of wear along the edges. The boat draws about 2 feet. I'd says it is well worth doing and that you certainly shouldn't have to redo it every time.

Pangbourne to Sutton Courtenay. River Thames.

Summer ‘24 finally arrived while we were moored at Pangbourne, and boy, did we all know about it. The temperatures rocketed up - along with ...