About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Blacking begins.

Our doggie fix has come and gone, Toffee was returned to our sons a week ago, we have now resorted once again to being couch potatoes. Mind you the weather has been atrocious, not walking conditions at all, and the planned dry docking for Monday was touch and go at one point. Without any cover we were open to the elements and applying bitumen to a wet hull was a no no! We decided to go for it anyway as a small window of good weather was forecast from Wednesday onwards and Vikki & Dan (owners of the boatyard) gave us an extra day drying.

In the rain, we moved FS into the dock. Another boat joined us, Halcyon, not a DIY, so it would be left to Vikki to do the blacking. Anyway, soon both boats had descended and settled onto the steel sleepers and as soon as the dock had completely emptied, Ian set too with the jet wash.

Most of FS's had been cleaned and a very small area left when disaster struck. First the jet wash hose split, not a problem as Dan had a spare but as soon as the washer was once more switched on, the pressure valve gave up the ghost. Well, nearly two hours went by as both Dan and his brother Tom tried to fix it. In the end, they had to give up and bring out a small electric jet washer. Ian finished FS's hull, but I did feel for Dan trying to jet wash the hull of Halcyon. It took twice as long as it hardly had the power of the industrial broken one!

Tuesday was a day of fine mizzle and dry periods, but I did manage to get one coat of bitumen around the waterline. Ian blacked the uxter plate and swim, both protected of course by the rear counter.

Not a lot more was done by me that day, although Ian did titivate rubbing down the tunnel bands and applying undercoat in-between the showers. Thank goodness it was quick drying!


Wednesday the blacking really begun. Overnight the hull had dried, I was up at 7 am knowing I had but 4 hours in which to get the first coat on both sides. After midday, more rain was forecast, not a problem once the bitumen had been applied. I managed it in 3 hours, but gosh my back at the end screamed out in pain and trying to stand up straight was agony! Plenty of painkillers taken and the thought of doing it all again the next day to apply a second coat filled me with dread. Ian had been sorting out the tiller. Having bounced over some rubble on our travels in Birmingham, the steering had felt very light. Turns out the wedge Ian had placed in the cup had perished, so a new one was made from an old paint spray cap, and this did the job nicely. 


This was done before Ian had blacked underneath the uxter.

Anyway, by Thursday morning the painkillers had worked and Ian helped out by blacking the starboard side. While I went inside for a rest, he set too, rubbing down the gunwales and smoothing the newly applied undercoat on the tunnel bands in readiness to gloss. 

The finished tunnel bands

Friday it was all done, the big clean-up started, me on the inside trying to remove as much dirt and dust from floors shelves etc, and Ian on the outside replacing fenders and giving the gunwales a second coat of paint. 

FS was refloated this morning. Both sides and top were given a thorough wash before we brought FS back into the basin. We plan to leave in MB Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, heading South and to the Isle of White. All problems on MB have been sorted to our satisfaction, hopefully we will have trouble free summer but knowing our luck, probably not! Oh, the tar running down the flue on FS also seems to have been sorted. Since Ian used silicone as a seal, it's been okay.

1 comment:

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

A few days of pretty hard work - well done, both of you!

Big hugs, Mxx

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