Thursday, 4 November 2010

The joys (and expense) of narrowboat ownership

It's four years since this was last done and it was done by a professional up on the Canal du Centre while we were home in the UK for August. This year, we have been unable to find anyone in the area who can/will do it for us at an affordable price. I'm talking about  blacking the bottom, stuffing the stern gland and replacing the anodes.

Before any of this can be done, the boat must be lifted out of the water and put on wooden supports (recycled railway sleepers in Britain but the French railways use concrete so no hope of acquiring any there.) We were resigned to buying wood from a supplier in St Quentin until we took a trip to test drive bodhrans at the weekend.

MWNN and I had lunch in the Beefeater in Bedford marina on Saturday, after I'd bought my bodhran. We had a good mooch around the boatyard where there were some boats out of the water, propped on said sleepers. As we were leaving, I spotted a pile of ready-cut sleepers and we took the phone number of the yard to call after the weekend. On the way home, we stopped off at 'Joe Grundy's' (not his real name - Archers' fans will get the reference) where we buy our coal and logs. There were some pieces of timber on the outside woodpile, but 'Joe' said they were 'spoken for'. He went into great detail about how to get to the sawmill that supplies him with recycled timber and MWNN went over on Monday and bought what he needed. He reckoned it cost half what unseasoned pine would cost in France (and it wasn't cheap!).

So now he's all set. He has two large tarps to work under if it rains (I've made two huge draught-excluder-type sausages that he's filled with sand to weight the tarps. He has the blacking and paint brushes and the pressure hose The Daughter bought some years ago to clean the boat's bottom before painting. As the boat will be out of the water until next March, there's no rush to work on the stern gland or anodes. The race will be to get the blacking done before the winter weather sets in and it becomes too cold to do the work effectively.

The boats come out on 6th by crane from Brailly Levage. The cost of the hire is split between all the boats who are coming out plus an extra 'per foot'  charge.

MWNN is in St Quentin, making preparations for the big day. Fingers crossed that he has mild weather (blacking can't be done in temperatures below 10C) in which to work before he comes home.