Daisypath - Vacation

Monday, 10 November 2014

The days really do seem to go by so quickly these days. What happened to the times when I was younger, when it seemed like forever between Halloween and Christmas?

Does time really go faster the older you get - I'm sure my Dad used to say something like that!

Yes, it's been over a week since I last updated, but there's not all that much that's been going off. We're still doing a very slow cleanup of the engine room. We're not rushing it - it's not a living space so it's not impacting on day to day life on the boat.

Last week, we cleaned all the engine room floor boards and all the appliances that had a film of oil all over them(!) We also used an oil and degreaser solution and diluted that and threw it into the bilge where it's still sitting - hopefully working away. In the next day or so we will go in there and give it a good scrubbing with a bristle brush and hopefully a lot of the grease will be cleaned up and we can think further along the lines of getting it all painted up.

Pawel was off on Bonfire Night - we didn't really do much though and didn't go to see any firework displays. We just had a movie night in and dinner and even had toffee popcorn !



It's really easy to make, but really addictive too. I'll post the recipe soon - it's not difficult, better than buying it and was definitely a good bonfire night snack!


For once, it was actually proper bonfire night weather too - cold, dry and misty! I haven't remembered a bonfire night like that since I was a kid - we even had a festive walk outside around 10PM just to take it all in!

The riddling grate broke on our stove the other day. I noticed when I riddled that suddenly all the coal seemed to disappear into the ash pan! Another worry! (And bill!!)

We let the fire die out the day after and took a look - the grate had actually snapped in half. We've ordered another one which came on saturday but haven't fitted it yet.

In the meantime, it would mean that we couldn't really empty the ash and the ash and the coal would all be in one pile meaning that within a day or so, the efficiency of the stove would decrease.

We decided to do a repair job on the grate while we were awaiting delivery of the new one. It was dead easy!...



We got a wire coat hanger and literally used the wire to bend around the two parts, pulling them together


Its not perfect but it's done the job and meant we could keep the stove going. I think we're going to let the stove die out tonight and drop the new one in tomorrow!



Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Little Bit Better...

Yes, we're feeling a little bit more positive about it all today and we've even been cracking a joke or two about it all as well. Today, we didn't get up until late - nearly 11, despite planning an early start to run the engine beforehand to charge up the batteries so we could let it cool enough to work on and fix the exhaust.

It left us a bit short of time, but we definitely needed the lie in- with everything going on, it's just drained us - plus I didn't sleep that well last night either due to the local party scene outside!!

We had a bit of breakfast/lunch and then Pawel set off on attempting to apply the gum to the exhaust. Here's how it was looking:




It's a bit awkward to get to as well as it's the top of the silencer, so it has broken away right on the opposite side to where you can get to - nearly against the side wall of the hull.

Poor Pav!


He had a little hand held mirror and a torch to help and applied it as best he could. It doesn't look perfect, but who cares about that?? As long as it does the job - that's the most important thing.

Gum applied:






My only concern looking at the pictures, is that it hasn't been applied thickly enough - there weren't any instructions on the tin really as to how thick it needed to be applied. Anybody have any ideas??

I did also get the bandage too, so I might get Pawel to slap another layer of the gum on tomorrow and then also wrap in the bandage - should be good to go then!

We still have the clean up to do as well - oil all over the deck boards and all over the washing machine and tumble dryer that's in the tumble dryer.

I got something called "Swarfega Oil and Grease Remover" yesterday from Halfords. I haven't tried it yet, but my plan is to clean all the obvious up first (deck boards, tumble dryer, washer) and then literally throw shit loads of it down into the bilge and maybe use a coarse brush to scrub and just keep rinsing it out to clean up. My master plan is to then use Owatrol on the bare steel and paint all the bilge so we can get it all properly tidied up and looking smart.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Great Depression!

Well, after a lot of delays - irritating ones at that, we finally got away from Stretford Marina this morning. It wasn't a triumphant journey, nor did we have anything to feel pleased about really despite the engine having been fully re-mounted.

Here are the new engine mounts - x4 at £50 a piece!



Whilst the engine has been fixed into place and is working, we are aware now of the exhaust silencer having a split in it - apparently where the engine moved forward during it's divorce from the base plate, and has slightly torn away from the main exhaust pipe. This is going to cost us a further £250 ++ on top of what we have already paid - it's seriously depressing.

The work in progress - engine disconnected from exhaust and propellor shaft:



Not only that, but of course we also had to pay Stretford Marina for the pleasure of mooring there for the last 8 or 9 days. The whole thing has been a nightmare - and the boat still looks like it's in pieces. There's a hell of a lot of oil all over the paintwork outside and I just really feel like our boat has been torn apart - all our efforts to always try and improve upon it and make it something special - our home - seem to have backfired spectacularly.

Yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to even wash-up a cup - just the thought of where to start with the mess everywhere just makes me want to close all the blinds and go to sleep. I'm hoping that we will both snap out of this in the next few days.

The mess:



I have to admit that it was good to get back to Castlefield - Stretford is really not a great place to be at all and I think that"/ contributed to the depression!

Not only that, but it's nice to have some sort of a view again - the leaves are really coming down around here now - it has a magical autumn feel to the place, although we can't fully appreciate it due to the stress and worry of everything... We can try I suppose.



I popped to Halfords this afternoon as apparently you can get a bandage which can go round exhaust pipes - I found a bandage type thing and a paste - I got them both as I'm not really sure what kind of hole/split it is as I cannot get in there due to the problems with my knee. These "aids" are for cars though - I'm not really sure if it will work on our boat exhaust.

I hope it does as right now, having the engine on, the exhaust fumes fill the engine room and you can smell them in the bedroom which is right next door - I don't want everything stinking in the bedroom of diesel and getting ruined.

For now, I'm just not going to run the engine, not even for battery charging as I don't think it's really safe either despite what the RCR guy and a few others have said. I'm hoping the bandage/gum will work as we are not having someone come to look at it until Tuesday, never mind having it fixed. Thats a long time with no hot water or electric!


Monday, 27 October 2014

Getting it Together!

With some good food last night (and red wine, of course!) and a lovely comment from a reader, as well as texts from boating friends, I woke up today in a much more positive frame of mind.

Pawel is off work today too, although he still isn't feeling the best about everything. We called the guy from RCR this morning to check if he would be coming today, and as I suspected , the answer was no. He did tell me though that he will definitely be coming tomorrow.....we'll see!

In the meantime, with Pav being off, we headed into town this morning to get a few bits and pieces so we can get the clean up started in the engine room.

We left our 'wet n dry' vac back on our mooring in Poynton which is a bit of a pain as we have a lot of water that has collected in the engine bilge after the incident last Wednesday! There's also a lot of oil that's discharged - not sure where that has come from still at this stage. There doesn't seem to be any leaks or splits anywhere but it needs cleaning out anyway.




We first thought we would get a mop to dry it all out(!!) - it is possible to completely dry a bilge out with a mop and bucket alone - we did it years ago when a twin tub incident filled the engine room! It's bloody hard work though!! Then we found a siphon pump in Clas ohlson - perfect, especially for only £11.99!



It kind of looks like a big syringe and is nearly as tall as me but it should do the job! It's handy to have I suppose as well incase of emergencies like this and it's small enough that it can live in the engine room after we've finished using it. Not only that but it is suitable to use with oil too and it means that we can pump the oil separately into a container for safe disposal.

I've also got some white spirit to give the engine body a bit of a clean over so it should all be looking smart.

The current mess:


Does anyone want to paint my engine bilge though??!

Not a lot else to report right now. Steak and matchstick potatoes for dinner and again, plenty of good wine - hopefully that will sort us out and fingers crossed we really should be sorted out engine-wise tomorrow!

We had the third replacement carpet delivered the other day too (more about that in a blog post in the future - it's the other issue I was ranting about last week!) It's currently rolled up and on the bedroom floor until I can get the fitter back in again - access to the bedroom is now very difficult and everything feels a real mess but it's not the end of the world is it?! The boat is just shrinking in size that's all!

Keep your fingers crossed for us tomorrow!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Stop Over

It's not great being in Stretford - the marina and surroundings are nice but the place in general isn't that great at all - it's making me feel really depressed!

Every day now I've come into the city centre just to get away from it all - the boat, the problems and Stretford. Not only that but we only have shoreline on during the day which is switched off at 4:30PM so I'm also trying to reserve electricity where I can, so if I come into Manchester and get a coffee from Costa, I can bring the iPad and phone here to charge them as well as do a blog post!

I'm hoping that the guy from RCR comes tomorrow to complete the work and we can be on our way, but I've just got a funny feeling we'll have a call telling us he can't come and it's likely to be later on in the week.... My gut feelings are usually spot on, but I really hope not this time. I just want it done and sorted now! There's nothing like being in limbo is there?!

I have a list of jobs that need doing still on the boat (doesn't everyone?) but I'm not sure if it's the stress of the engine or being in Stretford or a combination of everything (probably) - but I just feel so washed out, lacking in energy and literally like I can't be bothered to do anything. The place is going to rack and ruin! Even making breakfast right now seems like a right chore! Hopefully I will snap out of it in the next couple of days - especially if we do get the engine sorted tomorrow and can be back to doing what this life is all about - boating!

One of the jobs I have planned is to re-oil the worktop again! I only did this the other month but I wasn't quite happy with the finish. It's much too glossy and a little accident Pawel had on the worktop(!!) meant that I had to do a patch-in job which never looked right. I tried using a super fine wire wool to dull the existing finish, which it did, but it also gave it a greyness which makes the finish look clouded.

The pictures actually don't show what I mean and the clouding only looks so in the direct light/sunlight.







Seeing as I've used wirewool on it already, I'm hoping now that I can just go over it in some fine sandpaper in the places that I'm not happy with and then just go over with the oil and get away with one coat.

The only problem now is that I like to use Rustins Worktop Oil which I can only find in the DIY shop in Poynton - I looked all over Manchester for it a few months back and couldn't find it and ended up using Danish Oil in the interim - reminding me how much I hate using that!



So it looks like a trip to Poynton on the train, but it will have to wait until we are back in the city centre I suppose, otherwise it's just too much travelling for a bottle of oil!

Remember, I can't be bothered??!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Stationary!

There's always a problem isn't there? Especially when it comes to people working on your boat! Basically, we were told this morning that the guy wouldn't be returning today to work on the boat as his van had broken down.... Hmmm.

Now we must wait until Monday or Tuesday before he can come back which isn't great as it means we will have to keep making a nuisance of ourselves at Stretford and I hate laying things on people really who don't really have anything to do with it. Poor Malcolm!

The good news is that during the day, we have got access to shoreline and I managed to sneak a wash load on today, so that's one plus. Another is that the marina is actually really quiet so we're getting some good sleep!

We also topped our water tank up today too and it's in a really handy place - right next to the deck of our boat! Bonus!

I'm already thinking of the next job to do (and fork out on!) I want to replace the deck tiles on the front well deck. We currently have wooden ones but they're just a pain - they're in a gloss finish which looks bad, and they keep needing to be recoated if you scratch them etc, plus they're always covered in mud and dog hair.

I think We'll get some of the plastic deck tiles that we did on the back deck last year - easy to clean and wash off as well as lift off when you need to. It also means that it looks tidier and is one less thing for me to have to bend down to everyday on my poor knee to clean!

Here are the ones we installed about a year and a half ago:







They're brill and I'd definitely recommend them to people - non slip too!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Engine Update

Yesterday, Malcolm from Stretford Marine had managed to get hold of a guy that works for RCR who said he would be coming this morning - we thought he'd be here just after 9 so were up quite early to get breakfast out of the way and get tidied up in time.

I think the shock of it all had finally worn off by morning as last night we both just felt completely numb. Not upset, angry or anything else, but just numb. So many things have gone wrong this last month, it's unbelievable! People say it would be the same in a house, but I'm not so sure. I've never had so many things going wrong in the house or apartment in 10 years of home ownership all at the time same, like on the boat!



However, I suppose I'm starting to feel a little more positive. After all, everything that could possibly go wrong, really has by now. So, clean slate, right?! I suppose the only other thing that could go wrong is a flood or the place sinks - perhaps I shouldn't jest - knowing us, that is on the cards next!

Anyway, the RCR guy eventually came at 11 and told us he could come and remount the whole engine tomorrow - as well as replace the gear box rubber and re-lag the exhaust pipe for us - at a cost of £500!! He said he'd never, ever seen an engine mounted so badly. It had basically been mounted on top of the mounts, so the whole weight of the engine was on top of them rather than the bolts going through the engine and sitting mid-way between (if that makes sense)

Still, I'm looking forward to it being done, so it's sorted of course and also because we should have a super-quiet engine then! He is going to re-align the prop shaft too and basically make sure it's mounted as best it can be. He sounds confident and seems to know what he's doing so all should be well. The downside is that we will be brassick for god knows how long!!!!!

Hopefully this time tomorrow it will all be done and dusted. We can then get everything cleaned up and sort out all the dust and oil spattering from whatever explosion happened at some point and it should all be as good as new!

Check your engine mounts regularly folks - and never travel if even one had broken - it simply puts too much strain on the other three!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dunham Drama!

Yesterday was our final day in Dunham Massey before we had to head back and the day started at 5:30AM! I woke up first at that time to the sound of heavy rain and the side of the boat "crunching" against the towpath - usually a sign that the ropes aren't tight enough.

Anyway, after waking-up fully, I could heard the sound of strong wind (it wasn't Pav!) but like it was high above, rather than affecting us directly. Things soon progressed and before we knew it, the boat was moving around like a really turbulent plane flight!

That made the crunching/banging even worse so we had no choice but to head outside to re-tie the boat. We decided to cut the ropes completely and move the boat forward along the towpath a little bit as there was more of a bank there for us to gain a bit of protection from - the wind was horrendous! Seriously eery too as we were the only ones moored there and it was absolutely pitch black, with the high-pitched whistle of the wind made only more noticeable by the solitary surroundings.

Not only that but the mooring at Dunham Massey is quite high up and you're totally exposed on both sides - completely vulnerable. The blowing of the trees in the distance and the open, dark landscape made it a scary yet exciting experience.

We took everything off the roof, and all the plant pots off the gas locker and deck and just put them on the deck floor, went back inside and tried to get a bit more shut-eye! We awoke again just after 9 and it was still the same - the boat rocking about and the wind horrendous.



To be fair, at this time there was a bit of sunshine!


The rain set in later on and we had everything else inbetween - mist, hailstones, even thunder and lightening! So it was definitely an indoor day - even Eddie didn't want to head out.

It was great to have a day to ourselves like that though, just watching TV, eating and generally doing nothing with a bit of turbulence for onboard entertainment!

Everything finally calmed down about 10:30 last night.... The calm before the storm I suppose....

We left Dunham Massey this morning just after 9 and it was perfectly calm and sunny. But as usual in our life, it wasn't long before disaster struck! We noticed that the engine suddenly started vibrating really badly and the engine room was suddenly filled with black smoke! We already knew that one mounting bracket had broken as we had arrived in Dunham Massey on Sunday so thought it was something to do with that.

We moored up quickly and switched off, lifting the engine room floor up to take a look... Nothing obvious as such, but we did notice that the whole engine had moved forward about 2 inches.

We weren't far from Stretford Marine so pulled the boat to them to see if they could help. We had a look again while waiting for someone to come and take a look at the engine for us and discovered that the 3 other mounting brackets had snapped!

The engine is totally disconnected from the base plate and could haves snapped the prop shaft and god knows what else - that would have meant water just pouring in and then we'd have sank!

Engine mount - the circular bolt thing next to the red wires:


Luckily we were that close to Stretford Marine, who have been brilliant and let us stay overnight, as well as call round all manner of people to try and get it sorted for us. Malcolm really helped as did a guy called Dave who is on the marina.

Between them, they have arranged for a guy from RCR to come to look tomorrow morning, but it won't be sorted until the coming days - and at what expense i can only dread... I know the mounting brackets are around £40 quid each and we need four!



The only good news is that we didn't do any further damage by the looks of it and at the end of the day, it's only the engine mounts. The engine room and bilge looks like a bomb has hit it as a lot of excess water did come in and there's dust and crap everywhere after having to lift all the boards and crap we keep in there.

I can't do any battery charging but Stretford have provided shoreline during the day time and a gennie incase we need further power in the evening. What happened to our own brand new generator I hear you say??!

THATS PACKED IN AFTER 6 DAYS AND 15HOURS MAX USE!!

One thing after another?? Too bloody right!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

An Autumn Cruise

We decided last week that we would go away for a couple of days on Sunday as Pawel had Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off and isn't back in work until tomorrow afternoon.

We set off mid-afternoon on Sunday despite there being heavy showers and a strong wind. We were just desperate to get on the back deck and get the boat moving...We were determined that nothing would stop us!

We were headed for one of our favourite places of all time - Dunham Massey - and were quite excited as we had never been here at this time of year before. I love Autumn and I couldn't wait to get up here to see all the changing colours of the trees and the falling leaves on the ground and floating on the canal like confetti.

It hasn't disappointed. We really have had a lovely few days - even the cruise up here on Sunday, despite being chilly and a bit wet,was really memorable.




Our mooring:



We did have a few problems once we arrived on Sunday though. For a few weeks now, we've noticed that the engine has been incredibly noisy and I had put it down to needing an oil change, but once we'd moored up here, we had a look under the engine room floor and noticed that one of the metal mounting legs of the engine has literally snapped off. So it's obviously excess vibration caused by it not being secured properly.

Hopefully it won't be too expensive to sort out, but you can see Pawel wasn't happy!



We didn't really do much on the Sunday as it was about 530PM when we got here so we just moored up, had dinner and enjoyed the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

Yesterday, we went for a walk around the Dunham Massey Park. I couldn't wait as it's fantastic in Summer, but I knew at this time of year it would be even more magical. I was hoping for a bit more colours in the trees, but I think everywhere is still so green because of all the mild weather we're still having.

Anyway, I'll let the photos speak for themselves...
















The deer were out and about which was a stark contrast to last time we were here as it was breeding season and they were all cordoned off and not walking about as they usually are. A the park was so quiet, it was easy to get some up close shots of the deer too!










We left the park after having a coffee (and a homemade granola bar that I managed to sneak into the coffee shop that I made yesterday morning!) at about 5PM and just took a slow stroll home, taking in the fantastic scenery.
















Autumn definitely has to be my favourite season...






Will tell you more tomorrow about today and the big storm that woke us up at 5AM! For now, I have to head off as I want to get dinner started - I'm making a Chinese dish - sesame chicken....It's sweet, sticky, crispy and gorgeous!

Tomorrow, we head back so the dream is over for now. I'd best make the most of it tonight....

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bad Week = No Blog!

I haven't felt like blogging really this week, although that's not entirely true, it's more a case of I've not had much time for it either as I've spent the week arguing with people! There'll be more about that later...

On a positive front, we have finally, FINALLY bought a generator. It's not ideal, lugging it in and out of the engine room but it means we can now use our washing machine! Since we've been away from the mooring for nearly 6 months, we've been wandering the streets with bags and suitcases of washing hunting down launderettes and it was getting depressing! Not only that, but I felt that walking around with socks and dirty tea towels sticking out of the bags was only contributing to the "gypsy central" stereotype boaters get labelled with all the time!

Enough was enough so we bit the bullet and decided to buy a generator. We decided that seeing as we don't always have shoreline it will also double up as an extra security for battery charging and hot water too. You can never have too many options as a boater - be prepared for everything!

Originally we were going to go with an unbranded one I saw on eBay with electric start and remote control for only £375 rated at 2200w.... However, it was one of those things where you thought about it and had a gut feeling something wasn't quite right - generators just aren't that cheap, especially pure sine wave ones which the seller said it was.

In the end, we found a Hyundai branded generator (for nearly double the price mind - but with electric/remote control start) and decided to go with that one as it's a good name and has a 2 year warranty. You also know if you take it into a repair place, they are going to be able to get parts for it!



I ordered it on Monday for delivery on Tuesday. I ordered from a company called Tool Net and specifically asked which courier would deliver it and was told UK Mail and paid what I thought was an additional £16.99 for delivery... When a confirmation email came through, despite me paying for the additional delivery charge on the phone they'd charged me £19.99, failing to tell me on the phone that they would also then add VAT on the delivery as well.... So that was the start of "GETTING PISSED OFF" week.

The next blow, was that suddenly it was now being delivered by TNT. I HATE and I mean really hate TNT as they just can't deliver when they're supposed to - they're neither on time, can't provide delivery timeslots, lose things - I've had it all with TNT!

That's why whenever I order anything online I ask which Courier they use - and if they mention TNT, I'll buy elsewhere. I just don't know how they are still in existence, they're that shit!!

Everything delivered is also so much harder when living on a boat and we're using either a business address or Pawel's work address - so TNT is always out of the question as it just causes too many problems!

Anyway, despite me having a massive bust up on the phone with them regarding sneakily adding VAT on a delivery charge and not telling me and then changing couriers, TNT did actually deliver (quite early) on Tuesday morning! Wouldn't use Tool-Net again though in a million years as they don't know shite about customer service.

Anyway, it sounds sad, but we did get quite excited over this as well as quite anxious, knowing if it would power the washing machine or not. We unboxed and topped up with petrol and oil as per the instructions in the manual.

The other reason we went with the Hyundai, is that it came with a lot of accessories, including a shoreline cable (fly lead), engine oil, an oil jug/filler, spare bulbs and battery cables - all these things would have have been an additional cost, as we'd have had to go running around for them before being able to use it. It was much easier just to buy something, a little more expensive, but just be able to use it right out of the box.

Larry(!) looks happy!:


Unboxing:


The key fobs, which we were really excited about using, as sad as we are!!


Opening the maintenance door:


Ready to top up with oil and prime:



Filling with oil:



the control panel



We then filled up with petrol and plugged in the washing machine. We only have a little 3kg Zanussi but it is rated at 1900w which is quite close to the rated load of the generator (being a maximum of 2200w)...

....we switched the generator on and then started it by remote control (feels really clever to start it with remote!) and held our breath as the washing machine started to fill with water...

.....IT WORKED!!!!

The first wash load was on! No problems with heating the water up or spinning or anything. It was fantastic.

What's even better is that it is really quiet! It revs a bit when the washing machine is heating water - but that's because it's using maximum wattage, I guess. But if we have the shoreline cable plugged into it for battery charging and have the generator on 'econo mode' it's so quiet both inside and out.

Actually, I didn't notice when I was inside that it had switched off at one point - it had run out of petrol! We can also switch it off using the remote control inside - anything for an easier life!

It's definitely a solid, well built piece of equipment which I hope will help us out for a few years.

Shortly after getting all that going, my second delivery of the day arrived - the replacement carpet. That's where it all well and truly kicked off but I won't bore you with that today... Instead, I'll dedicate a whole post tomorrow to bitch about how stupid some people in this world are! You know you can't wait!