Saturday, 13 June 2015

Hurry up and wait, as well as hurry up and clear that weed

Yesterday we had a day of hurry up and wait at Uxbridge as we had an appointment at Uxbridge Boat Centre to have the rear end lifted and the prop ‘dressed’. I did ask if it would be a pink frilly tutu – well, I did have to find out what dressing the prop meant. Turns out it means that the tips of the prop blades get taken to with an angle grinder to blunt the angle of the blade edge and alter the way the water comes off them and thence stops the singing.
This boat was being surveyed for a young couple as potential purchasers - David heard the surveyor saying it had lots of problems, starting with there being a hole in the bulkhead between the engine bilge and the cabin bilge.

And back into the water it goes. Not sure if the young people will buy it - I wouldn't!

"Put your bottom here," Alan said
On goes the strop to lift the back end - these two guys work really hard. The one on the portside is Rafel, a Polish guy.
And lift off ...

The gas locker holes and the cratch holes were taped over - never seen Waka Huia so deep at the front!
Interesting pose, Alan! Rafel had put a block of wood under the skeg.
Alan said to get a photo of him
The bottom looked remarkably clean! Rafel is getting ready with the angle grinder. I was pleased to see he used all PPE

The lifting was exciting and entertaining, the dressing was quick and the boat was let down gently, and off we went, £275 lighter in the bank account - £30 for the dressing, £245 for the lifting.

Because we weren’t sure if there’d be any decent moorings left by the time we expected to be out of the centre, we had booked an overnight mooring at Packet Boat Marina. We met Barry and Pauline (B had been back to their place to collect things we’d had posted to their address, P had been working all week) on our way to the pub after mooring up. We had been told that the Paddington Packet Boat pub did Thai food. Thwarted intention, unfulfilled expectation – the Thai chef is away on leave and not back until next week. So it was sweet and sour chicken and beef with black bean out of a bottle – but at £5 each it wasn’t too bad.

Barry had, at my request, purchased a walking stick for David. Yesterday while we were waiting to head for the boat centre, David and I walked into the town – Maplins (him) Tescos (me). On the way back he said his foot was really sore, and acknowledged that he needed to stay off it for an extended period to give his heel a chance to heal – Hoo-bloody-ray and at long last!!! I suggested a walking stick may help, he agreed (hoo-bloody-ray again) so I texted Barry and asked him to purchase one. The one he got is brill – it folds and extends. David has to learn to use it properly so his sore heel gets some support, but it’s going to be good.
David and the Stick!

He's a natural!

Back on board more wine was consumed once we had put the boat back to rights – in preparation for the lift exercise we had had to stow anything that might fall, spill, roll. That included the plant pots on the roof and stuff in the kitchen and bathroom.

It was so hot and muggy that we sat out in the cratch, and overnight we had the front and back doors open. That sense of safety is one of the nice things about being in a marina.

This morning we headed off after David, Pauline and Barry took advantage of the marina’s showers. All was well for some time, although we all commented on how much rubbish is in the canal. At one point we stopped to clean weed off the prop – about two 10 litre tubs of it – and while we were doing so, a woman drove up in her Mercedes to a parking area across the canal, got out of her car and emptied a large black sack of rubbish into the canal. FFS, what is the mentality that thinks a waterway is a rubbish tip? Clearly the woman is not alone, given the plastic crap that the canal is filled with.
At one point this was the view from both sides of the boat - it is absolutely disgusting how profligate people are about a natural resource on their doorstep. We went at neutral through areas like this hoping that we had enough forward propulsion to get us through.

Pauline crosses the Paddington Arm entrance bridge

The weed is rife in a particular section – from about the Paddington entrance for a mile or so. We had to clear the prop and rudder twice in that space. David did it the first time and we had lunch (avocado, prawns, seafood sauce – yummy!) before moving off. Within two minutes it was jammed again, so it was my turn. This time, there was at least 3 tubs’ worth. But while I was pulling the stuff off the prop and then the rudder, Barry pulled the boat along several hundred metres to get us away from the weed patch. David had to finish off as I couldn’t reach down far enough – it’s the short arm problem …
Comparison purposes - the first lot. I seem to remember reading that this stuff can only grow because it uses the human based waste that proliferates in the canal. If it continues at this rate, the canal will be unnavigable at this point by motorised craft.

We thought this would be great for knitting onesies for mermaids
Just so you know, I do get down into the weedhatch ... Barry was pulling the boat at this stage and the water was absolutely clear - lots of plastic and rubbish, but clear. This weed extraction took about half an hour.
So this is a nest by one of the locks - it is made in a life ring and has grass etc, but also lots of plastic bags. It is interesting what the coots will use, but it is also very sad that that is what is available.

It is common that the plastic bags are blocking the gate paddles - that is why the locks fill quite slowly at times

I would guess about 5 of these would have been filled if we'd been using them all the time that weed was being extracted.

The last thing was to get it off the back of the rudder – that involved my lying across the stern and reaching down with the tile gap scraper (not sure of its real name) to scoop it off. The tile gap scraper is really useful, so I say thank you to Pete Earley who posted about the usefulness of said implement – it is great. David has said it would be even better if it was slightly sharper, so I think I’ll get the knife sharpener out and see if that works.

We came down the Hanwell Locks and have moored up a few hundred metres down. Pauline scouted a place without weed. Still, in the morning, we will push off into the centre to avoid any that may be loitering.
Barry had to come and get the BW key as this set of locks (the top of the Hanwell flight) is vandal-proofed
The workers!
The nests are amazing - little floating pontoons off to the side of the cut

Our intention is to go out through Brentford Gauging Lock and up to Teddington and beyond tomorrow. The adventure on the Thames is due to begin and we are meeting up with Pauline’s son and daughter in law and wee boy, plus some B&P friends who have been threatening to meet us for a couple of years now …

We have decided not to do the Paddington Arm this time. Next year perhaps at a more relaxed pace and from the Oxford and Thames. after today's experience, I am either going to pour weedkiller in the canal or have a giant weed cutter fitted first. Where is my dad when I need him - he would have one designed and built in a flash - as long as I wasn't in a hurry. A deadline of 10 months would have just about suited him and he would have had it ready for me in three ... And that would include designing and constructing any lathe or machining tool he'd need to build the weed cutter. I know this is true because he once was asked to construct an electrically powered gate for a friend. He agreed to do it and said the only constraint was he would have to build the cog cutting lathe first ...

It is now chardonnay o’clock, so no more time to write …


Julia & Mark said...

You were otherwise engaged but a pity you couldn't have got a photo & car the of the moronic lady emptying the rubbish into the canal, I'm sure police and/or council have been interested as fly tipping is illegal. Makes my blood boil !!

Marilyn McDonald said...

We agree. We spoke with the lock master at Thames Lock this morning and he too was disappointed we didn't get a photo. Next time ... I have seen it before some years ago when a woman in Southall came out of her back gate on to the towpath and threw several plastic bags of rubbish into the cut. But this time it stunned us so much that we didn't think to get the camera quickly. Next time, though, next time ...