Saturday, 29 September 2012

Parkhead Canal Festival 29th & 30th Sept

Well, we made it!  The next few posts will be a bit out of synch, as I try to get up to date having not blogged for a while.

We're here at the Parkhead Canal Festival/Boaters Gathering at the Parkhead Locks, Blowers Green Pumphouse, where the Dudley No1 canal meets the Dudley No2.  Postcode DY2 0XP.  That's the full address done, for anyone wanting to attend the festival over the weekend.

 There's a vast array of old working boats, below, the steam boat President & butty Kildare

Boats everywhere!

Vintage cars

Vintage prams.  Incidentally, my mum kept our pram, just like the ones in the pic above, but ours had a fantastic leather strap arrangement around the chasis - until I took a knife to the straps, cut them off to make a really fast go cart.  Mum was not impressed to my butchering of this beautiful antique.  In my defence, I was only ten or so at the time.

The grey tractor in the background is a classic Ferguesson, just like the one on which Dave, as a child, was perched on the bonnet, to stop the front jumping up and down when his dad was ploughing.

This pic is for Rick ... lots of lovely landrovers

Horse power demonstration

And the all important beer tent, which we will be checking out shortly.
We've met up with lots of friends, who frequent these gatherings in these parts.  One of which was the famous "Mal of the Canal", (who didn't come by boat).  In the information centre at Trevor Basin, there is a video played on a 30 minute loop, which tells short 3 minute stories of  local's experience and/or influence of the Aqueduct and canal, two of which features Mal singing - as anyone who visits the info centre will have heard.  So over the years, I, and whoever has worked in the info centre, has heard the stories, and Mal, many many many many times!  I have a recording of Mal of the Canal on my phone incase I got withdrawal symptoms now I've finished working there, which I played to him - in case he'd forgotten the words.  In the pic above, we'd just pointed out the beer tent to him, so he was off like a whippet.  Malcolm used to drive the disabled trip boat Myfanwy based at Trevor Basin, many years ago - for which he was awarded an MBE for his trouble.  So for Becky and Gwyneth, here is the legendary Mal of The Canal!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Black Bottom for Beefur

We've been busying ourselves getting ready for our cruising season - which in our case is September to March/April, which involved getting Beefur blacked before we go.
Before blacking, Beefur is looking rather "tired"

Blacking the boat involved getting Beefur out of the water, by lowering a "cradle" which was reversed into the water on the slipway at Chirk Marina by a tractor

Once the cradle is in the water, the boat is manoeuvred into position over the cradle, aligned with the poles you can see sticking out of the water.  Vic, Dave's colleague at Chirk Marina kindly poled the boat into position.  Yes - one usually drives the boat onto the cradle, but in this instance, for reasons which will become apparent, the boat was poled.

Once in positition, the boat is then pulled out of the water, and into the big shed.

And this is the reason why the boat had to be poled onto the cradle!  When arriving at Chirk, Dave threw a rope in an attempt to loop around the back sticky upy bit (I'm having trouble remembering some words, must be my age).  Something he has done hundreds of times (though not when a boat was in gear), unfortunately he missed, Beefur was in gear, and the inevitable happened - the rope wound around the propellor.  Dave just shut off the engine, and hoped the rope would be retrievable once out of the water, so he could see it - hence poling the boat!  Thanks Vic.

Luckily the rope was easily dis-entangled.  Dave's colleagues at Chirk Marina thought this was hilarious - here's Pete having a good look.

Now the hard work starts:  power washing, scraping, and applying bitumen paint, twice.

As soon as the boat was oiked out of the water, loads of ducks arrived to see if there was anything juicy to be had from the debris on and around the bottom of the boat.

Two days later - all done - one very shiny boat, a very knackered Dave, a traumatised Nemo, and a relieved and proud me!

Nice paint job - although I say so myself!  John the boat painter did however take a sharp intake of breath when he saw my handywork! 

The process is then carried out in reverse, with Beefur slowly being lowered into the water.

Horray - Beefur still floats.  I don't know why, but I was extremely nervous at this point

So that's that over with for a couple of years.  We now have a nice shiny boat to go cruising with.