The Laird Saves The Day

I was worried when I got up this morning. I'd had no response to my request for help on the last day of "Elton"s docking. Though I'd got all the plates on on Saturday there were still a lot of bolts to put in and my drill mounted nut screwer upper had broken. This simple tool was capable of surprising a bolt so that it screwed up without turning. Without it I would have to use spanners, a much slower process, and, without the element of surprise, I would need someone on the outside to hold the bolt head.

About 7.30 AM I got a text from Laird Denis McGee Boyle. He was coming from Nottingham to help. We had an excellent day painting the hull with black sticky stuff, drilling and bolting up plates. The picture above shows Denis painting the last bit at about 5.30. The pictures below show the work done over the last couple of days. Fingers crossed for her floating tomorrow!

The last 2 pictures show the bits that were holed by Community Spirit 2. Now nicely plated over.

Megabright Orb in Dukinfield Sky

Reports are coming in of an incredibly bright orb like disk in the sky over Dukinfield, Greater Manchester. It was so bright that ordinary cameras were unable to photograph it. Scientists claim that this is a natural phenomenon called the Sun, a huge thermonuclear reactor round which the Earth orbits at about 92 million miles (but who would believe that).

 Leading astrologer Lynda la Veritas says that this is the result of a rare conjunction of planets and it will ensure peace, love and prosperity for all who cross her palm with bitcoin.

A spokesman for the Flat Earth Society said that it was the return of the god Helios driving his golden chariot across the sky. A temporary break in the clouds of toxic chemicals dispersed in the sky by THE GOVERNMENT has enabled it to be seen. He expressed some concern that too much exposure to the light could affect the giant turtle on whose back the Earth's disc sits.

Donald Trump tweeted that it was Obama and the Clintons who had kept us in the dark and this beautiful orb was there because he said it would be. In a further tweet he suggested that bathing in the light of the orb was a cure all and so healthcare was no longer needed.

Boris Johnson welcomed the news of the orb's sighting and declared that this was just the beginning of a bright new future which we would all enjoy when brexit was complete and he was prime minister. His cabinet colleagues suggested that he stick to his brief as Foreign Secretary.

Islamic State (Dukinfield Chapter) claimed that this was a sign of the imminent return of the prophet Jesus on his white charger to turn the military tide in their favour and lay waste to the ungodly. The unbelievers must prepare to taste death, they added.

I just thought it was a nice day.

Elton on Dock.

"Elton" has always been the Cinderella of our fleet. It's years since she was docked but she's now got 3 weeks on the dock at the marina. Long overdue anyway but precipitated by the damage caused when she was rammed by "Community Spirit". It's pretty amazing that we've managed to keep her afloat since the damage was done in March. The damage extends below the waterline yet it didn't start her leaking. If she had gone down it would have been a struggle to get her up again with that gaping hole in her stern. It's now being plated up. Here's some pictures of Aaron shafting her across the basin and the damage.

A Winters Night on "Hazel"

A winter's night on “Hazel”.

It's the time of year when we don't get much sunlight and so “Hazel”s batteries need to be topped up from the mains every now and then. She has a huge bank of batteries that need a special charger and can't all be charged at once. Someone, normally me, has to stay to switch from one set of batteries to the other sometime in the night. I don't mind as I get to stay in “Hazel”s wonderful back cabin.

To charge up I have to shaft the boat the short distance across the aqueduct to Dukinfield and tie up beside the premises of Dixon & Smith, Motor Engineers. Pat and John are kind enough to let us plug in whenever we need power. Tying up is easier said than done because of all the rubbish in the canal. To get the bow close enough to get on and off the boat, the stern has to be pretty much in the middle of the cut as there is something big that catches the middle of the boat and causes her to pivot. There was nothing to tie the stern end to as the boat lies along the end wall of a factory. Between the factory and the water there is a small bank of rubble so, some time ago, I drove a pin into this and attached an old ratchet strap to it. In order to tie up I have to hook the ratchet strap with the cabin shaft and pull it to me. I then pass the stern line of the boat through the ratchet strap and tie the line to the timberhead. At the fore end there is a chain with a hook on the end secured to a post on the bank. All I have to do is put the fore end line into the hook and tie back to the T stud.

When tied like this, the back cabin is facing the railway bridge and I enjoy hearing Trans Pennine Expresses growling by, interspersed with the occasional freight. If I open the doors I can watch them and wonder if the passengers notice my cabin light below them on the canal.

For ages the weather has been rainy. I've been fed up of the rain, especially as I'm trying to work on “Forget me Not” on dock. Now, all of a sudden the wind has turned to the North and we're getting those cold clear winters nights that I love. Tonight the mopstick was frozen to crunchiness by 8PM.

I've been writing all evening, or rather talking to my computer, my friend Jackie will type up what I've recorded. Now it's bed time. The cabin is so warm I keep falling asleep. I tried opening the doors to let the heat out, with the range roaring away it gets extremely toasty in here.

Whilst writing the above paragraph I fell asleep. I woke again in a cooling cabin a couple of hours later, so I turned out the light and snuggled into my sleeping bag. In the morning it was cold. I had a flask to make coffee so I decided not to light the range. All I had to do was to shaft the boat back over the aqueduct to Portland Basin. I quickly dressed and put on all the gloves I could find, then climbed out into the crisp cold still dark morning. After disconnecting the charging cables I untied the lines, stiff with frost, and threw the ratchet strap back on to the bank. I then grasped the icy shaft with my gloved hands and, taking care not to slip on the frosty roof, pushed the fore end out into the channel, cat ice chinkling as the boat pushed it aside.

The stern end was stuck on something and, as I couldn't exert as much effort as usual because I was standing on a slippery surface, it took a while to get it free. By this time my hands were becoming very painful in spite of the 3 pairs of gloves that I was wearing. I decided that I would have to go inside to warm up. I went into the main cabin and lit a fire, enjoying its heat while I drank a cup of coffee.

When I had thawed sufficiently I climbed back on to the roof in the now bright and shiny but still cold morning, and started to move the boat towards the aqueduct, jumping down on to the towpath to give her a good tug with the fore end line before climbing back aboard to swing her round with the shaft and tie up abreast of “Lilith”. With everything secure I headed for home to get ready for another day working on “Forget me Not”.