Friday, January 01, 2010

I've moved

Hello and welcome to the archived nbWarrior blog.

To read about my recent doings, please look at my new blog:

Here on nbWarrior you can read about all Sarah and Jim's adventures with Warrior, a 54' tug, with a 1937 National DM3 engine, built by John Shotbolt in 1996, from its purchase in 2005, through the complete rebuild of the engine, a lot of refitting to create the perfect boat, and on to our cruises of various parts of the canal system, the Thames, the Trent and the East Anglian waterways, and the Middle Levels where Warrior is moored.

Future cruises will take us to the BCN (hopefully this year), the Kennet and Avon, and back to the Pennines where we first cruised with Andante.

But a new adventure is beginning as well, a new chapter, and with it a new blog: Chertsey, chronicling the restoration and then, hopefully, the travels of my recently acquired 1937 Grand Union Large Woolwich motor boat.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

This is where we came in

A year ago tonight, I was alone in the house, taking down the Christmas decorations, because I was heartily sick of them, and thinking that something had to change. I didn't quite know what, or how much, but having a boat of my own was a big part of it.

So, mid afternoon, whilst staring at the mantelpiece, I thought, I know, I'll go and look on Apollo Duck and see if Battersea is still for sale. Not that I could have afforded it, mind, but just to inspire me with what might be possible. As it happened, Battersea wasn't listed, but Aber was (though not by name) and Bicester, and Hawkesbury (which I already knew about)... and Bristol.

I went to see Bristol, and to be honest, I did fall in love, although I knew from the start that it would be a big restoration project, with (given that it had had a full length cabin since 1980) a great many hidden unknowns. But it was a boat that had been, and could be, lived on; it was a home, and it was lovely, as were its owners who were incredibly hospitable, and patient, while I dithered. But its price was more than I could afford, and to be honest, given that I was looking for a serious restoration project, much more than I ought to have been prepared to pay. But I couldn't let the idea go.

I was still dithering when we went to Braunston in June, taking Warrior up to be our base for the rally. We got there a week in advance and secured a splendid mooring spot by the Admiral Nelson, and a day or two after we arrived, Jim spotted a josher coming through the locks. It was Petrel, and he went to chat with its owner. I don't know what I was doing to have missed this momentous encounter, probably cleaning the toilet or something. But anyway, miss it I did. It turned out that Petrel wasn't there for the rally, but was just passing through. What we didn't know was that it had recently towed Chertsey from Oldbury to Dimmingsdale; what we had forgotten was that there had recently been some speculation about this boat, and what would happen to it now that its owner, who had been ill for a number of years, had recently died. All of this was unknown to us when Jim mentioned that he knew someone who was desperate to get their hands on a big Woolwich. I don't know exactly what Petrel's owner said to that, only that he knew of one that might be for sale, so Jim gave him our number, and thought little more of it, as we got swept up with meeting MIchell and Bill from America, and getting a ride in the parade, as well as meeting up with lots of the people we were finally starting to get to know. I even stood next to one of Bristol's owners, and murmured that I was still interested, if the price could ever be right.

Then after the rally, Jim set off to take Warrior to Cowroast, where we had very generously been lent a mooring for the month, and I got into the car and drove home. And on the way home, liberated from anyone else's opinion, pessimism, cynicism or plain good sense, I decided what I would do. I would arrange to borrow some money; the amount that I could afford and was prepared to pay for Bristol. Once the loan was arranged, I'd make them a cash offer. If they said no, which I still thought was likely, then nothing lost; I just wouldn't go through with the loan. So I went ahead and arranged to mortgage myself to the eyeballs.

Then, one evening in early July, the phone rang, and by chance, I answered it. On the other end was a softly spoken man with a northern accent who introduced himself as Dave. He was arranging the sale of Chertsey on behalf of the executors, and had been told that I might be interested. I gleaned what information I could, and to be very fair, I have to say that Dave undersold the boat somewhat. He was arranging a viewing day for people who had expressed an interest, prior to advertising it. Of course I wanted to go, although at this stage I thought it would be for research purposes, and that it might help to persuade Jim that Bristol wasn't such a bad bet.

Well, I was very, very wrong. As soon as we got to Dimmingsdale it was clear that Chertsey was a very good boat indeed. Thanks to my foresight (!) in amassing vast quantities of debt, we were able to make an offer there and then. I was too nervous to do it myself, so I got Jim to do it. After a couple of nailbiting days (during which, providentially, we sold Helyn, thus giving us a cash deposit) Dave rang and told me that the offer had been accepted.

Thus, thanks to a combination of recklessness, bloody-mindedness and wild, wild chance, I got my big Woolwich, and a good one too.

A number of other things have to happen now before I can get hold the cash to begin the restoration, but hopefully the wheels are turning, and things will happen in 2010.... which is why, although I am not in any way abandoning Warrior the boat, this seemed like a good time to wind up Warrior the blog. Project blogs are far more interesting that cruising ones, and nbWarrior started out as exactly that, as we set about transforming a boat with potential into our perfect boat. Of course I'll still write about our Warrior cruises - we are thinking of the BCN for next summer, and a lot more besides, as I really, really mean, this time to try and post every day.

But I wanted to do Chertsey justice by starting a new blog, (on a new account, with a new photo upload allowance!) to chart the restoration in all its ups and downs, and to organise it properly with tags and things right from the start, and also to make it a bit more of a historic boat-centred blog.

So this, as we say ferewell to 2009, is the final post proper on nbWarrior - and the first post of the new blog, Chertsey130. Thanks for coming on the journey with me so far, and let's see where the future will take us.

2009 in pictures - September

2009 in pictures - July

2009 in pictures - part 2

In which we skip July, and go straight on to August, for a small selection of random souvenirs of our trip up the Trent and its offshoots...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in pictures

Well, from April anyway. That's when I (got Baz to) install Ubuntu on my computer, and the photo software that comes with it neatly files photos by year, month and day. My sister was certainly very impressed, thinking I'd organised them all myself.

So I shall dip semi-randomly into the photo files and see what comes out.

April saw me visit said sister in Newport, and walk my first disused canal

We and the Moomins finally made it to Holme Fen... and met the massed ranks of Peterborough IWA coming the other way.

And, in April, I helped move Chiswick from Aylesbury to Uxbridge - not dreaming then that by the end of the year I would own the boat that came out of Woolwich immediately before this one. Definitely one of the high spots of the year, this was.

In May, we met up with Chiswick and its merry crew again, and also with Mike on Victoria, at the Ricky Festival.

In the eventful month of June, the photo albums tell me, I gained my NCBA 'skipper's' qualification, visited the Newhaven lifeboat, took my first trip on the K&A, first with Mike on Globetrotter and then on Lancing,

We smartened Helyn up, and then we set off with Warrior to Braunston, where we met Chiswick and Victoria again, and Owl, and Bill and Michelle. And, although we were not yet to realise the significance of this, Petrel. And all this was long before the rally began!

And I got to go in the parade, twice - on Victoria and then on Chiswick.

More of the year in pictures tomorrow - that's enough for now.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anyone for skating?

Jim has sent some photos from the Eastern Front.

Now I know that frozen canals and marinas are a bit old hat, and this probably isn't quite up to Olympic figure skating thickness anyway.

But how about this for a bobsleigh run?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Not to be trifled with

May I share with you my failsafe Christmas recipe for tinned trifle? It probably has the highest ratio of deliciousness to trouble of any festive dish.

Open a pack of trifle sponges and put half of them in the bottom of a glass dish. Open a tin of rasperries and pour them over the top. Slosh over some sherry or port if you've got some knocking around. Put the other half of the sponges on top of that. Open a tin of summer fruits and pour them over. Slosh on some more booze. Open a tin of Ambrosia custard and pour that over everything. Whip half a pint of cream and dollop that on the top with a spoon. Sprinkle with silver balls. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve to impressed guests.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tidying away my presents

Ah, bliss. The house to myself again all calm and quiet after the chaos of Christmas. Not that we do anything too demanding, like having relatives round or anything - in fact it's been a remarkably stress-free Christmas this year (all credit to the fake tree) but it's still nice after the welcome break in routine, to get things back in order again.

So, having put all my Leonard Cohen albums (with the exception of Death of a Ladies' Man, of course) onto my phone, I plugged it into the hi-fi, put it on shuffle, and settled down for a nice day of leisurely tidying up. Eight hours and ninety-five tracks later I'd worked my way round most of the house (found some pine needles from last year - or possibly even earlier - down the back of the CD shelves), including completely re-arreanging (or possibly just arranging) my shelf of waterways books in order to put away my two new ones. They are now arranged by type: photos, boats, memoirs, waterways, associated subjects, fiction, and maps & guides. I have not (yet?) ordered them, either chronologically or alphabetically, within their sections, but I might be tempted.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Look what I got!

I got lots of lovely things, but this is the one I want to go out and play with straight away. What do you mean, I can't?

Courtesy of No.2 Son, my very own Dunton Double windlass. I've wanted one ever since I borrowed Jane's last year; it was just such a pleasure to use. I know - at least, I've heard - that it might not be suitable to use everywhere, but it's just such a lovely thing I'd be glad to have it even if I only used it on the Regents Canal (I don't think there's many places it doesn't fit really though).

I also got (thanks to Jim) two books (one on the Regents Canal, published in 1961, and the BCN Society's 1973 BCN in Pictures), as well as three DVDs and a video. And from my cousin, among other things, a waterways calendar featuring the most uninspiring selection of boat and waterways photos imaginable.