The Slipway to The Saracens Head, Bridge 25
What a rude awakening!
The voice of Houdini had spoken and Tom had just got up to make tea. This normally means I get a ding ding which means biscuits, then I return to bed to keep toes warm for at least two cat naps. Repeated ‘No’s follows this before I go back to bed and have quite a few cat naps before I need to check the progress on the outside being moved. But today it was very different! Instead of ding ding Tom let three men onto our boat, I didn’t see any cutlasses, but they certainly cut things up and stole stuff too that I’d never seen before. Was this Oleannas treasure? They were everywhere, I wasn’t allowed to hide under the sink, so took to sitting in the bow. But this wasn’t safe either so I had to jump ship and hope that Tom and her could defend our boat. I spied some trees and headed straight for them, keeping an eye on what was going on, from afar.
I apologise now for references to my theatre days, but those from Scarborough will hopefully understand.
We’d suspected that the chaps would arrive early after hearing tales that Kris the chippy quite often starts work at 4am! Mick had just put the kettle on when a silver van pulled in front of the pub at 7am. The kettle was topped up straight away. An ‘Improbable Fiction’(1) quick change from pyjamas to fully dressed was required as the chaps stepped out of the van and were straight to work, thank goodness we hadn’t stayed on the other side of the cut last night. Louis, Kris and Andy had set off at 5am and made good time across the Pennines from Sheffield. They had obviously worked out what needed doing first by each of them to facilitate the others to do their jobs, no being Franked (2) here today.
Tools were off loaded onto the grass, now a makeshift workshop. Lengths of ‘just in case’ (3) wood were evident along with hoover, circular saws, drills and all the rest. Louis’s first job was to get some breakfast for the chaps in the van, whilst they got on with things.
When Oleanna was being built Andy was employed as and when to do the plumbing on the boats, he is now full time. First thing for him was to disconnect and pull the cooker out from it’s snug position. This was so that Kris could cut a hole in the floor below so some ballast could be removed by Louis. The table was removed and put in it’s storage position, this is the first time this has happened since we picked Oleanna up.
Before 8am the cooker was sat where the table had once been and was ready to have it’s top replaced, at some point a strip on the hob top had been touched up and the paint had browned as we’d used it. Kris had already sorted the crack that had appeared in the rest for the cratch board and was cutting out the stern door threshold that had split. I had sent through measurements of such things so that the replacement just needed fitting rather than being fabricated here.
Once there was access to the bilges Louis started to appear with the brick ballast. Using a bent metal rod he was able to pull the ballast towards the hole and remove it from one section of the floor.
Next the fridge was pulled out. We’d asked for some holes to be drilled under it to help ventilate the bilges. These were used to also cut a hole to remove more ballast. With the bricks mounting up in the van, we were all glad that they could get the van within about 10ft of the boat. Oleannas stern started to rise out of the water reducing her draught.
The water pump was checked for leaks, they have sorted themselves. The bathroom radiator was checked over as that is where we’d had a leak originally, this had been sorted at Crick by a local plumber. But Andy found a small leak, so sorted it. The central hearting system was topped up with antifreeze and water. The shower pipe that we couldn’t get out of the bracket just needed a confident tug to free it, we’d been too cautious, and the soap dish was removed.
A vent was added to the dinette to help ventilate the freezer and holes were drilled into the drawer and floor below it to help with air flow. However there doesn’t seem to be enough insulation on the front face of the freezer, so it is causing condensation to form. We will source some foam that we can add to it to help solve the problem. The front door bolt hole had been filling with rainwater, so this had another smaller hole drilled right through it so that it would self drain. An extra thickness was added to the frame around our roof hatch where water had got in. Extra sealant was added in the galley and bathroom, just where water seems to congregate. A catch in the cat proof cupboard was moved to make it cat proof. Wood locker lids had an edge cut down to help reduce them from marking the paintwork when they are lifted off. A second shelf in the pan cupboard was fitted, this now needs reorganising. One of the bathroom doors was given a bit more room so as not to catch on hot days.
Whilst all this was going on Mick and I had nowhere to be as you can imagine. So for a while we put our towpath chairs out in the car park and chatted to a chap who used to run the pub and local boaters as they turned up in their cars. Every now and then we were called upon to move our possessions about, or it would start to rain so we went inside to stand where we wouldn’t be in the way. Next big thing was to strip the bed so that ballast underneath could be removed. The van was moved to be closer to the bow and a human chain was made to remove the 25kg sheets of steel from below our bed. Once the gas locker vents were in view a spirit level was pooped on top of the cratch board to check if Oleanna was level from side to side. One piece of steel needed to go back on.
The bow was now sitting much higher and the stern was at least 2 inches up. Louis was happy that she was now sitting where she should be in the water.
The leak on the chimney was looked at and some silicone added to where water might have been getting in. We are still concerned that the fixed chimney is too high to get under some bridges. Louis will check the regulations as this isn’t the side of things he deals with. Then with everything else ticked off the list the three of them started to sort out the fairleads. We had a pair that weren’t a pair, different designs, they had also been put on the wrong sides of the bow. A new pair were fixed on, the right way (not the Ken way) round and at one point the gas locker vents must definitely have been back under water as all three of them were on the bow of Oleanna.
The list was checked again. Everything that they were going to do today was now done. Another visit will be needed to install the batteries. A few weeks ago we made the decision to increase our battery bank from two to three lithium batteries. The elusive second one had arrived in Sheffield and if we’d only been wanting two they would have been fitted today. But with a third now on order, it is much better to wait and have them put on board at the same time, something to do with cycles being the same.
It was just gone 1pm and the chaps had only really had a ten minute break to have something to eat. A very efficient mornings work from them all. We waved them goodbye, called for Tilly who came running home and then sat down for some much needed
The mooring had been okay overnight, but we didn’t want to stay there another, so we pushed off on our now lighter boat and crossed off a few more miles towards Liverpool. Oleanna cut through the water with ease as we battled with the wind. We pulled up at the Saracens Head, Halsall and decided that as Oleanna had lost quite a few stone today we could treat ourselves to a meal at the pub and gain a little weight ourselves.
0 locks, 4.54 miles, 2 swing bridges, 11 held up, 7am! 3 thieves, 100 plus bricks removed, 200 kg plus of steel removed, 10 holes, 1 vent, 1 sharp tug, 0 batteries, 3 skilled chaps, 1 bow, 1 Kris Shhh, 1 heavy van, 6 hours enforced freedom, 1 cat glad to be home, 2nd pub mooring, 3.5 pints, 2 burgers, 6 scoups chilled medication, 1 lightweight boat, 1 water line in need of a Gorrie clean.
- Improbable Fiction a play by Alan Ayckbourn where the actors have to change their costumes at the end of act one and all the way through act two very quickly! From modern day, to Victorian, to 20’s, to Science Fiction, to Goblin and Squirrel. Well worth seeing.
- Being Franked. Frank was the master carpenter and when he had built things I would paint them. Quite often I would be delayed.
- Just in case. When going to fit up a show at another theatre, the van would be packed and always include an amount of ‘just incase’ pieces of wood Frank insisted on taking. Just incase!