Friday, 30 September 2011

She Floats

30 September 2011
The Cat’s Whiskers is afloat – launched yesterday morning in the Erewash Canal on one of the hottest days of the year.

I had a break from my duties at the St Albans Beer Festival and was up at 5am to catch the three trains I needed to get to Long Eaton for 10am. Normally, I would have travelled into London and caught a direct train from St Pancras, but my trusty senior railcard, doesn’t give me that luxury at that time of day.

Carrying my trusty Brompton fold-up bike, I pedalled down the Erewash Canal from the railway station the short distance to Trent Lock, and what a lovely ride. The mist was just clearing from the water and the sun shone brilliantly. Can’t wait to experience this on the water.  Mick picked me up and took me back to where I had started pedalling, to a boatyard they often use for launching in Long Eaton, that has a slipway.

On arrival, everything was in place. The owner (Paul) was prepared, the crane turned up on time and then, 15 minutes later, so did the low loader with the Cat’s Whiskers on the back, now with a coat of holding primer and some stern gear fitted.

The low loader backed into the yard and after some adjustments with the slings up she went. Not as far in the air as I have seen some boats suspended, but still high enough for a small level of concern. Paul from the boatyard backed his slipway trailer underneath and the crane dropped her back down on to it. Then, all Paul had to do was to back her down the slipway, until she floated.

From the nearby bridge, Jan and Dai, from Kingfisher’s last custom build, shouted out to me “Exciting, isn’t it”? I think I felt more relief than excitement. We had waited for this day for nearly a year, and not a day had gone by, when I hadn’t thought about the launch, how it might go, and how she would look in the water.

Mick and John, then tied her to Jandai, becoming effectively a butty,  and she towed us down the cut to Trent Lock, her home for the next six months. It was good to see Jan and Dai again – we seem to keep bumping into them and it was good to have a look at their solar array on the roof of Jandai, now they have had it a month or so. They are mooring at Trent Lock for a while. It was also kind of neat that the last custom-built boat the Kingfisher boys had built, had now helped pull their newest boat.

And that was that. After a chat about real ale and cider, I was back on my bike, up the tow path and wending my way, back south again. Next time we see her, she should be sporting her cruising colours.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Roof on... Now she looks like a boat

Saturday 24 August
Paid my second visit to Narrowboats of Staffordshire yesterday. This was after a very hectic week's holiday when we first travelled over to France for the weekend with Pat's cousin to see their place on the Somme, and then we had three great days in Liverpool, doing the Beatles stuff with Pat's sister Monica, who is over here from Vancouver.
Checked out the new moorings for narrowboats in the Albert Dock, now the Leeds & Liverpool extends right down through the docks to the heart of the city. I fancy we will make that journey sometime in 2013.
This was the first time Pat had seen the boat "in the flesh" and now it really looks like a boat. While I took as many photos as I could she spent the time clambering over the insides, mentally ticking off boxes. It is hard to believe that, in a few months time, it will be our home.
Nigel told me that it more or less finished, apart from some detailing and a coat of primer. We are really pleased with the job they have made, and I particulary like the scrolling on the bow and locker.
Next Thursday she will will make the 40-mile journey over to Trent Lock when the Kingfisher boys take over and start to work their magic.
Which ones the Captain?

Check out the scrolling on the locker cover and front of bow

Does my head look big in this!

Lots of lovely space for Jan to do her sign writing

Stern section
We aim to be there to see her launched.

Friday, 16 September 2011

It has taken several months, but today I finally got my first glimpse of “The Cat’s Whiskers”, albet, just the hull.
I travelled up the M1 and M6 to Stafford, to Narrow Boats of Staffordshire, who are fabricating all the steelwork and there she was. Dave, Nigel and the boys at NBS have the hull almost finished and the roof will go on over the next couple of days. If all goes well, the boat will be ready to be moved in a week or so when it will be dropped into the water, up stream of Kingfisher Narrowboats, and  be towed down to the boatyard for painting and fitting out.

I particularly liked the scrolled detailing on the bow. Dave described it as “Norse Bow”, something of a speciality at NBS. It’s a nice touch.
 The hull looked huge in the workshop, and it was pleasing to be able to get some pictures to satisfy the curiosity of so many friends and colleagues, who have been asking to see some photographic evidence of its existence.

I hope to take Pat and her sister Monica, currently visiting from Canada, to see, what I hope will be the finished steelwork next Friday. We are going to have a few days in Liverpool and coming back down the M6 then, so we’ll pop in I think.
Nigel working on the bow

The View from the stern. Obviously thirsty work, this welding