Making GB my own

I had an old boiler on board

The next job, also undertaken on the way south, was replacement of the decking, as can be seen below.

GB arrived at Hunton Bridge with new deck

And where was the rest of the water coming from that was wetting the carpets? That was not too hard to find when the hatch was examined. Blocked drain holes,some wear in the runners and a badly repaired hatch liner meant that rain water was getting into the hatchway. That was fixed by a temporary relining of the hatch, making sure the hatch overlapped the doors, unblocking drain holes and a novel way of making the water drain off the sliders before it reached the opening. That was done by glueing some webbing that acts as a wick for the rain and stops it running down to the hatch. The webbing is always covered by the hatch so it can’t be seen. It was supposed to be temporary, but until I think of some thing better it will stay there.

The interior was in need of attention. The old solid fuel stove had been ripped out leaving a 16 inch hole in the roof lining and a paving slab where it was constantly getting tripped over. They had weather proofed the chimney hole, with a billy can glued on the roof.

The radio and aerial were both broken so had to be replaced.After all where would you be on a dark night without radio 4 or Classic FM to listen to?

Well that is about where I left the main works for the end of the summer whilst I enjoyed cruising the tring summit and Casio Park with friends, family and colleagues.

There were supposed to be just two workshop jobs left for last Autumn, the new stove and welding up the leaky diesel tank.  Also I was getting a canopy fitted to the stern to give that weather proofing that the old girl surely needed. But things don’t always work out quite as simply, do they? That is for next time.

The canopy was made by a couple of lads who go by the name of Kinver Canopies. I can recommend them, a simple but excellently fitted canopy. Once I had given them the key dimensions they came all the way down from the Midlands, fitted the frame, made templates then came back and fitted the canopy. It is smart and warm. I can have it all up, or sides off, roof off or all down and away. Check the photos out, thanks Kinver Canopies!

Oh yes I was going to tell you about the diesel tank that needed welding. Do you know they don’t always drain the tanks for welding because diesel fumes are not as inflammable as petrol, rather them than me. Anyway it was booked in for the welding in October.  Meanwhile I was cruising the Tring Summit on evenings and weekends, although she was getting harder and harder to start. 30 seconds of turning over before firing after turning on the ignition for a minute.. to heat the glow plugs, I thought. She had not been serviced for ages so the plugs probably needed cleaning. These BMC  plugs are difficult to get out so I did everything right, took advice, read the articles, bought the tools turned them slowly and snapped two in the head!! Took advice, read the books, bought the tools and managed to shoot one out,  …and pushed the other into the block ..!!!

So that was my cruising until she was pooled into dock and the engine was fixed at the same time as the welding, and new water pipes, and the hand made brackets, and the welding up of the roof, and the new stove, and the new deck drains, and the fuel and oil filters and anti-freeze and … you get the picture!  However full marks to Daren at Cowroast he did not do anything that he did not check with me and he did a brilliant welding and stove fitting job. He is highly recommended.

One thing Darren did sort for me without asking and I am so glad. (It did not cost much either). GB had a terrible habit of soaking the deck when you throttled hard. The water would come shooting up the stern tube and flood across the deck getting your shoes, camera, drink or anything else that had been briefly put down. Of course the only time one needs to throttle hard is when there is some necessity for action that demands your attention, you can’t be worried about your feet getting wet or where your camera is! Murphey’s law in action. Anyway Darren knows how to fix this and got it sorted (I think GB surprised him and soaked his feet so he thought he would get his own back).

Guess what, she did not start any easier, until Daren told me that I had to turn the ignition on and then a further half turn to heat the plugs up!. No wonder she was getting hard to start in the colder  weather, I wish the people who sold her to me had told me that. Starts a treat now though! Oh well, live and learn.

Sun rise at Cow Roast marina

 In the wonderful late summer that we had I watched many boats going to and from the marina, on their way to peaceful days or evening cruising. I was generally to be found rubbing down the rust spots on the roof, treating them and then priming until the roof looked as though it had some dreadful blotchy rash.

Many of the friendly boaters, as they passed by, kindly suggested that I should not be wasting the fine weather, I should be out cruising. “yes, I know” I would hail back. ” I would be if it wasn’t broken down!”. Somehow in the end it sort of got irritating to receive this good advice. I know it shouldn’t, but it did.

To shorten the journey to from home I decided to change to Apsley Marina. But first the simple jo of washing out the water tank. The  drinking water was coming out anything from straw to dirty brown when the tank was filled. I suspected that it had not been dealt with for a while so a few rinses should sort it. Easy job, couple of hours, easy..

Errr, I forgot, this is a boat, a neglected 30 year old boat, with a neglected 30 year old mild steel water tank that forms the front of the boat and should hold nearly 900 litres of water. Well the surveyor said he had drained and filled it and it was OK. mmm.

After several hours of emptying and rinsing the water just got worse. So the next two week ends were spent in getting really good drill bits and drilling out the 16 bolts that held the 16 inch square inspection hatch in place. Once removed all was revealed, great red brown blisters that oozed black fluid and 3 mm of old tank bitumen and lime scale in the bottom.

Choices were to rub back to steel and recoat, leave alone (not an option) or fit liners. The proper way is to rub back with a needle gun and paper and recoat etc. The tank is high enough to crawl into, not big enough to turn, has no light, no ventilation  and echos with every noise. So I fitted two Plastimo liners, that sit on a false deck inside the old tank. That allows the old tank to remain dry with circulating air and protects the liners from damage. Oh, and as I do not need nearly a tonne of water on board I made up the rest of the weight with ballast from Wickes, still in the bags so I can trim her if necessary. So she is not as designed, but at least the water is clean and I didn’t have to spend several days in a confined space breathing in all sorts of noxious particles and substances.

 I have to mention the help I have had from my two lads, one of whom spent an unpleasant hour in the tank drilling a hole for the liner take off pipe . All it needs now is a few more rinses to get rid of that horrible plastic taste in the water.

This is the current interior. The solid fuel stove is on the left. The bench seat on the left is a fold away one that I made for extra seating, and putting your feet on when feeling like a lounge.

Interior in Feb 12

Oh and the floor. I got the 3 layers of smelly vinyl up, the boards underneath were OK and I put in carpet tiles. Woo betide anyone who gets coal dust or mud on them!

Actually it will probably be me first.

Yes that is snow outside!

It might seem a daft time to take the window out but it needs to be done before she is painted. Also there was not much difference between being out in the sun in freezing conditions or being inside what felt like a freezer, looking out. (It got warm later once the fire got going).

Surveyor did tell me about this one

shower window rot began inside

Time for painting.

Before I bought the boat the surveyor described the paint work in a rather derogitory way. Well he used a four letter word normally used to describe something else that can not be polished to a shine no matter how you try. On advise from friends I had booked the boat in with a well-known local boat painter. I say local but Uxbridge is local to Apsley marina by bike or car, but two days by narrow boat. On finally inspecting the work to be done he did note that it was not going to be a case of simply flatting down the gloss then applying a couple of top coats. Why? Well this  is a warning about not doing the job right first time.

The bow deck top coat (dark blue) was peeling in very large patches because the original maroon was still glossy underneath, it had not been rubbed down prior to the over paint. In fact it looked rather good once the top coat was peeled off.

The gunnels non-slip dark blue was chipping off the beautifully glossy black original, again because it had not been rubbed down.

The pale blue side panels were crazed, apparently indicating that it was not compatible with the layer underneath, a fairly pleasant red.

The horrid pale blue roof paint was chipping off the old cream roof paint. The grey hand rail paint was put on top of another that had not been rubbed down, and was on so thickly that it chips off in great lumps.

The wooden door paint was on top of paint that was not keyed into the wood, it seems that no primer was used or some other rot has set in.

Finally the cream paint on the front bulkhead is emulsion paint,  on top of gloss.

This is one job I am glad to leave to the experts. I good deal of disc sanding and wire brushing, followed by Kurust, red oxide and undercoat is needed before they get anywhere near a top coat.

My need is to go away and think about what colour I want it painted (and await the bill with trepidation). I am thinking dark blue with lighter blue sides, separated by a yellow / gold coach line. Here is the last picture of her taken stripped of covers and awaiting the painters skilled restoration.

At Hayes ready for painting

The boat is not just one headache!

I have to say that doing up this boat has had its ups and downs. It has not been all one long headache but in the autumn I was getting headaches, literally. Now I do like a little tipple, sometimes when on the boat and I have finished boating and driving for the day. It was not the beer but I had seemed to develop a reaction against whiskey, which was becoming a favourite tipple. Now these headaches got rather bad on occasions, even when I had not had a drink. I began to think it may have something to do with the boat but I was not using gas on board, there was a carbon monoxide detector fitted and anyway I did not get a headache every time I used the boat.

As the autumn drew on I twice finished in twilight and used a torch to find and tweak up the stern gland. On both occasions I was surprised by the amount of oil mist in the engine room. The only ventilation is the air intake to the engine which of course is then expelled via the exhaust pipe through the skin. Now the cooler the days the more I was tending to use the canopy and the more enclosed I was as a result. Could I be breathing in fumes I wondered, if so what is the answer?

I found that there are fans called bilge or engine room blowers, designed to remove fumes from engine rooms, especially important for enclosed engine rooms on sea going vessels.

Well, I have fitted one which can be switched on to clear the fumes. Because I have no means to cut a 75 mm hole in the skin I have piped it up through the deck boards and over the side (under the canopy). Although you can buy the flexible ducting I found that the 75 mm domestic rain water pipe works quite well enough. The motor is mounted on the swim counter, sitting on vibration absorbing rubber matting with a knuckle bend taking the pipe straight up through the deck and another knuckle turning over the side. It is not elegant, next time she is blacked I may get a skin wall fitting inserted to take the duct directly out.

Does it work?. Don’t know, I have not had any more headaches ( a symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning)  but then I have used the canopy less and not drunk much whiskey either. You decide!

Since I wrote the above piece on headaches I have finally concluded the cause. Someone asked if it could be dehydration? No , I thought, initially. But then I studied the routine of single handing, my style. I start of with a fast breakfast then kept going as long as I can, briefly grabbing a cuppa or can of drink when ever. Counting up that might be two to three drinks all day while covering maybe 10 to 15 locks and 8 hours on the deck. To check if there was anything in it I started to make a habit of preparing bottles of drink, or a flask before I start off and ensure I keep hydrating along the way even if it means enforced stops. Now, no headaches at all. So there is a lesson there, don’t always blame the boat, ensure you look after yourself as well and you may well enjoy the journey a lot more.

The painting of GB

Gentle Breeze has a new coat, of paint. Steve Marriage has done a great job taking off 30 years worth of badly reacting paint and producing a finish like new.

Because the various layers had reacted and crazed Steve recommended taking the paint back to metal. That revealed a load of mill scale on the roof. That is a problem that starts when the sheet steel is rolled and it gathers ash and adsorbs water before it even gets its first coat of paint. Thus for years it has small rusty patches under the paint. You used to see it a lot on cars in the 70’s, it’s not as common on cars now due to better control of milling fluids and steel treatments.

Anyway all the paint was stripped off by hand and the whole topside primed and then base coated. Steve finished her off with two blues of my choice and a gold/yellow coach line. Three weeks of hard work real paid off.

Gentle Breeze painted and on way back from Hayes

There is not as much contrast between the blues as the colour chart suggested, but never mind, as the painter said, “it’s subtle”.

The two blues are just discernable

The trouble is that now I am worried about scratches, bumps, knocks etc. Oh well as some else said, you’ll just have to scratch it and get over it.

My contribution to the work was to paint the inside of the doors. I used a one coat paint, and wish that I hadn’t. It took ages to dry and when I peeled of the masking tape it pulled a fair amount of the paint as well.

More success was had with the new boat pole and boat hook. Both were given coats of primer followed by exterior gloss.

base coat on, no front doors

back on mooring painted

I realise that I had not posted any pictures of the canopy that the lads from Kinver made. It is very good when static and is well made and fits like a glove.

I think they probably do not use a nb with a canopy because it does have certain draw backs when cruising. There is not enough freedom for the tiller unless you unbutton the back. The screen is not easy to see through so in rain or sun has to be rolled up. With the back un buttoned and the front rolled up I guess you can imagine that the whole thing would collape. However a few extra guy lines and spring clips soon adapted the “rolled up” mode to allow cruising with a deal more protection from the rain. The key advantage is the ability to work on the engine in the dry and warm. In adition it keeps the bay and hatch  protected. The really did do a good job, I am pleased with it.

rear canopy


Kinver Canopies


2 thoughts on “Making GB my own

  1. It’s a lot of hard work …but like a journey it has its highs and lows …the destination is not always the reason for travelling …its the journey itself.

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