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Derek R.

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Derek R. last won the day on October 5 2017

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    Shropshire

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  1. Derek R.

    Letter to an accountant

    It seems a long time ago now, in another world almost, but when still working I used to regale my accountant once a year with the odd tale or two which had nothing to do with work - or accounting. He used to look forward to my missives, and declared when he saw my headed paper it was time for a coffee and feet up. He knew nothing about canals or narrow boats, so my descriptions might seem unecessary to those who do, but Paul benefited from it. Some may find this tedious, and some may find it familar, but I thought I set this tale down if nothing else for amusement value. It was after all, just a few days boating, and there are those here who will have done something similar on a regular basis, and thought nothing of it let alone bother to write down what might have been just another few days work. ------------------- An Autumn trip. You may remember we had bought an old narrow boat ‘Tycho’, an Icebreaker built 1936. I finally committed myself to a date to take her back to Stockton in Warwickshire for the necessary repairs to steelwork, the back end being in very poor condition. As the boat had originally been built by the process of hot riveting pre-formed steel plates together, I was keen to have the repairs done by a yard that was willing to carry out repairs in the same manner and Stockton Dry Dock had assured me this was possible and the right thing to do in the case of an historic boat such as ‘Tycho’. Prior to setting off from Cassio, I had a great deal of work to do in removing all the fitted furnishings that made up the old back cabin, including floors and panelling up to just above gunnel level. This was necessary to allow access to all the steel of the hull so as to carry out an effective repair. Ripping out the old worn woodwork was heartbreaking, largely due to the fact that it had been so firmly fitted and been in place long enough that virtually every piece had to be smashed, ripped and jig-sawed out in splintered pieces and mis-shapened bits. Though I was able to salvage the decorated cupboard doors and a few other bits as patterns for the rebuild at a later date. With accommodation removed, my four-day journey was to be made with sleeping and cooking done under the hatches [Blue tops] in the hold. Access to this area is through a great steel hatch in the fore-deck, down a short steel ladder of three widely spaced rungs, then turn and duck under a steel RSJ cross beam into the back end of the hold which has headroom to stand up in. Here I set up a mattress on the floor, camp table, garden chair, paraffin primus stove and paraffin lamps. The four-day journey was preceded by me having the mis-fortune to have taken a tumble off the bike whilst riding along a wet Hampstead Street. I had just touched the brakes to let a car out from a side turning and - Wallop! The bike wenr down throwing me off on my hands and knees, not even a skid. In attempting to pick the bike up, I was slipping all over the place; there was some sort of oil under the layer of water on the road. Whilst I got up straight away and carried on riding, I had landed on my knees heavily and over the next few days they became more and more painful. Setting off from Cassio I was feeling very stiff and aching, but determined to get to Stockton on the pre-appointed day. Working a boat single handed can be a very rewarding experience. If you use commonsense and adopt as many of the old boatmens working practices and tricks as possible, good progress can be made, in fact I was at times catching up other boats who were ‘mob handed’ simply because they were working inefficiently. Even so, it is undeniably hard work. Having stopped the boat below a lock, you get off and make fast then set the lock which may just mean opening a gate or, having to go up and close the far set of gates then emptying or filling (depending whether you are going uphill or down) the lock before bow hauling the boat into the lock with a line taken from the cabin top. Your hands soon get rope burns from this practice and the palms and finger pads become red raw. Gloves cannot be used, they cut down the ‘feel’ of what is happening, can get caught in lock gear and are generally a liability, so gloves are a no - no. Stopping the boat from the lockside is easily done with a turn around a lockside bollard. Sometimes these are missing and you have to be the bollard. All this entails a considerable amount of walking to and fro and physical effort, kept to a minimum if you get into a routine but still quite a bit. Add to this the climbing of ladders and steps, standing for long periods at the tiller, and it can be seen that the knees take a pounding. Mine were screaming stop! That, after half a day! If that wasn’t enough, I had early morning starts just before daylight, creeping away at 6.30am past others still abed, curtains twitching, the odd hatch opening. With darkness falling around 6.30pm I would push on into the darkening sky until all was pitch-black night, for another three hours or more. 10pm was the latest. On the canal, a bright headlight is not necessarily an advantage, and when another boat is coming towards you the reflected light off the water can cause much glare, so any kind of ‘dipping’ light just wouldn’t work. A low powered light tilted slightly upwards is the best. With this bridge holes and overhanging foliage can be seen more clearly. In fact, if there is a good Moon you can often see more with the light ‘off’ altogether (though I have spooked a few others running like that!) On the morn of the fourth day I was up and in the engine hole at 6am for an early start. Not to be! – the battery had given up sufficiently not to spin the engine over compression. I had a handle, but the three pot Petter with 1100cc per cylinder was not to be messed with. I thought of calling out the RAC – seriously, if you can use their services in someone elses car, then why not ones boat? There was roadside access and some jump leads were all that were required. I decided against this on the grounds that I was opposite a marina, which should at some time show signs of life – and hopefully a helping hand. After an hour a lady came in sight walking her dog, and after some small talk I suggested she might like to press the starter button whilst I simultaneously cranked the handle and dropped the decompressor, to which she agreed. The combined effort of starter motor and ‘armstrongs patent’ treated us to a most satisfying Taat-ta–ta-Taat-ta-ta as the Petter burst into song. Thank heaven for direct injection, fired up straight away. I thanked her and called her an angel, which seemed to please her, and off I went up Buckby flight. After working 97 locks since Cassio, I arrived mid afternoon at Stockton, exhausted, dirty and smelling a bit ripe. Washing facilities were not of paramount importance for the trip, (my family might say they seldom are anyway) so I felt it right to apologise to my friends for my personal bouquet. Being boaters themselves, they understood without complaint. After packing a few belongings I took their proffered lift to Leamington Station and then a train via; Oxford – Paddington – King Cross and St Albans. During the last day, my knees had begun to seize steadily. Any movement was with great difficulty and pain. Getting into the car for my lift was excruciating. I could hardly bend my knees enough to get my feet into the foot well. Standing on the platform at Leamington I could not control the shaking, and there was nowhere to sit! Finally boarding the train, I found the modern day seating so cramped as to cause even further discomfort. . I couldn’t bend my knees far enough! Using the mobile (what godsends!) Louise was there at St. Albans station waiting to take me home, bath, and bed. ‘Tycho’ would be on dock for the next nine months, during which time all I had to do was to keep pumping money into that bottomless hole in the water that all boats make! --------------------- Now there's a lump in my throat. There's a lot to miss when you leave the cut.
  2. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    Carry on - just ignore me. Something to do with being a Virgo . . . !
  3. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    I will not claim any boat is a sows ear, as with anything, paint and maintenance will make good any craft. But what might be relevant is how a boat handles - and is handled, and as we know, load, depth of water and skill all play their part. As to 'bling', that is down to individuals, and with regard to families, how much they adorn their boats is their business - like scrubbing the front step in a terraced street, polishing the door knocker, and some fine lace at the window. That's just pride in appearance which some might translate as 'one-upmanship', but not I. Making things seem effortless, that is all down to experience and technique. I've lost count of the times Louise & I have caught up with mob handed rope throwers (much to their chagrin), waiting quietly while they yelled at each other across a lock. Our way was quiet, with an occasional nod when going through single in a double lock as to which side we'd leave (most of the time, and usually towpath). Knowledge, experience and good practice - though we were never engaged in commercial traffic, we just sought to emulate best practice as shown and advised by some former working boatmen. I'm sure there are many sows who think their ears are perfect. (Assuming they do and can 'think'). 😉
  4. Derek R.

    Can someone identify this boat please?

    I'd plump for Brent Meadow wharf in the background, and is that Alf Best looking through a kaleidoscope?
  5. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    And there was I thinking it was all about pride in appearance and practice - whatever the boat! 😮
  6. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    She's blue again! Was that taken recently? We had 13yrs together. And 10yrs with YARMOUTH, and another couple on the Dutchman.
  7. Derek R.

    star class boat Pegasus

    It's had a wash.
  8. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    Yes but, yes but, yes but . . . . . . . aaaah, feeling better now.
  9. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    Stop it you lot, you're putting me off Joshers . . .
  10. Derek R.

    Unusual windlass? (photos)

    Citroen stopped producing cars that were true Citroens with the advent of the BX, the first car to be produced with Peugeot at the financial controls. Some will say the last Citroen was the CX, a large car. The original DS and ID models were innovative and ahead of their time, though beset with issues after having run out of development time. Nonetheless, they were ground breaking despite using a version of the Traction Avant engine, though the original idea was to power it with a flat six water cooled boxer engine. On the unveiling of the car at the Paris Motor show in 1955, 12,000 orders had been taken by the end of day one. The GS was a mid sized car with simpler hydraulic brakes and suspension than the DS, and was car of the year in its first year of production in 1970. Production ran until 1985. http://www.citroenet.org.uk/passenger-cars/passenger-cars-index.html The Saxo, and much that followed are simply Euro boxes with a host of problems such as most modern cars inherit with over complex systems of engine and gadget management. Simple they are not, nor long lived. We have a Saxo, and we'd rather be driving the 2cv or the GS any day. In comparison, the suspension of our Nissan is a iron shod cart. And both the older Citroens can be started on the handle - not unlike that in the original post!! Back on topic!
  11. Derek R.

    Unusual windlass? (photos)

    It's different! The roller handle points toward starter handle, but the rest doesn't. Maybe an adaptation. ----------- A modern one - who from? What for?
  12. Derek R.

    Historic Boats for sale online

    That's odd, because I distinctly remember clicking on the link to to see a pretty dull looking page with minimal info. Got the images this time too, but only two. Pictures sell, the more the better. Which brings me to a request for those who reply to posts with images: - It's understandable if the specific image is referred to in the answering post, but to put a few words at the end of a chain of images is in my view - unnecessary, and must take up file space. Leave the text in by all means, but cut the excess images - ta. It's early, and I'm grumpy. 😴
  13. The place is so changed. We tied opposite Tooley's yard for a night or two, and remember fields opposite the yard. Herbert sold us some diesel, and gave us a rag rug from the caravan. That would be 1983.
  14. Derek R.

    Parker boatbuilder

    At Sea, that could pass for camouflage. On the canal . . . . Quite a pleasant sheer to the fore end.
  15. Derek R.

    Salvage department

    The Fire Brigade also had a Salvage department, and its fleet of vehicles were marked 'SALVAGE'. Most of their activities was in clearing properties destroyed by fire. The smell of offal was not only restricted to canals, even today the streets of most cities - certainly London - are serviced by lorries collecting food waste, and the many high rise, futuristic office blocks all have delivery bays wherein waste skips are kept for same - with the accompanying odour. Been there - smelt that.
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