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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008



Jacquie accompanied SKYY back to Braunston Junction before walking back to collect the car and driving to Wigrams. It was a beautiful morning in contrast to the miserable drizzly weather that we had suffered for the last three days and I fully enjoyed the return cruise, looking forward to lighting the fire as soon as I got back.

That’s exactly what I did, having of course read the instruction booklet, the fire was instantly blazing away and soon, the paint fumes coming off the stove set, off the smoke alarm, reassuring to know that that works OK, the instructions did warn of this, but said the paint would soon cure and I am pleased to say that now there are now no smelly fumes, no matter how hot the stove gets.

The stove is very controllable, maybe it has something to do with a quality fuel, each load lasts in excess of five hours, in total that’s about a scuttle and a bit a day and it is easy to get the temperature just right without having to throw open doors to bleed off excess heat. I can also, easily get it to go through the night, which is more than I can say for me.

It now looks as if the stove and its surround have always been there, and just in time especially as the tax situation on red diesel changed on November 1st, increasing the cost substantially. We will now be able to keep SKYY at a constant temperature for about a quarter of the cost of using the diesel fired central heating. Many thanks to Phill and Justin for their excellent work.



Justin’s turned up with the cut and welded stove pipe, all nicely blacked and soon the stove was bolted down on the hearth and the pipe elegantly exiting the roof at exactly the right angle. The smart black and chrome chimney was the crowning glory. Unfortunately Justin warned that if we w ere sensible we wouldn’t light the fire for twenty four hours, to allow the mastic and fire cement to properly set, so another night listening to the diesel boiler ticking away. All that remained was to settle the bill for the work, plus a coal scuttle, also in black and chrome, a little companion set, an Eco Fan and a couple of bags of PureHeat. Job done.



Phill was on and off the boat all day. First the base tiles were glued down and then the screw holes in the timber work were plugged. Later, when the tiles had set, a very pungent sealing fluid was applied. Another hour or so Phill returned to trim off the wooden plugs with a neat Japanese flush cut saw and then grouted in the tiles, now it really looked good and only a final polish of the tiles tomorrow was required. In between Phill had been making up an oak ring to finish off the hole in the ceiling lining, it was the perfect finishing touch.

Phill’s work was now complete and it only remained for Justin to fix the stove and pipe in place tomorrow.



Justin from JG Marine came on board to check the alignment of the flue pipe and then set about cutting the hole in the roof. He made it seem so easy, a jig saw and a metal blade made short work of it and the collar was a perfect fit. A long strip of board, the same width as the pipe, with a shorter length pivoted at one end enabled Justin to get the angle and position of the bend were the pipe would exit through the roof, just right, it was important aesthetically, that the pipe followed the same line as the cabin wall, Justin went of to do a bit of pipe bending confident that it would fit.
As we prepared to leave the boat for the rest of day, Phill said that he should get the fire board fitted and the tiles laid. We had chosen a natural stone tile that was in a small brick format on a mesh backing. Phill had said he was happy to lay these but it would take more time.
As promised, on return, the tiling was complete to both sides and cut, but not glued down to the base. A good choice, they really give the impression of a brick hearth.



Phill came on board with the ash edge that would finish off the low level bulkhead that he was going to construct as part of the stove surround. We had particularly wanted a curved edge to this bulkhead to match the other curved tops and cabinet fronts. Phill had laminated up from mu ltiple strips of ash veneer this capping edge to exactly the right curvature, very clever.

We left the boat in Phill’s safe hands and headed of the Leicester to do a bit of Christmas shopping and see the latest James Bond film. A successful day. The new High Cross shopping centre is very attractive and the cinema is conveniently situated right alongside.

We arrived back on SKYY concerned as to what we would find, but were delighted in Phill’s progress, the plinth and bulkhead were in place and the Becton Bunny stove was standing on the hearth, it looked great.



Monday was the day that Phill from Wharf House Narrowboats was to start constructing the plinth for the stove. It was a miserable day, but it made sense to head for Braunston today to be in place for work to begin early on Monday. Jacquie saw us safely to the marina exit before jumping ship to drive to Braunston, I cruised on single handed and arrived nearly two hours later, cold and wet. Jacquie had checked in with Phill at the Chandlers and confirmed where we should moor the boat and then walked up the cut and jumped back on board just before the twin bridges at Braunston Junction. We moored up alongside a new boat that was being fitted out and warmed ourselves up.

Saturday, 8 November 2008



The snow had almost completely disappeared and gradually the sun came out as we cruised back to Napton.
Penny, who had, the day before, likened crossing the Bay of Biscay to moving about on a canal boat and feeling sick, had definitely found her canal legs and Paul had a go at steering the boat and I think, given enough time and more bridges to aim at, would become a natural.

The good news was, that our brief relationship with the tyre did not seem to have caused any damage to either the engine or propeller and shaft.

Another quayside fond farewell and we then settled back down to there just being the two of us.



The previous evening Paul & Penny, Jacquie’s brother and sister in law had arrived in a blizzard. The earliest winter snow since 1936. This morning, though, was just magical, scrubbed blue sky and pristine white snow covering everything. With the sun so bright we knew that it wouldn’t be long before it melted, but we had a substantial breakfast to fortify us against the cold and then, as last time we took off towards the Folly Pie Pub by Napton Bottom Lock. The views were wonderful and although Paul & Penny who spend much of their life in Southern Spain and were not really prepared, clothes wise, for snowy conditions, we had enough spare warm clothing and they really enjoyed the short trip.

I turned the boat in the winding hole and took no notice of the old car tyre that floated past the stern. Mistake!! After a lot of juddering SKYY continued to turn albeit much more slowly and with a lot of clanking from the prop, but more to the point the old tyre had disappeared and I good idea where it was hiding.

We got the boat alongside the towpath and as soon as I removed the weed hatch and plunged my hands into the icy water my worst fears were realized. The tyre had wrapped itself right around the prop. My attempts to prise it off were useless. I tried cutting through it with a junior hacksaw, knowing, as I started, it was wasting energy. I then thought RCR, the RAC of the canals, I am a member so lets see what they can do. A very cheerful lass said I would receive a call back within half an hour with an ETA for their attendance.

We retired to the roaring log fire and a drink at the Folly Pie pub and within 20 minutes I had a call saying they would be with me, within an hour and a half and the they were. There were two of them, one was an apprentice and it was he that was nominated to immerse himself up to his armpits in the icy water, however he first donned a pair of thick black rubber gloves that did reach his armpits. Within a few minutes the tyre bobbed up at the side of the boat and was removed from the canal with the boat hook. I think the apprentice will go far, he had obviously mastered the technique of tyre from propeller removal, not such an unusual occurrence and made it look so easy. A super service and I can well recommend River Canal Rescue.

We stayed where we were for a late lunch and forty winks for Penny and me, and then decided to stay put for the night. The clocks had gone back at the weekend and by four o’clock it had clouded over and was getting dark.



Barbara and Jim slept soundly and after a hearty breakfast we headed back to Wigrams. The sun again shined brightly, but the wind, stronger than the day before, drove us down the cut and sadly I slightly misjudged the turning back into the marina, but I got it just right getting onto our pontoon.

B & J said goodbye, having enjoyed their time afloat and relieved, that apparently, neither Jacquie or I were suffering any hardships in out floating about life, quite the opposite in-fact. Thanks for coming to visit us, lovely company as always.



Long time friends of Jacquie and now mine, Barbara & Jim, had driven up from Devon on Monday, overnighted in Stratford -upon-Avon, before arriving early in the morning at the marina on a cold, but bright & breezy day. They had been following the blog of SKYY, but were anxious to experience first hand, what I was making Jacquie suffer, so that I could indulge myself with living on a boat. After coffee we set off for a short trip, just down to Napton Bottom Lock, before turning round and stopping for lunch. A walk up to the locks allowed Barbara and Jim to watch a couple of boats work there way up and down. We then cruised back to the Bridge Pub for dinner. The moorings near the pub were all taken, but helpful moorers happily adjusted their mooring lines to make room for us. Thanks Guys.

We all dined well at the Bridge. I had the water buffalo steak pie, an unusual offering, apparently there is a herd of buffalo locally, the texture is like steak, but the taste is a little stronger, a good choice.