Almost two years to the day we would be going back into Tim’s dry dock by the side of the bottom lock at Braunston for SKYY’s bottom to be jet blasted and re-blacked, but before that our new rear wind breaker or dodger would be fitted by Fraser of AJ covers.
Late afternoon on Bank Holiday Monday we cruised to Braunston and moored immediately before bridge 1 and arose early on Tuesday morning, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Frazer. They were obviously very busy after the Easter holiday, but he eventually dropped off the canvas and promised to return within the hour, along with Cath, to fit it. He was as good as his word. It fits perfectly, looks very smart, but most importantly Duggie can’t jump over it, or squeeze under it and will be safely contained on the stern whilst we cruise. From our previous experience of having the hull jet cleaned, I realised how filthy everything became, so I immediately un-popped the dodger, rolled it up and stored it inboard
Eight o’clock on Wednesday morning we motored up to the wooden bridge that crosses over the alternative entrance to Braunston marina, turned SKYY 180 deg before reversing up to the first lock. Jacquie had the lock set, and in and upwards, before backing out and awaiting for the freshly painted boat to emerge, before we slipped into the dock.
Tim lowered the gate into place, opened the sluice at the other end and SKYY gently settled down onto the wooden beams set into the bottom of the dock. Once Tim had climbed into his waterproof kit he was down the ladder and within the hour had jet blasted the hull clean. I now set about washing the roof and the cabin sides before the fine mist of mud, algae and weed that had been sprayed everywhere, dried on. Two years ago I hadn’t done this and it wasn’t until we emerged into the snowy sunshine that I saw the contrast between the shiny black hull and the filthy superstructure.
The first coat of bitumen went on the next day and when it was touch dry I climbed down into the dock and sanded down the red paint on the stern and touched in the bare metal with red oxide. Friday morning and Tim applied the second coat and when that was dry I got a coat of red paint onto the counter and decided to apply, by roller, another coat of bitumen just around the water line, for extra protection and from my own tin of bitumen I should point out.
Saturday morning and Tim let the water back into the dock and out we came, clean and shiny to another beautiful day, Jacquie and Duggie stayed on board until the junction and then walked back to collect the car and drive back to Wigrams Turn, whilst I enjoyed the warm sunny cruise back home and marvelled how many boats were out and about and all determined, or so it seemed to me, to scratch my shiny hull.
We had been so much more comfortable on board, than we were two years ago. Firstly we now had the stove to keep us warm, secondly I was able to plug our shoreline cable, via a connector that I borrowed from neighbour Simon, into the mains electric supply, this time the immersion heater kept the water hot and we could keep the lights on and use the DVD player and TV with no fear of running the batteries flat. Also last time we had no internet connection, but as mentioned before, T Mobile must have beefed up the service as we had an excellent connection so much so we were able to watch the first episode of the new Doctor Who on the BBC I Player. Finally, although SKYY was in the relatively dark Victorian dry dock, we were able to escape into the very pleasant spring sunshine and sit alongside the lock eating our lunch and drinking coffee and watch the cute little lambs gambolling about in the adjacent field. Oh I nearly forgot to mention the number of boating friends and acquaintances that we bumped into during these few days, it is amazing that after only two short years afloat how many people we have got to know.