Monday, 28 March 2011

Esse est percipi

Brian relaxing with all crew present

Apologies for the pompous Latin. It means 'to be is to be perceived'. Or, how do I know Starwoman exists when she's stepped out of the room?
This was the philosophical problem discussed by 16th century thinker Bishop George Berkeley who came to the somewhat curious conclusion that "esse est percipi". Or, all we know is our ideas. Oh, and God who sorted everything out. It was a somewhat complex argument that was shot down by Samuel Johnson who kicked a stone and said "I refute it thus".
So where's all this going - apart from demonstrating my university education (BA in Philosophy & Old Car Maintenance)?
Well, Stardog Brian is clearly a Berkelian thinker. When we're out on the boat he'll happily stand on the roof - until one person goes inside and then he dissolves into a state of panic looking everywhere for them. He can't see them so they can't exist. Which understandably makes him upset. He's only happy when they're out again.
Poor chap, I'll have to read him some Descartes or Wittgenstein to give him a broader view of the world. Or maybe just a bone.

What can you see in this picture?

Spotted while out cruising!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The phone is dead, long live the phone

I finally braved Lichfield O2 shop and found a) no queue of Ladies Who Buy Mobiles and b) a very helpful female assistant.
Fifteen minutes later I was on my way with more monthly minutes and my perfect phone - at least given recent circumstances - the Samsung Solid Immerse. Guaranteed scratch, dust, drop AND water protected. It's IP67 certified and US Military Standard which sounds good even though I haven't a clue what they mean.
Anyway, it'll work under a metre of water and can stay submerged for up to half an hour. So given my predilection for taking unexpected dips in the cut, it should be just the phone for me.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Sony Ericsson RIP

My mobile phone was in my trouser pocket when I went for my swim in the canal. Not surprisingly it didn't appreciate it. It flickered briefly to live and then died with a cloud of damp on the inside of the screen.
But after a night gently warming over the stove it burst brightly into life next morning, gave me a couple of texts and looked ready to face the world. And then it died again - this time for good.
What a shame, I'd just got to like my little Sony W810.
So now I've got to get a new phone. Boy, how I hate searching for phones. To upgrade on line O2 texted me an upgrade code --- to the phone that no longer works. So I went to the O2 shop at 9 a.m. Only to find it doesn't open until 10; like all the phone shops around it. Why, when every shop in the High Street opens at 9 do phone shops (apart from the C*rph*n* Wh*rehouse) stay shut until 10?
So I went to the Tesco phone shop instead - and found myself stuck behind a couple of Ladies Who Shop For Mobiles as they debated the merits of various phones and deals with the solitary assistant.
I left and headed back to the internet. Where I got even more confused. What's the better deal: 600 call minutes and a phone you pay for or a free phone and 100 call minutes. Strikes me the former is - so I'm now off to Ebay to find a phone!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Taking a look

I took a look today. Rather too close a look at the inside of a canal. Yep, I fell in. It was a falling in of truly comedic proportions – if only someone had seen it happen. We were mooring. I was slipping the mooring chain into the armco at the canal edge. I leaned over to grab the bottom loop of the chain. Leaned a little more so I could see it. And slowly toppled in. Splash! I don't know quite how. It was before lunch; I wasn't drunk. I think the ground maybe just gave way slightly under my foot.
Anyway, in I went in a slow motion arc; right under. I hauled myself out, laughing too much to feel shaken and revealed my dripping form to Starwoman and Stardaughter. The latter offered assistance. The former merely burst out laughing. The falling in score is now 3-0 between her and me.
It was an entertaining end to a very enjoyable little trip. We just pottered down from Streethay and moored outside Alvecote Marina. A pint and a watch of the England v Ireland rugby (what a disaster!) turned into a very enjoyable meal.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Can't see the trees for the wood

I did the last pre-installation top coat on the ceiling planks the other night by the light (and heat) of my 1000w work lights and while listening to Barcelona v Arsenal in the Champions League on Radio 5 Live.
Quite a game; a damned sight more entertaining and eventful than crawling around the boat trying to topcoat twenty 4.8 metre lengths of wood propped in precarious positions all around the interior so I could barely move.
Anyway, it's done now and I've started fitting them to the ceiling – another job that's easier said than done. Getting four metres of tongue to slide into four metres of groove is trickier than it seems, especially when the grooves are a bit jammed up with paint and the planks slightly twisted. (It only takes a couple of miillimetres of roof beam misalignment to twist a plank out of true.)
But we're getting there. Slowly.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Paint, paint and paint again

Oh the glorious tedium of painting. I seem to have been painting the ceiling t&g planks for most of my life. I'm on the fifth course now and still on the hors d'ouvres - the main course awaits.
First came the knotting compound, then two coats of aluminium primer followed by two coats of undercoat. The top coats await.
Worse thing is that while it only takes 3-4 hours to paint the 20 planks, it takes 24 hours for them to dry. So, since they fill the whole of the interior of the boat, it's twiddling thumbs time –there's really not much else one can on with.
Now they will need some extra drying and hardening time before I rub down and prepare for the top coats. The only consolation is that it's a whole lot easier to do it on the floor than when their up on the roof.

PS Hello and thanks for the encouragement to the blog follower who hailed me from their passing boat this afternoon. I was so taken aback I didn't even spot the boat's name.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Boatfitter's block

Apologies for the lack of posting. I haven't had much to write about. I've been suffering the boatbuilding equivalent of writer's block.
You know when you catch your jumper on something sharp and break a stitch. Before you know it the whole damned thing is unravelling around you. It's been the same for me. I had a plan, then I caught myself having a re-think on one aspect and before I knew it the whole damned plan had dissolved away and I was questioning everything.
It all revolved around the calorifier. We've always been able to place everything in our boat plan - except the calorifier (hot water cylinder for the landlubbers). On many boats it goes under the bed. It can't in ours because we're a tug and the bed is at floor level under the deck. Or it stacks in the bathroom. That's tricky in ours because there's really no room.
But I came up with a scheme and it seemed ok - until someone suggested we could always put it in the engine room. And, of course, if we put it in the engine room we could have a bath in the bathroom - which would be easier to install than a shower.
But by now we were also re-thinking our heating system. We'd planned to have an oil stove with back boiler and rads but the oil stove on our present boat, while great in the cold weather, overheats us madly when the weather just a tad parky. So why create a sauna for ourselves when all we want to do is take the chill off the room and maybe heat some water.
Which is why we've thought about fitting an Alde gas boiler - one of the tall thin ones that cleverly fits in a tiny space. A great plan but where will it go? Answer: in the bathroom. Meaning: no bath. Which means we're back to a shower and maybe back to putting the calorifier in the bathroom. But now I have a lot of extra water pipes to think about the location of.
So I've stopped thinking and started painting. I've bought a load of tongue and groove timber - I went for the cheap softwood stuff after being scared off the expensive hardwood - and I'm busy priming and painting it. All 20 4.8 metre long planks of it which completely fill the inside of the boat. Half are on the floor so I can crawl around and paint them; the rest are on trestles above them so I can do them too.
In 3-4 days they'll all be ready to fit and after that it will be time to start thinking again. Hopefully my boatfitter's block will have lifted and I can find answers as well as questions.