Monday, 31 January 2011

Stuck in the 2

If I'm rubbish on phones I'm even worse when it comes to what I gather is now called 'home entertainment systems'. Or what I would call radios, tvs and CD players.
I discovered just how lacking in knowledge I am when I started thinking about installing this stuff (or at this stage the wiring for aerials and power supplies) in Harry. After a few days' research I've pretty much mastered digital tv - 12v flatscreen tv, digibox and a portable mini satellite dish should sort that - but radio and music are another thing altogether.
I asked an 'expert' but he said I needed to decide what I wanted and then he could advise on how to fit it. Which is just the trouble. How can I decide what I want when my knowledge stops at pushing CDs into car stereos and I can just about remember how to turn on the iPod my daughters gave me.
All I want is a radio that can play MW so I can listen to football on 5 Live (which in a perfect world I could do while lying in bed and switching on and off by remote) and a halfway decent device to play music. Starwoman wants The Archers on R4 and she doesn't want her saloon cluttered with ugly speakers either.
It ought to be simple.

Stuck in the nineties

Occasionally I contemplate changing my mobile phone. Usually after having a demonstration of someone's iPhone or - this week - an Android. Whatever that is.
And that's the trouble. I thought an android was a robot in human guise but apparently it's a phone. Or rather an operating system. Whatever that is.
Anyway I got rather more actively engaged in changing my phone this time when my trusty old sellotaped together Nokia 6310i finally died after being dropped on its head. So I started trolling around the internet trying to get to grips with phones. O2 - my service provider - were only too happy provide me with any number of phones and plans. So many that I was soon completely baffled. Should I have a free Nokia 63008 or pay £25.50 and get a Samsung XYZ Rio? I read the reviews and got even more baffled.
So in the end I did what I always do. Dug around in a drawer and pulled out another old timer - a Sony Ericsson which I gave up using because it was too complicated for me.
When it comes to phones I truly am stuck in the nineties. I wish I wasn't. Our friend Ian on Nb Nobby was telling me about his new LG Optimus which lets him make calls at the same time as linking his computer to the internet (I think) and telling him where he is by GPS. I'm envious. I think. But when I tried to read up about the phone I soon felt my brain start to ache. I wonder what a Nokia 6310i costs on Ebay?

Three long weeks

Yes, three long weeks since I last posted. If any of you are still bothering to look then apologies that you've been having some wasted 'clicking'.
It's not that nothing's been happening. More that the rate of progress has been snail like. And I've been embarrassed to admit as much. I read other 'build blogs' and boats seem to grow like leylandii hedges in a flurry of photos and diary entries like "today I put in the wiring for the electronic CanBus control modules" or "we built the galley and after lunch began on the hand-made oak bed".
I wish. My work is more akin to high altitude climbing - one agonising step, a long pause, then another, long pause, small step, pause, slip and slide back. Etc, etc.
Even the smallest things demand a back-to-basics learning process. Where to run the wiring - and how to stop it all falling in a heap on the floor as it hangs in fresh air below the gunwales. Fitting the hullside linings with endless drilling through steel bearers for self tapping screws. And today, lining up the cabinside ply lining sheets and marking the position of the portholes so I can cut matching holes in the ply. (Given my skill with measuring and cutting...well put it this way, I ordered an extra sheet of ply just in case.)
Plus of course endlessly moving all those tools and bits of wood around the inside to get them out of the way!
So where have we got to then? Well the floor is down. The hull sides are lined in 18mm WBP ply which will eventually be covered with 4mm oak veneered ply. The under deck sides are lined too with two layers of 6mm ply to accommodate the curved shape.
The wiring is basically done, though there are still plenty of danging loose ends to be dealt with and the cabinsides in 9mm birch ply (probably also to be covered in oak veneer) are going on now.
Doesn't sound much, does it, but it's kept me more than busy.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Raise the Titanic

The 'Maid', the floating pontoon jetty at Streethay Wharf was a victim to the ice a couple of weeks ago, subsiding slowly to the bottom after the four inch thick sheet pierced its hull. An attempt to pump it out only saw it sink completely.
Today, with the ice now gone, was Raise the Titanic day. The massive eight wheeler crane extended its jib out over the water and lowered a cluster of chains down to hook onto the few extremities of deck that were still showing.
Then it pulled. And peeled the deck back like the lid of a sardine can while the hull sat determinedly on the bottom.
Take Two. The chains were re-attached to the cross braces now revealed by the inadvertent can-opening. And finally up came the Maid to rest propped half out of the water and await more pumping and then an even larger crane to drag it completely out for repair.
Lew Grade couldn't have done it better.Here's the Maid prior to the sinking with a very handsome boat tied up

Today's plan is...

We should have learned by now. We've done up a few houses in our time and fitted many a kitchen but never yet have we had one of those perfect spaces you find in DIY manuals or kitchen planning guides.
You know the sort. A window to put the sink under, a drain in the right place, a door over the other side, a neat rectangular shape. No, ours have always had odd shapes, awkward corners, deep windows, doors where they aren't wanted and so on.
And it's the same with Harry. I've read all the books, walked through many boats and could lay out a typical 57ft boat with my eyes shut. So why have I chosen a 54ft tug with a cabin just 20 feet long into which I have to fit saloon, galley and bathroom. Worse, all the portholes and hatches are exactly where they don't want to be.
Yes, it looks delightfully symmetrical on the outside but inside I find myself thinking about whether I dare have a porthole in the shower. Or where to put the damned calorifier.
Which is why we've been filling page after squared page with drawings and doodles trying to find a way to squeeze a quart into our pint pot. Well, even a pint and a half would do.
I think that, finally, we might be there. At least until tomorrow. So now it's time to plan the wiring and understand the mysteries of voltdrop. And think of a way to get four feet wide sheets of ply through two feet deep doors!

Brian goes bonkers

Was it the glimpse of sunshine? Or the disappearance of the ice? Or the change back to IAMS from Lidl dogfood? Or his new Christmas toy? Whatever the reason Brian has been behaving like an ADHD child who has flushed his Ritalin down the loo.
Ignore him just for a couple of minutes and he grabs his toy and starts growling and bashing it at you. And won't stop until you play tug with him. Which, as anyone who owns a terrier will know, is a game that never ends for a terrier never lets go. Even if he is hanging suspended from it by his teeth.
This is Brian's toy - a Christmas present from his two legged puppy pal, our grand-daughter Martha. She chose it herself. The knot-tying cognoscenti among you will spot that this toy giraffe is made with a neat bit of knot-tying - crown knots I think - which makes it particularly appropriate for a boat dog.
Quite what he's up to we can only guess. He doesn't want a walk - he's had enough to tire us out the last couple of days. He's not secretly scoffing Haribo either.We think he just doesn't like being ignored while we're trying to plan out the interior of Harry.
"Stop looking at the laptop Ma and Pa and pay some attention to me."

Thursday, 6 January 2011

One of those days

A lot of hard graft and not a lot to show for it. Spent the morning stripping down the Refleks oil stove which has given up the ghost after months of perfect running. Put it all back together having found no faults and it seemed ok.
In the afternoon we went up to Fradley for a second go at bringing back to the boatyard the little narrowboat moored there. There seemed to be less ice. Seemed...
After a bit of bashing we broke out from the bank and set off but the ice was unrelenting. Not always thick but crashing and cracking around all the time. And every now and then we hit a thick stretch which ground us to a halt and demanded more smashing with the three inch fence post we were armed with. Starwoman was steering and I was up in the bow wielding the pole.
With Streethay almost in sight we hit the thickest ice of all and ground through it, forward, stop, smash, reverse, forward again until we reached the moorings. And there we finally did grind to a halt in four inch thick ice. Reinforcements were called for and we finally got it to the yard, blistered, knackered and cold. That's us not the boat.
After that it had to be a fish and chip supper. Ate it in the van, came back to the boat and found that the stove was, once more, running badly.
One of those days...