Saturday, 3 January 2015

Maiden Voyage - First Day

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Very retrospective post for Wednesday 26th November.

I could of course "forward wind" completely through the period that elapsed between paying a deposit, and agreeing to purchase "Flamingo" and ultimately driving up for a handover, and to start moving the boat.  However, there is inevitably more to it than that.   At the very least there is a period of anxiousness about whether the deal will complete painlessly, or whether anything could now blow it out of the water.  Even putting aside such fears, you of course still have to make sure the seller will get his cash when expected, and it would always seem sensible to make sure you have insurance before the boat becomes your responsibility.

I could bore you to death with the full detail sad story of just how hard our bank managed to make the process of arranging a direct CHAPS transfer to our vendor.  Suffice it to say we had had problems with CHAPS transfers on previous transactions, so I went to some lengths to ensure we would have no repeats.  Unfortunately my best efforts failed!  One person who sounded entirely clued up gave me one set of "facts" about what was required, and a plan of campaign to follow.  However when I phoned the relevant department to set this all in motion, someone sounding equally plausible told me my first advisor had told me all wrong - it didn't work that way at all, and this is what must happen instead.  I had little choice to accept that, but as it turned out, I should not have done.  Later someone senior in the payments department rang me to tell me that what my most recent advisor had told me was even more wrong - they clearly had a "training issue" for which she apologised profusely.  In fairness, she then personally did everything she could to put things right, and as a gesture of goodwill, and without me asking, waived the charge normally made for a CHAPS transaction.  On the day it actually all went very smoothly, despite two people getting it all wrong, but it could easily have floundered had someone competant not got hold of it. (I have probably now bored you to death anyway, and haven't given any of the detail of everything they got wrong!).

Steerers view approaching Newbold tunnel - one of the few pictures taken.
The other thing we had not bargained with was just how much we would need to travel up with.  "Flamingo" would be largely empty of anything.  It had no fitted furniture beyond the kitchen, so there would be no tables or chairs.  There would be nothing to cook with, nothing to eat or drink from.  There would be no tools, if things proved not to be working, or we broke down.  We established there would be some cruising gear like mooring stakes, ropes and windlasses, (though I wish I had enquired about the adequacy of the hammer!)  However, there wouldn't even be coal or kindling.

In practice I'm not quite sure the vendor believed the car load of stuff we turned up with, and to be honest, I'm not sure I did either.  The car was filled to the limits, to include anything alluded to above, as well as essentials like food, pillows, duvet, bedding, etc.  More inventively we had gone prepared with improvised porthole bungs, and materials to make up some internal curtains to act as the internal "doors" the boat does not currently have.  Although we know each other quite well after all these years, neither of us had any great desire to see the other sat on the loo, for example!  Of course to make curtains, you need really need a swing machine, so my grandmother's old hand cranked Singer was amongst the things filling the car to the brim!  Anything that might prove useful in fixing plumbing or wiring, and indeed just boxes of screws and nuts and bolts were also "borrowed" from "Chalice", (though inevitably things that we ultimately found we needed were not always amongst them).

Anyway, on the day agreed, as we drove up with our massively loaded car, (Odin has to share the footwell with Cath's legs), a text came through from our vendor confirming the arrival of the cash in his bank.  There would be no delays waiting for a payment to go through at an undetermined time - something that had remained a strong possibility.  We wanted to try and get some miles in that day, so this was good news.

Our vendor helped us with the considerable task of moving an awful lot of stuff from car to boat, for which we were grateful.  After that he gave us a run through of what was supposed to work what, (switches particularly), but we later found we had really not found out enough!  He had also arranged we could leave our car at the marina for collection later - another great help, as we had thought we might have to do a lot of shuffling around by public transport.  Fairly quickly formalities were over, and he was gone, leaving us with nearly 72 feet of unknown boat that needed reversing off a pontoon, and pointing through the narrow bridges at the entrance.

I'm not sure if I was expecting the initial moves to be as sluggish as they seemed, and of course we were taking things very carefully at first, but we quickly learned it only gets going backwards very slowly, and, as a consequence, if you are travelling forwards, doesn't stop in a hurry either.  we left the marina without incident, but needed some shuffling to and fro to actually complete the turn on to the Oxford canal.

Rugby - fortunately plenty of space for a full length boat this time.
After this we just pottered along gaining a feel for the boat, whilst exploring some of its quirks - for example the speed wheel doesn't currently say where you put it, and starts to wind back from whatever revs you have selected - so most of our initial trip involved one hand kept on or near the wheel, in order to maintain progress.  Not ideal, but no obvious quick fix presented itself!  We had hoped to get to Rugby visitor moorings if we could, because it would give access to a large supermarket for much needed supplies, however we had untimately left Brinklow very much later than planned.  For a while, despite having less than 4 miles to cover, progress  seemed sedate enough that we might not get there before dark, but in the end we did so OK.  Only on arrival did we discover that despite the previous owner saying there were 5 mooring stakes on board, all were damaged or bent in various degrees, and none particularly ideal for tying up such a heavy boat on such soggy tow-paths,  Before we had got very much further, some decent replacements were purchased.  When you buy a "new" boat you can more or less guarantee to be making unexpected purchases for the foreseeable future!

Brinklow Marina to Rugby
Miles: 3.5, Locks: 0


  1. OK I'm already hooked on your new venture and looking forward to following your progress. Good luck!!

  2. Likewise! I did have a chuckle over the car...


We have (finally!) been alerted to the fact that many people have been unable to post comments on this blog. (It seemed a bit odd, as people used to, but it has stopped occurring). We have changed some settings, so hopefully now possible again. Comments will be moderated, and you will need to enter word verification.