Monthly Archives: Mar 2017

Test Cruise

Visit 28th March
With a hire car potentially sitting around doing nothing for the day we had contacted Ricky at Finesse to see if it would be possible to do a test cruise. A few things were happening at the yard on Tuesday, but as long as they had been able to take NB Oleanna out themselves to check her out then we’d be welcome.
Ricky had heard from the battery distributors. The good news was that a battery had been made, but it was going to take longer to arrive than first thought! So the two week deadline couldn’t be met. However they were offering to loan us two AGM 12 volt 100 amp hour batteries that would fit in the existing battery tray until the lithium one arrives. This we thought on over night.
P1000695smOn arriving in Sheffield the yard felt bare. Whenever we’ve visited before there have been shells everywhere, but today it felt quite empty. An old narrowboat had arrived, this had been bought by the owner of NB Muddy Waters along with it’s mooring in London. This boat was now surplus to his requirements so was going to be blacked and then put up for sale.Only one other boat was on hard standing, but then there were two in the fabrication shed, two in fit out and we didn’t get to see the paint shed.
P1000697smNB Oleanna had been turned round in the morning and was waiting for us. A coat of paint had been applied to the inside of the weed hatch. Our current weed hatch opens into the engine bay and the locking lid is above water level. However on Tyler Wilson shells the weed hatch is totally separate to the engine bay and the locking lid is below the water level. This means that there is no way you would be able to flood your engine bay having left the lid loose as on our current boat. Also the lid being under water helps reduce noise.
P1000698smP1000700smChris handed over the ignition key to Mick, no float on it, he had to be careful not to drop it in the cut. Once we were on the stern, Mick started her up, a quieter engine than NB Lillyanne our current boat. Chris untied the bow and gave her a push, Ricky the stern. Once all four of us were on board Mick put her in gear. The test cruise wasn’t far about 2.5 miles round trip towards the top of the Tinsley flight.
In tick over she glided through the water effortlessly with very little wake, the bow wave was almost non existent. This may change when her water tank is full though. Increasing the revs brought with it a bit of singing from below. Ricky thought that the stern gland greaser might need an extra turn as it was all bedding in. The engine hours only read 1.6 when we set out. With the revs higher the noise vanished.
The morse control was easier than our current one which in comparison is quite stiff. In fact watching Mick it seemed like he was hardly making any effort at the helm and she was responding. He also had a very big smile on his face, we were at last moving on our long awaited for boat.
P1000713smReaching the winding hole the bow thruster had to be tested, so the girlie button was pressed for the first time by us, Ricky had used it a lot to turn her in the basin earlier in the day. Sorry to those from our old syndicate of NB Winding Down, but NB Oleannas’ bow thruster is far more powerful and she responded, turning with just two very short blasts.
On our return Mick brought her to a halt and then popped her in reverse. After a little bit of initial straightening up she moved through the water as straight as a die in reverse, we were impressed as that never happens, it might be the only time!
P1000717smP1000723smBy the time we returned there was a little bit of rudder judder, most probably something around the prop, but she still responded well. Mick brought her in very slowly and carefully so as not to leave any marks on the gunnels. A very enjoyable test even if it had started to rain part way. It was a shame that I’d not had a turn on the tiller, but as I’m still wearing a protective boot on my broken foot and on crutches it would have been a bit hard.
When it had started to rain I closed the back doors into the cabin and pulled the hatch shut. This did make me realise that the only way to have both doors shut was if they were locked either with the yale or bolted from inside. We don’t cruise with the back doors open due to our cat (she’s not trusted up on deck) and it would be a pain to always have to have a key with us. So Ricky and Chris are going to see if they can add a catch or a bolt that is accessible from the top of the doors to keep them closed.
P1000728smWe chatted through the battery situation again. Having two AGM batteries would mean that we could move on board, we’d soon work out if our power needs exceeded what they could supply us with. Running the batteries low wouldn’t be a problem to us in the long run as we’d be handing them back. When the second battery arrives someone from Finesse would come out to meet us to fit them, most probably have to adjust the ballast. At least it would mean that the engine bay wouldn’t have to be reorganised around different batteries. So decision made.
We checked through various items with Ricky to see if they were included. The plank and pole rest should arrive in the next few days, but because of Health and Safety we need to provide our own planks and poles. She comes with bow and stern fenders and ropes (but no centre line), Pipe fenders on each side attached to the gunnels. These are fine when you are moored and help protect the paint work when coming in to moor, but we have gained at least three of these around our prop from others that have lost them whilst in locks. We could lift them onto the gunnel, but I have to say we’re more likely to remove them and attach them to fender hooks and hang them from the grab rail once moored so there is no chance of loosing them or them getting in the way. So a shopping list has been made.
P1000729smNot far off now, a few small jobs before handover. We just have to decide on how to get her to meet NB Lillyanne. No boats are due to be craned in or out in Sheffield so that would mean we couldn’t split the cost of a crane at one end. With transport and two cranes we are likely to be looking at around £2000 to move her. Another option is to hire a car or van and move cruising essentials on board (including the cat) and cruise her down the country. This however is dependant on the recovery of my broken ankle, as I don’t want to miss out on her first cruise, I need to be able to stand at the helm and drive with confidence. This however will mean we have to think creatively about her launch and how to celebrate with our friends.


Visit 15th March
An early start for us today turned out to not be quite early enough.

In Sheffield a crane had been brought in to move several boats, one of which was to be NB Oleanna. it turned out that she needed to be moved first and things had started very early. We could see the crane as we approached from a distance. Sadly we missed the strops being adjusted to get Oleanna centred for the lift, the nail biting moments of her being lifted into the air, swung over and then gently lowered into the cut. When we arrived we stood on Cadman Bridge where you can over look the yard and not get in the way. There was NB Oleanna sitting with quite a list in the water. She was having steel ballast added to the starboard side to level her up some.

Her ballast under the floor had been positioned to compensate for much of the internal fit out being on the starboard side. Just about all our storage is on this side so therefore we will be adding weight when we move on to her. Later on in the day we discussed with Ricky how much weight we would be adding, we had no idea really, but a figure of around 100kgs was thought suitable. The extra ballast added can be adjusted when we’ve moved on, being positioned under the galley units and elsewhere we’ll be shown how to get at it all.

We watched as NB Sheffield Maid was prepared and then craned out and swung right over onto a lorry to be moved to the other end of the yard. The crane was then retracted and repositioned so that it could lift NB Sheffield Maid off the lorry and be positioned by the paintshop. Then a sailaway Sheffield Keel was craned onto another lorry, this was heading to Scotland. NB Muddy Waters a Finesse boat was then craned out of the cut onto another lorry, this was heading to London. All this took some time with the repositioning of the crane, strapping down of boats. We did our best to keep out of the way.

When we got chance between crane moves, we walked down into the yard. With NB Oleanna now on the water getting on was going to be difficult for me as I am currently on crutches. With the help of a fork lift and a pallet I was assisted over the gap where I could then shuffle on board. Ricky wanted to show us the jobs that had been ticked off the list from our visit last week and we also wanted to look at the sofa bed that had arrived on Monday.

A double electric socket has been added into the rear port cupboard in the galley, this is so that we can have our hand held vacuum hidden away charging.

A yale lock has been added to the sliding hatch. As Oleanna is a reverse layout boat we really wanted some means of being able to lock the back doors from outside instead of only being able to do it from inside.

A couple of detectors have been put up on the ceiling. We are not sure if these are just smoke or Carbon Monoxide as well.

A slot in the back of the freezer drawer has been cut and the table legs now fit in there nicely.

Walking around on her in the water was very strange. She will be left to settle in the water for a few days and then all the cupboards and drawers will be checked to see if they are still square and that they open and close properly.  One thing that was obvious was that the freezer drawer would need a catch so that it doesn’t slide open. This will be done with magnetic catches so that the drawer can still sit flush.

The sofa bed had arrived on Monday afternoon from Sofabed Barn. Michael had adapted their Hampton sofa and pouffe for us. Made to fit into the space we had the sofa is just a little bit shorter than their 1400 one. The pouffe is normally the same length as the sofa and when made up into a bed the sofa lays flat and the pouffe extends it to the full width of your boat.

But we don’t have the luxury of all that space, the TV would be in the way and so would the pouffe. So he has made us a squarer one which pushes in under some shelving to keep the doorway clear. Then if you want to use it as a seat or foot rest it pulls out. If left at the end of the sofa it makes it long enough to be a single bed. The pouffe has a hinged lid so can be used for storage and the seat of the sofa can be lifted to reveal more storage below.

Once things had calmed down a bit with the moving of boats we sat down with Ricky to discuss the battery situation. He was now in touch with the main man at the UK distributors. Several phone calls were had whilst we were there, but still no solution was offered from them.
Now that she is in the water the final few jobs can be done and then we can take her out for a test, likely to be in about ten days time. Once this has been done and she is signed off we can arrange to get her to Crick for her launch where we are currently waiting on NB Lillyanne.

16th March phone call.

Ricky has at last heard back from the battery distributor today. They are saying that a battery is being manufactured for us in the States and will be air freighted over due to arrive in two weeks. We have all heard something similar to this several times before from them. So they are being given a deadline of when it has to have arrived by. If it does not arrive the original battery we’ve had since October will be returned and the battery trays will be removed, made bigger and AGM batteries will be installed instead.

Plenty to catch up on.

Visit 7th March
It has been quite sometime since we paid a visit to Sheffield, in fact we’ve not visited since the end of November! Weekly phone calls have been taking place but all of them much the same regarding the Lithium batteries, or lack of one of them! Without the full complement of batteries it has not been worth Finesse putting NB Oleanna in the water as they wouldn’t be able to adjust the ballast or test the remaining systems without the extra battery.

But with several boats being moved next week by crane she will be getting her bottom wet, battery or not. We decided that a visit was worth doing as quite a lot has been done over the last few months and climbing on board next week we would only get in the way.

Chris and Ricky were on hand to show us round and answer questions. A couple of weeks ago NB Oleanna was moved out of the fitout shop and into the yard, she was taking up much needed space and with a full compliment of mushroom vents fitted she was water tight. She has had a bit of a clean up, but not the full works yet, as sitting in the yard she is bound to get dirty. There are also bits of tape left from masking on the hull.

Since our last visit the lower red and cream lines have been repainted, swapped over on the cabin sides to match the original design. The lines have had to be slightly thickened but the shadow of the previous paint is very faint. It may be a small thing to some but to me she looks better with all her red shadows in the right places.

The gunnels have had their top coats of satin black from the cratch board back to the feathers on the stern. This is the area that no matter how hard you try not to, it will always get marked in locks. So I chose the same paint that we have on our current boat NB Lillyanne as it is easy to touch up (when you get round to it!). The rubbing strake between the red and cream on the tunnel band is still to be painted black.

The bow and stern fenders have been fitted, chains hold them in position. On lengths where the chain may rub the paintwork plastic tubing has been added over the chain for protection. The stern counter, not in any photos has also had a coat of the gunnel black as this area will also get a lot of wear.

Below the gunnel there is one chrome surround on the shower outlet. We are not sure whether the other outlets will be getting these or that it has one because there is a pump on the other side. On the other cabin side the outlets for the urine tank have been labelled.

The internet aerial has been fitted onto the back of the cabin, this will fit under the pram cover when it is fitted. The other box on the back of the cabin is for the TV aerial. The Iroko locker lids are in position and a top has been put on the morse control. So should we want to we can sit there without getting a chilly bum.


The roof is looking cream and shiny with the neatly positioned mushroom vents and her tall chrome chimney. There was only enough room for the size of solar panel we wanted above the bathroom. It’s position here does mean that it is unlikely to get walked on much or have the centre line left on top of it, so hopefully it will stay cleaner longer and therefore be more efficient. There is the ability to be able to add a second panel when we can afford one.

At both the bow and stern we have a hook up point. Our current boat has one either end and we like the freedom of being able to moor either way round in marinas.

The locker lid on the floor is for the bow thruster.

The gas locker is all nice and clean, no canal water in there as yet! We will have to find ourselves two gas bottles and for the first time pay the deposit on them.

To the right of the picture you can see a fairlead on the bow. This is so that we can direct our ropes when mooring and not damage the paintwork, hopefully.

Sitting on the front of the cratch board all proud and slightly frog like are the horn and tunnel light. The cables for these go through the cratch board. The two plugs hanging down are so that should we want to remove the light or horn then we can cap off the power.

We didn’t expect a two trumpet tooting horn, it certainly looks like it means business. We haven’t tried it out yet.

On the front doors the coverings were in place. Here we couldn’t have a conventional blind as there wasn’t enough space above the doors to house one and the door handle sits too proud. I’m not a great fan of bungs as we’d need somewhere to store them and curtains would cut out too much of the light. So Kim suggested having panels that popper onto the doors and roll up when not in use. The closed effect is great neat and simple. I may have a little tinker with them to see how best to roll them up though.

The memory foam mattress has arrived. The infill section sits nicely in line with the bedside cupboards when the bed is folded away. The bed extends by pulling out the end and resting it on a ledge on the cabin side, the infill section will then slot into the gap. I suspect the infill will end up just being folded ontop of the rest of the bed so that it is easier to make it up at the end of a day.
The linen blue curtains are up and have small ties on them. These are very neat sitting on their brushed poles.

Ever since the floors were laid they have been covered in protective cardboard whilst work was on going. Today is the first time we’d seen the bathroom floor. It sits well with the blue and wood.

The urine tank pump has been tested with water, we will need a section of hose and a bottle to pump out into. The bucket however has not been tried or tested , that will be left for us.

The sink top has been mounted with a longer reaching tap than I’d originally specced as the rim of the sink was too thick for it. On the side of the under sink cupboard on the left is a shaver socket. Kim has made us cream bungs for the portholes in here. For much of the year I suspect we won’t bother with them, but they will certainly be used on those bright sunny spring mornings when light floods in and works its way into your sleepy eyes.

The gas pipe that sits under the gunnel behind the stove has had some fireboard put in front of it along with some stainless steel to protect it from the heat.

The top of the flue has been trimmed off with stainless steel.

We now have a TV. The one that we had specced has been superseded by one that was 5mm bigger! This meant that the housing for the radio had to be reduced in width for the TV to fit. The PVR is still to go in, we just hope that the space for it is still an okay size. The Houdini shelf is in which I know Tilly our cat will appreciate when she moves on board, just so long as her tail doesn’t get in the way!

From here on in there may be quite a lot of masking tape in the photos, this was used to help keep cupboards and drawers closed when they were moving her out from the workshop.

The wooden floor is now visible and needs a final sweep and clean.

The curtains are fitted in the main cabin. To be able to wash them I’ll have to undo the end brackets on the rails, but that should be easy enough.
The space for the sofa is ready, that will be delivered next Monday from Sofabed Barn.

The dinette cushions were in position. The red shows up as being paler in the photos. One extra cushion is needed to make this up into a bed which can live at other times behind the long side of the back. To make the bed you lift the front edge on the long side and pull the seat towards you. The cushions then lower flat onto the base and adding the extra cushion in behind them fills the gap.

The dinette table was in it’s storage position, but nowhere had been found to store the legs other than under the seating. The gap at the side of the freezer came to mind. They fit in width ways quite well, but the drawer was too short. Ricky is going to see if they can add a short extension to the end of the drawer so that the legs can be stored there. I’ll put a bit of felt in between them to stop them making any noise. The drawer extending further into the dinette won’t be a problem as that section will be for things that we rarely use.

The galley worktops and splash backs are in along with the sink and taps. The worktop looks better in the flesh and I’m glad we eventually found something with a vein to it. Grooves have been put in the worktop into the corner from the sink to act as a drainer. Apparently my choice of tap has been popular, other owners have asked for the same one as it nicely mirrors the angle of the cabin.

The blinds have been fitted and look great. They have hold downs in the bottom corners that keep them in line with the cabin sides. A twist of the wand and you can open and close the slats. Or you can pull them up out of the way totally. The wand and cord loop can be held out of the way with the fixings on the bottom right. Here’s hoping they are cat proof!

A pull out larder unit has been added into the 300mm wide cupboard next to the dishwasher. Depending on what food items go in here I might see if I can get another basket to fit it giving us three shelves.

Under the corner worktop by the cooker there is a panel that opens to access the gas isolation valve.

As the cooker had to be positioned slightly forward of the other units the worktop has been shaped to accommodate this.

Behind the cooker there is a gap in the splash back and a section of white stainless steel has been added to help deflect heat away from the cabin side from the hob and oven. The pan supports are still to be put on the cooker.

The electrics cupboard is finished neat and tidy.
The switches panel is all labelled up and it’s position inside this cupboard means that you can’t accidently knock anything off as you get in and out of the boat.

The water tank was partially full, but no diesel was registering on the gauge. We don’t think she’ll come with a full tank!

With power to everything on board and all the lights on, the solar panel was managing to bring in a bit more power than was being used
A short list of jobs to be done was made. A surveyor did a BSC last week, everything passed but he requires us to have larger fire extinguishers due to our boiler being inside the cabin and not the engine bay. Positions for these were discussed along with the fire blanket.

Covers are still outstanding. When she was going to be launched in Macclesfield we were going to use All Seasons Covers as they were local. Now that we have reverted to the original plan of launching at Crick we are in other companies areas. But they all have waiting lists, some of months. So as soon as we decide which way we will be pointing her bow from Crick we shall book her in. We’ll most probably have most of the summer without covers, as long as they are with us by the autumn that will be okay.

The main missing factor is still the lithium battery. Several solutions were discussed with Ricky and we are all still hoping that the company will send the right battery before we are at the yard again next week. If not, we will have to chose which way to go with the power so that the remaining tests can be carried out and we can have our new boat.

Ending on a lighter note here is the galley again.