A Dry Bottom. 9th February

Taylor’s Boatyard Graving Lock

Today has been a busy chilly day.

Red Plaque

At Taylor’s Boatyard you can hire out the Graving Lock for blacking, surveys and checking to see what is stopping your bow thruster from working. They do 6 day hires Saturday to Friday morning and on Fridays they tend to hire the Lock for a single day. We’d called them a few weeks ago to see if there was any chance of us having it for a day. Originally we’d tentatively booked it for last Friday, but because of the extended stoppage on the Llangollen and strong winds we moved it to today, which was just as well as the boat that had hired it that week over ran.

Oleanna ready to go down

So this morning at 9am we were ready to move the short distance into the lock. First a charity boat needed to be raised, they’ve been busy blacking all week. This didn’t take too long and once they’d moored in the basin past us we pushed off and pulled into the dock. Pete and Yvette were on hand to lower Oleanna down onto the bearers and make sure we were safe in the dock.

Going downResting on the bearersOnce in the lock, bow and stern lines were tied to railings holding her roughly in position above the bearers below the water. The lock gates were closed and then a paddle at the other end was lifted a bit. The lock drains out into the Dee branch, it is done slowly so as not to jostle the boats moored there and so that Oleanna could be gently positioned correctly. Pete then has to seal the lock gates, they leak a lot. So thick plastic sheeting is held by water pressure over the gates and extra bits and pieces are added in between so as to hold as much water back.

Steps revealed as the water level dropsThe floor nearly visableWater draining through the open paddleStepped sides to the lock and the trough around the outsideGradually Oleanna lowered and soon we could see that she was resting  on the supports, the water continued to empty. The whole process took half an hour. The lock empty of water, any leaking in through the gates drains away around a trough either side and the lock floor is slightly convex in shape to help shed the water. With a ladder tied to the bow we could come and go as we wished through a gate and the newly revealed steps.

There's the little blighter

The main purpose of hiring the lock was to see what if anything was caught around the bow thruster prop. Pete had a quick look down the tube, followed by myself and Mick.

The bow thruster prop out in the sunlightProp mount smiling back at us. What does it know that we don't?None of us could see anything in there that shouldn’t have been. The grills came off, the prop turned. Mick removed the prop, checked it and fixed it back in position. Next he changed the blown fuse and went to the back of Oleanna to power it up. We’d checked with Finesse that it would be alright to run the bow thruster out of water, which it was. The prop worked fine, in both directions, in fact it was a bit of a shock when it changed direction and blasted droplets of canal water into my face.

So with nothing obstructing the prop and it working in mid air, Mick decided not to open up the workings. If it didn’t work in the water then it would be a warranty issue with Vetus.

Tunnel bands

Meanwhile I made the most of Oleanna being out of the water, there was the black band on the tunnel band still to go black. Once the red rubbing strake was sanded down I gave it a good wash. Whilst this was drying off I gave the rest of the water line a good clean down. As I worked along the boat I also cleaned off where there was the odd scrape along the blacking.

Clean and now black tunnel band

Masked off, the tunnel band took little time to paint with a careful coat of black multiforte.

Oleanna sitting in the historic graving lock

The sun was out and dried off the hull quite quickly, so I then touched up any scrapes above and below the water line with some blacking. Ideally it would have been good to have stayed in the dry lock until tomorrow so that the paint could have cured more, but the noise of the water would have kept us awake. So we left it as long as possible before Pete returned to refill the lock.

Oleanna looking like a right bruiser!Touched up and dryingJust where had they moved the outside to? I could see them out of the window but they had shrunk! They were way down there and I was way up here. I was very relieved when they came back inside and they were still normal sized.

We on the other hand were totally thrown by the boat not rocking under our feet! Being totally stationary in your home that normally moves is very disconcerting. Also doors and cupboards react differently as there is a slope through the boat from bow to stern (being lower). We found ourselves almost tripping up on nothingness.

Pete removing the water diverters

Pete closed the paddle that had been open all the time we’d been in the lock, he then moved to near the gates. The leaked water started slowly to fill the chamber. With the tarpaulins removed more water was added, then the gate paddle was lifted and the level started to rise at a greater rate. It took around 14 minutes for the lock to level with the canal pound. Here is  a link to a video I took of Oleanna coming up. I thought of it a bit late to sort out angling the camera to catch all of Oleanna, but I’m very glad I refrained from sitting it on the top stone step from the lock as this became submerged too.

Bobbing about again

Once we were level Mick powered up the bow thruster. From where I was stood it seemed like it worked, but apparently it stopped having blown a fuse again! No celebratory pizza for us tonight.

With the gates opened, I hopped back on board and we reversed out from the lock, headed back into the basin, winded and returned to where we’d left this morning. Tilly was ever so excited, now she’d be allowed out again. I made her stand on her shelf to see that we had brought back the one treed Chester outside that she hates so much. One day we’ll be in the countryside again.

1 graving lock, twice, 0.13 miles, 2 winds, 1 reverse, 30 minutes down, 1 spinning prop, 1 boat finally fully painted, 1 touched up hull, 3 hours, 14 minutes up, 1 more blown fuse, 1 outside with shrunk people and no water, 2 times bad boring Chester, 0 pizza, 2 disappointing portions of fish and chips, next time in Scarborough we must remind ourselves that fish and chips can be jolly good, 1 year since breaking my ankle.