DIY Bottom Blacking part 5
After a week on Stafford Boat Club's slipway it was time to return Wand'ring Bark to the cut.
Martin came with me and we were rewarded with a bright but cold day - but what do you expect at this time of year? We rolled up just before 9.00am and before long the gang of helpers were gathering. Just the one boat into the water and none coming out today, simples.
Attaching the shackles
There is quite an art to getting the boat back into the water involving electric and hand winches, cables, pulleys and restraining straps. I have to give it to the guys - they have the process down to a fine art. But its not just the guys, the ladies get involved too, opening up a little hut which serves an an informal kitchen for the inevitable mug of tea. Of course, the cry of "tea's up" came just as Wand'ring Bark teetered on the tipping point and there she hung till the brew was downed and the team returned to the business of the day.
Down she goes
As she was sliding down the slipway I had the urge to cry out " hang on a minute guys, I have missed a bit" but unusually for me I restrained myself. WB crept backwards, inch by inch but my confidence was shaken by the tale a 70 footer careering back into the basin, completely out of control when the cable snapped. In the event all went smoothly, and whilst her stern went well down the exhaust remained above water and all was well.
Fellow bloggers below Gailey top lock
So began a five hour run back to the summit pound during which time we passed a total of two boats moving plus Moore 2 Life and Rock n Roll, who were still moored just below Gailey top lock.
Much to our surprise Viking Afloat / JD Boat Services were open for business so I topped off the diesel tank to minimise condensation and, just as the sun was setting, we found ourselves back at base.
So what are my thoughts about DIY blacking?
- It is a time consuming process and involved a lot of trips to Stafford. Maybe staying aboard would be a good idea in future.
- The best asset you can get are willing friends - their help made the whole endeavour possible.
- Avoid the winter months for outside blacking - temperaures are low, it rains and the days are horribly short. In the event it was unseasonably dry and mild but the 3.30pm sunset radically shortens the available working time.
- Do use the Tercoo Rotating Blaster - its great at stripping the hull back and developing a good key.
- Stick with the type of blacking already used.
- Buy plenty of Blacking - we used 20 litres of Sealex on a 42 ft boat.
- Apply by brush to achieve a thick coat with good adherence.
- Leave for three days before relaunch to allow the coating to cure.
- Overall cost? £250 for the slipping, £45 for the Roto Blaster and £100 for the bitumen.
- So I have saved a bit of money, learned a lot about the hull of my boat and am certain that I have done a good / thorough job.
- Would I do it again? Yes probably - but I reserve the right to change my mind in the light of how well the blacking lasts. Ask me again in a years time!