DIY Bottom Blacking part 1
Having arrived at Stafford Boat Club on Saturday we were up and ready for slipping at 9.00am on Sunday morning. Over a period of 15 minutes a veritable gaggle of members materialised, so many I started to wonder if they were planning to haul the boat up the slipway by hand. A little gentle questioning revealed the fact that a club incentive scheme operates which allows mooring fees to be discounted by £1 for each hour of time spent at the club. Its not a lot but its enough to encourage social activity and practical works.
Stuck in the mud
The slipway seems to attract silt and the members had spent a whole day dredging it with an improvised plough. Perversely, in spite of extracting several tons of gloop the exercise had created an underwater bund through which the slipway trolleys couldn't penetrate. They tried pushing it with poles but to no avail.
Off the rails
Then we tried to ride Wand'ring Bark onto the cradle and get half a dozen burly blokes onto the front to add weight and encourage it down. The first time we tried it moved a meter or so but then we had to winch the boat back down. The second attempt went the same way but finally we got Wand'ring Bark settled onto the cradle and the winch was started. The boat was winched up centemetre by centemetre but then another snag - the trolley came off its rails, so it was back to the hand winch to haul it down again for a final and successful attempt.
By the time we got the boat out just about every member was present, all jockying to be the first to see the annodes and deem them OK or not OK. I get the feeling that this is something of a club sport. After an hour or so we finally had Wand'ring Bark on the hard standing, stranded atop is bogies and strangely immobile as I stepped aboard. Narrowboats look so ungainly when they are stranded on dry land.
The annodes - OK for another couple of years
Stern gear after pressure washing
At last I could see the state of the hull - the first time I have seen it out of the water since its pre purchase survey six years ago (it has been blacked twice in the meantime but I didn't see it ashore). In the event there was some evidence of light pitting, but at nine years old it was looking pretty good.
High and dry for a week