Boat Perfect

A week ago I was at the airport, learning that my flight had been delayed and starting the slow return to London after a break in the country where I had been surrounded by fields with cows and fat lambs; wild flowers in the hedgerow; skies that changed from grey to blue and back again; farm buildings and farm machinery a part of the landscape; and greens of all the shades they say make up Ireland.

But hold on a minute, for I am again surrounded by fields, by sheep and cows and hens; there are farm buildings and farm machinery; this morning’s pale skies have become a radiant blue; the hedgerows buzz with bees enjoying the wild flowers; the countryside is swathed in her summer greens. The internet connection is just as erratic as at Cousin’s.

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Replay: March 2009 This Boat Belongs to Cat

This was originally posted on MyT.
MARCH 7TH, 2009 23:08
Boating companionship

The Cat and I left London mid-morning and had a quiet journey. It would have been earlier except Cat, correctly guessing a car journey was on the cards, decided on evasion, and it was only be pretending complete indifference that I lured him close enough to me to catch.

He threw up a hundred yards short of the marina, which made for a slightly stressful arrival. But once on board, he’s been a star. Now that people are returning to their boats with the promise of spring, we’ve had social calls, rather than professionals checking out the loo/batteries/fridge etc. Cat has purred and welcomed, then stretched out over three-quarters of the seating and slept.

Last night he woke me with fearful howls. I leapt out of bed, convinced he was in dreadful pain, to find him defending das Boot from an uninvited visitor, one of the feral cats from the colony at the nearby farm. I hope he doesn’t do it again tonight, but I can’t help thinking this means he’s decided this is his boat and he’s happy here.

Feline Adventures on the Gunwhale

The shaky video is down to my nerves I’m afraid, but it is a recording of Not Cat’s first steps on the gunwhale. He was very cautious. Too cautious perhaps. More likely to lose his balance through indecision. Later, in the early hours, we both watched one of the feral cats showing us how it’s done. She leapt confidently onto das Boot from the path, peered inside and when she realised she was being watched in return, leapt equally confidently onto the pontoon and disappeared into the night.

Still, I’m proud of my boy, and I’m looking forward to documenting his progress, but I think we might wait until the spring to let him really explore.

Afloat Again

This is from last night, when the connection kept failing, as it well may do today too.

Due to the rain earlier today, I ummed and ahhed about coming East. I don’t like the mud/boat combination. Too much cleaning and dirty bits of newspaper are involved. So it was as the sun was setting that we arrived. The view across the fens on the approach road was beautiful.I was tempted to stop and get out my camera, but common sense prevailed. It had been a lovely afternoon and the countryside in its late autumn colours, under blue skies, was like a travel brochutre with knobs on.

We are alone. There is no one else at the marina, and from the lack of cars, I’d say no one out on their boat from here either. It could be scary but it’s not. I rather enjoyed showing Not Cat the ropes. He hasn’t been on das Boot since May, though he had a mooch about the marina a few weeks ago.

Some bad moments when I came aboard ahead of Not Cat. I wanted to turn on the electrics and run the engine for a while to get us hot water. The engine wouldn’t start. My heart fell. But I got a new battery earlier in the year, so even while I was envisaging an evening with the battery charger on and the floor up, I persevered. Hurrah! Lift off.

I didn’t think the Ginger Ninja would particularly enjoy the sound, so I left him in his box while I unloaded the car. I hope that in future I’ll be able to let him out to sniff around and then make his own way down to the boat as Cat learned to do.

Not Cat explored while I unpacked and wiped surfaces, cleaning the spider poo of the last few weeks and washing down the draining board. He seemed fine, so I guess he must have left his territorial marks, fortunately not pungent ones, back in May.

I thought the boat would be cold, but although I’ve added a fleece and the electric blanket is on to air the bed, I‘ve only just closed the windows, open to clear the condensation from cooking supper. Which I thought might also be off the menu when the gas wouldn’t light. I seemed for a few crucial moments to be facing a meal of old Bombay mix and cold baked beans.

Not Cat has had a good look out of the windows and signaled his desire to explore outside, but is now asleep in the cat bed beside me. I’ve brought lots of toys to entertain him, and I’m hoping he’s not going to be too active tonight.

As usual I had overestimated the fridge’s capacity, so I’ve got some lagers chilling outside on the gunwhale. I think, now I’ve had dinner, it’s time to pop one open. I’d hate them to go to waste.

At the Marina

I hope to be there next week, probably wrapped in layers of blankets and wearing thick socks, inducting Not Cat, visiting Mother, working a bit, reading a bit, taking photos.

Reposting yesterday sent me back to photos, especially as I had a longish boat conversation with Steve, the guy who fitted my shutters today, and who is a bit low. I think what he needs is a boat. He’s going to call me when he gets one.

 

In the meantime, here are two photos from August 2010 which I have not previously posted.

 

Along the Pontoon

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Replay: January 2009 First Trip to the Pump-Out

I’m reposting three posts that appeared on MyT in January 2009 and putting them all together. I’m not claiming any wonderful literary qualities, but they remind me of how it felt then when I was just getting used to das Boot, and just how cold a boat can be in winter with the doors open…

Open Waters

I had imagined my first sortie in das Boot as a gentle and short one. Enough to convince me that I am worthy of my Helms(wo)man’s Certificate without being too challenging.

However, the toilet on das Boot dictates otherwise. Either it’s full, or something more serious is amiss. So, in a couple of weeks it’s off to the Pump-Out. The Environment Agency has sent me a lock key that I desperately hope I shan’t need. I have yet to study the map, so I am keeping my fingers crossed there’s no lock along the route.

Pump-out means emptying the tank. I’m assured it’s not difficult and I shouldn’t worry, but of course I am. Gillian McKeith would probably think it a good day out. I’ll reserve judgement.
It may turn out that the tank is not full, but that something moved where it shouldn’t have gone during das Boot’s transportation. If so, it’s a trip to the boatyard. In Putney, a young man at the chandlery where I was buying fittings for the electrical hook-up, told me that boat stands for Bring Out Another Thousand. It’s a phrase that has been proving alarmingly true. Continue reading