Biennial bum-blackery, by Mr Bill Shakespode.
Thank’ees most kindly go to Venetian Marina for the excellent job done. Cardinal Wolsey got a lollipop for behaving himself in a most admirable fashion during the treatment.
The Cardinal photographed here below (thank’ee Bigsby) in “hover mode” waiting for the dry dock to be de-dried. His cunning electronics keep him centred in the bay with just a low, background electrical hum from the technotronic magnetious quasi-peregrinable multi-dimensional recoil-free drive-flanges.
We entered this vi-cin-it-ee of course with The Universe snapping at our heels, as is our medium-length felt wont. I was going to await the date at our previous moorings for another day or three but the madness came upon me and my hind-brain said ‘Move!’, so we moved. Scared the hell out of folks to see the Cardinal emerging from Cholmondeston Lock in daylight!
Storm Arwen saw me somewhat less than wisely moored out in the middle of Windy Alley (perhaps behind the hedgerow would have been better), and my goodness me, Matron, we haven’t had a blow like that for about five years. Sixty mph I reckon, mid-fifties sayeth the Met Office. Blowing off the towpath (an unusual north wind) and making the covers flap like sails in distress.
The Canal Company Ltd’s notice about “vegetation” came through with many others; a fallen tree somewhere around about the stretch where I had been moored when hind-brain said ‘computer says no – MOVE NOW!’
Chances are if we hadn’t moved I’d have either been stuck on the wrong side of the downed tree or perhaps worse. Thank you, Hind Brain. Moral of the story is, unless they involve gerbils and the tubes from catering rolls of tin foil, listen to your urges.
Close as we then were of course on the day that the Cardinal and I had been asked to present ourselves on the workshop pontoons the canal was frozen over. Not Arctic style, just a skim thick enough to form sheets in Windy Alley, and a slushy crunch all the way through the marina. On the way to blacking is the perfect time to encounter ice, but that still says nought for other folk’s boat hulls and blacking, so – while preferably not moving at all in ice – if there’s no choice then slowly and uber-gently is the modus, with a tiny tad of extra urge when even a thin ice sheet can make a turning narrowboat… slightly sluggish at the helm. I hope that we didn’t annoy too many folk on the moorings…
Blacking? I hear the “woke” brigade bristling and reaching for the blood-stained Censorious Pick-Axe Handle of Cancellation.
Tis the process of oiking a boat out of water, blasting off the hull, and slapping on some coats of black “paint” protection for the steel. Tis also a time to check the anodes, and the Cardinal’s twelve look to have plenty of life left in them yet. When next we’re out of the water I’ll have eight fresh ones bunged on and that’ll make twenty overall in various states of sacrificial sacrificity. Sic.
Tis also a time to show you the shape of a narrowboat’s hull below the waterline, and a glimpse of Mr Propeller and Mr Rudder.
The question is oft asked by passers-by ‘don’t you get fed up of crouching down all of the time?’. The Cardinal, like most narrowboats, shows just a little bit of rudder when afloat, so the waterline – where most towpath-walkers imagine the baseplate to be – is at about the first (lowest) rubbing strip. There’s lots of boat below that. Headroom in the Cardinal is 6′ 6″.
Indeed, there are three significant steps down from the rear deck (and each step a cupboard filled with engineering necessities at the stern), and, not surprisingly, a further three steps up again at the bow doors, each step there also being storage of necessitations abounding.
The interior “floor” of the Cardinal is perhaps 4″ above the (flat) baseplate; room for ballast, air-gap, insulation and oak wood-floor (cool on the old Hutson paddy-paws but oh so practical when walking in bits of muddy towpath).
That hatch that’s open in the photomatograph above gives access to the “weed hatch”, which is wot r a watertight hatch giving access to the propeller, clearing rubbish away from for the use of when necessary. It’s a bit of a rib-cracker as I discovered to my cost last time twas needed, getting down prone on the rear deck and reaching down into the water.
The bestest sight of the whole process is, natch, the Cardinal being roped out of the workshop and returned to Hutson hands. 🙂
Reversing – neither I nor the Cardinal together “do” reversing, most especially so with a marina audience, but needs must when the Devil derives (old mathematical aphorism, although some term it a mere proverb domestique) – back out from the workshop pontoons, turn and thence away. It’s a bit shallow at the edges because the marina, in its natural course of events, doesn’t get quite the constant traffic of the cut…
…via Messrs Chandlery (coal by arrangement, thank’ee), and the tap at the top (water by pipework, thank’ee – S.U.M.B.A., I think?)…
…and to our current moorings whereupon the Cardinal and I will whisper sweet nothings to one another (something about never being separated again until next time, or until Hell experiences a disconvenient environmental exothermic unbalance, or until Boris et al go full Nazi).
The well deck is looking mightily happy once again…
…and I can feel a curry approaching.
Messrs boat domestic batteries were of necessity mildly unhappy after their sojourn under a roof where Messrs Solar-Panels cannot see the Sun, but a little work yesterday and some more today has seen them achieve and enjoy “float” status once more. We shall cosset them and coddle them until they’ve forgotten all about “the indoor experience”.
So there you have it.
The Cardinal’s bottom laid bare for all to see.
Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies.
Ian H., and Cardinal W.