Tuesday 28 February 2017


A couple of months ago we ordered two Captain's Chairs, with stools, same as those we had from Wilsons on Take Five. We had to opt for a different colour as the blue which we had before is no longer available. In any event, it would not have matched the overall colour scheme palette for Alchemy.

We arranged for them to be delivered directly to Stem to Stern. At the time of ordering we were still working to the original schedule of early March for launch but that was later changed and is now fixed for 22nd. (Hopefully that will still stay fixed as we have booked into Travelodge for the night before so we can see the boat being collected at 9 am!)

Phil threatened to use the chairs for coffee/lunch breaks but the photos indicate that he has added warning notices to anyone tempted!

There is not a lot of change in the main cabin from our last set of photos but the latest progress report says the boat painter returned at the weekend to start the remaining work to the roof and hand rails which should be completed next weekend. The stove surround is due to be tiled later this week and the engine should by now have arrived. 

Monday 20 February 2017

More Pix

Now that Andrew's photos have arrived here is the promised second blog with some further details.

The main water pump and accumulator are under the front left hand bunk, although the primary shut off valve will be under the steps for easier access.

The side panel is principally to provide the access to the cassette which will pull out for emptying.

The front cabin was planned to have a fin rad under one bunk but Phil found that what he had expected to use is no longer available. Instead he has laid  this set of pipes which should do the same thing. The heat will emerge through a floor level vent as would have happened with the fin rad.

This is the dinette. The red arrow indicates the location of the freezer which will be accessed via a lift off lid with a flush ring pull. The green arrow shows the vent for the heat from the freezer. To the right, the blue arrow is one of the stowage lockers that will also be accessed from the top. Further stowage will be under the main section but that is yet to be done.

Another bathroom picture.

The main cabin looking aft

In the engine bay, the Webasto diesel water heater for the radiators and the hot taps.

Alongside the main horizontal calorifier is the main accumulator.

We had quite a discussion about further storage in the front cabin. Previously we had planned on a couple of high level cupboards along the cab sides as well as the main units above the foot end of the bunks. However, Phil suggested that these might look over-powering and we then thought about at least a couple of shelves on the front wall. In the end, we decided not to add anything as we agreed with the point about the looks. 

It is planned that these bunks will be a good sitting place whilst cruising (at least for the non-steerer!) with the aim of being able to look out through the font doors. We considered options for a removable infill under the cupboards to act as a back support but in the end have provisionally decided just to look for a large bean bag instead!

This is the front deck. The arrow indicates the water filler which is much more accessible than before. We also checked out that the X hose and box will fit through this opening. There will be a floor above the bow thruster tube but we did also talk about how to fit in an anchor. We will need to let Phil have dimensions as soon as possible so that he can construct the floor with a drop down section that will hold the anchor securely.

Sunday 19 February 2017

Mid February Visit

After spending the main part of the week in London (Mike was attending General Synod in Westminster and Christine was exploring parts of London) we drove up to Stafford on Friday morning.

It may be of interest to note that we used for the first time JustPark, one of a couple of agencies that helps people rent out their spare parking slots. We booked one that was just a few metres from West Drayton station, then only 20 minutes or so into Paddington. The parking slot was well hidden, underneath a small block of flats and very reasonably priced. We had never heard of this option until looking for a parking option for this trip and Google just happened to serve it up to us! After we had booked, a friend did mention that he had made use of its several times earlier this year in a different part of London, which was encouraging.

The start of our trip to Stafford from the hotel in Waterloo was not without its unexpected features - including a broken down train that caused the first two departures we might have caught being cancelled. When one did eventually leave around 45 minutes later, we made a good run out to West Drayton to recover the car - thankfully entirely unscathed. The drive up the motorway was then as estimated by Google Maps until just before we reached the turn for the M6 when an overhead sign warned that there were 30 minute delays. Instead we turned off to go through Lichfield and arrived at Stem to Stern about an hour later than we had hoped. Andrew was already there. He was going on to Norwich for a long distance walk over the weekend so we have not yet received his photos. When they do arrive that will give an excuse for another blog entry!

The engineering work is now largely complete until the arrival of the engine but the electrical and plumbing is pretty much complete. The joinery is perhaps a little behind schedule but we are confident that Phil is confident that he should be able to catch up enough to meet the planned launch date around March 22nd.

The galley has progressed well since our last visit. We are especially pleased with the choice and finish of the work surfaces. The drain grooves alongside the sink have been cut by Phil and are excellent.

The appliance stack has the oven and washing machine.The next space up will have a microwave and the final shelf will be open, probably for pans or similar.

The rear steps are now in place and you can see how Phil has fitted in the waste bin that we spoke about on our last visit. He suggested that he could fit in two so we brought another with us which will sit alongside. OK, so we will have to lift the step to dispose of cooking waste but this will be so much neater that the 'plastic carrier bag over the cupboard doorknob' that was our solution on Take Five. Andrew has proposed that the middle space would make a good dry goods store - which will reduce pressure on the cupboards -given our tendency to carry quite a stock of ingredients! We will see how best to use the bottom step but it may well be for windlasses etc overnight - we do not like to leave them outside, in reach of light fingers.

Most of the electrical centre is finished, save for connecting up to the Beta panel when it arrives with the engine, as well as the alternator for battery charging. The large item is, of course, the inverter that produces 240 AC when we are away from a marina. Its control panel is at the top right which will give the measurements that we previously had an add-on Sterling Power management unit to provide. We have not before had a water or a fuel gauge! Might still keep the diesel dipstick just in case . . .

In the main cabin there had been some progress and the L shaped dinette base is near to being finished - the pull out extension for the bed still needs to be done. As can be seen, the bookshelf and audio visual centre unit has been built although an upstand is still need to attach the monitor to the wall. (We brought the monitor up with us so that Phil can sort out the fitting) As we have mentioned before, we are opting for a computer monitor rather than a TV since we use a satellite dish for FreeSat. However, we also have an HDMI link between this unit and the dinette so that it is quite simple to use a laptop to show DVD's (not that we have ever used them much!). We could use streaming but our mobile data allowance is not really up to that!

The windows have been fitted but the inner linings are being made by a specialist and should arrive soon.

The multi fuel burner is now installed but the flue is still in its box. It seems that recent changes in the regulations regarding the fitting through the roof have caught the suppliers a bit on the hop! But Phil does now have compliant components ready to go. Christine was pleased to find that Tippy (the ash carrying can which was conveniently among the last lot of belongings from the old boat which Andrew had been storing in his garage and was about to transfer to our car) fits neatly under the burner stand. The tiling surround still needs to be put in place, but Phil has managed to agree a deal with the supplier regarding the ones that we opted for on our last visit.

The washbasin and towel radiator are in place and, again, using surplus pieces from the galley Phil has created a finish that is very smart and blends well together. The shower is still to be fitted but we guess that Phil is concerned not to put this in too soon as it will be easy to catch it when taking other materials through the boat!

Not too much to show outside - it is not easy to take photos other than of the bow and stern and you have already seen those in the last post. However, the roof fittings are now almost complete - the non-slip finish has still to be applied which is why the paint here is not 'final'. However, we are really pleased with the look of the chrome fittings and are pleased that we were persuaded by Phil (actually it is probably all that he does!) to go this route rather than brass.

We had also arranged to meet with Len, the sign writer and we agreed with him what we wanted. In fact we aim to keep it very simple, in keeping with the clean lines of everything else.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

More Paint

A update from this weekend now that the main cab side colour has been applied. Beginning to look more like a real boat!

Wednesday 1 February 2017

First Colour

As promised, the top coat colour started to go on over the weekend. Phil leaves it from one weekend to the next to allow each colour to set fully before masking up ready for the next.