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.

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