Thursday, 23 March 2017

Launch Day - Part One

At last the time was close when our new boat would first make an encounter with water! We drove up on Tuesday with a second load of boxes of 'stuff', including the bedding which we had packed into vacuum bags which considerably reduced the space it takes up in the car. The journey was uneventful, arriving within a couple of minutes of the time predicted at the outset. We had just a brief comfort break along the way.

The Travelodge we had booked is at the M6 service station just outside Stone. As a result we had to come off at the previous junction, drive through Stone itself to access the car which is outside the barrier that prevents casual users from leaving the service station as an unofficial interchange.

After we had checked in we drove back into Stone to check out a place for an evening meal. Mike had done a little research the evening before and we looked first at LetsSee Bistro, alongside Star Lock, which has been open about eight months. The owners greeted us and were interested in our canal boat project. Although we did look at others we eventually came back here in the evening and were warmly greeted. We had a very pleasant and tasty meal.

We did not see Andrew this evening as he was not able to get away from Devizes until mid evening and by then accidents and a motorway road works closure added to his journey time. However, we met up for a coffee in the service station in the morning, before setting off to Stem to Stern with the crane and lorry booked for 9 am. We hoped to take a quick look inside the boat before the lift started.

Quite a few details had progressed since we last saw the boat last Friday. The front steps are now in place and you can see the lift up steps which provide a little more storage room. The upholstery has been delivered - here the two bunk seats in the forward cabin. And also those in the dinette.

The same supplier also came to fit the blinds - Roman blinds in the main cabins and Venetian ones in the galley.

The part of the flue that we did not show last blog is now complete with the fire resistant plate protecting the cabin ceiling in case the flue overheats.

The doors have been fitted to the tv unit but unfortunately Phil (unusual for him) had forgotten about the satellite tuner so that space, top left) will need some adjustment.

Outside the stem and stern fenders are ready. By now there was a palpable tension and expectations were high!

Time then for Phil to prepare to move the boat out from the shed - the crane cannot lift until most of the  boat is accessible! First, two sets of rollers are inserted near the front using a heavy duty jack to lift the boat just clear of the wood blocks on which it has rested for the past months.

A fork lift from an adjacent industrial unit was being borrowed to do the moving - just as had happened on the way in. Alas, the boat is now a lot heavier (17 and half tons according to the crane operator later) and this stage proved a little trickier than expected. The rollers had to be re-positioned and the forklift had to be encouraged! Eventually the boat emerged into what should have been bright sunshine ('cos that was what we ordered!) but rather into the rain and grey skies - hence the photos are not brilliant. Also alas, as the counter bands received a couple of scratches from a too close encounter with the fork lift which will have to be rectified next week.

Now it was time to prepare the slings for the crane to lift the boat. Gradually the boat took to the air before swinging around to land gracefully on the waiting lorry, already extended to take the full length.

With the boat well tied down the lorry, followed by the crane, set off to Stone. We followed as soon as we could, having off loaded our boxes to leave them in the industrial unit until next week.

The blog is already long so it will be continued in the next!

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