How this blog began: Boat, garden, party venue and writer's retreat.

Friday, 30 April 2010

It's Good To Have A Deadline

Deadlines are good. They help to focus the mind. Otherwise everything would happen manana, including the launch of The Boat For My Potplants.

Bloggees may recall that I'd previously mentioned a date of April 17th, when I'd be launching the boat and bringing it (her?) upstream to Wivenhoe Quay to sit proudly outside The Rose And Crown.

However, I was inexperienced, over-ambitious and a wee bit foolhardy when I'd set myself that deadline. In my defense, it wasn't really a deadline - more a guideline that was inevitably going to be broken. Looking back at the old girl's condition, it's no wonder things took a little longer than anticipated.

I've since become wise in the knowledge and experience that, when talking about boats, everything takes twice as long to do (except for the spending of the money).

But today marks a new guideline, or should I be so bold as to say deadline? With the world's press and media waiting with bated breath, I'd better get it right this time. So, for accuracy, I've invited my friend Neil Rowland (he being the person who's father the boat previously belonged to) to work with me on some essential tasks, and I'm sure at the end of today a realistic date for the launch party will have been set.

Watch this space. Start looking through your wardrobes to choose your outfit. The date for the hottest ticket in town will soon be announced!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Star Man of Colchester

Following on from my last blog, I did look for, and find, the phone number for Colchester Motor Glass, after the debacle of spending half a day with a friend trying to fit a new window. It ended up becoming a rather interesting convex and concave shape, and splitting the surrounding rubber seal. This was due to said friend and me trying to fit the window inside-out and upside-down and making the skies even blue-er than they were, with our rather distasteful swearing in the process.

Super-Hero Andy, from Colchester Motor Glass has come to the rescue, by offering to re-fit the window and supply a new seal, all for a very reasonable price. And while he's at it, he's also going to re-fit all the other windows as well, for what I consider a good deal. Not only that, he is sourcing chrome-inserts for the seals, which I think will look super-cool.

But what about painting the window frames? Whilst the windows are out, this would present the ideal time for painting. 'No problem', says Andy. 'I can take the windows out one day, let you paint the surrounds, and then refit the windows with the new seals on another day'.

Now that's what I call service. Only the sort of service one can find from a local specialist, rather than a non-personal national conglomerate. So the moral of the story is to seek out the independents and give them the chance to soar with you and share in the fun. I for one am looking forward to inviting Andy aboard my Boat For My Potplants for a beer and a warm welcome.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Some Steps Forward And Some Steps Back

I found a local company to cut a new window while I waited. A step forward.

'PUSH!', said Greg, who had come to work with me for a couple of days, as we struggled to replace the broken one. After what seemed hours, we finally got the new one in, ruining the rubber surround in the process. And why was the window so bowed? The next morning we realised we had put it in back to front. A step back.

The Ronseal floor paint, with 'added slip protection' that I used to paint the deck worked a treat and soon became rock-hard, which was a step forward. The Dulux Exterior Trade paint that I used on the cabin side looked nice. The next morning though, when it just rubbed off where it had overlapped the floor paint wasn't so good. A step back.

The Houdini hatch cover was rotten and needed repair. After new batons were fitted to hold the perspex, and with a sand and varnish, it looked great, which was a step forward. The next day when I went to fit it, I discovered the new batons didn't quite fit over the lip of the hatch and it had to be taken apart. A step back.

And so it went on. Some patching up here and some sanding there. The sander billowed smoke and became as useless as a chocolate fireguard.

But in the end some serious steps forward had been made; the antifowling got painted dark blue with success, although Greg did look a bit strange with blue hair.

And the pulpit came up a treat with the special metal primer and Hammerite silver that I'd found in the garage.

So all in all, I'd say that, thanks to Greg, there were more steps forward than back, which must count as a success. The weather was glorious, and we were two boys playing on an old boat.

All I have to do now is find that number for Colchester Motor Glass and see if they can come and fit the window properly.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Kingfisher Rises

Like a giant phoenix rising from the ashes to fly again, here we have the Kingfisher, aka A Boat For My Potplants, beginning to show signs of new life, getting ready to soar across the mighty ocean.

Or at least here we have a 35-year-old river cruiser with a freshly painted coat of primer on it, getting prepared for its one-mile journey up the river from Alresford Creek to Wivenhoe. Not quite as grand as a phoenix, but equally thrilling.

There's still so much to do. Undercoat, top coat, antifowling, wooden strips, windows. Luckily this isn't a race. This project is not to be hurried, but to be enjoyed to the full.

I realise I can't afford to bring my Boat For My Potplants back to its original condition. But a wise man came up to me while I was painting this week said: "Spend what time and money you can afford, and be content".

I'm so glad I met him.

Friday, 2 April 2010

What's In A Name? I'm so confused.

If I could have a gold dubloon, or even a bronze one, for each time I'm been asked what the name of my boat is, I'd be a very wealthy captain for sure - at least wealthy enough to buy a tin of marine paint.

The name painted on the side was "Solace", but I've now just uncovered a previous name of "Tarka".

I've been advised that it's unlucky to alter the name of a boat. Is that true, I wonder? The change from Tarka to Solace clearly didn't seem to do it any harm (ie. it didn't sink), and so it follows that the threat of bad luck is bunkum, and that it can be re-christened with any new name of choice. And I must admit I am rather looking forward to cracking open a bottle of Moet as 'I name this boat...'. Any excuse!

Although the vessel does have this 'working title' just for fun, I am wondering if I could officially re-name it "A Boat For My Potplants" without fear of impending doom. After all, the original idea of having the boat was to use it as a garden upon which to sit and read my newspaper among my potplants, whilst slowly drinking a cool beer during the balmy summer evenings. The name would be very apt.

But is A Boat For My Potplants too much of a mouthful, as some folks have suggested?

Might the unusual name raise too many eyebrows, as others have warned?

Or should its name revert to the previous Solace? Or the original Tarka?

Or should a new name entirely be given? If so, what could it possibly be?

Any suggestions please? I'm so confused!

STOP PRESS: I've just heard from Ron, the previous owner, who has sent me the following breaking news...Now I've even more unsure what to call her...
'Forgot to tell you the boat has had a third name for the last 10years or so and that was "Kingfisher" named after a real kingfisher which was often seen on the boat when moored.'