Friday, March 30, 2007

Does a toilet have a pulley inside it?

From time to time, I check on the keywords that bring people to my blog.

I'm not sure if I should be proud of the fact that my blog ranks sixth in the worldwide google rankings for the query does a toilet have a pulley inside it

Some people do make weird queries, some quite obviously absolutely nothing to do with me.

For example, I still don't understand what this blog has to do with women peeing on deck, but that brought one hopeful, though presumably disappointed, reader.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Staying on top

That rust is persistent!

Staying on topI'm determined to stay on top of it, thinking a little bit of work now will save having a big rust busting session sometime later, when all the rest of Lady Jane has finally been painted.

First a dab of primer on all the little patches where rust has been showing up, followed by a lick or two of white paint.

Mostly the rust is showing through where the paint has been chipped for one reason or other, others must be because the underlying rust was not cleaned out enough.

The repeat offenders will get the needle gun treatment next time.

Overall though, it's good to see that the paintwork is holding up pretty well so far.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I was just in the middle of boiling the kettle for another cuppa tea, when Sunday morning's relative tranquility was interrupted by a big commotion, lots of screaming and shouting from what sounded like the other side of the river.

After wandering out on deck for a look, I saw a rowing boat upturned in the middle of the river with two very distressed people clinging on and shouting for help.

There was no sign of any safety boat, or anybody else for that matter.

This was nothing like the overturning event of the previous day.

No time for pictures, no time for shoes even.

I grabbed the rib keys, climbed off Lady Jane, ran to the rib, unchained it, turned on the battery isolator, lowered the engine, turned on the fuel, put in the kill chord, set the start lever, got the key in, pushed in the choke and eventually started the engine.

This all seemed to take forever, with the screams growing louder. The rib was out of sight of the people by the upturned boat, so they had no idea help was to hand.

A quick dash across the river, probably above the 6 knot speed limit, put me alongside them in no time.

I recall from my RYA powerboat training that I should leave the rib engine off and drift alongside people in the water, the execution of which I felt quite pleased with given the circumstances.

The two distressed people turned out to be young girls, who were looking somewhat less than their best by then.

What the RYA powerboat training did not cover was just how hard it is to pull a body out of the water, even a willing participant, and into the rib.

After getting the first lass aboard, their safety boat had come alongside me so I had help heaving the second girl on board.

The girls then both lay shivering on the rib's deck, looking distinctly blue and shocked. At about 7C (44 F), although not immediately life threatening, that water is pretty cold. I expect it was even colder for them once they were out of the water and in that wind.

The experience of being summarily dunked in the river, with no sign of imminent rescue, must have been pretty frightening for the two girls. They had no life jackets, or any sort of protective clothing.

There was not much that could be done, other than putting the two soggy girls back into their righted rowing boat and sending them on down the river to wherever they came from, with their safety boat in close attendance.

I'm guessing there were questions asked back in the clubhouse as to how the safety boat got separated from the girls, but it's not that unusual to see lone rowing boats on the river so I suppose their accident is somewhat of an unusual event.

Still, I find myself pleased the Peary, or some other similar sized vessel did not happen along at the time, as we were drifting right in the middle of the channel there.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Southampton small boats head

Southampton small boats headSaturday proved quite interesting, as in the afternoon what seemed like hundreds of rowing boats suddenly started streaming by Lady Jane.

At first it did not seem to be a race, as all sorts of different sizes of boats were coming down at the same time. The various crews did seem to be trying rather hard though, so it must have been.

Some research on the internets shows this was the Southampton Coalporters Southampton Small boats head.

Looking at the results sheet, it's now obvious that they were all racing against the clock, rather than each other.

Small boats head 2Here's the reason the Mens Nov 2x #26 Christchurch D posted a dnf (did not finish).

I felt vaguely guilty about this for two reasons, first I suspect I may have distracted them, causing a tangle with that bouy, as there were no other obvious spectators moored out in the middle of the river taking photographs, and second for photographing them upturned in the water and not immediately rushing to their aid.

Sorry guys.

Nothing I could do about the first, and I could see a safety boat was promptly on it's way. Certainly rescue was faster than the time it would have taken me to unchain and start the rib anyway.

I say well done to one and all, especially the safety boat crew/marshalls as it was a cold, windy day to be out there doing anything at all.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The bad side

The bad sideHere is Lady Jane's bad side, visible from the Southampton side of the river at the moment.

Imagine - that was considered her good side not too long ago.

Now that all the pressure to move Lady Jane is off, I can get back to the task of cleaning her up and painting her.

I find myself really looking forward to rust busting and painting the port side, to match the blue on the starboard side that I'm so proud of.

I reckon it will be so much quicker, and easier, to do the port side, for several reasons:

  • The port side is generally in much better shape than the starboard ever was

  • I have already done a fair bit at both the bow and the stern, so there is less to actually do

  • I now have the benefit of experience from the starboard side

  • I now have the right tools for the job
Before turning Lady Jane around, so I can get to the starboard side from the crane barge, I have one or two patches that need touching up where the paint has been rubbed off by the rib being alongside over the last six months or so.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Andy to the rescue

The new bilge pump is not the end of the tlc for the rib/hbi.

Andy to the rescueWhile fitting the bilge pump, I somehow managed to break the switch for the navigation lights (it was on it's way out anyway).

While investigating the broken nav light switch, the port nav light stopped working.

When investigating how to remove the port nav light lens, I discovered the starboard nav light was broken - not me I hasten to add.

Sometimes I wish I had not started on a particular project.

Anyway, with two new nav lights (could not find a match for the old one), a new switch, a few nuts and bolts, some new wire and a selection of tools, everything was in place to sort the nav lights out.

Oh yes, and of course Andy to help.

Thanks to Andy's efforts, everything on the rib now works properly.

Even this is not the end of the work that needs doing on the rib.

Andy reminds me that I need to buy some more cable ties and another junction box.

I will also need to replace the rotten old bit of board the battery sits on with a nice new piece of marine ply, and take up Rob's suggestion of installing a solar panel, which I have stashed away somewhere, to help keep the rib battery topped up.

Finally, there is also a valve on one of the tubes that needs replacing sometime soon. Fortunately the outer cap is doing it's job properly, so it's not a problem at the moment.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Busy River

The Itchen is a far busier place than sleepy old Fareham Creek.

Busy river

Being such a busy place is inevitably a source of conflict between users, some more serious than others.

Here a lone sculler, after shouts from friends, realises that it may be unwise to continue on his current course.

A quick toot from the Peary, bound for the scrap metal yard upriver, re-enforces the message.

Friday, March 16, 2007

TLC for the rib

TLC for the ribNow that Lady Jane has been moved safely, I've had the time to give the rib a bit of, overdue, tender loving care.

The tlc is in the form of a bilge pump, pretty much essential now that the rib is to be used more regularly.

I used to rely on bailing when the rib was alongside, or draining the rib through drain pipes when the rib was on the move.

For shuttling between Lady Jane and the marina, I'm already finding the rib sooo much better than my small inflatable, Baby Jane, ever was.

When I was using Baby Jane, my bottom invariably ended up soggy, plus any gear I was shifting had to be stashed carefully, so it didn't get wet.

The rib can also comfortably carry so much more, something passengers will have cause to be grateful for.

I suppose issues like running out of petrol through sheer forgetfulness is still bound to occur, pity that, as the rib is so much harder to paddle than Baby Jane ever was.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


ReflectionsIt's been a really manic last couple of months, so I find it a real pleasure to sit back, survey the surrounding scenery and reflect on progress made on Lady Jane so far.

I am, of course, still learning, but in the beginning I had absolutely no concept of just how much needed to be done, let alone how to do it.

I recall that back then the only running water was rainwater - through the wheelhouse roof, and the only cooking facility comprised of a dodgy old gas stove.

When Lady Jane went round to Fareham, there was more rust than paint - both inside and outside.

Now she is becoming something to be proud of. Not just for me, but for everybody who has contributed in some way or other to be proud of as well.

That which everyone has contributed will be a part of Lady Jane for a long time to come. For example, when I look at the painted starboard side, I recall all those people who helped rust bust and paint over the years.

There is a long way to go, I know, but it's satisfying to think of just how much has been achieved so far.

Special thanks to (in no particular order) :
  • Pat - for all her help and encouragement (She also has to listen to me dreaming on)

  • Fred - for his constant help and companionship on so many miserable days

  • Jenny - for the warmth and wine

  • Robin - for his help and advice

  • Malcolm - for all the help

  • Pam - for helping keep me fed, and for the welcome respite from the cold these past two winters

  • Andy - who drives miles to lend a hand from time to time

  • Jason - who will come back and paint some more sometime

  • Steve - thanks for the chipping

  • Dave - who helped clear the fish hold

  • Dawn - who helped with the cleaning

  • Kate - who did help

  • Dave (dive buddy) - for all the help right in the beginning

  • Rob - who did some wiring

  • Rob - for the helpful comments on my blog

  • Chantel (+1) - for the help with the spray foam insulation

  • Mark - for the helpful tools advice.

  • The folks at Lafarge - for their help, especially with the heavy stuff.

I'm sure I've missed some folk off, it's not intentional - just that so many people have got stuck in there and helped over the years. If you have been missed, Email me and I'll happily include you on the list.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hello Southampton

Hello SouthamptonWell there she is, Lady Jane back on her mooring on the River Itchen, in Southampton.

It is a pretty strange feeling being somewhere new, yet with everything the same.

For now I'm skint, so any work I do on Lady Jane must be with the resources I have on board, at least until the finances catch up.

This also gives me a valid reason to kick back a bit, and enjoy Lady Jane as a weekend home on the sea rather than the floating workshop she has been.

I'm also looking forward to exploring Southampton and the surrounding area, by both land and sea.

For a start, Hythe beckons...

Interestingly, if you look on Google Earth, you can see her on her mooring (click anywhere on the black Flash Earth instructions panel).

The problem is that the Google Earth picture is well over two years old and shows her facing the wrong way, with no crane alongside.

Microsoft VE shows the crane on the Itchen, but no Lady Jane in Fareham.

I guess that after Microsoft and Google update their satellite images, Lady Jane will be shown in Fareham for the next few years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A big hole

Pat and I went back to Fareham, to drop Pam and Malcolm off and to collect my truck.

At Pat's suggestion we went round the quay, to where Lady Jane has been lying all this time.

The tide was out and it was amazing to see the huge big hole we have left in the mud in Fareham creek.

The Fareham bait diggers will be happy I suppose.

At the risk of sounding a bit soppy on a blog about tough things like trawlers and power tools and suchlike, there is a hole left in my heart at the thought of leaving Fareham.

The end of an era, but the start of a brand new one on the River Itchen.

Farewell Fareham

A big farewell to Fareham.

Farewell FarehamAs I write this, Lady Jane is snuggled up against a crane barge on her mooring in the Itchen.

The trip around went exceedingly well and, thankfully, uneventfully.

There was a bit of careful manoeuvring out of Fareham creek at one end, and some pushing and shoving with the rib to get her properly alongside at the other.

We had a cold, stiff, breeze on the way round, but not enough to phase our motly crew.

There is no way I could have done this particular voyage without help, and plenty of it.

In no particular order, I would like to thank:

  • John, the skipper, for his faith in Lady Jane, and the courage to get out there and do it.

  • Malcolm, crew member extraordinaire, for his unselfish, hard, graft getting her ready to go.

  • Patch, able crew member, for the copious quantities of tea and unfailing support.

  • Pam, volunteer crew member, for her delicious sticky buns and box of seasickness tablets for the crew.

  • Richard, an unexpected bonus crew member, for his expert assistance in handling the ropes and things.
Fred was also with us, in spirit at least, thanks for the phone call on the day mate.

There is now talk of doing another trip sometime soon - I best get that port side painted first though.

UPDATE: The photo set is now here, in Flickr

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Anchor in

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes.

After a really dismal last few days on the boat, things suddenly seem to be coming together.

Anchor inHere you see my anchor properly installed in it's newly created box, and pulled up snug in it's hawse pipe there (looks like I've got some painting to do).

Robin is justifiably proud of his work here, thanks Robin.

It's just a pity I couldn't get the right chain to fit the gypsy in time for our departure on Saturday.

We will have to make do with what I've bought at the chandlery round the corner.

It must be said that the folks at The Marine Warehouse have been such a help, above and beyond the call of duty. Great prices too.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Last tasks

The realisation that I'm finally sailing away from Fareham for good is slowly sinking in.

I will miss the place.

Last tasksRight now, the scramble is on to get the myriad of little bits and pieces done in time for the voyage this weekend.

The picture shows the engine vent pipe getting sorted.

The weather is not helping at all - with lots of rain four days out of the last five that I've been on Lady Jane.

It's a strange mix of emotions that the impending move brings.

On the one hand, there is eager anticipation for the excitement of the actual trip, and the prospect of once again being back on a busy stretch of water with a completely different view.

On the other hand though, there is genuine sadness at having to say goodbye to some of the folks I've got to know over the years.

I've already said my goodbyes to the lovely Paula, an occasional visitor to the Lafarge yard to survey their inventory of gravel, who has stopped by for a cup of tea and a chat when she has been around.

Some folk, like Fred and Malcolm, will still come over to visit once I'm on the Itchen, but I fear it won't be the same casual wander over to Lady Jane from just across the way that it has been.

There is also, it has to be said, a certain amount of nervousness at having to move Lady Jane in what feels like quite rushed circumstances, although I've done everything possible to ensure a safe passage for us all.

Overall though, I am looking forward to going.

My biggest regret about the timing of the move is that Fred, who has put so much hard work into Lady Jane in the last few years, will not be with us for the trip, as he is still languishing somewhere in Australia.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Anodes on

Robin once again proves he's probably worth his weight in gold!

Anodes onHere he is, squishing about in the mud below Lady Jane, welding on the last of the accessible anodes.

That's another thing off the list.

You can also see the stark difference between the new and old paint jobs on Lady Jane's port side, plus the reminder that, before too long, I have to take her out of the water to take care of her bottom.

All that will have to wait.

Right now I feel I deserve a bit of a break once we have Lady Jane safely around on the Itchen, hopefully in less than a week's time.