Who knew Fitting Out could be such fun!
Having only picked up Mojito at the end of last season, and with Nick having had major surgery since then, and Covid lock-down, we have not really had time to settle into her.
She was pretty clean when we got her, at the end of last season, so I just did a quick clean upstairs and a proper clean inside, but now she needed fitting out.
She came with a new soft-top canopy cover that we decided to fit for the new season and to take the old one home for cleaning and repair.
Well, what a game that was - it was like it was the wrong size!
"It's only a few clips ...."
Well, seven hours later, and having had to go and buy an extension lead, so I could hold the hair drier on the zippers that go over the running poles while Nick tries to stretch the plastic, so the zipper ends can be connected. In the end we gave up with them only being half done, and one of the zip pulls snapped off in his hand!
For the next two days Nick's hands were virtually unmovable and my arms were aching. :-(
It's a really hot day and Nick is able to do the zips up the rest of the way with ease, phew!
I decide we need to strip the whole of the cruising deck out and wash her all down, we also remove the winter canopies and put the summer ones on that was easy.
We are right at the far end of the pontoon with only three boats after us, so I spread everything all over it as there was no one else there and after I’d finished hosing, scrubbing and rinsing, I left Nick to finish the buffing off while I scrubbed the winter canopies.
We were both very tired after this and hot so we went downstairs for a short rest a drink and a cool down. While we were chilling I could hear pigeons, yes pigeons!, cooing so I went out for a look and it appears that we now have his and hers pigeon lofts (new Covid pets how lovely!). It seems that the inset engine air-vents on the sides are perfect for them, so now we need to come up with something ingenious to keep them out while still being able to air to the engines!
Also the boat owner across from us had turned up and I have most of the pontoon blocked with seat cushions, drying canopies, two camping chairs that I accidentally got wet and a new dingy warming up in the sun, waiting to be inflated….
“Oh I’m so sorry I cried, I’ll get it all moved”
“No problem, you didn’t know I would be turning up.” he said.
Phew I didn’t want to go upsetting my new boating neighbour.
We had a few short chats with him before he left and he seems very nice, he has a fifty year old wooden boat called Callina. I hope we’ll get to know him better in the coming days/weeks.
Wiping down the seat cushions and getting them back in the right places is like playing Giant Jenga, but we got there.
But the best fun was the new dinghy, which got put back on the boat without inflating it last time, as we ran out of time and were too tired to do any more. So I lay it out to let it warm in the sun then start inflating it - all very nicely - but when I disconnect the pump it goes down again! Turns out I've not put the valve in the correct position!
Lesson learnt, carry on...
It came with a PSI gauge but we don’t have the instructions with us, so I stop and download the manual but I’m unsure of the length so I ask Nick and he tells me a size that’s not in the manual. So I go back to look at the dingy only to find the detail and PSI is written on it, doh!
So I start re-inflating it but I can’t reach the PSI it says 0.25 I can only get it to 0.2 and Nick says to leave it at that as it’s firm enough but then I realise that I’ve not put the bench seat on and when I try to do it it’s evident that this needs to be done with it deflated!
I let it down again, reattach the seat and reinflate it - again- Happy days!
Nick’s attached the dinghy cradle during this time but now realises that he has no straps to secure it and we want to go out, so he removes it again and we put the dinghy in the marina in a free space while we go out down the Medway.
We have a great trip, with Mojito performing well, the water flat calm and sun shining brightly. We drop anchor in a small inlet to have lunch, then continue on to Garrison Point at the mouth of the Medway before turning to head back to Chatham.
We go to bring the dinghy back in and Nick grabs it by the seat and which comes off so now it needs to be deflated to reattach it!!!!!
Talk about Dumb and Dumber do dingy inflation!
We deflate it, dump it in the back of the boat and head home for a cool bath a big meal and an early night.
I can’t help thinking to myself where’s that old dingy, I loved it, it didn’t need replacing!
The next day my right knee and hip felt like they were someone else’s, I wish they were, and Nick’s hands were nearly as bad as they were after our first visit.
Happy days..... It’s great to be back on the water again though.
Get a boat they said, it’ll be fun they said!
dinghy Remembering, fondly, one of our social events from last year - So while I reminisce "ears 'oping" that we might be able to do the like again soon....
As one of our programmed events in the summer of 2019, we had arranged to spend the weekend, as a club at Penton Hook Marina, to meet and socialise - it would be a Pirate themed weekend.
We had planned a Treasure Hunt, and BBQ, and at the club monthly meeting before the Pirate Weekend our I suggested that we hold a dinghy race, including fights with water pistols, super soakers, etc. It was met with a few laughs, and then nods and then a raft of enthusiasm.
So, on the Friday evening, we congregated for a few drinks and had a great meal at Penton Hook Yacht Club, before retiring to our respective boats in preparation for "tha 'morrow, ooh argh".
The following morning we decorated the BBQ area, which had been kindly reserved for us by MDL, with pirate bunting, etc. Then we all met up at the lake area in our dinghies where the fun would begin.
Lots of laughter, and cheeky banter ensued. Being a very warm day getting soaked did not matter and a couple of hours passed by very quickly I would like to thank everyone who took part dressing up including decorating their dinghy's with flags.
Afterwards Commodore set teams off to hunt for lost treasure, before we all got together for a BBQ lunch, and some homemade Pirate Punch - that the Commodore made after emptying her drinks cabinet of every bottle that had low quantity within, it tasted wonderful and it certainly had a Punch ... As a few of us can attest from sore heads the following morning!
I would like to thank MDL Penton Hook Marina management for allowing us to host the party there and also giving the visiting boats moorings at a very reduced rate, and to our Albany members who attended who made the weekend a lot of fun.
I had a prize as the winning member of the dinghy race, but as it was so much fun the chocolates were spread around.
"ears oping we can get aboard again soon for some more frollicking good fun!"
Well the boredom had set in fully, those lingering jobs and the decorating all complete...., sitting looking out the window wishing I was on my boat, but having to maintain social distancing of course our marina's are all closed!
So I started thinking about other constructive things to do... No Facebook is not really constructive... I know the outboard needs a service and a quick run, but how...?
I have the outboard & petrol, but what about coolant - can't run it without water...?
No, the wheelie bin gets collected later this week, so that's not an option, no large buckets, I know what about the cool box!
Well I can confirm that it works, with careful control of the throttle - too much and everything, and everyone gets a free shower.... :-)
Well we might not be able to zoom about in our boats, but at least we can all still Zoom together - Other conferencing apps are available!
Since we were not able to gather at our usual location, the Dittons Skiff and Punting Club, we decided to initiate an online virtual meeting. It seems to have become all the rage!
We had around 20 members join us online for the evening, where of course we lamented not being able to get out on the water, shared disappointment over the trips that we were not able to take, etc.
But of course everyone agreed that this short period of ‘social distancing’ is indeed necessary.
Even though we are unable to get out on the water, we still had a brief update and review of some of the information provided by local marinas, EA, ATYC, and River User Groups. It would appear that even if we could get on the water our ability to traverse the Thames would be rather limited due to broken locks, fallen trees and sunken boats...
We reviewed our program of events for the year and made some tentative plans to ensure that once the waters are again available we will make the most of whatever portion of the season remains.
Everyone agreed that we should start with some leisurely non-tidal cruises on the Thames, to check the boats were all in good order, but we also tentatively planned a brief cruise down to Chatham and across to the East coast in August, if indeed we are once more permitted to travel.
We continue to socialise albeit through our weekly ‘virtual dinners’, these are at 6 o’clock every Friday, members are welcome if they wish to join us.
On top of the recent appalling weather we now have Covid-19 to deal with - our plan for 2020 has gone completely out of the window; trips to Chatham, Easter Cruise, Association of Little Ships return to Dunkirk all Cancelled!
We, like you, can do no more that sit indoors looking at what was to have been a great programme of events [See our Events page] hoping that we might at least be able to reschedule or salvage some toward the end of the summer.
After getting together early in the year and preparing a plan for 2020 we sit waiting for the weather to improve, but no sign of that happening any time soon :-(
The Environment Agency for the Thames has Red Boards from top to bottom. Meaning it's unsafe to venture out on the river, and we should note it may well invalidate your insurance should you choose to ignore the boards as well as the possibility of your needing to be rescued from a weir or lock and therefore potentially placing other people in danger. So please take the warnings seriously, be patient we will have better weather soon. I hope!
Meanwhile take the time to clean, sort and prepare your boat so you can take best advantage as soon as the river is clear to use.
A very pleasant day at Shepperton marina with club members, friends and other moorers.
The club was well attended, and featured a selection of "Fun on the Water" and "River Life" photo from our members, which were a great talking point for all who attended the event.
Now it turns out that Martin had an old out of date valise life-raft and suggested that we might us it for a demonstration of how to launch, inflate and potentially board a life-raft.
So after one of our regular monthly meetings we took said raft down to the waterside, gathered around, and shoved it into the water.
A couple of our lady members then tried tugging the painter line without success:
Lesson 1: it's harder to get it to inflate that you might think!, but with a couple of gents helping out we managed to get the valise to pop open and start inflating…. to a chorus of Ooh’s and aaah’s it began to look as if we were about to have a successful launch, however, shortly after the hissing and whining sounds had begun, and the life raft had started taking a recognisable shape…. there was a rather loud pop/bang and a puff of talc, as the life raft exploded.
It seems that the inner latex core and outer plastic of the raft had hardened, or perished and once a certain level of pressure was reached they both gave way!!!
Lesson 2: Life rafts go out of date for a reason - so service them regularly and once past their useful life date, dispose of them!!!!
We salvaged the remnants from the river and explored the contents. those were also wet and disgusting... Not of any use at all.