Blind drunk

Well first thing first.  I know those of you who hang on my every word here will be keen to know how the taste test went of the newly installed draft Leffe beer pump from Beer Hawk. I can safely say it tasted fantastic! Especially so in 30 degrees of heat on the back of the boat at Shepperton Marina.

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Beautiful ………………

Our blind man came to the boat today. The man to fit our blinds I mean.

Piper supply internal blinds to the doors in the wheelhouse, but owners are left to their own devices as far as window coverings for the rest of the superstructure. We were recommended a company a little way North of us, who had fitted window coverings to other Piper barges, but they refused to travel the extra 20 miles East of Reading to our mooring in Shepperton. They must be making too much money as they are!

As luck would have it, this proved to be  blessing in disguise. Just around the corner from Anticus is a company called Decorama. They popped in, measured up, quoted (very good value) and installed. All in the space of a couple of weeks.

Lovely wheelhouse blinds from Decorama – perfectly matching the Piper ones

I would highly recommend these guys, neat, professional and a quality product. Oh! and willing to travel !!

Pet Shop Booze

We have had a quiet week or two on Anticus. I seem to have spent a fair amount of time cleaning the deck and cabin roof. I suppose that is a downside of such a pretty mooring near a swan sanctuary and the rest of the bird-life locally. One improvement (I hope) has been to replace the collapsible hose that was connected to the deck wash pump, with a rigid walled hose. There was a problem with the fact that the installed deck-wash pump is fairly low pressure (a couple of Bar I would think), and consequently when pressure is used to ‘inflate’ the collapsible hose, there is little more than a dribble available at the business end of the pipe. Anyway, problem solved with a new hose.

Last week we prised ourselves away from the water to visit Covent Garden, and more specifically, The Royal Opera House for a concert by The Pet Shop Boys.

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Incredible concert, with the age of the audience being roughly commensurate with the age of most of the barge owners we have met!!

Back to the boat, we spotted a small issue with our teak-style decking, in so much as there had been a small blister developed where it looked like the adhesive may have failed. Anyway, an email to Nick at Piper Boats, our builders, was met with a speedy response from the installers who sent along a fitter to make the necessary repairs.

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I think the weight will eventually be removed !!

There must always be small snags on a new build, and so far these odd bits and pieces have been very swiftly seen to.

We aren’t exactly short of booze on board, having opted for a 36 bottle wine fridge in place of the originally specified dishwasher. Also, not forgetting a few dozen reds, from Ralphs Wines,  in the bilge under the saloon floor. Anyway, after a bit of research and with the temperature reaching 30C in the South of England, I ordered a draft beer pump from Beer Hawk and a few litres of Leffe beer, along with branded glasses and beer mat!

Booze situation takes a turn for the better

Unfortunately, I am having to wait 12 hours for the beer to reach temperature, so will report back next time with a taste test!

Mixing with Royalty (nearly)

Deciding to get away for a couple of nights, we headed downstream in glorious weather to Teddington Lock where we found a mooring on the cut opposite the weir close to the footbridge. We had walked along the towpath many times with Alfie, and always dreamt of actually mooring our a boat of ours here. Mission accomplished.

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Opposite the weir at Teddington Lock Cut

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Beautiful gardens at Teddington Lock

While we were here Mimosa, a Piper Barge owned by Trigger and Julia dropped by for a beer and a Gin on their way back from a trip down the tidal Thames.

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After a peaceful night we retraced our steps to one of the more prestigious moorings in the land, on the banks of Hampton Court Palace where if the view wasn’t enough, the fees for the moorings are free for the first 24 hrs!

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Nice neighbours (with me taking the picture of Mimosa, above)!

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Alfie waiting patiently in a lock

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MP2 – one of the Met Police launches on the non-tidal section

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It’s not all pleasure !  Gin and hibiscus tonic and Roquefort cheese melts.

Thanks Ralphs Wines

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Good job my captaincy is better than my dress sense !!

 

Slick oil change

When we took delivery of our boat, it seemed that at least a ton and a half of its gross tonnage (29t) were manuals and paperwork for all the equipment and machinery that was fitted in board. Luckily I don’t mind an instruction book, or, probably as a result of my time in Kent Fire & Rescue Service, nor do I baulk at a maintenance schedule and plan.

So it was, with not a little excitement, that I watched the engine hour meter tick past 25hrs and realised that the first engine service on Anticus was due. Indeed it was 29 hrs by the time we returned from last weeks cruise to Windsor.

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Engine hours 29.1

The very comprehensive book that came with our BETA engine details what procedures need to be carried out at various intervals through the life of the engine. The first service is due at 25 hours, and mainly involves checking the torque of various nuts and bolts on or around the engine, checking tension on belts and changing the oil in the gearbox. In our case this is a PRM280 hydraulic gearbox.

I assembled the tools – and 18mm socket (for the filler / dipstick nut), length of hose (to run from the syphon, and to re-fill) and a container to collect the used oil (around 1.5 litres) from the gearbox. Pipers had helpfully supplied 20 litres of engine / gearbox 10W40 oil, and Nicola (ever concerned about me making a mess) had supplied a roll of blue paper towel! A great feature of our boat though, is the fitting on a hand syphon pump to the engine block, which via a ‘y’ connection and a couple of butterfly valves allows the draining of the gearbox and engine sump without having to scramble around underneath the block fiddling with the drain plugs.

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In no time at all I’d drained off around one and a half litres of pretty cloudy looking oil and replaced with fresh new product (filled to between the dipstick marks), run the engine, checked pressure and gear operation, tidied up and sat down with a beer. All in all, a satisfying hour or two, easy to do and saving you paying the boatyard for a few hours labour. Give it a go.

 

Windsor or Bust Pt.2

We hauled our lines in just after breakfast and headed upstream towards Windsor, where we were hoping to moor at The Brocas. This is a large open space, ideal for Alfie (our Border Terrier), on the Eton bank of the river at Windsor. I have to admit, the fact that we were also guaranteed a tv signal for the England Group 16 football game in the open spaces of The Brocas, also influenced my passage plan!

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Looking across Windsor Great Park to the Castle

After negotiating a couple of very pretty and well maintained locks at Bell Weir and Old Windsor and circumnavigated the vast grounds of Windsor Castle, we passed under the centre span of Windsor Bridge and kept right looking for a mooring at The Brocas. There were already a few boats moored to the bank and we headed for an inviting gap, however it was a little shallow for Anticus. We are just over a metre in draught and the shallow sloping banks meant that without a gang-plank of some sort we wouldn’t be able to get ashore.

Luckily a hastily arranged plan B materialised and we spotted a lovely mooring on the Windsor bank with a view of the Castle.

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The view from our mooring in WIndsor

We spent a very relaxing couple of days here, watching the river traffic. Passenger boats heading upstream towards the Henley Regatta, day hire boats nipping around like swarms of bees and the very noisy Windsor Duck amphibious craft giving camera touting tourists views of the castle (and Anticus!).

It really is a lovely place to stop and I would highly recommend it to any passing Captains and their crew. Unfortunately time was pressing and we were all too soon heading back on our return journey to Shepperton. We couldn’t resist a second stop at Runnymede on the way.

Windsor or Bust pt. 1

Since collecting her in Reading, and bringing Anticus home to Shepperton Marina, our cruising has mainly been in the very near vicinity of the marina. A couple of trips to Sunbury and the odd turn or two to Lady Lindsay’s Lawn.

IMG_3777 Lady Lindsay’s Lawn

However the time was upon us when we decided to be a little more adventurous and push the boat out (sorry!) with a trip to Windsor. A plan was formed which was: Day 1 – Runnymede, Day 2 & 3 Windsor and then back to Runnymede for a night before returning to Shepperton.

It’s only about 3 hours from Shepperton to Runnymede including 4 locks. The trip was quiet and leisurely  under a fabulous blue skies, high 20’s temperature and the greenest of green board river conditions.

One of the great things about our Piper Barge is the ease of handling such a large craft. In locks we can stop it exactly where we want to, enabling us to easily lasso the bollards. After past experiences on twitchy plastic hire craft which are bounced around in locks, the confidence to Piper gives us is fantastic.

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Locking on the Thames – we are aiming for the 4th bollard after the steps!

Arriving at Runnymede we were very luck in finding a lovely National Trust mooring in sight of the Magna Carta memorial and the Air Forces memorial. There are no facilities such as electricity or fresh water, but the moorings and secluded and peaceful.

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Whilst moored there we were treated to the sight of some lovely boats cruising past including some Dunkirk little ships and a French Brothers steam tourist boat.

 

Tomorrow it’s on to Windsor……….

Rail-cloth or dodger ? you choose ..

To be honest I’m not sure what they are called, which meant that when I phoned Thames Covers and said I wanted “a blue canvass thingy around the back of the boat”, they suggested a visit might be the way forward.

The result was that an order was made for the boat to be plus one in the rail cloth inventory.

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Thames Covers dressing Anticus

The fitters have made a very neat job, at a very good price, and it really finishes off the stern of the boat.

I’ll try and get some ‘action’ pictures when we go out tomorrow.