Benchmark and Boating

A perfect combination…..

Mr Physics and I are sitting on the boat the day the exam results came out. It is a weird experience and also pouring with rain. Although the results were as “predicted” it is purely based on historical data, so who are we to say on the day who would have done well and who would have done a little worse than predicted. All I can hope is that the students, particularly those who sat National 5’s this year, get to sit their exams next year. At least I am sure they will take end of section tests a lot more seriously this session!

Now that is strange- I wasn’t going to post about that. I was going to write about how Mr Physics and I have combined boating and benchmarking. The boat has been visited just once this year – so sad- she looked initially in a fairly decent state for a year’s neglect, but on further inspection we discovered last Wednesday that the 16A cable had worn through again and tripped the RCD and the main trip switch at wherever Scottish Canals keep their main switch box. This could have been terminal for the batteries -1 bow thruster, 2 leisure and 1 main, which don’t come cheap! Luckily Mr Physics found the 16A spare cable and managed to make up a new one. Scottish Canals responded quickly to my pleas to come and get us power. The problem is that the pontoon has a small gap, the cable can fall partly down the gap and then rubs against a large bolt, wearing away the cable and exposing the wire.

We then noticed that the bathroom remained damp and the wet patch at the bedhead had expanded. This was caused by worn window frame sealant around the bathroom window and kitchen window. Water had got into the bathroom and kitchen. So back yesterday to do some repairs.

Mr Physics replaced the sealant and got some paint on the window. It ought to have been left for longer before the paint went on but the forecast for today was abysmal.

I was allowed to play with the new toy, the pressure washer. Despite a leak caused by a missing O ring, this is the best thing ever for removing the annual build up of algae. What excitement seeing it blasted off with very little effort. Last year it had taken an hour of scrubbing, cleaning, rubbing, buffing and drying. I did have to clear the channels around the deck boards where moss had built up and blocked the channels and collected a few stones. But I took these off and gave them a blast and used a spoon, finger and some floor wipes to clean the channel.

aft deck algae
What 8 months of neglect looks like
8 months of algal growth

Before (above and right) After (below and bottom right)

Look what the pressure washer can do
aft deck after pressure

I will certainly use this technique this year and part of our wintering regime must include sealing the windows.

So what do you do between sealing the windows and waiting for it to set and adding the paint- go benchmarking

Mr Physics had lined up a barrowload of benchmarks but we started with a disappointment.

The wall was at least there, but we couldn’t see any mark
more success by the towpath though, although ivy was trying to cover it.
We struggled with this one but finally noticed the rivet. No cut mark there though
A clear one at Number 63
Just marked as a hall!
and finally Nona’s Kitchen
…and finally Mr Physics didn’t have the patience to wait as I dug through the undergrowth so this one, may or maynot be there! Poor thing

No luck with the benchmark on the belfry which we both thought was a dead cert!

PS The weather today really was terrible, even a trip to the loo felt like Captain Oate’s trip out of the tent in the antarctic!

Boating bother

April 2019

After giving up the SQA Examining duties to go boating it was a bit sad last year to hear that Twechar and Bonnybridge bridges were closed, but even worse to hear that Lock 6 on the Forth and Clyde canal was rammed by some hirers. This has trapped us at the Kelpies for a year!

Mostly Harmless’ Home for the Last Year, see the motorway in the back garden and you can’t smell the sewage works in this photo but it is there!

Stopping over by the Kelpies isn’t anywhere near as peaceful as most places on the Forth and Clyde canal as the motorway traffic never stops so it sounds like you’re on a mattress in the middle of a busy street.

On top of this in February someone decided to see what they could help themselves too. Obviously the name “Mostly Harmless” suggested they wouldn’t find any difficulty if they entered uninvited.

The well deck is ready for a spring clean, but the doors will need to be replaced after someone came in uninvited

But after a busy and hectic few terms, and some difficulties this year then it’s time to get back to the boat to escape the pressures of life.

First cosy fire of the year and well relaxed after an hour

So during our first trip up of the year we went to look at the progress of Lock 6 to see when we are likely to get home. The lock gates are in and the estimated opening date is 6th May, hopefully we can be the first through over the May Day bank holiday. Just before Lock 6 though we took this photo. Someone has obviously been using the canal as a dumping ground for their old tyres. It was the strip of land only between this open yard. There must have been 50 or so tyres dumped in there. Well I hope now they’ve been found out as the canal has been drained that they’ll get in there and remove them rather than leaving it to the boaters and their licence fee. It would only take one of those tyres on the prop to cause extensive and costly damage.

Name and shame, someone’s been using the canal as a dumping ground. I hope now they’ve been caught as the canal is drained they will take some responsibility and clear up their mess.
One of those tyres on the prop will cause a huge amount of expensive damage.

So hopefully we can go back and spring clean the boat this weekend and get it ready for a trip along the canal and home! 2019 should be the year of boating and enjoying the canal.

Boating season 2018

It’s mid April, over half way through the holidays and finally we’ve got aboard Mostly Harmless. Bless her, despite a rotten winter it looks like the shower is the only thing to come off badly. So we can’t leave the water pump on. The weather is cold, wet and very windy. Mr and Mrs Physics look like they’re in for a tough night and neither have their boating legs yet. Boating legs are when you can walk across a tipping boat without feeling sick and land legs are when you can sit on a land-based loo and not feel that the world is swimming around you. After 7 years as boat owners boating legs normally arrive pretty quickly but not today, as it’s April and the last boating was a rubbish September.

Mrs Physics has given up being on the SQA AH team and marking to go boating this year. Unfortunately this coincided with Scottish Canals closing the Forth and Clyde canal at Twechar and Bonnybridge so no access to the Falkirk wheel, Edinburgh or the Kelpies. It looks like Mostly Harmless might be heading back down South for a proper boating experience.

View from the window 21:30

Update Mr Physics is running the engine and the shower is worse than first thought. It’s never been right since it was taken off the back of a lorry and into the River Carron.

No kingfisher sightings but the gooseander looked good. We’ve also got the newly painted Antonine and Campbell Christie who are also stuck this side of the bridges.

At least the relaxing is taking hold. Pictures will be added when it’s light and the decks have been cleared of algae.

winter growth

view from the bank

Come on Scottish Canals, the Scottish Government and the engineers, if you want to charge boating licence fees similar to England we expect to be able to get boating.

Maybe the Scottish Government and Scottish Canals can check out the SQA Higher Engineering Science folio pieces. This year they’ve had to construct a bridge over a canal as their folio piece. Scary how that’s a bit of déjà vu.  I bet several of them have a suitable solution- ask them.

Signature