Touch Up

Narrowboating is a contact sport!  This is something you hear occasionally on the towpath.  It is unusual to bump in to another boat (though we did get bumped last night), but rough edges on lock gates and tight bridges take their toll above and below the waterline.  Over the winter, Bartimaeus has acquired quite a collection of scratches and gouges.  It isn’t easy to deal with them when the weather is cold.

Getting the boat blacked made me notice again how scratched the upper paintwork has become, with spots of rust showing here and there.  The last time we had a serious go at remedying that was over a year ago, when we pounced on bright and warm weather in February before heading back to Edinburgh for my operation.

In the meantime, I have invested in a cordless multi-tool to use for sanding. It uses the same batteries as the drill, and the whole lot fit together in one case.  Clare set about sanding, appreciating the cordless convenience.

The side of a narrowboat with theartimaeus in large letters. Kneeling beside it, Clare is sanding below the gunwale.
Sanding Below the Gunwale

I followed along behind slapping primer on faster than she could scrape rust off.  I was waiting for the final spots on the first side when I was asked for help.  A canoeist had parked his car opposite our boat and asked me to help him lift his canoe off.  He said he usually managed alone, but had a sore arm.  We chatted for a while before I realised that the paint was drying on my brush, so we needed to get on.

Almost all of the damage is below the gunwale.  The one notable exception was the top of the cabin at the front.  This is most at risk under low bridges, but we are pretty good at avoiding those.  We think this damage may have occurred during the cumin incident on the way in to Coventry.

A woman standing in the fore-deck of a narrowboat sanding the top of the rail at the front of the cabin.
Sanding the Bridge Strike Point

To paint the other side, we needed to turn the boat round.  The easy place to do this was a few boat lengths behind us, and through the lift bridge.  I reversed back while Clare was operating the bridge.  I got a number of comments as I reversed – commiseration from other boaters, and praise from gongoozlers.  I admitted to them all that the bow thrusters helped a lot.

Once under the bridge, I spun round and reversed through again.  I got confused looks from the boaters I passed for the second time, but once I mentioned painting they understood.  I got back to our mooring spot without incident, though Clare had again stopped to chat.  As I got off with the rope, a woman asked if she could step on while her boyfriend took a photo.  I was very happy to oblige, but asked her if I could first tie the rope to the ring she was standing on. By the time we’d finished painting, Bartimaeus was looking less photogenic.  We hope to remedy that tomorrow.

Back end of narrowboat Bartimaeus with large amounts of grey paint below the gunwale.
Bartimaeus with Primer

There seemed to be a lot more paint damage on the port side.  I have a suspicion that there might have been one particularly bad incident that had scraped the whole length of the boat.  Neither of us have any idea when that might have been.  Fortunately, we know that both of us have scraped the paint from time to time, so there is no need for finger pointing.

Front of a narrowboat with large amounts of primer on the paintwork below the gunwale.
Primed at the Front

The weather seems to have changed for the better.  We have had our best day ever for solar generation (4.1 KWh) and not needed to put the heating on.  The new radiator can’t be fixed to the wall until we get the right brackets, which are being posted to Edinburgh, but that can wait another few weeks.

The water levels in the Thames have not yet subsided enough to be navigable, but it looks like that may be imminent.  Our licence isn’t valid until the start of May, so if we get the painting finished tomorrow, we might be on the move again on Monday.