Thursday, 10 December 2009

Busy Busy Busy

We have started stripping Bonnie out, ready to start again! The wood has been sorted in to two piles, one for burning and one for reusing. Pete has got the wood burner going so it is lovely and warm whilst we are working. He has also put up strip lighting so that we can see on these dark winter evenings. Yesterday Pete bought himself a needlegun and is so excited about it and what it can do that I don't think Father Christmas is going to be able to beat it!!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Home At Last!

It's a long way from Gare Loch in Scotland to Tollesbury in Essex, but Bonnie is finally home. Here she is coming down the creek with Ida and Iska. They arrived about 1.30pm. Wasn't the weather just perfect.
Alongside the quay ready to be walked round to her berth.

Moored up at last.

One or two people came to help celebrate!

Pete and myself with a well deserved glass of champagne. Mind you, I don't know why Pete felt he had time to relax, he has got a barge to fit out!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Heading Home

Bonnie and her two support boats, IDA a 44ft Nauticat and Iska (don't really know, a big motor boat with two giant engines) left Ipswich at 6.30 this morning. We are really lucky to have such great friends to help. It has turned into a bit of a boy's own adventure with 14 men on the trip. But the great thing is that they are all experienced sailors/bargemen. Good luck boys, see you about 12.30, the champagne is on ice and the barrel of ale in the cellar!

Friday, 23 October 2009

New Hatch

Before Bonnie could be transported by road from Scotland to Essex, we had to cut 18 inches off the coach roof so that she would fit under the motorway bridges. This was okay but left the door just 3ft high, fine for little people, but for most of us it meant bending down into a very unnatural position just to get in. Now Pete has made this lovely, temporary, sliding hatch, making life so much easier. It is also amazing how much extra light there is.

He has also fitted a bilge pump, tyres for fenders, navigation lights and 12 new anodes, all to get her ready for her journey home. The new hatch means that the crew will be able to get to the kettle with ease!
Last Saturday the cadet parents laid on a Carribbean Night, strictly for the grown ups. There were lots of highly coloured shirts and sarongs along with jerk chicken and rum punch. There were also a few pirates and these vodoo men from James Bond. Unfortunately, Johnny Depp was nowhere to be seen. Looking at these photos, we really are going to have to discuss the type of members we let into the club!!!

But doesn't the clubhouse look pretty, especially before all the guests came in and messed it up! The parents all worked really hard to make it a really successful night. Well done all.

Tomorrow night I will be doing the Can Can to an audience. But that will be another post!!!!!!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Getting ready to launch

We have decided not to wait for the shot-blasting compound to be completed, so we are going to launch Bonnie and bring her down to her mooring. The shot blasting will be done in the spring in Maylandsea's dry dock facility. So now we have four weeks to get her ready for the journey.
First job, the holes in the decks.

Now fitted with temporary, hopefully watertight, hatches.

Second job, make sure engine still works (Tim, this is the technical bit for you!)

The engine is a Slanzi, which is Italian and apparently very similar to a Lister. It had less than 100 hours on it when we bought the barge and fired up the first time we tried it.

Of course there was the boat jumble to fit in......

Why is it we seem to have a shed and garage full of boat bits that we take to the boat jumble and sell and then Pete finds a lot more of bits that we apparently absolutely need, so has to buy more. Is this a bloke thing? All the chaps seemed to be in their element searching the stalls, picking up boat bits, fiddling with them discussing the pros and cons and then haggling over the price. We had a club stall, full of donations, which raised £150 for club funds, that was great.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Ahead of myself!

Okay, so we don't have any floors, walls or anything else yet, but this was offered at such a good price it would have been rude to turn it down. It has been lovingly looked after all its life and is in wonderful condition. It will provide hot water & heating (with the new copper cylinder that came with it) and hopefully cooking as well (not to mention burning rubbish). We will have an electric cooker as a back up and solar panels for the hot water in the summer. The only problem we have is what to do with it until it can be craned into Bonnie!!!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Busy Two Weeks

We have had a really busy couple of weeks. First to the work done on Bonnie. We have had another hatch cut on the foredeck, which will eventually have a hatch fitted to allow light and ventilation to the office area.

Then there's the door to the office area.
And finally, look at this nice clean bottom all ready for greasing. I told you I was good, cheap labour!

We also had the 'Ginger Party'. Everyone was red-haired, the food was ginger and the place was orange. All for Billy's birthday!

Happy Birthday Billy!
This weekend I was on another committee boat. This time for our GP14 Open Meeting. Visitors came from everywhere and we had 25 boats racing, it was really exciting. The weather was great, although perhaps the racers could have done with a bit more wind, but on the committee boat it was perfect! Sun and sailing, what more could one ask for!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Smack Race

We have had a lovely weekend. Saturday was a big day for the sailing club, it was our annual Smack and Classic Yacht Race. As Commodore I was part of the race committee and had a great day out on the water. The sun was shining and the wind was, for once, in the right direction and the right strength for a great race.

This is Sunbeam, a local smack, taken just before the race started.

These two hardened sailors are also members of the race committee. We even feed them and water them!!

Another local smack, Charlotte Ellen, had their launching party back at the hard. Free beer and champagne, accompanied by a jazz band was a perfect end to the race. Back to the club and even more beer, food and music til late at night. Well done to all sailors and helpers.

Not sure about the hangover the next day though!!!!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Work done so far..

Here are some photos of Bonnie as she was when we bought her. The plan is to completely strip out everything and start again, reusing materials where possible and making better use of the available space. We plan on building a new wheelhouse and so the mezzanine floor will go. As the main salon will be on deck, the area pictured down below will be the galley, dining area and a snug area for those really cold nights when we don't want to be on deck looking at the rain and bleak Essex marshes, although they do have a certain charm even in winter.
We have already stripped out the main bedroom and have spent hours chipping loose bitumen paint off the bottom, ready to grease the hull inside.
The bed has gone (and the chemical toilet!) and, with the surveyor's okay, we have cut a door through to a completely unused space. This will become my office as I have enough books to open a library (occupational hazard for an English teacher). The surveyor has also recommended that we keep the Rockwall, but bag it up before we put it back.
We will also put in a bathroom, a utility room and a workshop. We were planning on a second bedroom, but have decided to keep more living space for us and have a big American style L-shaped settee in the wheelhouse, which will accommodate guests.
However, none of these plans are set in stone and once we start, who knows things may change!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Bit more introduction to the family

For the first time since May, we are going away on the yacht for the weekend. Hopefully the weather will be okay. The boys (well adult men) are moving back into the house for a couple of days, so we thought it best if we left! Thought I would share with you a picture of Alfie, our two year old cocker spaniel. As the photo shows he absolutely loves being out on the water. (By the way, he is tied on and normally he would have a life jacket on).

We are still waiting for the yard to finish their shot blasting compound so that we can get Bonnie's hull done and then painted. Once the hull is finished the next job will be to make her seaworthy so that we can sail her down to to our home village. It will be a lot easier to work on the barge once it is closer to home. But this weekend we are going to relax for the first time in ages.

Saturday, 22 August 2009



This is my first attempt at blogging, but I have been inspired by all the other bloggers who are converting their barges, so I thought I would have a go.

We bought Bonnie from a chap called John in Scotland. As we approached Gare Loch Head for our first sighting of Bonnie, the tide was just turning and she turned 180 degrees. Talk about showing off from the start! We fell in love as soon as we boarded her and bought her on the spot. (Okay we know it was taking a chance without a survey etc). Bonnie is an ex-ammunitions barge and is 58ft x 17.5ft.

Our first problem was to get her down south. She needed too much work to bring her down under her own steam, so the only logical way was by road. It was either that or commute to Scotland from Essex on a weekly basis to work on her!! We had to cut 18 ins off the coach roof so that she would fit under all the bridges on the way down. My husband was like an expectant father on the day she was moved, but it was really exciting when she arrived. She is now in Ipswich on dry land, whilst we concentrate to getting the hull done before she is launched again and bought home to Essex.

We held our breaths when the survey was done, but it turned out just fine, 8 mm minimum under the waterline and 10 mm minimum above. Ian Anderson (a great surveyor, recommended) enthused about the solidity of her and the way she was so well built. The engine started first time (a bonus). We knew she was going to be a great barge.

We are just about to have the hull shot blasted and primed. Didn't realise quite how expensive that was going to be, but from what I understand everything from now on will cost more than we thought! Once we get Bonnie home, the real work in fitting her out will start. However, we cannot wait to get started for real. I have already had great fun touring the salvage yards, buying butler sinks, rayburn etc.

The aim is to use as many reclaimed materials as possible and be as self sufficient as we possibly can. Then we plan to navigate the Dutch and Belgium canals in our retirement.

The other blogs have taught us a lot already and we look forward to reading more and perhaps keeping in touch with like minded (mad) people. I hope that by the next posting I will have worked out how to put the pictures in properly!