Once the boat was back in the water and I was back at work, the pace slackened off a bit, I still had no hot water, no heating, no toilet and no proper furniture, all I had was a couple of garden chairs and a camping stove on a small table. The best thing about being back on the water was that I was taken into the boating community, and that was great, there were impromptu barbeques and bonfires, and the other residents and I would sit around the fire and drink……practically anything! There was such a diversity of characters living on the boats, from young professional couples, to retired couples, single working people and a few nutters. We were never short of a topic for conversation! I would often get back from work at about seven o’clock on a friday, and not make it back onto my boat, 30 yards from the car park, because someone would say “Chris, I’ve poured you a G+T” and that would be it, I’d finally get on board at around midnight! On the weekends where I’d work on the boat there was plenty of help and advice available, and there would often be a small celebration when I passed some small milestone in the fit out. The day I finally got a fully functioning water system was one such, I celebrated with a hot shower, followed by a lot of beer with the other residents! Water systems on boats can be fairly clever, mine has a double coil hot water tank, and a 2000 watt immersion heater. One of the coils on the hot water tank is connected to the cooling circuit on the engine, so when the engine is running it heats the water for you, the second coil will eventually be connected to a solar water heater, making the whole system much more convenient to use. Another big moment was the installation of the solid fuel stove, I’d come across a shop somewhere on my travels that had reasonably priced stoves, so I bought one. It was the end of summer and really hot when, with the help of the marina manager, I fitted the fire and sealed up all the joins with fire cement only to then be told that I had to light the fire to get the cement to set properly, so there was I in 80 degrees of late summer heat, with the fire roaring away, luckily I could have a shower by then! Building my boat has taught me many new skills, I’ve never been able to do electrics, and I don’t get too involved with household electrics, as I’m fairly colour blind. This made wiring the boat an interesting experience, obviously I disconnected the shore side land line so I didn’t kill myself, the problem being that when I’d installed the inverter charger this took the 12 volt battery power and converted it into 1000 watts of 240 volt power. I quickly learned to disconnect the batteries as well as the land line when installing new sockets. My woodworking skills have come on a bit, but woodwork is something that I don’t really enjoy, I have lots of high-powered tools and can make sawdust by the tonne. I have had to learn to paint properly, which is not as easy as it sounds, but is quite rewarding, it really is all about the preparation. What I really like are the engineering systems, the engine installation, the electric system, the solar panels etc.
I decided after a short while at the marina to have a naming ceremony for the boat, I let all the residents know about it and set about inviting friends and family. Tha day was bright and sunny, the food was ready and the wine and beer were flowing, all in all a great day, and my boat was now officially called “Wendy Elizabeth”.
- Living the Dream (thestreetwhereyoulive.wordpress.com)
- Off the Grid – I (firstmateslog.wordpress.com)