A narrowboat renovation project by Nick Goodall.

  • Hallo!

    After the cleaning sesh last weekend, Monday morning felt light; it was satisfying to pressure wash again, although the engine oil was stubborn. Even with a few degreasing rounds it was truly soaked in, but everything is spick compared to last week and I’ll go over it with some fresh insulation anyway.


    I then cut out the old solar panel and tried hammering back the throttle pillar, which wouldn’t budge, so Plan B: cut it out completely, weld on some fresh plate and then re-fit the pillar (I’m currently waiting for steel).


    Then, admin: I booked the window measurers for June, bought some bolts and set out to find the paint colour for restoring the engine. But googling “emerald green BMC 1.8 enamel” left me paintless, and I didn’t have many ideas…

    Stumped, I threw some goat bones, then telephoned Calcutt Boats and whispered a special incantation. 10 minutes later after rummaging in their containers, I received an electronic letter from Roger with some sacred glyphs: H6 Green B3, along with an 11-digit number. I punched the number into my handheld and heard a woman’s voice…

    “Hello, Cromadex, how can I help?”

    Anxious, I recited the glyphs and she responded “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” and hung up. The next day I hear a knock at the door, and a man dressed in white hands me a round metal tub. I open it, nervous, and uncover a silky emerald liquid…


    The paint, it fits. Almost giddy I could hardly believe it, the glyphs they worked; the money-to-goods exchange worked.

    Then on Tuesday morning I received another message: “Hoping to fly this evening if I can get some more crew. Are you free? About 1800 my place.”

    But George (le van) was at the garage, and I responded with a likely no… until I was called to pick him up in the afternoon: flying was on. Only expecting to help with ropes, I was caught off-guard and slightly shaky as the pilot said “hop in,” and off we floated. For 90 minutes we ballooned over the Worcestershire countryside, the Safari Park and Severn Valley Railway until we eventually landed on the other side of the River Severn.

    ballooning-worcestershire-countryside.jpeg ballooning-canal.jpeg ballooning-river-severn.jpeg ballooning-safari-park.jpeg

    Can you find the giraffes?

    It was phenomenal; after this boat malarkey I’m getting me a hot air balloon. Forever may the chaos continue.

    Then with a few days away I didn’t get much more than pottering done this weekend, but an epiphany on how I’ll do the portholes…

    Until next Sunday!

    - Nick

  • Que Sera, sera

    5th May 2024

    This week I took a hiatus from Katona for a few days to pootle up the east coast on another red boat that’s joined the Goodall family: Que Sera, which my brother Tim bought last month.


    Besides a diesel engine and the concept of a “hull,” they couldn’t be more different. One can sail across oceans, the other has a log burner; one requires charts and VHF training, the other works with Google Maps and a phone call. Although we did pass through a lock!


    We set sail on Sunday afternoon from Kent, up and out of the River Medway to the Thames Estuary and into the North Sea. In the estuary we passed the shipwreck of SS Richard Montgomery, sat on a sand bank with its 3 masts poking out and 1,400 tons of unexploded ammunition from World War II. It was a cargo ship travelling from the USA in 1944, and sank only a year after building:


    (Squint and you’ll see the masts.) 4 buoys mark the danger zone, and each year the government surveys it while everyone hopes the bombs stay unexploded…

    Back onboard, wind behind us and we were flying. I saw 6 knots (6.9mph!) on the speedometer a few times, and we continued through the night with the flashing cardinal’s marking our way — black and yellow buoys indicating safe water. By this point I felt queazy as we sailed across the waves, making it extra bobby. Come 4am after we secured the mainsail when a shackle broke, I was horribly sick — the painful, acidic kind, and it quickly put an end to my fun.

    Cold, ill and tired is the trifecta of not wanting to be at sea, and that morning we (Tim, probably, thankfully) decided to head into port at the UK’s easternmost point. Although part of me felt like it was giving up, my senses came back after a shower and good food. With the wind less than ideal, continuing north would’ve been a lot more of the same; that evening we looked at each other with a nodding understanding that yes, we were cutting the trip short.

    On Tuesday we took trains westward after cleaning, and for me that meant back to Katona: last Saturday I left the boat at a yard on the Avon while I wait for the dry dock, and it’s turned into a great little spot with excellent van access.


    First up: remove the rubbish. After 2 vanloads it was looking a bit less recently-salvaged, and I spent the next 2 days cleaning tools and sorting the bobs out.


    Today I went back to play with 2 new toys: a pressure washer, and a water vacuum. The vacuum feels like it shouldn’t work, it’s magical and so satisfying — hoovering up a line of dust is delightful on any day, but a puddle of water?!

    It took longer than I thought, but I managed to clean the front half of the boat inside, removing all the silt, grease and unfortunately some of the insulation (it is a water jet…). I’ll finish the other half tomorrow, but it’s starting to look like a boat I can renovate again! No longer its canal-infested self, it’s nice to think about and plan for what’s next.


    Until next Sunday!

    - Nick

  • Avon garde!

    28th April 2024

    There’s a twist to Murphy’s law for the clothes you wear while renovating, and a lesson I keep re-learning: no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you will become dirty. Every time I’ve thought “I’m only tootling up the river,” nope: regret. Exhaust soot from the stern mooring line, grease from touching something inside — it never ends, even with overalls.

    But this week, the Avon. 😍

    First thing on Monday I went back to Tewkesbury to pass the one lock with a keeper; he’d been volunteering for 20 years, and although he declined my coffee offer he did convince me to buy a navigation guide, and wished me well.

    Then onwards up the river, and it reminded me of the Thames between Reading and Oxford — wide open cruising through some of our finest countryside, and it is stunning.

    Pershore lock cruising

    Pershore cruising

    Unfortunately the only day with sunshine I forgot to take photos, but opening the weed hatch I discovered a small strap around the propeller:

    Prop wrap

    And another thing about the Avon — you can see! It’s mostly clear, which makes everything that bit nicer; the plants in the water, the occasional fish, the bottom of the hull needing TLC. Well, I could see in the water… coming out of a lock, I wasn’t paying attention to a handle protruding from the gate:

    Bent throttle pillar

    Oops. I did laugh; this boat will be phenomenal when I’m done.

    On Thursday I called the dry dock to make plans, and I found out why their booking calendar is empty: a big ‘ol tree, uprooted and in the way. They said it should be cleared in May, and until then I’ve found another marina near Evesham. So Friday and Saturday morning I spent cruising up the river, through 4 locks to where I’ll settle in for the next few weeks and continue with other work. Also one diamond-shaped lock! The one and only I’ve ever seen:

    Diamond-shaped wyre lock

    Until next Sunday!

    - Nick

  • Onto the Severn!

    21st April 2024

    This week the lights were green, the river was open! Then on Tuesday I got an email asking me to move, and fair enough: it was a 2-day mooring, and I got there 2 weeks ago. So today, dad and I took the the boat southward to Tewkesbury at an astonishing 5 knots, possibly a Katona speed record.

    It was a glorious day for it, and the wide expanse was a welcome change to the narrow canals:


    With some wonderful countryside:


    Worcester cathedral in the background:


    And at Diglis, the lock keeper told dad off for standing near the edge without a life jacket…


    It felt great to make progress again, and the cherry on top was an industrial bin where we moored for the night. Still a mess inside, but 10 bags less so.

    Now on the Avon — with different rules and a separate licensing scheme — I can head eastward to Stratford, via a dry dock for painting and repairs!

    Until next Sunday!

    - Nick

  • “The waiting is the hardest part.” – Tom Petty

    With the Severn still closed, le boat waits quietly, patiently, until the river is ready for careening. But that didn’t stop some progress!

    This morning I went over to clear things, run the engine and make some measurements for dry dock work which I planned this week, ready for when that may be. That also means new item shopping, like a welder! :D

    Besides that, insurance called to talk about the surveyor returning to measure the hull (who’s liable?), and I re-started pottery in my quest to make the boat’s crockery. And from 2 weeks back, when a furry friend made himself welcome:


    Until next Sunday!

    - Nick

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