Tuesday, 15 December 2009

First hard frosts

We've had our first hard frost of the year overnight and the yard has a cold coating over everything. Hand rails have icy drips on them, ropes have a silvery cold coating and our external stand-pipes and hoses have frozen!


By 10am it was beginning to thaw out nicely but before that the decks were treacherous.
You can check out more frozen images on our Picasa Web Albums.

Fleet Increases Again.

We've expanded the fleet again this week with the addition of Fine Freedom, an Alpha 32 forward steer cruiser for up to six people. For those interested, this was Jade Emblem from Ferry Marina last season.

One of the tasks today was to get some internal photos of this cruiser but first thing this morning it was so cold that the windows were simply covered in ice and frost and it proved to be quite a challenge making the boat look warm and inviting as if it was a summer's day when it's actually the coldest day of December so far.

We'll call them preliminary photos, I think.....




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Fine Freedom is on the web site now for 2010 bookings.

Winter Bookings

We're gearing up now for our flurry of December bookings this week. There's one boat going this Thursday, three over Christmas and five (yes FIVE) over new year. There's still some availability if you're interested in a Winter break and, don't forget, it's the end of the decade too so why not make this New Year one to really remember?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bit of a clear up

It's been a bitty couple of weeks.

We've relaunced Sweet Freedom and realised that we had taken the bootline too low! Now she's sitting on the top of the antifoul line and looking, well, just wrong. We'll probably leave this for the moment.

The good news is that, having been painted and polished, she looks great. As soon as the weather improves, we'll get some new shots of her on the water.

We've had a bit of a tidy-up around the boat yard too and have discovered that we really don't need all of the dinghy trailers that we've got so have put one up for sale and plan also to repair another and sell it.

There's a new page on the web site for Boats for Sale if you want details. There will be a few more things appearing on this page over the coming months too.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Freedom on film

Norfolk based film makers, Fear Driven Films, recently took out a couple of Freedom boats to put together a "teaser" for its forthcoming production, Stagnant.

The teaser was launched on the internet tonight and can be viewed on Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvevzPJXIz8

There are some production stills here: http://fearandfilms.ning.com/

Thursday, 26 November 2009

More updates for Song of Freedom

Our Winter improvements continued this week with Song of Freedom receiving another much-needed update.

Having already refitted the galley, improved the inverter system and recarpeted throughout, it was time for new upholstery to really modernise and brighten the interior.

As part of the update, we've also added a berthing converstion to the front cabin so it can now be either a Twin or Double berth bringing even more flexibility to this comfortable cruiser.

Creative Covers of Brundall have done us proud - Thanks guys.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Last Week's work - painting, engineering and more

The week started wet - really wet. Oh, and windy - really windy. A great combination that makes working outdoors so much fun.

So, with the weather against us on Monday, we switched focus to the winter painting in the shed. Sadly, this wasn't going too well either with condensation being a major headache and preventing painting for much of the morning plus a hole in the shed roof - right over one of the boats.

However, there was still plenty to do - rubbing down the first two coats of paint on Sweet Freedom in preparation for the next layer was a priority and continuing the preparation of the hull on the private Freeman 23 cruiser next to it in the shed - you can see a story in picture of this boat's progress in an older post.

We had two cruisers out on hire for the week so we were still on-call to handle problems (like one of the alternators on Real Freedom giving out on Monday and the 2D galley light in Pure Freedom 2 playing up). We also had Fair Freedom to get ready for Friday. Pete and Rab were seen on Wednesday refreshing the window seals on this boat to cut down the draughts - I think we'll need some more bear tape shortly.

Last week, we began stripping the engine from one of our day boats - it has been very difficult to start for some time and wasn't running terribly well with limited power. To be honest, seriously limiting the power of a day boat is a great idea, but I'd prefer to do that with a throttle stop screw than with a knackered engine.

This little Nanni was in right poor health. We'd already replaced the cylinder head on it earlier in the year but upon taking this off again, we were gobsmacked to see just how badly carboned up it was.

A few more nuts and bolts lose and the engine was free. Manhandled to the back of the boat, it was lifted out with the help of a mini-digger borrowed from Roger at ANH. Now with it on the engine stand, Rab and Peter set about gutting it.

We soon found the problem - the piston rings on number 1 pot had broken. Quite a serious fault really and certainly explains the carbonisation, bad starting and loss of power.

A quick call to a Nanni dealer and we had to sit down - quickly and if only to catch our jaws before they hit the deck. Head gasket - around £80; Piston ring sets around £80 (per pot!) - Sump gasket - I'd stopped listening by then. The long and short of it was that the parts to repair this engine (which is tired in other ways, anyway) were running close to £600. Stuff that - I was offered an entire replacement (like for like) engine earlier in the year for £450 - I wish I'd bought it.

We started applying some lateral thinking to this problem and found another supplier of parts. A quick phone call and we'd managed to source all the bits we wanted for well under half the price previously quoted. They're all new genuine parts too, not scavenged from a dead Nanni crankcase.

We're awaiting delivery of these bits now and look forward to making sure they fit - watch this space.

Last week, we completed the rebuild of our spare BMC 1.5 engine. This used to be in Pure Freedom 1 but was replaced by a new Nanni in early 2008. Sadly, when I got it back from where it has been stored, it had been robbed of its starter motor and fuel injection pump and a few other bits and it's been sat in one of my sheds at home for about a year. About a month ago, we manhandled it into a van and trundled it into the engineering shop and the magician engineer Pete B set about bringing it to life again.

With the help of parts that we had on the shelf and an injection pump sourced from Ebay earlier in the year the BMC was about to be reborn. However, we still needed a few other bits so we trundled off to see Harry May at Maycraft who seems to have a lifetime of engine bits laying around. Harry sorted us out with the final parts we needed and later that day, Pete was sparking the old girl up. Thanks, Harry.

We've now got a nicely rebuilt BMC 1.5 that's been stripped to component parts and rebuilt with new big end and new main bearings. It runs like a dream and is destined for swapping into one of our hire craft shortly when we'll perform the same strip and rebuild on another slightly tired BMC 1.5.

Successful year

We've had a pretty successful year overall. Donna in the office has been collating our customer feedback forms and we'll soon publish details of how well our customers have rated us in terms of meeting their expectations in terms of our cruisers and our service. The results show that we've been doing pretty well but there are improvements that can be made. Watch out for the figures soon.

As we near the end of the year, remember we're still letting boats. There were two (Pure Freedom 2 and Real Freedom) out all this week (returning Saturday 21st Nov) and one (Fair Freedom) out on Friday with a bunch of fishermen.

We also had two picnic boats out yesterday - both were birthday treats. One customer had bought a ticket donated to the charity auction at this year's Horning Water Carnival but the ticket was for a day boat only. On Thursday/Friday, the weather forecasts were suggesting a wet and windy day so we decided to upgrade them to a Picnic boat which would be warmer and far more comfortable. Ironically, the weather held out nicely for all our customers and even those who were out all week during pretty rough weather had a great time - though sadly one had the ropes blown overboard and one's been wrapped around the propeller. Oh well.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sweet Freedom - The Transformation

Sweet Freedom has undergone a bit of a transformation over the last couple of weeks.

The 2009 season saw the boat get renamed from Aston Broadsword to Sweet Freedom but due to circumstances (not least of all that money was too tight to get her out and paint her at the beginning of 2009 due to massive set-up costs for the business), she remained in her original Aston colours.

The 2010 season will see her rather differently - here's her story in pictures....

Sanded, filled and sanded, Sweet Freedom is ready for undercoat.

Undercoat x 2 on and dried and ready for gloss

Sweet Freedom in her new livery.

We've had to abandon work in the shed today now as two boats are both drying - there's now three coats of gloss on Sweet Freedom and two coats of undercoat on the private boat we're working on beside her. Whilst they're drying, there's nothing more we can do.

Sweet has a few blemishes that need touching up and once the paint is dry, we'll mask up for the final painting of the antifoul line. Then it will be ready for the application of the polish (many coats) that we hope will keep her shining throughout next season and also make it easier to clean the waterline. We'll be refreshing the cockpit paintwork and varnish too.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Winter Sets In - But we've still got boats on hire

As the winter weather begins to settle in, most Norfolk Broads boat yards have closed their doors to hirers for the season; but not Freedom. We have a rolling winter plan of maintenance and upgrades across the fleet and are cycling through the boats, taking only a couple out of commission at a time and leaving the remainder in the fleet, available for hire.

We've currently got Sweet Freedom out of the water for a full hull repaint. Sweet Freedom was formerly Aston Broadsword and was purchased in 2009 from Ferry Marina which had bought the entire Aston Boats fleet. The 2009 season saw Sweet Freedom and Song of Freedom (originally Aston Vanguard) stay in their original Aston colours - 2010 will see both these cruisers with the Freedom livery.

We've already refitted the galley on Song of Freedom. This cruiser, which was somewhat dated internally, now has an entirely new kitchen. Plenty of cupboard space (certainly a whole lot more than before, partly due to a draw that's we've fitted into the kick board area under the cupboard which holds all the pots and pans).

Song of Freedom now has a stainless-steel oven and grill and hob (exactly the same models as used on Ferry Marina's new Platinum Emblem top-of-the-range boats), modern mixer tap, filtered water, microwave oven and a full-size fridge. We've tiled the splash backs which improves hygiene and considerably lightens the galley. We've also added soft LED lighting under the galley curtain pelmet which provides a nice evening light which is great for watching the TV without floodlighting the saloon - it also adds additional lighting to the work surface for food preparation.

The flooring throughout the boat has also been replaced with new carpet to all living areas, lino in the cockpit and galley area. Further work is underway too; all soft furnishing are being replaced with new, modern chenille and we're adding the option to have the forward cabin as a twin or double configuration.

Naturally, Song of Freedom will also be repainted over Winter and will start the 2010 season in Freedom livery. We're planning to put in a rebuilt BMC 1.5 engine also. Overall, Song of Freedom and be a very different boat to the one previously known but still retain the warmth and charm of a more classic cruiser with it's warm wooden fixtures.

www.FreedomBoatingHolidays.com www.NorfolkCottageHolidays.com www.HorningFerry.co.uk