Saturday, 30 January 2010

Four Seasons in one day

10% Discount ends 31st January

If you've not yet booked, please note that our 10% summer holiday discount offer ends on the 31st January.

Time has very nearly run out.

Full details on our web site:

Four Seasons.....

Friday 29th Jan and the weather simply won't make up its mind. One minute it's grey and spitting. Sixty seconds on and it's a hail storm and then the pelting of the ice slows on our roof and we can hear again but now it's snowing. 15 minutes late and it's a brilliant sunny day.

This pattern seemed to be repeated throughout the whole day and, finally, overnight we had more snow. I awoke to this view from my office at home - anyone who knows the area well will probably be able to work out where this is.

This is such a far cry from the weather on Tuesday afternoon which was just glorious for a winter's day. I was taking Fine Freedom up to Stalham for much needed winter work and couldn't resist a few shots on the Ant.

Not so Fair Freedom

Fair Freedom is in a bit of a state now. Last year, it being our first real season on our own, we had very limited funding in the winter and only did the absolute minmum of work to this boat which has held together very well overall. January/February 2009 saw us ripping out the rear two cabins to deal with rotting floor timbers and bearers. In the process, we refitted the rear cabin as a twin/double conversion rather than the fixed double that it was when we bought the boat, giving the vessel more flexibility for cruising parties.

This year the task is equally mammoth with knocks all around the gunnels that need grinding out, strengtheninig and repairing. Half the problem is the lack of care that hirers have over this kind of craft; it's a budget boat that's 44ft long, steers from the front and houses up to 10 people.... Out of all the vessels we have, in the "I couldn't careless, it's not my boat" stakes, Fair scores the highest.

I'm off to the shed later to continue the work else we may never get it ready for Easter!

Tranquil Progress

Tranquil has progressed rather well since my last post, but, as is often the case, the job had got bigger due to "emerging work".

The new worktop was cut and profilled a week or two back and prefitted but in doing so, we noticed that the laminates on the wall were rather looser that we first thought. So, we decided the best approach would be to replace them. Once off, it became apparent that the window frames were leaking and that the plywood wall substrates were rotting - oh joy.

Further investigation found that the forward window was in a similar condition. So, now, both windows have to come out, the ply wood walling needs replacing and relaminating and in doing all this, we've also decided to relaminate part of the helm assembly too to pull together that whole side of the boat, visually updating it.

On Wednesday we also noticed a collection of icicles running down the galley headlinings so a large portion of the ceiling is now down too trying to find the source!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Stagnant - recut teaser video

Just a quick post to say that the chaps at Fear Driven Films have recut their teaser video for the anticipated film set on the Norfolk Broads. You can view it now on their Facebook page.

The facebook page is:

Fear Driven's web site is:

Thursday, 14 January 2010

That sinking feeling

The ferry's out and the problem seems to be as we thought.

The propellor clomped a few bits of ice the other day and it seems to have pushed the shaft a little up the tube and fractured the fibreglass where the sterntube comes through the hull.

Thankfully, a relatively minor problem and a simple repair.

First (only?) casualty of winter

Yesterday, we arrived at the yard to find our ferry boat sitting on the bottom, sunk.

Thankfully, it was in our slipway so she wasn't flodded over the gunnels and so the salvage pump was put to work. Well, I say work.....

We spent most of the morning trying to get the wretched thing to actually prime up and pump. It's always been a bit tempremental, but today it was being little more than a waste of petrol. Finally, we fitted a transparent header tank to the pump body and it became apparent what was wrong; it was drawing in air - lots of it. Some investigation later and we found that the hose clip on the inlet was just a tad loose. It was one of those wire ones that came with it and we flet it better to replace it with two Juliblee clips. It wasn't very loose, but it was amazing just how much air it was pulling. Certainly more than enough to stop the pump from working. Well, another lesson learned.

Once it wasn't drawing air again, this baby emptied most of the water from the boat in just a couple of minutes. However, the problem with a 3 inch water pump is that it can't pump water if it's less than 3 inches deep (3 inches is the bore of the suction hose) and trying to manouvre a spiral reinforced suction hose around to get the hose flat on to water isn't easy. So, with most of the water out and it's back to the 3/4 inch bilge pump which also kept it afloat overnight.

So, what caused it? We don't know yet, it's got to be something to do with us using her to break the ice on Woods Dyke on Tuesday in preparation for this weekend's bookings. She's being lifted this afternoon so we'll know more later. We are hoping that the stern tube has been knocked by ice and fractured the joint with the hull. Fingers crossed.


We've reorganised some of our storage space this week too. The life jacket store has been moved and we've taken down the wall between engineering and the old life jacket store to enlarge our engineering space. It may only be another five foot, but it's made all the difference. We've now got space to properly work on engines and we're also gearing up for working on outboards more efficiently. We've been servicing a 60hp unit recently for a Cromer fisherman and look forward to establishing ourselves as a major player in the outboard engineering field locally. 

Things are looking up

On the plus side, bookings are doing quite well. Rambling Freedom is proving to be a very popular boat this year - there's just one August week left now. We've also got a few more out-of-season bookings and enquiries, though, sadly due to the weather, we've had to put a few people off and postpone one holiday already. Hopefully the 7 degrees that are forecast for Saturday will see the end of the ice and snow.

Cottage holidays are selling well too as the booking season takes hold.
The Old Post Office has got a February booking and is so far, the most popular of all our cottages this year. This is quite unusual as the chocolate box Garth Cottage normall ytakes that position, regardless of the season.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Still Cold.

There was yet another blanket of snow awaiting us yesterday as we went into work.

The yard is frozen in - ice seems to be getting thicker and with the additional snow each evening (it seems to be each evening now), we'll soon be needing waders again to cross the carpark.

Here's a shot of the large chunks of ice that I pulled out of the ferry boat on Thursday and threw onto the frozen dyke. You can see why the ferry service has been suspended....

Galley Fever

Work continued on the galley in Tranquil. Here you can see the old cabinets having been ejected from within with some of the old framing on top. Waste-not-want-not, we're reusing some of  this timber for supports, battening and so on.

Progress always seems slow when we're in the throws of a project, but in reality, it's going quite well.

We've now got all the cabinets in place, leveled and properly fixed. The new new oven has been pre-fitted and a new power line is in for the oven igniter/light and new fridge. The next big job is to fit the new worksurface.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Ferry Service - Suspended.

The yard was closed yesterday as too few people were able to get there safely. However, we've been waiting for a fuel delivery for over a week now and I arranged to go in to meet the tanker. I got there on time along easily passable roads and found the tanker delivering to ANH on the other side of the dyke.

With my little dog, Ollie in tow, we waited and watched, and waited and watched for what seemed like 30 minutes. Now, I know that ANH has a large fuel tank, but 30 minutes?

Then they started recoiling the delivery hose and the tanker left. I assumed it was coming to me next. 10 minutes later, nothing. So, we called the supplier only to be told that the tanker's pump had broken! Great - that's two hours wasted.

Still, the wait gave me an opportunity to start bailing out our ferry boat which is open to the elements. The huge amount of snow had caused it to sit a good six inches lower in the water and much of it was now ice. Naturally, I'd forgotten to take my phone or camera with me so there's no evidence of this, but I was removing sheets of ice from the floor of the boat that was one and a half inches thick. Breaking the ice around the boat showed the water in the dyke to be at least two inches thick and that's just around the boat.

Needless to say, the ferry service has been suspended until the ice has gone.

Galley Fever

Tranquil's galley is making progress.

We've got all the old cabinets out and are in the process of fitting the new units. So far, there's been very little modification required and it's going in quite nicely.




More work will be done today and pics posted shortly.


Thursday, 7 January 2010

Taking a Punt

Terry asked to see images of our 1932 Motorised Punt. Here she is

She was built by T Timms of Oxford and is believed to be one of only two made. It's powered by a Stuart Turner 2-stroke petrol engine which chugs away nicely and is really easy to get going (which isn't a common trait of these old engines).

There's a side mounted steering wheel that uses a rack and pinion gear to control the rudder and there's also a small tiller.

As you can see, there's a nice sun-shade canopy which also extends to cover the entire vessel to make it a camping-punt.

It's remarkably stable too and just glides through the water with barely a ripple.

We did hope to put her out as a charter vessel in the summer for romantic picnics and so on but really don't know what the market will stand in terms of pricing. Perhaps followers might make some suggestions.

I'll also sell her if the price is right. We've got quite a lot of history on her including the identity of a past owner who was once very famous.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

January Hardship

January 2010 and one day already gone.

Amidst the the freezing pipes, icy water, frozen carpark and cold, cold office, we set to work. One of our number is off for a couple of weeks to warmer places bringing our workforce down.

January's work consists of ripping out the galley in Tranquil Freedom ready for new cabinets and appliances, some private work on a customer's 75Hp Outboard (gearbox seals all gone!), trying to get our 2010 brochure complete (Quark Xpress has failed on me!) and reorganising some of the yard to get us additional engineering space.

We also plan to launch the private boat in the shed which has had a full hull repaint and, time willing, get our 1932 motorised punt tidied up a little. Still not sure what we're going to do with this cute vessel - if anyone's interested in buying, do drop me a line