BARMERE - sheís really watertight now!
In the last Issue of CUTTINGS, I described the completion of the work of
making the hull of the BARMERE watertight. The virtue of having holes in
the bottom of a boat when itís stored on dry land is that, when it rains,
the water drains out as fast as it drops in. So when our welder, Geof
Pilling, stopped water coming into the boat when sheís afloat, he also
stopped it running out when it isnít. A cover was the next priority.
Unfortunately, we had no money to take the project on any further, and
have yet to put together bids for the funding of the next phase in the
restoration. So, for many months, BARMERE has been a water storage tank,
which wasnít good for her new steel skin.
Over in France, my narrow boat, FALCON, had been inundated when the water
level in the pound dropped, taking the boat down with it. Unfortunately,
when the water level rose, FALCON didn't. That necessitated an
unscheduled, panic-stricken trip to France - but also gave rise to a
quick, and cheap, solution, to the problem of stopping the rain getting
into BARMEREís hold. Whilst I was away cruising the Seine and the Burgundy
Canal last Summer, a new enterprise had taken up residence by my winter
moorings - two men had cut away part of the canal bank at the side of the
inlet I moor in. They were dragging peniches (the French standard barge,
39 by 5.05 metres ) section by section onto the bank, with a powerful
winch, cutting them up as they went. I suddenly realised that a large
number of steel hatch-covers were becoming redundant in the process. I
asked if they might be for sale - and was told that they were, at around
My companion on this trip was the Kent-based organiser, and master, of the
PETRA, a charity boat usually running around Northern France and Belgium.
He thought his boatyard near Calais might have some similar covers spare,
which would save us dragging them up the 200 miles through France from my
moorings. We dropped in on this yard as we left France, and found enough
covers to do the job - and cheaper.
At this stage, my move from Warrington to Wigan became all-consuming, and
both FALCON and BARMERE had to be forgotten for a while. But, once I was
installed in my new Parish, a few days off was clearly necessary. Thanks
to the generosity of Stena Line, who gave us a free Channel Crossing, and
a clerical colleague who has a heavy-duty trailer for his hobby of racing
cars, I was able to organise a trip back to France to collect the covers,
for no more than the cost of the fuel required. We even managed, when we
had loaded the twenty sheets onto the trailer, to get a free lunch from a
cafe my friend knew well, so the trip turned out to be very worthwhile
The journey home was not uneventful - the car used much more fuel when
towing, and I badly misjudged this. On the road leading up out of Dover,
we suddenly stopped - out of diesel, and I had to trudge off to get some.
Then, whilst coming under the A5 when on the M6, the trailer started to
sway without warning... and I jack-knifed across the three lanes.
Fortunately, the road was relatively empty, and following vehicles had
appreciated what was happening, so there were no unhappy consequences...
just one very red face. The fixing of the covers is described elsewhere.
I donít think Iíve ever been quite so relieved to see a journey over. DL.
Canal Cuttings Issue 3.4 Index
Web Edition Edited by Phil Long