Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for July, 2008

The Odyssey – Summer 2008 Day 17

Posted by indigodream on 3 July, 2008

All very serendipitous here tonight – I have a meeting in Manchester tomorrow and, by chance, the boat was conveniently within reach of Birmingham for us to moor up in the centre . I’m using the boat as a ‘halfway house’. I’m pleased that I did because the train journey from London was tedious enough without the thought of adding the hour or more that would get me to Manchester.

So, instead of staying at some soulless and stuffy business hotel I’m relaxing on the Indigo Dream with a soft breeze swaying through the hatches and a drift of soothing classical music flowing through the twilight. We have a tendency to buy random CDs that are being sold off for 90p in Tesco so the music selection on board is a little eccentric (to say the least) however among our bargains was ‘classical serenity’ which just suits my mood.

Yes, I am in the centre of Birmingham and feeling good so far. The first relief was that the boat was fine after we abandoned it on Cambrian Wharf on Saturday. The second relief was that the pub across the road wasn’t quite as noisy as it had been on Saturday afternoon. I did get a few youths shouting “Indigo Dream” across the water – don’t ask me why! Have they been serenading the boat like that every day or was it me they were addressing? Either way, I ignored them and they gave up……

I had a wander through Brindley Place earlier – it was buzzing – loads of people outside on the numerous squares enjoying a companionable evening out. After a few false turns (which led only into other nice squares with cafes and fountains so no big deal) I eventually found the Sainsbury’s local – not a huge range of stock but fine for milk and the basics. I also passed a Spar which actually looked more inviting than the Sainsbury’s. There are very good information boards dotted around on every corner- they include location maps for the main stores, eateries and other attractions so it’s quite hard to get lost here (though I did try!). I thought it a very positive sign that the boards haven’t been wrecked by graffiti.

I was after a chinese takeaway and Brindley Place didn’t disappoint! I found a place called Tin Tin’s – decent cantonese food though slightly pricey. I will occasionally colonise the corner of a restaurant if I’m by myself but the lure of being on board was just too strong. I love spending time on the Indigo Dream. I do miss Richard and the dogs but I am enjoying yet another guilty pleasure this evening- stretching out on the sofa all by myself πŸ™‚

There is no shortage of restaurants here – I’m only sorry that we’re not staying longer as it would be nice to try a few out. I was tasked with finding a good place for dinner tomorrow night but the choice was bewildering – we’ll just have to follow our noses (literally!).

I enjoy doing embroidery at home but I find that it’s a bit of a faff on board (especially as the light isn’t so good). So, I’ve decided to try another craft. My mum is a tremendous knitter but unfortunately I haven’t inherited her talent. My childhood was littered with dropped stitches as I tried to get the hang of it. But I don’t like to be beaten so 30 years on I’m going to try again. I have ball of wool and some needles and have decided on the ambitious (for me) project of knitting a scarf. So far I have completely failed to get a grasp of how to cast on so it may be while yet. Thanks heavens for global warming – the aeons until the next ice age should just give me enough time to get my snug scarf finished!!!!!

Richard and the dogs are joining me tomorrow evening and we’ll cruise slowly out of Birmingham over the weekend. I hope that the journey out will be as pleasant and trouble-free as the journey into the city. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m hoping for an untroubled night on board……..

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Indigo Dream – The beginning Part 2

Posted by indigodream on 2 July, 2008

Here’s the next installment in the saga……

Our boat was due for completion in December 2005 but month by month it became overdue. From February we were seeing all sorts of warning signs – especially when the engine we’d paid Border for hadn’t shown up. We did end up paying twice for the engine but in the final account the money that we’d given Border covered work done elsewhere so we weren’t out of pocket.

Mitch (the owner) was clearly a very good boat builder (Indigo Dream has some lovely touches) but he just didn’t seem to be any good at running the business. We were getting increasingly concerned so we asked a friend who lived locally to keep an eye on the company. From late April we got various promises from Border Boats as to when she’d be finished – we’d book a crane, cancel the crane, book the crane, cancel and so on. We were getting very stressed (to say the least!) – although we’d been very careful with the finances if Border went bust before we got the boat it would get expensive, messy and protracted.

The only good thing was that by this stage the boat had been moved to Olympus Narrowboats’ for painting. It would have been much harder for us to eventually take possession if she had still been perched on blocks in Border Boats’ yard.

Unfortunately it appeared that Mitch had far too much to do, too little working cash and was under immense pressure. We were no doubt adding to that pressure! We’re both self-employed and had a certain sympathy for him but we could only carry that so far. I believe we gave him every chance to get on top of the work but finally enough was enough. After another crop of promises, the next delivery date was on a Tuesday. We visited the boat on Sunday night and got our Surveyor in for another inspection on the Monday. The boat was nowhere near ready so we quietly went round cancelling cranes and haulage. On the Tuesday we went to see Border Boats. Mitch was dismayed to see us coming towards him but we chased him down and sat down for a genuinely amicable discussion.

Mitch was sincerely sorry that he couldn’t finish our boat but I think that he was as relieved as us when we told him we were taking the boat off him. We asked Olympus Narrowboats to finish what they could in the 1 week we gave them. They had an almost impossible task but did really well. Sadly Border Boats went into liquidation around 3 weeks later.

I have to say that Olympus were marvellous throughout – they were taking all the flack from Border’s customers and handled it with kindness and grace. We’ll always be grateful to them for their support and for being such troopers in getting the boat ‘water-worthy’ on such a tight deadline. Electrician Sandra also excelled – when we dig out her phone number we will add it as a comment if anyone needs help in the Northwich area.

HURRAH!!!!!! Indigo Dream was finally launched on May 16th 2006 at Hilperton Marina in Trowbridge!!

We needed to launch near to Bath as we had big plans for using the boat as a base for getting to the rugby in Cardiff the following weekend (Heineken Cup Final). If she’d been finished on the due date we could have cruised her down from Northwich, but as it is, she was bought down on a BIG truck – what a sight that must have been on the M6!

The empty boat weighs 16 tons and it was amazing how many boatyards had cranes that could only lift 15 tons or less! Some of the boatyards that had BIG cranes couldn’t accommodate a BIG truck! This cut down our choice of launching points but Hilperton Marina couldn’t have been more helpful. They let us moor there for a couple of days while we were getting straight (despite the pressures of accommodating their own hire fleet) and even gave us a free plank (redundant from their boats). In exchange we made extensive use of their chandlery and of their boat mechanic’s expertise! We spent what we thought was a fortune on diesel, oh how times have changed!

My mum and her pekingese, Sybil, were there for the big launch – it was great to have someone to share in the big moment!

On the articIt was a fantastic sight to finally see our boat come down the road on the back of Duncan’s artic almost exactly 6 months later than originally promised. It is was a particularly awkward reverse past various hirers’ cars to get to the dock but Duncan, true pro, made it look effortless.

There were some marks left on the baseplate from the lifting cradle at Northwich so the guys at Hilperton initially thought this would be easy but unfortunately their lifting cradle was a different size! A bit of guesswork and careful measuring was required to work out lifting points followed by a trial lift, a bit of fine tuning then the real thing!

in the air!Seeing your boat swinging out of the water is awesome. They set it down very carefully onto the water and then carried on lowering and lowering and lowering and lowering. Ok so we only have a draft of (must look up exact figure) less than 2′ so it does not go down that far. Seeing it sink that 2′ into the water very very slowly is worrying – will she float? will she stop sinking? Of course she floats you silly paranoid new boat owners.

We opened a bottle of champagne over the bow (the paintwork was far too precious to have bottle smashed over it!) and christened the boat to cheers from the builders opposite. This dream had been a long time coming, the road had been hard at times, getting to this stage was such a wonderful feeling.

Touchdown!When we went aboard we found a lot of work to be done. We’d had to rush the finish so the boat came to us dirty, full of wood shavings, dust and bootprints. The curtains weren’t hung and our furniture still in its boxes – it was a little daunting. However, we spent the evening diligently cleaning and the boat started to emerge from the gloom! Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get her to a habitable state so spent the night in a B & B

Note: Ring O Bells B & B – take dogs but otherwise unappealing (stayed here from necessity). The Old Bear pub – amazing food and wonderful service in this pub; not too dear either. Lots of useful shops in Trowbridge.

In the water at last!

We had such a mixture of emotions on seeing the boat – relief for certain, but also some dismay at the work left to be done, and a certain sense of regret. If only Border Boats had been able to complete the project – this moment would have been so different. We’d seen their finished boats when we doing our research – they were sparkling clean, thoughtfully finished with curtains, cushions and a set of towels with the boat’s name monogrammed in the corner in gold thread. I shouldn’t complain though – it was easy enough to clean the boat and hanging curtains isn’t difficult! We even had the monogrammed towels – this was the last thing we collected from Border Boats before we parted company.

Note: In our top tips for people buying a boat we mentioned paying for things direct – we did this with the curtain material and ended up paying the seamstress direct as well – cumbersome, yes, but at least we got our very nicely made curtains! We tried to find a link to Miss Sew&Sew who made our curtains but they seem to have vanished…

Grannybuttons was speculating on whether we were were pleased with the boat – YES, YES, YES! We were thoroughly exhausted by the process of getting her built and that dented the joy we had expected to feel when we launched. But we got over that as we used the boat and she has constantly met our cruising needs. It was hard not to feel cursed when I broke my shoulder (at the Crick Boat Show) only two weeks after getting the boat and had to limit our cruising until Sue had been to see a man with a drill (ever helpful Richard did offer to assist with his Bosch SDS drill and a new drill bit) and we could recruit some crew (not difficult!) to help us with the locks. But we’re not superstitious and got over that as well! πŸ™‚

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