Monday 29 February 2016

Slowly Disappearing

The vast amounts of pine cladding we have fixed in the hallway are slowly disappearing under layers of paint. It almost seems a shame after all of the hard work involved in cutting, shaping and fixing the wood.

Over the weekend we managed to get three coats of white paint on the difficult to reach ceiling over the stairs and the larger area of ceiling over the downstairs section of the hallway.

The difference is quite marked as it has really lightened up the area. This week we intend to get the last small section of ceiling above the bottom landing in a couple of coats of white paint and also start applying the cream paint to the tops sections of wall above the picture rail.

After what seemed to be an age with little visible progress we are now cracking on and the hallway is now starting to look much better for it. We can at last see an end in sight.

Sunday 28 February 2016

The Final Countdown

In between decorating today we have been scrubbing fenders,  cutting ropes to length and testing the new combined smoke alarm and CO alarm.

It's been a busy day but we have finished early enough that we can now enjoy a few beers before dinner which is doing its thing in the slow cooker as we speak.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Coat 2

Today we have been busy painting again and it was coat 2 for the downstairs ceiling and coat 1 for the upstairs ceiling.

Downstairs is looking much better already before it has fully dried.

Friday 26 February 2016

Still Rushing Around

Despite having had a little over three months to get everything ready for Naughty-Cal's relaunch this time next week, we are as usual rushing around at the last minute to get the last few bits and bobs finished off.

Nothing major but things that need doing at some point in the next week, like cutting the ropes to length and creating loops in the ends, washing fender ropes, scrubbing and waxing the fenders, washing bedding and blankets and finally buying a new slow cooker but more on that next week. 

Thursday 25 February 2016

More Preparation

As the days are getting longer and the nights shorter it is time to not only start getting the boat ready for a long summer ahead but also the Sierra.

She had a brief run out on Christmas day but has since been slumbering in the garage awaiting the arrival of spring and some better weather.

Time now to start planning the few jobs needed before her next MOT in June and her big adventure later in the year when we take her to Cornwall on her holidays.

Thankfully we did the big jobs last year so structurally she should be sound but a few items have cropped up since then such as a headlight that needs replacing and some bushes and the central locking that has stopped working. But nothing major. 

Soon it will be time to dig her out of hibernation, send her to see Nathan the mechanic for a full service and to replace the crank shaft oil seal and then she will be ready for a summer of fun once more.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Into the Future - Part 2

One of the aspects of next years summer trip that we are really looking forward too is spending a day or perhaps two if the weather allows in the perfect solitude at the foot of the mountains surrounding Loch Etive.

As much as we are looking forward to visiting bustling towns and sleepy villages we are also looking forward to some time spent amongst the wildlife, swinging around the anchor in the serenity of the loch.

Of course this plan will be very much dependent on the weather. If it is too windy for safe anchoring we will be forced to seek shelter elsewhere. 

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Into the Future

Now that we have Naughty-Cal ready for the season ahead we can turn our attention to looking ahead to some of our future cruises, not just for this year but also for the following summer in 2017.

We have plenty in the planning for 2016, but 2017 promises to be a massive adventure for both us and Cal in waters new to us all in Scotland.

Part of the fun in planning these trips is discovering new and exciting places to visit and stay, like the stunningly beautiful Holly Tree Hotel in Kentallen, pictured above. This just has to be on our list of places to spend an evening, with the boat peacefully swinging around her buoy mooring in the bay as we look out across the loch eat dinner in the well regarded restaurant. 

This is just one of many little gems we are uncovering as we investigate further our options for our seven days on the west coast of Scotland following our seven days on the Caledonian Canal. 

It looks unlikely that we will travel far on the coast, we don't want to set extensive cruising targets as we know that the weather and sea conditions will usually try their upmost to thwart your efforts if you set ambitious targets. Instead we will steadily meander from bay to cove before arriving at our rendeavous point with the trailer in Oban.

Monday 22 February 2016

Pull the Other One

We had quite a productive weekend at home attacking the hallway and getting it ever closer to the finish line. With the start of the painting we can really start to see an end in sight and it has given us a renewed sense of urgency to get this project finished.

What better after a hard Sunday grafting then a warming plateful of pulled brisket which has been slow cooked to perfection in a Guiness gravy?

Pulled Brisket.

The recipe for this is simple enough. In the pot I added chopped onions and carrot before adding gravy granules and a pint of Guiness followed by some dried mixed herbs and a good glug of Henderson's Relish. Leave on low power all day and pull just before serving with a couple of forks.

I served this with Yokshire Pudding, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and some fresh vegetables and of course a good helping of the Guiness gravy.

The finished Sunday Lunch.

We still have loads of the pulled brisket left in the fridge for a nice easy evening meal tonight after work. Not sure what I'm going to make with it yet but I think a pie might be in order.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Coat One

Today I have given the downstairs section of the hallway ceiling it's first coat of white paint.

We knew it would never cover in one coat but we were pleasantly surprised with how well the first coat has covered.

A thumbs up for Leyland Trade paint.

Saturday 20 February 2016


The downstairs section of the hallway ceiling is finally trimmed up and ready for painting after several false starts today.

Hopefully tomorrow will go a bit more smoothly!

Friday 19 February 2016

Safety Afloat

We should all take our safety onboard seriously but sadly some don't for one reason or another they decide to skimp on potentially life saving equipment.

The time has come for us to change our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on Naughty-Cal. Technology has come on since the current ones were installed and you can now buy a unit which contains both the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms  instead of needing seperate units for each.

As with most things as the technology progresses the price also drops and for the price of just £20 we will benefit from at least five years of peace of mind afloat. It just doesn't make sense not to have these detectors on board any boat in this day and age when the price has fallen so drastically in recent years. 

They could save your life.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Prepped and Primed

Work on the hallway has seemingly ground to a halt over the last couple of weeks as we have been busy working on Naughty-Cal instead. But for the next couple of weekends we will be grafting on the hallway instead in a bid to make some meaningful progress before the boat is put back in the water and our weekends are once more kept busy in other ways.

Last night we added the final coat of primer to the section of wall between the picture rail and the ceiling. This section of wall has seen some quite extensive filler and plaster repairs so it was nice to see it all a uniform colour at long last and with no signs of the previous lumps, bumps and cracks.

The plan for the weekend is to get the trimming fixed in place around the ceiling panelling and then finally get a coat of white paint on the ceilings and hopefully a coat of cream paint on the now primed sections of upper wall.

We still have a long way to go with the hallway. It is fair to say it has been a far bigger project than either of us imagined it might have been. But with the vast majority of the prep work and building work now completed it should all start to come together more quickly now.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

A Pheasant Evening

On Sunday some friends of our who own a farm in Lincolnshire paid us a visit as we were finishing off the boat and brought us a pair of pheasants. This time they had been gutted and plucked!

So last night we had them for dinner, simply roasted with a little salt and pepper and served up with roast potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, roast parsnip, roast carrots and some fresh broccoli. 

They were quite simply delicious with succulent tasty flesh and crispy golden skin. The perfect mid week evening meal for a cold winters evening.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Ready and Waiting

After a really long, hard slog at the weekend Naughty-Cal is now ready and waiting for her relaunch date in March. We have decided that although she is ready to go we will have one last push at home in the coming couple of weekends to try and make some more meaningful progress on the hallway which seems to have ground to a halt in the last couple of weeks.

Cal is pretty much ready to face the year ahead. As we have a trip planned for the first weekend that she is in the water we took another 60 litres of diesel to ensure that we will have more than enough on board for the trip out onto the tidal Trent to High Marnham. This trip should really highlight if everything is fine and dandy after a long winter lay up.

As usual I have the Friday off work to watch Cal get dunked back in the drink and as usual it will be up to me to spend the day scrubbing and cleaning and generally getting her ready for the weekends action ahead.

But first there is the not so small task of this hallway to contend with.

Monday 15 February 2016

To Work For a Rest

Wow, what a long and hard weekend that turned out to be.

Whilst Naughty-Cal now looks a million dollars again, we on the other hand are both suffering from the two exceptionally hard days graft we had to put in to achieve it.

Working outside in the cold all day has really taken it's toll on us both with aches, pains, sprains and bruises all round. But it will all have been worth it in a few short weeks when Naughty-Cal will finally be slipped into the water again and we can go for the first well earned cruise of 2016 knowing that all of our hard work over the winter months has set us up for another great year ahead.

Sunday 14 February 2016

A Lick Of Paint

Today we have finished off the polishing and waxing as well as applying the antifoul paint whilst dodging snow showers!

Saturday 13 February 2016

That's Better

After much hard graft today Naughty-Cal is starting to look much better again.

Today we have been busy polishing and the hull has come up well.

Time for some more polishing,  waxing and painting tomorrow,  but time for a well earned beer right now.

Friday 12 February 2016

Seize the Day

We are quite literally down to the last few jobs on Naughty-Cal's to do list for this winter. And the last few remaining jobs are all outdoorsie jobs.

We still have a few weeks left ashore but as the weather is set to be dry, if not cold for this weekend we have decided to seize the day, well weekend and make the most of the dry weather. Sods law states that if we decide to leave it for another weekend it will be torrential rain so we will make the most of it whilst the sun is shining.

Hopefully by the end of this weekend we should have Cal looking fresh and shiny and ready to hit the water once more.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Chilli Pancake Bake

As I'm sure you all know it was pancake day yesterday. We just love pancakes and this year we tried something a little bit different with our pancakes for dinner, a chilli pancake bake.

To start with on Monday night I made a slow cooked pork based chilli over night and then left it in the fridge during Tuesday readu for use last night.

Then last night I made up four fresh pancakes and rolled some of the chilli into the pancakes before placing them in an oven proof dish and pouring the rest of the chilli over the top. Finally I added a good portion each of grated red Leicester and vintage cheddar, a splash of Henderson's Relish and some mixed herbs before baking at 180 degrees for 45 minutes.

This really was very nice. We also decided that pancakes would make a great alternative to pasta sheets in a lasagne.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Pressing On

We managed to cross quite a few jobs off the to do list over the weekend, the list is now very much reduced from when we were first hauled ashore way back in November. Pretty much all that we have left to do barring a few minor odds and sods is polishing and applying some fresh antifoul paint.

My main task for the weekend was cleaning the engine and engine bay, but I couldn't set about this task until Liam had refitted a few bits to the engine, namely the refurbished raw water pump and the modified turbo boost pressure gauge piping. Then with the engine safe to get wet I set about scrubbing it up and getting it looking as good as new again. It was long over due a good scrub and hose down and it does now look much better. It just needs a very quick once over with a smaller brush next weekend but this shouldn't take more than a half an hour or so. The engine bay also looks much cleaner now that all of the salt spray from the leaky raw water pump and belt dust are cleaned up.

With the engine and bay cleaned up Liam could then install the new uprated alternator, which in turn led to replacing the belts. A job we didn't expect to be doing with the boat ashore but we would rather find the belt fault now then in the middle of the Wash. And with this little lot sorted he then put the cleaned K&N air filter back in the air box. With the exception of an oil and filter change, some fresh super charger oil, crankcase filter and fresh fuel filters the engine is pretty much ready to go for the season ahead.

With work in the engine bay finished we set about a few other jobs. The faulty LED bulb in the cabin was replaced with a new one, we had bought ten as it was cheaper to buy in bulk and we didn't expect the colour to match the existing bulbs so expected to be changing them all. In fact the colour did match so we now have nine spare bulbs. They should last us a while!

We also cleaned up the inside of the cockpit canopies. These tend to get very dusty and get seeds from trees and plants attached. If left unchecked they lead to the growth of mould spots which are a pain to clean off again, so we gave the hoods a good vacuum and then applied some foam cleaner to any dark spots to stave off any mould growth, they do now look much cleaner, on the inside at least.

One of the jobs Liam was looking forward too was fitting the new props to the drive which he did on Sunday morning. This signified the end of the work on the drive that is also now ready for the season ahead with fresh oil and oil seals, cleaned up anodes and fresh props.

We are now in the hands of the weather gods. With just three weekends left until we are due for relaunch we need one dry and reasonably warm weekend so that we can crack on with the polishing and waxing and get some paint on the hull. 

Will we get it?

Monday 8 February 2016

Sealed It

Ever since buying Naughty-Cal way back in 2008 we have had a slight leak from the port side of the windscreen. During and for a few days after heavy rain we would get a slow but steady drip from the bottom of the glass that would then run down to sit on the cockpit shelf above the fridge. Now when we had the old plastic shelf this was not such a problem but since replacing the shelf with the new teak version it had become more of an annoyance, especially as the leak seemed to be getting worse.

So yesterday Liam decided it was the day to try and fix the problem, amongst other things. So he dug out the old sealant, had a poke about in the drainage hole, got soaked blowing any remaining water out from under the windscreen and then resealed the whole thing to hopefully provide a watertight joint.

Well so far so good, we had some very heavy rain overnight and this morning the cockpit shelf was still dry. So it would appear to be working. 

Sunday 7 February 2016


We have made a good spot whilst fitting the new alternator.  The belt had a small fray in the edge so Liam took it completely off to inspect it, no easy task on our engine as it is tucked away under other pullies and belts.

We are glad he went to the effort though as the 12 month old belt has not only frayed but completely debonded.

Glad we found it now and not on the coast!

It is now being replaced with a brand new genuine Volvo Penta belt. We are not buying Gates belts ever again.

Saturday 6 February 2016


We have crossed a few more jobs off the to do list today.

Liam has been busy refitting the modified boost pressure gauge gubbins,  the refurbished raw water pump and sealing in the shower room sink and generally tidying up in the shower room.

Whilst he was busy doing that I set about cleaning the engine and engine bay. A dirty job thanks to the raw water leak at the back end of last year and we have found a breather pipe to the turbo that had come unclipped spraying a fine mist of oil over the engine.


It is now looking a whole lot cleaner though and is ready for the new alternator fitting tomorrow.

Friday 5 February 2016

A Busy Man

Liam has been a busy man this week getting things ready to be fitted back on the boat this weekend. During his lunch hours and before and after work he has been busying himself with a whole raft of small jobs.

One of the jobs he has completed is overhauling the raw water pump. This sprang a leak again towards the back end of last year so it was time for a major refurbishment this winter instead of just a temporary repair of new seals. 

This week the pump has been treated to a new shaft, new bearings, new seals, new drive unit, all new o rings, a new impellor and a new teflon plate to the Speed Seal as well as being sanded down, primed and given a fresh coat of paint.

The pump should now be as good as new.

 The pump body with a fresh coat of paint.

 And the Speed Seal plate freshly polished.

The pump fully built up and ready to refit to the engine tomorrow with the new alternator also ready and waiting.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Prop Er Job

Yesterday a rather large box arrived for me a work with the words Volvo Penta blazen across the front and the sides. This could only mean one thing, our new set of duo props had arrived.

The box in question.

Now over the years we have accumulated a few sets of duo props for Naughty-Cal, three sets to be exact, but due to use and damage and multiple refurbishments they were starting to get a bit past their best. The set we took off couldn't be repaired again, they were shot. So that would leave us with just two sets and one of those is again reaching the end of it's useful lifespan. So we took the decision to bit the bullet and buy a new set of duo props for Cal. Not a cheap job by any means. 

Now our original sets are all A4 propellors but Volvo Penta are phasing those out and the A and B Series props will eventually be replaced by the all new J Series props. So we decided that we may as well embrace this new technology and get a new set of J4 props.

They look very different to the older style A Series props, the blades are a different shape, size and pitch, the hub is a completely new design and they make many claims of improved efficiency, thrust and tracking. I guess we won't find out if any of this rings true until they are fitted and Naughty-Cal is back in the water and we get the chance to open her up.

The three bladed forward prop.

 The four bladed rear prop

 As the new props have arrived in good time we are going to pay a visit to the boat this weekend to get them fitted and fettle a few other items whilst we are at it. Time is ticking by now and it won't be long before our 4th March relaunch date so we need to be cracking on with jobs on board as and when the weather allows.

Wednesday 3 February 2016


Whilst we were at home on Friday evening watching TV with a few beers and a pizza we watched a cookery programme and one of the dishes the two boys prepared was a Gumbo. So taken we were by the idea that I had a go at it myself last night.

To start fry some chopped chorizo in a frying pan before transferring to a stock pot. Next addsome chicken pieces to the frying pan, I used thighs and legs and brown the skin before transferring to the stock pot. Then fry some chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until browned and add to the pot as well with some chopped tomatoes and chicken stock with a spoon of flour to thicken. Simmer for an hour or so before adding some raw king prawns and white crab meat. Simmer for a further five minutes and serve with rice.

This was a lovely filling stew and full of different flavours and textures. Certainly something we will cook again.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Seeing Green

A can of Volvo Penta green paint arrived yesterday for Liam to busy himself with. 

The raw water pump that he has rebuilt was starting to look a little scabby, it has been on and off the engine a few times in the last 13 years so it was ready for a new coat of paint.

The new alternator is also silver rather then the requisite Volvo Penta green so that will also be sprayed up to match the rest of the engine. Then there are a few odd nuts and bolts on the engine that are ready for touching up where the paint has chipped due to being undone a few times. 

By the time Liam has done Naughty-Cal's engine will look as good as when it was new. As well as a few paint touch up's it is also going to be treated to a full clean and fettle the next time we are at the boat along with the rest of the engine bay. 

Monday 1 February 2016

Smoked and Pulled

Over the Christmas break we bought a huge smoked gammon joint from Sainsbury's, it was massive. So instead of cooking it all at once I portioned it up into three decent sized joints. They were still big joints when cut up.

Yesterday as we were at home I decided it was time to finish off the gammon and stuck it in the slow cooker with a can of coca cola and some garlic and chilli granules.

The result was a perfect smoked pulled gammon. Melt in the mouth and tender to the touch. Perfect for a last sunday evening dinner served up with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, roast parsnip, roast carrots and a lovely cauliflower and broccoli mature cheddar bake. 

Now we didn't eat all of the gammon last night, that would have been greedy. We have both had some on sandwiches for work today and there is still a load left in the fridge for sandwiches tomorrow.