nb Squirrel

A supplement to the  

Website and eBook by Cyril J Wood

 

nb Squirrel

Contents

Introduction

Boat Specification

Boat History

Modifications

Future Plans

Gallery

Conclusion

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 Introduction

 

Introduction to nb Squirrel

This part of the "Canalscape" website shares with you a little about our narrowboat and its history. nb Squirrel (previously known as Gill) is a 2002 Liverpool Boat Company 45 foot, cruiser stern narrowboat. How we came to purchase Squirrel started off when Ian Gilbody and I went to view a GRP Norman cruiser for his brother at Midway Boats located at Barbridge Junction whilst we were on our summer cruise (see Canalscape Book 9 - Chapter Three - Summer Cruise 2013). The lady in the boat brokerage gave us two sets of keys... one set for the Norman and the other set for the narrowboat moored next to it. We had a look at the GRP cruiser and as we had the keys for the narrowboat we had a look on it as well. The boat was in better condition than our previous boat... Total Eclipse, which we had been experiencing a few problems with. The inside of the new boat was a revelation... more spacious, better layout, brighter and better equipped. The deciding factor was a framed photograph of a squirrel on one of the worktops. Ian said that this was an omen and that we were destined to have this boat. A little note of explanation is required here... my nickname since I was at school and used by everyone who knows me is Squirrel!

It's all his fault!

 

When we returned to our boats, which were moored around the corner on the main line of the "Shroppie", we told Ange and Michelle Gilbody that we had a look on a narrowboat as well as the GRP cruiser. Ange asked what the narrowboat was like and would she like it? I told her that she didn't want to know as she would most certainly fall in love with it if she saw it. Next thing Ange took the camera and accompanied by Michelle went marching to the brokerage to see the boat in question for themselves. They were gone for quite a while and when they returned Ange informed me that she wanted that boat. We went back to the office for another look and a chat with Steve Batty... the owner of Midway Boats, who informed us that they accepted boats in part exchange subject to a hull survey and that is the route we eventually decided to go down. We knew that if we sold the our old boat privately we would get more for her but the timing would mean that in the meantime Gill might be sold to someone else, so our minds were made up. Steve came and valued our old boat and a figure was agreed subject to a hull survey. Next came a juggling act of geography and chronology. To say that the next few weeks were traumatic would be an understatement. We eventually had to have the survey undertaken at Aqueduct Marina and when the results were known (it passed with flying colours) I took Total Eclipse to Barbridge, the deal was made and Gill became ours on Thursday the 22nd of August 2013. On the following Saturday we transferred the remainder of our possessions from Total Eclipse onto our new boat and we were soon on our way back to Lymm. All was going well until we reached Middlewich. Whilst making the left turn out of Wardle Lock onto the Trent and Mersey Canal the boat lost propulsion. The engine was running and the propeller shaft was turning but there was no power. The problem was traced to the absence of the propeller which had fallen off when reverse gear was selected whilst manoeuvring around the tight bend. The following day Steve Batty came to the rescue with a replacement propeller that was larger than the original but would be ok. The new propeller was fitted through the weed hatch by another Steve... from Kings Lock Chandlery who told us that he could not fit a split pin to lock the new propeller in place and that we should take it easy until we could slip the boat and secure the propeller. Bearing this in mind we were soon on our way home with the remainder of the voyage to our home moorings being uneventful.

 

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General Specification

 

Inside Liverpool Boats' workshop... the birthplace of Squirrel

This Liverpool Boat Company narrowboat was built at their workshops in Liverpool, Merseyside in 2002.  The engine installed is a Beta 38 diesel unit based on a Kubota base engine and marinised by Beta marine. It has a cubic capacity of 1498cc that produces 37·5bhp output and is coupled to a Newage/PRM 120 2:1 mechanical gearbox. The engine is keel cooled via a skin tank fitted to the port rear swim. Cooling water is also fed to a calorifier for heating the hot water stored in an insulated, vertically mounted dual coil cylinder. A steel fuel tank holding 50 gallons is fitted into the stern and a 150 gallon fresh water tank fills the space in the bow beneath the foredeck floor. Two alternators... 80 amp and 40 amp units charge the three domestic and one engine starting batteries independently. A Mastervolt 12-40-3 automatic charger manages the batteries when plugged into a land line and a Pro-Sine 1·8 kw inverter provides 240 volt electricity whilst out cruising.

nb Gill (later Squirrel) at Barbridge Junction on the 28th July 2013 - when first viewed

Squirrel's Beta 38 diesel engine

Eberspächer Hydronic 4 Diesel fired central heating boiler

The gas supply is provided by two 13kg propane (orange) cylinders stored in a pair of self-draining lockers on the rear deck which supply the two gas appliances... a Stoves Vanette hob and separate oven/grill unit. A Thetford C200 cassette toilet is installed which features an electric flush with the water supply plumbed in alleviating the need for regularly filling up the flush top tank. Staying in the bathroom there is a wash basin and shower which has an automatic pump to empty the shower water overboard. Heating is by an Eberspächer Hydronic 4 Diesel fired central heating boiler that feeds two radiators, a towel rail in the bath room and the second calorifier coil in the hot water cylinder so that we can have hot water when the engine has not been used. Originally as built, she was a two berth craft with a double bed in the rear cabin. This was converted to two singles and the convertible double berth/dinette added later by Midway Boats of Barbridge Junction making it a four berth boat. The table converts the L-shaped seating in the lounge into a double bed supported by a movable seat that has an upholstered, removable lid... handy for storing drinks, etc.

Lounge looking forward when first viewed - note the squirrel photograph on the right

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Dinette in the lounge when converted into a bed

(Photograph - Hilary & Alan Wiffin)

Kitchen after refitting

(Photograph - Hilary & Alan Wiffin)

Lounge and kitchen looking aft when first viewed

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Kitchen when first viewed

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Toilet and wash basin when first viewed

Shower compartment

Rear cabin looking forward when first viewed

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Rear cabin looking aft when first viewed

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Electrical and central heating control panels

Calorifier and electrical cupboard

Engine and running controls

nb Squirrel layout

Spacious rear deck when first viewed

(Note the cranked tiller bar extension)

Canvas rear deck tonneau cover in place

(Note the cranked tiller bar extension now removed)

Front deck when first viewed

Canvas front deck tonneau cover in place

 

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Boat History

The boat's first owner was a Mr Tom Gillies (hence the original name Gill) who sold the boat in 2006. The second owner was Mr Alan Wiffin who moved to Australia and put the boat on brokerage at Midway Boats; Barbridge Junction. and then, on the 23rd August 2013... ourselves when it was renamed Squirrel. The outward appearance of the boat has changed little from when she was built. The original dark green with white coach lines and white roof paint scheme replaced with the same basic green colour retained when the boat was repainted in 2015 but the green paint extended to the non-slip section of the roof which was originally white as were the hatch covers but are now cream.

This photograph of Midway Boats at Barbridge Junction on the 17th April 2009 shows nb Gill on the bottom right

(Photograph - M Davies)

Alan Wiffin at the tiller in a Trent and Mersey Canal lock on the 23rd August 2009

(Photograph - Hilary & Alan Wiffin)

nb Gill on her mooring at Barbridge in Spring 2011

(Photograph - Hilary & Alan Wiffin)

nb Gill can also be seen in this more recent photograph taken in 2013 at Midway Boats as well

(Photograph - www.boatlaunch.co.uk)

There was a "cranked" extension to the tiller bar fitted when we bought the boat but this made steering arduous due to the high angle and was one of the first things we removed after purchasing the boat. This extension bar was fitted to make steering easy from elevated seats that slotted into tubes fitted to the rear deck but were missing when we took delivery. We don't envisage replicating them at present hence the removal of the cranked extension tiller bar.

The cranked tiller arm was the first thing that was removed when we took delivery of the boat

There are quite a few reminders of our previous boat Total Eclipse with many pieces of equipment that we brought with us and even a couple of items from my parents' boat Phial including a small Buckby can and a painted container and lid used for sewing needles, cotton, etc. One of the items brought from Total Eclipse was the brass tiller bar and tiller pin. The pin is in the shape of a squirrel and given the name of the new boat is even more in keeping than it was on the old one!

The brass squirrel tiller pin used for best

When we bought the boat the paintwork was dull and badly in need of buffing to remove "dead" paint and polishing to restore the original finish. This was accomplished a month after we became her owners with a rotary buffer, Mer polish and lots of elbow grease. A couple of weeks later the paintwork received another coat of Mer which would last through the winter until spring 2014. Even though the paintwork looked much better after polishing we decided to have the boat repainted professionally when finances allowed.

Before and after buffing and polishing the paintwork

nb Squirrel gleaming after having the cabin side paintwork buffed and polished

The current hungry tungsten halogen down-lighter bulbs were replaced with high power LED units which, even though were more efficient they were brighter than the original ones they replaced. Storage boxes were sourced from Ikea that fit exactly on the shelves adjacent to the front door, the original roller blind replaced and matching cushions bought.

The lounge looking good with new lighting, blind and cushions

Storage boxes that fit perfectly on the shelves adjacent to the front door

Kitchen

Cupboard and worktop opposite the kitchen

TV cupboard, stereo and iPod dock

Replaced and re-routed bilge pump pipe

New, shortened calorifier feed pipe

New skirting board on the bathroom/rear cabin bulkhead

The worktop beneath the wash basin in the bathroom and surrounding woodwork was stained due to ingress of water from poor sealing of the basin. We planned to sand down the wooden worktop and re-varnish it but it turned out to be MDF with a wooden veneer on top which could not be sanded down. A replacement in a water resistant material was fitted and continued upwards to cover the staining of the bulkhead. The finished article looks cleaner and will be easier to clean as well as being more substantial.

Stained vanity unit work top prior to replacement...

...with the work top removed showing the staining of the woodwork to the left...

...and the finished article with the new work top and splash-back

On the 19th October 2013 the boat came out of the water at Lymm CC in order to fit the missing split pin that locks the nut holding the propeller in place. On inspection the nut was not the correct thread and also there was no brass washer fitted between the nut and propeller. I know that Mike from King's lock Chandlery said that the nut he fitted the day we started to bring the boat back to Lymm was only temporary but I assumed that it was the correct thread. In his defence it must be difficult to tell if the nut is the right one when fitting it under water through the weed hatch. Anyway... the job is done now and I have no need to worry about it any more.

nb Squirrel on the slipway at Lymm CC on the 19th October 2013

The offending article... the incorrect nut plus lack of washer and split pin

With the boat being out of the water I also had the opportunity to inspect the hull and sacrificial anodes, measure the fore and aft draft. The stern draft was quite straightforward to measure. From the waterline to the bottom of the skeg it is 28 inches. But with the base plate sloping upwards at the bow the measurements had to be taken from the end of the forward swim which is 18 inches. I also took some detailed photographs of the parts of the hull that are usually under water and shown below. The visual inspection of the hull did not hold any surprises except for their being quite an accumulation of freshwater mussels. The boat was scheduled to come out of the water again in May 2014 when it was pressure washed (and the freshwater mussels cleaned off), hull re-blacked, the missing fender loop welded in place on the port side and inspected and tightened the stern gland. The tiller/rudder bearing was also inspected and lubricated at that time.

Profile of the base plate at the bow

The deep draft is illustrated in this photograph

The sacrificial anodes should last a few more years yet

A closer view of the rudder, propeller and stern swim

The new nut, washer and split pin fitted to the propeller shaft

We had contacted the boat's previous owners... Hilary and Alan Wiffin in Australia to see if they had any photographs of the boat whilst they owned it for the website and to confirm dates in the boat's history. They kindly replied with some photographs which have been added to the boat's history. I have fitted a "Water DeTek" water alarm at the lowest point of the rear bilge beneath the rear steps. If water is detected from a leaking pipe, etc the unit located inside the electrical/calorifier cupboard sounds an alarm. A Brolleymate umbrella holder has been fitted to the tiller bar and an additional tiller bar (for best - aka: posing) that used to be on Total Eclipse has been polished, the mahogany handle re-oiled with linseed oil and the shaft modified to fit Squirrel. All the original tungsten and halogen bulbs have all been replaced with LEDs, the television has been moved to the rear cabin on a fixed bracket for when our grandaughter Shannon visits and does not want to watch what we are watching on the new TV fitted in the lounge. A TV aerial feed from the Maxview Omnimax signal booster/splitter at the front of the boat was run down the length of the boat inside the central heating pipe trunking to the rear cabin. The mains electricity ring main has been extended into the electrical/calorifier cupboard to provide power for the additional television in the rear cabin. The threading of the cable in the gap between the cabin lining and the spray-foam was difficult due to the lack of space but we eventually managed it.

Water DeTek bilge alarm fitted in the electrical/calorifier cupboard

The original television relocated in the rear cabin

A new, larger television was installed on a bracket in the lounge and the ring main extended to inside the storage unit on the port side adjacent to the front doors for a table lamp located above it. This proved easier than the socket at the other end of the boat due to the cable run being shorter and more space between the lining and spray-foam. We installed a microwave oven on the kitchen cupboard worktop opposite the sink but it took up too much valuable space so we decided to relocate it adjacent to the gas hob and oven. We thought that if it was wall mounted on a bracket this would solve the problem, which it did. The only other problem being that the ring main had to be extended again to feed an additional 240 volt socket fitted below the microwave oven to accommodate it.

TV/DVD combo installed on a bracket in the lounge with Blueray player below and iPod dock to the right

Kitchen complete with microwave oven

New name transfers applied to the boat's bow

The trunking that conceals the central heating pipes and electrical wiring had an unfinished edge which I have covered with "L" shaped moulding and treated with four coats of varnish. Such a small improvement has made a big difference to the look of the area. New 6 x 9 inch stereo loudspeakers have been fitted in the front cabin  which give a much "richer" sound than the original small loudspeakers which have been relegated to the rear cabin and fed by four core cable which runs inside the trunking.

Lounge with the table down

Lounge with the bed made up

Edging to the pipe trunking looks much neater

Aft cabin

With the fine spring weather in 2014 came the opportunity to sand and re-varnish the side doors. The gang plank and boat pole also received attention and then looked a lot better than previously. If the boat pole is inspected the red sections are different lengths. One section is 18 inches long and the opposite end is 28 inches long. This is a depth guide for plumbing the depth of water for the front and rear draft when mooring in shallow water... a trick that I learnt from my father. He had a similar line on Phial's boat pole. The port side front fender loop was missing when we purchased the boat and a replacement has been welded in place. There was no provision for storage of the table when not in use and a pair of oak "keepers" were constructed and attached to the central heating/cable trunking in the front cabin. When not in use the table is secured in place by a pair of brass cabin hooks mounted on the cabin lining behind the table.

Repainted boat pole and gang plank

(Note the unequally sized red sections)

Replacement welded fender loop

Table mounted on its keepers in the lounge

Mid-roof and bow fairleads

We have decided not to have a rear deck canopy as I did not like cruising with the canopy up on Total Eclipse and used to take it down at the first opportunity even though it was useful when moored up as it prevented rain entering the boat and gave somewhere to take off wet coats and hang them up to dry off... in essence an extra cabin. However a "dodger" (a wrap-around fabric windbreak for the rear deck) would be beneficial in reducing drafts when it is windy. We have canvas tonneau-style covers for when the boat is not in use so the rear and front decks are protected from the elements when we are not cruising and a "Brolleymate" for holding a large umbrella to the "everyday" tiller arm to keep the steerer reasonably dry when we are cruising. Waterproofs also help to keep the steerer dry if the weather is really wet.

The "everyday" tiller bar and "Brolleymate"...

... and with the umbrella in place

The boat came out of the water at Lymm CC on the 9th May 2014 for hull cleaning and blacking with bitumen. Once jet-washed I was surprised to discover that there was no bitumen beneath the waterline with only red oxide primer in evidence. A few days later the hull had three coats of bitumen applied to it and the gas locker bottoms painted as well. It was noticed that the port-side gas locker was wet even though the boat was out of the water. The calorifier pressure relief valve overflow vented into the locker and coupled with the fact that the water pump had started to cycle for a second or so every fifteen minutes pointed to the fact that the valve was faulty. Accordingly, a replacement was purchased and fitted at a later date.

Coming out of the water at Lymm Cruising Club - 9th May 2014

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Yours truly jet-washing the hull - 9th May 2014

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Jet-washed prior to hull blacking - 9th May 2014

Close-up of the jet-washed hull showing a lack of bitumen below the waterline

Hull blacking completed and ready for re-launching - 15th May 2014...

...from the front...

...and from the other side - 15th May 2014

When it came to replace the calorifier relief valve the water pump switched off and the taps opened to relieve the pressure in the water system. The old valve was removed but when I came to fit the new one there was a ½" BSP to ½" BSP male coupling on the original valve that could not be removed. An old isolation valve that was lurking in the bottom of the toolbox ((previously used on Total Eclipse when a calorifier fitting corroded and broke emptying the contents of the water tank in the engine compartment) was fitted temporarily whilst I found a replacement.

Calorifier Pressure Relief Valve and Hep2o to ½ inch BSP coupling

Thorn Marine didn't have the fitting required but they did have a solution in the shape of a ½" BSP to Hep2o coupling. I visited Embee's... our local plumber's merchant in Wallasey and bought the same coupling as on the original pressure relief valve. So I then had two solutions to the problem. I tried the BSP to Hep2o coupling first and this proved to be successful and the other fitting fitted perfectly so I fitted the new pressure relief valve to the calorifier. The alternative coupling was not required and relegated to the bits and bobs box along with the stop valve that was used temporarily.

The temporary isolation valve and the new pressure relief valve fitted to the calorifier

One problem we had with the rear doors and sliding-hatch is that when we are sleeping on the boat the padlock has to be fitted on the outside in order to lock them as there is no provision for locking the hatch from the inside. If the rear hatch was locked with the padlock and there was an emergency we couldn't exit that way so an alternative means of locking the sliding-hatch from the inside was needed. A piece of three by two timber was screwed to the underside of the hatch and tower bolts fitted to latch onto the hatch interior framework. This has now solved the problem. Another problem relating to the sliding hatch was the formation of condensation. This was cured by creating a thermal barrier in the shape of thin, rubber-backed carpet glued to the underside of the hatch creating a thermal barrier.

The bolts fitted to the timber beam on the underside of the rear hatch

Underside of the removed rear hatch showing the anti-condensation carpeting

Whilst on our 2014 holiday cruise we saw a water colour print of the Worsley Packet House on the Bridgewater Canal for sale in an art shop in Whitchurch on the Llangollen Canal. We immediately fell in love with it and bought it planning to re-frame it and hang it in the lounge to break-up a large, bare area of varnished timber.

Worsley packet House painting hung in the lounge

Lounge in April 2015 with the table in place

The Venetian blind over the kitchen window has been a pain to clean and makes it awkward to open the top hopper of the window and remove any condensation that may form. We replaced it with a roller blind that matches the poppy patterned one over the inside of the front doors.

New roller blind fitted to the kitchen window

Kitchen in April 2015

Beats Pill Bluetooth Loudspeaker unit

For our wedding anniversary Ange bought me a rechargeable Beats Pill Bluetooth loudspeaker unit to use with my iPod and smart phone on the back of the boat whilst cruising. Due to the cylindrical shape of it I was afraid that it might roll off the sliding hatch when in use so I decided to make a cradle for it. The cradle was made from oak that was suitably shaped by Neil Campbell... one of the Carpentry and Joinery lecturers at work. Once assembled and rubbed-down with fine sand paper I gave it eight coats of varnish. When this was dry I fitted self-adhesive feet to the underside and stuck felt onto the inside of the cradles to prevent scratching. The Beats Pill unit itself is beautifully neat, has a Bluetooth range of ten metres and is recharged using the same charger and Micro USB lead as the Huawei Mifi Wi-fi unit, Kindle and my phone. It is a far cry from the loudspeaker system that we used to have for the rear deck of Total Eclipse that had cables everywhere just waiting to be tripped over and took ages to set-up as well!

Wooden cradle for the Beats Pill Bluetooth Loudspeaker unit...

...and with the Beats Pill in place

I had previously had problems cleaning the non-slip coating on the cabin roof and gunwales. I had the greatest success by using a cleaner called "151 Elbow Grease" accompanied by a scrubbing brush but this meant scrubbing the whole roof whilst kneeling down causing back and knee pain (not to mention cramp). I tried out the Kärcher K4 Compact Pressure Washer that I had received as a combined Christmas and birthday present from my stepson Michael. I had been itching to try the K4 and had bought a water scavenge pipe off eBay at half the retail price. The water scavenge pipe allows me to use the pressure washer anywhere, regardless of whether there is a water tap close by or not. One problem that I encountered with the pipe was that it needed weighing down in the water so that it did not float to the surface and start to suck air. This was overcome by attaching an old steel shackle to the strainer/non-return valve end of the pipe with cable ties to weigh it down in the water. I had previously had problems cleaning the non-slip surface on the boat's roof and gunwales and the K4 took it in its stride, cleaning them without having to resort to chemicals or a scrubbing brush. I then turned down the delivery pressure at the lance and cleaned the rest of the cabin sides and hull paintwork with similarly excellent  results. In April 2015 I fitted new shelves in the rear cabin... port side above the TV and on the starboard side adjacent to the fire extinguisher.

Kärcher K4 Compact Pressure Washer and water scavenge pipe

Yours truly using the Kärcher K4 pressure washer

New shelf in rear cabin port side

New shelf in aft cabin starboard side

As previously mentioned we had decided to have the boat repainted when finances allowed. One problem was identifying the colour that the boat was. When we bought the boat there were four tins of dark green from various manufacturers and none of them, even when fading was taken into consideration, matched the main colour of the boat. The term "Fifty Shades of Green" came to mind! Many colour charts from various manufacturers had been compared and the nearest appeared to be Black Green (RAL Code 6012). Rylard Paints' British Racing Green RAL Code 6005 was similar but too "warm". The original colour may have been Donegal Green before it faded darker (unusually). Rylard Paints are based in Litherland, Liverpool not a million miles away from where the Liverpool Boat Company so it seemed logical that this brand of paint may have been used when the boat was built.

British Racing Green - Donegal Green - Black Green* - Turquoise Green paint swatches

(*nearest to the current colour)

What was needed was a small pot for matching the colour and this is something that paint manufacturers don't appear to offer. We had previously received a good service from Rylard Paints when trying to match the colour of Total Eclipse as International Paints had discontinued the Deep Water Green and Pillar Box Red colours that it was painted in and were unable (or unwilling) to match. I sent Rylard Paints the lids from old tins along with samples of paint skin that had formed on the top of the contents of the tins which they matched the exactly. In the case of Squirrel we didn't have even this to go by so I contacted Rylard and sent them a couple of photographs of parts of the boat with reference colours. I received a telephone call from the Managing Director when we discussed my problem at length and ways to resolve it. I am sure that we are not the only people who experience this problem and I suggested that match pots could be ordered for this purpose. We would gladly pay for samples and in the end they sent a couple of small pots of British Racing Green and Dark Green to see which was the nearest, free of charge. Yet another example of outstanding customer service where manufacturers have "gone the extra mile" to satisfy the needs of their customers.

We were recommended to Mark Leatherbarrow and his associate Paul as they had painted quite a few boats in the Club (as well as painting the sign writing on Total Eclipse) and the quality of the finish they produced was second to none. When they came to give a quote for the painting they also matched the current colour which turned out to be Mason's Black Green and has a RAL Code of 6012. They also quoted to paint the sign writing on the cabin sides and the non-slip section of the roof beige to remove the glare from the original white paint. The repaint was planned for August when we had returned from our summer cruise but was postponed due to the previous painting job taking longer to complete that originally planned. Painting was due to commence in September but this had to be postponed yet again due to Paul being ill. On the positive side it is just as well as we would have a better finish if the boat was painted in the spring due to the weather being warmer which would allow the paint to dry to a better finish.

The name and sign writing we propose to have painted onto Squirrel when the repaint is completed

Just after Easter 2015 we received a telephone call from Mark who told us that they planned to start the painting that weekend. We re-arranged our plans and I spent a day removing the canopy fittings, vents, etc (again) so that they could have more time for the painting without having to mess around removing them. I had made arrangements to leave the boat on the canal frontage at the Clubhouse and as our permanent mooring is at the far end of Oughtrington the painters would not have to carry their equipment as far and this meant that they would have access to mains electricity for rubbing down as well. Overhanging trees would have shed leaves and birds perched in the trees could have deposited droppings on their work. They arrived at 7.30 am on the Saturday morning and as we had planned to meet friends in Manchester we left them to it. On our return that evening they had completed rubbing down the cabin sides and the smooth portion of the roof and painted them with undercoat. They came the next morning and started glossing. By the time they had left in mid-afternoon the cabin sides and smooth portion of the roof had received one coat of gloss. Needless to say the finish looked stunning! Over the subsequent weeks the boys repainted the boat and their progress is documented below.

Mark and Paul flatting down the paintwork prior to undercoating

Later the same day with the undercoat applied

The difference was amazing and...

... even after one coat the finish looked stunning

The following weekend rain stopped play during the front deck and bulkhead preparations

At Daresbury with the front bulkhead and foredeck painted with undercoat

The rear deck sanded down ready for undercoating...

...a few hours later with the undercoat applied...

...and the following day fully glossed

The gunwales and front deck with the undercoat applied...

...and also the following day fully glossed

Back on the mooring at Oughtrington with the bow detailing...

...roof, glossing and coach-lines completed

Bow detailing

Clean and shiny with the repainting and sign writing completed

The sign writing painted onto the cabin side...

... and a close-up of the squirrel - note the red dot on the camera representing the Leica logo

On the last day of painting Mark fell in the canal whilst painting around the rear deck but even so the end result is wonderful and exceeded our expectations. Mark and Paul's attention to detail was second to none... even down to painting a red spot on the camera being held by the squirrel in the sign writing to represent the red dot which is the trademark of the Leica cameras that I use. We had been advised not to polish the paintwork for a couple of months but I was worried about bird droppings from the trees overhanging our mooring at Oughtrington affecting the finish so the first coat of polish was applied in July 2015. This was supplemented with a second coat whilst we were away on our summer cruise later that month.

New LED headlight...

...and the illumination it provides inside Preston Brook Tunnel

Desmo table leg storage clips

The original tungsten halogen headlight was replaced with a high-power LED unit making the boat 100% LED. Storage  for the Desmo table legs has always been problematic with them usually being stored next to the front step in the lounge. This was cured by fitting purpose-made clips adjacent to the central heating radiator in the lounge.

Before the 2015 winter set in I decided to rub down and re-varnish the rear sliding hatch surround, the side doors and surround, the front/starboard window surround and the front door frame... jobs which I intended to do during the summer when there was less moisture in the atmosphere to mar the finish but didn't manage to get around to. At the same time I also fitted new mooring ropes to replace the old, brittle ones which came with the boat when we purchased it over two years ago.

The rear sliding hatch surround after sanding down and three coats of varnish

Rear doors and surround after sanding down and re-varnishing

The front/starboard window frame surround after sanding and re-varnishing

Dyson DC34 and docking station

We planned to fit low drain LED lighting beneath the gunwales in the corridor from the aft cabin to the kitchen and lounge. As well as being a lighting feature it would provide background illumination at night when it is dark and with being LEDs they could be left on all night without any significant current drain on the battery bank. Very important when Shannon is on board in case she wants to use the toilet during the night as well as acting as a "night light". The newly installed 12 volt cables were connected to a junction box and switch to feed power to the lighting and the end result was most satisfactory.

The under-gunwale LED lighting in use

A close-up of the LED lighting and switch

When we bought Squirrel we noticed an additional Desmo table leg socket in the aft cabin and we had added to our "to do list" making a small occasional table to fit to the socket. We had previously bought a new table leg for this purpose and I had a couple of Desmo table sockets and a piece of ply wood stored at home (the plywood being originally one of the bunk lids on our old boat Total Eclipse). After marking the timber with the desired size and shape it was cut into an oval on a band saw at work. The leg didn't fit the floor socket correctly due to the bottom of the leg protruding through the socket and fouling the ballast beneath. It was also taken home and trimmed with my angle grinder fitted with a cutting disc. Once the table was cut to size and shape, the Desmo socket was fitted to the underside, the table top sanded down, cleaned and five coats of varnish applied. When the suitably trimmed leg was brought back to the boat it fitted perfectly and the resulting finish exceeded my expectations. As an occasional table in the back and front cabins it will, no doubt, be put to good use. A couple of spring clips were purchased from Midland Chandlers to store the leg beneath the gunwales when not in use as with the table in the lounge and the table top is stored in one of the bunks until required.

Our new occasional table after five coats of varnish applied and fitted in the aft cabin

The aft cabin with the new occasional table in place

Brass corner protectors on rear doors and hatch plinth

With the boat being so reliant on electricity we decided to investigate the possibility of fitting a solar panel to keep the battery bank "topped-up" when we were absent. After some research we decided that the best location on the boat would be on top of the rear sliding hatch. In the other locations considered there was a possibility that the panel's efficiency could be affected by shadows cast by the boarding plank and other roof "furniture" or if located further forward the longer cable runs would have produced a voltage drop even if a larger output panel or heavier gauge cable was used. Anyway, an 80 watt panel from manufacturer AKT had dimensions would be the closest to that of the hatch with no overhang. This panel only loses one amp of charging current against a larger 125 watt panel. The cables could be routed through the aft cabin ventilator and when the hatch is open the excess cable concealed is beneath the sliding hatch. After undertaking research into the subject we decided that the AKT eighty watt panel which utilises high quality Bosch cells was the one for us and was ordered.

AKT 80 Watt Solar Panel

The AKT panel was available on Amazon either with or without a current/voltage regulator. Regarding current/voltage regulators... there are two basic types: PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) and MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking). The PWM is more basic in its specification and regulates the voltage and current produced by the solar panel. The MPPT type however, boosts the voltage in low light conditions albeit at a reduced charging current. It is a lot more expensive and gives minimal advantage over the PWM type for our size of panel, being more beneficial for panels over 150 watts or multiple panel installations. But back to our panel... we purchased it without a regulator and sourced a better specification PWM Domecool twenty amp (the panel has a maximum output of five amps) model from eBay and features a more comprehensive display as well as twin 1·5 amp USB charging ports plus two additional 12 volt sockets. Most of the regulators we looked at had the same layout, connection configuration and dimensions which lead me to believe that they all utilise the same circuit board and components, differing only in the facilities, display and connections offered as well as other minor design details... hence the choice of the Domecool model.

Domecool 20 Amp Solar Panel Regulator

The AKT 80 Watt Solar Panel fitted to the rear sliding hatch

The cable coiling up beneath the hatch when slid open

Whilst we are cruising through locks or with another boat we often use walkie-talkie two-way radios for directing when passing through locks or to advise of on-coming boats, especially at blind bends and bridges. One problem we have with the walkie-talkies is that it is not always possible to hear the transmitted message whilst steering above the engine (quiet though it is). On solution would be to install a CB radio that uses the same frequencies as the walkie-talkies. Whilst talking about this subject to Arthur Malcolm... a friend at Lymm CC who is into radio communications, he mentioned that he had a CB radio transceiver and mag-mount antenna that was surplus to requirements and that I could purchase it from him. This we did and the radio transceiver (a Team TS) which is one of the smallest and neatest examples I have seen, was installed in the electrical cupboard (along with an SWR meter for matching the antenna and 12 volt/USB sockets to supply the power) with the microphone and extension speaker located on the back deck for ease of use whilst under way. The antenna is of the magnetic mount variety with a soft rubber coated base to protect the paintwork on the roof.

The Team TS CB radio transceiver we have fitted to the boat

The CB radio transceiver and 12 volt/USB electrical sockets fitted in the aft cabin electrical cupboard

The rear deck boards had been showing signs of wear for quite a while and I had investigated several sources of the boards. The underlying problems being transporting the new, uncut boards from where they were purchased and the subsequent cutting to fit the unusually shaped apertures. Whilst we were on our 2017 Easter Cruise we called into King's Lock Chandlery to see if they stocked the boards. The plan was to purchase them from King's Lock and transport them back to Lymm on the boat and have a joiner that we know cut them to size. Whilst enquiring at King's Lock we asked if they could cut and fit the new boards which they said that they could. A price was quoted and we decided to go ahead. An appointment was made for a couple of days hence and we returned on the allotted day for the boards to be fitted. Once completed we were initially very pleased with the job but after a day of rain one of the boards expanded and bowed preventing the rear doors from being opened. As we were stuck for time we carried on to our moorings and returned the offending board a week later for a replacement to be cut. The replacement was slightly narrower which prevented it from bowing and we were completely satisfied with the job.

New rear deck boards fitted

In May 2017 the boat was due for its bi-annual slipping to have the hull cleaned, inspected and re-blacked. I suspected that the sacrificial anodes would require replacement so Phil Savage was booked to weld the new ones on the day that the boat was slipped. Whilst he was there he opened up the kitchen sink drain which had always been slow to empty due to being damaged at some time in the past (I hasten to add... not by us). The hull was in good condition although there was some play in the rudder top bearing and it will require replacement at some time in the future. The hull received four coats of bitumen and was re-launched a few days later when the bitumen had cured.

Phil Savage welding new sacrificial anodes on

Old and new sacrificial anodes

With four coats of bitumen applied and waiting to be re-launched

Back in the water

On the 20th June 2017 Steve from The Cover Company measured the rear deck handrail for a dodger and made a template from which the finished article will be made from. The completed dodger was fitted a couple of weeks later on the 4th July in good time for our 2017 Summer Holiday Cruise. It had a couple of creases in it but Steve assured me that they would fall out in the heat.

Steve from The Cover Company measuring up for the dodger template...

...fitting the template to the new fixings...

...and the finished template from which the dodger will be made

Two weeks later Steve fitting the dodger

The completed dodger...

...and from a different angle

The foredeck was being frequently visited by Ruby who liked to lie out on it but we were aware that the steel decking became very hot in direct sunlight and we didn't want her to damage her pads. There was previously plastic matting on the deck but it was not comfortable either for her to lie on or for us when walking on it. Ange suggested some form of covering similar to artificial grass that had drain holes to allow rain water to drain away might be a solution. I had previously seen something like it in Aldi but they had since sold out. A similar product in the shape of exterior carpet similar to artificial grass but without the strands was in stock at our local B & Q and after inspection, a four foot by six foot six inch length was purchased from them (£20).

The fore deck covering prior to fitting...

...and fitted

As we now had a dodger fitted it made the aft deck a bit on the dark side at night so I fitted weatherproof LED lights beneath the seating on the aft deck. I also fitted weatherproof switch to control them. I had mounted the lights on lengths of plastic moulding which were attached beneath the steel seating with heavy duty adhesive. The switch is screwed in a convenient location adjacent to the engine control lever but beneath the seating with the electrical cabling being fed through the gear change/throttle cable tube, through the engine compartment to the electrical cupboard.

Weatherproof LED lighting and switch prior to fitting

 

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Future Plans

We have accomplished quite a lot when it comes to making the boat our own but there are still a few modifications we would like to make. When funds allow we plan to have a cratch and cover fitted by t All Seasons Boat Covers to the fore deck similar to the one we had fitted to Total Eclipse. One difference to the cratch frame itself will be the omission of a glass window. Instead we plan to have a transparent PVC window that can be un-zipped from the cratch canopy to allow access to the rope locker. Also, a hinged, drop-down table will be attached to the foredeck bulkhead that acts as a blind when not in use.

The cratch and cover fitted to Total Eclipse

Ange has said that at some stage she would like to replace the floor coverings with biscuit coloured carpet in the lounge and Karndean "posh vinyl" flooring for the rest of the boat. But for now the existing carpet in the lounge and vinyl cushion-floor will have to suffice. The battery box will need to be replaced before the next Boat Safety Certificate examination takes place as one of the batteries is not enclosed within the existing box... the design of which makes it extremely difficult to access the batteries to check fluid levels, connections etc. As far as the interior is concerned there is not a lot that we would like to alter except for the previously mentioned floor coverings. We have toyed with the idea of having a fixed double bed fitted in the rear cabin but this would lake the entrance stairs from the rear deck awkward and cramped but we have not discounted the idea all together.

There are still a few other jobs we would like to complete in the near future. The interior of the front doors and port side lounge and kitchen windows need rubbing down and re-varnishing... jobs for the summer I think! A few other jobs are outlined in the For Future Completion section of the Modification and Maintenance Diary below which will be accomplished as and when the necessary finance becomes available.

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Modification and Maintenance Diary of nb Squirrel

2002  Boat built by Liverpool Boat Company for Mr E Gillies & christened Gill
08-2006  Boat Safety Certificate renewed
2009  Lounge & kitchen refitted fitted by Midway Boats, Barbridge Junction
2009  Additional window fitted adjacent to kitchen by Midway Boats
2009   Boat sold to Hilary & Alan Wiffin by Midway Boats
2009  Original refrigerator replaced with a Shoreline 12 Volt unit by Midway Boats
2010  Domestic batteries replaced by Midway Boats
2010  Replacement PRM (reconditioned) gearbox fitted at Norbury Wharf
08-2010  Boat Safety Certificate renewed
04-2012  Thetford C200 Cassette Toilet replaced by Midway Boats
08-03-2013  Engine serviced and boat put on brokerage at Midway Boats
22-08-2013  Bought by us from Midway Boats
24-08-2013  Removed tiller bar extension & unblocked feed pipe from fresh water tank
25-08-2013  18" x 12" propeller fitted by Kings Lock Chandlery to replace lost original
31-08-2013  Faulty domestic batteries replaced, original stereo replaced with JVC KD-R 322, wiring tidied up, engine cleaned & gearbox oil changed
05-09-2013  Officially changed name to Squirrel when registered with Bridgewater Canal Company as well as Canal & River Trust notified
07-09-2013  New roller blind to inside the front doors fitted, original name removed & replaced tungsten halogen lamps with LED units
21-09-2013  Cabin side paintwork buffed & polished with Mer & replaced cushions in lounge
22-09-2013  New rubber toggles fitted to front deck cover
27-09-2013  Replaced rubber toggles on rear deck cover & installed iPod dock
05-10-2013  Replaced calorifier feed hose & bilge pump outlet hose. Two year antifreeze added to central heating & engine cooling systems
05-10-2013  Fitted and varnished skirting board to rear cabin/toilet bulkhead & bump stops to side doors
12-10-2013  Replaced bathroom sink worktop & splash-back & fitted cabin hooks to doors front & rear doors
19-10-2013  Boat slipped at Lymm to fit correct nut, washer & split pin fitted to the propeller shaft, inspect hull & measure bow & stern draft
25-10-2013  Cooker hob sealing strip & fastenings replaced & cabin sides polished with Mer
09-11-2013  Water tank emptied in preparation for winter - the bow rose three inches when the tank was empty
05-01-2014  Hole drilled beneath side doors to help cure ingress of rainwater
11-01-2014  Fitted water sensor (Water DeTek) to lowest point of forward bilge beneath rear step
11-01-2014  Cleaned & tidied cupboard beneath rear step & refitted removable cupboard floor
11-01-2014   Extended TV aerial lead from lounge to rear cabin
11-01-2014  Replaced remainder of tungsten bulbs with LEDs 
12-01-2014  Fitted bracket & relocated original TV to the rear cabin
12-01-2014  Removed old sealant beneath side doors & resealed with Sikaflex to help cure ingress of rainwater
12-01-2014  Fitted "Brolleymate" umbrella holder to original tiller bar for "everyday" use
13-01-2014  Additional tiller bar from "Total Eclipse" modified & hole drilled for locking the handle which has been sanded down to remove imperfections & re-oiled
25-01-2014  Extended 240 volt ring main & fitted additional 13 amp socket in electrical cupboard behind TV location in rear cabin
25-01-2014  Extended 240 volt ring main & fitted additional 13 amp socket in port side storage unit adjacent to front doors in front cabin
25-01-2014  Installed microwave oven in kitchen on worktop of cupboard opposite sink
25-01-2014  Installed TV bracket & additional TV in lounge
08-02-2014  Fitted microwave oven bracket in kitchen below wall cupboard, adjacent to the cooker hob & relocated microwave oven
08-02-2014  Extended 240 volt ring main & fitted additional 13 amp socket below microwave oven location
08-02-2014  Applied name transfers to bow
22-02-2014  Cleaned roof in preparation for being painted
01-03-2014  New carpet mat put in rear cabin
09-03-2014  Fit varnished wood edging trim to pipe/cable trunking along starboard interior lining & in bathroom at floor level
10-03-2014  Rubbed down & re-varnished inside of side doors
11-03-2014  Installed new Sub-Zero Ice 6 x 9 stereo loudspeakers in lounge & ran stereo loudspeaker leads & spare cables from lounge to rear cabin
11-03-2014  Cleaned, sanded down, refurbished & repainted gang plank & boat pole
22-03-2014  Replaced missing welded fender loop to port side/bow
24-03-2014  Commenced removal of old varnish from inside rear door lining with paint/varnish remover 
28-03-2014  Table keeper & brass cabin hooks fitted beneath gunwale between radiator & tv cabinet in lounge
12-04-2014  Fitted brass fairleads to bow either side of T-stud & on edge of roof either side of centre rope loop
12-04-2014  Cleaned window frame, replaced draught strip & window catch to kitchen window & re-aligned cabin hook inside rear doors
09-05-2014  Slipped out of the water, cleaned & re-blacked hull
15-05-2014  Painted the external locker lids & gas bottle lockers & fitted self-draining false bottom to gas lockers for cylinders to sit on
18-05-2014  Empty Calor Gas bottle replaced at Thorn Marine
27-05-2014  Stern gland checked, adjusted & stern gland greaser re-packed. Calorifier safety valve removed and temporary valve fitted whilst additional fitting obtained
31-05-2014  Fitted new calorifier safety valve & scumble base coat applied to rear doors
22-06-2014  Installed Carbon Monoxide detector & refitted fire blanket in kitchen plus smoke alarm in rear cabin
05-07-2014  Replaced draft excluder strip on side of front/starboard window hoppers & cleaned brass ventilators with "Miracle Brass Brite" then polished with Brasso
19-07-2014  Engine oil & filter changed & checked air filter 
23-07-2014  Repaired side doors Perspex draught screen, fitted bolts to inside of rear sliding hatch, fitted carpet tiles temporarily to front & rear decks
19-08-2014  Renewed Boat Safety Certificate by Nigel Hamilton at Thorn Marine
13-09-2014  Refitted TV in front cabin after being repaired & hung painting of Worsley Packet House in front cabin opposite TV cabinet
28-09-2014  Removed front & rear deck cover hooks & "Lift Dot" studs, headlamp & door hooks in preparation for repainting
18-10-2014  Repainting cancelled until spring 2015 so refitted front & rear deck cover hooks, "Lift Dot" studs & replaced some plastic hooks with stainless steel hooks
08-11-2014  Moved boat up Oughtrington moorings, cleaned roof & exterior paintwork to remove leaf residue & green discolouring
09-11-2014  Emptied fresh water tank & cleaned interior of boat in preparation for winter
29-12-2014  Refilled stern gland greaser
01-03-2015  Replaced the Venetian blind in the kitchen with a roller blind & laminated underside of rear hatch to prevent condensation forming inside the boat
07-03-2015   Refitted re-upholstered stool lid
20-03-2015  Installed Beats Pill Bluetooth Loudspeaker cradle 
21-03-2015  Cleaned boat roof, cabin sides, gunwales & hull using the Kärcher K4 Compact Pressure Washer fitted with the water scavenge pipe
04-04-2015  Ran cable from rear starboard bunk & at opposite end in lounge to stereo, aerial booster & 12 volt sockets then connected to fuse board & checked continuity
04-04-2015  Fitted new shelves in rear cabin above television & on the starboard side adjacent to the fire extinguisher. Also recessed & adjusted sliding hatch bolt keepers
05-04-2015  Repaired & extended mains hook-up lead, tidied original mains hook-up lead, wound onto storage drum & repaired air horn with cyanoacrylate adhesive (Superglue)
18-04-2015  Replaced missing Jubilee clip to short cooling water hose on engine. Sorted out bow locker & fitted carpet tiles to floor of bow locker 
19-04-2015  Re-painting the cabin sides & smooth portion of roof commenced with rubbing down paintwork & undercoat applied
20-04-2015  First coat of gloss applied to cabin sides & smooth portion of roof
23-04-2015  Pressure-washed front & rear deck canopies at home ready for re-proofing
25-04-2015 Topped-up cooling water & central heating system with antifreeze
25-04-2015  Painters prepared front deck & bulkhead for undercoating before rain stopped play
26-04-2015  Painters undercoated front deck, bow, front bulkhead & port side gunwale
09-05-2015  Painters sanded down & undercoated rear deck & starboard gunwale
10-05-2015  Painters applied second gloss coat to cabin sides & nearly completed glossing the gunwales, front & rear decks
16-05-2015  Painters completed glossing, roof, coach-lines and bow detailing
31-05-2015  Inside rear doors & sign writing completed plus gang plank & boat pole glossed
06-06-2015  Repainting completed
24-06-2015  Refitted bow fairleads, side door bump-stops, front door ventilators & cabin hooks. Also fitted new mooring ropes
27-06-2015  New curtains fitted to the lounge windows
28-06-2015  Refitted centre rope fairleads, rear door ventilators & cabin hooks. First coat of Mer polish applied to paintwork
30-07-2015  Applied second coat of Mer polish to paintwork & fitted some canopy fittings
30-08-2015  Refilled stern gland greaser, replaced original headlight with LED unit, fitted Desmo table leg storage clips & polished front & rear bulkheads
07-09-2015  Moved Squirrel to its new mooring on the jetties at Lymm CC
12-10-2015  Rub down & re-varnish sliding hatch wooden surround & rear door frame, trim wooden bolt block on rear sliding hatch & varnish with matt oak varnish
13-10-2015  Rub down & re-varnish inside the side doors & surround, front door frame & starboard/front window frame & fit new mooring (as against running) ropes 
19-10-2015  Re-proofed front & rear deck canopies with Grangers Fabsil Gold
09-11-2015  Fitted Dyson DC34 docking station
05-12-2015  Refitted front & rear deck canopy fittings (plastic bungee hooks replaced with stainless steel hooks) then refitted canopies
24-02-2016  Fitted mooring post extension, fitted replacement centre mooring rope, continued refitted rear deck canopy fittings & replaced locking bolt on sliding hatch
23-03-2016  Filled fresh water tank ready for Easter cruise
26-03-2016  Hung new painting in lounge adjacent to side doors
30-03-2016  Refilled stern gland greaser, checked engine oil & water levels
31-03-2016  Polished port-side superstructure & bow area
01-04-2016  Topped-up gearbox with ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid)
13-04-2016  Fitted LED lighting beneath gunwales in corridor leading from aft cabin to lounge
02-05-2016  Installed switch & junction box & connected LED lighting beneath the gunwales in the corridor leading from the rear cabin to the lounge
03-05-2016  Fitted new shower curtain in bathroom
23-05-2016  Constructed new occasional table for aft cabin, fitted a Desmo table socket & applied five coats of varnish 
28/05/2016  Reinforced rear step supports to prevent flexing & fitted solar panel voltage/current regulator
30/05/2016  Fitted table leg clips in corridor, acoustically insulated fresh water pump compartment with carpet off-cuts, cut grass & tidied-up mooring
12/06/2016  Connected new 12 volt feed cable to stereo, aerial booster & 12 volt sockets in lounge
28/06/2016  Installed solar panel charging cable in engine compartment from batteries to electrical cupboard, identified removed & insulated unconnected surplus wiring in engine compartment, replaced faulty front door bolt, replaced faulty 240 volt socket back box in corridor adjacent to aft radiator, connected 12 volt un-isolated electrical feed from central heating programmer & bilge pump feed to stereo in lounge to maintain memory, fitted & connected 12 volt USB charging sockets in lounge cupboard beneath TV & Blue Ray player fitted brass corner protectors to rear doors & sliding hatch plinth
19/07/2016  Fitted solar panel to aft sliding hatch, threaded solar panel output cable through ceiling of aft cabin, fitted varnished timber support for CB radio transceiver/SWR meter in aft cabin electrical cupboard & fitted CB radio transceiver to timber support
20/07/2016  Fitted & connected 12 volt/USB electrical sockets in aft cabin electrical cupboard, connected & checked CB radio transceiver & fitted fly screens to front & side doors
23/07/2016  Power-washed the roof
24/07/2016  Washed & polished the bow area, cabin sides & gunwales
04/08/2016  Completed solar panel wiring & filled stern gland greaser
30/10/2016  Checked antifreeze in engine & central heating, fitted new straps to front & rear deck canopies & fitted canopies in preparation for winter
11/04/2017  Washed paintwork and applied first coat of wax to the cabin sides
13/04/2017  Rear deck boards replaced with phenolic hex board ply wood by Kings Lock Chandlery
17/04/2017  Replacement 13kg propane cylinder from Thorn Marine
22/04/2017  Returned forward deck board to Kings Lock Chandlery for trimming
20/05/2017  Slipped out of the water, power-washed hull, replaced sacrificial anodes, inspected rudder, opened-up kitchen sink drain & applied first coat of bitumen hull blacking. Replacement Dyson DC34 vacuum cleaner docking station fitted
21/05/2017  Hull blacking – 2nd coat
22/05/2017  Hull blacking – 3rd coat
23/05/2017  Hull blacking – 4th coat & fresh water pump feed pipes from fresh water tank disconnected & blown through to remove obstruction
24/05/2017  Roof, front & rear decks & gunwales power-washed, polished gunwale, fore & aft deck paintwork, bow/stern fender jet-washed & shackles replaced & touched-up paintwork on foredeck adjacent to fairleads & gunwales
25/05/2017  Re-launched after hull blacking cured, initial quotation given by The Cover Company for a cratch board, front deck canopy &  dodger, polished port side cabin paintwork
26/05/2017  Serviced engine – oil/filter change, lubricate fittings, clean engine & engine compartment, port cabin side polished, trimmed back perished cooling water pipe leading from engine to skin tank & topped up with anti-freeze when completed
20/06/2017  Aft deck handrail measured and dodger template made by The Cover Company
04/07/2017  Completed dodger fitted over aft deck hand rail by The Cover Company
21/07/2017  Obtained short-term C&RT Licence to cover 2017 Summer Cruise
27/07/2017  Fitted exterior floor covering to fore deck floor & replaced TV in aft cabin
15/08/2017  Arranged for All Seasons Boat Covers to measure for cratch, cover & side doors cover
19/08/2017  Moved to new mooring at Agden/07/2017
   

For Future Completion *

2017  Replace discoloured rear deck board lifters & fit cast brass cut-off plaques*
2017  Rub down and re-varnish port side lounge & kitchen window surrounds & swap starboard & port dado rails*
2017  Install rear deck lighting*
2017  Install front deck lighting*
2017  Purchase 4ft x 6ft carpet off-cut to place beneath double bed mattresses in lounge to prevent condensation forming on woodwork*
2018  Relocate original loudspeakers in rear cabin adjacent to rear steps*
2017  Polish brass ventilators with Brasso & coat with Rylard clear lacquer*
2018  Relocate calorifier safety valve outlet*
2017  Investigate CabinCare roller blind type fly screens for side & front doors*
2018  Fit rim (Yale barrel type) lock to front doors and relocate locking bolts*
2018  Rebuild & extend the battery box in the engine compartment to accommodate additional batteries*
2017  Paint rear bilge & engine compartment*
2017  Soundproof engine compartment with Kingspan and deck boards with soundproofing pads from Midland Chandlers*
2018  Fit steel tractor style seats or an alternative type of seating either side of tiller on rear deck*
05/10/2017  Replace antifreeze in engine cooling system & central heating system*
2018  Paint the stern tunnel bands & bow red & beige as on Total Eclipse*
2018  Replace exiting vinyl floor covering with Karndean (posh vinyl) flooring*
19/08/2018  Renew Boat Safety Certificate*

 

Engine Hours

22/08/2013 (when bought)

2228

09/11/2013 (end of boating season)

2287

12/04/2014 (start of boating season)

2291

19/07/2014 (oil & filter change)

2309

09/12/2014 (end of boating season)

2448

01/04/2015 (start of boating season)

2481

01/11/2015 (end of boating season)

2496

01-04-2016 (start of boating season)

2644

20/07/2016 (before summer cruise)

2664

12/08/2016 (after summer cruise)

2722

01/11/2016 (end of boating season)

2745

05/04/2017 (start of boating season)

2749

29/07/2017 (before summer cruise)

?

12/08/2017 (after summer cruise)

?

01/11/2017 (end of boating season)

?

 

 

 

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Gallery

Photographs of nb Squirrel at various locations on our cruises

Below Cholmondeston Lock on the Middlewich Branch of "Shroppie" when bringing her back to Lymm after buying her - 24th August 2013

Moored at Dunham Massey - Bridgewater Canal - 20th September 2013

Moored at Grappenhall - Bridgewater Canal - 27th October 2013

"Tucked up and asleep" at Oughtrington - Bridgewater Canal - 11th March 2014

With the hull freshly re-blacked... basking in the sunshine at Moore - Bridgewater Canal - 18th May 2014

Secluded mooring above Baddiley Locks - Llangollen Canal on our 2014 Summer Cruise - 31st July 2014

Crossing Chirk Aqueduct - Llangollen Canal on our 2014 summer cruise - 4th August 2014

Moored at the Mark Addy, Manchester - River Irwell - 23rd August 2014

Iced in at Dover Lock near Wigan - Leeds and Liverpool Canal - 30th December 2014

Moored at Castlefield, Manchester - Bridgewater Canal - 11th July 2015

At Calveley - Shropshire Union Canal on our 2015 Summer Cruise - 30th July 2015

Waiting for Wardle Lock, Middlewich - Shropshire Union Canal on our 2015 Summer Cruise - 5th August 2015

Ange steering at Thelwall - Bridgewater Canal - 6th September 2015

On the new jetty mooring at Lymm - Bridgewater Canal - 7th September 2015

In the queue for Preston Brook Tunnel - Bridgewater Canal - 26th March 2016

On borrowed moorings at Agden - Bridgewater Canal - 24th July 2016

Passing in front of the Three Graces at Liverpool's Pier head

(Photograph - Michael Dawson)

In Salthouse Dock, Liverpool - 6th August 2016

At the Salt Museum, Lostock Gralam - Trent & Mersey Canal - 15th April 2017

Sporting a new dodger on the mooring at Lymm - 4th July 2017

At The Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port - 5th August 2017

On new moorings at Agden - 19th August 2017

 

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Conclusion

So there you have it... an insight to our narrowboat... Squirrel. It is coincidental that the boat was built less than four miles away from where we live, but on the opposite side of the River Mersey from Wallasey on the Wirral Peninsula. The Liverpool Boat Company ceased building boats in 2008 due to the increased price of steel preventing them from producing competitively priced boats but their workshops in Liverpool were inherited by the Collingwood Boat Company as were many their boats' design features. I recently saw a wide-beam boat from Collingwood Boat Company that at first glance looked identical to Squirrel albeit wider, longer and with a few different design details eg: wider doors, "traditional" handrails, different window frames, etc. But the boat's heritage cannot be doubted.

This Collingwood wide-beam is almost identical to Squirrel... albeit with different handrails, windows, wider and longer

(Photograph - Boatshed.com)

Squirrel has many features that we planned to incorporate into our previous boat... Total Eclipse, such as the split rear deck boards allowing access to the weed hatch without having to lift the entire rear deck boards and side doors which we always wanted to increase ventilation and light. They were jobs on our "to do" list but we never got around to doing them. The boat also has features that we didn't anticipate fitting to Total Eclipse such as central heating and an inverter that are none-the-less greatly appreciated on Squirrel, and with no solid fuel stove... necessary. The bi-annual slipping for cleaning and re-blacking the hull plus regular maintenance and painting should ensure that the boat lasts (hopefully) for many years to come and will take us on many more canal adventures in the future.

 

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or select another book below...

 

Introduction

Book 1 - 1960 to 1982

 

Book 2 - 1983 to 1999

Book 3 - 2000 to 2005

Book 4 - 2006 to 2007

Book 5 - 2008 to 2009

Book 6 - 2010

Book 7 - 2011

Book 8 - 2012

Book 9 - 2013

Book 10 - 2014

Book 11 - 2015

Book 12 - 2016

Book 13 - 2017

Ruby
Adeline
Canals on Screen
Canalscape Photography
Gallery
Photography in One
The History of Lymm Cruising Club
The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal
The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal
Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System
The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal
Mersey Connections
The Wonders of the Waterways
2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report
Foreign Forays - Canals of the World
Worsley Canal Heritage Walk
Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk
The Liverpool Docks Link
nb Total Eclipse
Don't Call it a Barge
Canis Canalus
Shannon
Footnote and Acknowledgements
Site Map
Return to Top
Go to the
Website

 

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Updated 21/08/2017