Thursday, 7 July 2016

Two birthdays.

Happy 21st birthday to Ada who came to crew (with Dale) for us as a special treat to do the Wigan 21 locks. We ascended the flight (yesterday) breasted to nb Emma Maye -'The Wool Boat', which meant we had an amazing lock crew of 5, which meant we made really good time of about 4 hours. We were slightly held up by a novice crew who had got their rope caught around their prop and their rather large rottie fell in too. It was warm and cloudy, we didn't notice how sun burnt Ada was getting, until the evening. We're now moored in Adlington where we'll stay for a few days.
AND happy 1st birthday to nb Burnt Oak. Someone compared having a new boat built being similar to having a baby (how true).
Pre conceptual care – we had loads!!!! We spoke to several specialist before we chose one to help us.
Conception – occurred with the expert help of Gary at Colecraft Boats in Long Itchington. With a planned gestation period of 3 months.

Pregnancy – progressed well and we had lots of 'scan' photos as the boat developed in it's great big womb like warehouse.

Naming – this was a tricky one, we knew the boat was going to be born prematurely so needed to get a name sorted out. We chose a name that was special to us both. Burnt Oak where we met and lived when we got married and where my dad was born. Once she was all fitted out, we had to register her with the Canal and River Trust. We have to show a copy of her birth certificate in our window at all times.
Premature labour – occurred on 7th July 2015 in the early hours of the morning. The labour was 4-5 hours long and was thankfully uneventful with a smooth journey on a juggernaut up the M6. 

Delivery – It required the boat having an assisted delivery by a huge crane. Cradled in massive straps Burnt Oak was lowered very gently into the canal basin at High Lane on the Macclesfield Canal. This beautiful water birth was so worth all the anxiety of awaiting. Although we didn't get to cut the cord I did get to hold it during the delivery. We were joined on our special day and Ada's 20th birthday by Dale, Lyn, Kevin and Emma, who were there at the quay side and watched the whole event. This under developed boat was a healthy 60 feet long and 5,026kg (she put on weight fast once Peter's team got their hands on her, infact, she needed some of her ballast removed because she was too heavy once we moved aboard).

Prematurity – the neonatal intensive care team, Peter from Braidbar Boats in Higher Poynton and his assistant Andy were on-site when the second stage of labour commenced, which was when the boat was visible down the A6 on it's lorry. Peter made sure the stern gland was securely packed to ensure none of the canal water was ingested by the boat at it's delivery in the water. Peter had arranged special transport (another narrow boat to tow) for Burnt Oak to be taken to his boat yard where all the tricky neonatal work would take place. We knew this was going to be a long slow process of about 5 months. Peter assured us Burnt Oak would get the best care him and his team could offer to ensure we could take possession ASAP. We were able to visit as often as we could, but as it was over a 100 miles and with working we weren't able to go very often and when we couldn't visit he'd sent us photos.
Leaving work – was wonderful as we knew we'd need to dedicate the rest of our lives to Burnt Oak. Our work mates and friends were so kind and gave us gifts for Burnt Oak. The girls at L&D got us bolt cutters, an airer, secateurs, camping kettle at lots of other bits too. The B&T boys gave us some lovely booze (to wet the boat's head) and a voucher, that we got a rotary drier with. All youngsters need snugly things and the Bedfordshire Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers made a blanket for us.
Taking possession of Burnt Oak – there was a lot to learn about having our first boat, Peter had prepared a big workshop manual type health record for us to keep. We had fostered boats many times when we were on holiday in the past, but this was very different.
Teething problems – Peter knew there'd be teething problems and warned us of them. He was there like a flash when the serious ones occurred. He assured us she'd get over her teething issues pretty quickly.
So we've lived on Burnt Oak for 7 months now and feel we've got to know her pretty well and can't imagine what life was like before she entered ours. We have introduced her to lots of other boats at two festivals and is integrating well in the boating world. Even though narrow boats go back some 200-250 years we are educating Burnt Oak in modern technology, having her own blog, e-mail address and GPS.

As all new babies need loving and nurturing so does our beautiful 60 footer. We've made some hand spun rugs for the floors and John's needle felted some fluorescent green covers for her mooring pegs (so walkers don't trip on them). Naughty dogs have stolen her green tennis balls we'd got for the pegs. In addition, I've crochet some antimacassars for the arm chairs. We need to keep an eye on her blemishes and attend to them quickly so they don't rust, which is easy with regular washing. Unlike a real child Burnt Oak has gauges so we know how full her tanks are and keep her tummy full of diesel and the other water. To make sure her engine stays healthy we give her a fuel supplement.
John has twice painstakingly changed the oil to make sure she can run as well as her friends. Her potty only needs emptying about every 3-4 weeks, however, she does seem to need her wee pot emptying daily!!!! We need to make sure her ropes are tied properly as good restraints are essential when we're moored so she doesn't float off and get lost.
And then there's the check ups she needs to have for her whole life, to make sure she's in tip top condition and we are indeed safe in her too. She has super duper blacking on her bottom and this along with her stern gland shouldn't need any attention for about 4 years. When she's 4 we'll take her to a specialist unit to be gently lifted out of the water so she can have a full health check which includes a thorough examination of her bottom and we'll get certificates to prove this.
I now realise the beginning of this blog is too much like an obstetric report I had to do daily at work. So as I'm never going back to work lets call it a day now.

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