Recently we decided to take the next step in the work we wanted done on Willow. There were two parts to this.
Fore-end: In the well-deck at the fore-end we wanted to move the gas locker from being inside the fore-end locker to housing the gas bottle that was in use on one side ofthe front door and the spare in a locker on the other side. This would not only free up the fore-end locker to be used more effectively as storage but also create seating at the front of the boat. We also wanted a secure petrol locker for storing the genny and petrol tank.
Stern-end: Severners were built with water-ballast tanks and you can still see the traces of where Willow’s tank was cut out. We wanted to replace the concrete slabs with two water ballast tanks, so that the next stage of lining out the back cabin could begin.
We decided to get the work carried out at Fox Narrowboats, because we’d been so happy with the work they’d done fitting keel cooling to the Duck. We were booked in from 12th-16th October, and James had taken that week off work. But of course things weren’t that simple, with a tidal crossing between us and Fox’s! Due to the tide times we had to make the crossing the weekend before, which meant spending two weeks in March.
During the evenings of the weekend before our Denver crossing we hopped up to Littleport, then Sat 3rd was an HNBC meeting in Gloucester. On the way back from there we dropped the car in March, at the boatyard, so it was ready for when we arrived. Sunday was beautiful. A warm still day perfect for boating. our Denver to Salter’s crossing involved four hours inside Salter’s Lode lock waiting for the water to equalise. Eventually, we got through with a bit of help from Dan at Denver (who I met whilst working for the Ouse Washes project) as he was able to “turn off” the Ely Ouse, which meant that levels dropped noticeably quicker. We were very grateful for this because the short autumn day meant we only just squeaked through Marmont Priory lock before it started to get dark, and we had to convince Maureen the lock keeper to open it up for us, which thankfully she agreed to do! The Middle Levels were looking uncharacteristically gorgeous in the sunshine, with the trees beginning to turn.
More on the actual work in the next post!