Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Survey

A long trek up to Nottingham by train, but it's lovely to see so much of Britain from the train window, although without time to have anything other than a cursory upward glance at the splendours of St Pancras. These days, trains to the East Midlands occupy a little corner of St Pancras like an afterthought after all the international trains, shopping arcades and oyster bars. In the old days, of course, the entire station was devoted to the likes of Nottingham, Kettering and Derby.

I arrived at the boatyard in Nottingham just too late to see the boat out of the water, which was a bit frustrating as it was the whole point of the journey. Nevertheless I had the opportunity to speak to the surveyor who gave the boat a clean bill of health. Lots of little things but nothing to worry about other than some broken gauges. The present owners have looked after North Star well, painting her every year and keeping her scrubbed and gleaming.

"Can't see much though," he mutters. "That's the trouble with portholes".
"Is it worth the money though? Is it good value?" I ask.
The surveyor sucks his breath in sharply and my heart sinks. But it appears that sucking breath in is a trait shared with all mechanical engineers, and isn't necessarily bad; it's just how these guys breathe.
"It's good. Good value. Pretty boat"

He looks through his report and considers his scrawls and squiggles carefully. He reads me back most of it in ever increasingly detailed technical terminology. It's all pleasingly mechanical; canal boats don't yet do electronic brains. Everything on boats is solid: made of oak, steel or iron and not much 'car bumper plastic'. I will have to start learning all this technical terminology, I suppose.

The engine needs a service, however, and I need to do some prioritising as we also have her booked in for hull blacking. There may not be enough time to get it all completed before we take North Star out on her maiden voyage; 'maiden' with us anyway. We haven't even had time to sit down and plan the first trip.

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