New Year

What better way to finish one year and start the next than with a boat trip? Thats how I sold the idea to Mary and Nate anyway. So on a cold and frosty New Years eve we manoevered Misterton out of the mooring basin and headed downstream.

This was the first time Misterton had been out of the basin since arriving here in July, one of the things I've fast discovered is having a boatyard means no time for boating. We reversed out which was a bit awkward, but it avoided pushing any ice towards the moored boats.

The trip downriver was interesting but uneventful and we soon arrived at the 'Dutch Tea Garden' moorings just before Oulton Dyke. We were joined there by friends Thomas and Hillary and their two children Digby and Celeste on the good ship 'Golden Mean'. This is quite a sophisticated steel sailing boat with twin engines and twin internal leeboards!

We saw in the New Year, as it was so flat, we could see fireworks from all around on the horizon. Due to wind we ended up staying for three nights and had a great time, with the three children getting very muddy during the day and then watching 'Swallows and Amazons' before bed.

The return trip was in calm and rain, as these shots show.


All in all, a great start to 2015!




I guess it will come as no suprise that having a boatyard to run means I now have hardly any time to work on our own one. Since August I've not really managed to do much at all due to being busy. I checked and adjusted the timing on the Lister JP3 engine as I had discovered it was out by a bit. Also new in the engine room is some soundproofing. The silver foil backed stuff on the ceiling was leftovers from the big workshop clearout, the white faced sheets on the wall are from ASAP supplies, happily also located in Beccles.

As its December, the tree has gone up on the mast, complete with lights.

Hopefully I'll get more done in 2015, but until then Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!




Here is the new website for our boatyard.


Farewell Staines

We've left Staines, where we have been moored for about 5 years with Misterton. As a bit of background, we'd been looking for a mooring to buy, and having not found anything suitable on the Thames, had started to look further afield.  With time on my hands from taking voluntary redundancy in June 2013, our search led us east to Suffolk, where we have bought H.E. Hipperson, a long established boatyard in Beccles. Whilst buying an entire boatyard to secure a mooring might seem extreme, it'll also give me something to do as a change from my career in IT.


The sale finally went through in June, and we took Misterton down the Thames with the help of friends Tony and Hazel to Teddington Lock.



We were met here by Michael from AJ & A Pratt with their Tug 'Nipashore' that had towed us five years previously.




Nipashore from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.


We were using them to tow us around the coast to Great Yarmouth. We could have made the voyage under our own steam, but it would have taken a lot of preparation, planning and time, time that we didn't really have. As before, they did a great job and Misterton arrived at Great Yarmouth on a rainy sunday afternoon alongside their larger tug 'Christine'



Misterton and Christine 2 from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.


While Mary sheltered from the rain in a nearby cafe, Michael gave Nate and I a tour of Christine, she is immaculately kept and operated. Having used this firm twice now, I can wholeheartedly recommend them for towing jobs.


The trip from Great Yarmouth to Beccles took place a few days later, after a good deal of planning. The Broads are tidal and this can affect journey times and importantly, bridge clearances. I had engaged some help in the form of Nick, one of the former owners of the boatyard, and Roger and Brian, who both regularly worked on the 'Waveney Stardust' - one of the local charity boats that moors with us.I'd also consulted with the Broads Authority and their ranger for our 'patch', Steve, who had provided some useful local advice.


We had decided that the best option was to lower the wheelhouse windows to reduce our 'air draft' from 11 feet to just under 9 feet. This would enable us to clear all the bridges en-route without having to wait for any to open. So with a sense of anticipation, we departed Great Yarmouth just before 8:00am and went underneath Haven Bridge.




 This was followed almost immediately by Breydon bridge, then we were out into the expanse of Breydon Water.



 This gave the guys helping me a change to familiarise themselves with Misterton and how she handled. I think they were a little worried previously, but we made good speed (for a 90 year old barge) and seemed to be doing just over 5 knots (this was according to a cruiser that came alongside us for a look and a chat...). Based on this speed, we decided to go via the River Waveney and under St. Olaves bridge. At high tide we would not be able to go under this, but as we had left at low water, we were pretty sure we would be fine. Just to check, I contacted the Broads Authority ranger and he was able to confirm the clearance for our scheduled arrival time.


We made it under with about 9 inches to spare, but I did need to sit on the wheelhouse floor to steer.



 Just the other side of St Olaves bridge, we met Steve, the Broads Authority ranger and he gave us an escort to Somerleyton bridge.



 We managed to squeeze under this one too, although it will swing open if needed (and there are no trains due on the railway line it carries).



As this was the last 'low' bridge we needed to get under, we stopped on the other side at the pontoon for breakfast.




 Roger turned out to be quite the chef and whipped up breakfast in no time.



 We ate al fresco, one of the wheelhouse windows serving as a handy breakfast bar.





We carried on upriver, it got a bit narrower and a bit more twisty, but we were generally fine. I think the other boats were a bit surprised to see a barge out on the river. They are a bit more common on the Thames.


Mary and Fred (another local) were able to come to Conniston Dyke to see us go past, Mary got some pictures and a short video.



Conniston dyke from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.



 Soon we were at the Beccles bypass bridge, just on the edge of the boatyard.



The next step was one I'd thought about many times - how would I manage the turn into Hippersons'? Handily, we are located just across from Beccles Quay, meaning there was a large audience of holidaymakers and hire boats on hand.



Into Hippersons from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.



Fortunately it went without a hitch and we were soon moored at our yard, altough we did need to make our way to the back of the mooring basin. We did this with a combination of ropes, small boats and Misterton's engine. I'll need to figure out a way that is simpler over time.



Final mooring from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.



Finally we were in our new berth, its been over 6 months of planning to get to this point, so we were very relieved to see Misterton in the place we had imagined. A big thanks to both the Thames crew (Hazel and Tony) and to the Suffolk team (below left to right - Brian, Fred, Nick, me, Steve and Roger) as well as to Michael Pratt for the tow.



Taking on a boatyard has meant lots to do and learn, so I'll leave you with a few shots of Misterton on her new mooring.






And what of the boatyard? More soon, we are just getting our website sorted out this month. :)

















Wheelhouse Part2

Its been finished for a little while now, well as much as any boat project is ever finished, but sickness has delayed posting. The idea was to move the steering wheen forward a bit to free up a bit of space, and then create a seating area and storage. Here is the result.

The console top is made from rimu, a New Zealand wood that I've been using up and the platform on the left is made of french oak that we found in a salvage yard near my parents. In both cases I used an old stripping disc in the angle grinder to clean them up, followed with oil for a finish.

I've relocated the throttle to in front of the steering wheel and put some instruments and switches next to it. The switches will serve the navigation lights, wipers etc. I was looking for a temperature gauge to work with the old Lister JP3 engine and found a cheap one on Amazon (its the rectangular instrument by the rev counter). Its a nice combination of analogue and digital and a bargain at only £11.

Its been interesting to make it all, as the wheelhouse is not square or level and I'm not a natural woodworker like my brother. But I'm happy with the result, as are Mary and Nate.