Entering Berko, we stopped and tied up for lunch and then repaired to the Rising Sun to watch the Grand prix on TV. This is a tiny pub by the bottom lock and was very quiet, and very basic, but friendly and with an impressive array of real ales and ciders. So the sun shone warmly through the windows as we watched the Grand Prix drivers struggling in the pouring rain in Shanghai.
After that, we had company through the final three locks. Suzanne, whose children Kath used to child mind 25 years ago and her husband Peter. We've stayed in touch but seldom met, but as they live in Berko we gave them a call and along they came. S&P are in a different stratum of society from us. He is a retired very senior government technical adviser and she is a freelance HR consultant working for blue chip companies. Once moored up, we went up to their electronically gated house on the hill and had tea and chocolate brownies in their enormous kitchen. The showed us pictures of their boat - a twin engined sea going, aquaplaning boat capable of enormous speeds. All white and gleaming. Nevertheless Suzanne was genuinely envious of the domestic space and comfort of Herbie. I don't think I would swap. Houses yes, but boats, no.
Today started with more painting, this time a top coat right across the width of the roof for a length of about four feet, and so covering lots of small repairs. This top coat is a lot slower drying so now contains a few unfortunate insects. You can see the shiny band of new paint here. It'll soon flatten to a dull finish.
Luckily the new paint was touch dry by the time we got to Cowroast ready for her to be washed down before bottom blacking.
Getting into Cowroast marina takes a modicum of skill. The entrance is very narrow and at an odd angle. Nevertheless we got in unscathed and a short time after, Herbie was manoeuvered on to the slipway trolly and hauled out of the drink. Seeing your precious boat rising out of the water at a steep angle is not for the faint hearted but it was fine. Look at that blue sky!
Darren, the boatyard engineer quickly donned his waterproof trousers and immediately started pressure jetting the hull. You have to do it before it dries or all the muck cakes on and is harder to remove. The hull is covered by a thick carpet of algae.
This is scary moment number 2, - is the hull in good nick or do we have corrosion problems? A quick blast and a scrape on a test area showed us that the hull is in fine condition. Phew. By the time we had packed up our things and set off for the bus home Darren had uncovered quite a large proportion of the hull and it was looking good. Even better after a couple of coats of blacking over the next few days.
We've had a brilliant time for phase one of our trip. The weather has been beautiful the last two or three days and the spring has really sprung along the canal making it look lush and frequently thick with blossom. Added to that we've had a good time socially. Although we've paused for a good reason, we would dearly have loved to pres on while this lovely weather holds.
On Friday, phase two starts after we pick up Herbie with her shiny black hull and set off to get some scratches on it as we head down the locks towards the north. I expect it will rain, but that won't stop us enjoying it.