As well as general maintenance, my stout little vessel had a bent rudder shaft and a cabin interior which I was never happy with. The deck area next to the cockpit had also become spongy and needed investigating. We lived at Chertsey and Chertsey Meads Marine was five minutes away making it much easier to work on the boat.
Fuel then became a concern because I only had a 4 gallon tank. I had a jerry can with extra fuel and needed to use it before we escaped Hades-on-Thames.
From the chart there seemed to be many good places to moor. I was totally wrong. All the piers had no mooring signs reinforced with spikes and razor wire. Anchoring was also forbidden. The navigation lights had come down with the mast and we needed to stop before dark. We tried to go alongside the Tattershall Castle but some waiter shouted at us while we pleaded and offered a mooring fee. Within minutes a Metropolitan Police boat arrived so we explained our predicament. They kindly led the way to a pier we could use. It was disused with rusty bolts sticking out so we had to rig fenders with spinnaker pole to prevent hull damage. It was also fenced with an eight foot high steel gate but no razor wire. We were able to climb the gate just in time for a snack and a quick pint near Charing Cross before closing time, leaving us sober enough to climb that bloody gate again.
Locking into Teddington began the fresh water part of the journey and from there the weather improved. An unwashed, scruffy pair of individuals were grudgingly permitted lunch at a Hampton Court restaurant and hunger satisfied we continued the leisurely cruise. Too leisurely because time became an issue. Thames locks closed at sunset and were chained and padlocked. The last lock to be negotiated was Shepperton and although not yet padlocked, it was unmanned. That was tricky because with a mast protruding from either end of the boat, only one of us could hold the yacht in position while the other had to operate the lock valves and gates. Once through the lock we had to walk back to empty it again, protocol demanding that they be left empty. We arrived at Chertsey Meads just on sunset having completed a yacht journey that few would have attempted. The draft of 1½ metres was close to the depth limit for the freshwater Thames and there were a couple of places where the keel was dragging along the mud bottom.
I later stripped the interior and rebuilt with a stainless steel galley, port saloon berth which converted to a double and the addition of quarter berths. I’d also solved the spongy deck. The previous owner had bolted on a cleat and omitted to seal the bolt holes. Water had penetrated and delaminated the ply sandwich. The worst possible job was grinding away the fibreglass and sodden plywood upside down in a confined space.
Work on Aquabat had to be halted because I received a repair grant for our Victorian house and was given six months to complete.
Only a small job really. A new roof, 50x10 foot party wall in the loft and windows to be replaced or renovated but that’s another story.