Page published 31 March 2023
After our initial viewing on 16 November it took a fortnight for the flow on the river to subside. Eventually, the trial was arranged for 30 November. So it was on a Wednesday that we made the two hour drive to Buckden again. At least the weather was bright if a little chilly.
This time the boat was in a different location in the marina and, for the first time I realised that not only did the hull have a big protective plate on the bows but on each corner of the transom too. Had I been looking for them I could have just made them out on the broker's photographs that you see on the page recording our initial viewing of the boat.
However, the guy to accompany us on the trip was already aboard and in spite of my promises to myself that I would take lots of photographs of the boat, I failed to take any of the outside. As soon as we were aboard and cast off we proceeded down the long cut to the main river. A little to Diana's surprise rather than engage our skipper in conversation I got to got looking at various parts of the boat we hadn't seen last time.
The port window in the saloon beside the helm's seat, showing the effect of repeated drenching with condensation on the laminate linings.
During our first visit, which persuaded us to put in an offer, I became aware that some of the laminate was lifting from the MDF panelling around a number of the windows. It's a common fault as condensation forms easily on the single glazing that is standard on boats of this age runs down onto the cabin linings. It's certainly to be expected with an ex- hire boat. Many yards only expect their craft to stay on their fleet for five or so years before being sold. Protecting the MDF over that period is not a major concern for them. However, it does require that the first private owner takes immediate action to seal the MDF before any serious damage is done and, it seems, on this boat that was not done.
The other end of the window beside the helm's seat. Her the laminate has had a number of screws added to keep the panel in place.
Further back the galley window shows the same problem. Here the lining is secured with screws fitted with white caps every few inches. It's the same in the shower compartment which also has the white and blue patterned Formica. It begs the question about whether more condensation was expected was expected in these areas and the builders fitted the linings with the screws. It is, perhaps, a shame that the screw heads seen in the saloon were not capped with appropriately coloured caps in similar fashion to those in the galley.
The opening window by the cooker in the galley.
One of the concerns we had was that the fridge appeared only to be operating on 240v power although it was a model that could also be driven by a 12v supply or gas. That was certainly not the way we wanted things. As there is no inverter on board it meant we would only be able to run the fridge while connected to shore power. We expect most of our cruising to involve overnight stops with the mud-weight over the bow in the middle of some Broad or being moored in isolated spot along the river. The fridge cannot be relied on to keep food and drink chilled without something being changed.
A hole found, apparently once used to vent a gas powered fridge.
The hole I found behind the fridge did indicate that it had once been run from gas but no supply pipe was currently visible suggesting the current, fairly elderly, fridge had never been been used with gas. A solution will need to be found, but we weren't thinking that this was a deal breaker.
It's can't just be a matter of condensation running down the windows as In the aft cabin the large stern facing window show similar delamination near the top of the window.
The stern facing window in the aft cabin has some delamination at the top of the window. The blue tinted reflections are caused by the canopy outside.
While in the cabin I did remember to take a couple of additional photographs. One was of a round-pin socket near the external door. I had almost forgotten that using round pin sockets on boats does not indicate ancient wiring from the days when houses might have both lighting and power circuits but a way of distinguishing 12 volt connections from 240v outlets.
A 12 volt socket in the aft cabin.
The other photo was of switch gear under the shelf, designed to act as a dressing table, The bilge pump seemed to be working as expected and responded to the switch, but the heater had been described as "decommissioned" by the broker and the brokerage staff assumed that meant beyond beyond repair as the heating unit appeared to be original equipment and well beyond its expected life.
Switch gear under a shelf in the aft cabin.
Of course I almost forget to mention how the boat actually performed under way. I took the helm for most of the return trip back to our starting point and the two of us happily chatted to Gary, the marina man. That distracted me from taking any further pictures of the boat or the river. I did swing the boat through 360° at one point to see how neatly she turned and whether I could detect anything strange about the ability to steer. I was pleased to find the steering quite precise with relatively few turns of the wheel lock to lock so she passed that test.
I also tried taking her in and out of gear both forwards and reverse. It part that was to check for unusual noises and there was some, but our offer had allowed quite a bit to sort out that.
So again, nothing we had seen or experience put us off the boat and a surveyor was then booked for a pre-purchase survey as we recognise we are quite naive when it comes to a boat so very much more sophisticated that my old Just 17. After a few days this was fixed for 7 December.
Once more, expect the story to continue...