Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bless my Sole

Ever since last winter Ive been carefully treading the boards. Not a regular Theatre type performance, although it has at times resembled a pantomime. No, these are the boards which lay over the steel framework above the engine room and form the sole (nautical parlance to you landlubbers) of the wheelhouse.
As such, they not only bear the brunt of heavy footfall and inclement weather but the gaze of all who enter herein, and Im sure, set the tone of expectation for the rest of the vessel. Combined with the previously mottled and shabby exterior appearance, I can only but wonder at the apprehension which befell my visitors who had not yet had the benefit of venturing further aboard.

So it has been incumbent upon me to furnish the entryway with a sole befitting of my abode, one which will not only return me many years of dutiful service but in fine style. In other words,I wish my sole to have a soul.
Once again I have recourse to bless my good fortunes for the abundance of prime Maple in my possession and I resolved there was no finer use for this noble bounty.

Please accept my sincere apologies for my lyrical waxing, for I have purposefully employed the one extra hour of daylight afforded to me this morning by the return to Greenwich Mean Time during which I furthered my appreciation of Emily Bronte's ‘Wuthering Heights’ and have absorbed its most eloquent and colourful language.

Anyway, each board had been cut to fit over each opening in the steelwork below, and no two openings are either the same size or indeed the same shape. That is to say, they are by no means perfect squares or rectangles and therefore, the corner angles cannot be relied upon to be 90 degrees. It has therefore been a labour of love these past 8 days to accurately and skilfully manufacture each and every corner joint in a bespoke fashion.

After much faffing and fitting, and several good sandings, I have applied three liberal coats of boiled linseed oil which has enhanced the wood grain and given a warm and comforting glow to the Maples normally pallid demeanour.


  1. Looking really nice Amy. Have you any trade secrets you can share on how to approach the whole 'nothing is square' thing to get the kind of fantastic finish you've achieved?

  2. Hi Anonny Mouse. You just gotta be patient and Zen. Become one with the task, see yourself doing it in your head, imagaining that you are floating around it in 3D. Always measure and measure again, then cut long, try it for size, trim and fit, trim and fit, then stand back and see the bigger picture and check each piece is going to compliment its partner.

    Ah, I dunno, its not something to be explained, you just gots to do it.

  3. Hi Amy - SOrry to hear about the leg. The sole looks wonderful!

  4. Oh how I wish I had mitred my ends on the hatches. Sweet it looks Ames. Hows the leg?


  5. Bet there was "eloquent and colourful language" matching those shapes. The deck looks great and I don't envy you with the cuts. Turned out great.

  6. Hmmm, thanks guys. Its always worth the effort, and so much easier to do it first than as a retrofit. Over the life of the floor, a couple of extra days realy isnt a big deal but if you dont make the effort, you will always be reminded of it.

    Leg is much better this week. Ive been doing some massage and resting more. Tenderness is gone and swelling much reduced.

    Now im ready for the next calamitious sacrifice.

  7. Hello Amy

    I've just been doing some catching up. Well done you! Sorry about the leg. Keep up the excellent work.

    Best wishes

    Keith (you may remember me...)

  8. having drawn and partaken of a bath my perusal of your fine writings hath moved me most verily we are a most talented family nice boards sis xxx

  9. Hey Sis, welcome aboard. It seems our family tallents are of the musical persuasion, so im the odd one out.
    Sure I remember you Keith, have you found your dream boat yet?

  10. Finally sold the house (a year ago - time flies) but not yet found the right boat despite a trip to the US and two to Spain. Top tip: don't ever trust a single word a boat broker tells you - if a broker's lips move, s/he's lying.

  11. Hi Keith

    Yes I learned that when I was boat hunting a few years ago. I guess if they are not on commision, they dont try hard enough to sell your boat, and if they ARE on commision, they will lie so they CAN sell you a boat.

    Keep the faith and the dream alive and keep looking, your ideal boat is out there just waiting for you to give it a good home

  12. Hi Amy, Wow!!! I am suitably impressed!! I can't message you on the sofa, so email me at so we can keep in touch.
    I'll read further of your adventures later - I may even start at the beginning and work my way back!
    Sue X

  13. Amy,
    I have been a follower of your site for some time. I live in the Northwest (USA) and know nothing about canal boats, but enjoy seeing the work you are putting into your home. I work in construction and it is good to see someone who uses their talent. Keep up the good work (and keep the posts coming).

  14. Hi A Nonny Mouse

    Typical British canal boats are 6'10'' wide and usually longer than 40', some are up to 70' with a low air draft to fit under bridges.

    I will get going again when I get over christmas and new year.

  15. not much has been done on your tug by the look of it

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