Our Boats

Our first boat was an ex-hire boat originally called Kennet Lock and renamed by us to Chalkhill Blue after a family vote.  Please click here for more information about our first boat.

The shell for our second boat, Chalkhill Blue 2, was built by Liverpool boats in Aintree and is 57' long. The base plate was laid down in April 2016.

Please click here to see pictures of the inside of Chalkhill Blue 2 after we moved in. 

The base plate

The sides up to the gunwales were then made up and reinforced.

One of the sides being fabricated

After the sides were welded to the base plate the bulkhead was added to the rear

Bulkhead added to the front and the bows rolled into shape

Sacrificial anodes are welded front and rear. These anodes corrode before the steelwork of the boat when electricity is running through the shell.  It is especially important to have these when the boat is attached to a shore line for power; not something we will often do as we constantly cruise rather than moor in marinas.

The skin tanks are also welded at the rear - the engine coolant passes through these and as there is a large area exposed to the canal water it cools the water down as it passes round the engine system.  The tube at the very rear is where the propeller shaft passes through from the gearbox.

This is the stern with sacrificial anode, stern tube (at the very rear) and skin tanks in place (only the skin tank on the left side can be seen)

Four weeks later the cabin sides and roof had been welded on and the shell was nearly complete.

A mixture of windows, hatches and portholes.  We are having portholes for the bedroom and bathroom; hatches in the dinette and windows in the galley and saloon

The doors at the front lead into our bedroom.  Rubbing strakes added along the hull to give some protection to the hull itself.  Sacrificial anode in place at the front.

Rear deck completed - the style is a semi-trad - a lot less room than our current cruiser stern but we are losing 12' in length so need all the space we can get.  Rudder and tiller installed.

For some reason they had welded seat poles at the rear.  We hadn't ordered these and didn't want them as we think they are too dangerous when driving the boat as you could easily get knocked off if the tiller arm suddenly swings round.  Funnily enough we hadn't noticed they had been added until the shell was delivered to Northwich for fitting out so they were removed after delivery.

There was a delay of about a month before the shell could be delivered to Northwich because the hydraulics had gone on the forklift truck that moves boats out of the building shed.  It was amazing that it took so long for a new part to be made especially as the boat builders had boats stacking up and were running out of space to start any more builds.

Once delivered the shell was given a few coats of black undercoat on top of the primer which had been applied at Aintree.   

We thought that the matt black of the undercoat would look rather good as the finished product

Spray foam applied to the roof and walls and wiring installed down the cabin sides

Not a lot happened inside whilst the top coats of paint were being applied.

The basic colours are dark navy blue and burgundy with cream coach lines.  The side hatches were made during fit out rather than by the shell builder
The roof.  The blue sections are in slip proof paint - it has fine grains of sand in it.

Having lived on Chalkhill Blue we knew that we wanted a different layout for the new boat.  We have gone with what is often called a "reverse layout" - galley at the stern and the bedroom at the front.  We have also gone for a full width walk through bathroom rather than a small one off a corridor as we have at present.  It means that the bathroom has a door at either side.  It also means that when we have guests there will be more privacy - currently people have to walk through our bedroom to get to the bathroom.

The walls are fitted out in ash and the floor will be solid oak.  The ash looks very orange in some of the pictures but is actually quite light. 

Internal fit out started.  Standing in saloon looking through the dinette to the galley at the end (the rear of the boat)
Looking from the bathroom into the bedroom

Engine and battery bank installed

By the end of August the ceilings and lighting had been installed and the masking tape removed to show the coachlines.

Light coloured ceiling

The outside coming along nicely

September saw them fitting more trims which helps finish off the linings on the walls and under the gunwales.

Trim fitted round one of the portholes

Looking from the galley through the dinette to the saloon where a bookcase/shelving unit is being built against the bathroom wall

Bathroom floor laid and towel rail and shower installed

The frame for cupboards above our bed

Double wardrobe to the left and single to the right

By the last week of September there was only a few main things left to do - solid oak flooring, kitchen worktops and the stove.

Toilet and sink in place in the bathroom

Doors are now on all the cupboards and wardrobes.  The ceramic butterfly knobs were a present from my children.

Bookcase nearly complete.  It cleverly hides the broadband receiver cabling and wireless router.

Stove tiling ready for grouting.  Silicone is used as adhesive and grouting as quite a lot of movement can happen inside the boat when underway.

Ball hitch on the rear so that we can put our bike carrier on

It seemed like we were finally getting the boat in the first week of October (just five months late!). We were on holiday in Scotland at the end of September so we called in to check on final plans on our return on the 1st October.

Oak flooring laid, dinette table installed, kitchen worktops on and tiling nearly complete

Cratch boards fitted - the cover is made as well but laid on our bed so it doesn't get damaged by the fitters going in and out of the boat

On Tuesday I went into Middlewich to get the foam cut for the dinette seating.  It was a fascinating operation to watch.  We chose a firm cushion as we don't really like soft seating.  The cutter chose a new bale for us (blue for firm).  The white foam is softer and the multi-coloured is recycled from offcuts of the blue and white foam.  We needed four pieces cut and two of them had one corner shaped to fit under the gunwales.  It took the cutter less than five minutes to do the job.  I was going to order a taxi back to the boat but the owner got one of his drivers to take me on his way to a delivery in Manchester so that was fortunate.

Recycled foam on left, our firm blue foam in the middle, soft white and more recycled on the right

Our fresh bale on the cutting machine

Job done - seats at the back of the cutting table and back cushions with cut outs to the front of the table
Wednesday 5th October started well and bang on schedule they started moving the widebeam out of the way so that our boat could be moved out of the boat shed.  

Widebeam being lifted out of the way

A tractor was used to push a hydraulic trolley around the boat.  It was then raised and she was dragged out of the boat shed.

Slowly moving out of the boat shed

The plan was to take her by road to the next boat yard where they have a hoist for dropping boats into the water by manouvering the hoist over an inlet (like a slipway without the slope) to the canal.  We were glad ours was not being lifted with straps because they can ruin the paintwork.

The tractor pulled the boat towards the exit to our boat yard and then we heard that the hoist wasn’t ready for us in the next boat yard.

Being pulled to the exit – can’t really see but the boat needs a good wash as she is covered in dust – the last job that will be done before she goes in the water

The hoist was still moving boats in the other boat yard but one of its hydraulic pipes had started leaking.  I was filled with dread as I immediately remembered that the shell was four weeks late in being delivered because of a similar issue at the yard in Liverpool where the shell was built.

Hoist with a boat stuck in it waiting for hydraulics to be fixed

Anyway they were confident it wouldn’t take long to fix so we were rebooked for Friday.  As the hydraulic rams on the trailer will slowly go down overnight, our boat has been put on blocks until she is ready to be moved again.

On blocks in case the hydraulic rams go down

So we’re not quite ready to move in yet but Friday was the date planned and it still looks like it’s on – hydraulic repairs notwithstanding.

Whilst Buddy and I were out for our morning walk, Darren, the main man at the boat builders, called me to say that he had had a call from Dave, the guy who owns the adjacent yard and the boat hoist, saying he was happy to drop the boat in today rather than Friday.  I agreed and set off immediately for the yard. By the time we arrived they had taken her from Darren’s yard, along the road and were manoeuvring her into Dave’s yard.  I missed the spectacle of her going along the road but a couple of guys took pictures which they will send me.  I did see the traffic jam that had built up as the traffic has to be stopped in both directions as there is a tricky railway bridge to go under.
Dave manoeuvring his hoist over the boat – rather him than me!  He looks a long way away (in the cab with a pink sweatshirt on)
Once the hoist is over the boat a harness is put round it so it can be lifted.  Unlike normal cranes the harness does not come together and join one crane jib – each side is hoisted separately.  This means there is less chance of the paintwork getting damaged.
Hoist positioned over the boat ready for lift off – the driver sits in the cab behind the yellow railings
The hoist was then driven to the inlet to the canal and then positioned so it can straddle it.
Boat being lowered into the water
Nearly there
Chalkhill Blue 2 is finally in.  Buddy doesn't look particularly interested.

The whole operation had happened so quickly and had taken Darren’s lads by surprise that we had all forgotten about getting the fenders on.  Once she was in the water that was soon rectified.