With the new trip boat season looming ever closer and indeed an independent inspection of the boat, effectively an MoT, due later in the following week, it was time to give the hard-working Blackcountry Man some well earned TLC.
The boat was subsequently put into dry dock and firstly as part of the important preparation process given a good pressure wash to remove any crud that had accumulated over the previous couple of years.
A ‘call to arms’ was then issued to Stourbridge Navigation Trust Trustees and it’s enthusiastic team of volunteers to once again give up a couple of mornings to liberally apply the special paint required to protect the underwater hull of this large vessel – it was felt that many hands would make light work of the task!
Saturday 1st February saw the team assemble, confronted by what looks like a long wall of a hull, but undeterred paint brushes and 5 litre tins of the special paint were distributed, working groups established and application of the sticky ‘black stuff’ commenced.
Progress was initially slow as the size of the task dawned – you seemed to have been painting for ages and then looked left and there was what seemed like a long way still to go. However, with constant conversation about a range of subjects ongoing, real progress was being made and surprisingly in just over a couple of hours the job was done, well the first coat at least.
Sunday saw the team join up again for the application of the second coat – easier this time in terms of the paint gliding and adhering easily over the first coat but it was a little more difficult to see where you had actually given the second coat – nothing is simple in this life!
When the job was finished it was most rewarding to inspect it for any ‘missed bits’ but actually to admire the shiny finish – you can easily see what I mean by looking at the before and after photographs below. So, allowing for a period of thorough drying time the Blackcountry Man will be re-floated ready for inspection on Thursday 6th, hopefully passing with flying colours and then ready to make it’s steady way up the Stourbridge Arm with delighted passengers enjoying canal cruises in the coming months.
Update: The trip boat has now been re-inspected and passed with flying colours. Thanks to all who took part in the blacking over the week-end and to Ken Bywater, the boatmaster, for his continuing care of our asset. Just some painting left to do and the window to replace and it will be ready for another busy season.
Once again, the Trust has to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of the volunteer workforce – seen in the photograph above upon completion of the job – many hands do indeed make light work of a big task.