Tidying up our fleet for your trips in the year ahead!

Our 12 Man Kitty Boat at Woking: winter maintenance

Covid prevented Kitty’s normal return to service around the Easter holiday and she stayed looking rather forlorn under a black tarpaulin until late spring, but passenger trips were able to resume in July and she rapidly became very busy again. Kitty was operational on four days of most weeks, usually running three 75-minute public trips on each day. During some weeks in peak season, she was used nearly every day. In addition to public trips Kitty hosted many, usually longer private charters. 

By the end of the season, she had carried well over a thousand passengers. Naturally by this time quite a lot of work was needed to ensure that she would be ready for the start of the 2022 season and this is all done by volunteers.The first major job was an external repaint, both above and below the waterline and this meant that it had to go to a dry dock. We are fortunate on the Basingstoke Canal to have a dry dock close to lock 28. The transit to the dock which involved climbing 21 locks took two days with four crew members and a BCA staff member involved throughout.

The underwater areas of the hull were coated with aquatic vegetation and slime which had to be power washed off. Any remaining material then had to be scraped off by hand. All areas below the gunwale were then given three coats of a special black paint that is designed to minimise subsequent corrosion of the metal. The cabin sides, the roof and the railings were sanded and repainted in the traditional red and green colours. In just under a week from her arrival Kitty left the dry dock looking better than at any time in the last few years.

Once back at her normal berth at Bridge Barn the annual engine maintenance was begun. Kitty’s Diesel engine is a slightly modified tractor engine and maintenance although essential is straightforward. The engine oil and filter must be replaced annually, as do the air filter and the fuel filter. Most of this work has now been carried out and Kitty will now hibernate until, Covid permitting, she can recommence passenger trips again next year.

Despite her 40 plus years and with the enthusiastic help of all the Kitty support team we are confident we can keep Kitty operational for a little while longer until we can commission Kitty II.

Our 50 passenger John Pinkerton Boat at Odiham: Winter maintenance

John Pinkerton didn’t go to the dry dock this year (it went there the year before) but again it needed a bit of love and attention by the volunteers as it carried over 3000 passengers in the slightly shorter 2021 season

Some of the work included:

– maintenance of the engine with a photo of David Leitch, our new maintenance manager, deep in the engine hole servicing the engine

– a ‘lick of varnish’ to keep the customer facilities clean and tidy (with a photo of Dave Foster working inside the boat with some maintenance on the tables)

– Various minor repairs around the boat including an annoying leak we had from the dishwasher!

– Technical stuff including maintenance on the TravelPower generator (which converts power to 240 volts to provide our galley facilities – especially the chilled wine!)

– Gleaming new boat poles (we like the outside to also look smart!) and a new bow fender