Posts Tagged: Bongo

Fitting out the forepeak in February!

Adria parked up above the boat

New tent keeping out the weather!

It’s generally too cold to start work this early in the year, but we’ve taken the plunge, and ‘upgraded’ the trusty Bongo for a 6 metre Fiat Adria motorhome! After 12 years, the Bongo was still a good van and, having passed the MOT (with a little bit of welding), we decided to sell and buy a van with insulation, heating and separate sleeping/sitting areas.

It was sad to see the Bongo driven off by her new owner last week, but lovely and cosy to cook, eat and sleep in the Adria, without having to change the layout of the van.

‘Cachalot’ is still in her temporary berth on the South Arm while the Harbour staff finish dredging and winter maintenance so we park just above the boat meaning Steve can get started with planning how to fit out the forepeak while Bev makes the new van our winter ‘home from home’. We’re still discovering all the options which include hot & cold running water, fridge, cooker and a great heating system powered by LPG or mains hook-up!

The great news is that the bilge pump only seems to have been tripped once, since November . . . and the cover has kept her snug against all the winter weather, and showing no signs of wear apart from bird droppings!

Sole boards fitted, ready to take home for finishing

New van parked above the boat, South Arm


Back at last!

New awning for the Bongo

After several false starts, we get down to the boat at last on 10 May . . . thwarted by bad weather, more work on the house project, van repairs and bringing Cachalette back to the house for some long overdue maintenance, April seems to have disappeared! It’s just a quick ‘long weekend’ to make plans for how to work now we don’t have the tent. First priority is to get Cachalot back in the water as she’s dried out a lot, being out of the tent exposed to the elements all winter. It’s strange to set up our camp on the ‘other’ arm, but there’s plenty of space to test out the new awning which Steve and Simon installed on our hill in Derbyshire. After the third or fourth attempt at mending the bent poles, we decided to invest in a new one, exactly the same as we know it fits, and we’ll take more care to peg down the poles and tilt the roof when it rains!

On Saturday night we had our first visitors to sleep aboard! Annie and Will were boat-viewing in Mistley and stopped overnight . . . there’s still only one bunk, not fully secure, but they managed OK. More friends from Derbyshire with an East Coast connection.

A new cover and some welding!

Small weld to ensure the Bongo passes the MOT

After a couple of reminders, Suffolk Sails in Woodbridge confirm they have supplied and fitted a replacement cover (at a very reasonable price) so we hope there won’t be any more problems before the weather improves, allowing us to return to Woodbridge and tidy up the damage before getting ready to go back in the water . . .

Having sorted out the boat, we’ve had plenty to keep us occupied until Easter (early this year, today, 30 March, being Good Friday): finish the kitchen, order a skip to clear all the rubbish and get the house ‘shipshape’ for a family gathering to celebrate Penny’s 90th birthday, drive to Paris with some of Simon & Ricarda’s stuff en route to Val Thorens for a week ski-ing. The van is becoming a mini-project, showing her age and we have more welding done to make sure it passes the MOT to serve us as ‘home from home’ for another summer until the boat is fully fitted out!

Oh dear, not another project?

Loading the van

After a weekend at home in Derbyshire, Steve packs the Bongo with everything that’s been in storage at the house awaiting the time to launch! It’s quite exciting, finding all the carefully stowed parcels and packages.

There seems to be lots of space around the house as everything is brought down to our neighbour’s driveway for loading. There’s cushions for the main cabin, warps, sheets and assorted ropes which may (or may not) be serviceable, the old sails along with loaned sails from Ratsey & Lapthorn . . .

‘Cachalette’ has been collected from Carsington Sailing Club to be trailed down to Suffolk. She’s been neglected for the past year or so and is in need of some maintenance and a fresh coat of paint and varnish.

Ready to leave

All goes well until Steve joins the A14 and notices some of the van’s instruments aren’t behaving as they should. Worried about what the problem might be, he decides to pull in at Huntingdon Services and a call to the AA results in the diagnosis – failed alternator.

After some failed attempts by the AA Service man to secure one, a recovery vehicle is called and arrives to take Steve the rest of the way to Woodbridge. It was excellent service from the AA, who tried hard to make a roadside repair and then took great care with towing the boat and delivering the Bongo to just the right place at the Tidemill beside our tent.

Fortunately, Steve doesn’t need to use the van for the next few days and has already found someone to deliver a new alternator at a reasonable price – so it’s back to plans for the launch!

Van loaded and trailing Cachalette







Winter project 2014/15: cabin sole and engine box

Delays on going to Woodbridge

Our trusty Bongo, due for it's MOT in May, has to have more welding done in order to pass. This means another late start to work in Woodbridge, but there's been great progress in the Derbyshire hilltop workshop!
Steve's been working on the cockpit floor, engine box and cabin sole, using the reclaimed teak from the deck.

  • Rust on the sills, failed MOT
  • All the interior stripped for the welding
  • Shiny and new again, with MOT!
  • Old cabin sole, teak and holly
  • Making the pattern for the new sole
  • New sole taking shape
  • Teak and 'holly' for new sole

Winter 2014/2015

With all the patterns carefully made before leaving Woodbridge, and brought home to Derbyshire, the winter project was to make the engine box and sole.
After a few experiments with the teak reclaimed from the deck, and various options for 'holly', the final decision was made and Steve started work in earnest.
Many chilly hours spent in the workshop resulted in a wonderful varnished engine box becoming part of the living room furniture in February, and by Easter, the sole was complete as well!

May Day weekend, 2015

May Day weekend finds us in Woodbridge at last! There's an OGA Rally at Tollesbury, so we drop off all the floors at the tent and drive on to Tollesbury. Sunday finds us back at the tent and the moment of truth. Will the floors fit? Steve lifted them all into the boat, and assembled them . . . yes! There's a few minor alterations, but it's time to start painting the interior of the hull and checking out all those last butt blocks first. The cockpit floors are also in place now. We'd hoped to spend at least a week to catch up on lost time, but the weather turns against us again. On Monday evening there's 45 mph gusts forecast for Tuesday afternoon, continuing into Wednesday, with heavy rain . . . so it's time to put the tarps up again inside the tent and return to Derbyshire, impossible to work in those conditions!
  • Cockpit goes in
  • New floors and engine case
  • Starting to paint the hull inside
  • Calm before the storm
  • Erecting the tent within the tent
  • Preparing for gales in May!

Six years on: spring 2013

Bongo has a refit, and we venture down to Suffolk

The entry for 15 April 2007 declares Cachalot a ‘project’. Six years on and we’re still enjoying the challenge. BUT, six years had taken its toll on the Bongo, and she’s overwintered at Full Circle Autocare Ltd. for new wheel arches, door sill and tidying up of dents, bumps and scratches in the paintwork.

Richard and Jim have done a great job, and we’re looking forward to getting back to Woodbridge just as soon as its warm enough!!! When will the winter end??

21 April 2013

Its the start of the OGA 50th anniversary celebrations this weekend, so we're off to Heybridge Basin to say 'farewell' to 'Witch' and 'Bonify', despite the weather, as the first boats leave on their four-month adventure.

Back in Woodbridge, we begin to make plans for this year, after another late start due to the very chilly winter . . . its still bitterly cold at night and we cuddle up in the van with extra blankets, duvets and woolly socks! We aim to get the hull ready for painting this summer, and start by thinking about the deck . . .

What about the deck?

We turn our attention back to the deck . . . after researching the options and having some test pieces of the old teak deck sawn at the woodyard in Tansley, it's decided! The remaining foredeck will have to come off, allowing for a complete new marine ply sub-deck, a layer of glass to ensure we have no leaks, then the sawn teak will be re-laid. The Tansley woodyard has agreed to saw all the stock provided we supply it to them completely clean, with no stray fastenings to wreck their saw. So there's lots of plans and more measurements to be done. Fortunately, the inside of the tent isn’t too cold up on the deck during the day, and with the door closed and several warm layers, the van’s not too bad either.

Decision to replace the stem and the stern

2009 and the project gets bigger . . .

Early March 2009 finds us in Nantwich, combining a trip out to the garden centre at Bridgemere for Mum with collecting an 8 foot long piece of sawn opepe from Anderson Sawmills, Doddington Park Farm, destined to be the new stern post. Safely installed in the Bongo it’s taken down to Woodbridge while Steve considers options. With the engine removed, it was clear that lining up the sterntube would be quite a challenge.

After a trip to Robertsons, just up the Deben, to enlist their help in drilling the hole, Steve started to measure up and fashion the stern post.

In April Paul starts work on the planking, and makes good progress! Its good to see the curve of the renowned elliptical counter taking shape again with three planks right up to the stern by the end of the month.

However, after more discussions, sucking of teeth and considerable periods of thinking around the options . . . the momentous decision is made to remove the stem, meaning a forced break in planking until we’d re-assessed the scope of the project. This was going to be a big job, and Steve went in search of wood again, finally deciding to laminate with idigbo. The wood was sourced at the beginning of May, and sawn into 30 strips for laminating, at Gregory’s of Tansley, near Matlock.

  • Making the frames . . .
  • New frames and planks, April 2009
  • First of the new planks going in, April 2009
  • Removing the stem
  • Making the new stem
  • Fitting the new sternpost

A month of hard work results in a brand new stem, just right to fit into the Bongo for transport down to Woodbridge! After carefully scarfing the oak into the idigbo laminate, the final piece was too heavy for Paul and Steve to handle. Yes, they had to cut it before fitting in place at the end of August.

Once cut to size and aligned, the stern was taken to Robertsons in October for drilling, and after a couple of days an excellent job was done! Its in place by the autumn, fitting snugly up against the repaired (and new) planks and garboard, all painted with red oxide. November and December found Steve in Woodbridge, still making excellent progress, despite the sub-zero temperatures!

In the Spring, we’ll be ready to continue planking after all the setbacks this year! The new frames are at last in place and the spars have been re-sited in the roof of the tent to make room for working on the port side.

Moving to the North Arm: summer 2007

As the planks came out, it became more and more impractical to sleep onboard – so we looked into buying a camper for our Suffolk accommodation. Would it be a VW? After looking at a few  within our price range, the answer was certainly a resounding ‘no’, as that would be another project. So, after lots of research travelling around the Midlands and beyond to look at vans with Rob, we invested in a Bongo.

'Cachalot' becomes very fragile as more rotten wood is removed, May 2007

‘Cachalot’ becomes very fragile as more rotten wood is removed, May 2007

Beginning to realise the enormity of the project we’re now taking on, Steve starts to strip out the entire interior to expose more of the areas we need to check out more closely. The covering boards, coaming, boom gallows, bulwarks and cockpit are all removed and carefully piled up to form patterns for the future. The famous counter stern becomes more and more vulnerable as the real extent of the rotting timbers in the stern emerge. When will we reach some sound wood?

Now that she’s very clearly a project, Tidemill YH Manager, Richard, wants us to move over to the North Arm, overlooking the Deben. She’s been drying out quite badly too, despite the loan of a tarpaulin from Paul and Jo which we’ve been using since earlier in the year, and a liberal coat of undercoat.

So, more big decisions about what to do and where best to continue the work. Should we try to bring ‘Cachaolot’ back to the Midlands, or take her to another yard in Suffolk? She’s so fragile now, it’s hard to envisage moving her at all, so we invest in our own tent, made to measure by Brackenbury’s, and have it erected with long ground-screws on the North Arm of the Tidemill. Hopefully it will stand up to the winter winds.

More and more of the boat is dismantled, photographed, catalogued and carefully stored either under the hull in the tent or brought back to Derbyshire for safe-keeping, cleaning, renovation or reconstruction. Our thanks go to Pete and Clare, who have provided us with safe storage space in Suffolk for items less easy to transport home!