We went with most of the children to pick her up from Aldermaston Wharf but when we arrived there appeared to be no one there. As it was the end of the hire season there were about 20 boats all moored up together and they all looked similar as they were all in the same livery. Karen started clambering over them all to find it. When she found it she shouted, "Here it is, but it's now called 'Ding Marin'!". She had looked over the top of another boat and seen the top half of the crescent of words 'READING MARINE CO.':
From then on she was nicknamed Ding Marin and we painted out the superfluous letters:
I remember cruising along Christchurch meadows on the Thames in Oxford during a rowing regatta in 2011. All cruising boats had to keep to one side of the river. As we went past the starting line one of the umpires was using a loud hailer to remind boats to keep to the side. He was calling out the name of each boat, I suppose to get attention. Anyway, we heard, "Ding Marin, please keep to the right hand bank for the course of the regatta". Made us chuckle.
This is the first picture we took after picking her up. Sophie is driving and is waiting for Karen to set the first lock - Aldermaston lock. She has just been through the lift bridge and the marina we picked the boat up from can be seen in the far distance.
Aldermaston lock has strange scalloped sides; we have never seen this anywhere else and don't know why it was designed like this.
We felt very proud that first day and so important when we had to stop the traffic for the lift bridge.
We knew the outside of the boat was in a dreadful state and needed completely repainting but we didn't do this until the spring of 2012. People either pay a fortune and take the boat to a boat yard to have it professionally painted or they do it themselves on the side of the canal. We opted for the second option (but it still felt like it cost a fortune in materials). Most of the work was done under the A34 bridge to the west of Newbury on the Kennet and Avon canal. Whenever we go under a major road or motorway bridge we always look for the tell tell signs of spilt paint on the side where other people have done similar work. Here you can see the roof covered in rust just before work started:
Here are some before, during and after pictures:
We put the coachlines on here at Little Bedwyn and got very muddy lying flat on the bank to make sure the lower lines were straight. We were using a metal rule to check the distances were correct and quickly learnt why boaters always carry strong magnets. Fortunately another boater was around to lend us his magnet when we dropped the rule in the water. One day I dropped a screwdriver in the water and shouted, "Oh no, I've lost my favourite screwdriver!". Karen thought it was funny I had a favourite screwdriver and often recounts the story. By then we had our own magnet so it was retrieved.
We then added the butterflies and lettering in a lock at Hungerford. After a family vote we had chosen the name Chalkhill Blue. Apparently it is considered bad luck to change the name of sea going craft but it seems that this does not apply to the inland waterways so names are often changed.