Kids to school by bike

We’re all aware of the climate emergency and the need for things to change. One thing I’d like to do is use bikes more. The round trip to school twice a day uses a gallon of petrol a day, plus the short journey isn’t great for the car.

My car is on 90,000 miles now so will need to be replaced sometime. With a bit of luck it will go on for a long time yet. Hopefully it will be replaced by an electric car. However:

  • I can’t afford an electric car
  • The range is ok, but charging away from home is a problem
  • Very few electric cars can legally tow a trailer
  • It seems very inefficient to carry around over a tonne of stuff to transport 150kgs of people a short distance.

EBikes sound like a much more optimal design and would be a huge help on the hills round here. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start on the bike.

School is around 8 miles away and it is uphill most of the way there. That’s actually ok – getting the kids out of the house an hour earlier to cycle to school isn’t going to happen, so we’re only looking at cycling home from school which is mostly downhill. Much easier.

I’ve got two kids and not much money so what are the options for moving them around?

The requirements are:

  • Low cost
  • Kids should be pedalling – I don’t want a cargo bike or trailer – as otherwise they’ll get bored
  • Able to climb steep hills (they are really steep round here)
  • Safe coming down the hills (ditto)
  • Fun!
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Dinghy insurance for customized boats

I got a bit of a shock when I tried to renew the insurance for Custard – my junk rigged Wanderer. Insurance was refused. The boat isn’t worth much but third-party insurance is essential for my sailing club and many other places. The reason is simple – insurance is calculated by computers and something that isn’t in the computer is unknown.

A web search revealed that Fyne Boats had hit this problem and offered to help, even with boats that weren’t built from their kits. I contacted them and they responded quickly with a suggestion. I’m not sure if Fyne Boats get any money from referrals but their help is very welcome! The insurance is now in place and is cheaper than the previous year’s.

Fyne Boat kits do look lovely and I want to build one, one-day.

Holiday on Norfolk Broads

We’ve just returned from a holiday on the Norfolk Broads with the boat. Had a really lovely time – highly recommended if you are into sailing and / or boats. Having the boat moored at the bottom of the garden on a river, with a pub 1/2 mile down the river plus channels and lakes to explore, is a lovely way to holiday.

Sailing downwind back to our house
Fishing from the boat

Some observations about the boat…

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Mast finished, burgee halyard, anchor storage

I finally got the topmast plug out! Phew. Method was:

One. Buy a big drill from Screwfix.

25mm drill

Two: abuse my power drill and drill a hole through the middle of the plug.

Three: use an original 1980’s hot air paint stripper to push air through the plug as often as possible.

After a few days the plug came out. It is now fitted properly.

I also added a burgee halyard cleat:

Burgee halyard cleat. Might catch on lines – we’ll see.

Plus I’ve made a tarpaulin pocket to hold the anchor so it is ready for use next to the tapernacle.

Update: here’s the picture:

Anchor mount

The anchor is a Guardian – a cheaper version of the aluminium Fortress. It was bought for a 21′ 1100kg boat so is a bit oversized for the Wanderer. However it is very light and I own it so that’s what I’m using. I use old climbing rope for the warp as (a) I’ve got 300′ of it and (b) it is very stretchy. The mount works nicely. I didn’t get the shank mount in quite the right place but it fits ok.

Oops – I get things wrong

Gluing inside a tube

Gluing the wooden plug inside a tube ended up with the tube jammed inside the tube. I had to cut it out. I suspect that if I had left it long enough it would have slid out again.

Jammed plug (again)

This is a stupid one. Having got the wooden plug stuck in a tube, I then got it jammed inside the bottom of the real topmast. I figured that I could put some wood preserver on it and tap it into place before it swelled up. I was wrong – it is very well jammed now 😦

It is slowly shrinking down again as the wood preserver dries out, but the bit inside the tube isn’t shrinking quickly enough to meet the deadline.

If it doesn’t show signs of shifting in the next few days I’ll have to cut the end off, then cut out the wood from inside the topmast tube (very carefully!) and make a new one.

DIY surgery

Really stupid time – I was cutting the end off a pipe for the bilge pump and the knife slipped. Ended up in my stomach. Fortunately:

  1. The NHS is fantastic – the ambulance and A&E did a great job of looking after me and stitching me back together;
  2. I have enough of a spare tire to prevent the blade going all the way through so stitches were all that was needed.

It is healing up fine. Main lesson is that never do DIY when tired – I hadn’t slept much the night before.