VAL does not refer to our latest member but to Volunteer Assistant Lock keeper. This is not new for the club – you will recall that Tony Wall filled the role at Penton Hook lock a few years ago.  This time it is Roger who is doing the job at Boveney lock on Mondays.

To start, I had to go to Shepperton lock, back in May, for an assessment by the lockkeeper, Steve. My first training session was at the end of May at the Environment Agency headquarters at Red Kite house near Wallingford. Fortunately, it was half-term so the traffic was light through Reading and Caversham.

 In the morning I and about eight other volunteers were taught about lock-keeping, with particular emphasis on the fact that we must NEVER be tempted to go into the water after someone has fallen in. The afternoon was spent at the swimming pool practicing lifesaving. We also had to get used to self-inflating lifejackets, which all lock keepers are obliged to wear. These inflate automatically when you hit the water – which is the same moment that I realised that I had fastened it too tightly.

 My second training session, also at Wallingford, was at the end of June. This was on a Monday and the traffic through Reading and Caversham was horrendous (I was told later that a route along the M4 was quicker). The training session was useful and included mechanical handling, roping, customer focus, health and safety, hostile situations, etc.. There is, of course, much paperwork involved.

 My first day at the lock was at the start of July. Phil, the lock-keeper, who you probably know, is very helpful. After three weeks at the lock, I have been signed off to work the lock during the lock-keeper’s absence.

The pontoon leading to the rollers was occupied by Egyptian Geese who did what geese do on the pontoon. Rowers, who only wear socks on their feet, carried their boats across the pontoon to the rollers, and complained bitterly about what they could feel under their feet. I tried not to laugh!

Recently, a boater came along the lock side and gave me a cup-cake. It was much appreciated. All boaters to note.


Having sold Chimerique it was natural that our holiday should be a hire boat on the Norfolk Broads. We filled the car with the essentials and set off to a point almost diametrically opposite on the M25 then turned north towards Cambridge and Norwich. We collected the boat at Wroxham.  (Roger didn’t tell me that boating could be like this – large saloon with TV, DVD player, radio, FULL size fridge and, my favourite, French windows opening out to seating on the bow!).  After only an hour we encountered our first obstacle – a regatta at Horning. If you think the yachts on the Thames are trying, on the Broads they are twice as bad. On the Thames some of them are arrogant – on the broads they assume that they have a right to be there and you do not (historically they are probably correct) but tacking and telling you what to do to avoid them can be trying. Looking on the bright side, Barry, we saw no narrow boats on the Broads.

 There were no locks and this was a mixed blessing. On the plus side, we did not have to keep stopping or queuing. On the negative side, we missed the chats with lockkeepers and other boaters that is all part of the pleasure of boating on the Thames. We stayed on the River Bure and its tributaries.

 Our boat was a 30ft. 4 berth cruiser with an upper and lower helm. 4 berth is a loose term; Bunk beds are fine but when they are 12 inches wide both occupants are terrified that the top bunk occupant is going to turn over and end up in the bottom bunk! The saloon settee converts to a (small) double if you can pull it out but the two halves are at different levels!

The upper helm (only) had a GPS speedo which was very useful as speed limits varied from 3 to 6 mph.

 We were very lucky to moor up at How Hill where the manor house had a “secret garden” which was absolutely beautiful. There was also a wherry called Hathor (a Greek god apparently) moored there and we took the opportunity to view inside at the beautiful sycamore doors and paneling. Broads’ wherries have very tall sails (the reeds grow high and the sails catch the wind above). There are only 8 wherries left on the Broads but originally they were the normal form of transport.

Another piece of useless information for you is that the Broads were formed by the cutting of peat since Roman Times. In the 13th Century, abnormal high tides caused the trenches to flood thus forming the Broads. We saw many brick built windmills and these were used to drain the land water.

The area is very flat and the scenery is dramatic but unchanging. You do not get the variety of scenery that we enjoy on the Thames.

 We were lucky weather wise. No rain at all, cloudy and around 20 degrees C, but oh, the wind.  Nothing to stop it coming straight off the North Sea.  Now we know why most of the hire boats had inside helms only but the view from down there would not be so good.  We chose a top deck helm from where we could look over the reeds and across the countryside, but with no cockpit or windscreen to protect us it was very chilly for a few days.  Five layers of jackets/coats were a bit of help and I (Denise) wore a pair of socks as gloves when steering.  Very elegant.

Some of the villages are delightful – Horning, Acle and Stalham were particularly impressive. We ate out most evenings and pubs always provided good food, good quantities and reasonable prices.  Horning was my (Denise) favourite place because it has an esplanade, a jolly atmosphere and the village was extremely beautiful.

On balance, we enjoyed our week’s holiday – but a week was long enough.


Denise & Roger

I shall have to precis this a bit but I hope that I can include some helpful detail.

Our front windows (above V berth), aluminium window frames, acrylic window.

Remove the black ‘Herzim’ strip covering the screwheads on the outside; remove 32 screws from each window. Here you hope the previous owner did not reseal with a silicone sealant which will make them harder to remove. Work an old (rounded corners) wallpaper stripper behind the frame and keep working around till you can get the whole frame out. Don’t use a screwdriver to lever as you may bend the frame.

Put some covers inside the boat to shield your upholstery then scrape etc, clean up (try white spirit) all around the big holes you just left in the boat, and then put a nice big tarp over the whole lot.

Get the frames home and on a nice flat surface. Covered patio table works well. Now get all the old sealant off the aluminium frame edge ie where the screws go through.


Next job is critical, This is to scrape out enough of the old sealant material between the frame and the window (carefully – as my window is not glass). Ideal tool is an acrylic cutter (hook shape end) but you could do a fair job with a snapped hacksaw blade


Have a good rake out all the way round inside AND outside … something like 4 to 5 mm deep. Clean well but avoid white spirit as it might affect the new sealant. I used builders alcohol wipes. If someone has used silicone, be patient and as thorough as you can.



Squidge with sealant and smooth with finger ? … ABSOLUTELY NOT. Big masking job (I used the blue stuff). Inside your sealant will fill the gap and be ‘flat’, outside you need to mask up so as to give you a sealant bead at about 45% to the window.


Sealant – ARBOMAST Autograde black butyl. Never sets, it just skins over. It’s a longish tube so be sure that it will fit in your sealant gun. Cut nozzle for a small bead and run in on the inside. Squidge the sealant down into the gap you made (I used a small plastic spreader from a car body repair kit). Be patient,




Run another line round and squidge down again. Using a tool (wiped with alcohol) to give a nice finish. Carefully remove your masking tape Do the same outside. This will take more sealant. Your 45 degree edge will take a little patience but keep squidging and smooth off nicely with a tool. Carefully remove your masking tape. You might need another little gentle smoothing here.


I bought some hard wood smoothing tools with the sealant – they were brilliant.


Set the whole lot aside for a few days and let the sealant skin over.


Take it all back to the boat, take your tarp off.

Sealant ARBOMAST BR grey butyl (I didn’t want black between the aluminium and the cream gel coat). Cut the nozzle to give you about a 6mm bead and run a line of sealant all the way round the frame & covering the screw holes. I needed help here as my screws go right through the GRP into an inner aluminium frame. Place the frame back in the hole. I used new stainless self tapping screws with help inside to hold the inner frame in position. Quite a lot of the grey sealant will exude, but go all around with screws. DON’T fully tighten, leave yourself half a turn in case you need to nip up in future. Use a scraper or similar to remove most of the unwanted seal and smooth and clean up with alcohol wipes . The grey is a little more sticky than the black. Just be patient.

Replace Herzim strip with new strip (on a cool day) and don’t stretch it. You can buy a tool but I found a pizza cutter very useful, mitre corners and where they touch use a little super glue to stop the strip shrinking back.

…. Job done.

Benefit of using BUTYL: it never fully sets, it’s easy to do again in future, it will dissolve in white spirit AND its cheaper than silicone.


Costs (£)

Tarpaulin                       17.00    (Toolstation)

Wipes                           6.99      (Screwfix)

Masking tape                0          (had it already)

Spreader                       0          (had it already)

Scrapers                       0          (had it already)

Turps/white spirit           0          (had it already)

Finishing tools              5.91      (Dortech Direct)

Arbomast Autograde     2.47 x 2 (Dortech Direct)

Arbomast BR                3.22 x 2 (Dortech Direct) only needed one

Screws                         5.00      (Seascrew) 100 of 3/4 inch  x 8

I had an opening window to reseal also so 2 extra items were

Window seal                 25.75    Delta Rubber 15mm x 10mm self adhesive expanded

Contact adhesive          3.08      Homebase

Total                             75.11

The quote I had to do the reseal (EXCLUDING remove and refit) was a little under £800

Time taken. Probably 10 to 12 man hours. I did not hurry. Result was 100% success.


I also replaced ALL our Herzim strip (total about 40 metres). It would have been about £80 from SEALS DIRECT but I went to BAINES at Tunbridge Wells and got whole roll deal 110 metres for 30 quid !

 Martin Smith.

A couple of pictures from the archives sent in by Martin showing Jeverek being lifted and transported away from the River Thames on 21st May 2014, quite a sad day really for those of us who have fond memories of enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake with dear Bob and Viv on this floating café.

Martin Smith took this video in Southampton when Queen Elizabeth 2 left the port for the last time to sail to Dubai to be converted into a floating hotel.