So, yesterday we took the plunge (thankfully not literally!) and took the boat and engine down to the Baltic Wharf launch in Bristol via my BMW 3 series coupe.
The boat (Honwave 3.8m x 1.7m) went perfectly into the back with the seats folded down, the engine (Mercury 15HP 2str) lay comfortably across the width of the car, at the front of the boot.
We arrived and parked at the Cottage Inn to start the inflation, it was our first ever attempt at any of this, so we were a bit apprehensive and we didn't want to invoke any laughs from the onlooking crowd at the pub, so we took our time. I carried the boat from the car myself (its about 50kg I think) and used an electric pump to inflate it, overall it took about 10 minutes or so to reach full pressure. We attached the oars and my girlfriend and I carried the boat down the launch ramp, she struggled a little but got there eventually - I really do need those wheels!!
Once partially in the water, I carried the engine down the ram (wearing wellies!) and attached it to the boat.
We then needed to mix the fuel and oil, it was a little tricky as the oil container had a guide, but it was useless - in future I'll be taking a measuring bottle of some form with me for accurate addition of oil. Strapped the fuel tank to the boat, primed the engine and fuel line, turned up the idle a little and apprehensively pulled the starter...it started FIRST TIME and sounded beautiful! We were so impressed, particularly based on my prior experience of 2 stroke engines!
We donned our buoyancy jackets, filled the boat with food and drink (into a Overboard Floatable Bag) and prepared to maneuver the boat out onto the water - it was a little tricky as a boat had broken down at the entrance, but regardless of that the exit from the ramp isn't particularly generous in size, there wasn't a chance that I would attempt to use the motor to get us out so instead one of us walked the boat around the jetty using the rope, it felt a bit lame but more practical than crashing on my first ever attempt, in front of a pub full of people
So, eventually off we went, powered up the engine and sailed away towards the waterfront area! I had only put 7lt of petrol into the tank as it was our first exploration so I was unsure of how far we could go, but we cruised around a little, explored the waters and then headed towards Netham Lock - we then went a little further but decided to turn around as it was nearing 7.30pm by that time, we'll explore further up next time!
Overall, we were on the waters for around 4hrs, still had lots of fuel left by the end and had a thoroughly amazingly fun time - I can see how this hobby is addictive, we can't wait to get out on the waters again!!
So, following on from the experience, I have a few points/queries:
- The cost for the day was £6.80 including insurance from the Baltic Wharf launch, is there a cheaper place to launch for a day's boating in Bristol?
- For how long could we have gone on 7lr of petrol at a 4-6 knots pace?
- How long is it safe/practical to keep a fuel tank in a garage of mixed oil/petrol with degradation?
- We saw lots of little pubs with moorings, but signs stating "No Mooring", does this mean that we can't stop there for 1-2 hour(s) or does it mean we can't stay there indefinitely/overnight?
- I desperately need a set of those launch wheels - my girlfriend will get bored very quickly of helping me lift it!
Overall, we absolutely loved it - thanks to everyone on here for the information, answers and help to make this a reality!