About Me

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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018.11

Getting Nowhere Slowly

Monday 25th June

I planned an easy day ahead. It was going to be another hot one from the outset. I wrote up the blog in the morning and finally got it published – 15 days since the last one! Wi-fi in Braunston has improved no end for me here with a very strong BT signal. Previously it was Marina wi-fi only and that was a non starter for most people outside the marina.

Later I went up to the village to get some beer tokens (£20 notes) at the Post Office and some bread. Passing the hairdressers, I decided that I had better get a trim before I went home looking like Tarzan, then being such a hot day, it would be good sense to pay The Plough a visit, where it was nice and cool inside.

In the afternoon I stripped the bed and washed all the bed linen in the launderette, because this is probably my last chance for quite a while and it is too much to go in the twin tub. All in all, it took four hours out of the afternoon! Call this a quiet day?

Tuesday 26th June

After breakfast, I walked around to the marina office to see if they could pressure spray the inside of my waste holding tank, as the capacity had diminished from 10 weeks to 3 weeks over the years, which is a vast difference. I though initially that Pyrford Marina pump out was only working at half capacity, but now I realise it is the tank that is the culprit. Despite another marina moorer telling me that they could pressure spray it, Graham said that it was not possible and the only way was to fill the tank with water and roll the boat about, which is going to be a long drawn out process and involve a great deal of pumping out. There is no inspection hatch on the tank, so it really is down to some chemical or biological method. I think a call to LeeSan might be in order as the next step. Another problem is that I agreed to have a large dose of Elsan Blue added to the tank at Clifton Cruisers, where I had the last pump out – a big mistake I think, as that all has to go before I can use any sort of biological product again.

It was time to move on up the cut, so I said goodbye to the Cat Herders that were left and motored up the North Oxford as far as Bridge 85 to a nice quiet spot behind nbTawny Owl, belonging to Richard Powell of Primrose Engineering, who was demonstrating at the Braunston Show. From that point on I did not intend doing a thing, so I didn’t, though I did consider walking across the fields to The Rose Inn at Willoughby, but I didn’t do that either.

Wednesday 27th June

The day began very overcast, but it was forecast to improve later and by 11 am the sun had appeared and eventually it was wall to wall sunshine with a welcoming breeze to keep the temperature down.

After the spending the whole morning online answering e-mails and researching various things, I decided to walk to The Rose Inn, however things were not to be and I got lost across the fields. It was only at that point that I decided Google maps was the way to go, but by then it was getting too late as the pub closed at 3pm, so I wound my weary way up the road back to the boat, which was easier than taking the short cut, which was all long grass.

Time to move on a little further tomorrow.

Through the side hatch.

Thursday 28th June

When the canal was clear of traffic, I let go and as soon as I was adrift three boats came from one direction and one from the other, so all of a sudden it was like Piccadilly Circus. Without a line to the bank, things were difficult to control, although I did not hit anyone. Eventually I got away towards Hillmorton and the dreaded Old Royal Oak!

There were two boats that had been there a long time. I know because I asked some punters sitting outside. One of them was a glass fibre cruiser loosely tied up; some people have either no idea, or they just don’t care. It was a difficult place to moor alongside the outhouse, with a high bank at one end and no rings, so I had to rely on mooring pins, which I drove in alongside the wall. At the same time other boats were passing by, some at speed and had no consideration for what I was trying to do, which made it even more difficult. I did wonder if the mooring pins would hold, but after half an hour of other boats passing, it seemed to hold OK.

After a spot of lunch, I went in the pub and ordered a pint, which was crystal clear for a change. I could also use their wi-fi to watch the You Tube videos of the Braunston show, but none of them showed me hitting the point, which is most unusual as one of the cameramen is normally stationed there. Maybe I scared him away with my actions. A different pint was needed to rehydrate and that was clear too, which is so unusual. I returned to Stronghold, which was still securely hanging on the to the pins. I trimmed the nettles with the garden shears (a must on board a boat), which made it so much easier to get along the outside.

Later I was i need of more lubrication and returned to find that England were playing Belguim in Russia, so that was a must. At the end after another pint, I returned to cook the calves liver – delicious!

Friday 29th June

I let go about midday and my mooring place was in demand by two canooists and a Noddy boat, so I do not know who won. Once again the leisure batteries were not getting sufficient charge, so I moored up just south of Hillmorton Locks to try and sort out the problem. Despite wriggling all the relevant wires about, there seemed to be no change, so I started the generator and ran on that for some considerable time, before reverting to the engine. By now the voltage had risen to 14volts, which seemed to be the limit of the alternator. I think there is a device that can boost this, so further investigation ir required,

In the meantime, I partook of a bit more washing in my new machine, so that took a while, but so much easier than by hand.

Saturday 30th June

I let go about 11am and soon arrived at the locks, but there were tow boats waiting and nowhere for me to moor, so I attempted to hold station in the middle, but what with the north wind from one side and the back pumping outfall on the other, I was on a losing wicket. At one point I was between the two waiting boats and one guy thought I was trying to jump the gun and said so vehemently. I spoke to him when he got in the lock and he apologised, not understanding my position.

The bottom lock had a volunteer on, so that was a great help. The wild orchids are now in full bloom pn the lock island and the lockies are doing all in their power to keep the mowing grunts away that cut them all down last year. As I passed my intended moorings there were no boats there, so I changed plans and decided to stay on the long term moorings in Rugby, where there are plenty of rings and usually some space. I filled up with water first and emptied the rubbish in the car park container, which was about to   overflow.

I watched a Girl Guide boat come around the bend heading for a moored boat; the steerer altered course at the last minute, but by that time there was nowhere for the stern to go, except into another moored boat, the owner of which went ape on the towpath, shouting and swearing at them as they moored up. She also took a photograph, which I found out later she was about to put on Face Ache. Later I walked down to commiserate with her and to ask if these were 14 day moorings; she was very animated over the whole thing and I reckoned that she was either drunk or stoned. While we were talking I noticed the cannabis plants growing on the cabin top in full view for all to see, so the answer was obvious.

Sunday 1st July

I planned to spend an easy day, with a quick visit to Tesco, but I spent most of the morning down the engine ‘ole again looking for clues on the low charge rate, but nothing was evident and I reverted to the generator to get the battery voltage up to nearly 14 volts. Each alternator is only pushing out 14.2, so there is no possibility of getting much above that voltage.

I get no watchable TV here either, so considerable time was spent retuning this to different transmitters – all a waste of time.

It was another scorching day and surprisingly I moved the boat from the shade of a big tree into the sunshine when an opportunity occurred; this was so that the solar panel would get all day sun when I was away from the boat.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018.10

Braunston Historic Boat Rally and other things.

Tuesday 12th June

The village butcher had promised that some calves liver would be in today, so it was time for another shopping trip. Sure enough they did have it in and I bought enough for a meal, which turned out to be enough for two meals. I cooked it in the frying pan as normal, before removing it and deglazing with cider vinegar and then adding the double cream to make the sauce. Along with new Liecestershire potatoes, it was the most succulent and best ever liver that I have tasted and I have cooked it many, many times from various sources.

The Wheatsheaf was closed, so I returned via All Saints  church and churchyard. There were very few obvious grave stones in the area around the church, but there was a separate graveyard across the road at the back of the church, where there were many more. I was looking in particular for graves of old boaters, but all I could find were those of the Nurser family, of which there were many going back several generation. Upon thinking about it, probably the boaters’ families were too poor to buy headstones.

Two of the Nurser graves in All Saints churchyard.

I was not going anywhere today, so I was at leisure to talk without hinderance to anyone and everyone. When I returned from the shopping trip, there was an American guy talking to my neighbour and he was there for a good hour after I returned; I reckoned he could talk for America. Even his dog was bored by the look of him! Another gent stopped to admire my water cans and knew several of the boaters from the past, as well as Kathryn Dodington.

Wednesday 13th June

It had been a windy night and the cabin top was covered in debris from the trees. It was time to move again, as I had some serious shopping to do in Tesco preferably and I had also arranged another appointment with the chiropractor for Saturday. Although still very windy, it was a good cruise up to The Olde Oak at Hillmorton, where a Noddy boat just beat me to a decent mooring outside the pub. I had no option but to moor beyond the bridge for a quick pint of cloudy ale. This time it was Doombar served up cloudy, but it was drinkable this time. I really must complain to Greedy King about this place. I did complain to Fullers about the lack of refund at The Grove Lock and they were sympathetic and promised  said refund of £15. Once I had an email in reply, I could send an attachment of the card receipt, which was proof and something that they could use in the finance department. I received the money about a two weeks after complaining to the brewery.

Deciding that this was a noisy  place to stay the night, I moved on to the top of Hillmorton Locks, where there was plenty of room to moor up. This time I BBQed one of the butterfly lamb chops, which was delicious with the last of those new potatoes.

Thursday 14th June

Time to move on again to Rugby, but there was a problem – no moorings available! Most unusual here, as people usually stop to shop and travel on, or they stay on the 14 day moorings and go home, or wherever. Once past there, there was no turning back, so I carried on to Newbold, where there were numerous empty spaces.

Opposite the boat was a moorhen on the nest with two chicks just hatched out. She eventually flew up onto the cabin top and was strutting around looking for food. Later I fed her some sweet corn, which she took one at a time to feed her chicks.

At midnight, there was a bumping and crashing on board, which woke me up. Looking out of the rear doors, I could see the air horn lying on the deck and reckoned it had been dislodged off the steps by the cheeky moorhen in the dark.

Cheeky moorhen looking for food.

Friday 15th June

Travelling through the Newbold Tunnel, I reckoned on winding at Falls Bridge, where one of Brindley’s old arms came out to avoid the tunnel when the canal was first built. When I got there, another boat was about to pull off a mooring, so I indicated left and instead of waiting for me to turn into the bridge ‘ole, he pulled out and came towards me. He passed on my right hand side, which meant that I had to reverse under the bridge and possibly into shallow water. Another bird brained boater with no patience! It was a difficult manoeuvre and I just grazed the tiller under the sloping side of the bridge, but I did eventually get round.

Once again, most if not all the moorings at Rugby were occupied, but I spotted one just short of the water point on the offside and tied up. It was a very sunny day and the boat was in full sunshine for most of the morning and afternoon.

After all these years boating, I have finally found the easy way to shop. Take the wheeled trolley, which is lightweight and folding, in a knapsack to the supermarket. Then load the knapsack with the shopping and strap it all on the trolley to wheel back to the boat – simples! Why had I not thought of this before? So I spent the afternoon doing two trips to Tesco and B&M in between. I did not realise just how cheap the food is in B&M, some of it being branded goods too.

I had another appointment with the chiropractor tomorrow, so it was wise to move as close as possible just south of Clifton Cruisers, where there were ample moorings.

Saturday 16th June

I was kept awake in the early hours by bubbling from the toilet and upon lifting the lid it was filled up again, so for the first time the Porta Potti was brought into use. Normally the pump out loo will last for about three months, but the period between pump outs has been reducing over the last couple of years and there is obviously a build up of solids that are not dissolved and getting pumped out. The only place to go was Clifton Cruisers, but that was about 500 yds astern of me and I had two choices – reverse back under a bridge ‘ole, or go the winding hole at Hillmorton. The latter being the easiest and probably the safest, so that was the way to go. I mentioned the problem to the guy at the yard, who recommended using a high dose of Elsan Blue and filled my container with it for nothing. The cost of the pump out was £15, which makes Pyrford Marina seem cheap at £10. On the other hand, Calcutt Marina is £20, which is even more than Braunston Marina, where you would expect it to be top price.

After a shower and breakfast back on the same mooring, I walked up the hill to the practice. It was a far shorter experience this time, with no forms to be filled in, so consequently it was not so expensive. It was also not so effective as the initial treatment.

It was a ‘do nothing’ type of day from then on, so not much to report, except for the usual batch of speeding boaters. Lines were tightened after a few passed by.

Sunday 17th June

I left Clifton to head back towards Braunston and after locking through Hillmorton flight of three locks, I pulled in at The Old Royal Oak and had a pint of clear beer for a change, but the wi-fi was still out of order. Cruising on, I found a quiet spot just south of Bridge 78 with two other boats, where there was Armco to moor up to, because most of the bank was sloping stone slabs similar to the Shroppie Shelf. It was a windy night and the aerial was creaking all night, but I slept through it with no problem.

Monday 18th June

The other two boats pulled away early and after a shower and breakfast, I did the same, heading for Braunston which was about 30 mins away. If I got there too early, it was unlikely there would be spaces, so I had to time it right. Anywhere between 11am and 2pm would be about right.

As I approached Braunston Turn, I took the opportunity to dump some rubbish and pop into Midland Swindlers to get some Elsan Blue, which was on special offer. Whilst in there, I met up with Mike Askin, who told me he had bought a butty boat, which was having work done at Glascote and due for collection. He had a girl in tow, which may well explain the reason why. She probably wanted space of her own instead of being cramped up in the motor, but I am only surmising that.

In the services enclosure, there was a twin tub washing machine between the bins, which I inspected carefully. There had been a notice taped to it, which had been torn off, although there was one word left in the corner with the word “working” just visible. The thought had crossed my mind recently about buying one of these, but I was concerned about how much room it would take up on board, however a free one was different and if I decided it was not for me or not working, I could then pass it on to another boater by the same means. I lifted it on board quite easily as it was all plastic casing and motored off to find a mooring.

A free washing machine that works.

There were abundant spaces available and I motored down to the marina entrance and was greeted by John and Graham from nb Joseph, moored as always just inside the marina. To familiarise myself as to any changes, I went through the marina and returned under the ladder bridge to a mooring opposite the Boathouse pub, where not, long after John and Graham came along the towpath fixing mooring restriction notices on the way. We had a bit of catching up to do, even though I had seen them both at Cannie Cavalcade. After they returned to base, Chris and Linda came alongside on nb Mars and more gossip ensued between us, until they could move onto a recently vacated mooring ahead of me.

Later in the afternoon I ran the engine and gave the washing machine a dry run. All seemed to be in order, so I shifted it into the bathroom and filled it with water and dirty washing, spending the next two hours slaving over a hot tub. As expected, it could only cope with small amounts at a time and despite being Mickey Mouse, it saved me a great deal of back breaking work over the sink or at a convenient water point.

About this time Gary and Denise appeared and their boat was moored very close to the turn for comfort, but a boat behind them had room to move back, but no one was on board and he did not want to move it. Jack Reay was with me at the time and suggested that we move it in an official capacity and the owner could blame it on The Cat Herders instead of Gary. All was accomplished with the assistance of another boater and I don't suppose the owner even noticed when he returned.

Tuesday 19th June

Most of the day was spent sorting out and drying washing and all the other myriad little jobs necessary on a boat. Thinking about couples who go boating, there are always two of them to get these things done, but being a solo boater, one person has to cope with all aspects of housework as well as navigating, so is it any wonder that it is time consuming. Another consideration it that whilst travelling, only one person needs to steer while the other can catch up on chores inside the cabin.

Later in the afternoon I walked along the towpath to HQ and had a chat with John and Graham. In passing it was mentioned that Tim Coghlan, owner of Braunston Marina, was giving a talk about the life of David Blagrove in the village hall at 7.30pm. In his later years I got to know David reasonably well and had been boating with him on one occasion, so it was something that really interested me.

I had a fairly swift meal and walked up to the village hall, which I always thought was the village school. It was definitely worth the visit, as not only is Tim a very eloquent speaker, but the talk was interspersed with slides, videos and live music from two guys who played melodians and sung David’s songs, to which we all joined in. It was a totally absorbing experience and I am so pleased that I went along. I discovered that it was not universally advertised as it was intended for the local history society, but it was well attended none the less.

Before returning to the boat, John and I went into The Plough for a pint and I was greeted by a shout of “Hi Ray.” There in the corner were the crew of the NBT – Helen, Charlotte and Howard, having had a meal and drinks served up to them. We were all so pleased to see each other and I met Howard Williams for the first time, who is the newly appointed Captain on this trip. There was a great deal of banter and boating tales over the next hour as can be imagined.

Wednesday 20th June

Although the day began with bright sunshine, it soon clouded over and was somewhat chilly in the wind. I typed up the events of the last 24hrs and then took the bus into Daventry to get some essential items, which are just not available here in the village. Getting the bus from Braunston was no problem, but it seems that I misread the timetable for the return trip and had a long wait at the bus station.

There was little going on for us to do today anyway, so we are just awaiting the arrival of the historic boats, although a few appeared later in the day.

I walked up to the village later and bought some more calves liver, which is the best that I have ever tasted and I have eaten quite a considerable amount in my time.

Thursday 21st June

It was much the same as yesterday, but more boats were turning up. I was asked to move Stronghold further back towards Bridge 91, where I was closer to Jack Reay on nb Cumberland. It was also closer to the parade team HQ, so less distance to walk.

Once again the parade team spent most of the time just chatting at HQ and the day went slowly. Hopefully things will hot up tomorrow.

Friday 22nd June.

From the briefing at 09.00 now things got busy. Jack and I were asked to move two boats in the marina that were up for sale. No problem with the first one, but the second had a pram hood covering the stern and that had to be partly removed before we could even begin. It convinced me that this is not the thing to have on a narrow boat.

The historic boats were also repositioned and I was asked to move Nuneaton and Brighton to a new mooring through Butcher’s Bridge. Nick Hill was consulted as to whether the pair would pass through the bridge breasted and he said that he had tried some years previously and the answer was no, so they had to be singled out on cross straps. By this time Howard Williams was on board, unbeknown to me, so he was able to carry out the manoeuvre with me and Graham steered the butty for the first time in a few years.

It was a tiring day, so Jack and I relaxed at the Boathouse after his suggestion of motoring across the cut to an empty mooring outside the pub, on Stronghold.

Saturday 23rd June

Quite a stressful day this was to be. To begin Tim West and Pru Scales were on Nuneaton and Brighton respectively to follow Nutfield and Raymond through the marina with David Suchet opening the event. I only found out at the last minute what the route was to be. Setting off from below the marina entrance and picking up the butty, we progressed to the entrance, but it was a tight 130 degree turn, which was impossible to get around in one go, as I found out as I hit the bow on the point between the arm and marina in front of several hundred spectators. The pair were now jack knifed and I had to reverse to correct that, after which it went well with Tim steering the straight course through the marina. I took the pair under Ladder Bridge, keeping well to the left hand side and  managed to get round in one go, except for the pair of boats breasted up immediately beyond the turn, where the butty rubbed against their stern fenders. Tim and Pru were dropped off back at our mooring and we tied up ready for the next parade at 2pm. In the meantime a beer was urgently required.

Entering the marina at the opening of the show.

About to single out on the afternoon parade.

Although we were due to go out again at 2pm, Graham got a phone call from the marina at that time and I was requested to go to the office for a presentation of a cheque for £1,000 contribution to NBT from the marina by David Suchet. After considerable waiting in the office, they were ready to do the business and we all assembled at the marina point, which I had struck shortly before. After the handover, we all went our own ways, mine being back to the pair, where I was due to mentor Howard on the parade route.

All went well and we winded at Braunston Turn with the help of a stern line from the butty, which made it so much easier and quicker. We even got a round of applause from spectators on the bridge. The return to the marina was very slow as is usual going against the stream of boats coming the other way. At the entrance the butty pushed the stern of the motor round too far and some correction had to be applied. There was no bowman on this occasion, so it all had to be done with the engine. Through the marina and out through Ladder Bridge, which went well with very little shafting and so back to the mooring, where Howard, Stephanie and I analysed the trip, discussing how it could be improved next time.

I was delighted to meet up with Dave Moore on the towpath and I bought him a beer and put the world to rights. He has sold his boat as he just wasn’t using it enough. He also offered to drive out to meet me on the Stourbridge Arm, when I got there and bring his paint box to show me a few tips for painting roses and castles, which is something I would very much appreciate. How generous of him!

I met up with Karen Cook in the beer tent and we talked about events and NBT related things with Ben, her partner. Later I returned to my boat for a rest before changing to go up to The Admiral Nelson for a pre-booked meal with Jack and Jaqui, which was very enjoyable. It is a long way to trek after such a busy day and we were all flagging on the return, although Jack decided to stop off to listen to the music. Personally, I went straight to bed.

Sunday 24th June

It was to be another very hot day and wearing boaters’ Sunday best was not at all the dress for the occasion, with corduroy trousers and a waistcoat, but today there was to be filming for the marina and Tim Coghlan was keen for me to dress up.

At 11 am the boats left the mooring breasted as far as the Stop House, where Tim and Pru, Tim Coghlan and various other guests boarded, along with the camera man with a very large Panasonic video camera. I thought the era of these enormous cameras was long gone, but it seems not so. It was Howard now who steered having had the practice yesterday and we singled out to tow on cross straps. Of necessity it was slow going and the gear rod was mostly the only bit of engine control needed. We winded at the turn, with Stephanie doing a fine job of steering the butty and then slowly returned to the Stop House to drop off the guests, where we had to breast up. Howard had more confidence in Tim’s steering than I did, but then it was mostly a straight run. We singled out again to pass through the marina back to our mooring and that was the end of the show for us.

The parade was now virtually finished, so I had done very little in the way of marshalling and appeared to be here under false pretences. Before I went off to slake my thirst, Graham informed me that Ryan Dimmock was to get the prize for Best Boat of the Show and that I was to be there to add a bit of colour in the photo of the prize giving. I was completely taken in, because after Ryan was presented with the water can, I was called upon to receive Best Steerer in the Show, much to my utter surprise. It was not a bottle of champagne, but a bottle of beer and only 3.9 ABV at that! Only joking, because it was a great accolade by Graham’s Cat Herders, who awarded it. On the other hand, it could have been a booby prize for striking the point in the marina earlier.

I was mooching around in the artists’ tent earlier and spotted a painting of Nuneaton and Brighton by Christine Rigden. I could see that Barry was sitting on the cabin top, but was unable to see who was steering. I met Mr and Mrs Mouse later and he said that I was steering in the picture, so I made it my business to go and buy it later. Although that was the only picture that Christine sold during the show, she did sell some cards. That must be very disappointing to have spent a whole weekend in a hot marquee and no one made a purchase, except me.

Christine's painting of the pair at Bedworth.

Later Linda served up her delicious Pasta and Pimms and we all wound down at the end of the day until it was time for bed. An extremely tiring day for me; not physically, although there was quite a bit of walking to do, but stressful in an attempt to get it right and not make more of a cock up than I already had done. I am sure it will make for good YouTube footage when it is shown.

The end of a very busy weekend.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 9

Tuesday 5th June

I was up early for a shower and breakfast, as I did not want to miss the bus to the chiropactice.  I need not have worried, because I could have walked it in the time I was waiting at the bus stop, except that it was mostly uphill.

Never having been to a chiropractor before, I was rather intrigued as to what would happen. Most of the time was spent filling in forms; first by me and then by the expert after a list of medical questions. Eventually, he got around to some manipulation of the spine towards the end and went through the twice daily exercises that had to be completed. I have to say that I did feel somewhat refreshed at the end of it and walked back downhill to the boat, but it had a delayed effect and when I moored up later, a necessary drink was in order to knock me out. The outcome of the diagnosis is that my spine is rusty and needs loosening up, some of which I put down to having pain from both hips in the past, before any hip operations.

Now that you know what is wrong with me, let us turn to the boat and its problems.  Firstly, as I was about to exit Hillmorton Top Lock and put the engine in gear, there was a terrible banging going on down below, as though something had come loose. I thought the worst and imagined the propeller blades were loose, or the rudder had been damaged. I had to bowhaul the boat out of the lock and onto the layby, because there was no propulsion. Fortunately, there were no other boats about at that time. On lifting the weed hatch, what did I find? A one foot long rope side fender and accompanying line, which was wound tightly around the blades. The only way to remove it was to cut it off, but at least it wasn’t serious.

Who wants this around their blades?

I pulled in outside The Olde Oak and toyed with the idea of approaching Willow Ridge Marina to have a look at my battery charging problem. It was here or Calcutt Marina, so on the spot I went to ask and eventually Sandy came off his tea break with two voltmeters in hand. By this time, I had removed the covers to the batteries and the split charging relay to be ready for him. The first thing he did was to try and twist all the terminals to see if they were tight; this included the relay connections. After starting the engine, he checked the voltages on both battery banks, which were now both reading 14.2 volts amazingly enough. How does that work? We both came to the conclusion that twisting the relay terminals had improved the connection – job done and no charge! Despite that, they could do with being removed and greasing to ensure it is unlikely to happen again.

Later in the afternoon, a couple walked into the pub yard with two bags of shopping, so I asked if there was a shop in the close vicinity, but it was over a mile away. We got chatting over a drink and had a very convivial conversation about boats and how they met, because I thought the woman was about 25 yrs of age and he looked 60 to 65. It turned out that she was 50 and they were engaged to be married. Although she spoke excellent English, she was Danish, which sparked off another conversation about my sister’s husband, who is also a Viking. What a great way to spend an enjoyable afternoon doing nothing.

Once again this pub had only two out of three ales on tap and it is Greedy King pub. I wonder who is at fault here or do the brewery even know about it?

Wednesday 6th June

Up early again for breakfast and then off after having a chat with the hire boaters opposite. Although there was a cold wind, the sun was out and the day was warming up nicely, which made for a very pleasant run to Braunston. I moored temporarily by the turn to made some desperately needed coffee, before finding a spot closer to Butcher’s Bridge and the village for shopping later. I intended stopping here for tonight, but will need a more remote place for a BBQ, without smoking anyone out.

Moving further down towards the marina, I got a spot close to the entrance and moored up securely, which means that two balloon fenders are out and a spring line is attached to the rond anchor at the fore end, This stops the boat from moving backwards and forwards every time a boat passes. Although it is a bit of extra work, all these little things add up to a comfortable mooring, without being knocked about.

It was warm in the sun by now, so off to see the famous village butcher in the village, where I bought a large
pork and onion pie, along with some dry marinade in a packet. I had read of dry marinades, but had never used one, so it would be a new experience for me. Feeling considerably better since the Chiropracter experience, I walked through the village and down Dark Lane, which I knew led to The Admiral Nelson. As good as it would have been to have had a second pint of Bishop’s Finger, I resisted the temptation for another day and walked back along the towpath, sublimating my desires with an ice cream from the gift shop at the next lock.

Thursday 7th June

I strolled around the marina to see if the pump out hose sight glass had been fixed and how. There was now a proper sight glass in place, so it did not take long to fix it, which is good business sense as money would have been lost had it not been.

I also got into conversation with a man named Guy on nb Suzie 2, moored just inside the marina entrance. He was in Pyrford Marina some years ago, but had since sold his house to buy the 70 ft boat and continuously cruise, except that he had broken down and was awaiting repairs to the hydraulic drive system, which appeared to have been a botch up from the word go. He had other teething problems too with the cocooned centre engine overheating. It was a very smart Aintree boat, but with lots of problems.

I let go shortly after this conversation, heading for a quiet mooring where I could have a BBQ to cook this rump steak that I had halved and frozen, as it was getting past it’s sell by date. It seems that the weather made my mind up where to moor for me, as the heavens suddenly opened and I pulled in hurriedly on some piling. Just at that minute nb Lady Grace came around the corner and Richard Heasman decided to do the same.
Richard is the man who put me in touch with the former owner of Stronghold, as his boat was also on the Pelican moorings then; he has since moved to Calcutt Marina. His son Andrew was with him on board, as well as the three dogs. We caught up on a load of gossip over the next hour or so and he came up with a device to relieve the alternator of the initial heavy load when charging the batteries and even offered to fit it for me when back on the home mooring. I did have that BBQ after all, when the rain ceased in the evening.

Friday 8th June

Richard and I parted company a little later in the morning and I cruised on to Napton, where I winded and reversed back onto a convenient mooring. At this time of day there were plenty of spaces available on 14 day and 48 hr moorings, but by 3 pm they were all taken. I had a close shave with nb Marie Babette on the way, as they had stemmed up in the mud to rescue a lamb that had fallen in the water and had to be returned to the off side bank. They followed me to the winding ‘ole and the man offered to take a line as I reversed, but I was not going very far back and we got into conversation as I tied up.

A little later in the afternoon, I walked up to The Folly and Gary and Denise were sitting outside succumbing to temptation. I asked if I could join them. Boating tales flowed back and forth, but one rather unusual one was when they were pre-warned about a racing pair of Noddy boats coming round the bend towards them. The hire boats were full of well oiled young males, who then proceeded to jam the boats together in a bridge ‘ole, so blocking the cut for an hour and a half. The boats were so wedged in the hole that one of the protruding bolts on the wooden protecting rail pierced the hull, which would be 6mm thick! The lads were doing even more harm to the hulls in an attempt to extricate the boats and the hire company just did not want to know, until Gary explained to them not only their responsibilities to other people and CRT, but the amount of additional damage the crew were doing to the hulls. After which, they came out in force to rescue the boats and reopen the canal. Fortunately, it was 7 pm and there were not many boats about, but earlier in the day the incident would have caused chaos. It would be most interesting to see how the outcome of this incident was finally resolved.

Another BBQ was in order again to finish up the steak which was far better cooked this time and not so dry as the previous nights meal.

Saturday 9th June

Most boats behind me moved off the 48 hr moorings this morning, so I took the opportunity to pull further back in the hope that the wi-fi would be improved, which it was. It would appear that Napton has village wi-fi, but I do not have the security code for it yet. However, there is a good BT signal here and there was nothing where I was previously, which was only 150 yds away.

The morning was taken up with all those little things that need doing, answering emails and writing this blog. It is amazing how fast the time seems to disappear.

Time soon came round to when my daughter and her man appeared on the towpath bearing gifts and expertise, so after catching up on the nitty gritty, Jim wanted to have another look at the batteries and electrics and it was discovered that they were not charging as I previously stated, which puts a completely different light on the problem. We went off to The Folly for another meal out and were shown to our seats my Mark, the convivial landlord. The meal was not only large, but the quality was unsurpassed and the chips were genuinely home made on the premises. They were peeled, cut, blanched, dried and then deep fried to perfection and we ate every one of them. Normally I do not eat chips in restaurants or pubs, as they are always frozen, but after begging a chip from a neighbouring table first, I knew they were the real thing. The rest of the food was excellent too, by the way!

Captain Oakie and his No.1

Sunday 10th June

It was time to go battery charging again on a reasonably long run and although it had been wall to wall sunshine at 6 am, the sky had now clouded over with some wind. Shortly after leaving Napton, I turned at the junction and headed the short distance to Calcutt to collect the BMC rocker box gasket and two alternator belts, all of which they had in stock. I made enquiries as to whether there was an electrician on site, but as it was Sunday, there was not. Although I had gone down one lock with another boat, there was no point staying there, so I returned to the junction for another short stop.

I covered most of the way to Braunston before mooring up in the sticks, but there was a TV signal and enough phone signal to download my emails.

I made several stops to check the state of the battery and the voltage had picked up to 14 volts by the end of the day. To add to that charge I also ran the generator for a couple of hours.

I finished up the Phad Thai that I had from a takeaway and had since been frozen. With some fried cashew nuts on top, it was still delicious. I am now totally out of food, so I will have to go into Braunston again tomorrow to stock up on food, which is no great hardship, except for carrying it back to the boat, but then it is all downhill.

As much use on a narrow boat as an umbrella on a yacht.

Monday 11th June

It was a beautiful morning with mist on the water, but the sun soon appeared and it was going to be a hot day with no wind. Plenty of boats on the move too, making the best of the good weather.

The batteries were in good form too, reading 12.8 v and 12.6 volts. With all this sunshine the solar panel will have a good effect as well. With this strong sunshine the 50 watt panel will keep up with the demands of the fridge.  Although I needed supplies, I was in no hurry to move and could happily have stayed here all day, but needs must and I eventually cast off at 13.00 to make sure of a mooring in Braunston.

I was in good time to get a vacant mooring and pulled in close to Butcher’s Bridge again, behind a boat called Kottingham. I remember reading about fitting out Kottingham way back in the eighties in Waterways World, so I had to verify this with the present owner. Not only was it the same boat, but he was Jack Parker, another member of NBT. The world is getting smaller by the minute!

I eventually got around to walking up to the village to get supplies, but the choice is so limited I just ended up with two bottles of wine and a steak and kidney pie from the butcher. I walked down Dark Lane to The Nelson as before and had a couple of pints by the lock, gongoozling the Noddy boaters going through and winding gate paddles before ground paddles, but then I probably did it when I first started boating.

Butcher's Bridge at Braunston, or Bridge No.1.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 8

A Weekend Off The Cut and Bad Beer.

Monday 28th May

No rain this morning, but an overcast sky and no wind. After writing this up, I was about to set off for the chandlers for some silicon to seal the hatch before adding the Creeping Crack Cure, but as I passed Jack once more and gave him some food that I was overstocked with, he happened to mention that he had some silicon and gun, so that will save a visit to MS. I winded outside the marina entrance and set off with a view to mooring outside The Old Royal Oak.

Progress was slow, as two boats ahead of me, was nb Olso, who seemed to open up when passing moored boats and then slowing down again in the open countryside – most frustrating and no indication was given to let anyone pass. The guy on the following boat indicated to me that whoever was steering Oslo must have been asleep, to which I gave the thumbs up sign. What is it with these people? Do they deliberately set out to annoy others?

Eventually I did reach the said pub and pulled in shortly before Jack passed me. We had a few brief words and he was on his way. I asked for a pint of Abbott, which was the only ale on tap and it was not until I got outside that I realised I could not see through the beer at all – a pint of sludge. Returning it to the bar, the boy offered me anything else but English ale, so I had a pint of Bierra Moretti. This attitude seems to sum up these large chain pubs, which are mainly staffed by school children and manage by people who are ignorant or just plain lazy. I think a strong letter of complaint is called for.

A Greene King pint of sludge.

Moving on shortly after, I arrived at Rugby just after 4pm and found a mooring close to The Black Path, which will take me to Tesco in the morning.

Tuesday 29th May

Although there was a red sky last night, the weather didn’t promise much first thing this morning. After answering several e-mails and doing the engine check, I eventually got to Tesco with a day sack to carry the small amount back to the boat. By the time I had finished a light lunch it was close to 3 pm, so rather than go back to that dire Harvester chain pub, I made the decision to move on The Barley Mow at Newbold – big mistake, because even though it was close to 3.30 pm, the moorings were full up. I passed another boat moored up after the tunnel and he complained about the lack of places to moor.

Coming up to the Brinklow Marina entrance, I decided on the spur of the moment to try it out. It certainly is big with many boats, as I found out, because it can’t be seen from the canal. Water was on the jetty and electric on a meter, neither of which I needed. There was no wi-fi either, which is unusual for a big marina.
A nights mooring was £10, which is par for the course in these parts. The marina is not owned by Brinklow Boats as I thought.

Shortly after I had moored up and paid the harbourmaster, another boat came in for diesel reversing onto the diesel pontoon. There was a lady in a wheelchair on board who could operate the engine controls, whilst the man decided to moor up. Although he had the stern against the bank, there was no way that he could get the bow in, which was making its way slowly towards Stronghold in the very light wind. I went out and held a balloon fender between the two boats until he got the centre line to pull the boat back in. Birdbrain boaters once again, because all he had to do was to drive the boat forward in line with the pontoon and then he could get hold of bow and stern lines – easy peasy! You could not make this up, because you would not be believed.

More stir fried chicken tonight, as it is hardly the weather for a BBQ. Anyway, it is not really the thing to do as a visitor in the marina.

Wednesday 30th May

After getting watered up on the pontoon in the rain, I set off when it had eased somewhat. Not far from here, I spotted a water vole; now when I was hire boating back in the seventies, they were a very common sight as they swam across the cut in front of the boat, but the numbers have been reduced every year, probably due to pesticides and those black enamel bastards called Mink. Getting to very familiar ground now nearing Sutton Stop and the rain had eased up to just a grey day. Several boats coming towards me and because of the blind bends, usually at bridge ‘oles, I was using the air horn regularly, which was fortunate, because at Bridge 9 the unseen boat coming the other way, went into reverse at the last minute and so lost complete control of her boat and was across the cut. She admitted to hearing my horn, which is very loud, but it seems that she made no effort to slow down at all.

Panic Stations!

Arriving at Sutton’s, there was one mooring available on the approach, but it was on a bend, so I thought I would go round the turn and see what was there, Luckily there was a vacant spot just beyond the water point. It was time to pay my annual pilgrimage to The Greyhound.

Thursday 31st May

Mist over the water early this morning, which promised a fine day, but not until after midday, when it got very hot in the sun.

There were several jobs that needed attending to, now that I had time, so I tackled sealing the hatch with silicon this time, which Jack Reay had lent me. The engine was screaming again on revving up, so the alternator belt needed tightening. The solid fuel stove was looking very dirty and a bit rusty, so that needed blacking. Before any of this could be seen to, I had a chance to get on a better mooring opposite the old engine house. There were two alternatives, either I motored up to Bridge 13 at Bedworth where there was a winding hole, or I could reverse to the turn and wind there. With only one boat on the visitor moorings, I decided on the latter. With several corrections, I did manage it, much to the surprise of the gongoozlers outside the pub, who probably wondered why I was doing everything backwards.

There will now be a few days break while I take time out to spend at my daughter’s house in Coventry.

Sunday 3rd June

Well, what a fantastic weekend that was. We went to a pub or two and the best night of all was Saturday in The Greyhound with my daughter, her man Jim and Mouse and Karen aka Mrs Mouse.

A jolly time in The Greyhound at Sutton Stop.

Luckily for me, Jim was kind enough to get me another pair of batteries to replace the ones that were not being sufficiently charged by the alternator. There will some investigation taking place, when he links them up to a 230 volt charger to see what effect it has. To affect a jury repair on board, the two pairs of battery banks were linked in parallel with a jump lead when charging, but the link had to be removed when the engine was stopped, otherwise the lower charged batteries would discharge the newer ones. My intention is to go to Calcutt Boats for a replacement rocker box gasket, alternator belts and to see if they can do something to repair the engine charging circuit.

Mouse and I travelled from Sutton’s down as far as Old Oak Wood together and Karen was kind enough to offer me lunch on their large foredeck. She had already offered a whole cake each to Toody and me when we met up – generosity indeed. We parted after that, as they had to get back home the same night to the Peak District.

I cruised gently to The Barley Mow at the far end of Newbold Tunnel, where Mouse told me there was a mooring space left. Sure enough, it was still there when I arrived. Nb Enceladus passed me later and the steerer new my name – how is that I wonder? After a quick pint in the pub, I ate and went to bed early.

Monday 4th June

I stopped to water up in Rugby next to a boat that had been at Cannie Cavalcade and after the ususal conversation,  I mentioned that I did not have an entry form for next year, but they did. In fact they had two copies and kindly parted with one.

Onwards to Clifton upon Dunsmore, where I had arranged to visit a chiropractor in the morning, to find out if he could do anything for my back. In the meantime, I spent the afternoon reading and answering three days of e-mails and writing this up.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 7

Domestics and Birdbrained Boaters

Friday 25th May

It rained quite hard in the night and at 04.30 I could hear dripping water. On further investigation, the Houdini hatch was leaking again and quite severely this time, so a bucket was hung on the handle as nothing else could be done at the time. If it got too heavy with water it could break the handle, so it was checked a few times before I went back to sleep until 10am! Never have I slept to late – just about 12 hrs.

As it was still raining, I decided to stay until it was due to cease at about 13.00 and then go up the flight with another boat if possible.
Eventually another boat did come along at about 12.00 and the rain was down to a fine drizzle by then, so we went together. I had come up the Stoke flight with them, so I knew that they were not very experienced boaters. The lady who was doing the locks had hurt her back also, but she refused to steer the boat, which slowed things up considerably. It was when she slipped over on her bum, that things changed and they decided to moor and wait for a boat with a larger crew, which left me with a lady steerer and a young man, on another boat and he insisted on doing all the lock work. As usual on a lock landing, I tie a bowline in the end of the centre line, drop it over a suitable bollard and put the boat into gear with a tiller string on to hold the tiller in a straight line. This has never failed me and the lady on the accompanying boat was the only person who has ever asked how it was done. I showed her the two ways of tying a bowline and although she had a book of knots, she had never learned to tie any of them – how can anyone steer a boat and not know any knots?

I pulled in above Buckby Top Lock and went into the New Inn after a while. Surprisingly there was now BT wi-fi in the pub: whether it was theirs or not I don’t know, but it was a strong signal.

Colin phoned me in the evening after I had had difficulty with the NBT Pubs database and led me through the procedure step by step for transferring the existing data into my own database. I have put a great deal of effort into this and other databases that he has designed, which have been abandoned for various reasons, so I was delighted to get this one back under my control.

Saturday 26th May

There were sporadic showers this morning and it was to be a murky day until early afternoon. I set up all the necessary lights for Braunston Tunnel and made sure that all fenders were lifted. It was busy boating morning with many going the same way as me, as well as in the opposing direction. Being a Saturday, several hire boats were out with new crews.

I entered the tunnel behind another boat and there were three of us in line astern, but the boat ahead was slow and when an opposing boat met up with it, the steerer put the boat across the tunnel and blocked it, so no one could pass. Eventually they passed each other on the wrong side. When I got to Braunston Top Lock, the woman was steering, if I can call it that? She could not steer a wheelbarrow and was hitting almost everything as she passed. As I was the first in the lock, I closed the gate on my side as a precautionary measure to stop her hitting my boat. She was so slow, it was painful to watch. None of these boats mentioned were hire boats either!

After such a dreary descent of the six locks, I moored just above Butcher’s Bridge and wrote this up. Now it is time to try and seal the Houdini hatch with Captain Tolly’s Creeping Crack Cure; I saw it recently in a chandlers and the name has now been changed to something much more mundane – shame!

I walked up the three locks to The Admiral Nelson and was looking through their very large collection of recipe books with pint in hand, when I spotted an interesting Spanish dish, so copied it on the mobile camera. The lady sitting on the nearby sofa asked if I wanted to sit there, so I accepted and we got into conversation about boats, of course. Shortly after sitting down who should appear but Jack Reay. I was so surprised that I didn’t even offer to buy him a drink! I turned out that he had not been that far behind me on the GU. Anyway, I did get him a drink after all.

Sunday 27th May

When I awoke this morning, I could hear that dreaded bubbling sound, which indicated that a pump out was due. Sure enough the toilet bowl was full to within 2ins of the top – no banging the boat about today! The first thing was to get dressed and go to the marina loo, for which I have a key (don’t ask). Unfortunately, the key did not fit. I remember it being difficult last time, but however I manipulated the key, it would not turn in the lock. I remember there being another loo close to the Stop House, so asked the lady from Gongoozlers Cafe, (not Gongoozlers Rest any more), if I could borrow the key – success and all was well.

Next on the agenda was to move into the marina arm and get tokens for pump out and washing machine. Being a Bank Holiday, the office did not open until 10am and by that time Jack Reay had appeared with his laundry too, so further conversation construed over a cup of tea on my boat. When Tim Coghlan turned up to open the office (the other staff were all at Crick Boat Show), he remarked that I was now famous with all the photos of last year’s opening with Tim West. Although I had seen four pics, he said there were at least six in various publications.

After successfully pumping out, I left the long hose along the wharf and continued with the laundry, Whilst another boat plugged the fitting into his boat. Unfortunately the sight glass, which was actually made of clear plastic, finally broke away from the tap fitting at the end of the hose. The other guy was a scientist/engineer and pointed out the It had been broken for some time by looking at the break and had only been hanging on by about ½ inch of material. There was much activity finding keys to workshops and someone who could help with a repair, but by that time I had backed out of the marina and moored at Midland Swindlers for a new stainless steel chimney and some Captain Tolley’s juice. Just before I moved off the mooring, I decided I had better try the chimney to see if it did fit. Much to my surprise, it did not, so I had to return it for a refund. All these chimneys were the same size and slightly smaller than the six inch collar, which is standard, so I can’t see them selling very many, if at all.

Sealing the hatch later, I found that the sealant was running right through and onto the floor below, so it looks like I have to run some silicon round there first. Another visit to MS later it seems.

There was thunder and lightning around now, so I covered the hatch with a piece of translucent plastic to keep the rain out. It was weighted down with that short section of railway line, that I knew would come in handy one day. And did it rain; so much so that the towpath was awash within a minute of tow and there was even hailstones at one point! I did sympathise for a fellow boater passing by, because there was no warning at all.