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.

Saturday 6 June 2020

My Maiden Voyage on an Historic Pair. 7

22nd May 2011

Heavy rain preceded another sunny day. I had previously collected the car from across the cut to go in the official car park and was able to easily offer Mouse a lift to Ricky station, with him praying that there were no engineering works to stop him getting his connection from St Pancras on time. That left Barry, Keith and myself to show the boats. Again it was another busy day talking to people interested in the pair and trying to make it as interesting as possible, without going on too long. It was encouraging to find some visitors really interested in how the boat families lived in such a confined space and worked the pair of boats.  I found also, that as time progressed  my introduction became better and more concise. I found it relatively easy to answer questions, having read so many books on the subject.

A late lunch cooked by Barry of bacon steaks, eggs and mushrooms was enjoyed by all, before we set to work to close up the boats at 4 pm. The information displays were removed and top planks positioned on the stands before the side cloths were unfolded and tied over the top planks to keep both the top planks in position and side cloths tight These were then covered with the top cloths and tied to the gunnels to keep the hold water-tight. This is a considerable amount of work and there is some skill in tying the strings to keep them taught and using the correct knots to do the job. It has to be done by at least two crew and as Keith left at 3pm, it was all down to Barry and myself.

Side cloths up and top planks secured.


Clothed up.

It had been a physically demanding, but very enjoyable week and of course there were periods to recover in between the activity when steering, or waiting for the boats at locks. Steering the motor boat involved about 90% concentration, but steering the butty involved only about 10%, because the steerer was only responsible for the direction of the stern. The fore end being entirely directed by the motor steerer. Like most activity on the cut, it is a case of learning the routine in a series of events and once that is grasped, moving on and learning a new technique. On this trip Trevor signed me off on double locks both up and down, as well as steering the motor and the butty in my training book, which every NBT crew member is issued with when they join. All the techniques are listed to be completed and when a book is full, the member is eligible to be proposed as a captain, provided that a first aid course is attended and a YHA Helmsman Certificate passed.

NBT Training Record.

Monday 1 June 2020

My Maiden Voyage on an Historic Pair. 6

21st May 2011
It was a very sunny start to the first day of the Ricky Festival, which brought out the crowds by the thousand. The towpath was packed most of the day with loads of people interested in the NBT pair and coming on board for a short tour of the butty cabin. I dressed for the first time ever in boaters Sunday best, complete with embroidered cotton shirt, corduroy trousers, waistcoat, spider belt and neckerchief, topped off with the obligatory bowler hat, much to the amusement and hilarity of the rest of the crew. Despite that, I persevered all day with several people wanting photographs. A lady selling raffle tickets was also in traditional dress, complete with bonnet, so Mouse photographed the pair of us together on the towpath. I don’t think any of us stopped talking to onlookers all day and it was pretty exhausting.

Sunday Best as traditionally worn to church.

Ready for the wedding?

Professional photographers photo. 
Not sure if it was ever published.
Pity about the wrist watch.

After we closed up invitations towards evening, Barry cooked up a delightful chicken and prawn stir fry, followed by fruit salad and cream before we departed for the beer tent. Horror upon horrors – all the draught ale was sold out! There was only Guiness, lager and cider remaining, so it was decided to repair to The White Bear, where a heavy rock group were playing at full volume making conversation difficult, if not impossible. All the same the beers went down a treat after all that talking. I was introduced to Mike Askin from nb Victoria, who was much younger than I had imagined, having watched several videos of his on You Tube, which I can thoroughly recommend for their content and technical production.
The day’s activities were highlighted by an event that cannot be omitted here. As Tesco’s car park was immediately opposite our mooring, it was easy to shaft the stern of the outside boat across the cut to go shopping, leaving the bow still attached. Trevor was the Captain of this trip and had left his car in their car park, so was shafted across to deposit all his belongings in his car before departing for home. Unfortunately, he overreached himself between boat and bank and took an unplanned swim! Sadly, no one had a camera available at the time.

My Maiden Voyage on an Historic Pair. 5

20th May 2011
Ricky Festival
It was a day spent preparing the boats to be shown to the public. I was allocated to the engine ‘ole and spent several hours Gunking the chequer plate deck along with polishing the brass and copper pipe work. Also on the agenda was clearing the mud box – not an easy and very pleasant task, but who was I to argue, being the newcomer and cabin boy. I should explain that the mud box is below the fresh water inlet in the hull supplying raw cooling water to the engine. Because  that water is sometimes muddy it collects in the mud box before its journey to the engine. The top is bolted on with about 8 bolts and a gasket to keep it very secure and prevent leaks of water into the surrounding space. Once the bolts are removed and the top taken off, the only viable way of cleaning out any mud at the bottom is by clawing it out with your fingers – as I said, not a very pleasant job.
Meanwhile the remainder of the crew where polishing the outside brasswork, sweeping the hold out, rearranging top cloths on the top planks and displaying the NBT explanatory posters. We did stopped for a brief lunch and finished about 6pm.
Mouse and I bought all the ingredients for a beef casserole, but had no container in which to cook it in the recently cleaned out coal range oven. We walked into the town hoping to find one in a hardware store, having already measured the internal size of the oven. I seem to remember that there was only one hardware shop and most of the utensils were plastic, but there were more than enough charity shops around and we discovered one with exactly the right sized dish and lid for £2.99 – bargain! The meal was in the oven by 4pm and the range was heating up perfectly, so in four hours we had a ready one dish dinner that was thoroughly enjoyed at the end of a hard day, before repairing to the beer tent for some well earned ale.