Thursday 27 October 2011

Double Tradegy

Every year someone loses their life rescuing pets off the ice or when they get into fast running water. Every parents nightmare is for a child not to return home. Accidents happen and canals and rivers are dangerous places to be at this and any time of year.

Yesterday, two teenagers lost their lives after falling into a canal. The 17-year-old girl and 18-year-old boy were pulled from the water in Smethwick, West Midlands, by emergency services but both died later in hospital. I don't know anything of the tragic circumstances, but I know that there will be families and friends in shock at the deaths. Our thoughts are with their family and friends.

Distraught families often call for more areas of canals and rivers to be fenced in. But it is not possible to "nanny" society to this level. There is no single cure or fix to the problem of youngsters taking risks on the water or anywhere else. Every year young people lose their lives in tragic circumstances around our lakes, canals and rivers. The only remedy is to try to drive home safety around water into our children in their formative years.

Whilst we were on our cruise this summer I noted a few places where rescue equipment had been vandalised. Often places with fences have been allowed to fall into disrepair. There are many personal safety challenges to us as boaters which we try and prepare ourselves for. We are used to working around locks and stretches of towpath that are reaching the end of their working lives. We are much more aware of the dangers than the youngsters we see playing alongside the canals and rivers.

Yet if we cast our minds back to when we were youngsters. We took risks without a second thought. Our elders were just "old farts" that thought they knew it all. We were young, full of energy and daring and we certainly felt that we were immortal.  I lost friends in accidents and I sometimes feel that we have been lucky in life. Yet as a young man I spent 18 months in hospital recovering from the aftermath of an serious accident. I recovered to go on and lead a full active life, however not everyone gets a second chance like me.


Wednesday 26 October 2011

Footie fan

Most of you will know that I am a football fan. I support Manchester United and obviously I enjoy it when one or other player gets himself into the media spotlight. Wayne Rooney and Grandmothers as well as Ryan Giggs and trouser zips come to mind. Talented they are, paragons of virtue they are not.

I know that some like the Dirty Digger media empire would say, because they are in the public eye and have a celebrity status that they should be paragons of virtue. Also that they have some sort of ill defined duty to be squeaky clean in their private lives. This guidance being the idea of the Telephone Tapping Media mogul who currently dominates the news.

So come on then, put up your hand if you are a squeaky clean individual. mmmm, not many hands on view. Now, there are others that are in the media and celebrity spotlight that do things that would make anyone say WTF was that all about!!!!

Mario Balotelli, like him or loathe him is very unpredictable player on or off the pitch.

Mario is also having something of an unpredictable time at home. The fire brigade were recently called to extinguish a fire in his bathroom. Sparks on and off the field seem to be his trade mark. I say this because the fire apparently was started in the bathroom by a firework. Now call me old and cynical - but WTF were fireworks doing in his bathroom and WTF were they set off?

While every other premiership Lothario's is busy doing the usual like being entertained by prostitutes or sleeping with the other family members spouses, Balotelli gets it on by setting fire to his own house and crashing his cars. Mario, a word of advice. The bathroom might not be the best place to have a firework display in. You should try the front parlour or the boot of your car.

So as the 5th of November approaches and our children get ready to celebrate Guido Fawkes night. (Guido was once voted the best man to enter parliament)  Who better to be a firework safety ambassador than Mario Balotelli.



Sunday 23 October 2011


Keats wrote a poem to "To Autumn" where the first line is "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness;" The poem describes the change from late Summer to Autumn and the close arrival of Winter. Yet for me there seems to have been two seasons of fruitfulness this year one of which is very questionable.

The Autumnal crop of Blackberries in the hedgerow were preceded in early August with riots in London and several other towns. The riots were characterised by rampant looting by the perpetrators on an unprecedented scale. Popular with the looters were electronics shops with their flat screen televisions and BlackBerry's of a different kind. It must have been rather curious for some to go home with their stolen TV's only to watch themselves later on the news.

But it did not stop there. Soon the looters fruit theme continued to include Apples. Not apples in the corner store green grocer. No these apples were also in electronics stores.

The apple forms a tree that is small and deciduous, reaching a height of around 15 feet tall. With its broad, often densely packed crown of leaves.

Though the apple was the forbidden fruit in the Book of Genesis. Looters were only following in the footsteps of the original source of sin. Eve who coaxed Adam to share an apple of the edible kind with her. Looters were soon afterwards seen on the television news helping themselves to the Apple computers.

Looking back there have been many electronic devices that had the names of various fruit associated with them. Tangerine computers were one. The everyday "Orange" mobile phone came along much later and is just one of many such fruity devices. However, I am not aware of any electronic devices that were called "Lemon" for obvious reasons. But that's no reason to exclude lemons from this posting.

The photographic and video evidence was used by the police in the course of apprehending many of the rioters and looters. Soon the courts were working overtime, just to ensure that the Jerks received quick retribution.

Keeping to the fruit theme, soon many of the looting lemon's felt the bitter taste of the over active justice system


Saturday 22 October 2011


There is good news that some of us like to read about and then there is bad news that everyone likes to read about. It's true that bad news always travels faster and further than good news. However, there are those amongst us who having a jaundiced disposition and would like to occasionally import good news ideas from other parts of the world.

By way of an example, take this week, in the USA. Apparently "a truck carrying podiums and sound equipment used by US President Barack Obama was stolen by thieves". Now you may ask why we would want to import such news. Just imagine for one moment the scene. Cameron and Clegg the twins who talk a load of Caster and Pollox arrive at their next engagement. Only to find that someone has done us all a favour and legged it with the sound system. Bliss.

However, we also have our own home grown news stories. Dale Farm has provided us with some light relief from the daily dose of "doom and gloom" from the mongers that our politicians and news services have become.

I don't have a problem with people who choose to live in a caravan or on a boat for that matter. However, the great unwashed were out in force as usual to lend their support. Up in scaffold towers like rats up a drainpipe.

I understand that Dan Hooper aka "Swampy" was unavailable for this gig. I love the quote from protester Alice a sometime friend of Swampy "The media is too much into our lifestyle, all they want to know more about is where we shit than what we are protesting about." The media enquiring into shit sounds about right.

The Dale Farm debacle gave the boys in blue serge a reason to get in some extra overtime just before Christmas. But the one over riding mental image I have is when one of the very "forceful" ladies at the camp was being interviewed on television.

In the background was a placard that said


But there are those news stories that leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. Like the father who made his 9-year-old daughter drive him to a petrol station, because he was too drunk to take the wheel himself. How can this man can think of himself as a father. Did he not realise it was dark, and past her bed time. He could have waited until morning and let her drive then damn it!

On a watery theme which is the direction of this blog. As the quality of water in rivers and canals improves despite the best efforts of BW CART and the EA. So a very worrying story hits the headlines. The RSPB have introduced eels into three of their nature reserves.  Not only do we now have to worry about all the usual nasties in the water if we happen to fall in.  Everyone now needs to watch out for these little slippery customers as well.

A new problem has now reared it head so to speak. You may have read in the news about those health and beauty spa's that offer fish pedicures. Where the fish nibble at your feet and if you are a brave cove you might jump in and join them for an all over treatment. Zhang Nan was bathing with live eels to cleanse his skin when one rogue serpent took a liking to his todger. The outcome was that Nan ended up in hospital, and underwent a three-hour operation to remove the eel. A similar problem with an eel befell a young man in India. I'm not sure if this will have a lasting effect on the man, but it is to be hoped that "Nan Bred" before the accident.



Saturday 15 October 2011

Canal and River Trust

The new name for British Waterways is to be changed to the Canal and River Trust. Not only that, but there is to be a brand new logo to go with the change of name. Looking closer at the logo I cant help but notice that the swan has its wings in an aggressive pose. Maybe that is representative of the feelings of the waterways users.

The inherent problem for logo's that include text, is that it encourages the graffiti artist to modify the logo in some way or other. I wonder what will happen in the future to this new logo.

This is my first attempt to become a Banksy graffiti artist and I came up with "anal rust" with just a couple of splodges of white paint. There is also a spray paint opportunity for the new charity on the charitable "red nose day". I also thought a broken bridge would be a more appropriate reflection of where we are today.

I did come up with a new version logo for BW almost two years ago. You will find it here

But are there other hidden meanings buried away in an acronym of CRT.

For a start there is "Clear Risk Transfer" which I feel is quite appropriate with a £40 million deficit to overcome.

We could then be left with a "Charitable Remainder Trust" to bodge together what's left. 

There would be a "Cash Rich Team" made up of the same top few. 

Some might say that this is a "Cynical Relations Team" keeping up the good work based on their well documented past triumphs. 

Or maybe a "Crisis Response Team" after all, I feel that there is a crisis coming and it's of their own making.

Now if I was less charitable, I might say "Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust" or "Clot Retention Team".

But I expect that we will retain the "Crap Reaction Time".

Leading up to this big new future for the waterways was the "Compulsory Redundancy Time" for the real workers.

I suppose the biggest part of the new RCT will be the "Complaint Resolution Team" who will be following on behind the "Complaint Regeneration Team" Who must be deaf because when ever I ring I get a "Continuous Ring Tone".

We all know that our future lies in the hands of the "Cadet Recruiting Team" and all the good work the cadets will be doing for nothing to the pound.

I believe that the truth is that CRT is the "Center for Reiki Training". Reiki is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress. The more I read about the future under the new "leadership" of the same old, same old. The more stressed I become.

Freedom of information (FOI) requests were always difficult with BW because whenever we found out what was really happening (as opposed to a different perception or position published by BW) we became more stressed about the future. Our new "Cash Rich Team" have already said that they want to be outside of the scope of the FOI act. I wonder why? With all the lovely, extra large portions of pension cream, maybe CRT is "Cream Rich Team!"


Wednesday 12 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (8-3)

Wednesday October 12th

Ickles Lock to Tinsley Marina.
Day 52

The weather this morning is overcast and with that fine drizzle that gets into every pore. We are due to make our way up the Tinsley Flight and into our mooring at the end of our cruise. Passage starts when we meet up with the lock keeper at 9am. The dogs need to be walked before we make a start and a few chores completed before we move on.

We set off in good time and the highlight was to see three Kingfishers just before we arrived at Holmes Lock to meet with BW Lock Keeper Derek who was to conduct us back up the flight. Steady progress was made and I checked out one of the overhanging fig tree's but the figs were few and quite small this year.

Arrival back at the moorings highlighted that we were the last boat back. Now we only have to organise a short trip up to the basin for a pump-out and we can then close up Rosie until next spring.

The Summer into Autumn cruise 2011 has been for the most part a very enjoyable experience. We have met many new people some who have become friends and we hope to keep in touch with them. You know who you are and we are looking forward to meeting up with you all again quite soon.

The cruise was intended as a shake down trip for Rosie and she has proved to be faultless. It was also a shake down trip for the crew and again it has been a good learning outcome as we have been able to modify our carefully thought out plans. Some changes to the boat need to be made and some changes in us to help adapt to the idyllic nomadic lifestyle.

Now I shall start to make the provisions for over wintering and the normal day-to-day wear and tear replacement cycle. Here is the first pass of my “jobs to do” list in no particular priority order..
  1. Sterilise the water system throughout the boat before draining down.
  2. Fix problem with pump out tank level indicator.
  3. Checking the antifreeze level in the central heating system.
  4. Checking the antifreeze level in the engine coolant.
  5. Engine oil change and oil filter change.
  6. Visual check of all engine belts.
  7. Dose the fuel tank with diesel bug treatment.
  8. Check the roof joint on the stove pipe and reseal.
  9. Fill up the diesel tank.
  10. Rust spot eradication on roof.
  11. Cure small leak round saloon window.
  12. Battery bank replacement.
  13. Insulating the windows for the winter.
  14. Front cratch cover fitted.
  15. Rear cover fitted.
  16. Gas bottle replaced.
  17. Update lighting to LED
  18. Repair to pram cover.
  19. Finish fitting the washing machine.
  20. Modify the saloon table.
  21. Additional shelf space.
  22. New boat pole.
  23. Rope replacements.
  24. Side fender replacements.
  25. Button fender shackle replacements.
  26. Modify saloon table for easier access.
  27. Modify the top box height.
  28. Install and test new diesel generator.
  29. Install and test new solar panel.
  30. Prepare paintwork for re-painting in the spring.
  31. Install self pump out pump.

Daily Total
Distance: 2.5 Miles.
Locks: 14
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1995.0

Summer/Autumn Cruise 2011
Total Distance: 307 Miles
Locks: 284
Swing / Lift Bridges: 64
Tunnels 6

Canal pub, what canal pub?

On our recent cruise we tried where possible to visit a few of the old traditional and in some cases famous canal side public houses. I lived as a child in an area where the pubs catered for the Coal Mining or Steel Industry. I can even remember pubs that had sawdust on the floor and in reality were hard drinking, hard living and hard fighting establishments. There were non of these namby pamby bouncers on the door. Not unless you were referring to the latest skint drinker asking for credit to be bounced off the front step by the pub landlord. These types of establishment died with the changes in the community they clung on to. It has to be said it was often for the better.

However, I remember a time when almost every rural village had several pubs to choose from. A time when few provided anything other than at best a cheese sandwich with optional pickled egg or at worst a packet of crisps or roasted peanuts. But these pubs provided often for a small local community and each had their own regulars.

However if you wanted good home made food, you would go to a canal side pub where there was always much more choice. Canal pubs had that reputation for providing much more than the usual half a dozen different beers. The canal side pubs always had some sort of home brew entertainment with people singing or retelling ever taller tails. The pubs had an atmosphere all of their own. Each with their own "regular" clientele who had their "usual" drink and was supplemented by a regular supply of passing trade.

Many of the run of the mill pubs around town underwent modernisation in the 80's and 90' s and were then "themed" by filling shelves and walls with loads of old tosh and a few old photographs. Call me old and cynical, but I don't ever remember going into a "real" pub that had 30 different types of accordions or railway lamps festooning the walls. Well not until they were gutted, rebuilt and themed.
In its place came fizzy Lager from an aluminium cask, pressure squirted into a glass. offered as a worthy replacement for a nurtured beer from a wooden barrel drawn through a hand pump. Even beer in a bottle was changed to lager in a ring pull can. 

These updated pub have now gone through a second transformation and are now big, bland, open plan spaces with none of the old pub look and feel. Now they are built to a common layout and if you visit one, you are visiting them all. Pub group decor standardised down to the same curtains and coverings. The same alcoholic drinks and the same food menu. The old character and its community dragged out of every stone in the fabric. All that's left is the old pubs name.

Gone are the old landlords and individuality, in come the managers and the corporate theme. Now we see many of the pubs that had been "modernised" being closed.The social aspect of the pub has been cleared out - our local is now just the same as any other local. The individuality long dead as is live music, darts, dominoes, crib and god forbid even the tap room or snug conversation. Now the new pub is the supermarket, the snug is our living room and the entertainment a television set.

Walk through a town centre now and every pub has loud music. The just through puberty clientele stands in line marshalled by bouncers. The local police provide a taxi home for the binge drinker who loaded up on alco-pops before leaving home. From time to time one reveller falls into the canal on their way home. There is an outcry about canal fences and a gaggle of flowers long withered are left to mark the spot.

Traditional British Pub - RIP.


Tuesday 11 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (8-2)

Tuesday October 11th

Eastwood Moorings to Ickles Lock
Day 51

The dogs are restless the wind and rain has halted our progress and so they are spending more time guarding the stove. They both like to be up on the side seats watching the world go by as we move along. I must admit that I feel much the same. So rather than hang around waiting for the weekend to arrive we have decided to make the last run for our home mooring and to spend some time getting Rosie ready for the winter.

I have a few jobs like rust spots to treat and to over paint which if left will only get worse. So it looks like the rest of the week will be spent doing some preventative maintenance. So a call to the Tinsley Lock Keepers to book our passage up the flight is on the cards. Now we will be leaving behind the electric locks and having fun with the windlass once more.

It has been nice to have a mains hook-up for the last couple of days and not to have to keep a weather eye on the battery bank. This spurred me into action and so I have purchased a small 3KVA diesel generator as a standby power source for our cruising activities next year. After a surprising length of time I had to change over to the spare gas bottle for the galley. A 13kg Calor gas bottle has lasted us for 11 weeks of daily boating.

This morning I phoned the Tinsley lock keepers and left a message on their phone asking for passage up the flight tomorrow. So the cruise will soon come to an end and the boat maintenance can start.

This afternoon we started a short cruise to overnight at Ickles Lock. We seem to make a bee line for the Ickles lock area as it has an excellent well maintained field where the dogs can be exercised in safety. At one time it was safe to let a dog or cat sit on the tow path by the boat. The high speed cyclists now put not only boaters at risk but also our pets.

An uneventful cruise where a few changes were noted from when we set out. A few canal side trees that have suffered from the effects of recent gales. A disco canal barge that was burned out has disappeared to make it much easier to get onto the lock moorings at Rotherham. The old “North Nottinghamshire Farmers” building that is scaffold covered and being taken down brick by brick. We chanced upon two men who were clearing scrub alongside the canal. They were from Newcastle and had never seen a lock operated before. The travelled from Newcastle every day by van before starting work. After a 4 hour shift they travel home again. This is their 8th week on the job and they hope to be finished early next week. The work being done depending on the weather. Such is the management of the workforce today.

No bats detected tonight as the weather is far to wet for them to emerge.
Daily Total
Distance: 2 Miles.
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1970.1

Monday 10 October 2011

Summer/Autumn Cruise 2011 (Week 8)

Summer/Autumn Cruise 2011 (Week 8)

Monday October 10th
Eastwood Moorings
Day 50

Up early as the crew arrived to move the Humber Princess. Even though it was still pitch dark no effort was spared to make as much noise as possible. In this way, everyone else on the mooring was invited to watch their departure.

I was invited by the Memsahib to join her on a trip to the shops at Parkgate retail park. First stopping off at Morrisons Supermarket for lunch. A quick scan of the menu and we decided that the Lancashire Hotpot was to be our choice for the day. It is a busy supermarket and so we had to wait quite a while before our meal was delivered to the table. It looked to be very tasty with mushy peas and a good helping of chips. The chips and peas were piping hot however the misnamed hotpot by contrast was almost frozen.

The Memsahib sent the food back, some half hour later our replacements arrived. The difference this time was that everything was now hot. Now call me old fashioned if you must, but I did expect a simple apology. Nothing, nada, zilch. The replacement food was delivered in total silence and the member of staff melted away into the background.

This started a conversation between us over the hotpot. The outcome of our deliberations was “for Morrisons” to offer an apology of any kind would have been an admission of fault. A bit like a “Beware of the Dog” sign is an admission of owning a dangerous animal.

So to the corporate powers at Morrisons Supermarket we award the Rose of Arden Mediocre Service Award at Gold Standard.

We then returned back to the boat in a shower of rain. It was good to get inside and enjoy the warmth of the stove once more. I had purchased a copy of the Waterways World Annual 2011 and also a copy of Canal Boat to keep me entertained.

More black clouds were building on the horizon and the strength of the wind was doing the same. Soon afterwards our mooring neighbours were on their way to look for a more sheltered place along the river. We waved them goodbye as they made their way to the lock to fill up the water tank before departing towards Doncaster.

The rest of the day was spent reading and otherwise relaxing with just the occasional visit outside with the dogs to give them a bit of exercise and to do what dogs do. In the evening the Memsahibs sister Helen and husband Brian came for a visit. All to soon it was time for them to leave and as we had been up early to witness the departure of the Princess, we decided to retire early for the night.

It was another night for bats to stay home.

Daily Total
Distance: 0 Miles.
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1965.8

Sunday 9 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (7-7)

Sunday October 9th

Sprotborough Moorings to Eastwood Moorings
Day 49

I was up early as the dogs needed to go “walkies”. The scudding clouds were now coming from a different direction so maybe the weather will take a change for the better. The wind has picked up a bit but not enough to keep us here any longer. The Tawny Owl of yesterday was not to be heard but a noisy Pheasant made an appearance strutting his stuff along the grass picnic area until the dogs chased him off.

At 9:15 we were under way passing a long line of fishermen setting up for a contest. The sky was soon filled with broken cloud and the wind took on a warm feel. Off in the distance were rain clouds but we managed to avoid them with just the briefest of showers much later as we reached our destination.

The River Don and the Navigation are at their scenic best after Doncaster Town Lock all the way up to Eastwood Moorings. The scenic quality goes down a bit as you pass through Rotherham and the Rotherham Town Lock. There scenery improves once more after leaving Rotherham behind.

The journey was quite uneventful with just the stupidity of British Waterways putting other waterways users at risk by grasping for cash and letting the lowest point of the lock landings be used for mooring two activity boats.

Is it unusual for long-term moorings to be allocated on a lock landing?

I say this because of the stupidity of British Waterways by putting other waterways users at risk by letting the lowest point of the lock landings at Swinton Lock be used for mooring two activity boats. One narrow and one widebeam.

Whilst I applaud the activity centre for the work it does. Their activity boats spend a great deal of time on a day-to-day basis moored on what should be a much safer landing area for other boaters, (especially for the older and less nimble ones) to operate Swinton Lock.

At the highest point of the landing area is a space that could be used to accommodate the mooring of at least part of one of the their activity boats. Thus leaving a larger clearer space for other waterways users to get on and off their boats much more easily. Achievable by mooring one of the activity boats (when not in use) a bit closer to the long term moored Waddington barge.

To get on and off our 50' boat currently requires the boat to be placed nose in to the high point in the lock landing piling between the two boats. (Yellow Star) Then climbing up a metal ladder set into a much higher point in the landing area. Imagine as a single hander climbing up whilst holding on to your bow mooring rope. Last time we went up the ladder there were also brambles growing at this point.

There is also a bywash outlet close to this point that makes it even more difficult to position the boat for someone to climb off the bow and onto the ladder. If there is any wind it is much worse and if the lock is full there is a great deal of additional water to be released. Swinton Lock is 230ft long and 20ft wide and has a fall of about 10 ft.

The other alternative has been pointed out to us several times by individuals at the activity centre - which we choose to ignore - is an even higher metal ladder set into the lock approach. (Red star)

Not far down stream from this point and almost as a warning is a flower bedecked shrine for an unfortunate young young man who drowned in the canal here.

This is a foreseeable accident waiting to happen to some unsuspecting boater. I have reported my about the potential for a serious accident to BW in the past, and not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

We have moored up for the day on the Eastwood visitor moorings. We are moored in the company of Peter and Jeanette on Nb Joanie B. I had a nice chat with Peter and Mags had a chat Jeanette. Nb  Jazigcasane is just a little further along. The BW mooring power sockets apparently have been repaired, though one mains bollard needs the external hardware replacing. I did a quick fix using “gaffer tape” to make the card reader access doors usable.

Dear Agony Aunts.

I have just watched a puzzling action when someone drained down Eastwood Lock for no apparent reason other than to empty the lock. There were no boats going up or down - infact we had just come up through the lock. The individual operated the lock to drain the water then just walked away. I would welcome some good reason for doing this. So if you know of a reason why anyone would want to do this please let me know.

Bewildered of Eastwood Moorings.

Now, normally I am full of admiration for the crew of the Humber Princess. A large vessel is moved up what is in places a difficult piece of canal. Today on arrival at Eastwood I was surprised to see the Princess moored up in what is at best a questionable manner. With one line from the bow deployed and using only a centre line she has been moored for the weekend. The Princess is moored on the only lock landing point. She is also obscuring the entry point into Eastwood Lock. To compound the problem even further her stern has been left hanging well out over the centre line of the canal. As far as I can see there is no one on board to take care of any eventuality.

No Bats around tonight, I hoped the warmer weather would have brought some out, it seems that the rain fall is delaying play.

Daily Total
Distance: 10 Miles.
Locks: 6
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1989.8

Saturday 8 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (7-6)

Saturday October 8th

Sprotborough Moorings
Day 48

The day started at 6:15am as the Humber Princess passed through Sprotborough in the dark on her way to Rotherham to off load her cargo of oil. I am always amazed at the speed and frequency of the turnaround for the trip from Goole to Rotherham and back.

The morning sky was overcast with little if any wind. From about 5am we had been joined by a Tawny Owl that spent the majority of the time until dawn, calling from the tow path trees. What would have been a common sound of the woodlands years ago is now one to be savoured. However, I have stayed at Salford in Manchester and been entertained by a suburban Tawny Owl sitting on a street light near a small park. Like the Fox it seems the Tawny Owl is beginning to adapt to the suburban life.

The boat batteries are needing more of a regular charge now as their capacity to hold any charge is quite reduced as they reach the end of their working life. So as we were on our own on the mooring I had the engine running to from 7:30 to warm water for the shower and to top up the batteries.

Rosie has a Victron 501 battery monitor fitted and after some “suck it and see adjustments” to the settings, it would seem that the capacity of the remaining two “walking wounded” batteries is about 70 Ampere hours rather than the 220 Ah when at their best. There is just enough capacity for an evenings TV viewing before the voltage drops to the point where the TV shuts down. If anyone flushes the toilet, that's the end of viewing until we have a short recharge from the engine.

John and Tracy came to visit with a small package containing some LED lighting parts. By comparing the current flowing on the Victron ammeter I could see that the power usage was about a tenth of the power for the original lights. The light is very bright and white in colour. So we are going to look for a more softer version of the same type that we can mix in to temper the colour range.

Nb Kelly Louise arrived on the moorings in the late afternoon. This was shortly after we had rescued the old dog “Abbey” from a short trip over the side into the cut. One warm bath and a blow dry later, she had a chocolate biscuit to comfort her shocked nerves. By the second biscuit she was back to her old self. I am always amazed at the therapeutic properties of chocolate digestives.

The evenings entertainment was topped off with another evening trip by the Wyre Lady this time with revellers who were closer to octogenarians than their long gone teen years. I can report that these support stocking sobriety failures made as much noise if not more than yesterdays testosterone and Vodka fuelled revellers.

The Memsahib watched with much mirth Strictly Come Dancing. Every time compare BF (Bloody Fool) opens his mouth he gives a ratings boost for those who support a policy of compulsory euthanasia. We were soon able to pick out the three finalists from the Z List of contenders. Russell Grant the body double for The Michelin Man. Edwina Curry who could have been a body double for the artist Grayson Perry. Anita Dobson, she of the Watermelon slice smile. Dressed up as if she was going to be doing a Bette Davis look-a-like appearance in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

This was followed by the second episode of the new Merlin series. Being a fan of such genre the Memsahib was totally immersed in an instant. Every time the screaming wraith heads appeared I thought it was a reprise of the audience reaction on “Strictly” to Edwina and Russell’s performance.

It was not a good night for bats with the continuous downpour of rain. Another day for keeping the stove alight!

Daily Total
Distance: 0 Miles.
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1981.0

Friday 7 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (7-5)

Friday October 7th

Long Sandal Moorings to Sprotborough Moorings
Day 47

The wind built up steadily until about 2am when the trees opposite the mooring took a bit of a battering. After that it steadily declined so that by 7:30 it was just a strong breeze and almost flat calm by 9:30am. Later the sun came out and was warm but the wind began to build up again and tempered what little warmth there was.

At 8:30 a BW team arrived to start their days work with the Ure, Wharfe II and the William Jessop. By 10:30 the job was done. A sunken cruiser which we had seen on our way out was recovered bit by bit with a grab and transferred into a mud bucket.

Being in a recovery mood, I joined in and recovered a large Calor gas bottle floating along the canal. The bottle must have been blown in by the gale force wind of the last few days. It had not been in the water for long and as the gas tap was shut it still has some gas remaining in it.

Poppy the dog has come into season, this makes a normal placid dog into a grumpy short tempered monster. Reminds me of someone but I have not been able to bring them to mind yet! So on their morning walk with the Memsahib, the dogs decided to pick a fight with each other. The result was that Abbey is now nursing a sore leg and getting an extra allowance of cuddles from everyone. Poppy is in the dog house, a position I know only to well.

We stopped for a shopping expedition at the Doncaster visitor moorings. Whilst moored up we spotted a large group of Swallows travelling South at the start of their long journey to Africa. I think it was Aristotle who said “One Swallow a summer does not make” but one large group of Swallows travelling South does make for Autumn for me.

We passed through Doncaster town lock and while I was waiting for the Memsahib to finish closing the lock, I went scrumping for a few apples from the tree at the side of the pontoon. The river level seems to be a bit low and so the flow was quite reduced. It was a pleasure to cruise in the warm sunshine without the gale force wind of the previous day. We passed a single narrowboat heading down river and exchanged a cheery wave and hello. As we cruised on a little further we were greeted by a child with a cheery “hello” from a riverside cottage. A quick check of the watch proved that they would be just arriving home from School.

We arrived at Sprotborough and quickly passed through the lock onto the moorings. We intended having a quiet night – however the Wyre Lady booze cruise guests were their usual good natured if somewhat noisy motley crew. They returned late in the evening and disgorged the revellers onto the tow path and in a short while they had all been whisked away in waiting vehicles.

Some of the trees have been removed round the moorings and some much needed repair work is being carried out on the tow path. The effect of removing the trees has made access available to a satellite TV signal for the first time. The Memsahib watched a repeat of the first program in the new Merlin series that she had missed.

It was a very cold clear moonlight night and only a single Pipistrelle bat was detected. Another night for lighting the stove!

Daily Total
Distance: 7 Miles.
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1981.0

Thursday 6 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (7-4)

Thursday October 6th

Southfield Reservoir to Long Sandal Moorings
Day 46

I was greeted by a biting cold wind in the early hours of this morning, the harbinger of the winter months that lie ahead. The dogs had been restless during the night and we picked up on their mood. I noticed a low tapping noise that turned out to be an off-side boat fender that was being moved around by the wind. After I moved it (at 3 am) and let them have a sniff around on the tow path so that they knew there was no one around they then settled back down again. I put a bit more fuel on the stove to help them settle. Creating the warmth inside Rosie that helps to make them a bit more soporific than usual.

Today's weather forecast is for wind and rain. The galley slave reported that she needed to restock the larder so a move at some point is on the cards. The depleted battery bank is deteriorating badly now and they are in need of a good long charge to give us enough power to last through the whole of a non moving day.

I have now found some 125 Ah replacements on the T'inter Web. I downloaded the specification sheet so that I could check the physical size as well at the connection type. They come with a 4 year warranty and are of the calcium plate zero maintenance type. I shall be ordering up four when we get back.

I noticed large groups of Swallows passing through all heading South so we will not see them until next year. The Swifts seemed to have abandoned us by the end of last week and I have not seen a House Martin for at least two weeks, not even during the warm spell that we had last week. Large numbers of floating leaves are building on the canal, we have a large raft of leaves that has built up between the bow and the bank.

Waved a farewell to Diane and Mick and ships dog Jacob on Nb Ionamia as we left the moorings at Southfield. We are now heading South West as we start make our way back to our home mooring. We still have ten days before we must be back home. So we will be dawdling the last leg of our Summer into Autumn cruise hoping for just a few more days of dry weather to enjoy.

The wind meant that the boat was crabbing down the canal when the wind was at its worst. Syke House Lock was its usual challenge made worse by the wind. I watched a buzzard circling as the lock filled. However the highlight of today’s cruise was the black ominous cloud coming towards us as we approached the guillotine flood lock and aqueduct over the River Don. The wind started gusting violently and forcing the boat off course. Then the torrent of rain and hailstone began this made visibility almost nil. However we were committed to go for it as it would have been impossible to stop and moor up. We made it by a bit of nifty tiller work and gunning the engine at the right moment.

The vortex created by the super strong gale force wind passing over and under the aqueduct was pulling the over spill back round under the aqueduct and throwing it back up into the canal. It was like watching the vapour trail vortex on the edge of a plane wing. Water disappearing in sheets on our left and then the reappearance on our right a moment later. We were not worried as we were now inside the narrow aqueduct and quite safe. Plus we were wearing our new head to foot Gortex Waterproofs, we still got wet! The boat and us got a full power wash as we passed through the maelstrom.

We stopped at Barnby Dun to dry out and to fill the water tank. My hands were freezing with the wet wind chill. I had to warm them round the stove. A boat passed through the lift bride as we were filling up. When we went to set the lift bridge it started to lower the road barriers and then tripped out. We had to send for BW to come and reset everything.

First job on arrival at Long Sandal Lock was to do a pump-out. We were in luck as the pump out had been left on pause and so we were able to use the four minuets remaining to empty the tank. A free pump out in our case but we always leave the pump outs on pause when we have finished. So this time we got a payback for our spare time left on the various BW pump outs on the system.

Getting onto the Long Sandal mooring was a real challenge the wind that was gusting to about 40 mph. We had to use a shore line and the engine to work our way into the tow path side. We ended up moored facing in the wrong direction!

The gale force winds meant that I did not bother to go out with the bat detector. The gusts were far to strong to risk walking the tow path. Another night for lighting the stove!

Daily Total
Distance: 8.5 Miles.
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 7
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 1
Engine Hours: 1977.7

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (7-3)

Wednesday October 5th

Southfield Reservoir.
Day 45

Very windy and so we have decided to stay here for another day.

I was up and out with the dogs for a good walk very early. I had been jolted awake by cramp in my leg. I knew that a good trog along the tow path would help to walk off the ache. During my walk I came across a Greengage loaded with fruit. So I picked a few to eat on the way back. I would need to get the boat hook to get more than just a small handful. I shall put this location in the diary for some Greengage scrumping when we pass by next autumn.

At 11:30 Humber Pride passed us as she made her way empty towards Goole. An hour later the Humber Princess, also empty, passed us heading back to Goole. At 5:30 Rose H passed also empty heading to Goole.

Met Mick and Diane on their boat moored nearby who were having problems with their satellite system. I had it up and running in time for them to settle down for their first night of TV on the canal. However the wind was building in strength so that it kept moving the dish off the satellite.

No bats detected this evening. The wind and occasional rain squalls must make it an unattractive prospect for the bats. There was a Tawny Owl calling from time to time and Poppy was growling whenever we heard a fox calling off in the distance. As a Fox Terrier it must be an instinctive urge that she is reacting to. Generally she is quite placid most of the time. Recently we watched a program on TV about urban foxes. She was much more interested in the TV than normal and whenever there was a close-up shot of the foxes she would give a deep low growl. Yes, we consider our dogs to be domesticated. However, under the fluffy fur and behind the soft brown eyes still lies the primeval instincts of a wild animal.

Another night for lighting the stove!

Daily Total
Distance: 0 Miles.
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1971.1

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (7-2)

Tuesday October 4th
Knottingley to Southfield Reservoir.
Day 44

We returned to the boat this morning completer with a whole pile of fresh washed clothes. A late start as the boat needed to be brought down of the slipway. The blacking looked very impressive and is one of those regular tasks that helps to maintain the hull in good condition.

We were under way by 12:30 The weather was a little overcast but the wind had a very cold bite to it, so that I put on a few extra layers. A steady run past Kellingley Colliery and we stopped to do a bit of shopping at the post office near Old Whitley Bridge.

Soon we were on our way again to Whitley Lock, a call on the radio established that the lock was manned and we quickly passed through. As we left the lock I heard a commercial boat call Whitley on channel 74. He said he was approaching Kellingley Colliery and so was about half an hour behind us. We headed for Pollington Lock and as the lock came into view I called up on the radio to find that the lock was also manned. We were requested to moor up as the Humber Pride was about to enter the lock through the bottom gates.

The locking process was much slower than normal. As the Humber Pride left the lock the other commercial boat Fusedale arrived and we were three abreast in the lock entry. I was surprised when Fusedale entered the lock passing a red light! There was more than enough room for us to join them in the lock but the gates were closed on us before we could move. We have shared the same lock with the Humber Princess in the past.

After Fusedale cleared the lock, the lock keeper cleared off in his van leaving the lock set against us! Not a word to us on the radio, just the change to an amber light to indicate manual operation. After clearing Pollington Lock a short cruise soon brought us to Southfield Reservoir, we decided to moor there for the night.

I lit the stove tonight as the temperature was a bit low for creature comforts aboard. The dogs love the stove to be lit and Abbey soon took up her usual guard position, sat on her haunches directly in front. Years of experience have honed her senses in detecting the slightest hint of warmth from any heat source. Some dogs can sniff out drugs, Abbey can sniff out the slightest trace of heat.

One Pipistrelle detected.

Daily Total
Distance: 10 Miles.
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1970.1

Observers Book of I-Spy Working Boats

Observers Book of I-Spy Working Boats

Do you remember from the 50-60-70's the little brown Observers book of (some aspect of everyday life). I have a couple of old copies of the Observers Book of Birds and the Observers Book of Birds Eggs. I remember having a copy of the Observers book of Aircraft – which is unfortunately long lost.

Then there were the I-spy books of the 50-60's and Big Chief I-Spy. I understand that the I-Spy books are now being updated and re-published once again.

So by way of a nod to my childhood – I have created my own list of the Observers I-Spy of Working Boats. The ones that we have “Observed” are in bold text and the ones we are hoping to eventually “I-Spy” are in normal text.

Now I know that the list is short and that there are many other current and once upon a time “working boats” still out on the canal. So if you know of any addition to my list of the Observer book of I-Spy Working Boats. I would be pleased to add them to the list.

  • Robin Hood
  • Arthur-A-Bland
Work boats:
  • MCB13
  • Pride of Collingham
  • Calder
  • Hood
  • Hiddekel
  • Humber Princess
  • Humber Pride
  • Humber Jubilee
  • Humber Energy
Dry cargo barges:
  • Humber Enterprise
  • Humber Renown
  • Battlestone
  • Easedale
  • Heather Rose
  • Farndale
  • Fossdale
  • Fusedale
  • River Star
  • Seagull
  • Inland Navigator
  • Risby


Monday 3 October 2011

Summer/Autumn Cruise 2011 (Week 7)

Summer/Autumn Cruise 2011 (Week 7)
Monday October 3rd
Day 43

A late start as the boat needed to be brought up out of the water and onto the slipway. The pressure wash started straight away and I was surprised that the freshwater mussels loosened off the hull were then thrown back into the canal.

The hull was in a very good condition after the rigours of last winter with little sign of any rust. The blacking team remarked on the good condition of the steelwork. In a few places the old blacking was removed by the force of the pressure washer to reveal bright clean steel underneath. This prompted the question was the hull made of stainless steel. The weather was good with a warmish breeze and so the boat dried off in no time at all. Soon the first of three layers of blacking were being applied to the hull.

We waited for our friends John and Tracy to pick us up, to return home for the day. The dogs were lifted down from the boat and along with a huge pile of washing and were unceremoniously bundled into the back of the car.

Soon we arrived home and the adobe ritual quickly began. I did a few chores like catch up on various bits of paperwork. A few phone calls to various people also needed to be made. It was good to be back home even if it was only for one night.

Daily Total
Distance: 0 Miles.
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1965.8

Saturday 1 October 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (6-7)

Sunday October 1st

Goole Boatyard to Knottingley
Day 42

A slightly later start after a good evening (6pm for fish and chips and then wobbling back to the boat at 12:45am) spent with good company Brian and Ann at the Boatyard clubhouse. Anyone boating in this part of the canal system could do far worse than spend an evening here. Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday evening until 9pm are the usual opening times. The Host and Hostess work hard at providing a good friendly welcoming atmosphere. The number of people who turned up proved it would be a good evening. A quiz and a Karaoke were amongst the entertainment.

We woke to an overcast day with the threat of rain in the offing. The wind direction was very variable. We seemed to keep pace with a small patch of blue sky through our days cruise. So we had frequent periods when the sun was quite warm. Ahead in the distance was a large area of black cloud. We made a steady start towards Knottingley with little in the way of boat traffic until we reached Southfield reservoir where we saw several boats moored and one boat coming towards us turned down the junction.

The shrill sharp call alerted us to a Kingfisher who then provided a special moment as it flew at high speed towards the boat. Passing low above the water between the boat and the bank.

We met a small flotilla of boats at Whitley Locks. Our thoughts went to the miners families once more as we passed Kellingley colliery which was a very quiet and sobering part of our journey once again.

Soon we were moored on our usual Knottingly mooring at the start of the Aire and Calder towards Selby. A steady six hour cruise had soon seen us in Knottingley. Visit from friends Steve and Vicky for a chat and a heering tea and coffe. After they left I had time to set up the satellite dish and to settle down to a quiet night of television watching. Stephen Fry and later match of the day providing our evenings entertainment.

Several Pipistrelle bats spotted well before nightfall provide some evidence of a nearby bat roost.

Daily Total
Distance: 18 Miles.
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1965.8

October Caption Competition

The rules are quite simple, the captions should try and reflect the water theme. I will be the judge and jury and the prize will be a mention in the ships log. The caption under the picture is our entry but does not count.

October Caption Competition.
I discovered Adrenaline is coloured brown.
The September caption competition winner was me with "Splashing Out In" as no one else entered.
To submit your caption Click on the comments tag below. Please use your real name rather than anonymous.