Saturday 31 August 2013

Smartphone Apps for Boaters (17)

I thought bottles of tap water that cost more than a bottle of beer was 'taking the piss' so to speak. But there are other little items that make me say I don't believe it! The 'Practical Knot Pack' As featured on CaRT's website features fifty essential knots for every occasion. Includes two different colour pieces of cord to practice the knots illustrated in the accompanying book. Available for £10.39.

Web Based Animations.

Click Me
Alternatively, you can get two different coloured shoe laces and go and watch then put into practice some of the knots on animated knot tying on the 42nd Brighton (Saltdean) Scout Group Animated Knots website. (Free of Charge)

Also web based animations are available at NetKnots.Com (Free of Charge)

The selection of rope knots is for use by boaters, paddlers, scouts, search and rescue, and all outdoor pursuits. It includes a range of essential utility knots. Although there are literally thousands of different knots, the knots illustrated and animated here include the best knots from the three primary knot categories: Loop Knots (make a loop in the rope), Bends (rope to rope knots) and Hitches (rope to object knots).

Smartphone Apps.

The How To Tie Knots - 3D (Free of Charge)

Animated app will be your personal assistant in the complex craft of knot tying. You don’t have to worry if you can keep all the necessary knots in your mind. We have collected over 45 essential knots in one app to help you learn new knots or to refresh your memory of the ones you already know. Once you have downloaded the app they will be at hand in your mobile device wherever you are – fishing at a lake, climbing a mountain or just staying home with your everyday household chores. Animated step-by-step instructions won’t let you get confused, and a straight-forward classification system will help you find the required knot quickly and effortlessly. Save your nerves and good mood, you will need them for something else!

For animated knot tying on your smart phone. Animated Knots by Grog is simply the best and most comprehensive teaching and reference tool for boaters, climbers, fishermen, scouts and hobbyists. Watch as knots tie themselves in simple step-by-step photo animations. 

Click to get the Animated Knots Smartphone App

Use the manual controls to step through the animations frame by frame as you learn each knot. Tap the info button to get detailed descriptions about each knot's correct use, advantages and disadvantages, and other information. (purchase price £3.50)

Knot Animations Include : Albright Knot, Alpine Butterfly, Lineman's Knot, Anchor Hitch, Fisherman's Bend, Arbor Knot, Ashley Bend, Ashley Stopper Knot, Oysterman's Stopper Knot, Australian Braid, Back Splice, Bimini Twist, Blake's Hitch, Blood Knot, Bowline, Bowline on a Bight, Bowline - One Handed, Running Bowline, Braid with One Strand, Buntline Hitch, Carrick Bend, Chain Sinnet, Monkey Braid, Chain Splice, Cleat Hitch (Deck), Cleat Hitch (Halyard), Clove Hitch (Loops), Clove Hitch (End), Clove Hitch (Half Hitches), Lanyard Knot (Cobra), Portuguese Sinnet, Coil Attached Rope, Coil Unattached Rope, Constrictor (Loops), Constrictor (End), Constrictor (Folding), Cow Hitch Using End, Cow Hitch Using Loops, Lanyard Hitch, Crown Knot (Back Splice), Crown Sinnet, Distel Hitch, Double Fisherman's, Overhand Knot Join, Double Overhand Stopper, Dropper Loop, Figure 8 (Flemish), Directional Fig 8 Loop, Figure 8 Flake, Figure 8 Follow, Figure 8 Bend, Fig 8 Double Loop, Flemish Flake (Spiral Coil), Girth Hitch, Half Hitch, Half Knot, Hasty Webbing Harness, Hunter's Bend, Icicle Hitch (Loop), Icicle Hitch with End, Improved Clinch Knot, Klemheist, Lighterman's Hitch, Masthead Knot Mat, Matthew Walker, Monkey's Fist, Munter Mule, Nail Knot, Noose Knot, Orvis Knot, Overhand Knot, Palomar Knot, Tie up a Package, Perfection Loop, Prusik Knot (Triple Sliding Hitch), Rapala Knot, Square (Reef) Knot, Rolling Hitch (Clothesline), Turn & 2 Half Hitches, Sailmaker's Whipping, Sailor's Whipping, Sheepshank, Sheet Bend, Shoelace Knot, Fieggen Shoelace Knot, Sliding Splice, Slip Knot, Snell Knot, Eye Splice, Surgeon's Knot, Surgeon's Loop, Child's Swing, Tensionless Hitch, Bow Tie, Four-in-Hand Necktie, Half Windsor Necktie, Windsor Necktie, Timber Hitch, Trilene Knot, Truckers Hitch, Turk's Head, Uni Knot, Wall Knot, Wall and Crown, Water Knot, West Country Whipping, Zeppelin Bend

Waterways comparison website!

Yes I know, 'compare the meerkat' has some tenuous link to this blog. In the main because the writer has a passing resemblance to Alexandr Orlov. But we have no connection to 'compare the market' but I thought it would be interesting to do a 'inland waterways -v- highways comparison' of my own. 

Are boaters fools? 

Ask that question around a group of boaters and I am sure that most people would answer with a guarded 'no'. I expect it would also gather a few trite 'only when I'm drunk' type of retorts. However if I qualified the question with a few observations first. Then maybe in a way we are fools to ourselves. 

Like all things in life boating is a hobby or even an obsession with some people. It provides a holiday retreat and for some it might even be their home. In effect its very much like an expensive recreational vehicle but one that travels on the water. Which is a very acceptable analogy. There are other similarities such as where large and small caravan parks provide an acceptable equivalent to a marina or sanitation block. 

There are many roads over which the recreational vehicle can travel. If there's a blockage on one road. Then alternative detour routes can be used to continue the journey to your destination. Short of a small delay you could plan your arrival and departure with some certainty.

Compare this to the waterways.

On the waterways, your option is to sit out the stoppage or turn around and choose a new destination. You are always taking a gambol on the waterways, due to poor maintenance.  Forward planning can be thwarted in a moment, due to poor maintenance. Your return within your planned schedule is always going to be at risk, due to poor maintenance. There are many single points of failure such as some locks left working for years on a single paddle. This is in the main because the maintenance on the waterways is poor and reactive rather than effective and proactive.

The road fund licence for your recreational vehicle is very much like paying for a boat licence. You can't use the roads or waterways without one. On the roads, it depends on how polluting the vehicle is. The cost varies from as little as £35 to around £200. You can use all public roads in the UK.

Compare this to the waterways.

On the waterways it depends on how long your boat is. Currently the Canal and River Trust waterways the minimum cost of a boat licence is £467.39 rising to £488.89 next year. The current maximum is £1016.32 rising to £1063.07 next year. Some of the waterways are owned by the Canal and River Trust. Some are owned by the Environment Agency, Peel Holdings for instance. There are others such as the Norfolk Broads that have different licencing schemes. You may need additional licences or short term permits to enter and navigate their waterways.

Before you can take your recreational vehicle on the road you need insurance cover. If your recreational vehicle is over a specified age you will need a MOT certificate. If you place your recreational vehicle on a campsite site or in a caravan park for an extended period say a six month summer season. You can give the ministry of transport a SORN (statutory off road notification) you can then claim back unused months on your road fund licence. If you store your recreational vehicle off road the winter months it is the same. A typical cassoa silver site, would do 3 months storage for your recreational vehicle for £60.

Compare this to the waterways.

Before you can place your boat on the waterways, your waterways craft will require insurance cover. Depending on the crafts age it will also require a boat safety certificate. In the vast majority of cases if your boat is stored in a marina, you will still need a boat licence. You will also have to pay marina costs. Charges are very variable but you will certainly need to budget for £2000 or more.

The Department for Transport is responsible to parliament and the general public for the English transport network. Plus a limited number of not devolved transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The department is run by the Secretary of State for Transport, currently Patrick McLoughlin. Ministerial salary including MP pay £107,108. Responsible for around a quarter of a million miles of roads. There are no performance related pay or bonuses.

Compare this to the waterways.

The Canal and Rivers Trust is responsible for around 2000 miles of inland waterways. The outgoing CEO was on a reduced pay of £190,000 but in actuality with a bit of smoke and mirrors remained on his previous remuneration of £220,000. David Cameron the Prime Minister is on a salary of £198,661 and he is supposed to be responsible for everything with no performance related pay or bonuses.

As an aside, the Canal and River Trust are currently trying to encourage members of the public to become 'Friends' of the canals. In a recent survey of boaters, expressing their thoughts and perceptions about the Canal and Rivers Trust. Included a wonderful comment from a respondent that summed up everything. There are no "friends of the M1".

Is what we are given value for money and do you feel its managed in a transparent and fair way. I will ask the question again, are boaters foolish to themselves or is some charity extracting the urine?


Friday 30 August 2013

Returning calls is not BW/CaRT Policy!

I have never figured out what happens to those emails and telephone texts sent to BW/CaRT. I assumed it was a big black convenient hole. That was until I read an article about the Sheffield Floods which happened way back in 2007.  Click Here to read. 

Basically its the story of a boating family caught up in a disastrous flood. Said to be a 1 in 150 year event. The lack of compassion by BW CaRT is astonishing. Then read this account of the night of the flood. Click Here

Quote: 'Telephoned Fearns Wharf - BW Regional headquarters -  and elicited a promise to ring back. Nothing. Rang again. Cried. Another promise to ring back. Nothing.'
Quote: 'Went to Fearns Wharf in Leeds to cry at them in person; not invited beyond the lobby; they said that promising to return a call had been against their policy and wrong.'
QuoteNew person from BW phoned, "Business Services Manager", to complain that I was calling too often for information. Had resolved to say "The Navigation is Closed" at the end of every sentence and had no new information to impart - recounting of the flood story and discussion of User Groups melted slightly the resolve to treat me as a nuisance.

Nothing will ever surprise me about BW senior managers who decamped to CaRT to continue the same as before.


No matter the season of the year, there is always a reason to look forward to the next one. Even those cold, crispy, frosty and fresh snow days in the middle of winter, can be very enjoyable. Being wrapped up warm and returning with cold earlobes and a bright red nose helps to highlight the deep warmth of the boat stove. Its when the season begins to change and it turns to the wet, slippery slush that I don't enjoy. But it is nature giving notice of the change into the next season. 

Spring, arrives and its a time of new life, rebirth and renewal with the first of the snowdrops. Tough little flowers that everyone enjoys seeing, but they are to small to pick so they get left for everyone to enjoy. Still cold but refreshing, warm, beautiful, delightful and unpredictable. The first of the new seasons lambs start to arrive in the fields. The air changes and the sun starts to climb higher in the sky. The length of night shortens and the first catkins start to appear along with the first shoots of grass. The trees begin to make their buds swell. Evenings and nights are still cold but those sun warmed mornings are a joy. Later, daffodils and bluebells and birdsong in the morning speak of the summer, just a few weeks away. The canal seems to lose that stark look.

I always think its difficult to say when spring stops and summer begins. Bright fields of oilseed rape and the leaves on the trees start to loose that almost translucent green of spring freshness. The daisies arrive and Lambs frisk and play. But we get our attention diverted by a myriad of flowers that lay all around. Migrant birds like swallows and swifts take our attention. The rain is warmer and then there are those special hot blue sky days make us cast of our clothes and our inhibitions as we wear shorts, tee shirts and crocks. Holidays are taken and everyone seems to be happier. The canals are an oasis of sun dappled shade. There are Butterflies and Dragonflies along the rivers and canals. Summer storms with thunder and lightening soon clear the air once more.

As late summer draws towards a close, we see bitter crab apples in the hedgerows along with the ever so slow ripening of green blackberries. The leaves start to look old and sunworn. Those few untouched meadows full of wildflowers have started to loose their colour and soon the seeds will fall and the meadow will be cut for winter feed. Lambs have grown and are ready to provide a new harvest. Notice of the autumn is given.

This is the best time of year, autumn. There is something inside us that clicks with the autumn. We have seen everything grow, bloom and set seed or fruit. I suppose its a time of plenty and  a time when the life on the canal gives us the best perspective of nature. In a way we are on the inside looking out. Now we look at weather reports hoping for a few more days of sun. Enjoy it whilst you can, the winter is on the horizon and another year has passed. 


Thursday 29 August 2013

Another one in the eye for CaRT

For some time now the Canal and River Trust has earned the occasional, less than honourable mention in 'Private Eye' magazine. Now the usual fare for Private Eye are the fiddling Politicians and the Corporate Tax Dodgers who with a nod and a wink of the government are bilking the country of billions in unpaid taxes. Even before he took up office Richard Parry managed to get a mention in the Eye's despatches after being appointed as the replacement for 'Reliant Robin'.

Well, the new CaRT boss must have arrived on day one at the crash and burn scene that is the inner sanctum of ivory towers. On looking around, he must be stunned by the depth and breadth of crazy CaRT projects. It seems such a pity that a charity with such a multitude of innovative ideas on what to waste money on. No one has come up with the idea of disposing of the 'friends' lucre on preventative maintenance.

Private Eye is the favourite read of government ministers and whitehall mandarins. First to find out what's happening and secondly to see if they have been rumbled yet. So CaRT continue to get more and more frequent less than honorable mentions. Plus public notoriety that money can't buy.  Just like the sports pages, most eye readers turn to 'In The Back' a regular section made famous by the late Paul Foot. Which tradition has been carried on by Ian Hislop of 'Have I Got News For You' fame. Ian Hislop has been puncturing egos in Private Eye and on Have I Got News For You for more than a quarter of a century.

This current issue has moved on from the odd single article of the doings in 'Ivory Towers' to now having a whole section with the headline 'Waterways'. This time along with the headline, there are two articles. The first entitled 'Trust Them...' I think you can guess where that is going. The second article is 'Moor Not The Merrier...' and that title also cuts out the guess work.

It was predicted (leak) in the eye some time ago that DEFRA and the EA waterways would be under some scrutiny by the minister and his team. Lo and behold, or shock horror depending on your viewpoint. In a carefully timed 'news release' intended to coincide with CaRT's birthday celebrations. Defra certainly put the kibosh on the celebrations when it announced the 'postponement' of the transfer of parts of the Environment Agency river navigations to the Canal and River Trust. 

Not least of the observations made by the eye, is CaRT's new attitude towards boaters and other waterways charities. Hopefully this situation will improve with the leadership of Richard Parry, it's to be hoped so!


The Loss of Astrid

95-year-old Astrid tall ship run aground off the west coast of Cork, Ireland. Launched in 1918, Astrid was a 42-meter (138 ft) lugger built in the Netherlands. It was later transferred to Swedish ownership, renamed to the Astrid and sailed on the Baltic Sea until 1975. It then sailed under a Lebanese flag and was allegedly used for drug smuggling. After being found burnt out on the coast of England in the early 1980s, it was overhauled and used as a sailing training vessel. Astrid ran aground off the coast of Ireland on 24 July 2013, and subsequently sank, with all on board rescued.

Photograph of Astrid by Ger Kelliher

While attempting to enter the harbour near Kinsale, County Cork, Astrid ran aground near the Sovereign Islands, in southern Ireland. It was one of 50 vessels participating in Ireland’s 2013 Gathering Cruise between Oysterhaven and Kinsale. It suffered engine failure, which prevented it from pulling itself off of the rocks. On board were 23 teenagers and 7 adults. The thirty crew members were rescued from the tall ship.

Foulridge Tunnel Bats.

I have a great experience to report.

Early this afternoon we went through Foulridge Tunnel on the Leeds Liverpool canal. Just over the border into Lancashire. Foulridge is almost a mile long with several ventilation shafts. Just after entering the portal, we became aware of bats. Because we have a bow light to illuminate our way through the tunnel. Shining upwards to give an arc over the roof that we can aim the bow at.

We keep the back of the boat in complete darkness with internal lights turned off. We don't use a light on the back deck, as an aid to improving night vision. We had a wonderful display of Daubenton's some so close that you could almost reach out and touch them. At first I thought we had disturbed a roost. Then I realised that they were hunting some tiny insects being drawn to our bow light. I can only assume that there was a hatch of insects taking place inside the tunnel. 

The bats were also overtaking us from the back which makes me feel that it was not a disturbance but actual serious feeding. Three other boats behind were also observing good numbers of bats. We enjoyed the experience so much, we turned around and did the passage again. This is the first time I have seen this sort of behaviour. We have passed through 26 major canal tunnels in the last three years some almost three miles long. I have often wondered about bats in the tunnels, but never spotted any before. Today it was a spectacular experience.

I estimate that there were up to 20 individuals. We also had a fleeting glimpse of one individual that seemed to be half as big again as the daubenton's. It came straight up the tunnel passing close to the roof (about 6 feet overhead) and passed us at a good speed, it did not seem to be hunting like the others. The bats went to within about 50 yards of the exit, before passing back into the tunnel over our heads.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Do you Pod?

I have a small Apple iPod that I use as a book at bedtime. I enjoy listening with the light off. I have a Sony Digital Walkman for the occasional late night music enjoyment. But I find that the iPod is ideal and makes it very easy for downloading podcasts from the Internet via my laptop. My favourite podcasts are in the main the BBC radio four comedy stuff. 

So if you are wondering what a podcast is, a podcast is an audio or video file, usually a recorded or edited from a broadcast. Usually the podcast content is edited to remove bits that use visual clues or props where the humour would not carry so well. 

There are thousands of free podcasts to choose from. In my case the Podcasts are made up of a series of audio files taken  from radio four programs to which I have subscribed. I then automatically download from the iTunes website for free. I like the concept of the podcast, because no one person owns the technology. It is freely available to listen too. If you are so minded you can even create your own Podcasts on any subject under the sun.

Here is a sample of a podcast about : Nb Tarporley 

For something a bit off the wall try the podcast: 'The News from Lake Wobegon' There’s something intriguing about this weekly podcast, where writer Garrison Keillor gives listeners a 15-minute update about life in the sleepy fictional town of Wobegon.

To a point, some humorous podcasts are not funny. Some of the new genera of comedy escapes me. So you might just have to shop around as the saying goes 'your mileage may vary.'

With more than 250 episodes to its name, The Bugle is hosted by John Oliver and his long-term collaborator Andy Zaltzman, it provides a weekly dose of topical satire that manages to be both thought-provoking and uproariously funny. NB: Occasional use of strong language.

If you are into politically flavoured comedy this podcast is fronted by Matt Forde. Starting with Forde who is an accomplished stand-up delivering a topical routine before welcoming a political heavyweight for a fun filled roasting. NB: Strong language throughout.

Silence of the Lambs

The weather had been well behaved all day, so we carried on for a bit longer than normal. After a very relaxing day long cruise on the Leeds to Liverpool canal, we arrived at Bank Newton Locks. The flight of six locks are closed and secured overnight because of the need for water conservation. We decided to stop for the day as we would not clear the flight before closing time. We knew from previous trips, its a bit noisy at Bank Newton. Especially with the occasional aircraft passing overhead on low level training flights. But by evening we knew that the sounds of the countryside would be the only distraction. I enjoy mooring the boat away from conurbations because I find the sounds of the countryside to be very soporific. Or that’s what we would have hoped for. As the evening drew near and the countryside seems to enter that clear sky period of indigo velvet nightfall – and it was slowly growing quieter and quieter.

It was shortly after nightfall, that we began to notice the persistent bleating of sheep and lambs in the nearby fields. As it got ever darker, so the plaintive sound of the woolly flock was carried across the fields on the breeze to our moorings. It was not the occasional bleat, now it was a continuous wall of bleating with no gaps. As I lay in my berth, the sound seemed to get even louder. I think is was due to more and more sheep and lambs joining in the cacophony. I sometimes snore and Mag's has taken to wearing earplugs to enjoy a good nights sleep. It was time for my version of earplugs, the ear buds that I use for listening to my iPod. Plugging in my iPod I started to listen to a half hour long, BBC radio four podcast. With the sound of the podcast and the softening of external noise by the ear buds. I quickly dropped off to sleep long before the podcast ended.

This morning, at first light the dogs were quite restless. They were moving around in the boat which in turn woke me up. As I removed the ear buds, I was surprised to find that the noise of the sheep and lambs continued. I could only assume it must have been going on all night. Then as I stood on the back deck, with a cup of hot coffee in hand, watching the dogs snuffling round in the grass. As if by magic, the sound of the countryside started to increase. Rooks were calling, from nearby trees. A cock Pheasant was calling. But all were competing with the bleating sheep and lambs. Then the sheep and lambs suddenly all stopped bleating. It was suddenly quiet, almost in an instant. It was as if someone had thrown a switch and turned them off. Now, I find that the 'silence of the lambs' is somehow deafening.

I have this urge for mint sauce.


Tuesday 27 August 2013

Summer Cruise 2013 (32)

River Went Aqueduct

Very heavy rain overnight which continued into the morning.

Morning: A relaxing morning spent doing very little. A chat with the crew on board Nb Ferroxy Lady.

Afternoon: Enjoyed watching the boats pass on their way to Stainforth Festival.

Evening: Quiet night sitting out in the warm sunshine with a few beers.

Wildlife: Pipistrelle Bats.

Todays Total.
Miles: 0.0
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels. 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1.4
Solar Panels: 51 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1568.5
Locks: 1036
Swing / Lift Bridges:229
Tunnels. 26
Pump Outs: 15
Engine Hours: 2693.7
Solar Panels: 10448 Ah

Smartphone Apps for Boaters (16)

Missing your favorite podcasts on iTunes?

Don't worry, we've got you covered. This App lets you search podcast in the iTunes' collection directly on your Android device! Plus it pulls the top podcast chart from iTunes for you. Just download it and enjoy the most popular podcasts in the world on your Android devices.

iPP Podcast Player is one such Android app. (Free)

With the download support, you can download using wifi and play it any time, any place you want. Save your data consumption. With home screen widget, your favorite podcasts are just at the tip of your fingers.


Working to Rule

We were traveling along the Leeds Liverpool Canal when we came across a couple of land surveyors. They were taking painstaking measurements inside the locks. It was not the depth of the lock Neither was it the length of the lock. Neither was it the width of the lock. It was not whether the paddles were stiff or broken. It was not a check on how easy the lock gates open or close. Not even a check on whether the lock gates were leaking. No checks were made on the lock walls.

The important data that was being collected was on the lock ladders. With their special pole mounted measuring device measurements were taken of the distance from each rung of the ladder to the wall. Now call me old and cynical but one might have thought that the people who installed the ladders might have a formula that they used. Not only that but many locks have been provided with good serviceable ladders for about 40 years. Though climbing slots were cut into the face of some lock top gates for many years previously. I have seen the odd gate with similar slots. I'm not sure if the slots are intended for heritage purposes.

Now, what happens if the clearance between rung and wall is not suitable for todays health and safety requirements for feet. Will the ladders be replaced or just removed. If they are replaced will they stand proud of the wall alignment providing a snag to catch your fenders or paintwork. Or will the lock walls require deeper channels cutting into them to provide enough room for the health and safety requirements for our toes?

It seems that the boys who are doing the measurements have a list of around 400 locks to measure. Locks which are scattered around the system between Gargrave in the north and Oxford in the south. Nice work if you can get it me thinks.

Monday 26 August 2013

Summer Cruise 2013 (33)

River Went Aqueduct to Long Sandal

Light rain overnight and continued overcast until lunch time. Broken cloud and the temperature went up and up!

Morning: 10:30 start and we join a passing boat to share the swing bridges and locks. As we reach the swing bridges boats returning from the Stainforth Carnival seem to be doing everything for us. Even the usually difficult Syke House lock was in our favour. 

Afternoon: Stopped at Barnby Dunn to dump rubbish, fill the water tank and have a shower. Then it was a gentle cruise to our overnight mooring at long sandal. We met up with Nb Abigail Jenna Ifor and Sassy the dog. We rekindled the conversation from last year on the same mooring. Did a bit of paint maintenance work on the boat.

Evening: Fantastic sunset a few beers and match of the day - bliss!

Wildlife: Kestrel, Tawny Owl, Common Tern, Red Darter, Four Spot Chaser. Most surprising of all, was a wild growing hop plant with hundreds of hop cones forming. Pipistrelle Bats in the evening.

Todays Total.
Miles: 8.6
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 7
Tunnels. 0
Pump Outs: 1
Engine Hours: 6.4
Solar Panels: 121 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1577.1
Locks: 1038
Swing / Lift Bridges:236
Tunnels. 26
Pump Outs: 16
Engine Hours: 2700.1
Solar Panels: 10569 Ah

Easy Target

There is quite a furore going on at the moment. No, not the old chestnut about the pros and cons of cassette over pump-out toilet system. That argument was settled a long time ago. The overwhelming evidence points to a macerator pump out as being the best option. The updated version of 'bucket and chuck it' that is a cassette is so old school and has been consigned to canal history. 

However, in this instance the furore is one that has been fabricated about people overstaying on visitor moorings. Now I am a bit philosophical. I don't make the common assumption that everyone on a visitor mooring has overstayed. I have no idea at all if that is the case on arrival. Because we are out on our boat and away from our home territory. Unless I want to overstay on a mooring to monitor the comings and goings which would defeat the object. There is no way that I am going to actually know. So I make the assumption that it was just a bit of bad luck and I can either move on or ask someone if I can breast up to their boat.

With the best will in the world, there are other problems that need to be sorted out first. How many times have you come to a mooring to find boats not sharing mooring rings. This poor practice is leaving what was described as 'privacy gaps'. There is this notion bandied about of being a 'considerate' boater. But I have had boaters on visitor moorings refuse to move their boats closer and close up the 'privacy gap' to allow me enough space to moor. I have had people refuse to let me breast up when I have asked. In that instance, I don't have an axe to grind. Some people just do not like people walking across their front or back decks. 

So what will the Canal and River Trust do to educate boaters on a more friendly etiquette. If boats around me move on and my boat becomes isolated in a gap, I will move the boat to make a single larger space. I will always share a ring. I offer to let other boats breast up alongside. I get taken up on the offer, about 50% of the time. But I don't wait to be asked I always offer.

Here the angler dries his keepnet on the no fishing notice.
Yet at the same time there is another huge elephant in the room that I have come across many many times. But not only on visitor moorings, but on lock landings and water points. I have been greeted with shouts and arm waving, I have had threats to break my boat windows and other kinds of abuse such as maggots and ground-bait thrown at the boat. I don't see or know of any meaningful consultation taking place to address the issue. I don't see any suggestions such as on the spot £25 fines being levied against the miscreants. In this case the whole of a landing can be 'off limits' to boaters from early morning to late in the evening.

A second angler dries his net.

This huge elephant is totally ignored by the Canal and River Trust. There is none so blind as those that will not see. The reason for this 'wilful blindness' is because your boat has a name and number. You can hardly pick up your boat and walk away. Fishermen can pack up their tackle and move on in no time at all. In other words boat owners are a soft and easy target.  A rich source of incidental pickings for fines and charges. 

Canal and River Trust North East Head Quarters
Fearns Wharf Neptune Street Leeds
So by way of example, the two fishermen in my example above are located on a river pontoon. The pontoon is clearly marked - No Fishing - and is located outside the offices of the Canal and River Trust at Fearns Wharf Leeds. A place where CaRT staff are walking by all day long. No enforcement here - well not unless you overstay on the pontoon. That'll be £25 please, kerching!

CaRT is putting you in your place and setting the ground rules. Even the name of the staff has been chosen well. What message does 'enforcement' carry. No doubt someone somewhere will be used to make an example. Just to make all the others sit up and take notice.

Dear Mr Smith.

I am sorry to have to inform you that you were observed by our 'enforcement team' to break the CaRT bylaws last year. The first offence was for overstaying by an hour on a six hour visitor mooring. The second offence was for overstaying on a water point by twenty minutes. The third offence was for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of your boat licence. On two occasions you failed to move the required distance for a progressive journey within seven days. On one occasion you were noted to cause a disturbance for a group of fishermen on a lock landing. Causing them to have to remonstrate with you.
Our automatic allocation of costs in pursuit of our fines have already been withdrawn from your bank account under the direct debit mandate created to collect payment for your boat licence. 
Under our compliance totting up procedure the canal and river trust is unable to issue a boat licence this year. I hereby enclose a 28 day notice to remove your boat from the trusts waterways. Here is a list of local councils where you can apply for emergency accommodation for you and your family. 
Have a nice day!

Exbury Egg

The Exbury Egg will be a temporary, energy efficient self-sustaining work space for artist Stephen Turner in the estuary of the River Beaulieu. The Beaulieu River, formerly known as the River Exe, is a small river flowing south through the New Forest in the county of Hampshire in southern England. The river is some 12 miles long, of which the last 4 miles are tidal.
The 'Exbury Egg'

The Egg is a place to stay and at the same time a laboratory for studying the life of a tidal river.  The Egg will be ‘tethered’ like a boat and will rise and fall with the tide. The 'Exbury Egg' aims to evaluate the way we live, to consider sustainably and future use of natural resources. Stephen Turner is interested in exploring a closer relationship with nature. Developing through direct experience an understanding of local natural cycles and processes and the relationship of the environment to human activity in the seasons of the year.

The Egg Afloat

To quote Stephen Turner ‘Climate change is already creating new shorelines and habitats. Established salt marsh is being eroded by a combination of rising sea levels and falling landmass and the entire littoral environment is in a state of flux. The implications for wildlife and for the flora as well as for people are challenging. Raising awareness of the past and the unfolding present of a very special location will be the task, whist living in an ethical relationship with nature and treading as lightly as possible upon the land.’


Summer Cruise 2013 (26)

Leeds Armouries Moorings.

A very noisy night as friday night in the centre of a city tends to become. I don't know how the residents in the flats and apartments round the basin go on. But screamers, shouting singers and just plain shouters up to 4am would not be an attraction for me. This seems to be a good reason for why the property price have fallen and there are a few up for sale.

Morning: Yesterday we left the Leeds Liverpool canal and did a mile or so along the River Aire to get to where we are. Its a busy place with late night people a bit dishevelled still going home and one or two smartly dressed ones on their way to work even at weekends.

Afternoon: A visit to the Maplins store. 

Evening: A few beers and watching TV.

Wildlife: Pidgeon.

Todays Total.
Miles: 0.0
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels. 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 0.0
Solar Panels: 0 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1550.2
Locks: 1035
Swing / Lift Bridges:229
Tunnels. 26
Pump Outs: 15
Engine Hours: 2679.0
Solar Panels: 10220 Ah

Sunday 25 August 2013

Smartphone Apps for Boaters (19)

Here is an extract from a recent email from Rebecca Nesbit.

Thank you very much for all the flying ant sightings, they are still coming in. We've been very interested to see that flying ant season seems to have been so long this year, and many of you have reported not yet seeing any, so hopefully there are more to come. Click Here to report any observations of flying ants.

Incy Wincy Spider was a favourite nursery rhyme for my two daughters, though they now have children of their own. Living on a boat means that you will come into contact with spiders as I believe they have a thing about being able to travel and meet other interesting insects to have round for dinner. After our recent experience with a plague of flies whilst moored in Goole. We are being a bit less proactive over evicting the spiders. I am sure that many of you will have learned about using Horse Chestnuts to deter spiders. An urban legend and old wives tale that does not work. Rebecca has a request for people to report house spider sightings. 

You may have noticed an increase in house spiders, and this week we were excited to launch our house spider survey. You can report your house spider sightings online Click Here. Or alternatively you can download our smartphone App Click Here to report your sightings via your smartphone.

For facts such as why some flying ants are larger than others there’s lots of information on our blog. Click Here and if you have any questions at all please add a comment below an ant blog post and I’ll do my best to answer it. I have enjoyed hearing about your experiences.

Have a great bank holiday, and I hope you see some flying ants over the weekend. 

Thank you again for all your support.

Best wishes,

Dr Rebecca Nesbit MSB

Follow me on Twitter @Society_Biology and @RebeccaNesbit
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The seven blunders of the inland waterways.

Some sixty six years ago, the Seven Wonders of the Inland Waterways were listed by Robert Aickman in his book titled 'Know Your Waterways'

"The waterways are charged with magic, but nothing about them is more magical than the difference made by the few feet of water which separate the boat from the land. Those few feet instantly set the boatman in a world of his own, and his vision of the outer world through which he glides, becomes magically calmer and clearer. Again, this may sound whimsical and improbable. The degree to which it is true can be confirmed only by experience."

Aickman was highlighting the continuing deterioration of a national asset and treasure. Written in the hope of kindling change. Aickman chronicled his seven wonders, not of the ancient world - but as his choice of the seven wonders of the inland waterways. 
The first of the seven wonders are the 29 locks at Caen Hill near Devizes, opened for traffic in 1810 on the Kennet and Avon Canal. The derelict locks required years of dedicated restoration work and were reopened in 1990. Engineer John Rennie.
The second of the Seven wonders is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Opened for traffic in 1805. A cast iron trough carries the channel on top of the aqueduct. Engineer William Jessop and Thomas Telford
The third of the seven wonders is the Anderton Boat Lift Connecting the Trent and Mersey Canal with the River Weaver. Opened in 1875. Designed by Edwin Clark. In 1983 problems caused the lift to close. It reopened in 2002.
The fourth of the seven wonders is Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The 5,698 yard tunnel is both the longest and the highest canal tunnel in the UK. Started by engineer Benjamin Outram and completed under John Rooth opening in 1811. Closed to traffic in 1948 reopening in 2001.
The fifth of the seven wonders is Barton Swing Aqueduct. Designed by Edward Leader Williams and opened in 1893. The aqueduct swings open, full of water, to allow the passage of ships along the Manchester Ship Canal.

The sixth of the seven wonders is Bingley Five Rise Lock on the Leeds Liverpool Canal which were opened in 1774.
The seventh of the seven wonders is Burnley Embankment on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. Designed by Robert Whitworth and construction started in 1795. Later, the Falkirk Wheel was added to the list in some cases as a replacement for the Burnley embankment.  

Aickman walks the St Helens Canal
Robert Aickman as a man was an enigma. There are several biographies written about the author and canal historian himself. On the canals Aickman and Rolt were the founders of the first iteration of the IWA. Which in turn is now just a shadow of its former self. 

Will the inland waterways continue to be allowed to decline and fall once more. Tom Rolt wrote in his book Narrowboat "if the canals are left to the mercies of economists and scientific planners, before many years are past the last of them will become a weedy stagnant ditch, and the bright boats will rot at the wharves, to live on only in old men's memories. It is because I fear that this may happen that I have made this record of them."

There are many 'sevens' such as the seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, that has been used since early Christian times to educate Christians about fallen humanity's tendency to sin. In the currently recognized version, the sins are usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony.

The Seven Social Sins, sometimes called the 'Seven Blunders of the World' is a list that Gandhi wrote. Later, he gave this same list to his grandson, written on a piece of paper. This was on their final day together, shortly before his assassination. The seven sins or blunders are - Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice and Politics without principle. 

Today, we think of blunder as a particularly bad but foreseeable and predictable mistake. The prophetic title of Aikman's book ''Know Your Waterways.'' and Gandhi's 'Seven Blunders of the World' started me thinking of recent achievements on the Inland Waterways. However, my thoughts were slanted towards the 'Seven Blunders of the Inland Waterways.'

My first choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways was retaining the old BW management team. As a group who have been at war over the lack of maintenance with the boating fraternity for years. The transition from state to the third estate was bound to fall at the first hurdle. After experiencing the first year I see no reason to change my mind.
My second choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways was flying in the face of the minister and other by not creating a paid membership of the new charity. Maybe its because the membership would ask awkward questions. There is a subtle difference between clarity and opacity.
My third choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways was dumping the 'British Waterways' name and logo. To be replaced by the angry swan of the Canal and River Trust. For a strapped for cash organisation this was a crazy move. Wasting many thousands of pound in replacing a well known and cherished household name, Logo and Brand. A bit of directors vanity in that one. To ensure that careful aim was taken before shooting foot!
My fourth choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is the ill-fated venture between Scottish and Newcastle Pub Enterprises and British Waterways a project to jointly own 100 pubs across the country which then lost almost three million pounds. Quote in Design Week: "The pubs will not be a Mickey Mouse chain but will retain individuality,' according to a British Waterways spokeswoman. They will feature design-led work, such as informational pictograms for boaters and branded British Waterways 'elements." Which turned out to be prophetic and succinct words indeed!
My fifth choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is British Waterways and its aspirations as a property developer which lost thirty three million pounds at Gloucester Quays. The plans, promoted by a partnership between Peel Developments and British Waterways, include a new bridge to carry St Ann Way over the canal, a designer outlet shopping centre, a new campus for the Gloucestershire College, a food superstore, a 90-bed hotel, offices, business units, shops, car parking and 1000 homes. Even more of a grandiose idea with another cash devouring finale.
My sixth choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways are the five 'historic Dutch barges' owned by the Canal and River Trust. Dieu De L'avolou, Martine, Louisiana, Niagra and Linkisi. Purchased by Mark Benstead and brought to London at huge expense. With losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds it has proved to be a very costly mistake. Doomed to failure from the outset - as a failure it proved to be a resounding success. 
My seventh choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is 'BWB/CaRT -v- Nigel Moore' I don't think any further qualification is needed. As thousands of pounds of charitable donations is wasted once again. They were wrong, they knew they were wrong, but still carried on digging. Lose face or lose public money, was there ever a choice!
My eighth choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is. While no one is held to account for the costly failures, everyone has to share the blame. When failure is rewarded and not challenged, ask yourself what are the lessons being learned. Only a robust root and branch action will bring about change. Do the CaRT trustees have such intestinal fortitude to bring around such change. I don't think so.
My ninth choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is. Now the family silver of the inland waterways is being put up for sale on ebay. CaRT is selling off our heritage and with it some of the tangible parts of our history. A form of asset stripping that harks back to bad era in industry.

My tenth choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is. The Canal and Rivers Trust is responsible for around 2000 miles of inland waterways. The outgoing CEO was on a reduced pay of £195,000 but in actuality with a bit of smoke and mirrors remained on his previous remuneration of £220,000. David Cameron the Prime Minister is on a salary of £198,661 and he is supposed to be responsible for everything with no performance related pay or bonuses.
My eleventh choice for Blunder of the Inland Waterways is, .........

Blunder after blunder to be added to the ever growing list of foreseeable and yet still unaccountable 'faux parThinking about numbers, we have seen the seven dwarves of CaRT, 101 dalmatians  I wonder if there is a list of 101 CaRT blunders to come. Or maybe there are enough for a play on '1001 arabian nights'...