Monday, 31 October 2011
Friday night we had the normal few quiet drinks and a takeaway pizza before retiring early for a good night’s sleep, ready for the weekend to come. We awoke bright and early on Saturday morning to be greeted by a gloomy, misty morning. Not the best start to the day. After a spot of shopping in Lincoln we headed in the direction of Torksey Lock. The river was quiet and we hardly saw another boat on the move, sheer bliss. Upon our arrival at the lock we were welcomed by the owner of a narrowboat, “NB Emma B”. This set the tone for the evening as the three of us drank, ate and made merry. Whiling away the evening in the White Swan, with the aid of a steak pie and the crossword.
The next morning and it is time to say goodbye to our new friend. He is heading back to his home mooring on the River Trent. His crew arrives bright and early and we all settle down with some coffee planning our outing in a few weeks time onboard Naughty-Cal. It will be a great pleasure for us to take our new friends out for a cruise on the River Trent, to show them a different method of boating, not the serene plodding along that they are used to. With the boat gone it was time for us to head back home, but not before a few beers in the Pyewipe, but boy did the dark sneak up on us. We had great fun heading back in a misted up boat in the pitch black. But safely on our home berth we had a great Sunday lunch before tucking ourselves into bed, listening to the mooring ropes creaking as they go about their work.
Friday, 28 October 2011
We don’t hold too many plans for this weekend other than to clean up the boat on Saturday morning and to do a spot of shopping in Lincoln Saturday lunchtime. The last few weekends of relaxing have left the boat looking decidedly untidy so we really do need to give her a good clean. The benefit of having a small boat though is that this won’t take more than a couple of hours during the morning, leaving us the rest of the weekend to enjoy. The lure of a White Swan pie is starting to get stronger again we may have to head up towards Torksey for the evening on Saturday, spend the evening away from the marina, grabbing every last opportunity to do so before winter and the predicted big freeze arrives.
I suppose we will just have to wait and see how the weekend actually pans out. One thing is for sure though, we will enjoy it.
Thursday, 27 October 2011
This year our list so far comprises:
· Changing the galley work surface. This is a job we have wanted to do for the last three years. We hate the surface that is currently installed and think that the boat would benefit hugely from a fresh new surface, to lift the interior space. This won’t be a hugely expensive job to complete but will make a big difference to life onboard.
· Installing an inverter. This job was on last year’s list but due to other jobs being completed never got started. This year will be the ideal time to install the inverter so that we can have 240V power away from a shore power post. If only to boil the kettle in the morning it will make a huge saving on gas. We will of course have to watch our power consumption and be careful not to over stretch the battery bank. Another cheap job that we just need a little time to complete.
. Installing a 240v socket in the cockpit Another of those small jobs that keeps getting put off. We spend a lot of time in the cockpit area and the nearest 240V socket is in the galley area. It would be a great benefit for us to have an exterior water proof socket in the cockpit area beneath the table area, so that we can bring out the coffee machine, plug in the laptop, charge phones etc. Another cheap job that we just need a little time to complete.
· Service the windlass. This is one of those jobs that keep getting put off. Now that we are using the anchor winch a lot more we need to make sure that it is in full working order and to keep it in full working order it will need some attention. The motor will need stripping and inspecting and if all is fine reassembling with a liberal application of waterproof grease. Does not sound like a bad job until you try to access the winch in the tight confines of the anchor locker.
· Replacing the cabin carpets. Due to our recurring water leaks we have suffered this season, now hopefully fixed, our cabin carpets have suffered badly from water staining. Earlier in the year we removed them and washed them at home only for the water leak to reoccur a few weeks later. This time the carpets are beyond washing so we will take them out, use them as templates for the new carpets and replace them with a much easier to clean synthetic carpet. At the same time we will wash our over carpets which should help to keep the new carpets clean and tidy.
· The outboard bracket. This has been one of those nightmare jobs, a real thorn in the side. This winter we need to fabricate a way of attaching the outboard for the dinghy to the transom of Naughty-Cal. With the davits installed the dinghy is a breeze to hook on the back but the outboard is still proving to be a challenge some six months after we started the search for a suitable bracket. We have come to the conclusion that a custom made stainless steel bracket is the way forward but we need to design it and make sure it will work so will mock it up in mild steel first.
· Servicing the Outboard. This needs doing about once a year and winter is the ideal time. We will take the outboard home to do the service in the warm and cosy surroundings of the garage. We won’t use the dinghy much during the winter months anyway so we may as well take it home and offer it some protection from the elements.
· Spruce up the dinghy. We have had dinghy for most of a year now and the heavy season of use is starting to show. During the winter we will deflate the dinghy and take it home before reinflating it in the garage and giving it a thorough clean up. We will also install the bow bag and repaint the wooden floor which is starting to peel and look unattractive. This will also be the ideal time to check the tubes for any signs of damage or general wear and tear, hopefully ensuring a trouble free season next year.
This little lot should keep us occupied during the long winter months and should also ensure that both Naughty-Cal and Asbo are well prepared for the 2012 cruising season which promises to be the most action packed season for us to date.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
We are starting to think about hunkering down for the winter, bringing winter clothing, winter bedding, winter night clothes and starting to clear out the summer items such as fold up chairs for the bank side, BBQ’s, and summer games equipment. Even little things like the emergency rations cupboard are getting a clear out. We have accrued a fine selection of tinned “emergency” food over the summer cruising season and it is time to start using it up, discarding anything past its best or unlikely to be eaten any time soon, and generally clearing out the cupboard space ready for stocking up again with fresh stock next spring in time for the main cruising season.
We will still cruise locally during the winter months but we will always have one eye on the weather forecast. We don’t want to get caught out and frozen in away from our home berth or caught out by rising river levels and stranded on a flooded river. We have been here before and it isn’t a pleasant experience. That said we will still enjoy our winter cruises. There is something quite pleasing about cruising down the river in a nice warm boat with the frost on the ground and snowflakes falling from the clouds whilst clasping a steaming cup of hot soup. Winter cruising takes on a whole different look from the more popular summer cruising season but it is still equally enjoyable and with a little extra care on icy pontoons and frosty river banks is equally as rewarding. The rivers are quieter, the scenery stunning and the weather despite being cold at times can also give some fabulously sunny and still days. The summer boaters really do miss out at times but shhh, don’t let them all know.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Saturday morning and it was 9am before we rose, almost unheard of for us. We are usually early birds. After a couple of cups of coffee and a hot shower we set sail in the direction of Lincoln to do the weekends shopping. We didn’t see another boat on the move all morning barring the Brayford trip boat, Brayford Belle, on one of her last runs for the season. After a spot of shopping and some breakfast we headed back to the boat for more coffee and a dinnertime beer before setting sail once more. Upon reaching the marina entrance we were having so much fun that we carried on, enjoying the quiet river. We moored at Saxilby for the afternoon, enjoying the late season sunshine with a few beers and a couple of magazines. Eventually we decided to head back to the marina where we found plenty of people willing to help us drink some supplies. We somehow managed to squeeze eight people into the cockpit of Naughty-Cal.
Sunday morning and we are even later out of bed, 10am. With the wind whistling outside and the water lapping at the hull there was no great rush to get up. We wouldn’t be going anywhere by boat today. So after a couple of coffees we head off to Newark Marina in the car, to have a browse of their brokerage and a surprise meet up with some friends who had just arrived by boat. At about lunchtime we decided to head back to our own boat for a spot of brunch, time was flying by and we had not eaten yet. After a bite to eat we were both getting a little bored so we decided to take Asbo, the dinghy, for a little spin. She hasn’t been used for a while, in fact since we came back from Boston, so it was a great surprise when she fired up at the first pull of the cord, eager to set sail. A quick spin around the marina and we had our boating fix for the day. Happy that Asbo was still in fine fettle. Then it was time to get ready for dinner. We were heading to the Chinese restaurant at the Marina, Harbour City. It has been a while since we last ate at Harbour City so it was time to change that. Sunday to Thursday they have a great all you can eat offer for £12.50, but not the usual buffet rubbish, this is proper food from the menu. You can have two starters, a main and a side included in the price, then any extra that you order you have to eat it all, otherwise you will be charged full price. We all struggled with the first food we had ordered, there was loads of it and eating it with chopsticks made for hard work. At £12.50 it is a real bargain and we will certainly be going back. It didn’t feel like long before we were rolling into a warm bed, another weekend over and done with far too quickly.
Friday, 21 October 2011
We don’t have much planned for this weekend, we will see where it takes us but with brisk winds forecast we don’t expect it will be too far. This will give us chance to get rid of some of the summer clutter we have accumulated onboard and replace it with winter items, like extra winter coats, bedding and hats. A trip into Lincoln will no doubt be on the cards to stock up the fridge and food cupboard with fresh meat and vegetables and no doubt a trip to the Pyewipe will be in order for a few afternoon refreshments. Other than that, with no concrete plans it should be another relaxed and chilled out weekend.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
“E Pontoon” originally started with various boat owners on E Pontoon. However over the years we have gained a few unofficial E Pontooners from other pontoons in the marina and also from the residential section of the development. To qualify for E Pontoon “membership” is really quite simple, you have to like a drink, you have to be up for a laugh and most of all you need a boat. Any boat will do and we have them in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Our next party for this year is a three course Christmas dinner and evening disco at the Pyewipe Inn on the 3rd December. We have a table of 36 booked so it should be a great evening of entertainment. We have added a black tie dress code for a bit of added glamour and weather permitting most guests intend to attend by boat, with the vessels being dressed up for that extra special touch. Hopefully the weather will play fair this year and allow us to make it by water.
Plans for the New Year’s party are underway with a few suggestions on the table. Last year we split up with some of the group heading to Woodcocks for the Casino party and some of the group heading for the Yots Bar dinner and drinks party. This year, the group seems to suggest a pontoon party is on the cards however much will depend on the weather conditions and the condition of the pontoons. If they are too icy this will be a bad idea. Only time will tell where the New Year’s party will take place.
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
There are three main materials for bolt on anodes that are widely available:
Magnesium – For fresh water use
Zinc – For salt water use
Aluminium – For brackish water use
Up until now we have used Magnesium, fresh water anodes on Naughty-Cal. The odd forays into the brackish waters of the lower Trent, lower Ouse and Upper Humber have caused the anodes little harm with no signs of excessive wear. However since we have started using the boat more in coastal, salt water areas the anodes are starting to wear at quite an alarming rate. The anodes we replaced in April are now ready for changing again after just six months of use.
The time has come to consider changing to Aluminium anodes. These will still work just as well in fresh water, allegedly lasting up to six times as long as magnesium anodes in similar conditions, but will also stand up to salt water immersion much better than the existing magnesium versions. According to the manufacturers they will last up to three times longer than zinc anodes in salt water.
Aluminium seems to be a win, win situation for us, so what the cost of this upgrade? Surprisingly, for once, this seems to be a cost cutting exercise as well. Aluminium anodes are actually considerably cheaper than their magnesium counterparts, with a cost saving amounting to roughly a third. Bonus.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
For this simple Spanish omelette you will need (to serve 2 people):
· 4 medium eggs
· Half a pint of milk
· Grated cheese
· An onion
· A handful of mushrooms
· A bell pepper
· Tinned Tuna
· Salt and pepper for seasoning
To start the dish, heat a little oil in a deep frying pan. Finely chop the onion and fry off in the pan. When the onion has started to brown finely chop the bell pepper and mushrooms and add to the pan. Next add the prawns and fry until cooked stirring on a regular basis. Whilst the mixture is frying, in a bowl beat the eggs and add the milk. Whisk the egg and milk mixture until light and fluffy with loads of air bubbles to make a really light and fluffy omelette. Next add a good spoonful of Paprika and a good shake of salt and pepper to your taste.
When the vegetable and prawn mixture is almost cooked through add the egg mixture to the pan. Turn down the heat as you don’t want to burn the bottom of the omelette. When the egg is starting to set up to about half way up your pan, add the grated cheese and tuna and stick the frying pan under the grill to set the top. Once the omelette is cooked through and the cheese browned serve hot or cold with fresh homemade chips and seasonal salad leaves.
A refreshingly light meal for anytime of the year. Serve hot during the winter months and cold during the summer months. Great at any time of the day and there are so many fillings to choose from that you will be spoiled for choice.
Monday, 17 October 2011
We arrived at the marina on Friday evening just as the sun was setting and giving way gracefully to the darkness of the evening. With the gear dumped on board, we cracked open a couple of beers and watched the increasing darkness descend. The pontoon was surprisingly quiet for a Friday evening, the odd sole wandering around but on the whole blissfully serene. With a chicken casserole simmering away on the stove and the heating ticking quietly away we settled in for an evening of peace and quiet, before heading to bed early. The bed, thankfully, toasty and warm courtesy of the electric blanket.
Saturday, and time to tackle some work. Not too much mind, we don’t want to spoil the relaxed atmosphere that this weekend seems to be taking. The anchor light is finally installed, the cabin is cleaned and disinfected, the bedding changed, and the cockpit rinsed and before long it is time to set sail. First stop Lincoln city centre. With the fridge stocked up and the cupboards full to bursting point with fresh vegetables it is time to head off for our destination for the weekend. Did we choose Washingborough? Did we choose Torksey? No, we ended up choosing Saxilby. So with a slow, relaxed cruising pace we headed in the general direction of Saxilby, not a huge cruise but still we enjoyed the scenery, the wildlife darting around on the banks and just generally being afloat. With Saxilby reached and the moorings relatively quiet we settled in, the heating ticking away and a few beers to hand before heading to the Sun Inn for a couple of quiet pints. Now the big choice, dinner, fish and chips or Chinese takeaway? In the end Chinese won the day and we walked back to the boat with bags full of tasty goodies. With full stomachs we had a couple more drinks before heading to a warm bed.
Sunday and time to walk off that dinner. Saxilby is a lovely village and we had a great morning stroll watching the gathering storm clouds overhead. Eventually we decided to head back to Naughty-Cal before the rain commenced. With the rain hammering on the canopy we ate a rather filling full English breakfast of Lincolnshire sausages, black pudding, fried eggs (free range of course), mushrooms and beans, washed down with some fresh orange juice and fresh coffee before settling in with the newspapers, Sudoku and the crossword. With no particular rush to get anywhere, we spent the most of the day just winding down in Saxilby. Eventually it was time to head back and with the heating still ticking away we set sail once again heading for home. Naughty-Cal settling into a relaxed cruising pace, seemingly enjoying a relaxed pace of life for once. We called in at the Pyewipe for a couple of early evening pints before heading for home, a heart warming stew for dinner rounded of a great day.
A perfectly chilled out weekend. Not a great distance covered, not a weekend that will go down in history but none the less it was a weekend that was worth the wait. Now only five more days until the next one.
Friday, 14 October 2011
With the weather looking a little better than of late we plan to spend the evening at either Washingborough or Torksey. Both local haunts, but both with lots of local interest. If we stay in Torksey it will of course be steak pie for dinner in the White Swan, but if we stay in Washingborough it will be an Indian takeaway which is reported to be of excellent quality. Either will be a nice way to spend the evening and personally I don’t mind which we choose.
Before we set off however we have a few jobs to do. The anchor light still needs installing. This weekend is going to be the weekend to do this. We have put it off for long enough now and we are getting towards the time of year where it comes in handy whilst moored up for the evening. The LED bulbs have been modified to fit the light casing and should be ready to go. All we need now is the patience to install the thing. It will happen this weekend, I can feel it.
Whilst Liam is busying himself with the anchor light I will set about giving the cabin a good clean, stripping the bedding, disinfecting the bathroom, galley, and door handles and anything else I may have come into contact with last weekend. If I finish this little lot in good time I may set about some polishing, needless to say I didn’t feel up to this last weekend so it wasn’t even started.
One last little job, well it isn’t a job really, will be a jaunt into Lincoln to do the shopping. There is something to be said for buying fruit and vegetables from a good old fashioned market stall. The produce is always fresh and the prices are very keen. We also buy our meat from the butchers stall in the market hall. The meat is always fresh and always very competitively priced at three packs for £6 or five packs for £10. We usually stock up the fridge as we go past even if a BBQ isn’t on the cards we can take the meat home and stock up the fridge and freezer at home. Lastly we usually buy our fresh bread from the bakery and treat ourselves to a tasty, hot breakfast pasty. Not the healthiest breakfast but one we always look forward to on a Saturday morning if we are heading into Lincoln. With free moorings right in the heart of the city centre what better excuse do you need to do some shopping?
After a spot of breakfast and the shopping it will be time to decide where we are heading for. It is downstream and through Stamp End Lock onto the pretty River Witham for Washingborough or upstream on the lock free Fossdyke for Torksey. Which way we go will very much depend on what we fancy for dinner I suspect. It is anybody’s guess which we will choose but either way it will be a pleasant way to while away another October weekend.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
For this recipe you will need:
· Some mince (any variety will do)
· Beef stock cubes
Making this dish could not be easier. Chop the onion, roughly, add it to a hot stock pot with a little oil. When the onions are softening, add the mince. Brown the mince evenly before adding boiling water to the mix. About a half pan should be enough. Next roughly chop the remaining vegetables and mushrooms and add to the stock pot. Crumble over a couple of beef stock cubes and bring the mix to the boil. Simmer the casserole for a couple of hours, the smell is just delightful.
To serve this dish we most often make some large Yorkshire puddings and spoon the mince casserole mix into the puddings. A great dish for the cold winter months and a great dish for using up scraps of vegetables and the last of the mince in the fridge, a real all rounder. It really doesn’t matter what vegetables or mince go into this dish it is tasty each and every time you make it, and the longer you can bear to leave it the better it becomes.
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
With our mooring fees, British Waterways licence fees, insurance premiums and this year our boat safety scheme test all falling within the same month it is to put it politely a crap month. On top of that little lot this year October has five weekends before pay day. Does it get any worse?
It is not as if we can even get much cruising in during October. The weather is hit and miss, the wind is often wild and the colder weather often puts off our cruising companions from joining us. All in all October is rubbish and this wet, miserable, damp, rainy weather we are currently experiencing is doing nothing to raise the spirits at all. Our superb sunny summer holidays seem a million miles away from right here, right now in miserable cold South Yorkshire.
I hate October!
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
We will have to make up for it next weekend for sure.
Friday, 7 October 2011
The first job will be refitting the broken anchor light. We tried to do this job last weekend but realised we didn’t have the right tools onboard to do the job. With the right tools taken to the boat we can finally install the light fitting and its power saving LED bulb. Then, when the weather is right, we can try out our new light with an evening spent at anchor in Brayford Pool.
The next job will be emptying the bilge water with the wet vac. We have collected quite an amount of bilge water in the last few weeks with various jobs we have been doing and it is about time it was cleared. To help keep the boat dry and condensation free through the autumn and winter months it is important to remove any bilge water which will start to evaporate when the heating is switched on. Whilst we have the carpet cleaner to hand we can also clean some of the fixed upholstery and carpets in the cabin, again! The last water leak we had has left water stains on our freshly cleaned carpets, hopefully that is now sorted out and the source of the problem located.
We have recently purchased some new decals for Naughty-Cal. The new ones look much fresher than the older style ones she currently sports, so this weekend might be the time to fit those to the bathing platform. It will also give us a chance to hand polish and wax the platform which tends to get forgotten about during our spring polish and spruce up. We shall also fit some new cords to the drop down section as the current ones are starting to show their age and signs of wear.
Lastly we will have the chance to give the cabin and cockpit a good thorough clean. It is amazing how quickly the boat gets dirty especially at this time of year with the mud, rain and wet grass. Both the interior and exterior need a good clean and it will be another good opportunity to get the polish and wax out and concentrate on getting some more areas polished up in preparation for next seasons major cruising. My interior polishing will be concentrated in the midships cabin for this weekend. A small area of the boat but one we use a lot and it is ready for a good polish and wax. We also have some stickers to remove from the windscreens. The Broads Authority temporary licences are proving difficult to remove from the glass screens and we are going to have to resort to a sharp blade. Following that a quick polish with some Autoglym Glass Polish should see the glass sparkling again.
This sounds like a lot of hard work but no doubt we shall enjoy ourselves during the process of the work. It is rewarding to see your efforts come to fruition and the boat looking fresh, clean and cared for. A little hard work now will save us a lot of effort early next year. If we break the back of the hard work now during the bad weather weekends, we can enjoy the nicer weekends on a nice clean boat with everything working as it should.
Thursday, 6 October 2011
With this in mind we set about making a hearty bubbling pot of beef and vegetable stew. The stew was started on Tuesday evening and left to simmer for the whole evening before being transferred to the slow cooker yesterday morning. The result was a beautifully cooked, melt in the mouth beef stew. All we had to prepare was a giant Yorkshire pudding and some delicious herb dumplings for a tasty warming evening meal. Great for when the temperature outside has started to plummet.
I love winter evenings, both onboard and at home, tucked up warm and safe from the howling winds, the driving rain or the falling snow; a warm meal on the table and good company to hand.
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Monday, 3 October 2011
We started the weekend with an unexpected pontoon session on Friday evening. People were prepping their boats for the weekend to come and the all important rugby match on Saturday morning. A few drinks helped the preparations along and before long we were in full swing.
Saturday was another scorcher from the start. So we awoke early and set about the few minor tasks we had scheduled for the weekend. The float switch now fixed and in full working order, the cabin quickly cleaned and the broken flagpole removed we were ready for the off. We had a spot of shopping to do in Lincoln so we set off before the crowd and went shopping. It is great being able to moor in the thick of it, right in the heart of the city centre. So with the shopping completed we sat back in the cockpit with a few beers watching the world go by and waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. Eventually they arrived and we set sail for Fiskerton Fen, only to find it full of narrowboats, so we turned around and headed back to Washingborough, a good move in the end. With the boats safely moored up we set about with the drinking and BBQing, the rest is history.
Sunday and a lazy day in store. Another scorcher and none of us can be bothered to do much. We have a lazy breakfast, followed by a lovely walk around the village, more on this tomorrow. We have never stayed at Washingborough so were very impressed with the village and will certainly stay there again in the near future. Most probably grabbing a curry from the takeaway next time, it has a very good write up and there are a few good looking pubs as well. With the walk over we set off back to Lincoln, where we did another lazy move and anchored in the pool for a few hours, watching the world go by, doing battle with the crossword and having a few lazy beers. Eventually we had enough of people watching and set sail for home. Another great weekend over and done with and rounded off with another well earned BBQ.
More jobs for next weekend, but it don’t look as though the weather will be great so no great shame really. We have the new anchor light to fit, we left the required tool at home so couldn’t do that this week. I have found more polishing to do and there are a few odd jobs. The dinghy has a new bow bag to install and we have some new decals for the bathing platform and cabin mirror. So a busy weekend newt week.