Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Sunday didn’t start off much better. The wind was still howling down the marina with waves bigger than we have seen on the sea noisily crashing into the boats hulls. Gradually as the day wore on the wind started to ease so we grabbed the chance whilst it was there to sort out the dinghy. The engine was pulled out, cleaned up and stashed in the car. Then it was time to start on the dinghy. So we pulled her out and set about the thankless task of scrubbing the hull, which was looking like a forest already with the rapid weed growth. After much scrubbing the hull and tubes were weed free but we need to get some proper dinghy cleaner to get rid of the lime staining at the waterline. Finally we deflated the dinghy and attempted to get the floor boarding out ready to take home to sand down and repaint. We tried for over an hour to get the boards out, before giving in, re-inflating the dinghy and hanging it on the davits. The current theory is that the boards have swollen with the recent rain water sitting on them. So it is now hung vertically off the back of Naughty-Cal in an attempt to dry them out and have another go, in a few weeks, at getting them out. Failing that then come spring and the warmer weather we will have to sand them down and repaint them insitu on the pontoons. The evening finished quite serenely, which was a pleasant change after the battering the boat had taken over the last couple of days. Under clear skies and breathless winds the temperature plummeted allowing a sharp frost for the first time this year, but, with the heating on we were warm and cosy in the cabin watching Still Game on DVD, with a hearty dinner of lemon and garlic peppered pork loin, mashed turnip, onion and parsnip, asparagus, carrots and cabbage cooking away on the stove. We even ate at the saloon table for the first time this year, preferring to be tucked up warm than outside on the cooler cockpit.
Winter is certainly on its way.
Friday, 25 November 2011
It will be another busy weekend onboard Naughty-Cal with a host of small jobs to start and finish, she will also no doubt need another quick rinse to rid her of a week’s worth of building site grime. She is getting ready for another top up of diesel, the mild month we have had so far has meant that we are using more fuel than expected for the time of year with more cruising than anticipated. We will take 60 litres this week which will see her almost topped up again. The list of jobs for this weekend includes, looking at the navigation lights, again, the white stern light has given up the ghost for no apparent reason, applying the new Sealine decals to the transom and interior mirror, a job we have put off for a while and having a general clear out of the cabin and cupboards again. It is amazing how quickly you accumulate junk onboard a boat. One last job for the weekend will be cleaning and packing away the dinghy. Asbo has had a season of hard use, much the same as Naughty-Cal, so this winter she will be taken home and treated to a good spruce up, with her tubes and hull thoroughly cleaned, floor repainted, bow bag installed and engine sent to the dealers for its annual service (we normally service our own engines on the cars and boat but we can’t even buy the service parts for the price the dealer has quoted), all in readiness for next season. A little hard work over the winter will mean that we are ready for the off come spring and the start of the 2012 holiday season.
We will of course still have plenty of time to do the usual rounds with a short cruise into Lincoln to do the weekends food shopping and have a spot of breakfast or brunch depending on the time. With the weather continuing to be unseasonably mild we should probably have another weekend away from our home berth and make the most of it. Destination unknown as of yet though.
Sunday, as is becoming the norm, will be a relaxing day, a day for unwinding and chilling out. With no deadlines looming, and no need to rush, we will have the day to pick and choose what we do and where we go. A visit to a pub will no doubt be on the cards but we must make sure that Naughty-Cal is left for the week, ready for next weekend’s E Pontoon Christmas party at the Pyewipe Inn. Next weekend we will leave our berth on Friday evening to take the pick of the pubs moorings, so she must be ready to leave at the turn of the key on Friday evening, with a full water tank, adequate diesel supplies and adequate beer supplies.
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Now rather naively I had assumed that you could buy chop sticks from any supermarket, it seemed sensible, however upon trying to purchase some it proved rather harder than we thought. We have eventually ordered our sticks from China, finding them to be the best source for our needs. Six sets of stainless steel chop sticks delivered from china will come to the princely sum of £7.20, including delivery. Now we just need to wait for them to be delivered before the practice can begin in earnest.
We are determined to crack this ancient form of cutlery and become fluent users of chop sticks. Lord only knows how much food will be thrown on the floor, at each other or down our clothes in the meantime though. This could be a rather messy process.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
For this recipe, take a lamb joint of your choice, we usually use shoulder or leg joints but it will work just as well with any cut. 24 hours before you want to eat your lamb make up a mixture of butter, chopped rosemary, chopped chillies and crushed garlic. Smother the lamb with this mixture and leave to sit in the fridge overnight. Then cook your lamb as usual, the time it takes will depend on your personal preference and the size of the joint. The result should be a delicious crisp skin and fat layer that has taken on all of the lovely flavours, with melt in the mouth meat.
Roast potatoes and parsnips scattered around the meat also take on the added zing of the chillies and flavour of the garlic and rosemary making them unbelievably delicious.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Sunday was a complete contrast to the previous day. Dull, gloomy, foggy and damp, so we settled in with lots of hot coffee and the newspaper, tucked up in the warmth of the cockpit with no need to go anywhere in a hurry. The weather didn’t give us any great sense of hurry but eventually we set sail for home in the thickening gloom, a slow cruise given the conditions and we both felt happy as we rounded to corner and moored on our berth, the heater still hard at work keeping us warm. With a pan of stew bubbling away on the stove we spent the evening with a few beers and some good music before turning in early ready for the working week ahead.
Friday, 18 November 2011
This weekend we have a bit of a clean up to do. Naughty-Cal is looking very grubby at the moment and whilst the weather is fair for the time of year we may as well make the most of it and give her a good scrub, most probably for the last time this year. This should not take us too long though, one of the benefits of having a small boat, so should leave us plenty of time to head into Lincoln to do a spot of shopping and grab a bite to eat. Our butcher has started doing a “meat for the week” deal which is too good to miss. With a roasting joint of beef, lamb or pork, two pork chops, two chicken breasts, two rump steaks, some mince and six sausages for £10, it is incredible value and serves us well for the weekends meals and also most of the following weeks evening meals. With the shopping done and the boat fully stocked and cleaned we will no doubt have a small cruise somewhere, Saxilby seems highly likely to be our destination and if the weather is kind we may stay overnight and make the most of the remaining 2011 season away from our home berth.
With no concrete plans for the weekend Sunday will most likely be a day of relaxing with the newspaper, some good food and a few beers whilst watching the world go by. If we have both gotten rid of these stinking common colds we may even venture out for an autumn walk to exercise the lungs and legs and try to get back to some sort of fitness. I hate being ill but I am determined that this cold will not ruin our weekend. With some well earned rest, good food and liquid refreshment I am sure we will recover quickly enough.
Thursday, 17 November 2011
We prefer to use a good quality Lincolnshire sausage which we oven bake for 45 minutes to give a lovely gooey skin that melts in the mouth. For the mash we don’t just use the plain old potato, we add sweet potato, parsnip and turnip to give a lovely variety of flavours, colours and textures, and also add a good knob of butter whilst mashing for some extra richness and smoothness. A couple of finely chopped chillies also add some extra zing to your mash if chilli is your thing.
For the onion gravy add a couple of chopped onions to a frying pan, fry until browning nicely and turning sticky and then add a good quality beef stock, simmer the mix for 20 minutes until it starts to thicken nicely. Finally serve it all together on a hot plate piling the sausages on top of the lovely creamy mash then smothering them in your great onion gravy.
Proper, comfort food for these darker evenings and a great, hearty meal for any budget. Simple, honest cooking that anyone can achieve.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
We set off under blue skies and on a mild November morning set off down the Trent with the canopies off, a real pleasure for the time of year. We had a lovely run down the river with our friends driving the boat all the way from Torksey to Gainsborough, where, Liam took over to do the fast driving through the many bends between Gainsborough road-bridge and the lock. Needless to say our friends were suitably impressed with a 30 knot run down the river, much faster than they are used to on their narrowboats, and with huge grins on their faces we got them safely into the basin without hitting the lock walls. Not bad given our past experiences with this lock. After a spot of lunch we said our goodbyes and we went our separate ways. We had a great afternoon and evening in the White Hart with a fantastic meal and enjoyed the disco, raising funds for the Help the Heroes campaign. A really good evening in good company s hard to beat at the best of times, Saturday evening will be a hard one to follow up.
Early on Sunday morning we woke to a dull, damp and drizzly scene. We were all slightly worse for wear and none of us were looking forward to the journey home. But with a lively 5 knot spring tide pushing us along we were easily making 10 knots, and at times more without pushing the boats hard, a lovely jaunt back despite the weather and our hangovers. Before long Torksey loomed into sight and we were quickly back on the calm waters of the Fossdyke. After a pit stop for breakfast and more coffee we set off for Saxilby to do some shopping, before settling in with the crossword and Sudoku and a few beers for the early part of the afternoon. On the way back to the marina we made a slight detour to the Pyewipe for a quick pint, or two, before heading back for our berth, another fantastic weekend under our belts and finished off with a lovely hot homemade pasta dish .
Next weekend the boat needs a proper clean up. Cruising at this time of year is great with the autumnal scenery and the quiet waters but it doesn’t half make a mess of the boats with mud, cut grass and general dirt accumulation. Not helped along by the next phase of piling and construction works at the marina of course. But we should complain, at least they are going to be finishing the place off and this is the last phase of construction works.
Friday, 11 November 2011
Our first holiday as always will be during Easter week, a great time to wake the boats up from their winter semi hibernation. Next year the plan is to head into unknown territory and cruise to Leeds on the Aire and Calder navigation. The trip will take in a plethora of different waterways from canals to tidal rivers and should prove to be an excellent shake down run for the year ahead. We will enter the canal at its terminus at Goole Docks, a first for us as we have yet to enter the huge commercial Ocean Lock. Then it should be a straight forward run along the commercial navigation towards Leeds, on waterways we have only partially explored on our route from Selby to Keadby. On the home bound leg we will take a slightly different route down the South Yorkshire Navigation leaving the system at Keadby and heading for home on the Trent. This trip should hopefully highlight any potential problems for the year ahead and will also give us a chance to drop the hook in a new location for us as we wait for the tide at Trent Falls.
Our main holiday for 2012 will involve both coastal and inland cruising, with a trip across the Wash and up the Ouse to Ely. This was our back up plan for 2011 but this year we think it deserves the chance to explore these pretty waterways as part of our main holiday. We aim to have a relaxing week exploring the Ouse, Wissey, Little Ouse and Lark, before heading back out to sea and calling in at the ports of Wisbech on the Nene and Fossdyke on the Welland during the return journey to Boston. This will also give us a chance to drop anchor and explore the waters of the Wash as we wait for the tides, something we have not had the pleasure to do as yet.
So another busy cruising season ahead, with lots of planning to do over the quieter winter months as well as a whole list of jobs to complete we should be kept very busy. There will of course be plenty of local cruising in store, to compliment the trips further afield. Naughty-Cal will as usual, be kept busy and will hopefully prove to be as reliable and trustworthy as ever. So here’s to 2012 and another great cruising year.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
The first holiday of the year was a warm up cruise during Easter Week, in the company of Devocean and Boundarys Vice, upstream on the River Trent to Nottingham. A lazy week spent checking out the boats after their quite winter rest, in readiness for the adventures later in the year. All of the boats performed well, the weather was kind to us and barring a little beach incident heading back downstream on the tidal Trent, proved all of the boats to be in fine fettle and the crews all in tune with their craft, even when the going got tough and things didn’t go according to plan.
The last trip of 2011 was by far the best and by far our most enjoyable yet with Naughty-Cal. A long awaited two week trip to the Norfolk Broads. We were blessed with blue skies, flat seas and great weather on the outbound leg of the trip, treating us to stunning scenery and a great entry to the Broads. Our week on the Broads was uneventful and greatly enjoyable, all the places we remembered from our hire boat days still as welcoming and pretty as ever. All too soon it was time to head for home and under blue skies we had a stunning run back up the coast towards Wells next the Sea, and a great afternoon spent at anchor in Blakeney bay, awaiting our tide. Unfortunately this is where the weather broke giving us a rough few days in Wells and a decidedly rough passage home. But we live to tell the tale and will no doubt do the same next year. If anything this homeward journey taught us more about Naughty-Cal than any other trip we have faced so far. She proved to be one hell of a tough little boat, despite being faced with conditions well beyond her design criteria she held her own and got us home safely.
Naughty-Cal moored at Neatishead Staithe
With all of our major holidays completed for this year it is time for us to start looking ahead to 2012. A year that promises to be full of firsts and full of adventure and will hopefully build on our gaining confidence at sea. With the winter months ahead we will have plenty of time to plan our year and continue to modify Naughty-Cal to suit our ever growing cruising needs. It will also give us a chance to give Naughty-Cal some well earned TLC as a big thank you for the past twelve months for she has guided us safely through yet another successful year, thanks Cal.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Our first trip of 2010 was an early season, March, trip down the Humber to Hull Marina. Not the most exciting of locations at first glance, it has to be admitted, but it was to be our first trip onto the estuary. A truly memorable trip amongst the big shipping and a surprisingly good location to spend a few days exploring the city. The marina is very nice with friendly and helpful staff and the city centre is great with loads to see and do, far more than we could do justice in a few short days. More importantly though was the confidence this trip gave us in Naughty-Cal, a first time and firsthand experience of her true spirit and what she was originally designed for.
With our first trip on the big waters of the Humber a success, our next holiday was another step further forward again. Our first trip on the sea, to the Norfolk fishing town of Wells next the Sea, just a short hop across the wash and onto the Norfolk coast. Even though we had building confidence in our boat and her ability, we were still very nervous about this our first trip into the wide blue yonder and Naughty-Cal’s first experience of the salty stuff. We needn’t have worried however, after a perfect trip across the Wash we were grinning from ear to ear as we entered the shelter of the harbour. Naughty-Cal handled the sea beautifully and Wells next the Sea was the real jewel in the crown. A perfect start to our coastal cruising chapter and the start of the longing for more time on the coast.
Our final holiday for 2010 was another trip to York, this time in the company of our good friends onboard Wish You Were Here. The trip went without a hitch, despite some adverse weather and we had another very enjoyable week onboard, York yet again proving to be a great holiday destination to visit by boat. With a year’s more experience under our belts, the extra trip planning certainly paid off and it showed with the ease with which this trip flew by with no problems to report.
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
We had heard all sorts of horror stories about the Trent of course, who hasn’t, but in late January we decided to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. Our first trip out onto the Trent was downstream to West Stockwith where we had a very enjoyable couple of evenings moored in the basin. Not an epic trip by any stretch of the imagination and one we don’t think twice about attempting at the weekend now, but it was our first trip on tidal waters.
Following the success of our first foray onto tidal waters, Easter 2009 saw our first real holiday onboard, with a nine day trip to York and Ripon. Naivety is a wonderful thing, and this trip truly kicked off our rose tinted spectacles. It was an outbound trip full of disasters and incidents and a home bound trip that tested our stamina and highlighted a desperate lack of preparation on our behalf, but it firmly cemented our love of boating and the challenges it can bring. And nothing could spoil the feeling of arriving in York on your own boat, mooring right in the heart of the city.
With the boat safely home and a few weeks spent repairing and replacing damaged equipment it was a couple of months before we were afforded our next holiday on board. This time it was a sedate trip upstream on the Trent, through the Nottingham Canal and onto the River Soar, travelling as far as Loughborough. A very pleasant and relaxing trip, a million miles away from the previous holiday but equally as rewarding and 100% enjoyable throughout.
Monday, 7 November 2011
Friday, 4 November 2011
There will no doubt be the weekly cruise into Lincoln to do the weekend shop, stocking up on fresh meat, fresh vegetables and any other provisions we may need from the markets whilst we are there. With the weather set to be gloomy and dank it is doubtful that we will stray too far from the marina. On the plus side it is still set to be relatively mild for the time of year so no worries about freezing up just yet.
With the boat in fine fettle and with everything in full working order, well, it was when we left it last weekend, it may now be time to start thinking about beginning work on some of our winter jobs that we have planned for Naughty-Cal. Maybe starting with a small job, like the 240v waterproof socket in the cockpit area.
Who knows what the weekend will bring?
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
The Webasto heater uses between 0.25 and 0.125 litres of diesel per hour, so a negligible amount of fuel; however the fans also require 12 volt battery power to operate. On initial start up the power draw is quite high at around 10Ah however this quickly drops to around 2Ah once the unit is up to temperature and blowing toasty warm air. This small amount of battery power and fuel used really does make the Webasto a good piece of equipment onboard, as you can leave it turned on keeping the boat warm without fear of flattening or abusing your batteries or using loads of fuel. It has proven time and again to be a worthwhile piece of kit to have onboard extending our cruising season considerably.
These diesel heaters are reported to have reliability issues, however during the three years and three winters we have owned Naughty-Cal, and our Webasto has proven to be faultless, providing us with warm air each and every time we fire it up. A lot of the reliability issues associated with these heaters revolve around dirty fuel, our tanks have a constant turnaround of fuel so we don’t worry about this, or oversized units that cycle in and out far too much. Our 2kw systems is just the right size for a small cruiser like Naughty-Cal. The heater keeps the boat warm regardless of the external temperature and doesn’t cycle in an out all of the time.
Maintenance of the heater comprises a quick vac out once a year to remove any excess soot in the burner but other than that and occasionally cleaning the air intake there is little to do with the unit. At some point it will need a glow plug or other pasts such as fans and burners replacing but up until now (touch wood) we have not had to replace anything.
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Lambs liver is my firm favourite, closely followed by fresh calf’s liver, ideally from a good, local butcher but a good supermarket will also stock fresh liver. To do your liver justice it can be cooked in a couple of ways, either a quick flash fry in the frying pan leaving the middle blushing and succulent, or, a long slow casserole. The latter is by far our favourite method of cooking liver, producing a silky soft bite to eat.
For this dish we roughly chop onions, mushrooms, potatoes and turnip, add a good beef stock and a glug of red wine, and finally the liver, cover and slowly cook in the oven for at least two hours, preferably longer. The liver will literally melt in your mouth. Serve up with a hearty serving of mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetable for a great winter time family meal.
This dish smells amazing and tastes even better. Even people who claim to hate liver will eat this dish; it is a real dish to convert people with. As an added bonus liver, as with most offal cuts is cheap, a real bargain dish for the winter evenings.