Thursday, 31 October 2013


It is intended that Whitby will be one of the first stops on our summer cruise next year. We have tried two times now to get there but each time the weather has stopped us in our tracks. Hopefully next summer we will make it. Whitby is one of the few places we intend to stay for a couple of nights as we know there is so much to see and do here. And of course we will have to go and get fish and chips. Rude not too.

 Yet another set of pier heads to aim for.

 Once through the pier heads the harbour opens up and you are greated with a pretty scene.

 The bridge that spans the river. At most states of tide Naughty-Cal will cruise straight through the bridge with no need to lift it.

 Whitby Marina right in the heart of the harbour.

 The ruins of the abbey looking over the sea and the harbour. Its a fair old climb up here but the views make it all worth while. The camera is going to be busy on this trip.

Whitby is built on the steeply sloping hillsides so a walk around the town isnt for the faint hearted.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Yet another modern marina we are due to visit on our big trip for summer 2014. Royal Quays is actually closer to the mouth of the Tyne than Newcastle city centre but is an ideal spot for us to visit on our way up the coast. With easy 24/7 all states of tide access via a large lock, modern facilities and a fuel berth on the river it seems like a sensible stop of on our way from Whitby to Eyemouth being pretty much in  the middle of both at 50 miles from Whitby and 60 miles from Eyemouth. If time and weather permit we may venture further up river and into Newcastle city centre for a few hours before heading back to the marina for an easy start to sea the following day.

 Another set of pier heads to aim for at the mouth of the Tyne.

 Waiting pontoon for the lock on the starboard side of the channel with the fuel berth in the foreground.

 A larger modern marina with all the facilities one would expect. This will be our last chance to stock up with essentials on our way up the coast as our next few days are in small harbours and ports.

Perhaps we might get to share the river with one of these huge cruise liners as their terminal is right next to the marina entrance.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Yet another planned visit on our whirlwind tour of the east coast next summer. Hartlepool Marina will be one of the few all singing all dancing modern marinas we visit on the trip. It will be in stark contrast to the small harbours and ports we will have visited before hand. Hartlepool Marina offers all the mod cons that any boater visiting or resident will require and of course has that all important fuel pump.

 Hartlepool Headland an obvious navigational marker.

 Another set of breakwaters to navigate.

 The lock at the marina entrance.

 A large modern marina in stark contrast to the small ports we will have visited in the previous days cruising.

Despite being a modern facility there is still plenty of historic interest on the quayside.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Windy Weekend

With the weather proving to be a tad too windy for us to venture out this weekend we managed to spend the weekend fixing and fettling in readiness for next weekend’s trip to West Stockwith, a last blast for 2013.

First up was putting yet another 60 litres of diesel in the tank. With fresh, clean fuel we have noticed a remarkable difference in the amount of smoke not only from the engine, well exhaust but also from the Webasto diesel heater on start up. Just goes to show how careful you need to be when buying your fuel. Luckily we seem to have nipped any problems with dirty fuel in the bud before they became a problem. We can afford to be suffering fuel problems before next year’s big trip!

Next job was installing the new shower sump box. This has been a problem for the last few years. We had already replaced the float switch and the box lid on the previous one but then the pump failed. Sick of spending money on the thing we just bought a whole new unit. Whilst the box was out we took the chance to suck out the bilge water (from the leaky shower box) and clean the bilge area thoroughly, not a job that gets done very often it does have to be said. So out with the old, smelly box and in with the new which now works a treat, however as with all things it didn’t go smoothly and we have found another leak, this time from the shower waste pipe. I’m sure this boat likes having wet bilges. Luckily it won’t be a major job once we have the pipe to hand and the leak isn’t so bad that we can’t use the shower so not a major problem but a pain all the same.

With the midships berth reassembled we could then set about cleaning the boat. As usual I tackled the cabin whilst Liam set about the cockpit. As the bed had been dismantled to allow access to the bilges it made sense to fit fresh bedding whilst reassembling it and to also take the opportunity to fit the electric blanket, perfect for winter boating season. The rest of the cabin just needed a quick wipe around and vacuum as it wasn’t too bad but we do like to go away with a clean boat. The cockpit also needed just a quick wipe around but unfortunately by now the weather had turned too vile to wash the exterior, which is a shame but never mind.

Yesterday we took part in a session of go kart racing which was fun but left us all feeling very achy and tired after a half hour on the track. I think we all realised how unfit we are! Following our strenuous exercise we all retired back to the boats and chilled out for the remainder of the day, no exertion at all for the rest of the day thankfully. The weather didn’t really give us any reason to venture out again with strong winds and heavy rain so we took the chance to chill out, relax and unwind with a few Buds and some lovely slow cooked lamb shoulder and curly kale.

Luckily we appeared to miss the worst of the weather. Whilst we were lashed with rain for much of the night we missed the strong winds and subsequent damage suffered in the south of the country. In fact the wind dropping woke us up in the night as it became eerily quiet when the water lapping on the bow stopped!

Friday, 25 October 2013


Amble, claimed to be Northumberlands friendliest port is yet another stop off on our 2014 summer trip. Situated on the Rive Coquet the area is renowned for its wildlife, crystal clear waters and stunning scenery. 

 Another day, another port and another set of breakwaters to aim for.

 The River Coquet estuary.

 Amble Marina offering facilities to suit every boaters needs. 

 The estuary at low water showing the decaying bones of old boats with Warkworth Castle in the background.

 The town is scattered with lovely squares.

 Perhaps Ambles most famous residents are its seal population.

And if we are really lucky we may even get to see or cruise with the areas dolphins.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Eyemouth, the furest point north on our big trip next year (if all goes to plan of course). Eyemouth is a Scottish Borders town with a harbour still very much revolving around the fishing industry. However for us leisure boaters they also offer good facilities and moorings for the visiting vessel. More importantly from our point of view they have a diesel pump!!

 Another harbour and another narrow entrance to aim for.

 The visitor pontoon berths opposite the fish quay.

 Stunning natural bay adjacent the harbour entrance. The wall on the far left of the picture is the harbour wall.

 Beautiful Scottish coastline.

The river Eye, from which the town gains its name enters the head harbour.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


As we start the planning for next years big summer cruise in earnest we keep finding more places we would like to add to the list of ports and harbours to visit. This time we have found the little harbour and port of Seaham. The leisure harbour is a recent development but im sure you will agree from the pictures it look like a nice place to spend a night or two.

 The entry to the port through the break water and past the lighthouse.

 View of the marina from the wall top showing the breakwater and lighthouse in the background. Water depth is maintained in the marina basin by way of an automatic tide gate.

 View of the visitor berths. The fingers look a tad short.

 Beautiful coastline nearby

 Moody skies over Seaham beach.

Hopefully the weather wont be like this when we visit.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Water Water Everywhere

No not a weather related post but a few pictures from last week when it was a little drier. We decided to have a quick walk around one of our local dams in Rivelin Valley one evening last week just as a bit of a change from the same old weekday routine. It was a pleasant change and we will certainly do it again when the weather is a bit better.

 The view across the dam.

 The dam wall.

 The water levels were a little low.

 Lovely walk around the lake.

The overflow running well despite water levels appearing low in the dam.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Stormy Night

We were treated to a very stormy evening in Burton Waters last night. Thunder, lightening, strong winds and heavy rain lashed down on the boats. 

This photo isn't taken at night time. It was mid afternoon and shows just how dark the skies became! 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A Boaty Post!

At last a boaty post for you! 

Not a very exciting one mind. Just another grey day on the ditch. Nice to be out and about even if it is just a local jaunt. 

We really enjoy boating at this time of year. The ditch is quiet the moorings are empty and there is a slight chill in the air. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Baked Butternut Squash, Spinach and Feta Pasta

I promise we are going to do some boating this weekend so that we can get back to business as usual but for today here is another excellent recipe for you to try.

First up is roasting your butternut squash. These take about an hour so I did this the night before to save time. Once baked scoop out the flesh and mash in a large bowl then place in the fridge if doing this the night before.

To make a simple tomato sauce fry a finely chopped onion, garlic clove and chilli in a large saucepan in a little oil. Once soft add a carton of passata and leave to simmer until required. This is the simplest tastiest tomato sauce you are likely to come across.

In another pan melt a little butter and add a third of a packet of frozen spinach. Stir until soft then set aside. Frozen spinach is a very economical way of buying spinach. £1 buys you a huge bag and it tastes just as food.

Next take some fresh lasagne sheets and spread out the butternut squash onto the lasagne sheets. Top with the spinach and crumbled feta cheese. Roll the lasagne sheets lengthways into rolls. This can be a little fiddly but bear with it.

Pour your tomato sauce into an oven proof dish. Chop each of your rolls into four and stand them on their ends in the tomato sauce in the dish. Top with plenty of grated cheddar and then bake for thirty minutes at 200 degrees.

The result is a tasty and filling veggie pasta dish with crunchy edges where the pasta has stood proud of the sauce and lovely gooey bits towards the bottom. Perfect for long winter nights.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Morrocan Lamb Rolls

In a large mixing bowl add some wholegrain cous cous and enough boiling water to cover. Leave for ten minutes until the coucs cous has sucked up all of the water.

In a large frying pan fry two finely chopped onions, a large clove of garlic and a finely chopped chilli. Fry until softened then add loads if turmeric and I mean loads. You want this to be a vibrant yellow.

Next add some chopped lamb. We used last night’s left over slow cooked lamb which worked a treat. Fry for a few minutes until the meat is warmed through and tender and then add the cous cous. Stir well until the mix is evenly spread with the meat running through the cous cous.

Finally spoon the mixture into filo pastry and roll into tubes tucking in the ends as you go. Be careful as the pastry is brittle and quite easy to tear.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Beware these are very filling. In hindsight we really only needed one each.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Braised Sprouts

Now I don't want to mention this too loudly but we are getting towards sprout season. 

This recipe will get even the most hardened of sprout haters to eat their greens. 

Simply chop up some streaky bacon and fry over a high heat. You really want to crozzle the fat. Next add some sprouts peeled and chopped in half. Fry for a few minutes and then add a half cup of stock . Simmer until the stock has reduced to almost nothing and the sprouts are tender, not soggy! 

Here we have ours served with slow cooked lamb shoulder and new potatoes. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sweet Potato, Smoked Salmon and Chilli fishcakes

Ok so its another foody based post but with the weather at the weekend and early this week there has not been much boaty action taking place.In fact we didnt move the boat at all this weekend we stayed firmly rooted to our berth sheltering from the wind and the rain.

Anyway for this simple recipe simply peel and roughtly chop three medium sized sweet potatoes and boil in salted water for ten to fifteen minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Mash the potatoes and add a finely chopped chilli and a packet of smoked salmon trimmings. These are avaliable cheaply from most supermarkets these days but if you are lucky enough to have a local fishmongers all the better.

Finally form the mixture into balls and gently press flat. Fry in a little oil over a medium heat for five minutes on either side or until they have just started to brown and crisp. Try not to handle them too much as they have a tendancy to fall apart.

Here you can see ours served simply with wedges and a dressed rocket salad. I must apologise now for the fuzzy image but the camera on the phone was getting confused by the steam rising off the food and wouldnt/couldnt focus on the plate!!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Cheesy Vegetable Bake

I know this is supposed to be a boating blog not a cookery blog but I have another deceptively simple dish for you today, cheesy vegetable bake.

So for this one you will need a selection of vegetables. We used new potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and brussle sprouts. Cut them into chunky pieces and par boil. Whilst the veg is boiling make a simple cheese sauce. This consists of a table spoon of melted butter, with a table spoon of plain flour and then a pint of milk mixed in over a low heat. When the sauce starts to thicken add a handful of cheese, any will do but we used a mature cheddar and we also added a finely chopped chilli for some extra zing.

When the veg has just started to soften drain and place in a large over proof dish. Pour over your cheese sauce and add a sprinkling of cheese to the top. Stick it in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes by which time it should be bubbling and golden. Serve simply with garlic bread.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cruising Grounds

When we bought Naughty-Cal some five years ago now we didn’t have a clue where we would berth her. We knew we wanted to be no more than an hour’s drive from Sheffield but aside from that knew precious little about our local waterways.

As we bought Cal from Burton Waters and the marina is based on a gentle, easy to navigate canal we decided it was the ideal base for our first year of boat ownership whilst we set out to learn how to handle the boat. Little did we realise just what an ideal base it would become for our future forays.

Initially we spent time pottering around exploring the inland cruising opportunities of the Fossdyke, Witham, Trent, Ouse and Soar but as our confidence and experience grew the lure of the coast could wait no longer. Just a day’s cruising in either direction, along the Witham to Boston or down the Trent and Humber to Hull or Grimsby, brings us to the coast and a whole new selection of cruising opportunities just waiting for us to explore.

Our first truly coastal trip, we don’t count trips to Hull in this category, was a trip to Wells next the Sea. A place we are now truly familiar with as we visit on a regular basis. This is usually a make or break trip and either brings out the natural mariner in folks or puts them off coastal cruising for life. Despite a choppy crossing we loved it and have never looked back since.

Since that first coastal cruise in 2010 we have enjoyed many more trips on the salty stuff. Places we have visited include:
  • ·         Wells next the Sea (too many times to count)
  • ·         Norfolk Broads (twice)
  • ·         Lowestoft
  • ·         Great Yarmouth
  • ·         Blakeney
  • ·         Southwold
  • ·         Grimsby
  • ·         Kings Lynn

As you can see we are yet to scratch the surface of the locations available and we have many more on our list to cross off. Next summer should hopefully see us heading north up the coast to Eyemouth stopping off at many places on our list along the way. If the weather plays ball our two week summer cruise will see us visiting:
  • ·         Grimsby
  • ·         Whitby
  • ·         Newcastle
  • ·         Amble
  • ·         Eyemouth
  • ·         Hartlepool
  • ·         Scarborough
  • ·         Hull

As with any coastal passage, no matter how much planning you do the weather is the deciding factor in your trip. So as with any coastal trip we will have a plan B which will be an inland excursion. Again we will be spoilt for choice here as well. We have so many local inland waterways that we have yet to visit all with in easy striking distance for a two week cruise.

The likely favourite for  our Plan B summer holiday 2014 is the Great Ouse. Our recent visit to Kings Lynn has wetted our appetite to explore this river further. Within our two week break we could include a week on the non tidal river followed by a visit to Wisbech on the Nene, a visit to Fossdyke on the Welland and a day or so on the Black Sluice navigation before heading for home.

As I am sure you have worked out by now we have no plans to move from our current base as it offers us so much scope to explore so many different and varied waterways. The only problem we have is choosing where to go next.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Cajun Sweet Potato Wedges

This is a super simple recipe. Simply chop any knobbly bits of your sweet potatoes then chop then skin on into chunky wedges. 

Add a little oil and a generous sprinkling of Cajun spices to a large mixing bowl and toss the wedges in the oil and spices making sure they are well coated. 

Add the wedges to a baking tray and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for half an hour. 

Here are the wedges we had last night served with roast chicken and a simple side salad. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Spicy Lasagne

This was something we cobbled together last night with the frozen left overs from last months stuffed peppers. As a reminder the stuffing for the peppers was made up of fried onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, chilli and mutton mince with a carton of passatta added once the ingredients were browning nicely.

To make it into lasagne I simply layer the defrosted mixture with sheets of fresh pasta topped with a cheese sauce and a sprinkling of grated cheese and stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes at 220 degrees. Served simply with garlic bread and a dressed salad.

We often make big batches of things like a tomato and mince sauce as it is so versatile that it goes in so many meals. Taking a portion out of the freezer is easier than making up a fresh batch every time and it tastes just as good.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Where has the weekend gone?

So where has the weekend gone? It doesnt seem like two minutes ago we were setting off to Lincoln yet here I am again at my desk at work. 

The picture opposite is of one of the quieter moments from this weekend as we spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon anchored up in Brayford Pool enjoying a few quiet beers. It got rather messy after that at the boat clubs  "Play Your Cards Right" and pie and pea night!!