Sunday, 31 January 2016

A Change in the Weather Again

To celebrate almost finishing the sanding down yesterday (we have got about an hours worth left but the filler had not gone off) we decided to head out into the countryside for a couple of pints.

It was glorious sunshine when we set off from Foxhill but quickly deteriorated as we got out of Sheffield.

We made it safe and sound however in the sure footed Datsun and had a lovely afternoon out.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Sanding Down Again

Today is hopefully the last day of sanding and filling cracks in the walls in the hallway. It is fair to say it has been a much bigger job than either of us anticipated.

It is a messy job but fingers crossed at the end of today they will have all disappeared and tomorrow we can start painting.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Two Revelations

There were two revelations on the dinner plate last night. The humble jacket spud and pepper quiches.

First off the good old jacket spud. Now we both like a baked potato but can never be bothered to wait for them to cook in the oven after work. And we don't have an oven on the boat so we can't have jacket spuds afloat, or can we?

We now the answer is yes as we have discovered that they can be cooked in the slow cooker. They were simply pricked with a fork, seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in foil, then left in the slow cooker on low all day. The result was a lovely soft baked potato.

The second revelation was the pepper quiches. So simple to make yet super tasty and a healthier alternative to the pastry quiches. Just use a halved pepper as your pastry case. These quiches were leek and cheddar but you can add any filling that you like to them. I am going to make some smoked salmon and broccoli pepper quiches in the week next week as they were so good.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Seeing Us Through

Through the darker winter months whilst we are busy grafting away on Naughty-Cal, we often need a little bit of inspiration and a few reminders of why we go to this effort each year.

This week that came in the form of this stunning picture of the sun rising over Wells next the Sea harbour taken by Del Lloyd and posted on the Wells Harbour website. A great reminder of why we are working so hard to get Cal ready to cruise again, so that we can enjoy scenes like this for ourselves in the flesh.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Raw Seal

One of Liam's jobs during his lunch hour this week is to refurbish the raw water pump. The cause of so many hours of trouble at the back end of last year.

The seals failed once more and leaked water onto the alternator which in turn failed and has led us to buying a new one after a botched refurbishment job by Vehicle Electrix of Lincoln. But that may well end up being another story altogether after what we have now found. More on that at a later date.

The refurbishment kit for the raw water pump comes with new bearings and a new shaft. The shaft on ours was a little worn which is probably why the seals failed and the bearings have been wet a few times now due to failed seals so time to replace them also. 

We are also going to change the plastic drive at the rear of the pump which we have found has a small crack in it and will likely fail in the not too distant future if we re fit it and whilst we are at it we might as well change the rubber impellor as well. There is nothing wrong with the one that is in there other than it has been in for over two years, the Speed Seal plate is clearly doing it's job. However whilst we are replacing everything else on the pump it may as well have a new impellor as well and then we hopefully won't have to touch the pump all year. Fingers crossed anyway. The current impellor will be kept as a good spare. 

It would have been easy enough to have avoided this job and just left it. The new seals we put in last year were not leaking again yet, but we knew that they would not last forever and having put on a new alternator we didn't want to run the risk of raw water leaking on this one and ruining it quite so quickly. It is a poor design that the raw water pump and strainer is so close to the alternator but I guess they had to squeeze it in somewhere on this really very busy engine.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

All Washed Up

Over the weekend the news broke that our local cruising grounds of the Wash estuary had been the scene of a mass stranding of beautiful Sperm Whales.

So far five of their carcasses have been found washed ashore in Hunstanton, Skegness, Gibraltor Point and yesterday in Wainfleet. This on top of the remains found on the other side of the North Sea in Holland.

The experts currently believe that the pod of male whales have followed food, squid to be more precise, into the shallow waters of the North Sea. Once in shallow waters their echo location, which is designed for much deeper water, doesn't work leading them to become disorientated and run into more shallow waters. Once in shallow water their own bodies cannot sustain their huge weight and their lungs collapse which ultimately is what kills them.

The experts believe that the growing number of stranded whales found each year could well be down to an increase in their numbers forcing them to hunt further afield for food, which in turn is forcing them into shallower waters in which they just cannot survive.

It is such a sad scene to see these most amazing creatures littering the shore line, what an amazing sight it would have been to see these whales swimming as a pod in deep water.  

Monday, 25 January 2016

Scrubbing Up

My main job for the weekend, other than scraping the trim tabs was giving the teak cockpit table and shelf a good scrub and treating it with some sealant.

To do this we used Wessex Two part cleaner which works really very well, the table didn't look overly dirty but the colour of the water running off it told a different story. Then once it was completely dry the next morning I treated it to a coat of Semco Natural sealant. 

I am really quite impressed with the result.


And after:

We are edging ever closer to towards relaunch date and it is nice ti finally be ticking off a few jobs. We have a few parts at home now ready to refurbish over the coming couple of weeks, ready to refit to Cal when we next visit.

It will soon be time to start the final polishing and waxing stage of this years spruce up and start to get Cal looking as good as ever on the outside ready to get her bum wet again.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Oh Dear

It was a good job we got through the list of jobs yesterday as we were convinced last night to go out for a curry with friends in Saxilby.

We had a great evening in great company but we are both feeling a little bit worse for wear today.

We have got a couple of bits finished today but nothing too taxing and now we are chilling out at home trying to recover.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Cleaning Up

We have cracked on with our list of jobs for this weekend and we will be finished by mid morning tomorrow so we will probably head home.

My main job for the day was scraping the trim tabs.  Horrible job but it is now finished for another year.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Cracking On

We are heading to the boat this evening as we have a long list of little jobs that we really need to start ploughing through if we are to have Naughty-Cal ready to go back in the water at the beginning of March.

Most of this weekends jobs are little odds and sods of jobs but they need doing so it is high time we cracked on with them.

So far our list of jobs for this weekend is looking like this:

  • A top up of diesel. We were a little lax before Cal was pulled out so the diesel tank is looking a little empty. It was just on the red a couple of weeks ago, so a top up of 60 litres will see her in the black again. The next time we head down we will add another 60 litres again which should hopefully see her not too far off full again.
  • Treating the water tank. The water that is in there has been sat around for a while now, so we will refill the tank and leave some Milton in there for a few weeks to kill any nasty bugs. Then when we are back in the water again I will flush it all though again.
  • Changing the cabin LED bulbs. One of the cabin bulbs started playing up just before Christmas so we have bought ten replacement bulbs. The colour won't be a perfect match to the existing bulbs unless we are exceptionally lucky so chances are we will have to replace all four in the cabin area at the same time.
  • Cleaning and treating the cockpit table. It has come around to time that it needs a thorough clean with some two stage Wessex Teak Cleaner and then once it is fully dry treating with some Semco sealer. A messy job but it needs doing to keep the table looking fresh.
  • Scraping the growth from the stainless steel trim tabs. Another of those annual jobs that isn't nice but need doing. It doesn't take long but it is a messy and dusty job scraping off the dried growth.
  • Removing the alternator and raw water pump from the engine. We are bringing these home to carry out the rebuild on the raw water pump and take the pulley off the old alternator and put it on the new one. Then the next time we are at the boat they will be ready to refit again.
  • Whilst some bits are off the engine and we have some better access into the engine bay it is the ideal time to give it a through clean out. It gets pretty dusty and grimy in there so now is the ideal time to give it a scrub.
  • Towards the back end of last year the shower hose started to play up. We believe that there is a small leak in the hose. So we have bought a better quality replacement one which also needs fitting but to get at this means cutting out the sink in the shower room. Fitting the hose in itself isn't a big job but it is all of the cutting out and resealing that takes some time. Never mind. The shower room will look fresh for relaunch with all new sealant.
This little list of jobs should keep us busy for the weekend. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Cruising Essentials - Part 4

The life jacket, a cruising essential for anyone travelling on the coast or indeed on our inland rivers and estuaries.

We bought our life jackets when we bought Naughty-Cal going on for eight years ago. They have been serviced on a regular basis to ensure that they worked safely however the time had come to replace the firing mechanisms, gas cylinders, spray hoods and lights and this was going to tot up to a fairly substantial bill and we would still be wearing eight year old life jackets.

So we took the decision at the end of last year that we would for the beginning of our cruising season this year buy ourselves some new life jackets. The costs difference between servicing the old ones and buying some new ones really wasn't that great and the new jackets are a far more modern and comfortable design and offer a higher buoyancy rating. 

It was a no brainer really to replace them. When they do arrive however we will check them over and ensure that everything is in order and that the gas cylinders are screwed in place properly. Something people often overlook and it is shocking how many new jackets come supplied in a state that would render them more of a hindrance than a help in an emergency situation.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Cruising Essentials - Part 3

Mooring ropes or lines, an essential item on any boat and this year we have decided it is high time we had some new ones.

The last set had been on the boat for well over five years and although they had worn really very nicely a couple of them now had large nicks taken out of them, one had gotten lost leaving us down to just three and none of them would be long enough for our trip on the Caledonian next summer. So it was time to track down some new ones.

We have been very impressed with how the Marlow braid on braid rope took the daily use and abuse that we threw at it so we are going to get the same again. 12mm in navy. This is a nice size to handle and more importantly suits the size of the boat. It doesn't look or feel too thick or too thin to handle the job.

Bought from chandlers shops this rope is a little on the pricey side, usually in the region of £2 per metre, however if you hunt around on Ebay it is usually possible to pick up a roll end for closer to £1 or £1.10 a metre, much more gentle on the wallet. 

This time around we are looking to get four mooring ropes, two at about 12m for day to day use and two in the region of 20m for when we need longer ropes. 

Naughty-Cal will be looking super smart this year with her new ropes.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cruising Essentials - Part 2

Continuing on the cruising essentials theme and another item we are going to replace is our little stainless steel folding BBQ.

We stumbled across these quite by accident a few years back after several years of miss and hit BBQ's with instant BBQ packs. The instant ones are quite frankly rubbish.

With this little folding one, it doesn't take up much room and we use the instant lighting bundles of charcoal which are clean to store, don't take up much room and are much more reliable and easy to cook with.

Our current folding BBQ has seen three years of hard service and quite a few dunkings in salt water which have done it no real favours. It was becoming a pig to keep clean, the bag was starting to suffer and it is generally reaching the end of its useful lifespan, so it is time to replace it for a new one, fresh for 2016.

Now let's hope that the weather is kind enough to give us lot's of use of it this year.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Cruising Essentials - Part 1

There are one or two essential cruising items we need to buy for this upcoming summer cruising season.

Top of the list is a new folding trolley. Our old one finally gave up the ghost early last year when a wheel fell off and the handle became very wobbly. 

This item is essential for the beer run. When out on the boat we obviously don't have a car to transport heavy goods and essential supplies so we have to walk and rely on the trolley, unless of course we are feeling strong and fancy carrying the booze back.

Now Naughty-Cal isn't the largest of boats so space is very much at a premium so any items we buy have to be small and fold away neatly in their designated storage space. The little folding trolley fits away neatly under the rear cockpit seat, where it is easy to grab when needed but out of the way when not required.

The last trolley was £13 well spent and gave us 5 years of good service before quite literally falling apart, part way back from the shops of course. This one is a tad more expensive at £15 including postage but we hope that it will also give similar service for a similar period of time. £3 per year is hardly a high price to pay for the convenience it provides.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

White Stuff

We had our first dusting of the white stuff here in Sheffield last night.

Saturday, 16 January 2016


Today is a day of filling and sanding cracks in the walls.

Messy job!

Friday, 15 January 2016


As time is now marching on and beginning to run away with us and the first week in March is getting ever closer, we really do need to start gathering together the bits and pieces we need to get Naughty-Cal ready for relaunch day.

Today's item on the shopping list is a new alternator. The subject of so much needless stress towards the end of last year when we were supposed to be heading away on holiday in October.

Given how unreliable it had been since it was allegedly repaired we have taken the decision that it has to be replaced with a brand new unit. 

The original Volvo alternator is a 60 amp unit which is more than adequate for our needs however the new Valeo unit is a slight upgrade at 70 amps. We don't really need the extra 10 amp charging capacity as our batteries are very rarely, if ever, discharged enough to take that sort of charge, however it may come in handy when we are using the inverter whilst cruising. There is the option for a few more pounds of upgrading even further to a 90 amp unit but I really don't think we need that sort of charging output so will stick to the 70 amp alternator.

So that is another item crossed off of the to buy list for this year. It is slowly getting smaller. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Easy Mealtimes

The slow cooker has really come into it's own whilst we have been busy at home doing DIY during the evenings after work.

It has mean't that we can still enjoy fresh home cooked meals when we havine finished our jobs for the evening but without all of the preparation work and the hassle of starting afresh.

Last night for example we enjoyed this lovely beef shin and Guiness pie. I had cooked the beef shin in the Guiness gravy with some onions, garlic, mushrooms and potatoes overnight on Tuesday night, then left it in the fridge yesterday. When we had finished stripping hard to reach wallpaper last night, I simply topped it with grated red potatoes and mature cheddar and baked it for 30 minutes. Hey presto, and we had a lovely home cooked pie in double quick time.

How we ever managed without a slow cooker at home before I will never know. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A Change in the Weather

At long last we have seen a change in the weather from mild but very, very wet to dry but very cold.

This morning was the first time this winter that we have had to defrost and deice the car before setting off for work. I had figured it was a little bit colder as the central heating at home woke me up this morning with a few odd bangs and clatters as the house warmed through, something it only tends to do when the weather is a little colder outside.

Thankfully we checked the heaters on the boat last weekend prior to coming home. They are all now set to keep Naughty-Cal toasty warm through this colder snap and should hopefully keep the cold away from the frost susceptible plumbing and raw water system. 

The cold snap doesn't look set to last that long and looking at the weather forecasts it is due to get a little warmer again after the weekend so we are not unduly worried about Cal and will concentrate our efforts this weekend on making yet more steady progress on the hallway at home. It has really come on leaps and bounds for spending a couple of weekends at home and cracking on. That said we really do need to start looking towards making progress with Cal's winter spruce up as well, the beginning of March will be here before we know it if we are not careful.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Out With the Old - Part 2

Continuing with our new year, new you theme we have the next item on the list for the chop. This time it is an internet forum, Canalworld Discussion Forum, or CWDF as it is usually shortened too.

Since owning Naughty-Cal I have been somewhat of an active member of this forum site, however in recent times it has become more heavily moderated and somewhat hijacked by a select few whose only goal is to have a dig at Canal and Rivers Trust at every given opportunity. It has somewhat spoiled the whole atmosphere of the forum and to be quite frank left it somewhat uninspiring and a bit of a waste of time and effort. It had gotten somewhat monotonous and boring, logging on each day to see the same few names whinging and moaning about the same topics time and time again, people berating CRT only for the real story to emerge and find them at fault and digging up the same old trash over and over again.

It was definitely time for a change and time to move on. 

So good bye CWDF.

Now what next for the chop?

Monday, 11 January 2016

The View From Above

This was Liam's view for much of yesterday afternoon high up on his stair ladder. Not a view for the faint hearted or those who are scared of heights. You wouldn't get me up there.

And he will have much the same view tonight as he is up there again stripping the remnants of the wall paper off the harder to reach areas of wall.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Climbing High

Today Liam is climbing high to hopefully finish the last of the cladding.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Over and Out

Our final shift at the boat club is now over and out. And yes I do know that you should never say that over the radio but it was a nice,  relevant figure of speech to use for the occasion.

It was a fairly busy evening which helped the evening pass quickly.

We have made some good friends over the years we have been members and we are sad to be leaving but we feel it is time to move on. We will still of course pop in from time to time and show our faces, we don't plan to be strangers to the club.

Friday, 8 January 2016

A Fleeting Visit

We are paying a fleeting visit to Naughty-Cal this weekend. Tonight is our last shift on the Boat Club bar so we will spend tonight on the boat before heading back home tomorrow afternoon to continue with the battle of the hallway.

We will make sure that the heaters are all working properly throughout the boat as for the first time this winter it is set to drop cold enough to warrant their use next week.

It is also about time we started to tackle a few more jobs on the boat so we should really start a few of the odd jobs in the engine bay. We really ought to start by removing the K&N air filter and bringing it home to clean. The raw water pump also needs removing to bring home for the fitting of a new complete rebuild kit. It had seals earlier on in the year but is now ready for a full rebuild with the shaft and bearings also ready for replacing. 

And finally we will remove the alternator. What a farce that was towards the back end of last year. As it now has a fault that is on and off and we don't trust it any more we have taken the decision to replace it with a brand new unit. We can't go through a whole year wondering if it will be reliable or not. It isn't worth the hassle of it breaking down whilst we are out and about. So a new alternator is in store.

That should see us finished for this weekend on the boat and should also free up a bit of space in the engine bay for my next job the next time we visit. Cleaning out the engine bay. Deep joy!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Out With The Old

It's the start of another new year and so this year we have decided to make a few changes. Out with the old and in with the new so to speak.

And the first item to be part of this cull is our membership of Lincoln Boat Club.

We found that during 2015 we were spending less and less time in the club, we didn't attend any of their cruises and towards the end were only going in to do our bar shifts. So a few months ago we took the decision that we would end our membership at the beginning of this year. Tomorrow evening will be our final bar shift in the club.

We have made some good friends over the last few years in the boat club but feel that for us now the time has come to move on to pastures new. We will still pop in occasionally from time to time to have a quick catch up and a natter but our time as members has whiled away.

So what next for the chop?

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Colours Chosen

After much deliberation we have finally chosen a colour scheme for the hallway, who would have known it would be such a difficult choice to match paint to wallpaper? 
It is a little way off being ready for paint just yet, but not that far now. It is finally getting there with real progress being made in the last couple of weeks.
The panelling is all but finished now with just a very small section to finish off and a few pieces of trim to fix which finish off the edges, then it is time to finish sanding the walls and then finally it will be time to start applying the paint to the panelling. We expect it will take a couple of base coats of a magnolia colour to mask the pattern and tone of the wood prior to applying the final colour coat of the stone colour Rocky Cliff.
Then finally we can get the paper on the walls and the new flooring on the ground floor hallway and we will have a functioning room again rather than the current workshop!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A Face Full of Food

We were both suffering from the first day back blues yesterday evening after work, so to cheer us up a little I made these belly busting burgers for dinner.

The burgers were simply steak mince seasoned well with salt and pepper and formed into balls, you need two balls per burger. Flatten one out and then add blue cheese and chopped chillis to the middle and then flatten out another mince ball and lay on top before then forming into one sealed rather chunky burger. These were then baked for half an hour at 200 degrees. They took longer to cook through then plain burgers due to their size.

I served these on a toasted muffin smeared with mustard mayo with cajun sweet potato wedges, onion rings and salad.

Now one tip here, these are messy burgers to consume, a proper face full of food and it helps if you let the blue cheese centre cool down a little before diving in, otherwise the cheese erupts from the centre like molten lava!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Back to the Grindstone

And it is back to the grindstone again for both Liam and I today. The first day back at work.

Perhaps the hardest Monday of the year.

On the plus side we have had a great Christmas and New Year and are looking forward to a great year of cruising with Naughty-Cal as well as a new look house, eventually. 

We have some great trips lined up for this summer and now that the nights are slowly starting to draw out again it really does feel like we are heading in the right direction again.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

In Bits Again

The boiler has been in bits again.  Turns out the refurbished PCB unit is also faulty and worse than the one we took out.

It worked fine for a few days but then this morning refused to fire up leaving us with no heat or hot water and no amount of cajoling would coax it back into life.

So we had no option but to swap it back for the one that produces heat and hot water but needs resetting on a regular basis.

The "new" one will have to go back again.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Back to Grafting

Well after a lovely couple of days at the boat it is time to head home and get back to grafting on the hallway.

Deep joy.