Friday 25 February 2011

Eye Spy

Before we leave for any trip to pastures new we like to take a look at our intended destination on both Google Earth and now Google Maps to give us an idea of what to expect and what facilities are available in the vicinity. Our summer big trip is evolving into something of an adventure with new and exciting places to visit along the way. First up is Southwold.

Until last weekend we didn’t know that this sleepy Suffolk town existed so it was with some delight that a quick search of the web has thrown up some great results. The harbour at Southwold is a step back in time. Below are a few photos of what we can expect and the good news is that there is a waterside pub and three excellent fish and chip shops to choose from as well as miles of unspoilt beaches and grasslands to explore.

Southwold Harbour from the sky

Southwold Harbour Entrance

Southwold Grassland

Southwold Harbour

Southwold Harbour

Southwold Harbour at Sunset
Southwold Beach Huts

Thursday 24 February 2011

Plans for Easter 2011

Each year we make our first holiday of the year during the Easter period. This year in particular it has worked in our favour as we only need to take three days leave from work to gain a twelve day break away on the boat. Excellent news as I am sure a lot of the British workforce have found out.

Naughty-Cal will be relaunched looking fresh, clean and hopefully like a shiny new pin. The whole boat will have been cleaned from top to bottom so it will most definitely be about time to get her out on the river and get some use out of her. The last few months of cleaning, fettling and endless modifications along with the big freeze have resulted in precious little time spent out on the river. Come Easter it will be time to remedy this.

This Easter we are again cruising in company and the plan thus far is to head upstream on the River Trent as far as Nottingham before having a leisurely cruise back downstream towards home. A nice, easy and relaxing run to start the 2011 boating holiday season. This gentle start should highlight any problems we are likely to have for the rest of the holiday season and give us the chance to iron out any issues before the more serious cruising starts in earnest in June.

It should be a pleasant change for us. A lot of our cruising is dictated by tide times and tide heights, however a gentle cruise along the upper non tidal stretches of the Trent will leave us at our leisure to choose as and when we leave our mooring. The first short stretch of the journey will be tidal from Torksey Lock to Cromwell Lock, but from there all the way up river to Nottingham will be a non tidal cruise. A pleasant change indeed.

It has been a while since we last cruised the non tidal Trent and it will be nice to revisit some of our favourite spots along the way and hopefully discover some new places on our travels. It will be a leisurely twelve days with no set agenda, a chance to relax and unwind in tranquil settings. So let us pray for some early season sunshine and a week of blessing from the weather gods to make it a thoroughly enjoyable holiday afloat.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Ready For Lift Off

It’s coming around to that time of year again and we are getting Naughty-Cal ready for lift off, well, lift out anyway.

March each year we pull Naughty-Cal out of the water for a couple of weeks to give her a good fettling in time for the new boating season. This year we are pulling her our slightly later towards the end of March as Easter is late this year and we want her looking her best in time for our first holiday of the year.

So far we have:
  • Purchased the antifoul paint. Last year we bought some from the Newark boat jumble. It worked so well that we have purchased the same stuff again. The chap who produces the paint is a small manufacturer and as such his prices are excellent. This year it has cost us £20 for a 2.5 litre can. Enough for two coats on Naughty-Cal’s hull.
  • Purchased the stern drive oil. Naughty-Cal had a full stern drive service last March so this year will just need the oil dropping and replacing. If there is any water contamination in the oil we will have the shaft seals replaced as well.
  • Purchased fluid for the hydraulic trim ram. Last year we developed a hydraulic fluid leak from the stern drive trim ram. This left the hydraulic fluid looking like milkshake. The leak has been fixed and the fluid replaced, but the oil in the reservoir is still milky presumably from water still in the system as the oil is no longer leaking out. We will replace this fluid again to try and flush out the water.
  • Purchased a new set of mooring ropes. The set currently on the boat have lasted two seasons and about 600 hours of use. They are now starting to show signs of age so we took the decision to replace them all. We picked up a great deal for some braided lines so couldn’t say no. We got 38m of 12mm braided Marlow navy rope for £23.50. RRP on this rope is £2.40 per metre. This rope should be far more suitable for our boat than the 14mm three strand rope we currently use and will look a lot smarter as well.
  • Purchased a new set of fender ropes. We recently purchased a set of fender flutes to allow easy adjustments to the height of fenders when coming in to moor. Our existing fender ropes are however a little bit too hefty for the flutes. So we have bought a new set of braided Marlow fender ropes also in navy. These will allow the fenders heights to be set much more quickly and will match the new mooring ropes.

Items on the list that we still need to purchase include:

  • New heads for the machine polisher
  • T-Cut, Autoglym Super Resin polish and G3 cutting compound
  • Gel coat filler
  • Sterndrive anodes

We have acquired a few minor scuffs during the last season that will require a few repairs. Most of them should flat out and polish back up but one at least will require some filling. Also we have a few holes to fill where the old transom gate was fixed to the superstructure. The new transom gate has fixings in a slightly different position so the old fixing holes need some work to look visually acceptable.

Hopefully this little lot of repairs, maintenance and polishing should take a couple of weekends before Naughty-Cal is relaunched and ready for the 2011 season. It will be the hardest season of boating we have attempted to date, so hopefully, after her spruce up Naughty-Cal will be in a good mood for the rest of the year!!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Taken For Granted

It is all too easy to take the waterways local to your home berth for granted. We are only too pleased to slip the ropes and head off on our next big adventure. It isn’t always, however, convenient to go on a long journey. When time is limited so are cruising options and it is here that your local waterway comes into its own.

For over two years now, we have been based on the Fossdyke Navigation and the adjoining River Witham. To visiting boaters, these waterways may appear boring with their long sections of straight water penned in by flood banks with the occasional bend to keep the mind busy. However visiting boaters may not notice some of the more interesting features of the navigation. Spending time on these navigations, for some, highlights their character and individuality.

Now I’m not going to pretend that the Fossdyke is the most interesting waterway on the inland system because, quite frankly, it isn’t. But what it lacks in interest in some areas it makes up in others. The waterways are quiet, easy to navigate and safe, for the majority of the year, from the risk of flooding. The surrounding Lincolnshire countryside gives stunning waterside displays right throughout the year and provides safe havens for the array of wildlife living by the water’s edge. Finding secluded spots isn’t difficult even in the height of summer. Of course there are busy and popular spots, mostly centred on the few built up areas along the navigation but it is quite easy to escape the hustle and bustle and find a nice relaxed mooring spot away from it all.

There are those who really don’t like mooring in the area, thinking that the ditch is boring. These folks tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared in the first instance. Folks are all different and it is fortunate for the rest of us as it keeps the waterway relatively free from boat traffic.

So do we take the Fossdyke for granted? I believe at times we do. It is easy to forget how fortunate you are at times. Below are a sample of a few places we often visit along the Fossdyke.

Torksey Lock

Fossdyke between Torksey & Saxilby

Saxilby Visitor Mooring

Brayford Pool, Lincoln

Monday 21 February 2011

Damp, Dank and Dismal

It has not been the most inspiring of weekends weather wise, but none the less several jobs have been completed and a couple of small trips out completed.

Saturday was a dull, damp and rainy day for pretty much the whole 24 hours. So with this in mind we tackled some much needed spring cleaning. First up was the midships bedroom. The whole room was stripped out and washed down. A slight mildew problem beneath the mattress was discovered and swiftly treated with Milton to remove the immediate signs of the mildew spores. A more permanent solution will have to be found to allow extra air circulation beneath the mattress at a later date. Still with the room freshly cleaned and fresh clean bedding fitted the room has a sweeter aroma and welcomes you for a good night’s sleep.

Next up was dejunking the saloon area. Over the last couple of years we have accumulated a fair amount of items we very rarely use aboard, so the majority of these have either been sent home or stashed away in a more suitable area. With the junk cleared away and the area thoroughly cleaned Naughty-Cal’s interior is looking much fresher and less cluttered. A good start to the new boating season.

Sunday was another dull day but at least it had stopped raining. We were joined for breakfast by our cruising buddies and after a good old full English breakfast with oodles of coffee and orange juice we set about fixing the new flag staffs onto the radar arch for the Sealine Forum burgee and the Lincoln flag. Whilst up there the OH removed some clutter from the arch that we don’t need, namely the TV aerial mounting bracket and the radar reflector mounting bracket, neither of which are currently in use, so even the exterior of Naughty-Cal was decluttered this weekend. After this declutter it was time to pour the diesel additive into the tank for the diesel cleaning session. I suppose only time will tell whether this does the fuel any good.

After this it was time to start planning out summer jaunt to the Norfolk Broads. The plan is still evolving so watch this space but current plans involve a trip a further down the coast to the sleepy seaside village of Southwold. After this visit we will then enter the Norfolk Broads via Lowestoft and Mutford Lock departing again about 7 days later via Great Yarmouth Harbour. I dare say the plans will evolve yet further between now and the beginning of July. Anyway chatting over the plans gave us a good excuse for taking a visit to the Pyewipe, as if we need an excuse!!

Friday 18 February 2011

Yet More Small Jobs

With yet another weekend upon us it is time to start planning another weekend of even more small jobs and spring cleaning. It will soon come to an end I am sure.

This weekend will start with the fitting of the new stainless steel grab handle on the dashboard. An extra we realised would come in handy (no pun intended there) on our last trip out to sea when the water got a little choppy. The other half was doing the driving, so, with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the throttle lever was able to steady himself against the boats movement. I, as navigator, had little to hold onto. The addition of a grab handle on the dashboard, just above the chart plotter, will enable me to have a much more comfortable ride in choppy seas. Finding a suitable handle was proving difficult as we wanted it to look as though it was a factory fitted item. We stumbled across the “right” handle at the boat jumble last weekend for the princely sum of £10.

Next up is the fixing of the two new short stainless steel flag staffs for the top of the radar arch. We have acquired a selection of flags over the last couple of years but have been limited to flying the red ensign from the rear flag staff. Now, we will be able to fly our Sealine Forum burgee as well as the Lincoln flag from high up on the arch.

As we refilled the diesel tank earlier this month we have decided that it is about time for our annual fuel treatment. Not a subject we are normally too fussed about but for the sake of £15 we treat the fuel tank once a year to discourage bug growth and water accumulation. The additive also cleans the injectors and fuel lines so helps keep Naughty-Cal running reliably. The bottle treats 500 litres of diesel, our tank holds 225 litres, so we will add about half of the bottle and save the rest for the next time we refill the tank.

And finally for this weekend is some more spring cleaning. This weekend I will tackle the midships bedroom and the bathroom. First up, in the bedroom, will be stripping back the bedding and removing the mattress to clean the areas beneath the bed. Then the mattress will be thoroughly vacuumed before having a good dose of Fabreeze to freshen it up a little. Later in the year when the weather is warmer the mattress will be taken home for washing and drying. After the area below the mattress is cleaned the whole bedroom will be freshened up with a good wipe down with EVM. The walls in the bedroom are lined with a mixture of vinyl and GRP so are really easy to keep fresh and clean.

Next up is the bathroom. This small room is fully lined with GRP so is quite easy to wash down and keep clean. This weekend we will give the area a thorough polish and wax to ensure it stays easy to clean and stays smelling fresh. The secret to easy cleaning of the GRP is EVM environmentally safe cleaner. Followed with a good polish with Autoglym Super Resin Polish and a good coat of a good quality Carnauba Wax the bathroom should be easy to clean all year long. A little hard work now saves a lot of time later in the year when we want to be using the boat not cleaning it.

And when all of these small jobs are completed there may be time for a quick trip out if the weather allows and some time to kick back and relax with a few beers. If the weather holds out it may also be the weekend for giving Naughty-Cal’s exterior a good clean. She comes out of the water next month for a good polish but it is still nice to keep her looking clean in the mean time.

Thursday 17 February 2011

The Great Adventure 2011 - Part 3

The adventure onto the Northern Broads will start with a quick blast across Breydon Water before negotiating the low bridges into Great Yarmouth and onto the Northern rivers. At mean high water springs these bridges have an air draft of just 6’ 6” which severely limits the size of craft capable of reaching the northern rivers. Naughty-Cal will fit under but we will leave some time before high water to ensure we comfortably fit through with room to spare.
Vauxhall Bridge, Great Yarmouth

Now we are really into hire boat country and must be on our guard, fenders at the ready. That said the northern rivers have more of a charm for us with their pretty villages, waterside pubs and windmills a plenty. The first stretch of river from Great Yarmouth to Stokesby is still very tidal and the flow of the water can catch out the unwary, cutting corners on this stretch of river is not recommended as you will soon be left high and dry on the many mud banks.

Our first port of call will likely be the Bridge Inn at Acle. A large riverside pub with a fantastic riverside beer garden with crazy golf, outdoor pool tables and a games room. The food the last time we visited was very reasonably priced and of good quality. With plenty of moorings, we should be able to moor in such a fashion as to make us less of a target for the hirers!!

Now it is time to head further inland. Destination Coltishall and then Wroxham. It will be a fairly long day of cruising with little time to stop or inspect the scenery. The intention being to skip out a lot of the rivers and pick them up on the return leg of the journey back to the sea. Wroxham is also a handy stop for stocking up on provisions from the excellent butchers and bakery and also provides a good night out with takeaways a plenty for the return to the boat.

Wroxham Bridge, Wroxham

After the night in Wroxham we will head off in search of the River Ant. The river Ant leads onto Barton Broad from where a number of dykes lead to a selection of different places to see and visit. We will, time permitting , aim to visit a few of these but plan to spend the evening at the Sutton Staithe Hotel. A favourite spot of ours not only for the good food but also the stunning scenery.

Sutton Staithe

Heading further down river our next intended stop will be St Bennets Abbey. The ruins of the former abbey are perfect for exploring and the local fields provide excellent easy walks for many miles along flat fenland footpaths. St Bennets Abbey is the perfect spot for a BBQ, weather permitting and is often quiet and unspoiled.

With the holiday drawing to a close, we are now getting closer to the sea. Our final turn off the river will be to Potter Heigham where the notorious low bridge closes off the navigation to larger vessels. Naughty-Cal may or may not fit through this bridge, we are not quite sure just yet and much will depend on the water levels at the time of our visit. If she does go through we will spend the evening at Deep Go Dyke, a secluded middle of nowhere spot. A nice spot to chill out and unwind. If the boat wont go through we will most probably continue on and head back down river to reach Stokesby Ferry.

Potter Heigham Bridge, Potter Heightam

By now we will be running out of time and weather permitting will have to head for home. The route home will take in the stunning Norfolk coastline and it would be rude not to drop in at the now familiar port of Wells next the Sea. An overnight stay here for excelent fish and chips, then the following day will be the now familiar trip from Wells to Boston, before heading back up the Witham at a somehwat more sedate pace.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

The Great Adventure 2011 - Part 2

After an evenings rest and relaxation at the Berney Arms it will be time to head off up river in the direction of Reedham. Here we will be able to refuel, which wont be a cheap deal, after ninety miles of sea work Naughty-Cal will be ready for a good drink, and give her a well deserved wash down to rid her of the salt water. Here will also be a good place to stock up on provisions and take on a spot on lunch before heading off into the Norfolk countryside.
Reedham Staithe
The Southern Broads are far quieter than the Northern Broads due to the hire yards being less prolific. For this reason the majority of private boat owners don’t stray from the Southern Broads. We intend to do a whistle stop tour of the Southern Broads, visiting friends where possible before heading off North. The Southern Broads have long stretches of reed lined river where the wildlife is in abundance and you can cruise for hours without seeing another soul. Mixed in with this quiet scenery is the lively city of Norwich with all the facilities one expects from a thriving city.
Typical Southern Broadland Scenery
Norwich Riverside

Another one of our favourite places to visit is the River Chet. A tiny twisting waterway with something new to see around every corner. The basin at the head of the navigation a fitting end to the river, surrounded by modern riverside property. The River Chet will probably mark the end of our few days on the Southern Broads and the start of our 2011 tour of the bustling Northern Broads.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

The Great Adventure 2011

Adventure planning is now well under way for the 2011 boating season. We now have our three major trips away planned and booked and co ordinate with friends. First up is the opener for this year and the least adventurous of our holidays for the year. A few of us have Easter week off and plan a trip up the Trent to Nottingham, then head down the Trent to West Stockwith and Keady. A nice warm up run.

Secondly there is the Sealine Forum trip to Wells next the Sea. A trip we completed successfully last year so planning isn’t as in depth.

Our third and most adventurous trip to date is two weeks on the Norfolk Broads in August. The Norfolk Broads is where our love of boating was kicked into life so it will be a joy to take Naughty-Cal to explore the range of rivers on offer. The planning is well on the way. We will have company from Burton Waters to Boston from where we will head in convoy to Great Yarmouth. There we will enter the Broads and our company will leave us to explore the East Coast.
Having only ever hired boats on the Broads we have not yet seen the commercial side of Great Yarmouth Harbour, with its large commercial vessels, life boats and fishing vessels. The limiting factor for most vessels is the Haven lift bridge which will only open at certain times during each day in a bid to reduce traffic congestion in the town. Luckily for us Naughty-Cal will easily fit underneath the lift bridge at any state of tide. The bridge having an air draft of approximately 10ft at mean high water springs limits the movements of larger leisure vessels many preferring to enter the Broads further around the coast at Lowestoft.

From Boston to Great Yarmouth is a trip of some ninety miles which should in fair weather take around four to five hours. Given the variable nature of the sea state and the weather though we will plan for a journey of some six to seven hours. This will include the hour from the Grand Sluice in Boston and the half an hour from Great Yarmouth Harbour entry to Breydon Water and the start of the Norfolk Broads. Breydon Water is an expanse of water forming the estuary of the rivers Yare, Bure and Waveney. Breydon Water is the only expanse of water on the Broads that has no speed limit so will be the ideal spot to wind Naughty-Cal down and ensure that all is well after such a long sea passage. It should take around fifteen minutes for us to pass across Breydon Water before reaching our first nights destination of the Berney Arms. I’m sure we will be ready for a good drink by the time we arrive.

The Berney Arms Inn is a remote pub, until recently only accessible by rail or by boat situated at the junction of the rivers Yare and Waveney. We have never visited this remote spot so it will be the ideal place to rest and a fitting start to our adventure on the Norfolk Broads.

Monday 14 February 2011

A Success all Round

This weekend has been successful on all fronts. The weather allowed for a lovely quiet winter cruise on Saturday followed by a few pints in The Pyewipe Inn with friends.

Yesterday we visited the Newark Boat Jumble where we picked up a whole host of bargains for Naughty-Cals annual spruce up next month.

Last year we purchased some antifoul paint from a chap with a local paints business and we were so happy with the performance of the stuff that we bought some more. As repeat customers we got a further discount and in the end paid £20 for a 2.5 litre tin. To put this into perspective, the stuff our boat was originally painted with was £97 per tin and didnt perform as well as the new paint.

We also bought a new dry bag for our life jackets, a stainless steel grab handle to fit onto the dashboard and a new set of moorings ropes. Again a bargain at £23.50 for 38m of 10mm braided Marlow mooring rope in navy.

To top the weekend off we finally got around to installing the last two LED replacement bulbs into the bedroom area and also managed to get the seven day timer for the Webasto heating installed and working. So we awoke to a toasty warm boat this morning.

All in all a very successful weekend.

Friday 11 February 2011

Take Two

Its here again. This week has flown by and we find ourselves yet again planning out another weekend afloat.

This weekend we shall have the second attempt at fitting the seven day timer to the heating system. A new unit has been delivered to the marina so fingers crossed it should be a five minute job to fit the new controller tonight.

The tomorrow looks to be a perfect cruising day. First up we really need to wash Naughty-Cal now that we have water on the pontoons, then refill the water tank and head out for a days cruising. Who knows where we will end up. Sadly it wont be an overnight stop as we are heading out in the car on Sunday.

Sunday is the Boat Jumble at Newark Show Ground. We have a list of items ready to purchase ranging from antifoul paint to a new set of mooring and fender ropes. Who knows what we will end up purchasing though. We never end up with what we are looking for!!

Thursday 10 February 2011

Chicken Pasty

Its time for another simple reciepe I feel. Today it is a simple chicken and mushroom pasty. Depending on how naughty you are feeling it can be served with chips or if you are eating as a light snack salad is equally as well suited.

For this one you will need, a packet of ready made puff pastry, 2 chicken breasts, mushrooms, onions or leeks and a packet of phillidelphia cheese (or any other soft cheese) and one beaten egg.

To begin fry off your chopped onions then add the chicken breast. It is best to chop the chicken up into cubes or strips so that it can be distributed through the pasty. Finally add the mushrooms to the mixture and fry for a further five minutes. Whilst the mixture is cooking, take your ready made pastry and roll out into a large rectangular shape. Spread half the soft cheese onto the pastry leaving a 1.5cm border of clean pastry around the edges. Remove the chicken mixture from the heat and stir in the remaining soft cheese to the mixture. Finally spread the mixture out onto the pastry. Use part of the beaten egg to moisten the 1.5cm pastry border then fold the pasty over sealing the edges well. Finally glaze the pastry with the rest of the beaten egg.

Stick the pasty in the oven for 15 minutes on a medium heat and sit back and relax whilst waiting for the pasty to cook. Remove and serve with your choice of side dish.

Tonight we are feeling naughty so will serve this dish with chips and onion rings!!

Wednesday 9 February 2011

A World Wide Audience

It would seem that this blog is attracting itself a world wide audience. This week alone there have been viewers from:

United Kingdom 50
United States 19
France 11
Italy 10
Australia 5
Spain 5
India 4
United Arab Emirates 3
Greece 3
Poland 3

So a big hello to all of those who take the time to read this blog from around the world and a big thank you for your valued viewings. If you have any questions along the way please ask them and I will do my very best to answer them for you.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

The Sun is Shining

The sun is shining, the winds have dropped light and the temperature is surprisingly mild for the time of year. What a shame i am stuck in the office at work. Today would be a perfect day for an early year cruise on Naughty-Cal.

Never mind there is always the weekend, and at this early stage in the week, the forecast for the weekend isnt looking all that bad. Who knows what the weather will be doing by then though. It will of course have changed its mind at least once a day!!

The milder weather of late is encouraging the growth of spring bulbs with shoots appearing in gardens, parks and grass verges around the country. The mornings are getting earlier, the nights are getting later and srping is certainly on its way. The birds are singing earlier in the morning, even the trees are starting to bud. Lets hope that this is the start of a long, happy and enjoyable boating year.

Monday 7 February 2011

Its been a bit blowy

Its been a bit of a blowy weekend and what with the wind direction it has been blowing straight at Naughty-Cal all weekend, effectively pinning her to the pontoon.

Still it has been another excuse to get yet more little jobs finished and struck off the list. First up the new Sealine clock was fitted and looks very smart in its new location above the galley.

Secondly was refueling. This wasnt as bad as we had anticipated and 60 litres was enough to fill the tank to the brim. Anymore and it would have overflowed so we were saved a second visit to the petrol station. The only slight problem with this job was trying to balance the diesel can on the gunnel whilst the boat was blowing around.!!

The final job for the weekend was fitting the heater timer onto the Webasto diesel heater. Our fears about this job being difficult were quickly disolved as the unit appeared to be plug and play. So with a 12v power supply attained and the unit screwed to the wall all appeared to be going well. Until we tried to switch it on and discover we have a faulty unit that wont even switch on. Never mind the wiring is all done now and when the new unit arrives this week, it should be a five minute job to fit it and get it working.

Thursday 3 February 2011

More Shiney Bits

With the weekend fast approaching, this weekends jobs to do are stacking up on my desk at work.

First up is installing the new shiney Sealine clock. Shouldnt be too difficult, Three screws should be easy enough to fix.

Secondly there is the new seven day timer to fit to the existing Webasto diesel heating system. Currently we just have a thermostatically controlled on/off unit. This works fine, but during the winter months it is not fun arriving to a freezing cold boat. With the new timer installed we can set the heating to come on a couple of hours before we arrive and turn up to a nice toasty warm boat. Plus we can leave the timer set to come on if the temperature drops below a preset limit, a frost guard if you like.

Third up is taking the boat to fill up the diesel tank. The one job im not looking forward too. This one is always guaranteed to empty the wallet!!

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Fendered Up?

Now none of us like to damage our pride and joys but this fellow boat owner may be taking things a little too far. This boat was spotted outside the Pyewipe Inn, just outside Lincoln at the weekend. So amazed were we by his array and amount of fenders that we had to spin around and have another look.

You can guess that if/when he does bang into something that none of the fenders will be in the right place!!