Thursday 31 March 2011

Favourite Meals Afloat

As the date of our first holiday afloat for 2011 draws ever closer, it is time to remind ourselves of some of our favourite meals that we have aboard Naughty-Cal. So here are just a small selection of our personal favourites.

Haggis, Neaps & Tatties

Honey Glazed Salmon

A homecooked Curry

Spag Bol of course makes the list


Wednesday 30 March 2011

Beef Stroganoff

This is another of those simple to cook yet super tasty dishes that we have recently learned to cook. Quick and easy it goes from ingredients to meal before you know it.

So for this one you will need: 2 tsp sunflower oil 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 250 g sirloin steak trimmed and cut into thin strips 110 g baby mushrooms, halved 75 g Philadelphia Light 1.5 tsp mustard 120ml of beef stock

So to start heat the oil in a pan then add the onion and fry until soft. Next turn up the heat and quickly brown the beef. Add the mushrooms and cook until their juices start to run. Add the stock and let it bubble to reduce a tad. Stir in the Philly and the mustard until smooth then simmer for five minutes.

Serve with your choice of rice or chips and seasonal vegetables. You won’t be disappointed with this one.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Mounting Issues

With the purchase of the new dinghy come one or two new problems which in hindsight should probably have been thought through before buying the thing.

First up the dinghy is 2.40m long which is as near as damn it as wide as Naughty-Cal. We intend to mount it on snap davits bolted to the bathing platform but will also need some method of holding the dinghy back off the transom as we still need access to the transom gate with the dinghy attached to the davits. Im sure the method will become clear when we
offer the boat up to Naughty-Cal.

The second slightly bigger challange is going to be mounting the outboard to Naughty-Cal. We had intended to purchase a smaller 2.3hp engine which would have been light enough to hang from the transom grab rail. The new 6hp outboard will be too heavy to do this so we need a rethink. We have seen the perfect solution but at nearly £400 it is going to be far too expensive for the time being. We are going to have to have a major think about how we mount the outboard safely to the boat. It needs to be secure enough that it wont bounce off its mounting at sea.

I will post a further update to this little issue when we have made a desicion on the course of action to take. It hopefully wont to in the too distant future as we want to take the dinghy on our Easter cruise in just three weeks time.

Monday 28 March 2011

Hard Graft

It has been a long and hard weekend. We have both walked away this morning with aching arms and backs but the work has been worth it and we have left ourselves an easy and gentle weekends work for the coming weekend.

Naughty-Cal on the yard trailer

As Naughty-Cal came up the slipway it became apparent we had a problem. This white plastic bag had wrapped itself around the props and in doing so found its way through the oil seals and into the gear box. So the OH had a crash course in changing shaft seals and now knows how to service the stern drive which he will now do himself each year.

The Plastic Bag!!

The water contaminated oil from the drive

Compared to Saturdays findings, yesterday was a breeze if not much harder work. With Naughty -Cal chocked ashore now was the time for a good polish. With our arms in the air all day we now have aching backs and shoulders but the effort was well worth it. Cal is looking super shiny. We now only have to antifoul her and give her a few coats of wax next weekend. Easy in comparison with this weekends work.

Naughty-Cal chocked ashore

It wasnt all hard work and no play though. We bought Naughty-Cal a new playmate. The OH has been after a new dinghy for a while and this little beast turned up at the right price so we had to have it.

New Tender

Thursday 24 March 2011

Out She Comes

Well tomorrow is the day that Naughty-Cal is pulled out of the water. I have taken another Friday off work to watch the lift out. It is always a nervous moment as the boat creeps up the slipway and you can survey the bottom for the first time in twelve months.

This year we don’t intend to do as much work as last year but it will still take a couple of good weekend’s hard graft to finish all of the jobs we want to do. First up will be changing the oil in the stern drive. This should be a relatively simple and quick job assuming that there is no water contamination in the oil. If no contamination is present we will do a quick anode and oil change. If the water is contaminated then we will have to wait until the marina staff can change the shaft seals which could scupper our plans for an Easter cruise. The underwater gear will also benefit from a good scrub down to remove the growth that is starting to appear. Next year when the drive has a full service the drive will be repainted in the original paint finish to smarten it up a little bit.

Another dirty job will be changing the hydraulic fluid in the drive trim ram. Last year we suffered a leak from this ram which not only spewed out hydraulic fluid but also sucked water in leaving the remaining fluid looking like milkshake. Since the leak has been fixed and the fluid replaced it has started to look milky again, most probably due to water remaining in the system. Another fluid change now and then one later in the year should see the system flushed through and the fluid should then, with a bit of luck, stay clean and uncontaminated.

Dirty jobs done it is time for a hull and superstructure polish. Whilst doing this we will repair any minor bumps and scrapes and the holes left behind by fitting the new transom gate. The polishing is made simpler by using a machine polisher and also by using good quality polishes that are easy to apply and polish off. The hull and superstructure will then be treated to a couple of good coats of a good quality carnauba wax to help keep her shiny during the year. The wax coat also helps to repel dirt most noticeably around the waterline which can be prone to becoming scummy. With the aid of the wax the scum line rinses off easily with fresh water.

After the polishing it is time to apply the antifoul paint. This is the paint used on the bottom of cruisers to help keep the amount of marine growth clinging to the hull at bay. Hopefully the existing antifoul will have eroded to leave a nice smooth finish ready to be repainted with the fresh stuff. If not we will have to sand it down and start again from scratch, not a job we are looking forward too as it is messy and just generally not nice. With a fresh polish and a fresh coat of antifoul paint Naughty-Cal should be looking like a shiny new pin.

All that will be left to do now is fit the new mooring ropes and the freshly cleaned fenders with their new fender ropes and fit the newly refurbished propellers and Naughty-Cal will be ready to be relaunched and face a new and exciting season ahead. Hopefully all will go to plan and she will be relaunched in a couple of week’s time leaving a couple of week’s shakedown time before our Easter break.

Wednesday 23 March 2011


What full English breakfast would be complete without a couple of rashers of good dry cured bacon? Each week we build ourselves up to our favourite breakfast of the week. Sunday morning full English.

Bacon of course is one of the main ingredients, so it is well worth while buying a good quality bacon. None of this supermarket rubbish that is pumped full of water, salt and food colouring. Yuk. A decent breakfast has to be prepared using proper bacon. We prefer traditional dry cured bacon but equally traditional smoked bacon is just as good.

Currently our favourite bacon is a traditional dry cured that we purchase from the lady living in Torksey Lock cottage. It won’t be to everybody’s taste though. It is strong flavoured full bodied bacon that is hung for quite some time giving it a very distinctive flavour and tang. The perfect accompaniment to the best black pudding we have found from the Coop in Saxilby. As proper bacon it doesn’t shrink, you get what you pay for and at 20p a rasher it isn’t even expensive. It really does pay to shop locally and source good honest ingredients.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

An Amazing Weekend - Part 2

Just one or two more photos of the weekends activities for your viewing today. Nothing exciting to report just a few photos showing what a fantastic day and evening was had by all who attended. A special thank you goes out to the team at the Sealine Forum, the Staff at Sealine and also the staff at Burton Waters who all helped to make the day very memorable for all those who attended. Heres to the next get together in June.

The Sealine Forum at the Sealine Factory

The Class Clown - Stormin Norm


Clay Pigeon

The Brave Lady

Monday 21 March 2011

An amazing weekend

It started with an early visit to Naughty-Cal to get some miles in, so Thursday evening we settled in with fish and chips and a few beers before hitting the sack early.

5am Friday morning and the alarm clock rings out. Bleary eyed we arise, get dressed have a quick drink, then set off on the long drive to Stourport on Severn to meet up with the Sealine Forum crowd. We finally arrived at the hotel at around 8am to be greeted by half the crowd already there, ready and raring to go. With the coaches loaded up we set off for the Sealine Factory in Kidderminster. The hospitality of the staff at the factory was outstanding and all of our many questions and queries were answered. The tour around the factory was a very open warts and all affair with no attempts to hide any items that were not going according to plan.

After the tour we were shepherded back to the coaches and arrived back to a fabulous buffet lunch before heading out into the field to start the country pursuits. It quickly transpired that neither the OH nor I are much cop at shooting. We were useless at shooting clay pigeons, pistols and rifles, no better at archery but surprisingly not too bad with the cross bow. After the shooting it was time to hit the bar.

Saturday and time to leave. So we have a brisk walk around Stourport before heading back to the boat. We finally arrive back at Burton Waters, some three and a half hours later as the traffic was horrendous. Then with the sun shining we take off the canopies for the first time this year and head of to the pub. Who should arrive but the Sealine Forum members we had left that morning. A very pleasant surprise. Finally we head off back to the marina and to dads house for a lovely evening meal before spending the evening on his mooring.

Sunday dawns much cooler than the previous day so we quickly erect the canopies again to shelter from the breeze. Another trip to the Pyewipe ensues where one swift one as always turns into four before heading back to the berth and settling in for the evening with a chicken and stuffing roast dinner. It’s amazing what you can rustle up on a small cooker when you are hungry.

It was a shame this weekend ended so soon. The company has been great; we have met many new friends and then had a fantastic time with existing friends as well. A great weekend and certainly one to remember for many years to come.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Long Weekend

A bit of a rarity for us this weekend, we have taken Friday off work and are having a long weekend. We will head down to the boat this evening, I am sure Naughty-Cal will be somewhat surprised to see us.

There is a reason for this extra time off work though. Courtesy of the Sealine Forum, we are having a trip around the Sealine factory on Friday followed by a buffet lunch and country pursuits at the Stourport Manor Hotel then drinks afterwards in the bar. We have off course booked a room for Friday evening so we don’t have to drive back under the influence.

It will mean an early start on Friday morning as we have to get from Lincoln to the Stourport Manor Hotel for 9.45am. This means that we really have to be on the road by 6am!! Still it will be worthwhile to meet up with some new found friends from the forum and also to see where Naughty-Cal was manufactured. It will be an education for us all to see some of the processes involved in producing a GRP sea worthy vessel.

Following the factory visit we are heading back to the hotel for a buffet lunch provided by Burton Waters, the Sealine dealer for the East Coast. This will be a chance to ask any questions we have to the Sealine team. Then it is out into the hotel grounds to partake in archery, clay pigeon shooting, cross bow shooting and pistol shooting. Hopefully the weather will be a little better than at present. With the country pursuits completed it is time to hit the bar for drinks and a meal. No doubt the night will be long.

Saturday will see us all go our separate ways after a hearty breakfast. We are heading back to the marina where we will be dining during the evening at a friend’s house at the marina. We should get back to Burton Waters for mid afternoon so we will have time to give Naughty-Cal a quick once over and maybe even get a quick run out to Lincoln before heading across to raft alongside our friends boat for the evening. We will most likely sleep at the bottom of their garden for the night.

On Sunday we really have to get Naughty-Cal ready for next week’s lift out. The cockpit carpets are to be taken home for a good clean with the carpet cleaner and no doubt this will reveal that the cockpit is ready for a mop out and quick wipe around. Leaving the carpets in whilst chocked up on the hardstanding is not recommended as the surfacing is a loose ashy type material that is very difficult to get back out of the carpet.

So a weekend of relative relaxation but only in preparation for a couple of weekends of long hard graft to follow. It will all be worth it in the long run when Naughty-Cal is looking in pristine condition once more.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Sealine S23

I have received a request to post some more information on Naughty-Cal and how she is laid out. So for our friend in the US here is the low down on the Sealine S23.

The Sealine S23 was first sold in the UK in 2002. Production ran until 2006, being rebranded in 2005 as the S25 shortly before the model was dropped from the Sealine range and the smallest Sealine model became the S29 and SC29. The Sealine S23 is 25’ overall in length and has a beam of 8’2”. Unusually for a 25’ sports cruiser the S23 had walkaround decks instead of the more usual bow access through the front screen.

The majority of S23’s sold in the UK were powered by a single Volvo Penta KAD32 diesel engine. The later models were fitted with the newly developed Volvo Penta D3 engine. A handful of S23’s were produced with a single petrol engine but these are very few and far between.

Sealine S23 Layout

So onto the boat itself. Starting at the stern of the boat, you enter the vessel via a transom gate located to the port side. The cockpit arrangement allows for the seating of six people, two at the helm and four around the rear cockpit table. The fridge is located in the cockpit to the port side of the cockpit to allow more galley space below in the cabin. Adjacent the fridge is a storage locker and also a separate gas locker large enough to store two gas bottles. The dashboard is well laid out with everything to hand for both the skipper and crew, with all dials easily visible. There was a choice of navigation gear available. Naughty-Cal is fitted with a Raymarine chartplotter, Raymarine Tridata T60 and Nasa Marine DSC VHF radio, all of which were factory fitted.

The cabin is accessed via a sliding door which slides away beneath the dashboard for ease of access. Immediately through the door you find a set of three sets down into the cabin. To the port side of the steps is the small galley which is equipped with a two burner gas hob and grill, a stainless steel sink and drainer and storage for cups and glasses in eye level shelves. There is also a pan draw beneath the cooker and a large storage cupboard beneath the sink with a waste bin located beneath the steps.

Sealine S23 Galley showing cooking facilities

Sealine S23 galley showing extra work surface

To the starboard side opposite the galley is the access into the midships cabin, a double berth beneath the cockpit floor. This berth has sitting headroom and an emergency escape window into the cockpit. Beneath the bed are the water tanks and access to water pumps and the shower sump.

Sealine S23 midships berth (picture of a similar boat not Naughty-Cal)

Adjacent the midships access is the bathroom or heads compartment. This is a small room but manages to hold a sea toilet, which is plumbed into a holding tank on Naughty-Cal but not as standard, a wash handbasin and a shower, as well as ample storage for toiletries and cleaning products. There is also a toilet roll holder, towel holder and soap dish moulded into the GRP liner.
Sealine S23 heads/bathroom (picture of a similar boat not Naughty-Cal)
The remaining area is the saloon which easily seats four around a U shaped seating area. The seating drops down to form a second double berth and the areas beneath the seats are hollow forming large storage bins. There is a small hanging locker which also serves as a handy place to keep the TV on top of. A large mirror on the forward bulkhead helps make the area look and feel light and airy.

Sealine S23 saloon (picture of a similar boat not Naughty-Cal)

Back up on decks and the S23 was sold with a full canopy and stainless steel radar arch to allow the boat to be used in the UK climate. Deck hardware comprises six large heavy duty mooring cleats, two forward, two amidships and two at the stern. There are stainless steel grab rails at the stern of the vessel which when used with the stainless steel boarding ladder aid with reboarding the craft. At the bow of the boat is a large fairlead and access to the large anchor locker which contains the electric windlass and chain as well as providing storage for general cruising gear such as mooring pins, spare fenders and extra mooring ropes and the mop bucket, mop, broom and sponges.

There were also a number of additional items of equipment that could be added at the build stage. Naughty-cal benefits from diesel fired blown air heating, trim tabs, a transom shower and a holding tank for the black water.

I hope that this over view has given you some ideas about where we spend our weekends and how we manage aboard a small boat. Any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Black Pudding

Black pudding, it is one of those love it or hate it foods. Some cannot get enough of the stuff, others just cannot stomach it. For us a full English breakfast just isn’t right without a slice or two of the black stuff. It has to be a good one mind you, none of this plasticy supermarket rubbish. A proper butcher’s black pudding is hard to beat. Melt in the mouth and silky smooth.

We have tried many black puddings over the years, but one of the very best we have found is from the butchery in the Coop supermarket in Saxilby. They sell a whole variety of different meat and cooked foods but the black pudding is the real winner for us. During BBQ season they even sell a black pudding sausage which we will certainly have to try.

Black pudding is a much underused ingredient in cooking and really should be used more. It is an economical food source rarely exceeding a pound for a decent serving. We are always experimenting with different ways to use the stuff. This week I am adding some to a batch of homemade Cornish pasties, I will let you know how I get on later in the week.

Monday 14 March 2011

Over too Soon

What a cracking weekend and a shame it is over so soon. We have successfully completed all the jobs on our weekends to do list and a few more to boot and have has a lovely time with friends enjoying the boat as well.

Saturday saw us up and about early with the intention of finishing the work early ang cracking on. So whilst I started the spring clean of the galley, the OH started work on the dashboard and as you can see he has made a smashing job of installing the new grab handle. All of the worrying was for nothing. The handle looks like it should always have been there. The srping clean of the galley didnt take as long as expected and within the hour it was looking sparkly and clean. Somehow I took a huge black bag of rubbish from the galley. I didnt think it was large enough, but now we have loads of room to store things. Maybe we dont need a bigger boat after all!!

The LED cockpit lighting was installed and has made a huge difference to the light levels in the cockpit. Not only do we now benefit from more light but we are using less power. Excellent. And then last up was filling up with diesel again. A further 60 litres of diesel has filled the tank to the very top. Finally it was time to enjoy the boat. So we had a quick trip into Lincoln before heading back to Saxilby for a few quiet drinks afloat.

Yesterday was a peaceful morning of waging war on the crossword puzzle before having a fabulous brunch of bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and poached eggs, then heading to the Pyewipe Inn for a few drinks with friends, then heading back to watch the sun set listen to some music and prepare a lovely sunday lunch. All in all an amazingly good weekend and it was finished off with the most amazing scenery on the way to work this morning. Such a shame the weekend is over so soon.

Friday 11 March 2011

Its the Weekend Again

Well it is almost the weekend again and it is anybody’s guess what this one will have in store. We have a number of small odd jobs to do before we make any plans for leaving the berth.

First up for me is spring cleaning the galley. This is the last of the interior areas to receive the annual deep clean so it will be nice to get this finished and finish of the interior deep clean. The galley on Naughty-Cal is not huge but it will still take a while to take everything from the cupboards, clean them then put everything back again. A couple of hours ought to see the job completed then the whole interior has been deep cleaned and will be ready for the forth coming “boating” season.

Whilst I am cleaning the other half will of course be making a mess. This weekend is the turn of the dashboard grab handle. He keeps putting this one off; he really doesn’t want to drill the shiny blue gel coat on the dashboard. But needs must and it has to be done. He now has all of the items to do the job including a rubber gasket so this weekend is the weekend to jump in with both feet, well hands hopefully, and get it installed. We may even treat the dashboard to a polish and wax once the handle is installed, make it glisten and gleam.

Then it is the turn of the new cockpit lighting. This week we have purchased replacement LED bulbs for the main cockpit overhead light fitting and also for the transom light. These are the last of the main bulbs we needed to replace with LED equivalents so we are looking forward to fitting them and reaping the extra power saving we will achieve. No more worrying about leaving the lights on overnight. The navigation lights we have decided to leave for now, as we are likely to have the engine running whilst these are switched on. We will though, replace them when they decide to give up the ghost with LED replacement bulbs. Another expensive affair.

Last up will be a general tidy up and clean of the cabin and cockpit area. The cabin now that we have thoroughly cleaned it should be easy to keep clean with a weekly fettle and vacuum to keep it looking clean. The cockpit has yet to receive its annual deep clean and will not be done until after we have had the boat relaunched. The surface the boats are chocked ashore on is terrible for being trodden into and walked around the boat so the cockpit can wait for now. No point doing it now to have to redo it again in a month or so time. It will however benefit from its weekly wipe around and vacuum. It is almost time for removing the cockpit carpets and taking them home for the summer. This will make the task of cleaning the cockpit even easier as we can simply sweep it out or hose it and mop it out. Plus the boat always looks much lighter with them removed. They are a dark navy blue and although they help give the boat a warm feel during the winter months, they give the illusion of making the cockpit look smaller during the summer months. The clean white GRP looks much fresher come summer.

I am sure that there will still be time to enjoy Naughty-Cal as well over the weekend. The list of jobs shouldn’t take more than a few hours to finish so by Saturday lunchtime we should be ready and raring to go with the weekends partying and enjoyment. It must be about time we visited the Pyewipe by now. We have not been for a few weeks; they will think we have gotten lost!!

Thursday 10 March 2011

Five a Day

Do you get your five a day? Yes, fruit and vegetables I mean of course. We never really thought about it too much. We prefer cooking meals from scratch so don’t have packets to inform us how many portions we are eating with each meal. So when we had a quick tot up of our daily portions we had a pleasant surprise.Now of course we don’t manage it every day. No one really does I expect. We have lazy days just like anybody else, but on the average day we easily achieve the five recommended portions and often easily exceed this number.

We usually start the day with either a bowl of wholegrain cereal topped off with fresh fruit often a banana and semi skimmed milk or multigrain toast with spread or reduced fat cheese washed down with a helping of fruit juice. So this equates to either one or two portions a day depending on what we decide to have.

Between breakfast and lunch we have a couple of apples as snacks and then lunch comprises a sandwich on granary bread. My sandwich is usually ham, beef or turkey with a generous helping of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. A medium sized apple equates to one portion of fruit so we have another couple of portions here. We decided to disregard the salad on the sandwich and ignore it for the sake of this exercise. So already we are up to either three or four portions before our evening meal.

Tonight we are having a vegetable tart for our evening meal. A puff pastry based loaded with roasted tomatoes, leeks, onions, mushrooms and peppers. This easily equates to a couple of our daily portions. Other favourite evening meals are spag bol which holds a surprising amount of vegetables including tinned tomatoes and onions, chilli which is just a variation on spag bol with beans and peppers added into the mix and some chilli powder of course. We also have a lot of traditional roast dinners which include plenty of fresh vegetables, we usually try to eat what is in season but now with the supermarkets flying in produce by the hundreds of tonnes you can eat what you like when you like.

So as you can see, it isn’t really as difficult as it sounds to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. It is of course advised to have five different portions a day, for example drinking five portions of fruit juice is not a good idea. We enjoy cooking using fresh ingredients so achieving five a day seems relatively easy for us.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Emergency Rations

We prefer to cook ourselves fresh food onboard Naughty-Cal with fresh ingredients where ever possible. We always have a stash of fresh onions, mushrooms and vegetables aboard so generally all we need to find is fresh meat or fish. We do however have a cupboard of canned “emergency rations” for those unexpected times when finding fresh food is impossible or proving very difficult.

Mixed in with the emergency food are the staples such as tinned tomatoes, tins of beans and tins of fish which can be used to rustle up a quick meal at a moment’s notice along with dried pasta, rice and bread of different varieties. We also stash away tins of curry sauce, mixed beans, meatballs, stew, chilli and the good old favourite hot dogs. We never find we are stuck for a meal onboard Naughty-Cal even in the most desolate of locations.

Eating tinned food is not ideal, and through choice we wouldn’t resort to the rations cupboard, but there have been times when we have had little choice and some of the meals we have rustled up are actually quite tasty if not the most healthy option. One particular favourite is chilli wraps, easy to prepare and quick to cook. Take a tin of chilli, we usually have stag chilli aboard, add some fried mushrooms, onions and peppers, simmer for ten minutes then wrap the mixture inside tortilla wraps. A quick and simple meal. Other tinned affairs we don’t mind are Fray Bentos steak puddings which you steam on the hob, hot dogs of course for really lazy evenings and tinned curry is quick to prepare and served with rice, poppadoms and naan breads makes for a filling meal.

The emergency rations cupboard has not been immune from the latest wave of spring cleaning and a clear out of any food not likely to be eaten has taken place as well as the removal of a few out of date items which we didn’t fancy risking. Later this week the cupboard will be restocked ready for the 2011 cruising season. Hopefully it won’t be pilfered to many times during this year, but it is there just in case we need it.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Hash Browns

An extra supplement to the blog today for you but we had to share this one. After reading a fellow bloggers post last week, thank you NB Lucky Duck, we decided to have a go at making our own Hash Browns. Now we are both partial to hash browns but had never considered making our own. Now that we have taken the plunge we will never go back to shop bought inferior products. These hash browns really are the best and are so simple to make.

So to make them you will need: some potatoes (2 medium potatoes is enough to make four hash browns.), an onion (a small onion was enough for four hash browns.) salt and pepper for seasoning and an egg.

These couldn’t be simpler to make. Simply grate the potato and onion into a mixing bowl add plenty of salt and pepper to season, then lightly beat your egg and pour over the potato and onion. Mix together to form a loose mixture. Take a large frying pan and heat a good slog of oil over a medium heat. When the oil is shimmering but not smoking, add spoonfuls of the mixture to the pan, flattening out into a hash brown shape with the back of the spoon. Fry for about 3 minutes either side or until golden and crisp. They may need turning a couple of times to brown evenly. The first time you turn them over you need to be quite careful not to break up the hash brown but after a few minutes they firm up and become easier to turn over.

Hash browns are so versatile and can be served with a number of different dishes from breakfast right through to supper time snacks. Give them a go, you won’t be disappointed and you certainly won’t buy shop bought cheating ones again.

To Torksey Lock and Back

Despite all of the hard work and cleaning we have undertaken over the weekend we still managed to leave ourselves time to enjoy Naughty-Cal. We dedicated the morning to work and the afternoon and evening for relaxing and enjoying the boat and surrounding scenery.

Despite the milder weather we are still very much in the early days of spring so the evenings are still rolling in quite early. This has limited our cruising time, so trips have been quite local to our home mooring. This weekend we again visited Torksey Lock and had a pleasant evening moored in the basin watching the world go by. We broke up the evening with a visit to The White Swan in the village of Torksey Lock. We visit this pub often during the summer but very infrequently during the winter months. Saturday evenings visit was the first of the year so far but one thing I am sure of is that it will not be the last time this year. The food in the White Swan is excellent and the steak pies are amazing. Just the trick to warm the cockles after an early season trip on the Trent.

The weather proved to be chilly, overcast and at times drizzly on Saturday but thankfully with the heating on we were as ever toasty warm in the boat. Sunday was a much brighter and warmer day and after a few cups of coffee we set off for Saxilby where we would moor up to have breakfast. We would have had breakfast at Torksey had we got some hot water, but with the cool temperature over night the hot water in the tank had cooled down somewhat. The forty five minute journey back to Saxilby soon had the water heated so that we could wash the breakfast pots and pans of which there were many.

All in all another great weekend. Soon the boat will be fully prepared for the coming boating season, which should leave us free to enjoy the better weather. I can’t wait, bring on a long hot summer.

Monday 7 March 2011

Yet More Spring Cleaning

With spring well and truely in the air, the trees starting to leaf and the dadffodils in full bloom its about time we finished the spring cleaning. This weekend it was the turn of the saloon.

On a 25ft boat no room is ever going to be huge, but we were amazed at the amount of things we packed off back to the car as we never use them, and also at the amount of things we threw away as having no use. Two big black bags full, shameful really. Still with the saloon decluttered, cleaned top to bottom and items put away in more suitable locations, the place is looking much slicker and cleaner and smells really quite fresh now.

Next week will see the last of the interior rooms, the galley, thoroughly cleaned and prepped for the coming season. We are even purchasing a fresh new set of pans for the event. The current set of sauce pans were a cheap set from Morrisions and have proven very difficult to keep clean from day one. After two and a half years of moaning about them they are finally going to the scrap heap next weekend, to be replaced by a shiny new set of Tefal non stick sauce pans and a small frying pan. We have not had a frying pan aboard Naughty-Cal as yet prefering the square griddle pan, but with the galley decluttered there should be ample room for a small one. Hmmm, fried eggs with breakfast.

So another successful weekend with the boat looking better, less cluttered and some excess weight shed. A few small maintenance jobs completed and less to do during the summer. Next week we have a few more odd jobs to complete, the interior deep clean should be finished and then attentions can be turned to the cockpit area. It will all be worth the effort in the long run.

Friday 4 March 2011

Eye Spy Part Two

Now that we have a Plan C for our summer holiday we have had another game of eye spy using both Google Earth and Google Maps. This time to have a look at our back up destination of Ely and the river route leading to the city.

The trip would start with a salty water excursion across the Wash Estuary from Boston on the River Witham to Kings Lynn on the River Great Ouse. This isn’t a straight forward passage as one has to follow the buoyed and marked navigation channels to avoid running aground on the many sand banks in the estuary.

The start of the River Great Ouse

The Great Ouse flowing through Kings Lynn

Upon reaching Kings Lynn, one continues upstream on this badly silted and grossly under used river. The journey upstream will be a long and laborious trip with many shallow silted up sections to avoid along the way. The tidal Great Ouse is in desperate need of some use to keep the channel silt free and in water. The end of the tidal section of our journey will be marked by the sluice complex at Denver. Denver sluice is a complex system of sluices which serve to keep the water levels above with in safe limits. The river below Denver Sluice is again very badly silted and even getting to the transit mooring can be a challenge.

The Denver Sluice Complex

Once through Denver the river opens up and becomes non tidal, flowing gently through the Cambridgeshire countryside. It appears as though there are plenty of riverside pubs to keep us watered and fed with plenty of pleasant countryside and towns and villages to explore along the way. Our final destination will be the cathedral city of Ely. Passage any further upstream will be restricted by low bridges, not a problem for us as we can reduce our air draft by folding the arch but our cruising buddies have a fixed height of around nine feet.

The Great Ouse at Ely

The Great Ouse at Ely

From what we have seen from our quick scan of the internet, Plan C will make a good holiday if the trip to Norfolk and Suffolk is a no go. So it looks like we have two excellent options to choose from and even if we don’t visit the city of Ely this time around we certainly will in the near future. Maybe one for next year’s list if Norfolk is a goer for this summer.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Plan C

A further plan for the epic two week summer trip is evolving as we speak. Plan A had been a trip solely to the Norfolk Broads, cruising in company as far as Great Yarmouth then splitting up as we enter the Broads and our companions headed off down the East Coast. Plan B involved a group trip to the Broads with a visit to Southwold thrown in for good measure to satisfy the salty needs of our cruising buddies.

Plan C is a trip in the planning for if all else fails. It pays to have a few plans up your sleeve when coastal cruising. It occurred to us all at the weekend, that both Plan A and Plan B depend very much on good weather and sea state conditions to enable the trips to be completed successfully. Not something you can guarantee in the UK climate especially during the summer months and we are going away at the beginning of July, summer season. So we have had to come up with a backup plan, just in case. We didn’t want a repeat performance of last year where we were stuck in Boston for an extended period.

Plan B will be our intended trip, but if all else fails we will nip across the Wash estuary to Kings Lynn and then continue up the River Great Ouse towards Ely. A trip that relies less so on good weather but will still provide a couple of weeks of good cruising, a salty water section and pleasant river cruising which is less reliant on such good weather.

Neither ourselves nor our cruising companions have been to the River Great Ouse before so it will be a pleasant change for both us and them. Now we have even more planning and research to do and more passage plans to complete. I feel another round of eye spy coming on.

I am sure that Plan D will be along shortly, there are four months before we head off on our summer adventure!

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Sorted the Battery Power

Last weekend provided the first chance for us to try out Naughty-Cal’s new battery bank. Since we replaced them at the beginning of December the weather has been too bad to either get away from the berth or spend too much time away from our home berth. Last weekend provided a weather window suitable for a weekend away from the marina, and although chilly outside the heating proved to be well worth its while, keeping the boat toasty warm even with the wind was blowing outside and the rain drumming on the canopy.

The new batteries held up well and even with 24 hours of use were reading 12.6 volts. Well within the range of “safe” use. Discharging batteries too far seriously damages their performance. Ideally leisure batteries should not be discharged below 50% state of charge (SOC). This gives us a “safe” power capacity of 105Ah without unnecessarily damaging our new batteries.

To reduce our power consumption we have made a number of small improvements to Naughty-Cal over the winter months. This should hopefully mean that we are not too harsh on our battery bank this coming summer hopefully extending their useful lifetime. The most significant improvement has been the installation of LED bulbs to replace the old Halogen bulbs. Although this doesn’t sound like a major improvement when you do the calculations it saves a lot of power in the course of an evening.

Watts = Amps x Volts, So Amps = Watts/Volts. As I am sure most of you know this is a relatively simple calculation. I am not trying to teach you to suck eggs!!

The LED lighting we have installed uses 0.8 Watts of power per bulb so doing the sums, 0.8/12 = 0.066A. We have six lights in the cabin so the total consumption of the LED lighting with all lights switched on is 0.4Ah.

The Halogen lighting we replaced used 10 Watts per bulb so again doing the same sums 10/12 = 0.83A. Again with six lights in the cabin, so the total consumption was 5Ah.

As you can see this is a huge reduction in power consumption for a relatively simple modification. The LED bulbs themselves can be quite expensive but we bought them cheaply off the internet and as yet they seem to be really quite good, giving off a nice light. Other power saving installations have been by sheer coincidence. The water pump we replaced due to frost damage is a newer model of the one we replaced. As technology has improved over the last eight years, the power consumption of the new unit is about half that of the old unit despite being of the same water flow specification.

The blue LED cockpit lighting we installed to supplement the existing cockpit lighting was more for posing effect than lighting use, however it is proving to be a good source of light when away from the mooring. We tend to use the blue back lighting more than the dedicated cockpit lighting, so much so that we are changing the bulbs to the main lighting also. The rear most transom halogen light will be replaced with a blue LED bulb to light the bathing platform whilst the light in the arch above the table will be replaced with a larger white LED bulb.

Over the last couple of seasons we have also picked up a few nifty tips for saving a few more Amp hours along the way. First up is charging mobile phones whilst the engine is running. We were a little surprised to find that the 12V charger for our phones uses somewhere in the region of 5Ah. Doesnt sound a lot until you start charging both phones for a couple of hours each, that then results in you being approximately 20Ah down on your useable capacity. So charging them whilst the engine is running and the alternator is recharging the batteries saves that bit more power. Next up is turning the fridge onto full power with the engine running, then when stationary turning it down again. This also saves a substantial amount of power. Our fridge is very efficient anyway, but turning it down reduces the amount of hours that the compressor runs thus reducing the power it consumes.

To non-boaty types this may sound like a lot of hassle and when we first bought our boat it sounded like a lot of trouble to go to. But it quickly becomes apparent that power conservation is a major factor of boat ownership. We still plan to replace our batteries every two years, unless they are still proving to be reliable. But what we don’t want is towards the end of the two years the batteries to become unreliable. The backend of last season was a nightmare, not knowing if our batteries would last out the night. So fingers crossed this winters modifications should mean we have a couple of battery trouble free years of cruising.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

A Weekend of Peace

A weekend of relaxing and saying sod it to working on the boat. So under stormy skies we set of on Saturday morning and headed in the general direction of Torksey Lock.

The Fossdyke looks so different under differing light conditions and provides some excellent opportunities for some stunning photographs.

We arrived in Torksey by early afternoon and settled in with a few beers and watched the weather unfold whilst reading a good book and listening to some of our favourite music. A proper lazy day with no plans for any work or cleaning. We even had the most lazy of dinners. Hot Dogs with loads of onions and tomato ketchup. Something we have not eaten for a long time.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny a real change from the day before, even the wind had dropped. So we filled up with water then head of to Saxilby to buy some provisions for Sunday breakfast. We had some great dry cured bacon and organic free range eggs so all we needed was some black pudding and mushrooms to finish off the dish. As luck would have it the butchery in the Co-op at Saxilby opens on a Sunday so we could buy some of their fantastic black pudding. So we ate a meal fit for a king, before heading back to the marina just in time for the weather to worsen. We made the most of a lazy afternoon with a game of Monopoly and a few beers before cooking up a great sausage casserole with garlic bread.

A great weekend afloat, and hopefully the first of many happy weekends away. One point worth noting is that the new lesiure batteries performed great. We had the heating on for a long time of both Saturday and Sunday and the Volt and Amp meter held steady readings so it looks like we have solved our power issues of last year. Great Joy.