Friday 27 May 2011

Seven and a half hours

With just seven and a half hours of work left to go, the excitement of going on holiday is starting to kick in. Destination is still unknown but one thing is for sure we WILL have a good time.

Tonight we will arrive at the boat, chuck our gear aboard and set sail into the sunset on the River Witham on our way to Boston’s Grand Sluice, the gateway to the sea.

The weather doesn’t look too promising, but even a few heavy showers and a stiff breeze wont dampened our spirits. Tonight’s destination is where ever we get bored. We intend to get the two locks, Stamp End in Lincoln and Bardney Lock, out of the way tonight so that we have a clear run to Boston in the morning. Hopefully reaching the lock by midday. As of yet we are still unsure as to whether we will have an evening in Boston or head out to test the waters as it were on Saturday afternoon. Either way it should be interesting
It may well be a week or so before I get to report back in, internet reception is pretty hit and miss. So have fun, stay safe and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Plan B

It is looking ever more likely that we will be implementing Plan B this coming week and heading across the Wash and up the River Great Ouse rather than continuing down the Norfolk coastline to Wells next the Sea. The predicted wind strength and direction currently indicate that whilst we would have a reasonably pleasant trip down the coast to Wells with rolling swells of around 1.25m, the trip back wlould be rather less pleasant and rather more wet.

As we have a couple of boats with us who have never been to sea before we are currently swaying towards heading up the Ouse to Ely. This will still give them a taste of the sea, but we will be within the sheltered confines of the Wash Estuary. The current direction of the wind meaning that the estaury is quite calm.

Kings Lynn and the first civilisation we will come across on trip upstream on the River Ouse. The river is still quite tidal for this stretch and there is little chance to moor for the pleasure boater.

Denver Sluice complex marks the end of our tidal navigation and the start of the non tidal River Ouse. It is here that we will most probably spend the evening moored on the bottom transit pontoon given the time of the tide we will arrive upon.

Ely is our intended destination. A pleasant enough looking spot and one im sure we will enjoy. Assuming the trip to Ely goes well Im sure it will be high on the list of places we will visit again.

We intend to visit all of the rivers off the Wash Estuary at some point during our ownership of Naughty-Cal, so this impromptu visit will no doubt firmly secure her future with us for the next few years at least.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Tried these the other night and they are quite good. For this recipe you will need one medium sweet potato per person, a couple of mushrooms, a couple of rashers of bacon, some soft cheese and a handful of grated cheese.

To start wash the sweet potatoes and prick them all over. Then stick them in the microwave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile pre heat the oven to 200 degrees. Whilst the potatoes are in the microwave, chop the bacon and mushrooms into small pieces and fry in a little oil. Mix the soft cheese, bacon, mushrooms and half the grated cheese in a mixing bowl.

Remove the potatoes from the microwave and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Next carefully remove them from the oven and cut them in half. Scoop out the middles of the potatoes and mix with the cheese, mushrooms and bacon. Mix together well before placing the mixture into the sweet potato shells. PLace in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Finally remove from the oven a serve with fresh seasonal salad.

Another simple but tasty recipe for you to try out. Enjoy....

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Packed Up

Well here she is, Naughty-Cal all packed up and ready to go. Hopefully the winds will have died down a little by the weekend as the dinghy does act as a big air brake. Not sure what happened to the Lincoln flag but we sorted it out just after this photo was taken.

Monday 23 May 2011

Ready for the Off

It’s been a busy sort of a weekend with plenty to keep us occupied along the way. Despite not working the whole weekend we managed to get Naughty-Cal ready for next week’s holiday with plenty of time to spare.

The weekend was kicked off with a pleasant evening cruise to Saxilby. We had not intended to go out but the weather was pleasant and the pontoons in the marina unusually quiet so we upped sticks and set off. The cruise was very relaxing and a fitting start to the weekend.

Surprisingly the visitor moorings in Saxilby were quite busy and we had to sneak into a small gap just large enough for Naughty-Cal. A quiet evening followed with a few beers and some good music, before retiring early ready for the next day’s activities.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and after a brief stop at the shop to buy bacon, eggs and black pudding, we set off back to the marina. The first job of the day was to service the engine. To get the oil out it needs to be warmed up so the 4 miles back to the marina helped out no end. With the oil and filter changed, the supercharger oil changed, air filter changed and belts checked the engine was declared fit for the trip.

Next up was the outboard bracket. This proved to be the most difficult job of the weekend. We tried it in various locations on the boat before almost giving up on the idea of taking the dinghy next week. With the last chance looming we finally found a suitable spot to mount it, where it would be secure for the sea trip and safely locked up to keep the thieves at bay. It isn’t ideal being in the cockpit but it’s a compromise we are happy to make.

It was getting a little late in the day by now, so we had to start to get ready for the evening wedding reception we had agreed to attend. The evening went very well with all concerned enjoying a good night with the beer flowing freely. Somehow we ended up in charge of taking the wedding balloons back to Cal for safe keeping until the following mornings BBQ breakfast party. It made for an interesting taxi ride home.

Sunday was a decidedly windy day which wasn’t ideal for transporting a load of balloons across the marina by dinghy. Still with a little effort we made the special delivery without a single casualty along the way. The breakfast party went very well and we would have stayed much longer barring the fact we had yet to clean the boat. So with a fond farewell we departed but not without a show for the guests. Asbo the dinghy made a showpiece exit by going under the Chinese restaurant on the way back to our berth.

Cleaning the boat didn’t take as long as expected. A couple of hours had her spick and span, then it was time to hook the dinghy on the davits and the outboard on the bracket, ready for the mad dash on Friday evening. By now the wind was blowing a gale, but we had to take Naughty-Cal out with the dinghy attached for the very first time. This short trip highlighted a couple of minor visibility issues but never the less was a successful run. Now it was time to relax with a couple of beers and some good home cooked food. Another successful weekend.

Friday 20 May 2011

A Busy Weekend in Store

Well it is the last weekend before our next big adventure so it will be a mega busy one for us with plenty to do before Cal is ready for the off next Friday evening. We must leave her ready to leave as soon as we arrive next week if we are to meet our target locations.

The first job of the weekend is to service the engine, to ensure that she is ready for the off and in tip top running order. The fuel filters have already been changed so all we have to do is an engine oil and filter change and a supercharger oil change as well as several standard engine checks we carry out before any long journey.

Next up is fitting the outboard bracket to the boat, then mounting the outboard and dinghy onto Naughty-Cal and going for a little spin to check she is happy with the set up. It will be a lot of extra weight hung from the transom of the boat so we must be entirely happy with the set up and the security of the items. We don’t want the dinghy or outboard being lost at sea.

We need to buy some spare shear pins for the outboard. These shear should the engine hit an obstruction to protect the engine, however this then renders the engine immobile. So carrying spares is an absolute must.

We have a Plan B for if the weather or sea state is too bad to make it to Wells, Plan B is a short hop across the Wash and up the Great Ouse towards Ely. This means that I have the arduous task of putting the extra way points into the chart plotter and making a second route up from them. This takes quite a while to input and isn’t the most interesting of tasks.

Naughty-Cal is getting ready for a good clean up. The exterior won’t take too long, the cockpit a little longer. The interior had a quick once over last weekend so shouldn’t take too long to tart up again. Then it is a case of filling up the water, adding 60 litres of diesel and we are ready to rock.

All of these jobs must be completed this weekend so it will be an extra busy one. Somewhere along the line we need to get out and see how easy day to day running is with the dinghy on the back!!

Thursday 19 May 2011

More dates booked

We are gaining an every busier schedule for 2011, with more and more events popping up during the year.

The latest date for the diary is the 13th and 14th August. Sealine, Port Solent, are holding a VIP event for Sealine Forum members to take a look at the all new Sealine F42, their all new fly 45ft flybridge model. With the chance to test out her handling around the waters of Port Solent.

The hotel is booked, we have found a reasonable deal at the four star Marriott Hotel, just a ten minute walk from the marina where the event will be held and close to plenty of shops, bars and the water frontage. Should have the makings of another fab weekend away.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding

It isn’t very often that we manage to have a roast dinner these days. The limited cooking facilities aboard Naughty-Cal don’t lend themselves to making the full Sunday lunch complete with all the trimmings. So it was with some delight that we invited the OH’s step dad for dinner on Tuesday evening after work. He is a traditional sort of fellow, preferring traditional English food to anything too elaborate.

It was a bit of a rush job, but I still managed to make roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots. It made a very pleasant change for us and we all thoroughly enjoyed the meal, evidenced by the empty plates and no left overs. We really must get around to cooking this more often.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Steak and Tomato Stew

We discovered this dish quite by accident when cobbling together a meal from what we had left in the fridge on our latest adventure holiday. Super simple to make and super tasty to eat, we had to share it with you all.

For this super simple dish you will need (for two portions), 2 small rump steaks, a can of mixed beans and a tin/carton of chopped tomatoes with garlic and olive oil.

Preparing it couldn’t be simpler, chop up the steak and add it to a pan along with the mixed beans and chopped tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 45 minutes and then serve with crusty bread. It’s that simple, but boy is it tasty, it really doesn’t hang around for long. It is also a very filling dish so a little goes a long way.


Monday 16 May 2011

Snap Davits - Part 3

Finally on Friday evening we managed to hook the dinghy onto the back of Naughty-Cal. The adhesive has set nicely and the davit pads are very firmly glued in place. Unfortunately the dinghy had some water in it hence why it isnt sat straight on the davits in these photos. By the time we had bailed out all of the water, the dinghy sat evenly on the davits. Now we just have to sort out the outboard bracket which the OH has taken to work to modify and we are ready for our trip to Wells in a couple of weeks.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Snap Davits - Part 2

Following on from last month’s explanation of snap davits, here are a few photos of the finished article. We are still not 100% sure that the solution will work effectively for us and Naughty-Cal, but the donkey work has now been completed.

First up here is a picture of the stern of Naughty-Cal before we set about the task of fitting the davits.


Next up here is a picture of the davits fitted to the boat. As you can see we have removed the stainless steel grab handle to utilise the recessed areas for the new davits. The GRP in this location was found to be in excess of 1 inch thick so plenty strong enough to take the weight of the dinghy. The davits are bonded with marine Sikaflex adhesive and sealant and then screwed using four hefty self tapping screws per davit. The strength has been tested by standing on them and they don’t move at all, so should easily hold the weight of the dinghy.


The next task was preparing the dinghy to be mounted on the boat. This involves gluing large pads to the dinghy which have to be in exactly the right place. Before we could mount these we had the small task of locating and fixing a puncture in the front chamber of the dinghy. Here is a picture of the repair job. Not too bad a job and when the patches have weathered slightly it will blend in with the rest of the boat.

Puncture Repair

Finally we glued on the davit patches. They needed shaping slightly to avoid existing fittings on the dinghy. We measured, measured and measured again to ensure the patches were in the correct locations before setting about the lengthy task of fixing them. The glue is a special PVC adhesive which takes some prep work but patience is the key. Finally they are fitted and now we need to wait at least 48 hours before testing them out, 7 days for the glue to fully go off. So even now we still don’t know if they are in the correct place.

Dinghy Pads in place

It will be with some nervousness that we have our first attempt at mounting the dinghy to the rear of the mother ship, most likely tomorrow evening. Only time will tell if they are going to work effectively and if the boat will still be useable with the dinghy aloft.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Shake Down

Well the shakedown cruise is well and truly over now, but it did highlight some important items that need considering before our next holiday aboard. Nothing too serious or expensive thankfully but still some attention needed.

First up is the need to get the dinghy mounted to the stern of the boat. It quickly became apparent that the OH missed his dinghy on day one of the holiday. Last weekend we mounted the snap davits to the transom of Naughty-Cal and stuck the mounting pads to the dinghy. Now all that is required is to see if the two marry up successfully next weekend. We couldn’t do it last weekend as the adhesive needs at least 48 hours to set and doesn’t reach full strength for 7 days. So it will be a tense moment on Friday evening when we have the first attempt at hanging dinghy from the davits.

With the dinghy mounted we now need to turn our attention to the outboard engine. We now have two outboard brackets neither of which will do the job successfully, however we believe that we can make one that will work by mating the two together. Next weekend’s job is having a go at making the mounting brackets work. If it does work we then need to go onto the Trent with the dinghy and outboard mounted on the boat to check that Naughty-Cal can still plane. This is vital if we are to take the dinghy and outboard to Wells in a few weeks due to the limited passage time available.

Next up was cleaning out the engine bay. After our little excursion on the Trent beach and a quick repair anchored up on the Trent, the engine bay was full of mud and sand. Cleaning out the engine bay revealed that the last couple of times we have done this, we had forgotten to suck the water back out of the lower bilge area when finished. Slowly but surely we sucked out in the region of 100 litres of bilge water. This may have been part of the reason Naughty-Cal was a little sluggish onto the plane during the Trent trip. 100 litres of water sloshing around will not have helped matters any.

During the Trent trip the hour counter turned another 100 hours, signalling time for another service. We changed the two fuel filters whilst out on the Trent to try and put a stop to the sluggish performance. This had little benefit but does mean that all we have left is an engine oil and filter change and to change the supercharger oil. Hopefully the oil will have been delivered by Friday evening so the service can be carried out this coming weekend.

Lastly, is the boat needing a thorough clean both inside and out. With the recent dry weather have come a lot of airborne dust particles which seem to get everywhere. It shouldn’t take too long to sort out though. Certainly not as long as the major spring clean earlier in the year. The canopies desperately need a good clean but we need some decent weather first. The food store has already been restocked so will just need a minor top up before we leave with staples that we seem to end up eating a lot of. Tins of mixed beans seem to be a favourite at the moment; they seem to go into a lot of different dishes.

This little list of jobs needs to be completed in the next couple of weekends in time for our next holiday on board Naughty-Cal. This next trip promises to be one to remember. The Sealine Forum meet up in Wells next the Sea. This sleepy little fishing village won’t know what has hit it when we land with a big variety of Sealine cruisers.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Easter 2011 - Part 5

The final part in this series of posts detailing our strange and quite frankly idiotic at times, trip from Lincoln to Nottingham. This shake down cruise highlighted a few areas we need to work on before our next break at the end of the month, but more on this tomorrow. For now here is a small selection of photos from the Easter week away.

Torksey Lock Visitor Moorings

(The moorings are exceptionally busy in this picture!!)

Choppy waters on the non tidal Trent

Perfect cruising on the non tidal Trent

Dunham Bridge Visitor moorings on the tidal Trent

(One of only two moorings avaliable on the tidal Trent and a surprisingly pleasant spot to spend the evening)

Monday 9 May 2011

Easter 2011 - Part 4

Day Eight – Cromwell to Muskham Ferry

Despite Liam’s best efforts to delay NC’s proceedings we managed to meet up with the rest of the group at Muskham Ferry to watch That Wedding. The landlady of the pub had opened early so that we could enjoy the wedding over a couple of beers which was nice but there was only us there!! That day we gate crashed the local village fete, drank copious amounts of beer in the pub and enjoyed a lovely pub meal in the Ferry before retiring to bed ready for the upcoming tidal stretch the following day.

Day Nine – Muskham Ferry to Dunham Bridge

We all awake to a freshening wind. The water lapping up the hulls and the flags straining in the breeze. Not ideal weather for navigating the tideway but needs must. So by 11am we are all roped up and descending the huge Cromwell Lock.

The trip starts well enough with all four boats performing well. Then over the radio comes the news that one of the group has grounded at Fledborough. So we approach with caution and hang around whilst they unpick themselves from the mud. Whether we were just not paying attention or not we don’t know but by this time with wind has pushed us onto a very nice sandy beach with little chance of escape, the wind pushing us further inland with each minute.

So Dev comes to the rescue to throw us a line, which wraps around both the props stalling both engines. Now we are both on the beach. So BV to the rescue with one overheating engine. BV eventually tows us off the beach then we tow Dev off with the intention of towing them to Dunham where the rope can be extracted from the props.

A few minutes later NC overheats so Dev drops anchor and we drift alongside where we both sit stern to the rocks taking in the Trent scenery. Whilst Dev cuts off the rope, Liam changes our impellor to reveal a mud pie or two in the water intake. Within a half hour we were back underway all under our own steam. Finally we make it to Dunham Bridge where we moor up for another BBQ and a well earned beer. This is the first time we had stopped at Dunham and found it to be a really pleasant spot.

Day Ten – Dunham to Burton Waters

Fresh in the knowledge that today has to be better than the last we set off with high spirits and full of vigour. The boats despite their incidents the day before appear to perform well. NC is even feeling a tad sprightlier than the previous trip and jumped up onto the plane much more quickly than expected despite a strong headwind.

It doesn’t take long to reach Torksey where we stop off for a bite to eat before heading back to windy waters to pick up ASBO and head back to the pub. The wind was howling down the marina but luckily there were a couple of people on hand to catch ropes and moor us safely alongside our berth. Then we head to the pub by dinghy for lunch. We eventually head all the way into Lincoln and settle on eating in the water side Prezzo before heading back to discover the boat covered in sand from the fields. That soon sobered us up as we had little choice but to erect canopies and clean up the entire boat inside and out. It looked like someone had thrown a bag of sand around the boat. Still a few more beers softened the blow a little.

Day eleven – Burton Waters

A day of repairs, cleaning and surveying the damage done. Luckily not too much with only a couple of minor scuffs to show for the break. Liam somehow fixes the rattling belt tensioner before cleaning out the engine bay then removed in the region of 100 litres of water from the bilges. It’s a busy day at Burton Waters with people coming and going but eventually the pontoons settle down and become much quieter and more relaxing. Finally we sit back with a few games of cards, a few beers and contemplate another successful holiday aboard NC.

We are now very much looking forward to the next trip to Wells. We have just a few jobs to complete between now and then mainly the snap davits and a full engine service then we are ready to rock again. This shakedown cruise has proven quite successful in many ways.

Friday 6 May 2011

Easter 2011 -Part 3

Day Five – Gunthorpe to Nottingham to Stoke Lock

We split up again today. NC is heading for Nottingham and a supermarket the others are hanging around in Gunthorpe to meet family and friends. We set off reasonably early to negotiate the two locks to Nottingham and still leave plenty of time for shopping. We reach Nottingham in good time and despite a stiff breeze have few problems along the way. We then head off in search of beer supplies before returning to the boat and heading back downstream.

Naughty-Cal in Nottingham

We have our first scare of the break at the next lock heading back downstream, Holme lock. We enter the lock soundly enough rope up and descend as normal, however on the exit from the lock I drop the bow rope which is more than long enough to snag the props, so Liam drops the boat into neutral whilst I recover the rope. In which time the wind has blown NC sideways across the lock straight towards the top gates beam on. With a lot of shuffling back and forth Liam manages to turn the boat in the lock, NC is about 25ft long the lock is about 26ft wide. He never touched a thing forward or aft however now we are facing the wrong way in the lock so he has to reverse out of the lock and cut before using the flow of the weir to turn the boat the right way around and continue on our travels. Even the lockie was impressed and gave us a round of applause.

Finally we moor topside at Stoke lock for a quiet evening and a pleasant walk around the nature reserve. Again this is an underused quiet spot to chill out in the middle of nowhere.

Stoke Lock Visitor Moorings

Day six – Stoke Lock to Fiskerton to Hazelford

Day six and we head off downstream earlish to meet up with the others with no great plans for the day. We stop at Gunthorpe for a swift coffee and a refill of water before heading back downstream for yet another BBQ at Hazelford. En route we pick up Chrisnico and crew and have a few ales in the Bromley Arms at Fiskerton before heading back upstream to Hazelford Lock to cook some food. BV joins us later in the day having had a slow cruise down from Gunthorpe to recharge their batteries.

Hazelford Lock Island

Day Seven – Hazelford to Newark to Cromwell

Again the group split up today. We stop over in Newark for some more supplies and some shore break before heading for the nicely remote Cromwell Lock. As luck would have it one of the serviced floating pontoon moorings was free so we had a night with electric hook up and water supply on tap adjacent the boat. Not strictly necessary but it was nice all the same to wake up to fully topped up batteries, hot water and the electric kettle. I hate waiting for the gas kettle to boil in the morning. A quiet night ensued with a few beers and another BBQ in the nicely laid out BBQ areas at Cromwell. Cromwell lock is certainly going to become high on our list of places to stop over during the longer summer weekends.

Cromwell Lock at the head of the Tidal Trent

Thursday 5 May 2011

Easter 2011 - Part 2

Day One – Burton Waters to Torksey

So its day one of the Easter Break. The weather is great, the hoods are off and NC sets off into the spring sunshine alone meeting BV and Dev later in the day ready for the off up the Trent on Saturday. As usual the beer flows well and the BBQ is fired up but on this now familiar stretch of water, no unusual incidents occur. The moorings are busy with a mix of cruisers and narrowboats which is unusual for this normally quiet stretch of visitor moorings. Everybody is enjoying the best of the weather.

Torksey Lock Visitor Moorings

Day Two – Torksey to Muskham Ferry

Day two and a relatively late start. The tide isn’t until 11.30am and with the water levels low in the Trent we are delayed further awaiting enough water to get over the cill of the lock. Eventually we are set free and have an uneventful run up the Trent with a few time trials revealing a distinct lack of performance from NC although with some coaxing and encouragement she will get up onto the plane and cruise away with the other boats.

A couple of hours later the weir at Cromwell comes into view and we lock up onto the non tidal Trent. An hour later we are moored outside the Muskham Ferry after a few words with the arsey dinghy owner. He didn’t seem to understand that we couldn’t make NC a few inches narrower to make her fit into another mooring. Still even grumpy old men cant damped the party mood.

The Muskham Ferry Pub Moorings

Day Three – Muskham Ferry to Newark to Hazelford Lock

A nice lazy day today and we all split up and head our separate ways for the day. First stop for us is Newark to stock up on provisions and have a little tidy up of the cockpit and cabin which by this early stage look like a bomb has hit. With order restored and the water tank refilled we head off this time for Hazelford Lock Island. Again a day with no incident. Can this be true? Later in the day we all meet up again for another BBQ and yet more beer before the lads set out in the dinghies and the ladies explore the lock island and cottage. This mooring is a nice secluded spot ideal for a BBQ or to just sit back and relax.

Hazelford Lock Island

Day Four – Hazelford Lock to Gunthorpe

A real lazy day today. Only five miles and two locks to negotiate. The local boats are all heading for their home berths so with some luck the river should be much quieter. To our surprise the visitor moorings in Gunthorpe will easily fit our three boats with room to spare. This is usually a very busy mooring. So with high spirits we hoist the beer flag, inflate the palm tree and drink and BBQ the night away.

Gunthorpe Visitor Moorings

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Easter 2011 - Part 1

Torksey Lock Visitor Moorings

Mushkham Ferry

Hazelford Lock Island

Gunthorpe Visitor Moorings

Nottingham Trent Moorings

Tuesday 3 May 2011

We are back

Well folks we are back safe and sound with a few tales to tell but for now I have to find the words to makes these tales stand out. More later folks.