Wednesday 31 August 2011

Bank Holiday Weekend

It was all a bit of a rush towards the beginning of the break. We had to get to Boston by midday on Saturday so we loaded the boat up on Friday evening, topped up the water tank and set off into a wet and miserable evening. Luckily we teamed up with another boat to get through Stamp End Lock in record time and were soon heading off down the River Witham in the last of the evening light at the start of a heavy shower. Eventually Bardney Lock looms up out of the darkening gloom and we settle on mooring topside of the lock for the evening.

We awake early on Saturday intent on making Boston on time; however our plans are soon foiled by the weed. Overnight large reed clumps and loads of stringy green weed have become wedged across the lock gates so before we can even get the boats close to the lock we have to draw through a couple of locks full of weed. Luckily the river level was up slightly so drawing off some water was no great issue. Eventually we are off but the weed makes for pretty slow going. The river really is choked up with weed at the moment and had we not had to make Boston we would have given up. We found a small cruiser in trouble about ten miles from Boston. Their main engine had overheated and their auxiliary was too small to make progress in the weed, so we roped them alongside and towed them the ten miles into Boston eventually depositing them on their mooring.

We were late for our Boat Safety Scheme test but John was understanding enough and did the test anyway whilst we had a visit to the local pub, The Little Peacock, for a couple of swift pints whilst John did his work. We walked back to the marina full of anticipation and awaiting bad news, but we needn’t have worried Naughty-Cal passed with the minimum of fuss and we were soon on our way with a new BSS certificate to hand. Now we can licence her with British Waterways, it’s that time of year again.

Sunday was a much more relaxed affair. Our destination was Bardney Village moorings but we had no schedule to keep so we could take our time, which was a good job really as the weed was if anything for the first stretch, worse than our out bound journey. Still we made it in good time and got ready for our BBQ supper with our good friends on Devocean. We had decided to make from scratch a large proportion of what we would eat that evening which kept us entertained whilst Devocean battled through the weed some way behind. We made sweet chilli chicken kebabs, garlic mushrooms, garlic and rosemary potato salad and BBQ flavour belly pork strips, excellent BBQ food. It is starting to get a little chilly during the evening so we switched on the diesel heating and hoped and prayed that it was still operational after a summer of little use. Thankfully it sprang into life and kept us all toasty warm for the evening. So we girls stayed tucked up in the warm whilst the boys tried to BBQ in a fresh breeze, we were happy to make a mixed grill but the boys wanted to play with fire.

Monday was a much brighter day although the wind was up a little on the previous day. We had a very chilled morning, walking around the lovely church in the village, before stocking up on beer supplies in the village shop. Finally we sat down to a massive cooked breakfast of sausages, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, beans and toast all washed down with a glass or two of fresh orange juice and some fresh coffee. We had intended on staying at Fiskerton Fen for the evening but a combination of luke warm water for showers (Bardney really isn’t far from Fiskerton so the water had not reached temperature,) and our other friends back from their holidays convinced us to head back for Burton Waters, where we enjoyed a lovely relaxed evening in good company with a few well earned drinks before hitting the sack relatively early.

Yesterday was a day of cleaning. We had a quick nip out to Morton Boats to order a few items for both the dinghy and Naughty-Cal before heading back to another cooked breakfast. We then had the unenviable task of cleaning Naughty-Cal. She has not had a proper thorough clean since we came back from the Norfolk Broads so she was getting ready by now. A few hours saw her cleaned from top to bottom and she looks and smells much better for it now. The colour of the water running from her hull was testament to the amount of grime that can collect in just a couple of months; we didn’t expect her to be quite so grubby. Luckily the wax we applied whilst she was ashore earlier in the year is still working a treat so cleaning her exterior was a breeze. Cleaning complete we settled back with a few beers and a game of monopoly whilst listening to some music with a pan of stew and dumplings simmering away on the hob, happy days. At least it is a short week at work now before we head back to Naughty-Cal on Friday evening.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Chill in the Air

I don’t know about you but for the last week or so I have been noticing that there is a definite chill in the air come morning. Everywhere I look the leaves on the trees are starting to turn golden shades of yellow and drift to the ground. I don’t want to sound alarmist but to me these are the sure signs that summer is drawing to a close and that autumn is creeping ever closer.

The nights are staring to draw in, that is for certain, and the swallows are starting to flock in readiness for their winter migration. This last point is very welcome. It will soon be the end of the weekly task of removing bird droppings from the bow of the boat each Friday evening.

The beginning of autumn also heralds the start of the quieter cruising season. Many boats will be tucked up for the winter, their owners not interested in autumn and winter cruising, which for the rest of us makes for much quieter surroundings and much quieter waterways. Some of the best cruising is in the winter months, and provided you are tucked up warm there is no discomfort.

This summer, like the last, has proven to be quite dry. Hopefully this winter will bring with it some much needed water supplies to our many rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Some areas of the country are starting to suffer from a lack of water which has sadly shut some waterways to navigation completely and introduced navigation restrictions in others. Let us hope that this winter brings with it some rain, but also milder temperatures than the winter just past.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Weedy Witham

Each summer the River Witham grows a certain amount of weed which causes some hindrance to the navigation of vessels on the river. This year it seems that the problem is worse than ever. Despite the best efforts of British Waterways to keep the river clear of weed it keeps coming back and is causing some severe problems for boats in the area.

This coming weekend we have little choice but to face the weed and head for Boston. Naughty-Cal is booked in for her four yearly safety test on Saturday at Boston Marina so we will make it there.

The weed doesn’t cause us as many problems as some lesser powered vessels as Naughty-Cal’s engine produces enough torque to keep powering on even with weed wrapped around the propellers. Smaller engine boats have to stop frequently to unwrap their props. Our problems begin if the weed blocks the raw water intakes. Being such a large capacity engine means it needs a lot of water to keep it cool, keel cooling as found on narrowboats wouldn’t keep the engine cool enough, so Cal relies on a constant supply of water from the river to keep her engines running at the right temperature. The weed can restrict this flow causing overheating. Luckily we have an alarm to alert us to potential problems.

Come what may we will make it to Boston, we have yet to be stopped by weed and won’t be planning to make this time the first. It may take longer than usual but we will make it.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

E Pontoon Saxilby BBQ - Part 2

Just a few more pictures taken from the weekend for you today. These pictures were taken by our friend Mandi.

This shot must have been taken early in the day, there are only a few empties.

Me and Abby in the steam waggon

The group enjoying a drink

Drinks and food galore

The morning after

Monday 22 August 2011

E Pontoon Saxilby BBQ

Burton Waters E Pontoon decided it was time we had another party. So we rounded up the troops and set sail for Saxilby. It was a bit of a squeeze but we managed to get everyone on the moorings in some way shape or form.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Holiday Planning

With the majority of this year’s holidays now over and done with it is time to start planning ahead and thinking where we would like to go next year. As we tend to travel with a group of boats we have to plan well in advance of the actual event, due to varying work commitments, holiday requirements and general preferences. It can make for some interesting discussions.

For the OH and I, next year’s holiday season works out quite well what with extra bank holidays and the intended timing of our breaks we will end up with six weeks of expendable holiday time. So far we have a few trips in the planning which will take up four weeks of this time.

The first major trip of the year is planned to be to Leeds during Easter week. A nice warm up run that will take in large commercial tidal rivers, estuary cruising and non tidal commercial waterways before merging into more gentle river cruising at the entry to Leeds. This is a journey we have yet to complete despite having cruised extensively on the Yorkshire Ouse, Trent and Humber. Leeds may not be an obvious holiday destination; however the journey will take in an array of different waterways each with their own complications and will culminate in a stay at the new Clarence Dock development.

The next trip in the planning is looking like being a trip North on the coast to Whitby and Scarborough during Whitsun week. This will be the first time we have headed North on the coast, our previous coastal cruising being South from Boston on the Norfolk coast. We have spent many a happy hour watching the boats in both port towns and it will be a great pleasure to be on the other end of the admiring looks. It will also give us a great opportunity to spend some more time on the hook. There are many secluded bays where spending time at anchor will be a great way to waste a few hours.

This year our back up plan for our two week holiday was a trip up the Great Ouse to Ely and Cambridge. Next year this is certainly on the list of places to visit. This trip will form our main two week summer holiday and will consist of a mixture of coastal, tidal and non tidal river cruising. This will provide the perfect way to while away the summer evenings with plenty of villages and towns along the way to keep us occupied.

This plan will still leave us with a couple of weeks spare to enjoy aboard Naughty-Cal. No doubt we will revisit Wells next the Sea at some point during the year. A coastal town now close to our hearts. It would also be nice to revisit Lowestoft again, a town that gave us a very pleasant surprise this year. We shall just have to wait and see where the year takes us.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Spanish Chicken Casserole

It is time for another simple dish that all of the family will enjoy.

For this one you will need:
· Chicken thighs skin on (2 per person)
· 2 tins of plum tomatoes
· onions
· Mushrooms
· Bell pepper
· Potatoes
· courgette
· Garlic
· Paprika
· Rosemary

To cook this one could not be simpler. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Take a casserole dish with a lid. Chop up your vegetables into chunky pieces and load into the dish, pour the tomatoes over the top and stir well, add a good sprinkle of paprika and rosemary. Then add the chicken to the top, dusting with paprika and rosemary again. Place the lid on the dish and stick it in the oven for a couple of hours.

Serve hot from the oven as it is or with a selection of vegetables or salad and dressing. The chicken should fall from the bone and the chicken skin should melt in the mouth. A tasty, warming dish that is so simple to cook yet so delicious. Enjoy.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Portsmouth - Part 2

Another selection of photos from the weekend for you today. The weather didnt make for blue skies photos this time im afraid but it was interesting all the same to be on the waters in another part of the country.

Hovercraft ferry to the Isle of Wight

Exiting the Solent and heading back into Portsmouth harbour

The Navy ships moored in the docks

A fine view of the castle

These boats were afloat when we left Port Solent however were fully dried out just over an hour later on our return to the marina.

Monday 15 August 2011


A few pictures from our weekend in Portsmouth today. We had a great time and would have stayed longer had time and work permitted.

The new F42 moored at Port Solent Marina

The joystick steering made for easy handling even in tight spaces.

The beds were very comfortable

A quick trip out into the Solent on a Sealine S34.

Blowing the cobwebs away.

Friday 12 August 2011

A Boaty Weekend

It’s that time again and this time for us it will be a boaty weekend of a different type. We are heading down to Portsmouth for the Sealine Event being held at Port Solent. A chance to test drive Sealine’s all new flybridge model, the F42.

Tomorrow morning we will head off bright and early with the intention of getting to the Marriott Hotel by lunchtime. It’s a four hour drive from our house so we will head off early to avoid the traffic and make some progress early on in the day. Upon arrival we will check in to the hotel and then set out to find our friends who moor in the marina at Port Solent. They have kindly offered to be our host for the weekend with drinks and nibbles aboard plus a trip around the harbour later in the day provided the weather plays fair.

Then it will be time to test drive the F42 pus a whole host of other new Sealine boats on show at the event. This is a great chance to meet up with friends old and new and to check out the new boat models.

On Sunday it will be a lazy trip back up the motorway, maybe stopping in at Burton Waters on the way home to enjoy a few beers aboard Naughty-Cal.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Cracking Sunset

We were treated to a cracking sunset over Burton Waters on Sunday evening. A great end to a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Kirkstead Bridge

We have a strange group of friends with an odd selection of boats, that you wouldnt always suggest would make perfect cruising companions. Here we have part of the group, a 27ft Shetland, a 57ft narrowboat, a 32ft Bavaria 32 sports cruiser, another 57ft narrowboat, a 27ft Palomino, a 32ft Sealine 310 sports cruiser and off course Naughty-Cal, a 25ft Sealine sports cruiser. We are all moored up at the British Waterways moorings at Kirkstead Bridge, a short walk away from the small town of Woodhall Spa.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Builders Sacks

After a lovely run out to Kirkstead Bridge with our good friends, the day was somewhat ruined by the engine suddenly stalling. Lifting the drive revealed this mess.

No chance of turning the props

So there is nothing else for it but to start cutting

And cutting.

45 minutes later and we have this little lot in the dinghy and the props spinning freely again. Time to get home.

Friday 5 August 2011

The Year So Far 2011

2011 started pretty much as 2010 left off. Iced in. The big freeze continued well into January before we could finally make a break for it.

Easter was our first proper break onboard. We took the chance to have a relaxing run up the Trent to Nottingham and back.

Whitsun was our first salty trip of the year. We headed for Wells next the Sea, a firm favourite of ours now.

July heralded our big holiday for 2011. Two weeks of cruising and finally we made it to the Norfolk Broads. The place that set off our love of boating.

On the way back from the Broads we stopped in at Wells again for a few days chilling out. On the way in we anchored up just off Blakeney. A truely amazing day which has started our excitement for spending time at anchor.

Thursday 4 August 2011


A real family favourite this one and a meal we eat a lot at home but due to the limited cooking facilities onboard Naughty-Cal not one we can have afloat.

For this recipe you will require:
A packet on mince (any variety will make this dish)
An onion
A bell pepper
A courgette
Tomato passatta
Garlic puree
Cheese sauce
Fresh lasagne
Grated Cheese

To start preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Then finely chop the onion, pepper, courgette and mushrooms. In a little oil fry the mince, onion, pepper, courgette and mushrooms until the mince is browned and the vegetables starting to soften, then add the passatta and a squirt of garlic puree. Simmer the mixture for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Whilst the lasagne filling is simmering take an oven proof dish and spread half of your cheese sauce on the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of fresh lasagne sheet. When the filling is cooked and nicely reduced spread half the mixture in the dish followed by a layer of pasta. Repeat again then add a final layer of pasta. Spread the remaining cheese sauce on top, sprinkle with grated cheese and a handful of chopped herbs. Place the dish in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve with fresh seasonal salad and dressing and there you have it. A simple home cooked lasagne that all of the family will enjoy. Easy to prepare, easy to cook and super tasty. Enjoy.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Fiskerton Fen

More of a pictoral effort todays post. Here are a selection of pictures from over the weekend. We went to one of our favourite quiet spots that isnt too far from our home berth.

First stop Lincoln for a spot of shopping. The great thing is that you can moor right in the heart of the city, opposite the shops and markets.

We arrive at Fiskerton Fen to find the moorings empty. They stay this way for the whole of our visit. Sheer bliss.

The view from the bows and yet more quiet river. The buildings on the horizon are the pumping station buildings for the Bardney Sluice.

Sunday morning and it is time for a stroll around the nature reserve. Naughty-Cal is still the only boat here.

A short stroll to buy some local free range organic eggs and then we are ready to leave Fiskerton Fen behind.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Back in Black

After a two year slumber in the dry and warm surroundings of our garage it was time for the XR4i to see the light of day again. Since her last MOT last October she has completed just five miles on the public highway. As you can see it was high time for this to change.

So gradually over the last couple of weeks she has been awoken from her deep sleep. Her wheels have been taken to work for a refurbishment and some new tyres, she has been fitted with a new battery to replace the aging Varta, she how has fresh oil and filter, some fresh fuel and a shiny new tax disc.

So last night, she had her wheels refitted then it was time for a good scrub to remove two years worth of garage dust. Then it was time to fire her up. Obviously she wanted to get out of her enclosed little world, she growled into life at the first turn of the key then idled smoothly and quietly whilst we got ready for the off.

We had both forgotten just how much of a pleasure this car is to drive. She eats up the miles quickly and easily, carving her way through the countryside to the sound of the V6 symphony. With no destination in mind we swept through the rolling Derbyshire hills before happening across the Strines Inn. A proper country pub nestled in the surroundings. With a proper home cooked pub lunch in our stomachs it was time to head back for home. Grinning from ear to ear, we were most definitely back in black.

Monday 1 August 2011

A Fine Sunny Weekend

Well the weather certainly bucked up its ideas in time for the weekend. Wall to wall blue skies and light winds, excellent.

So with the boat prepped and the canopies off we hit the river bright and early on Saturday morning. We stopped off in Lincoln to do a spot of shopping and to stock up on some BBQ supplies. With the fridge fully stocked we set off for our destination of the day, Fiskerton Fen. With the sun on her back Naughty-Cal made light work of the eight miles or so of gentle river cruising and before long we were moored in the peace and quiet of the nature reserve. The afternoon was passed listening to music, reading magazines and generally having a quiet and relaxing time. Before long dusk was setting in so we settled into bed, fully fed and fully relaxed.

Sunday was going to be hot. We knew this when at 9am as we awoke it was already becoming warm. We had a brisk walk to the farm to buy some lovely free range organic eggs, both chicken and duck eggs, before having a stroll around the nature reserve. Then after a couple of cups of coffee we decided to amble back towards Lincoln. In no particular hurry we stopped off at Washingborough for a bite to eat and to drop off some refuse. With the sun now beating down we set off back towards home. Stamp End Lock was for once in our favour and we were soon on our way through Lincoln City centre.

We had a slight diversion from our plans at this stage as when we were passing the Pyewipe we were flagged down by a boater in distress. A friend was suffering with an overheating engine. So with much deliberating and throwing around of ideas we eventually tracked the issue down to a faulty raw water seal. Temporarily fixed with some grease we set off on a test run to Saxilby where all was running fine. After a few drinks it was time to head back for Burton Waters and get ready for coming home. It was with some sadness that we put the covers back on and locked Naughty-Cal up for the week. This weekend has been great.