Friday 30 September 2011

A Late Summer?

Well the weather is certainly a little topsy turvey this year. Summer seems to have bloomed again. The weekend looks set to be a cracker with wall to wall blue skies and very reasonable temperatures for the time of year.

With this in mind we are planning a Saturday evening BBQ at Fiskerton Fen. Not a huge distance away from our home berth but far enough to feel as though we have gone somewhere. Saturday morning will be taken up with a few minor jobs to be completed. Our float switch has arrived for the bilge pump and our new anchor light and LED bulb have been delivered so we will fix these before we leave. Plus I need to have a bit of a clean in the cabin and fit some fresh bed linen before we leave. The jobs shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours so with an early start we should be ready to head off by mid morning. On the way through Lincoln we shall nip into the markets to stock up on BBQ grub and vegetables, before setting sail for Fiskerton. Fiskerton is a fantastic setting and at this time of year natures colours will be showing off their splendour.

Sunday will be a much quieter day of chilling out, relaxing and pottering back to our mooring at Burton Waters. We will have to visit the farmhouse at Fiskerton to grab some fresh eggs; they are really hard to beat, before heading back and no doubt calling in at The Pyewipe as we pass for some afternoon refreshments. It has all the hallmarks of another excellent weekend, who knows what will happen?

Tuesday 27 September 2011

The Boat Show - Part 2

Just a few photos from the weekend for you today. We had a cracking time at the boat show and the hotel was amazing. We will certainly be going again and will certainly be staying at the Boathouse again.

The view of the Hythe ferry terminal from the hotel

The view of the marina, hotel and housing complex from the Hythe Ferry terminal

The view across to Southampton from the ferry

The ferry, situated at the end of the UK's seventh longest pier. The pier is also home to an electric train which has been in operation since 1922. The train shuttles passengers to the end of the pier and back again.

Waiting for the ferry back to Hythe at the end of a long day.

Friday 23 September 2011

The Boat Show

This weekend we are having a bit of a different weekend of boating. We have some tickets for the Southampton boat show so we are going to spend the weekend there.

It will be an early start on Saturday morning. We plan to leave home at about 6am so we will be awake by at least 5.30am. The plan is to reach our hotel in Hythe by 10am (pre-arranged with the hotel) , dump our bags and then board the ferry to takes us across the river to Town Quay, Southampton.

Quite by accident we have picked the ideal hotel for the boat show. The prices at the Boathouse are very reasonable and the reviews are very promising. The Boathouse is a small ten bedroom hotel situated in Hythe Marina right on the banks of the river and directly adjacent the Hythe Ferry terminal. The ferries run half hourly between Hythe and Southampton and the drop off point on the Southampton side is directly adjacent the boat show. The ferry is also very reasonably priced at £5 per person return fare. We must make sure we board the last ferry back to Hythe though, at 10.30pm, otherwise it is a long and expensive taxi ride back to the hotel.

We are meeting up with the Sealine Forum again whilst in Southampton. We have the Sealine stand to ourselves for an hour or so from 2pm. It will be nice to meet up with some new friends again and later in the evening we will be meeting up for dinner in TGI’s, with one eye on the clock of course.

It should be another great weekend, let’s just hope that the weather is reasonable.

Thursday 22 September 2011


With the night’s drawing in ever quicker and a definite chill in the air it is almost time to start thinking about starting to winterise Naughty-Cal again. Summer seems to have been and gone very quickly this year and autumn has certainly taken a firm hold.

As we use our boat all year around we don’t need to do too much to winterise her. First up is a simple yet very effective step. We reinstall the cockpit carpets. During the summer we remove them as they make the cockpit look much brighter and make it easier to keep clean and mop out. During the colder months we refit them as they make the cockpit feel warmer and as an added benefit help to add some extra insulation to the engine bay from both engine noise and a heat perspective. This year we are looking at getting some new cockpit carpets as the old ones are starting to show their age and are not cleaning quite so well anymore.

Next up is the installation of the heaters. Naughty-Cal has an indirect raw water cooling system for the engine. This means that she uses river/sea water through a series of heat exchangers and coolers to cool the engine coolant, oil and air charge for the turbo charger. These coolers need some extra protection during the winter as they will have unprotected raw water in the system, this can freeze and cause serious damage to the internal components of the coolers and in extreme cases can crack the casings of the coolers. To prevent this there are two courses of action you can take. The first is to drain the coolers and fill them with antifreeze, but this method is only suitable for those not going to use their boat over the winter. The second method and the one we use is to add heaters to the engine bay and keep the temperature well above freezing thus removing the risk of the raw water freezing and expanding. We have a large tube heater that we use in the engine bay.

Lastly we also install heaters in the cabin to reduce the risk of the domestic plumbing freezing. Last year we didn’t get the heaters quite right in the cabin as we did have frozen domestic water for a while. Luckily this didn’t cause any problems or leaks once thawed out. This year we have added an extra heater to our list so that we can try and keep all of our domestic water in a liquid form.

Hopefully this winter will not be quite as harsh as the last one. We do enjoy using the boat year round but last winter was much more of a worry than previous ones for us. We don’t mind the snow or the ice but not for such prolonged periods of time.

Wednesday 21 September 2011


Just a few pictures from the weekend for you today. Sunday morning was a great time for getting the camera out. The light was just right.

Torksey Lock Cut at low tide

Torksey Lock - Boats leaving for the Trent

Torksey Lock - Always well tended

Torksey Lock Basin

Torksey Church - Looks good from a distance but dissappointing up close

Monday 19 September 2011

For a Pie

It has been something of a mixed weekend. The weather forecast was iffy so we had made no firm plans. On Saturday we set about our list of tasks for the weekend. First task was servicing the engine. We changed the engine oil and filter, supercharger oil, air filter and checked the fuel filters. These proved to be quite dirty so we will order a new set and fit them at the next available opportunity. The hydraulic fluid for the stern drive trim ram proved a little tricky to drain and refill. The reservoir is located right at the rear of the engine bay behind the engine so access was the major problem. Still with a little perseverance we managed to change the fluid.

Whilst Liam was busy in the engine bay I made myself busy in the cabin. Last weekend I started polishing the GRP in the cabin. This week I finished that task with a good couple of coats of Autoglym Super Resin Polish. This is a finer cutting polish to give a super shiny finish. At the next opportunity I will apply a few coats of carnauba wax to lock the shine in. Whilst doing this polishing I found the next area to receive my attention. The GRP in the midships cabin now looks very dirty when compared with the super shiny cabin GRP. This job is going to be never ending. With the cabin polished and the polish out of its cupboard I decided that the dashboard could do with a polish as well. The dark blue GRP looks great but shows up every spec of dirt. With the polish applied it looks much better. Whist polishing the dashboard I managed to spill some polish on the window frame for the windscreen. I quickly wiped it off but the difference in colour was like black and white, so I had made myself another job. The frame does look much better for its clean though, now we just need to finish the external frame.

With the work finished for the weekend we decided to head for the Pyewipe, just a short run to check that all is well after Liam has been tinkering with the engine. After a few swift pints our friends suggested heading to Torksey and the White Swan for a spot of dinner. Why not? The weather was holding well, we have the weekend to do as we please and the boat is running sweet as a nut, so off we head into the late afternoon, early evening light. We arrived at Torksey just as the sun was setting and night taking over from day. We moor up and head for the pub, all knowing that we will be eating well that night. The pie from the White Swan is to die for.

Sunday dawns bright, sunny and warm. Liam and I take the chance to have a wander around the village. We visit Torksey Castle, more on that tomorrow and the church before heading back to the boat an hour or so later for a late breakfast and more coffee. Torksey is another one of those places that we visit often but rarely explore properly. After stocking up on bacon and eggs from the coffee shop we head back to the boat, have another coffee before setting sail for the marina. The weather is by now starting to get progressively worse so it was a good decision. By the time we get back to the marina it is starting to rain so we reassemble the canopies, stick on the heating and get out the deck of cards. A relaxing end to a spontaneous weekend.

Friday 16 September 2011

More Maintenance

With another none so nice weekend forecast we are taking the opportunity to start yet more little jobs that need doing on Naughty-Cal. She will be wondering what is going on with all of this bed rest. This will be her longest period of rest since the big freeze last winter, when she didn’t move for eight weeks.

First job will be changing the engine oil and filter. We do this every 100 hours and it has come around to that time again. It is quite timely this year as we like to ensure that she has fresh oil in the engine for the winter period, when we are most likely to be doing less cruising hours and the engine is more likely to be sitting idle. Whilst the oil is being changed we will also check the condition of the belts, check the tank fuel filter is free from water and check the supercharger oil and clean the air filter. It is also about time that the antifreeze in the engine fresh water cooling system was changed. We will also have a general check that all is well and good in the engine bay and give the area a mop down and clean. We also need to change the hydraulic ram fluid again as it had a minor leak again this year resulting in the fluid becoming like strawberry milkshake again. Luckily this time the leak has fixed itself!!

Next job will be fitting the new anchor light. The old one stopped working a while ago and we have never gotten around to installing a new one. Now that we have found we like spending some time at anchor we really need to install a new one. Last week’s high winds blew the cover off the top of the old light so there is little option but to install a complete new unit. I will also order a new LED replacement bulb for the light so that we don’t need to worry about how much power the light is using when left on overnight.

There is still more polishing and waxing to do in the interior of the boat and the cockpit, so this weekend will give us another chance to get some done. Hard work finished now during these grimmer murky weekends will leave us with time to enjoy cruising during the nicer weekends we are bound to have during the autumn and winter. The polished surfaces also look much cleaner and fresher and make for a nicer appearance and environment for when we are stuck in the marina on wet, windy and miserable weekends. It feels like a never ending job at times but the effort is worth it when you can stand back and admire the results.

With this little lot completed we will have time, weather permitting for either a short cruise or a spot of fishing in the marina. I am sure there will be some drinking involved somewhere as well, there usually is. We have been given the number of an allegedly very good takeaway so we may have to try that out on Saturday night, it has been a while since we last had take out delivered to the boat so it will make a pleasant change to let someone else do the cooking.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Battery Power Update

Last winter we had a complete failure of all our batteries. They had started to let us down to the point that even just a couple of hours from shore power left us with no power reserve available plus it was pot luck whether the thing would start the next morning . We took the decision to upgrade our battery bank at this stage whilst replacing our existing battery bank. Our original bank had just one 95 amp leisure battery and a dedicated starter battery, so we upgraded to a pair of 105 amp Varta leisure batteries and a new Bosch starter battery. Installing the extra battery was no mean fete in an engine bay as tight as ours but the effort and expense has paid off.

During this season we have noticed a vast improvement in the way we can use the boat and the power supply and we can report that we have had no problems in this department all year. The increased power capacity means that we are taking less power from the batteries and are able to keep them above the magic 12.2 volt target even after a few days without shore power or running the engine. A point which will hopefully prolong the life of these batteries when compared with the last one which died at just two years old. We were certainly abusing the old leisure battery often with voltage readings of just 10.8 volts the next day!

At the same time as swapping the batteries we also added some power saving gadgets to the boat. First up was replacing all of the halogen bulbs with LED equivalents, a move that vastly reduces power consumption. Despite these being cheap Hong Kong sourced products they have lasted much longer than expected and despite the tales of doom and gloom are still plodding on valiantly after a hard years cruising. The new anchor light that we have to install will be the next light to receive the LED treatment. This is the one navigation light that we feel would benefit the most from an LED bulb as it would be the light left on overnight to warn other vessels of our presence whilst moored or anchored up. The other navigation lights are only used whilst the vessel is underway so won’t need LED bulbs; the alternator would be providing their power.

At the same time as upgrading the batteries we changed a few of our habits on the boat. First up we only charge mobile phones whilst the engine is running and the boat on the move. 12 volt phone chargers use a surprising amount of power from the battery bank. Next we shower whilst on the move. This means that the water is being reheated, so we moor up with a full tank of hot water plus the power the water pump has used will be replenished by the time we reach our designated mooring. Showering on the go also has another added benefit that once we have finished showering with the shower room window open and the boat moving along nicely the extra air flow helps to dry the room out much quicker. We also turn the fridge up to maximum power whilst cruising but when we have moored up we turn it down a notch. This reduces the amount of time the compressor is running thus the amount of power it is using, we then turn the fridge back up again once on the move. These little changes in habit have vastly reduced our power consumption and it really does make a huge difference all for very little effort.

All in all upgrading the battery bank, installing energy saving appliances and changing our habits slightly has been well worth the time, effort and outlay. We no longer have the worries of how long the power will last and are safe in the knowledge that we are no longer abusing our batteries into an early death. It is nice to be self sufficient when out cruising and not be reliant on shore power or a generator to provide power to your boat. Luckily for us Cal is very self sufficient, we are quite lucky really as many small sports cruisers are sadly lacking in this department.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Autumn Cruising

With the onset of autumn and the lack of leave from work our remaining cruising for the year will be restricted to weekends only. Now this does not mean that we will be visiting the same moorings time and time again. We are lucky where we are based that we have many great places to visit all within easy reach for the weekend.

We have of course the Fossdyke to fall back on for lazy weekends when we don’t fancy going too far. With moorings available in Lincoln city centre for nights out and afternoons shopping, The Pyewipe for afternoon and evening drinks, Saxilby for lazy weekends and Torksey, by now a firm favourite of ours for a quiet weekend and great home cooked grub at the White Swan.

Then we have the Witham. We have been caught out cruising out of season on the Witham before so you do need to keep one eye on the weather forecasts. If a lot of rain is forecast it is best to avoid the Witham as the water levels rise very quickly and they quickly close the navigation through Lincoln as they sluice water away from Lincoln into the river below. On nice weekends though there is pleasant cruising to be had with moorings at Fiskerton Fen, another favourite spot of ours, and Bardney Lock. After October the water levels below Bardney lock are lowered to take account of the higher predicted winter rainfall levels. This can pose navigational problems so it is best to avoid the river below the lock.

Of course we also have the Trent to play with. Upstream we have Muskham Ferry, a family pub serving excellent home cooked great value food with a smile. A little further upstream we have Newark and Farndon within easy reach. Downstream on the Trent we have Gainsborough, West Stockwith and Keadby within equally easy reach for a day’s cruising. As with any tidal river the tide times are very much the limitation on these cruises. The lock keepers will be working on their shorter winter hours before too long so it is important to ensure the tide times work to get you home again at the end of the weekend.

Our last option and not one we choose very often is to stay in the marina for the weekend. It is very rare, unless we are iced in, that we spend time on our home berth. Last weekend made a very pleasant change for us and gave us the chance to sort out a few minor faults on the boat and get in some by now much needed polishing. We also had the chance to do a spot of fishing, again something we have not done for a while despite having all of the gear aboard.

As you can see despite our limited available cruising time for the rest of this year we are not short on places to visit. We will make the best of what time we have, and the best of the weather that we get. Come rain, wind or shine we always enjoy our time aboard Naughty-Cal.

Monday 12 September 2011

Wet and Windy

With a wet and windy weekend forecast, we had set out a number of odd jobs to sort out on Naughty-Cal. There have been a few minor issues that have cropped up over the season, so with no cruising in sight for the weekend this is a chance to catch up.

First up the shower room. This has been an ongoing issue this year, firstly with a water leak and now with a suspected plumbing blockage making the leak much worse. Luckily we modified the area beneath the shower tray earlier in the year so any excess water finding its way in there ends up in the bilges, not the galley floor as before. This time it was the sump filter that was blocked. We have never looked at this before and judging by the sludge we found in there neither did the previous owners. With a quick rinse out the filter was refitted and the shower outlet was functioning as good as new. A cheap, well free, fix for once.

Next up another watery problem. The engine bay bilge pump float switch has been playing up on and off for most of this year. Finally we decided, after another near miss with bilge water, to get around to testing the switch to find out if it is a wiring or switch fault. This time it was the switch that needs replacing so a new one is on order. Now we need to wait for it to be delivered. This job will have to wait for another wet weekend to be completed. I am sure there are plenty more of these to come.

Another job that keeps slipping down the list is polishing the GRP in the cockpit. This area of the boat gets a lot of use, so needs pretty much constant cleaning. It rarely gets the full polish and wax treatment though. This wet, windy weekend proved the ideal time to sit back and polish and wax away with a beer to hand. The area looks much fresher and shinier for our efforts and we won’t be leaving it as long before the next once over. With the GRP polished the vinyl seating looked quite grubby so we attacked that with some EVM and a soft scrubbing brush to make them dazzling white again. They look so clean now it is a shame to sit on them.

Finally the interior of the boat was treated to a spruce up. We had the wet vac to hand to suck out the bilge water, again, so whilst it was here we decided to wash the last of the upholstery. Earlier in the year the removable cushions were washed at home so now was the chance to wash the fixed upholstery as well. It is amazing the difference a quick wash has made. The interior smells much fresher and looks much cleaner, you don’t realise how grubby things start to look. Next we polished and waxed the interior GRP linings. Again these don’t get done very often; it was maybe eighteen months since they were last done so they look such a bright white now in comparison. Finally the vinyl wall coverings were treated to a good scrub and a spray of vinyl protector to keep them supple and fresh. The whole transformation has been well worth the hours of effort we have put in this weekend. The interior is much fresher, brighter and cleaner. Hopefully she won’t need such a thorough scrub inside again until spring time, when we will start to get ready for another season of serious cruising.

With this little lot completed it was time to relax. It certainly hasn’t been BBQ weather so with some heart warming curry bubbling away on the stove we sat back, beer in hand, listening to the rain splattering on the canopies, tucked up warm, dry and cosy in the cockpit. It has been a productive weekend and the first in many months that we have not left the marina. Whilst it has been nice to catch up on some odd jobs, I do hope that we get some nice autumn weekends to enjoy some relaxed late season cruising.

Thursday 8 September 2011


During our last trip to Wells next the Sea the weather turned a little rough, so to escape the constant pounding of the boats during the few hours around high water we went on an excursion around the local villages. We jumped on the next bus and decided when to jump ship. Eventually we settled on abandoning the bus in Blakeney, a pleasant little village about 10 miles up the coast from Wells. We had an explore of the village before walking back to Wells along the coastal path. A great way to see the Nofolk coastline.

Pretty courtyards

More pretty coastal courtyards

Blakeney Staithe

The coastal path

The coastal path adjacent where we had anchored just a few days previously. It quickly became apparent why our beach had been so quiet.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Motornutz August 2011 Chippy Meet

On the last wednesday of every month the Motornutz Forum have a local meet up at a chip shop in Wickersley. We has heard that the fish and chips were good so decided to head down there. We didnt expect the Sierra to get quite so much attention as she did. Got some cracking photos of her as well courtesy of the forum photographer.

Monday 5 September 2011

West Stockwith - Part 2

Late on Friday evening we eventually made it to Torksey Lock. The sun had by now set, the canal was still and the only sounds were the splashing of water and the hum of the running engines of the boats, gliding their way toward the moorings. All had so far gone well, all the boats were running smoothly, could this last?

It was a slow start to Saturday. Our lock time was about midday so we had no particular rush. We slowly got the boats ready to go, ate a spot of breakfast and waited our turn to lock down onto the Trent. Eventually 45 minutes late, due to the faffing around of a pair of narrowboats in the lock before hand, we were released into the by now fast flowing Trent. It has been a series of big spring tides this weekend so the flow was quite fast, for the first part of the journey we would be pushing the tide, not an issue for us, but the narrowboats that had set off an hour before us were struggling. We passed them pretty quickly.

Once below Gainsborough we were free to open the boats up. Naughty-Cal instantly settled into a fast cruising pace of around 27 knots, she seemed happy to be set free once more. The other boats equally at home however, Devocean needed a quick prop change to remedy a slight vibration. After a half hour of messing around we approached West Stockwith lock. It isn’t large enough to fit all three boats in at once so Naughty-Cal and Wish You Were Here entered first. By now the water is flowing quickly in the opposite direction, so we turn into the flow and approach the lock, all was going well until suddenly as we entered the shelter of the wing walls the flow stops due to the wing walls sheltering the flow but Naughty-Cal doesn’t aiming straight for the wall. Luckily we managed to reverse off and just graze the wall with the rails removing some growth from the wall. Wish You Were Here was not so lucky and tried to go through the wall!!

Eventually we are all moored up and the beer starts to flow. The beer flags are hoisted, the bunting erected and the palm tree inflated. Let the party start. After some liquid refreshment it is time to find some food. The White Hart obliges and we all eat well. The bar gets a beating and despite there being six of us, the food and drinks bill is only £90. We will certainly be going here again.

Sunday is an altogether different sort of a day. The sunshine has been replaced with a gloomy, drizzly day, definitely a canopies on day. We wearily make our way back up the Trent, dodging trees, mattresses and other assorted detritus in the water. Luckily the big tides pushed us along quite nicely with the boats averaging 10 knots at low revs and Torksey soon comes into view. We are soon through the lock and onto the calmer waters of the Fossdyke, heading for home. A trip to the Pyewipe is a must and a couple of pints later it is time to head back to the marina for a BBQ dinner. Unfortunately we make a very silly error when casting off and end up with our stern rope wrapped around the props, stalling the engine. Oops. No matter within a half hour we are underway again minus one rope, we shall have to buy some more from the Boat Jumble next spring. Finally we make it back to the marina another adventure under our belts, enjoy a great BBQ and hit the sack ready for another week at work.

Friday 2 September 2011

West Stockwith

It has been quite a while since we last visited the village of West Stockwith, January 2009 was the last overnight visit, so this weekend we are going to change that. West Stockwith is located at the point where the Chesterfield Canal meets the River Trent. A large lock takes boats down from the canal onto the tidal waters of the Trent. For boats locking up off the river they are treated to the lovely canal basin with pretty surroundings and a friendly welcome from Sue the resident lock keeper who is always happy to help. Entry to the lock from the Trent can be quite tricky as the flow of the river is across the lock, boats need to turn against the flow before aiming for the lock wall and at the last minute backing off letting the flow of the water take the bow into the lock then a short burst of power has the boat nestled against the lock wall and into the lock safely.

The basin can get quite busy during the summer months so booking a mooring, even though this is a British Waterways basin is advisable. Sue the lockie will usually be able to find you a quiet spot but likes to be warned of visiting boats so that she can plan where to wedge you all in. Our last visit was in January so we were the only visiting vessel in the basin. We expect this to be different at the weekend due to the time of year. The basin also houses the club house for the West Stockwith boat club. They welcome visiting boat crews with a very friendly service and smile and are always on the lookout for new members. They have a selection of moorings for their members in the basin directly outside the club house. As well as the boat club there is a small hire company with a pair of narrowboats which are available for hire on the Chesterfield canal as well as a selection of both narrowboat and cruiser moorings available for long term rental from British Waterways. There is also a very smart facilities block in the corner of the basin adjacent the slipway and gas and diesel are available from the lock keepers office.

We have had the pleasure of mooring at West Stockwith basin previously as has one other boat in the group; however our friends who intend to travel with us on the pirate ship Wish You Were Here, this weekend have not been before. Quite what they will make of the entry into the lock from the Trent I don’t know. This run down the Trent will also enable the boats to stretch their legs a little for the first time in a while. The river below Gainsborough is under the jurisdiction of ABP (Associated British Ports) rather than British Waterways so a different set of regulations apply. This means that once through Gainsborough Road Bridge we can open the boats up and get them onto the plane. This will be Naughty-Cal's first chance to stretch her legs since we came back from the Broads back in July, so will be a good chance to check that all is well after such a long run at sea then a month back on the river. Hopefully all will go according to plan and we should have a great weekend. The tide time’s work in our favour, for once we won’t be having really early mornings and can spend some time having breakfast and relaxing before the off. If all goes to plan this should be a memorable weekend.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Bank Holiday Weekend - Part 2

Early morning start so that we can get to Boston by Midday, but where has Bardney Lock gone?

As we get closer the mess starts to unveil itself.

We have to let two lockfulls of this mess down before we can get the boats in the lock

It doesnt get much better downstream. The floating duckweed is hiding the stringy green weed beneath.

This little boat was struggling so we gave them a much needed tow to Boston.