Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. It will be a little quiet on here for a week or so as we enjoy the festivities over the Christmas period, but we would like to thank you all for reading these pages and listening and contributing to the adventures of a very special little boat and her crew.

Merry Christmas one and all and we will see you all bright and early in the New Year.

Best Wishes

Naughty-Cal (the skipper), Liam (who thinks he is the skipper) and Rachael (the galley slave)

Thursday 22 December 2011


It is that time of year again when the boating forums are full of people asking questions on how to reduce condensation aboard their boats. The simple answer of course is to increase the ventilation flow through the boat which will greatly reduce and often eliminate condensation build up altogether and reduce the amount of water vapour produced on board.

Some boats seem to be more prone to condensation than others which can only be put down to construction methods and poor insulation installations. Boats with large windows often suffer streaming condensation as a result of warm water bearing air coming into contact with large cold surfaces; double glazing isn’t as yet common place on boats. We have spent years improving the construction of our houses to provide better insulating properties, yet boat builders seem to ignore the lessons which have already been learnt elsewhere.

We are quite lucky with Naughty-Cal in that her construction is a naturally insulating structure, the air gap between the two skins acting as a natural barrier to the colder air outside. That coupled with the small windows and hatches provide an effective force against condensation build up in the cabin. We do provide lots of ventilation throughout the boat whilst we are aboard with the windows open and the hatches cracked open to provide lots of air flow around the cabin even in the coldest of weather. This needn’t mean that the boat is cold though as the heating system compensates for the temperature difference keeping the cabin toasty warm even on the coldest of days. The cockpit area does suffer with some condensation during very cold, still mornings which is hardly surprising given the canvas and plastic construction, but a few hours with the diesel heating on soon dries things out again. If there has been a breeze during the night the air flow around the cockpit keeps the area nice and dry but as the cockpit is designed to get wet, condensation here doesn’t cause a problem like it would in the cabin area of the boat.

Reducing the amount of condensation you produce on board also helps to keep your boat dry during the winter months. Cooking, bathing and breathing are the biggest contributors to condensation build up. Breathing you can’t do much about but it is possible to cut down on cooking condensation. Putting lids on pans on the hob, only boiling the kettle when necessary, using a slow cooker, and only washing pots when you have to will all reduce the amounts of steam produced. Where possible using land based shower facilities will also reduce condensation amounts considerably onboard. We are now only using our boat shower when away from our home berth, using the marina facilities most of the time instead.

There are a few other ways in which you can help keep a dry boat, ensuring your bilges are dry will cut down on moisture aboard and is good housekeeping anyway. Stagnant bilge water will start to smell very quickly. If you have a really bad problem with condensation then a dehumidifier may help to reduce the moisture aboard and keep the cabin dry but this does rely on a reliable shore power source. We use desiccant filled bags to aid keeping our cabin dry as it is a reasonably small area and given the amount of times during a winter that they need to be taken home and dried out, then I would say that they are reasonably effective at keeping moisture at bay. They may not be suitable for all boats however due to the limited protection that they can offer to larger spaces.

Reducing condensation is something that all boat owners should take seriously as the moisture can be a breeding ground for moulds and other fungus’s which can cause health problems as well as widespread damage to fixtures and fittings if left unchecked. Good housekeeping and adequate ventilation should however banish the beasties and help keep your boat dry and condensation free.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

A Great Weekend

How has it gotten to be Wednesday already? This week is just flying by and I can’t keep up, what with work, wrapping present, delivering presents. At this rate we won’t be finished in time for the weekend!
Anyway last weekend was another lively one. The quiet evening we had promised ourselves didn’t happen, we were kidnapped by our friends on Wish You Were Here and forced to drink lots of Budweiser. Terrible really and we suffered for it on Saturday when we could have really done with being fully alert.

So on Saturday, we had a relatively late start for us, not getting up until about 9am before showering and heading out to finish the Christmas shopping in Lincoln. It was busy in town so we hurriedly did our remaining bits of purchasing before retreating to the calmness of the marina for the afternoon. Later that afternoon before it got dark we took Naughty-Cal over to our friend’s house in readiness for our evening meal. Devocean was already positioned on her neighbours mooring so all we had to do was stern in to the pontoon and leave room for Wish You Were Here beside us. We spent the evening swapping stories, drinking Bud again and eating fine food before all retiring to warm beds late in the evening, well oiled and ready to crash out.

I was first up on Sunday and as you already know prepared dinner in plenty of time for eating later that evening. Then we sat and drank coffee to ease the hangovers and relaxed with the local radio station playing in the background whilst reading the paper and tackling the puzzle pages. It wasn’t until about midday that we eventually made our way back to our own moorings, where we wrapped up some of our Christmas presents and entertained our guests. Sunday was a quiet day and we really did very little onboard bar filling up the water tank and hosing down the bathroom, we will have to make up for that next Saturday. We eventually enjoyed a delightful evening meal before hitting the sack early, ready for a busy week ahead and what a busy week it has proven to be so far. It doesn’t look likely to get any quieter before Friday either.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Slow Cooker Success

We had our first slow cooked meal on Sunday and it was simply amazing. Slow cooked Jerk chicken with sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli and stuffing. Quite why it has taken us so long to embrace the slow cooker is beyond me already after just one meal. We will certainly be preparing many more meals in the slow cooker if this last one is anything to go by. So simple to prepare and so simple to cook yet with excellent results. The only thing I did find strange was having to leave it alone all day. I like to be a hands on cook so leaving a dish in the corner all day with the lid on was a strange one on me.

I was up first on Sunday morning so it fell to me to prepare and start Sunday lunch which wasn’t difficult in the least; even the most novice cook can do this one, trust me. I greased the bottom of the cooking pot and put a layer of chopped up sweet potatoes on the bottom, sprinkling some Jerk seasoning over them and tossing them to make sure they were all well coated with oil and seasoning . Next I added the small whole chicken, about 1.25kg, on top of the sweet potatoes, oiling the skin and sprinkling with a good dose of Jerk herbs and spices, salt and pepper, before squeezing over the juice of a lemon, making sure that some of the lemon juice was sprinkled on to the sweet potatoes as well. I placed the squeezed lemon in the chicken’s body cavity for some extra lemony zing to the meat which also worked really well. Then I stuck the cooker on high and sat back with some coffee and the paper and let the cooker do its business whilst I did battle with the crossword and Sudoku. This is so simple it defies belief, after an hour on high the cooker was turned down to low and left to its own devices for about seven hours whilst we went about our daily chores and entertained our guests for the afternoon. An hour and a half before we wanted to eat I added the chopped broccoli and carrots and the stuffing balls, positioning them around the chicken and turned the cooker up to high again for that last blast of heat. The result was a super succulent chicken, cooked to perfection and falling off the bone with tender vegetables and perfect stuffing. This has to be one of the easiest forms of cooking around, plus as everything is cooked in the same pot there isn’t much washing up to do afterwards, excellent.

On the back of this success I have decided that Christmas dinner will be cooked in the slow cooker as well, turkey should be just as good as chicken in theory when cooked this way. I will add a coating of butter to the Turkey breast though as it will have less fat compared to the chicken so this should help to keep it succulent. The slow cooker will take all of the stress out of attempting to cook a three course dinner on board Naughty-Cal, as the main course will pretty much look after itself, leaving just the starter to cook prior to us eating and the dessert to prepare at some time during Christmas morning. Looks like this year’s Christmas dinner will be a doddle and I will get to go to the pub for that Christmas dinner time pint as well. If the weather stays good we might even be able to take the boat out for a Christmas day cruise, something we have as yet been unable to do either due to bad weather or other family commitments.

One other point in favour of the slow cooker and one well worth considering is the lack of condensation created when compared to cooking on the traditional gas hob. There was a noticeable lack of condensation throughout the slow cooking process, something which can only be a good thing onboard a boat during the winter months when condensation can become a major headache unless adequate ventilation is provided.

It is safe to say that we are already very impressed with the slow cooker and this will be the first of many meals cooked onboard Naughty-Cal with this one, both on our home berth and on our travels during the summer months. We also have plans to purchase a second slow cooker for at home so that we can enjoy slow cooked meals at home after work. This could be the start of some great grub discoveries.

Friday 16 December 2011

Another Weekend Is Upon Us

With a splattering of snow on the ground another weekend has rolled on around. We have a busy weekend in store this week so tonight is going to be our only chance to relax and unwind with a few drinks and some good food whilst tucked up cosy and warm on Naughty-Cal. The heating will have already switched on by the time we arrive so she should be lovely and warm, ready for our arrival.

Saturday will be mostly taken up with Christmas shopping. I have bought the presents for the adults today so it will be shopping for the kids on Saturday. Trawling around the busy Lincoln high street isn’t my idea of fun but needs must. We will finish the mornings shopping off with a trip to the markets to stock up with food for the week ahead. With this thankless task out of the way it will be time to head back to the marina and give the bottom of the dinghy a scrub. We gave her bum a clean to rid her of the algae growth before hoisting her onto the davits but she still has a rather unsightly lime scale mark on her hull. We have been reliably informed that Cillit Bang will remove this so are going to give it a go over the weekend. With this done we can have a couple of hours to relax before heading across the lake to our friends house for dinner. If the lake isn’t frozen we are taking the boat across and will spend the night on their mooring. If there is ice forecast it will be a long walk around the estate to reach their house.

On Sunday we will be trying out our new slow cooker. So it will be a reasonably early start for me to get the meat and vegetables prepped and in the pot. Then we should have time for a spot of breakfast before we are descended on by yet more friends. No doubt we will have a few drinks and if time and the weather allow we will probably have a trip in to Lincoln and the pub on the way back. Before dinner we will have the dreaded task of wrapping Christmas presents helped along I hope by a few drinks and some good music. Then we can finally settle in, enjoy our slowly cooked, and hopefully beautiful dinner before getting ready for bed and ready to come home on Monday morning.

Another busy weekend in store then.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Slow Cooker

We have finally gotten around to ordering a small capacity slow cooker for the boat. We have been after one for quite a while now but have always seemed to have better ways to spend our cash. With the onset of winter and the need for homely, comfort food, and the eventual installation of the inverter on Naughty-Cal, we have run out of excuses for not jumping in and making the purchase. So the order has been made for a 3.3 litre Tesco branded stainless steel slow cooker complete with non stick removable interior cooking bowl and a glass lid for ease of cleaning and use. This should be the ideal size for the boat, cooking for two easily with the ability to stretch to meals for four should the need arise.

Looking at the quoted power consumption figures we will be fine to use the thing whilst we are away from our mooring. At 100 to 150 watts, depending on what setting it is on, it will consume around about 12.5Ah at 12 volts plus a little more for inverter losses so around the 15Ah mark. We could safely leave this running for around 6 or 7 hours whilst moored up away from electric hook up before we start to abuse our batteries, taking them below the magic 50% state of charge. Whilst out and about cruising, the alternator will easily provide the necessary power for the cooker as well as extra for battery charging so it seems to be a sensible idea to extend our available cooking capacity easily and at a bargain price. At this time of year it is unlikely that we will be away from our berth and the electricity bollard for those amounts of time, but it will allow us to prepare a nice stew or Sunday lunch and leave it cooking for the day whilst we go about our daily business and enjoy a few pints in the pub, the meal still cooking away in the galley. During the summer months we will be cruising for longer which will mean that we can prepare our evening meal in the morning, cruise all day and have the meal quietly cooking away whilst we cruise along the waterways. We must ensure it is stored safely and kept upright whilst we have a meal in the pot though, which could take some thinking about at the speeds we can travel, otherwise it could get messy in the galley!

The next issue is storing the cooker. At 3.3 litres it isn’t the biggest slow cooker in the world but neither is Naughty-Cal the biggest boat in the world and with all of the clobber we have on board it will take some squeezing in. Top of the list of places to house it is the starboard locker which already houses the toaster, it will need a clearout though and some other items relocating around the boat. I suspect Saturday will be spent trying to wedge the cooker into a tight space.

Now we just need to experiment with some tasty meals to cook in our new gadget. So do any of you out there have any great recipes for slow cooker cooking? I already have one for a beer basted pork joint and vegetables which I am going to try out on Sunday for our evening meal and a beef goulash recipe that I am told is to die for, so any other great ideas out there?

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Cheese, Tomato and Pepperoni Tart

We tried this for the first time last night and it was delicious. Very simple to prepare, it tooK maybe ten minutes to prepare including watching parts of the evening news.

For this simple dish you will need:
· Readymade puff pastry
· Tomato puree
· Grated cheese
· Mozzarella
· Sliced tomatoes
· Pepperoni

Preparation couldn’t be simpler, preheat the oven to 200 degrees, grease a baking tray and roll your pastry out to fit the greased tray. Next score a line about 1cm from the edge of your pastry; this will make the crust puff up around the edges. Next spread the tomato puree over your puff pastry base and sprinkle on half of your grated cheese. Then with the base covered in grated cheese arrange slices of mozzarella, tomato and pepperoni on top and finally sprinkle the rest of your grated cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and lovely and crisp and flaky.

Serve hot with fresh salad and dressing and everyone is bound to like this easy and delicious tart dish. Cooking doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Wrap Up Warm

It has certainly been a cold one with temperatures plunging to well below freezing over night. The diesel heating has been on for quite a lot of the weekend and the extra blanket we brought to the boat last weekend has certainly come into its own this weekend.

On Friday night we battled through wind, sleet and snow to make it to the marina, taking a pit stop at MacDonald’s to grab some fodder before heading to the boat and hunkering down, wrapped up warm against the cold northerly wind. With a few beers down and the weather turning ever colder we hit the sack early ready for a full day on Saturday.

Saturday morning was cold, very cold in fact. There was a harsh frost covering everything in white and the boats and water in a layer of ice. With the heating ticking away we left Cal to defrost whilst we both had hot showers and hot coffee. Finally defrosted we set off in the direction of Lincoln to do a spot of Christmas shopping, stock up on fresh meat and vegetables and grab a spot of lunch, ice breaking the whole way. With this little lot done we settled in for a couple of drinks, allowing some extra time for the ice to thaw, before heading back to the marina in a lovely toasty warm boat. Saturday evening was relatively quiet with just a few beers enjoyed in good company and some good food to round off the evening before heading to a warm bed, courtesy of the electric blanket.

Sunday was another cold start but not as cold as the morning previous. With nowhere to go and no plans a foot we settled in listening to the radio and reading the Sunday papers. A trip to Subway filled our bellies with good food. Then in our warm cocoon of a cockpit we were safe from the winter weather outside and we whiled away the afternoon with the crossword puzzle, Sudoku, and of course the mandatory few cold beers. As evening fell our thoughts turned to dinner and with a fully stocked fridge we were spoilt for choice, eventually settling on good honest homemade spaghetti bolognaise. With the dinner pots washed, both of us showered and the car packed ready for work in the morning, there was nothing much left to do bar turn into a warm bed listening to the ropes creaking as they go about their endless work.

The first proper wintery weekend of this season has been thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing but we must not get used to all of this rest and relaxation, we have a long list of jobs to start and finish this winter in readiness for the warmer months and some serious cruising. They are not getting done at this rate.....

Friday 9 December 2011

Rising Fuel Costs?

As we all know fuel costs have been rocketing for the last couple of years so as a little experiment we decided to keep a log of how many miles we travelled and how many litres of fuel we have used. We have done this for the last couple of years, so for the whole of 2010 and 2011. We won’t be doing many more miles this year so we have decided to check out the figures and see how they stack up. The figures are purely based on miles travelled and litres of fuel used and take no account of the diesel used for heating the boat or time spent with the engine idling. They are also based on starting the season with a full fuel tank and ending the season with a full fuel tank which is how we like to operate. The approximate cost per hour is based on our long term average speed of 5mph which takes account of time spent on the canals at 4mph or less, as well as time spent on the tidal rivers, estuary and coast at 25 knots plus.

· 1216 miles travelled
· 923 litres of fuel used
· £696.91 cost of fuel
· 76p per litre average cost of fuel
· 58p per mile travelled
· Approx 5.95mpg
· Approx cost per hour = £2.90

· 1322 miles travelled
· 1177 litres of fuel used
· £1087.57 cost of fuel
· 92p per litre average cost of fuel
· 82p per mile travelled
· Approx. 5.05mpg
· Approx cost per hour = £4.10

As you can see over the past 12 months the cost of fuel has risen and whilst it may sound like a lot and look like a lot at the pumps, the overall additional cost over the year has equated to a mere £1.20 per hour, a small price to pay for the enjoyment which we get from our boat.
The fuel price hikes have been felt much more by those who run petrol powered sports boats, as they don’t have the option of tax relief on their fuel. The price they see at the pumps is the price they pay to refuel and with prices hitting £1.40 per litre in the petrol stations and £1.50 or more water side, it is starting to hurt the wallets. Our friends with petrol boats have used their boats much less this last year than in previous years.

There is a noticeable drop in miles per gallon achieved between 2010 and 2011 which is purely down to the type of cruising we have been doing in the two seasons. During 2010 we spent most of our holidays on the inland waterways, plodding along at lower engine revs, giving better fuel economy. During 2011 we have spent much longer on the coast with the engine working harder for longer, thus using more fuel in the process. We are not overly concerned with these figures and for the type of boat we have they are actually astounding figures, much better than one would expect from a sports cruiser.

We will continue to log our distance travelled, fuel used and cost of fuel so that we can compare the cost of boating year on year. Of course fuel is only a small part of the cost of owning a boat but it seems to be one that gets a lot of attention, especially with the continually rising prices and changes in legislation.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Rock A Bye Baby

Winter is certainly here and with it has come the wave after wave of winter storms. So far this week we have been battered by wind, rain, hail and snow and the temperatures have plummeted. The biggest storm of the season so far is due to head across the country today, bringing with it gale force winds and heavy rain before pulling down cold air from the Arctic and plunging us into a cold snap with snow forecast as far south as the Midlands. It should make for an interesting few days weather. Hopefully it won’t prevent us from getting to the boat tomorrow evening.

Naughty-Cal will no doubt be rocking and rolling around on her berth but there is nothing we can do for her from here in Sheffield. Her mooring ropes are secure and tied in such a fashion so as to reduce her movement to a minimum so she will weather this storm well.

We don’t mind the rocking and rolling of the boat in the wind, the lapping waves on the hull a reminder that we are afloat. After July’s session moored in a harbour in a Force 8 storm, the sheltered waters of the inland system seem a far cry away and even in the fiercest of storms at Burton Waters we have yet to experience anything like the ferocity of the Wells July storms. Being caught in bad weather like that puts into perspective the relative calm and shelter of the inland waterways.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Change of Heart

We have been thinking further into our holiday plans for 2012 and have come to the conclusion that we will save Ely and Cambridge for another year. Instead of having a two week holiday in the middle of the summer, next year we will split up our summer holiday into two separate weeks, one in July and one in September.

It was lovely to have a two week break this year but it has meant a long slog from the beginning of July all the way to Christmas with no holidays. So next year we plan to have a week in July to head out onto the Norfolk coast to Wells next the Sea and a week in September to head down the Trent and up the Ouse to York.

We will never tire of going to Wells, it makes for a great coastal trip and the town and harbour have so much to see and do. If the weather is right a nip around the corner takes you to Blakeney bay, a great place to spend an afternoon at anchor. With good weather the dinghies come into their own exploring the many tiny creeks and inlets cutting into the main navigation channel. If the weather is not so great, then it is only a short bus ride to one of many local towns and villages and a pleasant walk back along the coastal footpaths exploring the Norfolk coastline by foot brings a whole different perspective to the experience. The harbour staff are all extremely helpful and friendly which ensures a great stay is guaranteed, nothing is too much trouble for them. On the way back from Wells we may, if time allows, spend an evening at Fossdyke on the tidal Welland. A spot we have yet to explore but we have heard great things about the local pub’s grub.

The trip to York is one we have done a couple of times now, however it is again one which we will never tire of. York is a great city to spend time in and to visit by boat is just the cherry on the cake. The trip to York takes in a wide variety of waterways from canals, to tidal and non tidal rivers and very briefly the Humber estuary. We will pick a week to go when the tides allow us to make it from Torksey to Naburn in the one tide, anchoring at Trent Falls to await the incoming afternoon/evening tide to carry us up the Ouse. This ensures that we have as much time as possible to explore the city before heading back for home. We usually take the long way home, entering the canal system at Selby and navigating through the Selby Canal, River Aire, Aire and Calder and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigations before finally exiting the system onto the Tidal Trent at Keadby. This little detour breaks up the trip and takes in some surprisingly pretty scenery despite the very commercial nature of these navigations.

These two familiar trips will complement our plans to travel to places unknown for our first two holidays of the year; Leeds at Easter and Whitby and Scarborough during Whitsun week. They will also enable us to spread out our cruising for 2012 and enjoy the places we know and love for more of the year.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Batteries Again

Over the weekend, we gave our batteries their biggest challenge to date. The whole weekend moored outside the pub with no hook up or engine running. Through the cruising season we normally cruise every day, rarely staying in the same place for more than a day. This helps to ensure that the batteries are topped up and rarely drop below 12.6V. With the weather being on the cold side over the weekend we had the heating on quite a lot and the lighting of course now that the evenings have drawn in. To our surprise the batteries held out exceptionally well and were still showing 12.4V when we left to head home on Sunday afternoon. No power worries there then.

In total contrast, our friends arrived on Saturday evening and from the word go they were having power issues. Their one leisure battery has been on its last legs for much of this season giving them endless power supply problems. They still have not replaced it and spent much of their time away from their mooring with the engine running, a false economy if ever there was one.

I have never understood why people try to squeeze that extra couple of weeks or months out of their batteries. If they are starting to become unreliable then surely it is time to replace them. Replacing our batteries this time last year was the best thing we have done. It has transformed the boat and the way that we can use her. The energy saving measures we have also put into place has vastly reduced our power consumption and reliance on shore power. For the sake of £225 (two 105 amp leisure batteries and one starter battery) we have saved ourselves a lot of hassle and disappointment and should have a few trouble free cruising years. That equates to just £75 per year, a minimal cost when it comes to boat ownership. Is it worth the penny pinching?

At this time of the year we won’t be spending much time away from our home berth so the “smart” battery charger will look after the batteries and keep them in tip top condition ready for next year’s cruising season. The battery charger is again an item that is often over looked. Our Newmar “smart” charger is an expensive piece of kit to buy but cheaper “smart” chargers are available that will do a similar job and look after your batteries. Again some people fail to realise that a small trickle charger is going to struggle to keep up with the day to day demands that living onboard puts on the electrical system. Trickle chargers are fine if you are going to leave your boat unattended for long periods, they will keep your batteries topped up but they don’t stand a chance of keeping up with your power consumption if you are spending time onboard. Yes they are cheaper, but yes they will struggle.

Power is a big consideration when you are spending time on your boat. Trying to cut corners will only come back to bite you eventually, there are no easy ways out. Batteries and chargers are not cheap purchases when you have the initial outlay to find, but in the long run it makes firm financial sense to make the most of your money and make the right purchases the first time.

Monday 5 December 2011

What a Weekend

It has certainly been a great weekend and we have been exceptionally lucky with the weather, especially given the time of year.

On Friday evening we arrived at the marina, loaded up the boat, had a quick shower using the land based marina facilities and then made our way to the Pyewipe to grab a good mooring for the weekend. It would have been rude not to have a few pints as we were on the pub moorings so we made our way inside to make the most of the bar. After a few pints we made our way back to a warm boat and a warm bed for an early night.

Saturday dawned a bright, sunny yet chilly day and after a lazy start and a couple of cups of coffee we set off for a walk into Lincoln to grab a bite to eat and to do some shopping. The walk along the river bank is pleasant enough with views across the fields and adjacent golf course and farmers fields. We grabbed breakfast at the waterside Square Sail. A J.D Wetherspoon’s establishment that served us a massive breakfast and four huge cups of coffee for £8, not a bad price and not bad grub in the scheme of things. A trip to the markets followed where we stocked up on fresh meat, fruit and vegetables before heading back to the boat. The folding trolley we had bought during the week was a god send and well worth the £15 price tag. It saved us from carrying the heavy shopping along the tow path. Back at the boat we had yet more coffee before starting to get ready for the evening party. We both had luke warm showers, a great way to freshen up, before waiting for the arrival of the other boats. We didn’t have to wait long before the boats started to arrive and the drinks started to flow. By 6pm we all had to start getting ready in our finery. An hour or so later we all emerged from our boats dressed to the nines and the party sure did start. The food was excellent and everybody had a fantastic time, dancing and drinking the night away. This has to be one of the best evenings we have all shared together and plans are already afoot to make next year’s Christmas party the best yet.

Yesterday was a much quieter day. We lazed around for much of the morning, drinking coffee and listening to the radio, in no great hurry to move on. Eventually we decided we should make a move back to the marina, enjoying a spot of brunch on our return before settling in with the paper, the puzzle pages and some afternoon drinks. The weather took a slight turn during the evening, with freshening winds mixed in with some heavy showers, but hunkered down in the cockpit we watched the weather flow by in warmth and comfort. Another fine weekend over and done with, the countdown to Christmas is now on.

Friday 2 December 2011

Party Time

The weekend has come around pretty quickly again and what a weekend it promises to be. It is the weekend of the E Pontoon (Unofficial Boat Club) Christmas Party and with a confirmed 40 attendees it should be a lively one. This year it is a black tie, three course dinner and disco to be held at the Pyewipe Inn, Lincoln on Saturday night.

Tonight we are going to be very busy, running around like the proverbial headless chickens. The plan (but whatever goes according to plan?), is to arrive at the marina, load up the boat, fill the water tank, get showered and then head to the pub to get ourselves a prime mooring spot. No doubt we will also indulge in a quick pint or two in the pub to pass the remainder of the evening by.

Saturday we will have a walk into Lincoln to do the shopping, leaving Naughty-Cal moored outside the pub. It isn’t a long walk into town and it will be a nice change to stretch our legs and explore the locality by foot. It will also help us to work up an appetite ready for the evening’s meal. With dinner starting at 7.30pm we will have plenty of time to smarten up and get ready in our finery. Probably easier said than done in the confines of a small boat!! The newly fitted inverter will come into its own powering the Christmas lights and the electric blanket, the latter of which we will need if the temperatures keep going on their current downward trend.

Sunday will certainly be a quiet day. There will be aching heads all round and no rush to head back to the marina. We will have a fully stocked fridge so full English will be on the cards to help ease the hangovers and fill our bellies. With no great hurry to head back to the marina we may even stretch our legs on Sunday as well; a little fresh air will no doubt do us the world of good.

Here’s to what looks like being a great weekend.

Thursday 1 December 2011

ASBO's Year

We purchased Asbo, Naughty-Cals tender, in March of this year. We had previously purchased a rigid plastic dinghy with an electric outboard, which was fine for pottering around in the marina but wasn’t really suitable for our growing adventures at sea. As is usually the case we were not exactly looking for a replacement dinghy when Asbo happened to come for sale. A friend was selling her to buy a faster RIB with a bigger two stroke outboard engine. It was too good an opportunity to miss, an as new 2.4m Quicksilver dinghy with an as new low hours 6hp mariner four stroke outboard at a bargain price. So with a little bit of haggling the deal was struck and Naughty-Cal had a new buddy to keep her company on her many adventures.

It is safe to say that Asbo is a completely different beast to the little green dinghy we had previously owned. Asbo is much more stable and with the grunty 6hp engine much more fleet of foot with some extra oomph to push us along against a tide. This has led us to becoming much more adventurous with where and how we use the dinghy.

Asbo’s first major outing was in June this year when we loaded her onto Cal’s davits and took her down the Norfolk coast to Wells next the Sea. This gave us our first chance to take our dinghy onto the salty stuff. Wells is a great little harbour to explore with little creeks branching off the main navigation channel, but it was taking the dinghy to the entrance bar that was the highlight of the week. Riding the cresting waves in a little dinghy gives a whole different perspective to the experience and the landing party on the beach was the icing on the cake. Simply magic, and a great way to round off the stay in Wells.

Asbo’s holiday on the Norfolk Broads later in the year was her next chance for a dip in the salty stuff. After a four hour piggy back down the coast she was lowered into the water for her own adventure through Lowestoft docks, mixing it with the big boys of the commercial boating world. Later in the holiday she was again put into good use as we anchored the mother ships off Blakeney Bay and the dinghies took us to explore the deserted, golden beaches in this stunning and serene setting. The resident seals were extremely nosey, swimming around the dinghies as we headed back to the boats. A truly great day that will stick in our memories for a very long time to come.

Since her main holiday, Asbo has been relatively quiet with local trips on the Fossdyke and Witham. It is unfortunately time now for Asbo to be taken out of the water for some winter TLC, leaving dinghies to the mercy of the ice does them no favours. We had planned to take Asbo home but due to some unwilling floor boards she is currently hung on the davits, hopefully drying out. Over the winter we plan to sand down the floor boards and repaint them. The existing paint is starting to peel so a repaint will give her a fresh look ready for the 2012 cruising season and should hopefully provide some extra protection to the wooden flooring. We also have a new bow bag to install, which should keep our valuables safe and dry whilst onboard and give us some much needed storage stopping items rattling around on the floor. Finally the outboard has been taken home and is to be sent back to the local dealers for its full annual service. This should ensure that the engine is in tip top condition and hopefully reliable for our future adventures afloat in 2012 which promise to be more adventurous than ever.

We have been genuinely pleased with Asbo this year and pleasantly surprised by how little fuel she uses. Throughout the whole year we have filled the fuel can once and topped it up once again, amounting to about 15 litres of petrol for a full seasons use. Hardly worth complaining about and for the entertainment that she provides is a bit of a bargain.

Hopefully this winter will be short and mild and then we can look forward to relaunching Asbo early next year, fully prepared for the season to come and looking fresh and up to date and then we can hopefully enjoy some more dinghy adventures.