Wednesday 28 March 2012

North East Commercial Waterways

The following email was received from British Waterways yesterday. It would seem that some boaters have not been reading up the requirements of the North East’s commercial waterways and their use before visiting these very unique cargo carrying waterways.

“Mechanised Locks Freight Waterways NE Tuesday 27 March 2012 until further notice

There have recently been a number of incidents involving vessels passing red traffic lights at mechanised locks, these locks are used by large freight vessels. This notice provides general advice on lock traffic lights in the NE Waterways and is intended to reduce the likelihood of vessel collision at the locks.

  • Red Fixed -  Lock keeper in attendance - Do not enter lock. Wait for lights to change or contact lock keeper for advice
  • Red Flashing -  Lock keeper not in attendance - Flood conditions do not proceed.
  • Red & Green Lock -  keeper in attendance – Self operation not possible at this time. Lock under preparation await further signal or instruction from lock keeper
  • Amber -  Lock  keeper not in attendance – Lock set to self-operation. Leisure craft proceed with caution and self-operate the lock. Freight craft await instruction from lock keeper and do not enter lock unless instructed by the lock keeper.
  • Green -  Lock keeper in attendance – Enter lock & follow lock keepers instructions. Self-operation not available at this time.
Enquiries: 0113 2816860”

The above advice applies to the River Trent, River Ouse, Aire & Calder Navigation, New Junction Canal and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigations. It is essential for safe navigation of these waterways that leisure boats follow the instructions carefully. Commercial vessels are much less maneuverable than leisure craft and require much larger turning areas and stopping space.

Commercial craft announce their arrival at all locks and at various pinch points and bridges on the navigations. Keeping a listening watch on VHF CH74 will keep you fully aware and informed of their locations and intentions. It is important to remember that these navigations are still very much commercial waterways and leisure use is very much their secondary function. Obeying the traffic lights and using VHF radio will ensure you enjoy a safe passage.

Please stay safe on the North East’s commercial waterways this year.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

River Witham Weed Update 2012

Between Stamp End Lock and Boston lock Tuesday 27 March 2012 until further notice

Following the unprecedented volumes of channel weed on the River Witham last year and to some extent on our other navigations, we have prepared a detailed weed management plan for 2012.

The main aspects of this plan are:

• To hire a weed harvester from early April for a minimum of 6 months to work solely on the River Witham. (The original plan was for a start on May 1st but recent reports have suggested we need to start sooner)

• To install booms (subject to EA approval) across water courses entering the River Witham, thus holding the weed in specific locations making removal easier.

• We have renegotiated our contract for weed cutting on the Chesterfield Canal to provide a better and more flexible service.

A particularly dry 2011 followed by a dry and mild winter has meant that water flows are still low and we envisage the weed will again be a problem through 2012.

We will do everything within our resources to tackle the weed, but we wanted to make you aware that you may experience some difficulties through 2012 in our area and apologise in advance for this. We would also ask you to inform us of weed sightings by emailing and using the subject heading WEED WATCH.

Please provide specific information on location by referring to bridge numbers and mooring locations wherever possible. This information will allow us to focus our efforts appropriately. Thank you for assistance and understanding on this matter.

Enquiries: Newark – 01636 704481

Monday 26 March 2012

What a Stunning Weekend

What a stunning weekend we had. Sunshine, warm temperatures and not a breath of wind. Not bad for March. The engine was serviced on Saturday morning and then we set off towards Fiskerton Fen where we were treated to spectacular hunting displays by the resident Barn Owls, Short Eared Owls and Buzzards. Simply stunning.

Thursday 22 March 2012

A Busy Weekend Ahead

With our Easter break fast approaching, we are now in the final throws of getting Naughty-Cal ready to go. Not everything on the long list will be finished but we will with a fair wind be ready to cruise.

This coming weekend is the servicing of the engine, the major one for the year. With fresh oil and filter, tank fuel filter and fines fuel filter, air filter, crankcase filer, supercharger oil, raw water impeller and four belts to change it won’t be a two minute job but should be finished by midday on Saturday.

Whilst Liam is busy in the engine bay, I will be rinsing off the exterior of the boat as we seem to have gained a large amount of dust over the last couple of weeks and giving the canopies a good scrub to remove any traces of winter mould. I also have the waypoints to put in the chart plotter for our Jubilee week trip to Whitby a little later in the year. With these few jobs finished and the fuel tank topped up with another 40 litres of diesel and the water tank refilled we should have time to enjoy some relaxing time onboard.

We will have to take Cal for a cruise to check that she is in fine fettle following her service so we may as well combine this with a Saturday evening away from our mooring. Destination could well be anywhere but wherever we end up we will enjoy the time afloat.

For Sunday lunch I am going to try out slow cooked Brisket with onion gravy, mashed potatoes, Savoy cabbage and green beans. Hopefully it will be a success and will be another dish to put on our ever expanding boating menu. The slow cooker has really opened up new options for meals onboard and has proven to be a very worthwhile addition to the boat. The only drawback being the time it takes to cook meals with the aromas filling the boat teasing you all day as you know you can’t have it just yet.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Bedroom Decor

It has been a busy few days what with grafting on the boat to get her ready for our fast approaching holiday, work and family affairs. But I have still had a few moments to start looking at some ideas for decorating various rooms in the house.

First up is going to be the bedroom. A slight detour from our original plans but as neither of us has too much decorating experience we decided starting here in one of the rooms guests don’t see would be a wise move.

We have chosen the wall paper which will go on the main wall and the paint colour which will go on the three remaining walls, samples of which can be seen below.

Wall paper for the bedroom

Dapple Blue paint for the walls

The carpet in this room is a nice cream affair and is still in great condition so we will give it a quick wash with the carpet cleaner to freshen it up. Then we will just need some new curtains and bedding to complement the new colours in the room.

Now all we need to do is start the job, which in all honesty will probably wait until we come back off holiday as the garden will be taking up our time at home between now and then.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Solar Panel

We are currently in the very early stages of considering installing solar panels on Naughty-Cal. Or more to the point one small 100ish watt panel. We were sat on the boat in the blazing sunshine at Fiskerton Fen last weekend when it occurred to us that a smallish panel would be ideal for such a situation. Ok it will never provide all of our power needs but any extra power that can be pumped into the batteries can only be a good thing.

Initial skimming of the internet suggests that a budget of around £150 will buy the panel, necessary wiring and a solar regulator. Installing the panel would require some fairly hefty custom stainless steel fabrication to create a mounting bracket on the removable radar arch which is capable of withstanding some fairly strong winds and crashing down from waves. To monitor the amount of power the panel is generating we would also need to install a battery monitor, most likely the Nasa BM-1 which would fit nicely on the dashboard.

This won’t be an easy task but will be a worthwhile one, which should help to ensure the longevity of our battery bank. It will never keep up with all of our power demands but will provide some extra power availability on the odd occasion that we do moor somewhere for a few days at a time without the need to run the engine.

Some more research is needed on this one.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Fiskerton Fen Again

A fabulous Sunday morning cruise on the River Witham

The beautiful Lincolnshire counrtyside showing in all its glory in the early spring sunshine.

And then we stumble across a rowing race. Never mind only 54 boats to aoid this time!!!

The ducks were enjoying the spring sunshine so much they didnt even bother to move as I raised the guillotine gate at Stamp End Lock.

A fitting end to a great weekend. The sunshine bringing out all of the butterfly boaters meaning we hav to raft up outside the pub for the first time this year. See narrowboats do come in handy for something.....

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Fiskerton Fen

After a spot of shopping in Lincoln we descend Stamp End Lock onto the slow flowing River Witham.

Sunset over the River Witham at Fiskerton Fen. A peaceful end to the day wtaching a pair of Barn Owls and a Short Eared Owl hunt on the river banks.

A beautiful start to Sunday. The sun is shining and the temperature quickly responds.

A walk is in order through the stunning Fiskerton Fen nature reserve. The scenery here changes with the seasons as does the wildlife on offer.

A short walk along the road to pick up some fresh free range eggs and to meet the layers enjoying the early spring sunshine.

Friday 9 March 2012

Another Weekend

The weekend is upon us once again, this year really is flying by and it won’t be long before our first holiday of 2012. Rather worryingly we are nowhere near finished with our list of winter jobs yet.

The weather looks reasonable for this weekend so I don’t expect many jobs will get finished but there are a few small jobs we can be getting on with. The anchor locker needs a good clear out with the unwanted junk and clutter removed. The mop and mop bucket can be thrown away, we rarely use the mop and we now have a collapsible bucket which will take up much less space. The spare fenders can be thinned out as we rarely need these and the fishing gear can be sifted through with the old rod and landing net to be discarded. We will also need to check that the electric windlass and deck switches are in working order ready for our afternoon on the hook at Trent End on our way to Leeds early next month.

With the weather set to be dry but cloudy I will make a start on polishing the topsides of the boat. The hull gets polished every time the boat is on the hardstanding but the topsides have not been polished in almost four years. They are well over due a once over so this should be a very rewarding job with the results plain to see. With the topsides polished they will need waxing to ensure that the shine lasts long into the year.

We have also decided it is about time the outboard engine was taken back to the marina. It has spent the winter months tucked up safely at home well away from the freezing temperatures. Hopefully it should be a simple case of lowering the dinghy into the water, sticking the outboard on the back, hooking up the remote fuel tank and it should be ready to go. It has been sat at home for three months now but we have every confidence that it will fire up at the first pull of the cord.

With the weather set to be fair and mild for the time of year it is high time we broke out the BBQ for the first time this year. We will no doubt head into Lincoln to gather the relevant supplies of meat, vegetables and bread. The fridge will already be stocked up with Budweiser of course.
The only thing left to choose now is the destination. It has been a while since we ventured onto the River Witham so a visit to Washingborough or Fiskerton isn’t out of the question. If we do visit Fiskerton we will have to take a trip to the farm to buy some fresh eggs. However we could just as easily head to Saxilby or Torksey. We shall just have to see which way tickles our fancy on Saturday.

Thursday 8 March 2012

The White Swan, Torksey

We are somewhat spoiled where we moor with a host of excellent pubs in the vicinity. The White Swan in Torksey is another of our firm favourites within easy cruising for a weekend break.

The White Swan is a family run business frequented by the local residents, caravan owners and boat owners alike. There is a real friendly atmosphere and in the winter a real cosy feel with the open fire blazing away in the corner. This is a real drinker’s pub with no pretending or frills attached; just good honest drinks and excellent quality, home cooked meals at affordable prices. The steak pie is locally famous for being the best in the area and it is a rare occasion that we pass through Torksey Lock without stopping in the Swan for lunch.

The owners of the pub are a friendly bunch and always greet you with a smile. They are also very accommodating, especially when we turn up unannounced requesting twelve meals for twelve hungry boaters. The pub dog, Blue, is as part of this pub as his owners and is often found soaking up the heat in front of the fire.

The White Swan is situated a short walk from the lock at Torksey in the direction of Torksey Caravans, nestled between the A156, Newark Road, and the banks of the River Trent and is well worth a visit for a spot of lunch and a few drinks.

On any of our holidays where we are heading out onto the Trent, Ouse or Humber we cruise to Torksey on the Friday evening. Almost always we end up in the White Swan for a steak pie supper and a few drinks with the locals. A great start to many a great adventure.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Sun Inn, Saxilby

It is always nice to report on a good news story. Today I write to announce a great boost to our local, to the boat, pub trade in the Lincoln area.

The Sun Inn at Saxilby has recently been taken over by a new land lady with many years experience in the business. She is making huge inroads into turning around the fortunes of this waterside establishment and working hard to give a huge welcome to all who visit the premises. She has great plans for the place and is currently setting up a micro brewery in a disused barn beside the main property.

There is a long established live music scene in the pub and it is nice to see that whilst making big changes in other areas this is one area that is here to stay and won’t be changing. There is a good selection of home cooked food on offer at reasonable prices throughout the day with bar suppers offered after 9pm with the option to take away. The Sunday lunch is great value and the quality of the food was excellent.

A number of events are planned throughout the year including car boot sales, Diamond Jubilee celebrations, live bands and local fund raising and charity events. Hopefully this will signify a change in fortunes for this pub which has been up and down over the years. It is in a great location overlooking the Fossdyke Navigation and just needed the right person behind the bar.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due

It is always nice to hear of good reviews for suppliers and stockists. All too often we only hear about the bad stories and the unhappy customers.

Today however I have nothing but praise for Force 4 Chandlers. We placed an order for a couple of sail cloth bags and a collapsible bucket, late on Friday evening. Despite a telephone call later that evening to say they were out of stock of the bags, yesterday morning I received a package from them with one of the bags and the bucket. The other bag has been dispatched from another depot and will be with us today.

Thanks for a great effort guys.

Excellent, swift service as always and a very friendly customer services department.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Has Spring Sprung?

The sun is rising earlier and setting noticeably later, the crocuses and snow drops are in full bloom, the daffodils are starting to show and the birds are singing in the trees. Has spring finally sprung?

It would be nice to think we have seen the back of this winter; it has seemed like a long one despite the relatively mild weather. Spring always brings with it the rush to get the boat ready for a long season of cruising ahead and the promise of more great holidays and fresh adventures.

The garden starts to show signs of emerging from its winter hibernation, the spring plants brightening up the background of winter foliage and the trees start to show signs of budding and flowering. The hedges start to bud, a sign that the clippers will have to come out again soon and the lawns start the year with a flourish of fresh, lush spring growth.

The garden birds start to make themselves busy building nests to protect their young and singing in the hope of attracting a new mate. The foxes will soon be back foraging in the dustbins and gardens in an attempt to keep their hungry cubs well fed.

Is it too soon to assume we have seen the back of winter? Most probably it is. March can often bring with it some cold and cruel weather. But another month down the line should see us safely in the warmer weather, with risks of frost gone for the year.