Monday 30 April 2012

Bank Holiday Plan B

With the weather still playing silly buggers and sending more water from the skies it is looking more and more likely that we will have to find a Plan B for the bank holiday weekend.

With water levels in the Witham still high and much more rain in the forecast it would be unwise to follow our initial plan of a cruise to Boston with a four hour window on the Wash Estuary. This option would most likely find us stranded on the Witham with no hope of making it back to our home berth. So a Plan B is required.

Although water levels on the Trent will be higher than normal this is by far our safest cruising option. Even with high levels on the river we can lock in and out of Torksey safely. Plan B looks most likely to be another fleeting visit to West Stockwith for the evening before heading back for Burton Waters. This option would give us the chance to have a spare day to sort out the outboard bracket and hopefully mount the outboard and the dinghy to the transom of Naughty-Cal for the first time since we have owned them.

Although this is far from our favoured option for the long weekend it seems sensible given the amounts of heavy rain forecast. West Stockwith is always a great place to visit whatever the weather and a warm welcome and great food are always ensured in the White Hart. So here’s to Plan B.

Thursday 26 April 2012

The Outboard Bracket

As regular readers of this blog will know we have been having an ongoing battle trying to find a suitable mounting for the transom of Naughty-Cal that will adequately support our 6hp outboard engine that we use with Asbo, the dinghy.

We bought the dinghy and outboard over twelve months ago now but have been struggling to find a suitable solution to the mounting problem. A chance encounter on the Sealine Forum has produced a custom made stainless steel bracket, which was manufactured for a fellow members Sealine S23. Now obsolete as he has upgraded his boat, we have bought the bracket for a very reasonable price considering the amount of work that went into making it in the first instance. Now we just have to wait for it to be delivered from Ireland which should be sometime early next week.

We will have to make a few modifications to Naughty-Cal to make the bracket work as one of the brackets mounting points requires a stainless steel grab handle on the boat which we have removed to install the snap davits. We will have to shorten this bar, which luckily we kept, so that it will fit between the davits. This will also mean drilling some additional holes into the transom of Cal, never a job we like doing, so that we can bolt the bar in the right position. With these few minor modifications to Naughty-Cal we will hopefully have the bracket ready for our upcoming trip to Whitby at the end of May.

This should mean that all being well we will be able to take our dinghy and outboard on more outings as the engine will no longer be in the way on the cockpit floor. It will also mean that we can securely lock the engine to the bracket vastly reducing the risk of it being stolen whilst we are out and about. We will also be able to keep it covered up on the bracket which should hopefully keep it looking in great condition for much longer.

Hopefully if this is pulled off we have made our life onboard Naughty-Cal with Asbo much easier. We should also benefit by taking Asbo on more of our outings, hopefully getting more use from her than we did last year. We have many outings planned for Asbo for 2012, mainly on the many drainage ditches and dykes that flow into the River Witham, but also on the salty River Esk in Whitby and the salt marshes of Wells next the Sea. Let’s hope that at long last we have found a viable solution.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Garlic and Sage Queen Scallops

This will never be a recipe for a full meal but scallops make a great starter for a dinner party or that something different for the BBQ.

For this simple dish you will need:
  • 3-4 Scallops per person
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Sage

Preparation is super simple. Preheat your grill to full heat. Chop the garlic and sage and mix well with a good knob of butter. Add a small amount of butter to each scallop shell, they don’t need much and then stick the scallops and their shells under the grill or on the BBQ for 1 to 2 minutes.

That’s it as simple as that. Serve hot in the shells for that little extra wow factor. We usually serve these scallops as part of a sea food platter. Simple to cook yet great to eat these scallops are super tasty.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

River Levels

With the large amounts of rain we experienced over the weekend the Fossdyke and the River Witham both rose dramatically. The Fossdyke rose over eight inches in just a few hours. This from a navigation that rarely fluctuates by more than an inch at a time and is exceptionally well managed by the EA.

With such a rapid rise in water levels the EA were quickly on the case to shut the marina flood gates, protecting the residential and commercial properties and also the many boats from the still rising flood waters. Even with the gates shut the levels continued to rise for a short while due to the surface water runoff into the lakes. With the water levels in the marina complex now protected the panic was off for the residents.

The boats out on the river were not quite so lucky. With most of the moorings between Lincoln and Torksey being fixed bollards, the water levels quickly broke the banks leaving the moorings underwater and the moored boats at risk of floating over the banks. The navigation through the Glory Hole was shut to boats due to the vast amount of water being sluiced away from the city to prevent flooding. This has had effects further downstream with the Witham well above normal levels. With the river flowing over the lock gates at Boston and freely flowing out to sea, effectively making the lower reaches temporarily tidal again. Not a common occurrence by any means.

With plenty more rain forecast for this week the situation doesn’t look like it will get much better any time soon. On Sunday night the level of the Fossdyke was lowered by some eight inches, so by Monday morning was nearing normal water levels again. However this water has to go somewhere and right now that somewhere is Boston or the Trent. Both of which are extremely high at the moment and won’t be benefiting from the heavy rainfall.

We should have predicted that this would happen. After all, the county has been declared in drought and there are hosepipe bans in place. Floods were bound to follow these announcements. Unfortunately with the intensity of the rain most of it has just washed off of the fields and straight into the rivers so it won’t have made much difference to the depleted reservoir levels in the area. Maybe we could pipe them some of our Yorkshire water. Here in Sheffield the local reservoirs are all full to brimming or over flowing.

Monday 23 April 2012

Stoppage - River Witham

Boston Grand Sluice Lock 

23 April 2012 until further notice

Due to high water levels, Boston Grand Sluice Lock will not be usable for the next few days.  The problem is that the river level is getting higher than the interior top beams of the lock gates.  Therefore, the river is flowing through the lock out to sea.  Also with the higher levels, the clearance through the lock has been compromised.  We apologise for any inconvenience which may be caused.  Boaters are asked not to travel through the lock until further notice. 

Enquiries: Boston Lock – 01205 364864

A Rainy Weekend

With the weather none too clever this weekend we made the most of the time carrying out running repairs, maintenance and general cleaning duties.

On Saturday the OH was drafted in to help a fellow boater service his sterndrives, so I made the most of the quiet time and set about putting Naughty-Cal on a diet. Over the years we have collected a huge amount of cruising clutter but none of this is doing Cal’s weight issue much good and it is starting to show with a drop in top speed and an ever lengthening time to get her onto the plane. Drastic action was needed.

Every cupboard, cubby hole and drawer was stripped of its contents, thoroughly cleaned and then only the essential items repacked in a neat and tidy manner. Anything no longer needed onboard has been rehomed, taken home or as a last resort thrown away. Considering we only carried out this task at the beginning of this year there was still an alarming amount of junk and excess weight taken off the boat. The end result should be a more sprightly performance the next time we are able to let Naughty-Cal stretch her legs in a couple of weeks time.

With the boat interior cleaned, tidied and decluttered and the OH back from his servicing duties it was time to relax and enjoy a quiet weekend afloat. With the unrelenting heavy rain, the water levels in the Fossdyke were reaching high levels so eventually the EA came and shut the flood gates to the marina, effectively penning us in but at the same time keeping us safe and sound on our berths. The boats out on the river had no such luck and were scrambling to find safe moorings.

With the gates shut we seeked out some entertainment which eventually came in the form of a kind offer of drinks and nibbles at a friend’s house in the nearby village of Fenton, so we all bundled ourselves into cars and hit them hard. It was at 3am Sunday morning that we finally climbed back into the cab and head back to the boats!!

Sunday was a day for recovering. There were plenty of poorly looking people on the pontoons on Sunday morning, or afternoon in some cases. With the flood gates still firmly shut there was little to do other than kick back and relax.

With lamb hotpot in the slow cooker, there was not much left to do other than open a beer and watch the world and the weather go by.

The weather may not have been great for boating this weekend but it has given us the chance to start to get Cal ready for her next big adventure. The rain should also go some way to topping up the rivers, reservoirs and streams which so many of us depend upon to keep our waterways navigable.

Friday 20 April 2012

Slow cooked lamb hotpot

This is another great slow cooker recipe that we discovered during our recent holiday onboard Naughty-Cal. Ideal after a chilly and wet day of boating to warm you through and help to get you toasty warm again.

For this simple recipe you will need:·        

  • 2lb Lamb cubed. (We used neck   fillet)
  •     1 red onion finely chopped
  •      Carrot chopped into 1cm pieces/cubes
  •     Small closed cup mushrooms
  •      2 beef Oxo
  •      2 gloves crushed garlic
  •      Mixed herbs
  •      Potatoes cut into 0.5cm thick slices

Preparing the dish could not be simpler. Add the lamb, onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic to the slow cooker. Sprinkle the Oxo cubes over the lamb and vegetable mix. Layer the potatoes on top of the lamb and vegetables to create a lid and then pour boiling water over the top so that it just covers the potato layer finally sprinkling with mixed herbs. Turn the slow cooker on high power for one hour and then turn it down to low power and leave to simmer away for the day whilst you go about your daily business.

After about 9 hours the Lamb Hotpot will be ready to serve. We served this dish simply with warm crusty bread and pancakes.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 7

Lincoln to Leeds – The Facts and Figures

The first holiday of the year went without a hitch. Naughty-Cal has proved herself yet again to be in fine fettle and as reliable and capable as ever. The trip to Leeds proved to be both relaxing and at the same time rewarding. We like to visit new waterways and explore new and varied cruising grounds. This trip has proven to us that although still very much a commercial waterway, the Aire and Calder Navigation has a lot to offer the leisure boater, with plenty to see and do along the way.

In the ten days that we were away from our berth we covered:
  • 188 miles
  • 28 locks
  • 15 swing/lift bridges
During the ten days our fuel consumption was:
  • 125 litres of diesel (approx. 27.75 gallons)
  • 6.8mpg
  • 0.65 litres per mile
The fuel consumption figures above disregard the diesel used by the Webasto diesel heating which was running for between four and ten hours per day depending on the weather conditions. Taking this into account and the varied cruising speeds trough out the week, ranging from 4mph to 36mph, the figures achieved are actually very respectable for a sports cruiser such as Naughty-Cal.

With the first trip of the year over and done with we can now start to look forward to and start planning for the next short bank holiday break in a couple of weeks time, destination Boston and the Wash Estuary.

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 6

 Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation showing off its spring colours.

 The sun comes out for a while.

 The Vazon Swing Bridge at Keadby signifies the end of our stay on these wonderful commercial waterways.

 Back out onto the Trent and industry is still very evident this far downstream.

 Industry soon gives way to pretty riverside villages.

 The weather ahead looks ever more stormy.

 Yet more pretty Trent villages.

 A quick over night stop in West Stockwith basin to break up the Trent trip.

 The Chesterfield Canal at Misterton paints a very pretty picture. It is just a shame we are too deep drafted for this section of canal.

 Leaky lock gates on the Chesterfield Canal but still no lack of water here.

Back on the Fossdyke and almost home. The end of a fantastic trip is greated with wall to wall sunshine for the first time this week.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 5

 A slight hold up at Whitley Lock as the commercials arrive.

 These two fill the lock.

 The skies get ever darker as we approach our destination. Will we have that BBQ?

 By the time we moor up at Sykehouse, the storm has passed and we can BBQ in the remaining daylight.

 On the move again and the Don Aqueduct looms into sight.

 It isnt very often we get to take Naughty-Cal over a river.

 Liveaboard boats at Stainforth present a pleasant scene.

Very much on the homeward stretch now but the navigation paints a pretty scene.

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 4

 A mornings shore leave in Leeds to visit the Royal Armouries and the Leeds City Museum. Both worthy of a visit.

 Back on the move again and heading for home we descend the deepest lock of the trip, Lemonroyd Lock.

 Back on the River Aire under stormy skies.

 An overnight stop in Castleford for a BBQ and to stock up on beer supplies.

 Before heading back on our way down the River Aire.

 And under the old A1 road bridge at Ferrybridge.

And sneaking through the town of Knottingley getting ever closer to home.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 3

 The River Aire. 

 Bullholme Lock

 Party time at Woodlesford as the terrible two reunite for the first time in 2012

 Beers up

 The terrible twins are reunited again

 Naughty-Cal in Clarence Dock, Leeds

Clarence Dock, Leeds.

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 2

 Naughty-Cal in Ocean Lock, Goole. No need to tie up here!!

 Naughty-Cal heading through Goole Docks.

 Goole Docks. Still plenty of big shipping here.

 Waterways museum at Goole.

 Pollington Lock and the end of a long days cruising from Torksey!!

 Whitley Lock

Naughty-Cal taking on water at Whitley Lock. A pleasant spot but very exposed and windy

Monday 16 April 2012

Lincoln to Leeds - Part 1

 Cruising in company for the first couple of hours

 Naughty-Cal moored at Gainsborough

 Naughty-Cal anchored on the Trent waiting for the tide

 Not much water in the channel

Burton Stather Wharf at low water springs