Wednesday 31 October 2012


Am I just getting old? Maybe just a bit grumpy? I hate Halloween. It's just another advertising gimmick designed to get children pestering adults and stuffing fists full of sugar into their mouths. Roll on tomorrow when it is all over.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

A Nice Way

A nice way to start the working day with a glimpse of the sun. It will of course be gone by the time we finish work, but at least we saw it today.

Monday 29 October 2012

Nice view

Just a shame the breakfast was so terrible. We certainly will not be eating in the Square Sail again. To say it was poor is giving it far more credit than it was worth.

Saturday 27 October 2012


Just woke up to find the boat covered in snow. Should make a nice run back up the river to the marina.

Friday 26 October 2012

A Chill in the Air

Well this morning there is a definite chill in the air. A frost in the grass and on the car is a sure sign that winter is upon us.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Still dull and grey

As the weather is still dull and grey here is a more cheery picture to remind us of what the sun looks like.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Cracking Sunset

Just had to share this cracking sunset from the weekend with you today. We were relaxing on the visitor moorings at Torksey when we were treated to this great scene.

Tuesday 23 October 2012


With the onset of autumn and some colder weather in the forecast it really seemed the right time to set about winterising Naughty-Cal again. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were taking the winter gear away.

As we use the boat all year round we don’t do much to winterise her. We add a large tube heater to the engine bay which keeps the temperature well above freezing even during the coldest spells of weather and add a tube heater to the shower room to stop any plumbing from freezing.

This year in addition to the heaters we are also adding a dehumidifier to keep the levels of moisture at lower levels. Naughty-Cal isn’t a damp boat by any means but the colder weather can bring with it some minor condensation issues which the dehumidifier should hopefully eradicate. Plus as we plan to give the cabin upholstery another good wash with the carpet cleaner it will help to dry the boat out again. It will also help to keep the ambient temperature in the cabin slightly higher due to the waste heat produced by the unit.

Other than making sure that the electricity bollard is well topped up this is pretty much all that we will do to protect Naughty-Cal from the cold weather. It is a routine that has seen her survive the last three winters intact despite some record low temperatures so hopefully it should see her through another winter unscathed. 

Monday 22 October 2012

Misty Morning on the Fossdyke

 Torksey Visitor Moorings

 Moored boats in the fog

 Spot the boat! This prat had driven from Burton Waters with no lights on!

 Drinsey Nook in the mist

 Misty cobwebs

Moored boats at Saxilby

Friday 19 October 2012

The Sun Inn, Saxilby

Earlier this year I posted how the Sun Inn at Saxilby had a new land lady who was very enthusiastic and had great plans for the place. Well, let’s just say it didn’t happen. We popped in over the weekend to find that they have a temporary land lady in house to look after the pub whilst a new manager can be found.

The temporary land lady is a very bubbly character and despite only having been in the place for a few hours had already tidied the place up and made it feel like a different pub.  They are currently not serving food as work is being carried out in the kitchens but it is planned to serve home cooked food in the next couple of weeks.

Hopefully there is a future for this great little pub but it does seem to be changing hands on a frighteningly regular basis. 

Thursday 18 October 2012

Slow Cooked Chicken Madras

As we had the inverter and the slow cooker up and running again for the weekend we had to make the most of it so I rustled up a slow cooked chicken madras.

For this recipe you will need:
  • A large onion
  • A handful of mushrooms
  • A bell pepper
  • A glove of garlic
  • A couple of cartons of tomatoes
  • A couple of chicken breasts
  • Madras curry powder

To prepare was simple. Chop up all of the ingredients and stick them in the pot. Add the tomatoes and a couple of table spoons of madras curry powder and leave the cooker on low for the day. In total we left the curry cooking from 9.30am until we ate it at 6.30pm. The final hour was on high power as we added a packet of rice to the mix.

The end result was a super tasty curry which was just the ticket for a bracing early autumn evening.  The above quantities gave us more than enough for two heaped portions and could probably have fed four if served with some poppadoms and naan breads.

This is certainly a dish we will be cooking again sometime soon. It would also work equally well with lamb or beef. 

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Cal's New VHF Radio

A few weeks ago Naughty-Cal’s fixed VHF radio decided it would give up the ghost. Luckily we always carry a handheld VHF for such eventualities so it wasn’t the end of the world. This did mean however that we needed to shop around for a new fixed set.

As luck would have it some friends of ours had a brand new unused set which they had planned to fit to their old boat but ended up trading it in before it was ever installed. So a couple of weeks ago we spent the evening at their house having a lovely meal and a few drinks in great company whilst also picking up the new VHF set. It would have been rude to ask them to post it for the price they sold it us for.

The new VHF didn’t fit into the same hole as the old one so we had to make a new navigation panel and Chris Potts of Marine and Industrial Covers recovered it in fresh white vinyl so it looks like it has always been there and was a standard fit.

This might not look like a massive job but it is important to us that we have a working VHF set. The waters on which we cruise are very much reliant on VHF for safe passage, especially when the larger commercial vessels are on the move.

So that is another job ticked off of the winter to do list. Hopefully we can keep up this pace and get the majority of the winter jobs crossed off this year.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Cal's New Canopies

We had a little surprise when we arrived at the marina on Friday. Our new set of canopies had been fitted to Naughty-Cal and what a difference they have made. Cal instantly looks younger and fresher. Come spring after her lift out and spruce up she will look like a new boat.

After just one weekend the new canopies have made such a difference to life onboard. The weather wasn’t really suitable for removing all of the hoods, however being able to roll up different sections of canvas made all the difference. We could control the temperature in the cockpit much more easily and the extra roll up sections gave us a choice of pieces to open depending on the wind direction. By far the best example of this is the windscreen section which is now split into two allowing each section to be rolled up individually. The ability to roll these sections up also means we don’t have to completely remove this section as we previously did, which was a pain if it started to rain suddenly.

The new canvas is a much better fit than the old hoods. The old canopy had shrunk which made refitting the thing a nightmare, whereas the new canopy fits snugly and is easy to refit. This also helps greatly with heat retention when the heating is on. Previously the old canopy was so gappy that a lot of the heat escaped.
 The new canvas is treated with a waterproofing agent that helps to stop the canvas soaking through in the rain. As part of our maintenance of the new canopies we will reproof them a couple of times a year, in spring and before winter to keep them in top condition.

One of the big differences is visibility. The old hoods had scuffed and scratched window sections which were a nightmare to look out of in certain lights. The new windows are fresh, unscuffed and a pleasure to view from. We will now have to be much more careful about how we pack the canvas away to prevent unnecessary damage to the windows.

There are a few minor details and extra touches that the team have added which really add to the impression of a great job well done. The stainless steel canopy frame passes over the plastic window sections in places. When the sun shines on the frame it heats the stainless steel which in turn scorches the windows. To prevent this they have added canvas wraps to the stainless steel frame, a simple touch but one which will prolong the life of the hoods. Another simple touch is a small flap where the ensign staff protrudes. This means we can fly the flag during the winter months without the canopy being open in the rear corner. Simple touches but a sign of a well thought out design.

All in all we are very happy with our new hoods and the service we have received from Marine and Industrial Covers. There are still a few very minor jobs that Chris has to finish but on the whole we are very impressed with the overall result. 

Monday 15 October 2012

Autumn on the Ditch

 Misty morning

 Also a frosty morning

 Devocean in the mist.

 Autumn colours in Saxilby.

Naughty-Cal moored on the Fossdyke at Saxilby

Friday 12 October 2012

The Weekend Again

Another weekend is upon us and hopefully this weekend will be another relaxing yet productive weekend. We have plenty to fit into this weekend.

Tonight we are heading off to Lincoln Boat Club for a few beers and a good natter. There should be plenty for them to talk about as they are currently having new moorings installed. As usual we plan to stay in Lincoln on Friday night. With the current weather forecast it looks like the diesel heating will be given a good work out.

We can have a relaxed start to Saturday, which will be a good thing as the heating will need time to catch up with the overnight low temperatures. The plan for Saturday is to do a spot of shopping in Lincoln. With no need to rush off we will probably hang around in Lincoln for a few hours before heading off to find a mooring for the night. Given the amount of rain we had overnight we will most probably be staying on the Fossdyke which is less prone to water level fluctuations, so will end up at either Saxilby or Torksey for the evening. Either way we will no doubt end up in one of the local pubs for a few beers before heading back to the boat to enjoy some fine food. I am making a curry in the slow cooker which will be a first for us so that does mean that we have to install the new 300 watt inverter. I will let you know how that goes next week.

We can have a chilled out start to Sunday as well. With no need to rush anywhere and no plans to meet up with anybody we can spend the day at our leisure. No doubt we will have a few little odd jobs to start at our leisure but we wont let this spoil a relaxing weekend.

Will the weekend pan out like this? Who knows, but I am sure we will enjoy it wherever we end up and whoever we end up with.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Navigating Tidal Waters - Part 2

 The Tidal Trent. Not always the swirling muddy waters that some fear. Here on the upper reaches between Torksey and West Stockwith the waters can be like glass.

 The Apex Light at Trent End where the tidal Trent and Ouse become the mighty Humber. Not a place for the faint of heart but for those who know their stuff an awesome stretch of water.

 Goole Docks of the tidal Ouse. This is still very much a commercial water and who can resist the opportunity to mix it with the big stuff.

 Commercial shipping on the Ouse. Sharing the waterways with these big boats means you really do have to be aware of what is happening around you. VHF is a must.

 Even though the Ouse is still very commercial it is also still very scenic. Here we have just left Goole early morning and the river is like glass.

 A different tidal waterway, the tidal Witham. Again still very much a commercial concern with Boston Dock and the Boston fishing fleet both still very active.

On the route from the Wash to the Grand Sluice there is evidence on the mud banks of how big a fishing fleet Boston once boasted. Today sadly it is a fraction of the size but there are still a good number of active fishing vessels.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Garlic Mushrooms

Owning a small boat with limited cooking facilities does bring about some interesting culinary challenges. We like to experiment with the meals we eat onboard and try out new recipes and methods of cooking onboard.

During our last trip we bought some very nice sirloin steaks and whilst deciding on suitable accompaniments to the steak we were inspired to try making some garlic mushrooms. At home we would do these in the oven but we don’t have an oven onboard, so we had to improvise.

For this recipe you will need some mushrooms, we used large flat mushrooms, butter, mixed herbs, cheese and garlic granules. Mix together the butter, herbs, garlic and cheese and spread a generous dollop onto each mushroom, filling the gilled area with the mixture. Stick the mushrooms under the grill for 10 minutes and they should be ready to enjoy. The butter mixture should have by this point seeped into the mushrooms ensuring that each mouthful is a garlic filled experience.

These homemade garlic mushrooms were a real revelation to us and are certainly going to be added to our range of boating meals. We like to eat well whilst we are onboard and we enjoy trying out new recipes and meals. Cooking onboard doesn’t have to be boring nor basic, you just need to be adventurous with your meals and try out new recipes along the way.


Tuesday 9 October 2012

A Fine October Weekend - Part 2

 Early morning at Torksey.

 The sun is just breaking through.

Looking towards Torksey Lock from the visitor pontoons.

 Naughty-Cal on the visitor pontoon

Only a few other boats around at this time of year.

But Kevin and Eric are always around to have some fun.

A Fine October Weekend

 Torksey Boat Club at their annual laying up dinner at The Woodcocks

 Saxilby is busy as well for the time of year.

 Stunning colours as the trees start their change.

 Back out into glorious Lincolnshire countryside.

Before finally arriving at Torksey Lock.

Friday 5 October 2012

The Unruly is Tamed

With Liam still struggling with his shoulder injury, me still struggling with my ankle injury and a series of wet weeks stopping us from paying our garden any attention it was starting to look very unruly. If we were to get it into any sort of shape for winter we needed some help.

Fortunately this came yesterday in the form of Matt, of Green Barrow Gardening Services, and his many power tools. We employed his services to tame the hedges, retrain the lawns and give the garden a general tidy up just in time for the winter months.

The difference was immediately noticeable from the other end of the street as we approached the house. The gardens look so much better that we are going to continue employing his services on a monthly basis to keep the gardens looking as good as they does now. What with us spending most of our spare time on the boat the gardens were becoming a bit of a bind. With Matt’s help we will be able to look forward to coming home and spending some relaxing time in the garden. We will still have to mow the lawn in between his visits but this isn’t a difficult task and only takes half an hour every other week.

Hopefully come spring our garden will be in much better shape. It may seem a little excessive employing a gardener for your typical estate garden but it will free us up loads of spare time during the week. Happy days.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Navigating Tidal Waters

There are sections of the UK inland waterways systems which to reach you have to travel on tidal waterways. For some the thought of venturing onto a river never mind a tidal river sends them into a blind panic. But with a little bit of planning and a lot of common sense there is no reason why traversing tidal waters shouldn’t be a pleasant experience.

There are a number of ways in which you can plan your journey and ensure you have a safe passage.

Know your route:
Planning your journey in advance of the actual trip will greatly improve your enjoyment of the trip. Know your tide times, know the tide heights and how these correspond to the waters you are travelling on, plan any safe havens you can reach should the weather turn foul or should you experience any mechanical failures. Make sure that you are aware of any local byelaws applicable to the waters on which you are to travel. The Canal and Rivers Trust are not responsible for all tidal rivers, for example the tidal Trent below Gainsborough becomes the jurisdiction of Associated British Ports who have their own set of byelaws and regulations based around the Colregs. Makes sure you are aware of your responsibilities.
Know your boat:

When navigating tidal waterways it is even more important to know that your boat is in good working order and is reliable. If you are in any doubt as to the mechanical or structural condition of your boat don’t set off on your journey.  Make sure your boat is serviced, has a full fuel tank and is water tight. You should expect the conditions to be far worse than on non tidal waters and canals. Even a slight wind over tide situation can create decent waves. Make sure your boat is suitable to take these. Block up vents and door gaps if necessary and ensure that any engine bay vents are well above the water level. Also ensure that your bilge pump is operative to deal with any water that may enter the boat. You will also need to carry and anchor and suitable length of chain/rope, make sure that this is suitable for the required job, attached to the boat and in an accessible place in case of emergency.
Know your limits:

It is vital that you understand the limits of what you and your boat are capable of. The major tidal stretches of water commonly traversed by river and canal craft are in the main classified as Category C waterways. It will not be uncommon to see wave heights approaching 0.5m on even a calm day with the wind over the tide. In more severe weather larger waves will be encountered. It is of extreme importance that you know what your boat is capable of handling and also that you know how to handle these conditions.  Keep a close eye on the weather and if it looks set to worsen postpone your journey until the weather is more suitable for your transit and your capabilities.
Know your responsibilities:

On the larger tidal waterways commercial craft are still very much the main users of the waters. Leisure craft are welcomed but must behave in a sensible and responsible manner. It is your responsibility to ensure that you, your boat and your crew are fit for the job in hand. Make sure you are aware of the relevant sound and light signals and keep at the very least a listening watch on the relevant VHF channels to keep informed of vessel movements in the area.

With all of this in mind there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy cruising on tidal waterways. They are the gateway to new and varied cruising grounds. Tidal waterways are unlike anything you will experience on the canals or non tidal rivers and although they should be treated with respect they should also be enjoyed.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Liver and Mash

With the other half out on a works night out last night I had the chance to cook myself one of my all time favourite meals. Liam isn’t so keen on liver or mashed potato so we really don’t eat it very often. I on the other hand love the stuff, so for dinner last night I had liver in a rich onion and mushroom gravy served on top of a large helping of creamy mashed potato inside a giant Yorkshire pudding. Yum yum.

Cooking the meal was simple. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and place a tray of oil in there to heat up. Next make your batter mix with 2 medium eggs, a splash of milk and plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper and thoroughly whisked to make a light and fluffy batter with plenty of air bubbles. When the oil is very hot pour in the batter mix and stick the tray back into a hot oven.

Now for the liver. I used fresh lambs liver. Heat a little oil in a wok and lightly brown a small onion, 1 small garlic clove grated and a couple of chopped mushrooms. Next add the liver and lightly brown on both sides before adding a cup full of boiling water and a stock cube. Turn the heat down and gently simmer the liver.

Next the mash. You need light fluffy spuds for this. I used Maris Piper, the great all rounder. Stick a pan of boiling water on the hob and peel the spuds. Cut up into small cubes, about 1cm in either direction. Boil for approximately ten minutes before draining and leaving to air dry for a minute or so. Now for the mashing. Add a good dollop of butter and a splash of milk before mashing into a smooth, lump free mix. Leave the lid on the pan for a minute or so to dry out any excess water.

By now the Yorkshire pudding should be ready, so dish it up onto a large warm plate. Add a good helping of mashed potato to the pudding and finally top off with your liver which should by now be silky smooth and melt in the mouth and drench in lashings of the rich onion and mushroom gravy.

A great winter dish if ever there was one. For some liver brings back memories of poor offerings force fed to them as children, but given the right cut of liver and some sympathetic cooking techniques this can make for a dish that even the most hardened liver haters will enjoy. 

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Winter Cruising

With the onset of autumn and some colder weather the marina was a hive of activity over the weekend. People were starting to prepare and lock up their boats for winter. For us this means that we can look forward to the river being much quieter but for many boats it means a long and lonely winter to endure.

Why do people do this? Why own a boat and only use it for part of the year? We have been treated to somespectacular days of cruising during the winter months and last year spent Christmas onboard with no hardship in the slightest. Below are just a few pictures from the last three winters we have spent with 
Cal. How could you miss this?

Winter days cruising on the Fossdyke.

 Pleasant evenings on quiet waters.

 Deserted visitor moorings and all the space you could ever want.

Christmas day 2011 on the River Witham. Not another boat around.