Friday 28 November 2014

Christmas Shopping

Today has seen the start of the Christmas shopping for us. But far from pushing our way through the crowds in the supermarkets and department stores, it has been a relaxing day of pushing keys and typing.

This year the shopping has been done online which does of course leave us at the mercy of the postal system but it has saved my sanity. I hate shopping at the best of times but at this time of year I just can't bear it.

And it has not all been Christmas shopping either. Today I have ordered the most expensive, well I hope it is the most expensive anyway, part for Naughty-Cal's winter make over, the new propellor shaft. With this purchase out of the way it should hopefully be the last of the expensive items to buy. We could have had the old shaft refurbished for about half the price of a new shaft but we figured if we are keeping Naughty-Cal for a while we may as well buy her a new one and not worry about the repair failing as has happened with a friend.

So although it is pay day today. I am now officially spent up. Well for this week anyway!

Thursday 27 November 2014

Just in Time

Thankfully we had taken some notice of the weather forecasts last weekend as we were just in time before the first of the frosts with getting our heaters on board Naughty-Cal. Ordinarily we wouldn't have been overly concerned about the first of the frosts but boats get much colder when ashore without the water around their hulls to insulate them. Luckily for us we were on the ball this year and the heaters will now be keeping Naughty-Cal snug and warm. 

Back at home we have been gathering a few bits and bobs ready to do some small jobs around the boat this weekend. We have a few surprise items but you will have to wait until after the weekend to see these as well as the 12 volt USB sockets and the new cockpit LED lighting. Now we need to decide where all ten of the new lights will be located as Liam will have to drill new holes and feed through the wiring to get to them. This isn't going to be an easy task. I really want some lights shining down from under the bathing platform but this all depends on whether we can gain access to thread the wires through as it is very tight in the engine bay.

The main, and by main I mean the most expensive part we need this year, a new prop shaft from Volvo Penta has been ordered and should be with us in the next week or so, so then with the rest of the service parts for the drive delivered Liam can bring the drive to work and start work replacing the shaft and seals and giving the stern drive a good going over checking that everything is in good working order.

Hopefully in the next few weeks we should start to see some good progress on Naughty-Cal, but for this weekend at least it will be slowly, slowly.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Sunset over Sheffield

As I have been at home ill for the last couple of days I have actually managed to catch a sunset over Sheffield. Usually at this time of year I would be cooped up in the office or at the weekend in Lincoln so rarely catch these scenes. This one is the view from our bedroom window.

Monday 24 November 2014

Slow Progress

Appearances can be deceptive and despite it not appearing on the surface as though we actually achieved anything this weekend we now have a much clearer picture of what this winters work will entail.

A good look around every inch of the hull revealed that it is still in good condition. This was our major concern for this year as we have recently seen a few Sealine S23's and S25's which were disappointingly showing signs of stress and early stages of osmosis. Thankfully Naughty-Cal is displaying non of these symptoms and despite a few heavy landings at sea this year the hull appears to have coped admirably. So no major hull repairs and just one or two very minor cosmetic repairs to the cabin sides for this year.

The stern drive as expected had water contamination in the oil but surprisingly not as bad as we had expected. We have left the last of the oil to drain out during this week and will then refill it with fresh oil next week to flush through the water contamination. Despite the water contamination the oil was still a clean colour which is a good sign that all is well in the gear box. The anodes had clearly been hard at work this year and are ready for replacing, we could stretch another year out of them but what is the point when it is only £40 to replace all four of them for new ones. 

More good news was that the replacement oil seals in the hydraulic rams have  worked a treat. No signs of leakage from them at all which is a bonus. The antifoul paint we used on the drive last year has all but fallen off so this year Liam plans to take the drive to work and strip it all down to prime and repaint it in the proper Volvo Penta paint it was originally painted in. I might even surprise him and buy the original transfer set for the drive to make it look good as new again!

Whilst Liam  has the drive at work he will replace the worn shaft and change all of the oil seals and then hopefully we can have a year where the oil doesn't end up looking like mayo when we drop it!

As usual the props are damaged but no unduly so there is only one bladed with the end missing so at some point that prop, the three bladed one can be sent away for refurbishing. The other four bladed one Liam can take to work and repair some minor nicks in the blade ends.

So despite appearances we had a useful and informative weekend. Next weekend we have a plan of attack in mind to get some minor jobs done in the cockpit and cabin so again it wont look from the outside as though there has been much progress but we will know that there has been.

Saturday 22 November 2014

And We're Off

We have made a slow but steady start to proceedings today. Naughty-Cal is chocked up in a lovely riverside spot with great views from the back so even when we are not working we can gaze out across the water.

A good thorough look around the hull has revealed no nasty surprises which is good and as suspected the drive oil is milky although to be honest not nearly as bad as we had anticipated.  So it's been a good start to the works.

Friday 21 November 2014

Let Battle Commence

So the weekend is finally here and we will tonight get our first glimpse of what we have instore over the coming months.

We already know that there will be oil in the stern drive oil, as in the picture opposite from a few years ago. The seals were very badly damaged last weekend so we expect to find a similar yoghurt like mixture tomorrow when we drain down the oil. Before we do any work on the drive we will refill it tomorrow and flush it through with fresh oil. We will leave the clean oil in the drive for a couple of weeks occasionally spinning the props to try and capture any remaining water which is in the system and then we will drain the oil again, before refilling it again with fresh oil to give it a final flush through before changing the seals and fitting the new shaft at which point it will then be filled with its final lot of oil. 

The rest of this weekend will be spent having a good look around the hull and inspecting every nook and cranny for any signs of damage or areas which need some attention. We also plan to scrub down the transom which does tend to get a bit grubby as it isn't easy to clean with the boat in the water. 

Hopefully by the end of this weekend we should have a clearer picture of what works need to be completed and how busy our winter will truly be.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Forward Planning

So now that Naughty-Cal is out of the water we can start planning our list of jobs to do over the winter months.

As well as the usual maintenance to the stern drive we also have a long, and seemingly growing longer, list of small odd jobs which we seem to have been putting off for a while.

Now not all of these jobs are even expensive but when the boat is in the water and we could be out cruising they just have not been a top priority. Take the 12v sockets for example. At the moment they are all the standard 12v cigarette lighter sockets, most of our gadgets now are USB attachments which has meant we have had top buy some conversion plugs. As there conversion plugs are anything but reliable we are going to finally get around to changing the sockets to USB sockets. Cost just £5 or the single socket and £8 for the socket in the cabin which we will replace for one with a USB socket and a cigarette lighter socket as our 12v TV has that end on the lead. A simple cheap upgrade that will benefit us in the long run.

Other items we plan to fit include some 12v LED lights in the cockpit. Now we already have LED bulbs in the main cockpit light but these are going to be small marker lights which can be left on whilst we are away from the boat. The ones we have ordered also come with a remote control so that we can switch them on as we approach the boat making boarding just that bit safer in the dark.

We plan to declutter the windows and get rid of some of the unnecessary stickers from previous insurers, visitor licences from the Broads and we also plan to fit new licence holders and CRT index numbers in a place where they can actually be read. Whilst on the stickers we are also going to take the decals and names off the transom and replace them with some more modern equivalents. By the time we have done Naughty-Cal will look like a new boat!

Not sure if you can tell but I'm actually rather excited about Naughty-Cal's transformation this winter.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Today's the Day

Today's the day that Naughty-Cal makes her last journey by water for 2014, the short cruise across the basin in the capable hands of the yard staff as she is hauled out of the water, up the slipway and across the yard to her new home for the winter, nestled on chocks on the hard standing.

We have crammed a lot of cruising into the nine short months that we were afloat this year and it i with heavy hearts that the year has ended in this fashion after a great summer of cruising far and wide. But on the plus side it will give Naughty-Cal a well earned rest and give us the chance to get her looking as good as new ready for next years adventures on the water.

We have already planned lots of jobs we intend to get done over the coming few months, with some important maintenance, polishing and painting but with some extras, upgrades and additions thrown in for good measure as well, but more on that over the coming weeks. Hopefully by the time March 2015 shows its face, Naughty-Cal will be ready to face a news year of fun in the sun.  

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Looking back at 2014 - Part 2

 July 2014 brought with it our most adventurous cruise to date on our own up the East Coast. The first new place for us to visit was Whitby and what an entrance.

Arguably the highlight of 2014 had to be cruising into Newcastle.

The hustle and bustle of Scarborough Harbour.

 August brought with it a bank holiday and the chance for a cruise in company with E Pontoon to Hull Marina.

 After a busy couple of months we took the chance to chill out and relax in September. Here we were at anchor in Brayford Pool.

Our final holiday for 2014 was a relaxing cruise up the Trent in October.

 And our last cruise of 2014 was a cruise in company in November to the Brownlow Arms. A fitting end to a great year cruising with Naughty-Cal.

Monday 17 November 2014

Looking Back at 2014 - Part 1

As 2014 is now officially over for Naughty-Cal I have been having a look back over what has been a fantastic year of cruising for us and our little boat. Perhaps she actually deserves a bit of a break ashore after yet another action packed year.

 January set off the year with E Pontoon go kart racing.

February was a tad stormy but as we had Naughty-Cal ashore it didnt really matter to us.

With Naughty-Cal back in the water we could enjoy our cruising again come March with some cracking evening cruises.

 Easter was our first real cruise of the year and the first of the firsts for the year. A trip up the Old River Witham to The Thywritt Arms.

 During May we made our annual trip to Wells Next The Sea. 

 June brought with it more sunshine and a visit from friends off the Great Ouse. So we had to show them how we have fun.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Plastic Woes

Unfortunately yesterday we managed to pick up a plastic bag in the props which has done yet more damage to the oil seals.  We have got most of it off but today it is a trip to the slipway to access the damage and maybe pull Naughty-Cal out earlier than expected.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Getting Ready

It doesn't seem like two minutes since we were dropping Naughty-Cal back in the water after her spring spruce up but all too soon once again we are preparing our plan of attack for the next one.

All being well we will be lifting Naughty-Cal back out of the water soon after christmas and the new years celebrations are over during the first week that the yard staff are back at work.

This time around we plan to do a lot of work on the stern drive. It is ready for a new stainless steel shaft as the current one is now getting very worn and not creating a proper seal with the double shaft oil seals. As well as the new shaft we will be replacing all of the oil seals, the bellows, the anodes and the bushes and flushing the drive through a few times with fresh oil to clear out all of the water contamination we currently have in the system.

As well as this we will be removing the remaining antifoul paint from the drive. We applied this last year but we dont really like the effect, so it is to be stripped off, reprimed and we will repaint it in the proper Volvo Penta teflon paint. I might even treat it to a new set of transfers to make it look good as new again!

As well as working on the drive we will have a multitude of other jobs to work on including replacing the Sealine decals, new name transfers (dont worry we are not changing her name just freshening up the look!) new Canal and River Trust index numbers, polising, cleaning, waxing, the list goes on and on. The last job we will do, just before she is relaunched will be a fresh couple of coats of antifoul paint. As we stripped it all back last time we hope that all this will entail is painting over the existing antifoul paint which this year still looks in good order.

We plan to have Naughty-Cal out of the water for between eight and ten weeks depending on the weather and how well we progress with the work. No doubt we will still be running around during the last weekend though trying to get the jobs finished off.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Wet, Miserable, Weekday Evening

It was a miserable, wet, weekday evening last night, just the sort of evening for hunkering down with some warming comfort food. 

Usually if we are having a casserole I will slow cook it the evening before just leaving it to be reheated the next day but as I didn't decide we were having it until we were driving home it had to be a quick casserole made last night. It only took a half hour to prepare and cook and it was just the ticket. I love a good stew or casserole.

To add a little extra to this meal I chucked a dollop of soft cheese into the mashed potato which lifted this staple winter stodge from the mundane into something  little bit different. 

Tuesday 11 November 2014

You've Been Framed, Again

So for the second time this year, that we know of anyway, we have been snapped without our knowing so.

This time it was from the opposite side of the Trent whilst we were moored at High Marnham on Sunday morning. You can tell its Sunday as the sun is shining!

Unfortunately one of the boats had left hence the gap on the moorings but none the less its a lovely photograph which was sent to us by the moorings manager at Burton Waters yesterday afternoon. 

We though that this might be the last E Pontoon outing for 2014 but as with these things they tend to evolve and now we have another outing planned for not this weekend but the next. Not such a distance this time mind its only to the village of Saxilby where a friends band is playing in the Sun Inn on the Saturday evening so we will be there to show our support to Bootleg on the 22nd November.

Monday 10 November 2014

High Marnham

A few pictures from a great weekend away for you today. We had a great turn out for what turned out to be a great weekend on the Trent. For a few of the group it was their first time on the Trent and what a great first time it was for them. Despite poor weather on Saturday, the sun shone down on us on Sunday to make up for it.

After all the rain on Saturday the river came up a bit whilst we were in the pub.

 Which meant some wading to get back to the boats.

 And a few bare legs!

 And by morning the river was yet higher still with no access to dry land.

 Morning mist on the Trent.

 Panorama of the moorings.

The group moored up getting ready to leave.

This selection of photos was taken by several members of E Pontoon as I forgot my camera!!

Sunday 9 November 2014

A Good Turn Out

Considering it is November and the weather was a bit grim yesterday we really haven't had a bbad turn out for our Email Pontoon cruise to High Marnham.

Friday 7 November 2014

Baked Camembert

Yes I know, yet more cheese this week, but who doesnt like a baked camembert?

They are so easy to prepare yet so very nice to eat.

Simply take your cheese, remove from the box and remove any plastic packaging. Put the camembert back in its box and score the top surface. In the score marks add some sliced garlic and rosemary and finally top with a sliced chilli. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with garlic bread for dipping in the now melted cheese.


Thursday 6 November 2014

Cleaning Again

It was an evening of cleaning again at home last night. Henry Hoover really has got a lot to answer for!

The house has probably never been so clean in the nearly eight years we have owned it. 

Last night the whole of the downstairs was dusted, vacuumed and fettled, Liam taking on the living, dining room whilst I copped for the kitchen. 

Tonight we will tackle upstairs, changing the bedding, pulling out the beds to vacuum behind and beneath them, dusting and then tackling the bathroom and vacuuming the stairs. One thing we have noticed since owning Henry Hoover is that it obviously captures and holds more of the dust in the bagged system as the house is now far more dust free than it ever was with the previous vacuum cleaners. The place we used to notice this more was the bathroom. After leaving the house shut up for the weekend we would often find the bath and sink had a thin layer of light dust on their surfaces, where as now that is all but gone. A few more months of vacuuming with Henry and it may well disappear altogether.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Gearing Up

As winter creeps ever closer, and boy have we known about it for the last couple of mornings, boats are being tucked up on their berths or ashore for the winter, safe from the elements and incliment weather. 

But not all of them. In fact as autumn has set in and winter approaches it seems that Naughty-Cal's social calender has stepped up a gear in recent weeks. First the E Pontoon curry in Saxilby, then a quiet weekend in Saxilby that turned into a 3am E Pontoon blow out, then there was Wagamama's a couple of weeks ago, the White Swan in Torksey last weekend and this coming weekend E Pontoon are heading to High Marnham on the tidal Trent for a home cooked meal in The Brownlow Arms. 

I thought winter was supposed to be a relaxing time to cruise. So far this year this has proven to be anything but the case for us!

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Another Cheesy Post

So there it is. Sunday evenings dinner. A leisurely affair of cheese, the smoked cheshire and cassou de bleu accompanied by some baked chorrizo and salami, which was baked in the oven until crisp and a pot of med style vegetables in oil which comprised sun dried tomatoes, chillis, artichoke hearts and peppers. Very nice indeed and very simple. Just the ticket to end a leisurely weekend.

Monday 3 November 2014

Relaxing with Cheese

As we were in Lincoln on saturday morning we decided it would be rude not to visit the Cheese Society shop on Steep Hill and buy a selection of cheese to enjoy onboard on Sunday evening.

First up was the wonderfully creamy Bleu Des Causses, (, a strong blue cheese which we both adore. Next up was a smoked Cheshire. Not a very strong smoked flavour but a very fresh cheese (

One of the lovely things about this shop is they will let you try as many cheeses as you like before you buy some. I tried the wonderfully named Stinking Bishop which for some reason Liam refused to try. ( Despite its name the smell really wasnt all that bad and it had a lovely mild taste. Not what was expected.

With the shopping completed we had a steady cruise back towards the marina where we called in to pick up some fuel, another 100 litres, before heading along the Fossdyke to meet up with friends whom we have not seen for a long while. We were going to try the Indian again, but eventually decided to head further along the ditch to Torksey where we had yet another fine meal in the White Swan. The slow roast beef in red wine gravy was to die for. So very tender, no need for a knife!

We treated ourselves to a lie in on Sunday, not something we do very often but with no rush to get back to the marina and the rain beating down on the boat there was no rush to get up. When we did eventually peel ourselves out of bed it was gone 10am. We had an easy breakfast of toasted sandwiches before heading back to the marina again and settling in to listen to some music with a couple of beers and that cheese. Yummy.