Saturday 31 January 2015

A Different World

As a new day dawns in Burton Waters it has occurred to me that something is missing.

Where is the snow?

Just 50 miles from snowbound Sheffield and there is not a trace of the white stuff.

Not that I am complaining.  The relatively mild weather here means we can crack on with some outside jobs.

Friday 30 January 2015

Icy Start

Its a slippery, slidey, start to the day here in sunny Sheffield. Yesterdays snow had started to melt but overnight as temperatures dropped well below freezing the roads have developed a nice glass like finish. 

The main roads have been gritted well but venture off these and you may as well be off piste. I should imagine there will be plenty of accidents today, more so then yesterday.

But none of this is going to stop us heading over to the boat tonight. We have a few jobs to be tackling this weekend that really need to be done as we are quickly running out of weekends to get the work done.

This weekend Liam is going to sand down, prime and paint the transom shield, whilst I set about sanding down the antifoul paint in the areas where the yard staff were a bit shy with the pressure washer. We need to ensure a smooth finish for the fresh coats of paint that will be applied in a couple of weeks time.

Other then that it is a simple task of starting the polishing. We are slowly but surely getting there this year. During the month of February we should start to see Naughty-Cal undergo something of a transformation on the outside, ready for her year of cruising ahead.

Thursday 29 January 2015


Snow again in Sheffield.  The council have not gritted very well this week though.  The roads are treacherous.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Haggis Pie

We were so predisposed with our lamb delivery over the weekend that we completely forgot it was Burns Night on Sunday.

So to make up for it we had haggis last night instead, but not in the usual format.

Instead I made a haggis pie, very similar to a shepherd's pie but made with haggis instead of minced lamb or steak. The topping for this one was mashed parsnip and swede topped off with a sprinkle of grated mature cheddar.

Simply served with garlic and herb wedges and a crispy side salad this was a simple yet tasty meal.

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Feeling Sheepish

Well the freezer is now well and truly stocked up with lamb after our delivery of a butchered half sheep on Saturday. The top two drawers of the freezer are bursting at the seams.

The butcher has done a sterling job of portioning up the meat and jointing it to suit our needs. 

On Saturday evening we enjoyed a lovely med style tomato, garlic and lamb casserole slow cooked in the oven long and slow. Then on Sunday one of the leg joints was cooked again long and slow for a fantastic, succulent lamb dinner with the left overs yesterday making a tasty lamb fried rice for my lunch, followed by a quick and easy stew for dinner yesterday after work.

So that is two portions gone with loads more to go. At this rate we will be eating lamb for well over a month!

Monday 26 January 2015

Birthday Gifts

I received my birthday gift a day early yesterday. A set of Snap On steak knifes.

Now you might think that this is a bit of an odd present but late last year I took interest in these knifes but try as he might, Liam couldn't get a set in time for Christmas, they are not easy to get hold of by all accounts.

But Liam and Karlton the Snap On agent who visits the garage have come up trumps, they found me a set. Cheers guys.

The trouble is, now I know how difficult they were to get hold of and how expensive they were I'm not so sure I can bring myself to actually use them!

Sunday 25 January 2015

Driven Off

One of the couple of jobs we did yesterday was finish taking off the drive.  It is now sat in the garage where Liam works awaiting a full service. It will then be stripped down and reprimed and painted.  It will be like a new drive when it is ready to reinstall.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Quiet Friday Evening

Just another quiet Friday evening on Sole Mate!

We didn't end up in Wagamama as planned.  We ended up turning right out of the marina and heading to Saxilby for a curry instead. 

With just a few drinks onboard when we got back!

Friday 23 January 2015

More Fettling

Another weekend has rolled around quickly. At this rate it will be time to drop Cal back in the water before we know what has hit us.

This weekend we plan to tidy up a few loose ends on Saturday morning but we will be heading back home on Saturday evening with a boot full of lamb and stern drive, yes that's right lamb and stern drive.

Liam intends to finish taking off the drive tomorrow which should be an easy enough task as he has done all of the donkey work and just before Christmas we ordered a butchered half sheep from a local farm which is due to be delivered at some point on Saturday so we have to take that home on Saturday evening to get it in the freezer.

We have a few other bits and bobs to be fettling this weekend but nothing too strenuous. The trim tab anodes need fitting, the stern and transom need a good scrub to get rid of nine months worth of grime and scum marks before it can be polished and we have a bit of bilge water to vac out from under the engine. We discovered this a few weeks ago but have kept forgetting to bring the wet vac to suck it out. There isn't a lot in there, we believe it is there from when the raw water pump seals failed earlier in the year, but it needs to be gotten out. This will leave is with completely dry bilges which is hopefully how they will stay throughout this year now that we have dealt with all of the water leaks!

But before all of this, tonight we are heading out with friends on their boat, it's nice that we are not missing out on cruising despite being ashore. We are heading into Lincoln for a few beers and a meal in Wagamama's to celebrate my upcoming birthday on Monday. That will be twice we have been out already under the pretense of celebrating my 31st!

Thursday 22 January 2015


For the first time in her ten years of registration (well not quite her tenth "birthday" is on Sunday), the trusty Datsun failed her MOT.

Whether she was sulking because we didn't take her to the only place that has ever inspected her I don't know, but on Tuesday she was sent home with her tail between her legs and orders to replace her broken suspension spring.

Now you would have thought you would notice a broken spring, but apparently not. The car drove absolutely fine with a whole coil missing. And from how rusty the broken end was it has been like this for some time, yet neither me nor Liam had noticed. The car drove straight and true and didnt even seem lob sided.

So on Tuesday night Liam fitted the new spring and yesterday despite the falling snow managed to make it back to the testing station so they could retest the car and issue a new MOT certificate for another twelve months.

It's a busy time of year this. My car is now sorted for another twelve months, next up it's Liam's Sierra's turn for a test and then on top of all that we have to get Naughty-Cal back in the water. I will be glad when January and February are over!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

They were right!

Well I suppose it had to happen at some point. The weather forecasters got it right!

Sheffield this morning is waking up to a blanket of snow.

 The Datsun being readied for action.

And this bus driver decided to ignore the call for all drivers to not drive up the hill, completely blocking our route out of the road. Luckily a helpful gritter was on hand.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

The Crowning Glory

On Saturday evening we visited our friends pub, The Crown Inn at Glentham. They own the pub but have been leasing it out and have inadvertantly ended up back at the helm during a change over of leasee's. They hope that this will be a very short term agreement and by the end of this week the new management will be in place, so to show our support E Pontoon turned up to help the regulars have a "Welcome Back, Goodbye" party.

And party we sure did. The food was dealt with by all of us. As the party was such short notice everybody pitched in and brought a bit of something for a buffet. E Pontoon put on a good show with hand made pork pies, sausage rolls, homemade quiches, pizza and sandwiches and the rest of the regulars filled in the gaps with spring rolls, pies, onion rings and the like. In the end we had far too much food for one evening!

With the food over it was time to hit the karaoke. I think we put on a good show but things get a little wooly by now!

With most of E Pontoon bundled off in a taxi, Liam and I headed upstairs to bed. We had arranged to stay the night as it made little sense us heading in the opposite direction to the marina to then head back that way to go home on Sunday morning. Spending the night in this 15th century coaching inn was certainly a nice way to round of a nice weekend. Although neither me nor Liam was up to much on Sunday!

Monday 19 January 2015

More Jobs Crossed Off

It has been yet another productive weekend, despite only being at the boat yard for one day this weekend we have crossed off yet another few jobs from the ever dwindling list.

As you have already seen the bathing ladder cover, or the step, has been refitted and looks fantastic, Liam has done a great job of repairing this problem area, you would never tell it has been repaired.

The teak cockpit table and shelf have also been sealed with Semco teak sealant. They now look amazing with the different colours in the wood really showing through no. The sealant will also help to keep them water resistant and stop spillages from staining the wood. We are really pleased with the end result.

The final job for this weekend and probably the most challenging was stripping down the stern drive. The top half was easy enough and is now in the garage but we drew a blank with extracting the shaft. In the end we decided against brute force as smashing the gears would be an expensive mistake, so have opted to pay Burton Waters to extract the shaft on our behalf, an easy 10 minute job now that Liam has the drive stripped down for them. 

Despite flushing the drive through a couple of times there is still a surprising amount of water contamination in there so a lot of the parts will be treated to a wash in the parts cleaner before being rebuilt. 

Liam was a bit dismayed that he couldn't get the shaft out but he still has plenty to keep him busy this week with a couple of boxes of parts to strip, clean and prime and paint where appropriate.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Sealed the Deal

Yesterday we finally got around to sealing the new teak table and shelf.

They needed a few weeks to acclimatise to their new home but now they have settled in they have been sealed with a couple of coats of Semco to keep them looking just as good as new.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Stepped Up

Today we refitted the step.  At last week can get on and off more safely.

Liam has done a great job repairing it and it is now good as new.

Friday 16 January 2015


This morning I have ordered the first batch of service parts for our stern drive. Volvo Penta certainly do know how to charge for their service items, the prices are quite frankly scandalous, but they know they have you by the short and curlies as you need to buy the parts.

Hopefully by the end of tomorrow the stern drive will be in the back of the car and ready for Liam to take to work to service and fettle it in the warmth and comfort of the workshop where he has all of the necessary tools to hand to do the job. This has to be better then attempting to do the job outside in the weather which is forecast.

In the first batch of service items as the oil seals, these are what caused us to be pulled out so early in the first instance this year, the gear linkage oil seal, and two cans each of primer and Volvo Penta drive paint. These few bits will enable Liam to crack on with changing the shaft (which was already bought previously), changing the oil seals, and then the labourious task of buzzing the drive down and repriming and painting.

Last year we decided to antifoul the drive which was a waste of time and effort. The paint was no better then the previous surface at repelling marine growth and within a couple of months had started to wash off. So this year it is back to bare metal, repriming and repainting in the original Volvo Penta paint. It will be a shame to submerse it again when it's finished!

With the heavy mechanical work being done away from the boat this year during the week this frees up our remaining weekends to finish off the odd jobs on board and crack on with the polishing and fettling required to get Naughty-Cal looking her usual gleaming self once more. 

With the turning off the new year the new year the end is finally in sight for what has been our longest session ashore since owning Naughty-Cal. Hopefully we will get everything finished in time, but we are well on course to do so.

Thursday 15 January 2015


A few years ago we made the change from magnesium anodes to aluminium anodes.

Magnesium anodes are for fresh water use only and with our ever growing confidence at sea we have found we are spending more and more time on salt water, the poor old magnesium anodes were struggling to last a year with three or four weeks a year of salt water immersion. Up until fairly recently our only other option would have been zinc anodes but these would have been next to useless in fresh water, so we would have been changing our anodes mid season each year.

With advances in technologies a third option came to light of aluminium anodes. These were originally designed for brackish waters such as those found on the Norfolk Broads but have been found to offer the same protection in both fresh and salt water situations. They certainly have worked for our situation cruising in a mixture of fresh, brackish and salt waters throughout the year. The current set which have been on for three years could have been cleaned up and reused for another year, however the ring anode was showing more signs of wear then the other three anodes so we have decided to change them all for new. For the sake of £40 for all four anodes it isn't worth scrimping and saving, after all it would cost much more to remedy the damage caused by not having adequate anode protection of the stern gear.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Bacon and Cheese Burger

It seemed to have been so long since I last made burgers that last night as we had some nice lean steak mince in the freezer and we need to make some freezer space, )more on this next week,) it seemed rude not too.

In this case as the mince was so lean and good quality steak mince, the burgers were simply the meat, salt pepper and a sprinkle of mixed herbs. The mixture was given a good knead by hand and then rolled into two balls before being gently flattened into a burger shape. These were simply baked in a hot oven for 15 minutes and topped with melted mature cheddar and a slice of smoked bacon and served in a crusty bun with fresh crisp salad and a dollop of mayo with a portion of paprika wedges, beer battered onion rings and side salad.

Just the ticket for a cold winters evening. Easy to make but great tasting. The good quality mince really did make these burgers something that bit special, with a firm texture but melt in the mouth and full of flavour.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Hangover Cure

As we didn't have much to do on the boat this weekend and the few jobs we did have planned we polished off quickly on Saturday, we decided that there was little point in spending Sunday, hungover and perched on the boat chocked ashore.

So we packed up early and by 9am we were on the road and heading for home. Our prize when we got home was a lovely home cooked full English breakfast, ideal to mop up the last dregs of the hang over we were both displaying. 

With breakfast over Liam set about doing a couple of odd jobs on his beloved Sierra, but more on that later in the week.

Monday 12 January 2015

Windy Weekend Cruise

Had Naughty-Cal been in the water this weekend I don't think we would have been going anywhere with the strength of the winds and the unpredictable gusts that accompanied. In a way this typical British winter weather is making us glad we decided to get Naughty-Cal out of the water earlier and for longer than usual. We are not missing any cruising weather and we are getting loads of jobs finished ready for the upcoming cruising ahead.

We didn't miss out on boating completely this weekend however because after we had finished our few little odd jobs we were visited by a few friends who all came around for a quick drink and to say hello. For a short while it was party on Naughty-Cal although ashore!

As is usually the case with this lot plans were soon afoot for an early evening cruise along the Fossdyke to Saxilby for a few pints in the Sun Inn and a pizza before heading back for the marina. As I said earlier we wouldn't have ventured out but the wind didn't seem to overly phase the much bigger Sunseeker, Sole Mate. 

We did get some funny looks from the boats who had been moored in Saxilby for a couple of days pinned to the bankside though.

Sunday 11 January 2015


The last of the usb charging sockets in situ at long last.

We now have so many options for charging phones onboard we are spoilt for choice.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Scraping in the Wind

Today I have been scraping in the wind.  Not quite as bad as pissing in the wind but not far off.

The trim tabs needed a year's worth of growth removing before the new anodes are fitted next weekend so guess who copped for that job?

To be fair Liam was busy in the cabin fitting the last of the new usb charging sockets but it did feel like I had the dirty end of the stick and the wind didnt help matters blowing the dust everywhere!

But they are now glinting in the January sunshine.

Friday 9 January 2015

Stepped on It

Remember the bathing ladder lid, or the step as we often call it? 

You know the one that Liam had to remove because it was a bit spongy and had a crack in the visible rear edge?

Well this week during his lunch hours Liam has been busy working away on it to get it ready to put back on the boat. 

His first task was whittling away all of the rotten inner ply strengthener. This was sodden and providing no strength what so ever hence why the step had become spongy and had started to crack the gel coat. Rather concerningly this has been like this but getting worse since we have owned the boat from five years old. We should really have investigated this earlier as we could have saved a lot of work now.

Anyway the next task having removed the ply was to clean the gel coat shell and reglass some fibregalass matting into the shell to give it some strength.

The picture above is the step upside down with its first coat of new matting and resin applied, waiting to be trimmed down to shape. Next was the task of applying some new marine ply stringers to add some strength to the step.

With the stringers bonded in and weighted down to ensure a good bond they were yesterday covered with yet another layer of fibreglass matting and resin and today they will receive their final coat of matting and resin.

All being well and if all goes to plan on Monday the inside of the step will be ready for a coat of flow coat to seal the area and give it a presentable finish.

At the weekend we will pick up a can of gel coat filler, (luckily the filler produced by Plastic Padding is a very very close colour match to Naughty-Cal's gel coat) and on Tuesday or Wednesday the crack in the rear lip of the step will be repaired and the whole step treated to a good polish ready to reinstall next weekend.

It's all starting to come together.

With the step back in place the next big job for Liam is taking the stern drive off and taking it to work to replace the worn shaft, replace the damaged seals and give the whole drive a new coat of paint.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Chilli Yorkshire Pudding

I discovered these quite by accident last night.

We were having bangers and mash, the sausage being some we had in the freezer as we need to make some space in the freezer in the next couple of weeks, but more on that another day.

So it's bangers and mash, some might say a little boring so lets jazz it up a bit. The mash instead of plain old potato was parsnip and leek and the gravy was mushroom and leek to compliment the lovely butchers cumberland sausage.

And then the Yorkshire pudding. I made these with chilli oil which we currently have in the kitchen. The result was just perfect, not over powering but with a lovely warm after kick to follow. Just right.

We also have some garlic oil and lemon  oil at the moment so I may try these at some point as well. In fact I think the lemon oil will be perfect for making pancakes next month.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

A Slight Change of Plan

We have already had a slight change of plan for the Easter break.

It had been our original intention to head down to Boston and onto the Black Sluice, and this could still well be Plan B for if the weather is rubbish. 

However Plan A is to now head down to Boston and across the Wash to spend a couple of days with friends in Kings Lynn.

This will mean that we may well end up spending a lot of time in Kings Lynn this year as our planned summer trip will also see us using these recently opened moorings on both the outbound and inbound legs of our cruise up the Great Ouse.

But as we enjoyed it so much the last time we were there we don't see this as a problem and are really looking forward to spending more time here.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Gammon and Leek Bake

Remember our bargain goose we bought on Boxing Day?

Well at the same time we bought a huge bargain smoked gammon joint. It was massive. So on Sunday I made a lovely roast dinner with the gammon but that has still left loads leftover in the fridge.

We have both been having sandwiches from it for work, both yesterday and today and last night I made this lovely bake which was so simple to make.

Simply place chopped potatoes, leeks and some of the smoked gammon in an oven proof dish. In a separate bowl mix a can of cream of mushroom soup and a carton of sour cream then pour over the mixture, Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes, then take it out and give it all a good stir before topping with grated mature cheddar, then bake for a further 20 minutes.

This dish was very filling so no need to serve it with anything else.

Now what to do with the rest of the smoked gammon in the fridge?

Monday 5 January 2015

Back to the Grindstone

So today it is back to the grindstone. Where has the last two weeks gone? It has flown by.

So here we are back to work and back to some sort of normality. No doubt it will take a few days to settle back into the old routine of work and home life.

Now with Christmas out of the way we need to start to plan what jobs need to take priority on Naughty-Cal. If the way the last couple of weeks have flown by is anything to judge it by in no time at all we will be getting ready to put Naughty-Cal back in the water after her extended period ashore.

It has been nice taking a break from it all but we will have a busy couple of months ahead if we are to get Naughty-Cal ready for the water again and the Sierra ready for the road again.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Cleaning Up

That's better.  The Sierra looks much better for a quick wash.

Next up. The MOT!

Saturday 3 January 2015

It's Alive

The Sierra lives!

Seemingly she wants to see the road again as she sprang into life at the first turn of the key. Not bad after being sat for two years.

Battery charged we now plan to get her some fresh fuel tomorrow and then get her out for a good wash.

Friday 2 January 2015


We have decided it is finally time for the Sierra to hit the road once more.

So the battery is now on charge and tomorrow we will get some fresh fuel and fire her into life for the first time in a while.

If she starts,  which we are confident she will we are going to pull her out of the garage and give her a good wash in readiness for taking for an MOT.

Thursday 1 January 2015

A whole new year

And so another year starts. 

Last night we celebrated the end of what has been a great year with good friends and a bit of pretend gambling at the casino. 

And today we celebrated the start of what promises to be a another great year with great friends and the first bbq of the year.

Here's to 2015.