Friday, 29 January 2010

Aswan port

This is the view from the top deck looking down river......

River cruising - Egyptian style

So here I am in 25 degree C sushine watching the Aswan world go by - yep we are in Egypt cruising the River Nile. There is so much to say about this country and I hopefully have some good pics I'll post shortly.

We boared in Luxor and have cruised down to Aswan - famous for the dam and lake Nasar. Cairo is planned as part of the holiday so hopefully some good pics from the capital.

I hope the weather is not too cold where you are !!!!!


Friday, 22 January 2010

Supporting our troops

I have just signed up for this

Bikers To Honour Afghan Heroes On Mothers Day

I can't think of a better way to spend the day - on the bike and showing solidarity towards our troops. It will also show that small group of misguided ****'s that this country knows what sort of parade is acceptable.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

The frost takes a bite out of Waterlily

It was a one day visit on Sunday to check how Waterlily fared during the recent extended cold snap. We opened the main stop cock, turned on the electricity and hit the water pump button. The pump kicked in and then we heard the awful sound of running water and it was not coming from the tap....... arse !!

So it was then a matter of trying to find the location without running too much water into the boat. I initially thought it was between the water pump which is in the TV cabinet and the sink unit. I managed to get a view of the pipe work after taking part of the bookcase apart but could not see any damage or wet areas.

Next option was to have a good feel under the sink where the cold water pipe come in - dry and still no leak.

So we turned the radio off and hit the pump switch again and listened - same tinkly water sound -pump off and into the bathroom and under the sink. No leaks but as soon as I touched one of the pipes it moved meaning it was not connected the other side - behind the cooker......

I emptied the under sink cupboard and climbed in to take this photo....

The frost has completely opened up the soldered joint. This was after I thought I'd drained the pipes. I think in hindsight all I'd done was remove the pressure and some of the water. I am giving thought to rigging up a pump to draw off any water in the pipes to stop it happening again - that and some lagging

I did not have the bits or the inclination to repair it as we were only aboard for the day so we lit the fire, filled the water carrier and relaxed.

We had a nice walk as the sun was going down up towards Woodend lock when all the day visitors had gone (parking was the worst we have experienced)

Our first boat - Comet was a victim of the frost. We brought her 'drained down' and when we came to fill the water heater we had our own mini fountain. So I think we have got away lightly so far and have only identified one weakness - literally.

Just got to plan in the repair which will mean taking the oven out as I'm not able to do the job from inside the undersink cupboard.

Before that I have some river cruising to do......


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I'm a star....

I might have mentioned I ride a motorbike... We were recently invited for a ride out with the editor of the Used Bike Guide - follow the link for the article

The link for the article

If anyone wants me to sign their copy of UBG let me know !!


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Insurance advice regarding ice

Interesting and useful information regarding ice and insurance....

Lets hope not too many have to use their insurance policies when we thaw.....(including me)


Date: 12th January 2010

Internet boat insurers Craftinsure are pleased to distribute the following circular to customers who are concerned at possible damage to their boats due to the recent freezing conditions, with many craft icebound on lakes and inland waterways.

In one case recently the owner of a river cruiser moored in the Lake District reported that ice at least an inch thick surrounded the boat and was creaking loudly. They had been up in the night trying to keep the ice broken but this became too difficult. As the steep slipway nearby was unusable due to the weather conditions, bringing the boat ashore was not an option.

The good news is that, based on advice received from surveyors and others in the marine trade, ice, even when quite thick, is very unlikely to crush or seriously damage boats whilst moored.

Trying to move a boat in ice however is more likely to cause damage, particularly if the ice is thick, as broken ice can be sharp and cause damage to paint and gelcoat. Craftinsure also warns owners not to risk personal safety in the icy conditions.

Wooden hulls may be more susceptible to damage from ice than fibreglass or steel. In the past, caulking in seams could loosen after thawing, resulting in leaks which could cause boats to flood and even sink. Luckily most boats nowadays do not use these methods of construction but if you own such a boat you will need to be more vigilant.

Onboard heating and running of engines occasionally may help prevent problems internally but are unlikely to create enough heat around the outside of the hull to make a significant difference at the waterline where temperatures will be well below freezing.

Even ashore, boats are not immune to winter risks. Craftinsure has had at least one claim already where the accumulation of snow on a barn roof caused it to collapse on top of the boat inside! Snow should be cleared off boat canopies and awnings when possible as again, large accumulations could cause damage.

A more common problem following long spells of cold weather is damage to water systems, seacocks and machinery. Winterisation of engines is obviously important as frost damage is a major risk unless the manufacturer's recommendations have been followed. Most insurance policies only cover frost damage to machinery where owners can show this is the case. Any fresh water systems should be drained unless the boat is kept heated.

As and when the thaw finally arrives, owners need to check their boats over carefully, and in some cases they made need to prepare for the additional risk of flooding as water levels rise again.

For those living aboard, ensure the boat remains ventilated to minimise the risk of a build up of noxious fumes/gases, especially where naked flame type heating is in use. Avoid leaving such heaters unattended, and under no circumstances should combustible material such as clothing or paper be left on top of heaters of this type in case of fire.

Rod Daniel ACII

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Another place

I have allowed myself the luxury of route retracing as an act of distraction relaxation. Its a simple but form of day dreaming. I find I do it most in meetings or presentations.

I do it properly and include untying ropes and mooring up when I come to locks. Today I did the route from Fradley to bridge 69 just after Rugeley while in a particulalrly uninteresting presentation. It gives me a great feeling of calm to retrace old routes and enjoy my recollections.

I have the Ashby to redo and also I may do the Leek branch of the Caldon. Of course I don't remember all the twists and turns but then I can refer back to my Nicolsons when I am next at home or on the boat.

One day the day dreams will be real day to day cruises..... the clock has been ticking for a while and the plans get bigger, more real and more exciting.

One of the presenters today was someone who had been on the Channel 4 series 'the secret millionaire' One thing she said that stuck was if you want something just go out and do it/get it. I like that and as I get older the risks are less and therefore the outcomes more likely.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

The real benefit of snow

Its good to read some of my favorite blogs and what they are blogging about with all the snow about.

I like this extract from NB Oakfields blog

"There are quite a few people on their boats along the way as most of the chimneys were smoking away. Why does everything look so much nicer with a covering of snow on it I wonder?"

One of the real benefits of this present weather is it's slowing everyone down. All the normal mad rushing to get here and there is not possible so people slow or in my case stop and relax - and don't feel guilty about it - long may it continue I say.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Pete's a smug git - I love this post

Pete on NB Pickles has posted how smug he is right now - I think this is a top post and is worth a read

It represents how I feel about my boat - simple but functional. While tech is good it represents an opportunity to fail whereas a simple wood burner and engine, a couple of batteries plus gas makes for a simple self contained existence.

I like the comment about T shirts aboard. Just imagine the thoughts of those trudging along the towpaths looking in with sympathy for the poor cold boater to see Pete warm and toasty in his t shirt - priceless. It's just frustrating I'm not aboard this weekend. That's due to being on standby for work and also a wedding tomorrow, if I can get to it.

Pete tells of the winter of 1963 that in effect was the death of commercial freight carrying on the canals as the cut was frozen for many weeks. I was born in the summer of 1962. Just the right age for someone else to ensure I was warm and safe during that winter. No central heating or gas fires then in our 2 up 2 down - that was all coal fires.... I must talk to my mum about that winter.


Friday, 8 January 2010

90% of the canals are frozen solid

British Waterways said nearly 90% of its 2,200-mile (3,540-km) river and canal network had frozen solid

This is the line BBC are reporting. That is some widespread and ongoing freeze. We shouldn't be surprised as it is reported that the sea is freezing in the south west.

For my sins I have been getting up at 5am to be in work at 6am to give the call about the status of our site that gets posted on our web site at 7am.

So you toasty warm retired livaboards - its not all bad !!


Oh and I get to work on my cycle.... hardy bugger I am

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Emergency evacuation

Ralph Freeman has written another good piece on his section of NarrowboatWorld.

He starts here by suggesting that the boating community should come up with locations for evacuation off boats. I know whenever I cruise I always use a Nicholsons - and I pretty much know where I am in relation to main roads etc. I just like looking at maps ! I cant understand the hirers who do not have a clue where they are, where the next lock is or more importantly where the next pub is?? Many times I have shared my Nicholsons with them to give them an idea of where they are and what it will take to get to their days destination.

Ralph goes on to salute the continuous cruisers and I second that. I know how cosy it can be on a narrowboat but I also know what it takes to keep it so. That is before water and waste are taken into account.

I think this winter is going to be tough.... we have started the really cold stuff early compared to other years. This could go on to March... we might have to be sending food parcels to some of the bloggers on the right !!

One final observation... it looks like Ralph has been promoted as his link via his name was always at the end of the list of contributors.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Two floating balls makes me happy (ish)....

I blogged a few days ago about my levels of concentration - not at work but in my engine cooling system.

Having identified I was lacking concentration and therefore exposing my engine to the possibility of a cracked block = fubarr'd engine I visitied my boat to add some much needed protection.

The weather forecasters had been raising the stakes with comments of -6 and add a fair few extra degrees if you are out in the countryside. I had calculated my protection was around -6 or just a bit below so action was needed.

The forecast was snow and as arrived at Fradley it started to snow as forecast. Any other time it would have been magical, light the fire kick back and watch nature at its cruelest. Problem was I'd come to do a job and it was an outside job(ish). It's times like this I'm pleased we have a semi trad with good covers as it means I can work in the engine hole with protection from the elements - in this case snow !

This is how it looked when I arrived.

I'd sought advice on the best way to get the antifreeze into the system from I did not want to do a complete flush as I did not have the time or inclination due to the weather, promising myself to do it fully in the summer I took off the top hose to the skin tank and dropped a fair bit of water into my bucket and then using a small suction pump drew out more water from the top of the skin tank. I then took off the bottom hose where it went into the engine and dropped some more water into my bucket. I was then able to back fill the tank via the hose - 5 litres of Halfords antifreeze went in. I then topped up the hose until water came back out of the top pipe on the skin tank. I finished by back filling the top hose and then pushing this back onto the top pipe of the skin tank. I finished by running the engine to clear any air locks.

The engine ran up to temp and I got two floating balls on my Halfords tester (I only got one before) Not the full three but knowing I had dropped in 5 litres of antifreeze and doubled the protection made me feel better about leaving my boat in what was being reported as possibly the coldest winter in 100 years !!

I checked the antifreeze in the central heating header tank and this was at the same two ball level (and was ice free when checked) so I am a lot more relaxed now.

I did check the other pipes and noticed some wear on the central heating pipe that runs across the engine so this will need attention soon. Its plastic 15mm so should be an easy replacement.

Top tip to check such pipes as my breakdown in Stone was due to a pipe running on the engine and being slowly worn into by the engine heat/vibration.

Bar the cold I quite enjoyed fiddling with my engine!

I dropped some rubbish off at the service block before leaving and took a couple of pics of a snowy Fradley Junction.


Oh - and I fed the ducks as it must be a grim old time for them - based on how close they came to me (on the bank) they must have been hungry.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Cruising plans 2010

I am nothing if not consistent. Last night I put my mind to cruising for 2010. I checked back and I blogged about our 2009 cruising plans on the 9th January. I said I'd like to do the Ashby and the Caldon again - we did both and had great weather and great cruises.

This year I'd like a longer cruise so I am planning to be out for three weeks in May. The outline plans are for a week with the lads - similar to our November 2008 cruise and then Rachel joining me for the following two weeks.

The destination will be the end of the Llangollen canal. The Llangollen was our first canal and set the seed that has got me to this point, boat(s) blog and all. When we did the canal some 10 years ago we only made it to Frankton Junction so this will be the completion of our maiden journey.

Now how to get there -this is one of the joys of summer cruise planning in the depths of winter. Canalplan AC is the star of the show for such planning. I wanted to know if going to Hurleston Junction was less lock miles going via the tunnel and heartbreak hill or via Autherly junction and north up the shroppie.

It is shorter via Stoke but I'd rather not got out and back the same way so we will do the four counties again.... I need to review the table of overnight stops to see which way is more convenient for crew changes and car swaps etc. Based on 6 hours cruising per day it can be done in 20 days leaving a free day for unforeseen issues. The total trip will be 222 miles with 150 locks - quite a cruise, I'm looking forward to is already.

Now those overnight stops, where is my Nicholsons ?


Monday, 4 January 2010

I want one.....

The last boat we saw when out on our New Years eve walk was an unnamed what must have been a former working boat coming past us near the bridge to Findern.

It looked and sounded fine ... a real joy to see it looking so purposeful and solid. I could imagine living in the back cabin is part of the joy of owning such a great boat. I can understand however what it must have been like for the real boaters and their families living in such a space.

I have been reading Sara's Warrior blog about her purchase of a (not small but) large Woolwich ex working boat Chertsey. Chertsey has its own blog now which I will follow with great interest.

I might just spend an couple of hours reading the old boat blogs listed on Sarah's Chertsey blog.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

£200,000 bridge repair

When I was walking on New Years eve was passed bridge 21 on the T&M - this is the bridge that was very badly damaged when a tractor pulling a trailer lost control and dumped the trailer into the canal in October 2008 - see my post about it here.

I have just read in the local paper that work is imminent to repair the bridge. This will mean closure of the canal for an undisclosed period but it did say it would start in January.

I followed the track the tractor would have taken and about 30 yards away is the busy Derby Birmingham main line (I think) Just imagine what a disaster it would have been if the trailer went over at this point ??

I would imagine Railtrack would have been a bit quicker with the bridge repairs.

£200k is a real hit for the tractor drivers insurers !!


Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Years walk Willington to Stenson

It was plumbing in a new radiator at home or a canal fix so I loaded Leia into the car and buzzed off to Willington for a walk. Initially I was only going down as far as the new Mercia Marina entrance but it was so nice I walked on.....

I found this little package on the picnic table - dirty buggers I thought until on closer inspection it was apparent it was Christmas cake - no doubt for the birds !!

This sign made me chuckle .... I woundered what speed a boat would have to hit the bridge at to pose any threat....

This was the very sturdy bridge it was related to

This was the terminus for our walk - Stenson marina. It was very quiet , nothing like when we cruised past here in 2008 when there was a good queue for the lock. We met the guy who sadly drowned at the end of 2008 off his boat back at Willington - very sad.

Incidentally the lock here is the last broad lock on Trent and Mersey.

We walked back to the car as the light was fading - a really nice walk. There were just three boats on the move the whole 2 hours we were walking.