Monday, 9 April 2012

A Contact Sport

Firstly, thanks for all the texts and mails you have sent through. They are all very much appreciated.
Well, it’s been a funny old Easter. Normally I would spend it in the garden, getting ready for the growing season tidying up the beds and perhaps cutting the grass, but here I am, feeling a bit like “Billy No Mates”, tied up against Kingfisher Narrowboats  latest build beside Trent Lock, (see picture). This is a delightful spot though, and a big draw for boaters,walkers and cyclists in the area. Two pubs, a picnic area, and the lock itself ,on the crossroads of four waterways.

Captain Jolly Roger, not so jolly this weekend at Trent Lock
Since we returned from our snagging cruise I have been out just twice. Yesterday (Easter Sunday) my pals from St Albans came up to see me. Before they had even climbed on the boat, their dog fell in the water, along, I thought with all the post they had brought with them. I went nuts, but it was only the dog bowl that had fallen in thank goodness and Murray, the spaniel, was not bothered at all. My next door neighbour here at the lock, Jan, said later, that it was ironic that the dog should be baptised in the canal on Easter Sunday!
I decided to take them through Trent Lock and down to Sawley and back for a couple of hours. But it soon became apparent that something was not quite right, and any power I put on to the engine, resulted in big black clouds of smoke coming from the exhaust. I thought it might be something around the prop, but the tiller felt OK, and that is the usual indicator. So we turned round and came back after completing just a mile or so. Jan, thought it might be the prop, and on inspection, after my guests had gone, there were three carrier bags wrapped around it.
Today, Easter Monday, is another wet and cloudy day, and my visitors were Dave and Carolyn. Dave had been part of the snagging crew from last week and wanted to bring his Partner up to view the boat. When we saw a gap in the weather we poodled up the Erewash for a mile, to the first winding hole and I turned her around without having to use my bow thrusters, so some progress there. We came back down the lock and went along the Trent for a bit, before returning. It started gusting a bit and then I was glad of the extra oomph the bow thrusters gave as we swung into the lock pound.

All our heating, as well as cooking is on gas, and I wondered how long a large 13Kg bottle would last. That was answered in the rain last night when the boiler started beeping. It’s a simple job to change over, but I thought I would get a bit more than just over a week out of one. I guess the boys might have used it a bit, and I have had the central heating on very low, most of the time, to heat up the water, and that might be where the majority of the gas has gone When we are cruising the boat should generate enough hot water for most of our needs but stationary, I am still experimenting with the controls of the boiler.
I have felt a bit low this weekend. I think the reality of the whole enterprise finally sunk in on Good Friday and I started missing the cats and our home a bit. Having Pat the other side of the world has not helped either. I am not a solitary animal, and do not like my own company one little bit. I have got over that now, but for 24 hours I started feeling very sorry for myself. I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that I have taken a couple of chunks out of her all ready, but as one boater said to me at a lock in the week, "this boating game is a contact sport, don't be too hard on yourself".
As I said earlier John and Lorraine brought up our post yesterday and in it was our licence so we are now “Canal legal”. I have already had one British Waterways operative asking for proof of having licenced the boat, which is OK by me, as so many boats are on the system are unlicensed.
We have the boat’s official launching ceremony this Saturday, the 14th. Friends and family are coming up and it will good to see them all and show the boat off. At just after 12-noon I will also be live on BBC Radio Two’s Graham Norton Show, on his “Tune With A Tail” feature. His producer has said he will want to talk about the boat, and how we got to this point, and I have sent in some pix we took last week at Shardlow, which he has acknowledged and will give to Graham. So if you have nothing better to do on Saturday lunchtime, tune it to Radio 2 and you will hear my dulcet tones. What fun!

Miles 38   Locks: 28


  1. That gas usage sure sounds high to us, we full time in our caravan and use a 6kg bottle of propane approx every 30 days! Mind you we do run off electric hookup. The heating system will eat gas like nothing on earth which is where I suspect it is going! Good luck on trip it's a learning curve - enjoy!

  2. Hi Roger
    Why aren't you using your multi-stove for heating?? As you know, we also have gas central heating but only as an emergency backup and in 2 years, it's only been on for, say, in total an hour. We cook by gas and have to change a 13kg bottle about every 10 weeks (and the oven is on most days for baking bread as well as usual other things).

    Cat's Whiskers looks very good - once Pat gets back where are you planning on cruising?

    Cheers, Janice and Dai

  3. Hi Roger and Pat. First of all congratulations on becoming grandparents and of course congratulations on becoming "sailors" or whatever you can call yourselves. Your boat looks amazing and we look forward to seeing it sometime., I think you are both very brave and very clever to have arranged everything so well. We miss you in Welwyn and wish you all the very best in your new life.;
    Best wishes to you both, Wenda and Hedley.