Thursday, 30 December 2010

Bored Teenagers

On tuesday night, a small plastic boat was stolen from the marina. It was driven downstream, torched, and then set loose. Apparently, they'd tried to break into three other boats, before they found one they could start up. The owner has no insurance, and the police were round today, looking for fingerprints on the unpinched boats.

Earlier that night, there was a bunch of young men hanging around at the back of our boat. I heard them say, "There's somebody on this one". "Is there?". "Yeah". Not terribly unusual, as we're moored next to the pub jetty, and people come and go all the time. When they'd moved on, i thought no more about it. About half eleven, i heard a small boat going downstream. "that's late to be out and about", i thought. "it's bloody freezing out there".

Then there was the ominous sound of a heavy splosh.

*SPA-LOSSSSHHH*. "Oh no". At first I thought somebody was most probably drunk, and had fallen overboard. But it must have been the crims ditching heavy objects over the side. By the time I'd got my head out of the hatch to investigate, the stolen boat was down past the railway bridge. Nobody was in the river, so I went to bed.

The rumour on the grapevine, is that it was a group of 5 18-19 year olds.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Fan Blower

well found, mateThe ice rink had retreated enough for me to get supplies, and take Mister out for a nice long walk today. He jumped in the river, ran around like an idiot, and rolled about in everything that could be rolled in. He also found the chuckie ring we lost in the blizzard 5 days ago. Result.

When we got back, I popped Steve's hot air blower down into the engine bay for twenty minutes, and the engine started up surprisingly easily. Left it running for an hour, so it could try and pump some volts back into the batteries. With the engine powering the alternator, the monitor readings were 12.88v for the leisure bank, and 13.03v for the starter.

Will give it another go tomorrow.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Voltage <-> SOC

Voltage to State of Charge

Boxing Day

Hog of the DuvetMinus ten at night.
Minus six during the day.
Slippy ice everywhere.
Sumo unimpressed.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Day

Bright and Sunny, but still minus two.

Xmas day at Bourne EndFlattened the starter battery trying to start the engine again. Guess I'll have to wait for Steve to come back with his heavy duty jump leads.

Sumo tugged me onto my arse in the ice. Then jumped all over me, because he thought it was hilarious. When we got back to the boat, we listened to some heavy metal, and he destroyed his christmas present, in under a minute.

Kill the Elf!I'm surprised at the number of people that are out and about, either walking their dogs, or just strolling around in family groups. Down in devon we didn't see another person all day. Just the smell of overcooked sprouts hanging in the air, to let you know that the rest of humanity was still alive. But here it's been quite busy.

Buddy, scoffing our chipshaha.... an off lead black lab, called "Barney", discovered the ovenchip cache in our eco-fridge, and scoffed the lot.

Stay warm, everyone.
Happy Xmas.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Temperature didn't rise above freezing all day. Tried to start the engine, but just ended up flattening the starter battery.

The residual snow is all hard packed and deep frozen, making it like a skating rink to walk on. Handy for keeping the oven chips frozen, but quite dangerous. Skidded myself down to the shops earlier, and bought some more supplies. Now we're battened down, with the stove on, and enjoying a peaceful evening..

Hope everybody else is, too.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


The snow seems to be retreating from here. It's vanished from the boat, and on the village roads it's turned into a slippery brown sludge. There's been a couple of fairly light 'flurries' today, but nothing that looks like it will settle again.

Unlike the situation these poor people have been facing..

'Audrey Too'

From reading their blog, it appears they got iced in, while on the way back to their winter mooring. No stove!!! No water!! So, they were having to rely on an expensive diesel heating system, which they left on all day! (ouch). Lugging fuel and water around in a wheelbarrow, down a snowy towpath, doesn't sound like much fun. Hope they are tucked up somewhere warm for xmas. Hasn't been any updates for a while, so they've probably baled. And who could blame them?

Feeling extremely fortunate that our own winter situation only necessitates a journey of 50 paces to the waterpoint, fuel and gas. Don't know if I'd be able to cope in Narrowboat Audrey Too's predicament. I suspect Sheena would be on the first train out of there, and I'd be heating up snow for me and Sumo to drink.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Power Situation

Steve has wired up shorepower, so that it gets passed along to our internal 240v sockets. Our mastervolt is probably sat in a warehouse somewhere, on it's way back to Holland. The warranty wasn't very generous, so we didn't qualify for a new box as a direct replacement. Our old one has to be sent to the factory, repaired, and sent back.

Due to the below freezing temperatures, the batteries don't seem to be holding much of a charge. Trying to use as little 12v power as possible, to give the 5v trickle charger more of a chance. Still don't know if they've been permenantly damaged, or if it's the weather.

Most people here seem to think it was "the wooden boat" that caused the problem. But as we weren't here, we have no proof that was the case. We think it was quite likely. But, sadly, we cannot prove it.

Happy Solstice

We got snowed on. Like most of the country.

More than the light dusting we were expecting5 inches of snow on the roof, frozen ropes, ice on the inside of the windows, and night time temperatures down to minus 15. None of which has put me off boating.

Inside, we are fine. The stove is working well, and we have plenty of logs and coal to burn. Our plumbing is below water level, and remains unfrozen. The engine and radiators were anti-freezed during the summer. So, nothing to worry about there.

Thursday, 9 December 2010


We got snowed in, down in Devon. Should have been there for a few days, but it turned into two weeks. When we got back to the boat, it was dark, the hatch was frozen shut, the 12v lights didn't work, and we had no mains power to any of our sockets. The inverter was also lit up like a christmas tree, and not making a sound. Our battery bank was clearly flatter than flat. ~Oh dear~.

Pretty xmas lights
Lit the hurricane lamp, so we could see what we were doing, and then got the stove going. The gas was still working, so we had a much needed brew. Steve turned up, kindly sorted us out with a power lead, and lent us his heavy duty battery charger.

Three days on, and the batteries are still not fully charged. Everybody thinks it's the new arrival at the marina, on a wooden boat, who said he only has lights and his TWO 3kw heaters going!! Feelings are running pretty high, because he's been tripping out everybody's elses fuses while we were away, and causing general electrical mayhem for the other liveaboards.

Naughty NorsemanWe're hoping that the inverter hasn't had a massive spike through it, and caused any permanent damage. Also hoping that we haven't completely knackered the batteries by draining them down to 0%. Still waiting patiently for the batteries to top themselves up, so we can test out the inverter again. When we flick the switch, we can hear it trying to boot itself up, but it's still failing dismally. Fingers crossed.

I knew i should have turned the fridge off before we went away. But, I was a trusting pillock who thought everything would be alright. Lesson learned.

Friday, 19 November 2010


A very foggy cold morning. But without a puff of wind, and no current at all. So we decided to venture out upstream again. The engine started up fine, but..

Fifty Quid?!The switch for the tunnel light came off in my hands, which wasn't a particularly auspicious start to today's journey. But we borrowed a signalling lamp (Thanks Richie), and cruised ourselves up to Gosmoor (Near Marlow) to top up on supplies, without crashing into anything. There was a pea-soup fog all the way up to the road bridge, but just before the lock, it was ridiculously warm and sunny. Like a spring day. Grateful to be able to stow my hat, coat, scarf, and gloves while I enjoyed the winter sunshine, and put the kettle on.

Pinched it!Sheena returned with some tasty M&S sandwiches for lunch. Unfortunately, Sumo jumped up and pinched the unopened egg one, from off of the kitchen worktop. Severely not very impressed with him. But he thought it was hilarious. Tail up, Naughtiness.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Marina Dwellers

Exactly one year ago, today, we were sat here, waiting for the crane company to deliver the right strops. It's funny to think that we haven't moved an inch, since then. In a roundabout way, they did us a favour, by spannering our plans to move the boat up to Reading before we moved on board.

One year on, we take pride in the fact that we've been out and about on the river much more than all the other narrowboats, and that we now know the boat inside out. We're both glad we didn't take peoples advice, and try a weeks hire, before we took the liveaboard challenge. The fourteen hundred quid we've saved will buy us a large amount of diesel.

It's been an incredible year. Full of fun, new experiences, and challenges. Both of us are very glad we did it. And both of us are looking forward to another year afloat.

wOot for us!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Determined not to be just fairweather boaters, or stuck in the marina for the whole of winter, we ventured out into the fog. Great fun, even though the visibility was next to nothing.

Winter is here

Sorry for the lack of updates recently.

Winter has come. The chilly nights have drawn in, and it's fully dark by 5pm now. Sheena's sprained her ankle, and Sumo's been limping because he'd overdone it. For one reason or another, we haven't been out and about as much as we'd have liked.

The lock closure program is now in effect, and we won't be leaving the marina and heading upstream to Oxford until March, at least. But the good news is, most days, there's hardly any current on the river at all. It's nowhere near as severe as this time last year. Went for a jolly up to Marlow on saturday. It took us an hour and a half to get there, as the wind was blowing us about. But only thirty minutes to get ourselves back. We'd never been so fast on a narrowboat, and could easily have towed a waterskier.

Today we had a bit of a drama with the starter battery. We'd been relying on the alternator to charge it up, because the mastervolt didn't. The engine wouldn't start, and several attempts caused the battery to run flat. Steve discovered a fuse had popped, so he replaced it. Then he managed to jump start us by hooking up the domestic batteries to the starter battery. Thanks Steve. Everything is working fine now.

Delighted to be fully operational again, we took the boat out for some cold weather practice. We've done a night cruise back from Cookham before, but we didn't fancy mooring up in the dark tonight, and headed back after watching the sunset. Sheena brought us back alongside.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


It was a cold grey blustery day, but we wanted to see what Windsor was like, before the current starts up again, and the locks get closed for their Winter maintainence. It took us four pleasant, but uneventful hours to cruise 'dogma' down the river. Stopped for lunch by the racecourse, and negotiated the last couple of twisty bends into town, without getting rained on.

Windsor castle from the RiverTourist BoatWhen we got there, there were hordes of swans, tourists, and trip boats. Not the sort of place we'd have a peaceful night at, so we turned around just past the Windsor/Eton footbridge, and moored up by the leisure centre. Where we found a big bag of smokeless coal, abandoned underneath a tree. Bonus.

Vespas Rule!Enjoyed a nice stroll around Windsor and Eton, but felt out of place with my scruffy clothes, Sumo, and wooly hat. The town centre was like everywhere else in the UK, except that it had a massive castle stuck in the middle of it. There were plenty of bourgeois 'bistro' type eating establishments all around, but nowhere evident that sold vegetables or "foodstuffs". No butchers, bakers, or greengrocers. We found it a bit pedestrianised, sterile, and dull. It boasted all the big brand shops you can find everywhere else in the UK, but it had no character left. We could have been anywhere at all. Thankfully, Eton (just across the bridge) with it's red brick buildings, art galleries, and expensive gents outfitters, at least, felt a bit more 'historic'.

Boveney LockBoveney Lock Boveney lock was very picturesque, and the lock keeper was very friendly and helpful. But it's going to be closed from 1st to 27th of November, so it's unlikely we'll be coming down this far again.

Our mooring spot was very quiet and peaceful, despite the railway bridge being so close. There was a cat on the Dutch barge behind us, but thankfully Sumo didn't see it.

It was very cold in the morning, but the engine started up OK, and we enjoyed a lovely sunny cruise back to the jetty at Bourne End. Didn't ram into anything, or crash into any bridges. And we negotiated all the locks without embarrassing ourselves. So all-in-all, another successful voyage. Curiousity satisfied.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Wood Fungus

Cliveden Woods were full of fungi.

Never thought we'd find fungus spotting quite so interesting.