Thursday, 30 September 2010

Oil Leak

Wiki: A governor, or speed limiter, is a device used to measure and regulate the speed of a machine, such as an engine.
It's a good job we've been stress testing the engine on our river trails, because we've discovered that the governor is leaking. According to Steve, there are two ways of describing what's wrong. First.. "There's lateral movement on the shaft". And secondly, "That spindle arm is waving around like a prick in a bucket".

It's nothing too major, and easy enough to fix. Just a few convex/concave washers, and a new rubber ring. But it's meant we haven't been able to 'mess about on the river' for a couple of days. Upside of the problem is, now we know what a governor does. And how to tweak it. Slowly, day by day, mysterious bits of the engine are revealing their secrets to us.


Purely MedicinalOn board the HMS Arethusa in 1805, surgeon Thomas Simpson described treating crew member John Downie, who performed animal impressions in exchange for alcohol.

Simpson recorded: "He can imitate the howling of a pack of hounds, the crowing of a cock, the bellowing of a bull, cow or calf and a number of other animals. On account of these curious qualifications, he is often solicited by his shipmates to give a specimen of his talents and a glass of grog is of course the regard."

Source: Newspaper Article

Saturday, 25 September 2010

NB 'Harnser'

Hi Brian & Diana.

I saw you go gliding upstream past Bourne End this morning. Forgive me not waving, but I was still stumbling around in my underpants with my first coffee of the day.

Hope your journey is a good one.
Nice weather for it.

Narrowboat Harnser's blog

Edit: Oops, Sorry. The boat that went past this morning, doesn't appear to be your one. This one was green, and you appear to be blue? But it was definitely a 'Harnser'. Do you know them ?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Free Fruit

We walked up to Wooburn Green today, and on the way, investigated the abandoned apple orchard. The trees were still fully laden with tons of fruit. We did a quick 'taste test', and discovered that they were all crisp, sweet and delicious. There were six different varieties on offer, including a purple one, which looked like a large Plum. I've not encountered it before, but apparently (according to google) it's called the 'Bloody Ploughman'. Great Taste!

Unknown applesUnknown apples
Unknown applesThe Bloody Ploughman ~ My FavouriteSheena asked a local woman who was gathering crab apple branches for the Church harvest festival about the history of the place. The courts have ruled that the local council can't build flats on the land (like they'd wanted to) because local people have been walking and enjoying the undeveloped land for over 20 years. An ancient by-law has saved this beautiful spot from being bulldozered.

Unknown applesThe Russet ~ Sheena's FavouriteSumo likes foraging, and helped himself to a nice juicy apple from a low level branch. When we got back to the boat, he also ran off with, and scoffed one of my bloody ploughmen, which had rolled out of the over stuffed fruit bowl.

Sumo likes apples.

Barge vs Narrowboat

Some people insist on calling Narrowboats.. Barges.
Maybe it's a London, or a Thames thing.

Old Chap: This barge you're on, Where can I hire myself one?
Me: Err.. You can hire them from Penton Hook Marina, I think. But, (pointing at Baglady) that's a barge. This is technically a 'narrowboat'.
Old Chap: I know what I mean. Are they difficult to drive?
Me: Err.. I think you steer them. But, No. Not really.
Old Chap: Cheers.

NarrowboatNarrowboat wiki entry.
Barge wiki entry.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Marlow Again

Today, we dodged the rain, and ventured up to Marlow to practice manoeuvering the tight angle required to enter into the lock. The lock keeper was friendly, helpful, and smiley. Which made the whole process relatively stressless. It's still not my favourite lock, but we were in and out of it within 10 minutes. Marlow weir was 'full on', the angriest I've seen it for a while. But it didn't tug the boat over, and we negotiated it safely.

A GRP hireboat we'd shared the lock with, whizzed off and plonked themselves right in the middle of the visitor moorings beside the park. But, with Sheena holding the bow rope tight, we were able to pull off a nice pivot into a tight space we wouldn't have attempted less than a month ago.

Tight SqueezeSlipper Launch ~ 'Sheena D'Enjoyed the leisurely cruise back to Bourne End. Again, with the river completely to ourselves, bar a few canoeists. Tied us up safely, without bumping into Derek & Gaye's shiny boat, just before the stormfront broke.

StormfrontThe weather has been kind to us this week. Not a puff of wind. Not been rained on once. And we've enjoyed some beautiful sunshine, with the river as still as a pond.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

24 degrees

The weather app forecasted 24 degrees, and bright sunshine all day. So, as this might be the last day of the summer, we wanted to enjoy it. Cruised ourselves down to the Cliveden islands and had a nice walk around in the woods, which are already littered with fallen leaves. A sure sign that Autumn is not very far away.

Sheena spotted a muntjac deer on the middle island. We guess it must have swum across. It seemed happy enough, snuffling about in the undergrowth.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Shopping Trip

Not a puff of wind, and the river was like a big pond. So we took 'dogma' down to Maidenhead for a shopping expedition. Found a nice little park where we could give Sumo a wander.

NB Tintin from Bray

Monday, 20 September 2010

Three Pound Pee

Determined to get the most out of every sunny day, and emboldened by our successes yesterday, we decided to take ourselves upstream through three locks. First off, Marlow. Which is my least favourite. Glided ourselves in well, and the lock keeper kindly threw our ropes back down to us. So it was quite stress free. Emerged on the other side, and didn't get sucked into the weirstream. Found us a lovely (free) spot near Marlow park to sit and enjoy a nice cup of tea, while we consulted our river maps.

Marlow Park MooringMarlow to Temple lock, was a nice sedate cruise in the sunshine, with no other river traffic.

Nobody hereWe got to Temple lock at lunchtime, and found it completely deserted. Self-operated it via the control panel (4 big red buttons). And from there, it's only half a mile up to the next lock (Hurley), which was manned by the time we got there.

Bridge near Temple LockTemple Lock wiki entry.

Beyond Hurley lock, there was a long wide stretch around some beautiful bends and stunning scenery, up to the ruined and restored abbey at Medmenham.

Ice Cream of the Future!Hurley Lock wiki entry.

We knew there wouldn't be time to press on much further, so we passed lots of moored up boats, and rammed the bank in an empty spot on the edge of what we presumed was a farmer's field. As soon as I'd jumped ashore and banged a pin in, a boat pulled up next to us. "Mooring fees. Five Pounds, please". "But we're just letting our dog out for a pee, and then we'll be off", We replied. "OK, that will be three pounds then please". "That's outrageous!", I stated. "You are on private property, Sir", was his reply. Sheena paid up, while I fumed silenty at the extortion. Needless to say, we won't be stopping there next time we pass through.

On relaying this tale to other boaters, it transpires that this man is well known for fleecing the unwary. The farmer who owns the field used to let people moor there for free, but this man cut a deal with him, renting the land from him. Further on down the river, on the other bank, it's still free. So that's where we'll stop next time. This man's greed, was the only bad part of the whole day. Which otherwise, was perfect.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Bray for the Day

Steve, our mechanic, reckoned if we set off early, we'd be able to get down to Windsor in a day. It was nice and sunny, so we took a leisurely cruise down to Bray lock, which we'd not attempted before. Going down through Cookham, Boulters and Bray locks all went fine.

Boulters LockBray LockThen tripboat 'Windsor Sovereign' came steaming very fast around a blind bend, on the wrong side of the river. We had plenty of room to pass on their starboard side, but their skipper wasn't having any of that. He sounded a fat blast on his horn, and headed straight for us. Which we took to mean, "Get out of my way, you idiots".

OMG!!I had to lean on the tiller, and managed to pass us port to port side without a collision. But it was a hairy few moments. We know that boats should usually pass port to port. But this was an unusual situation. He wasn't slowing down, and the safe thing to have done (i feel), would have been starboard to starboard. Oh well. Lessons learned. Look out for massive tripboats hogging the river on this stretch.

PARP!!Tucked us up nicely, opposite Royal Windsor racecourse, where we had a nice cup of tea. Then turned around, and made our way back to Bourne End. Going back through Bray, I bumped us into a wall, which was a little embarrassing. Don't know how it happened. Front end seemed to have a will of it's own. But the lock keeper had seen it all before, and was quite amused.

Anglers near WindsorAs it was after six in the evening, we had to operate Cookham lock ourselves. But it's a short rise, and everything went smoothly. So now we're confident that we can get down to Windsor in a day. We tackled three locks, in both directions. 'dogma' behaved really well. Nothing overheated, snapped, or went pop. And we didn't get rammed by the tripboat. A good day's boating.

Sumo Sniffs
Bray Lock wiki entry.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Aroo de de de doo
Aroo de de de dido

Plenty of people messing about on the river. Narrowboats, slipper launches, rowing boats, hireboats, inflatable canoes and massive hotel barges. So plenty of practice at avoiding obstacles. The best free mooring spots were taken, but we managed to ram the bank further on downstream, without running ourselves aground. We've discovered that trees are very useful for stopping the boat from going anywhere. Then it's just a matter of swinging the stern in leisurely, and stepping ashore with the pins.

Trees are very usefulwarp speed propwashSuccessfully rammed the bankKen ~ Beardless Version

Breasted Up

This is the space we have to squeeze back into, when we've been out practicing. At first, the thought of banging into Derek & Gaye's nice shiny Polish boat filled us with dread. But we take things nice and slow, and are happy to report we haven't bumped them once. Even with a crosswind blowing.

The only downside about being breasted up next to them, is that we bob around like a cork. So on sunny days like today, with a lot of river traffic, we can more or less forget about connecting to the internet.

The people of Bucks, call it "rafting up". Because I suppose they are far too polite to mention breasts in conversation.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

More Practice

We had an amusing start to today, when a little GRP cruiser ('Bizet') with a 'full steam ahead' merchant at the helm, overtook us at maximum speed down the lock cut. The bow wave was about a foot high. He then moored right in the middle of the layby, where he had to wait for the gates to open. The lock keeper waved us in first, and Mr Bizet took that as a cue to fire up his own engine and attempt to pile in at the same time. The lock keeper waved at him to stop, and go back. Oh, how we enjoyed that little moment.

Mister BizetHe then let his wife drive, and she ended up graunching the boat against the lock walls, in reverse. When the gates opened, he had to wait for us to leave first. Which also felt sweet. And the last we saw of him, he was zig-zagging off down the river, trying to overtake everything in his path, without crashing into the overhanging trees of the islands.

BuzzardSaw a pair of Buzzards at Cliveden. Red Kites are bigger, rarer, and more visually impressive. But they don't make the same sound as a Buzzard, which ranks in my top ten 'nature sounds'. They also seem to be able to glide for much longer than Red Kites. We saw them all the time in Devon, a familiar and welcome sight. But they are scarcer around here. Maybe Red Kites eat them.

Woodland PathRammed the bank again, successfully. And had a nice walk around the woods in the sunshine, despite having whammed my shin with the sledgehammer. Hitting my shins with the sledgehammer, was number one reason for not considering a sledgehammer. But the ease that you can ram the pins into the ground, won out in the end. But to the people who say, "Will you be getting yourself a chain saw?". The answer is "NO!".
Carved Wooden ManSlipper Launch River CruisesThe scenic routeOn the way back through Cookham lock (which we had to operate ourselves again), Mr "I've been boating since the seventies" advised us to tie up with the stern rope first. From the flybridge of his rather large cruiser, with bowthrusters. Doesn't make much sense to me, as the blunt end is where the engine sits. In our admittedly limited experience, it's not been good for us to leave the boat's unpowered bits flapping about, and we've been tying it down as soon as possible. And then swinging the stern around with the engine. But we nodded politely and thanked him for his 'wisdom'.

All summer, we've seen cruisers tie up at the Bourne End jetty. It's invariably the white gloved wives and girlfriends who lasso the bollards and cleats.... from the front.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Pretty Vacant

Cruised ourselves up to Marlow, to purchase some brown sugar cubes. Had the river to ourselves, until we reached the lock, when 4 boats came piling out at top speed. 2 holiday cruiser boats were trying to overtake 2 Narrowboats. They were so far across the river, we had to take evasive action. The owners of the narrowboats smiled, and rolled their eyes, in a "what can you do?" type of resignation.

Happily for us, we didn't run into the bushes, and the free 24 hour visitor moorings were almost vacant. We were able to find a lovely spot next to a convenient bench. Last time we came this way, they were overstuffed with massive holiday boats, causing a bit of tension for people queueing to enter the lock.

We found the required condiments, and pootled ourselves back to Bourne End at just over tickover. Got overtaken by some canoeists who'd snuck up behind us. Managed to moor up without even bumping the boat next to us. So, another enjoyable day out. Sumo liked sniffing around Marlow park, too.