Sunday, 30 January 2011


Blessed with what I wished for. A sunny day, blue sky, with warm temperatures. Even though I was up all night working on tunes for our new project, I took the boat out for a leisurely solo cruise up to Wooton's Boatyard, and back again. The boating part was no problem. A couple of other boats on the river, but nothing to worry about. Had to break out the sunglasses, because the glare was so fierce. But, it was the 'coming alongside' that I wanted to practice most. That went well, too. Peter ('Big Baloo') was on hand to help me moor up, but if he hadn't been there, we would still have been fine.

Enjoyed a couple of pints in the Bounty by way of a celebration. Met a bloke called Steve, who used to be a NAAFI man for the Royal Navy. Had a good chat about Chocolate, Fag rations, and Chinese laundrymen chasing nonpaying ratings around the flight deck with a cleaver.

Sumo behaved himself offlead for the most part. Apart from weeing on the gas fire. Thankfully, everybody took it in good spirits. There were at least a dozen dogs in there, but none of them kicked off. Which is good for his confidence.

Now playing "March down a Babylon" by Prince Douglas, while the stove heats up, and I prepare the evening meal of pork chops, jersey potatoes and sweetcorn. Loving the boating life. Only regret is that Sheena wasn't here too, to share in the joy.

Tomorrow it may well be crappy again.
But today, was really good.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Pop goes the Pylon

Shorepower failed at 20:00. Annoyingly, just as I was sitting down to enjoy my 23% chicken pie dinner. Cue half a dozen concerned boatowners, instantly out and about with their windup torches. Twenty minutes later, power was restored. Then it dropped out again at 20:55. This time, to come back on almost instantly. Thankfully nothing was damaged.

Freezing (again)

Another grey overcast day, with temperatures hovering around freezing. I know it's the middle of winter, and I shouldn't be too surprised. But I do miss the sky being blue.

The speed of the river has decreased enough for us to venture out for a spin, when Sheena gets back (on wednesday, hopefully). But with only one battery and no inverter, we won't be overnighting anywhere for the forseeable.

We're hoping that our next big voyage, will be up to Reading. Not the most salubrious and exotic destination in the UK, but it will give us a lot of useful experience in moving and mooring ourselves upstream. Our Nicholsons guides seem to indicate that there are plenty of places to stop overnight, once we get past Henley. When we eventually do leave Bourne End, we'll have to go via Reading to get up to the Oxford canal. So the aim is to reconnoitre any potentially nasty surprises enroute. The furthest we've been upstream is Medmenham, so far. We'll probably have to work some, if not all, of the 8 locks ourselves, as the boating season hasn't started yet and the lock keepers will hide inside, beside their warm and cozy fires. But I think this will also be good practice for when we're on the canals.

Nothing much else to report. No traffic on the river. Daily routine goes on. And the fire is lovely, in the evenings.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Change of Scenery

The marina guys had a couple of boats to crane in and out, so feeling brave, I cruised dogma over to the main jetty for a pumpout and waterfill. Warmed up the engine bay with the fanblower for a few minutes, and the engine started up fine. Despite the strong stream, she handled very well, and I didn't have to stress the throttle at all.

Steve gave Aquafax a call, and apparently they have a weekly shipment of units. If our inverter doesn't turn up this wednesday, it will be here next wednesday. Still no news, as to what the problem was. But it's good to know that it's on it's way home.

Asked him about the possibility of rigging up the leisure batts to provide starting capability when it's cold, and the starter battery is flattened. Out in the wild, we won't have the luxury of being able to use the fanblower. All that's needed is a switch, and a bit of cabling.

I don't normally like to blow my own trumpet, but... PARRRRP!. Manoevered dogma back onto her mooring like a pro. Didn't ram anything, or get tangled up with the sunken boat behind us. Small journey. Big satisfaction.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Holiday Planner

Our friend Graham sent us a gift..

Map of ye Inland WaterwaysThanks mate. Love it! Printed in 1984, too. How poignant. Very thoughtful and kind of you. Be sure it's very much appreciated here, and will be made good use of on our travels.


Bed Hog

Woman: "I do like to see them with their tails."
Me: "Err... he's a labrador, not a rottweiler."

Mornin SuzeWoke up this morning, to discover that mister had shoved me under the gunwhales again, and was basking himself in the sunny spot. Soon as I moved, he steamed in and hogged the pillows. We went for a long wet and very muddy walk in the afternoon. Now he's soaked the sofa thoroughly, he's decided to do the same thing to the king seat.

Tried to start the engine up when we got back, so that the alternator could put 12.88v into the battery. But no joy. I've bunged the 5a charger back on tonight, so that we'll have some overhead lights, and will give it another go, tomorrow.

Sheena's still down in Devon, looking after her mum, who is unwell. We both miss her. But with red board "no navigation" warnings still in place up and down the river, nobody will be going anywhere until the speed of flow decreases.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Like everything else on airstrip one, the boat licence has gone up this year. From £888 to £944. Nudging it up into the obscene levels of council tax extortion. Thankfully, my xmas recording royalties covered it. So, now we're 100% legal for another year. A whole 365 days, free from worry. I'm very grateful to the people who bought a Black Dog record. The peace of mind this simple piece of paper brings, is enormous.



Sheena asked me "So, what have you been doing?".

For the last 10 days (when i've not been dodging deluges), i've been rubbing Danish oil into the floorboards. It was a tough choice. Steve and Peter both recommended a 2 pack epoxy coating. Browsing online, there were also 1001 other modern floor treatments, with all sorts of shine and finish. But the canalboat forum regulars said that if it wears out in the high traffic areas, the whole lot has to be sanded back to make repairs. It was hard enough getting it back to bare wood the first time around, and I don't want to have to do it again. So I opted to go for the 'traditional' hardwearing and waterproof finish.

Apparently, it might take 12 coats before a nice shine occurs. I've done 7, so far. And I think it's looking pretty good for an amateur effort. Sheena was concerned that it might be too dark, and make the boat look gloomy. But it's buffed up to a nice cheery cherry colour. Mister's muddy feet, condensation, and the occasional spillage are all easily dealt with. And it sweeps down nicely, too. So I think I made the right choice.

Just 5 more coats to go...

Rainy Season

The heavy rainfall of the last few days has had little noticable effect on the river. Until last night, when it absolutely heaved it down, relentlessly. We've risen up a foot, overnight. Not in any great danger of floating up and over the jetty yet. But it's getting close.

We heard from Aquafax last week. They observed that the internal ceramic fuse had popped, and the internal fan was clogged up with dust. It exhibited the same behaviour as on the boat, so they've sent it back to Holland. When they found out we were liveaboards, they offered a replacement unit to use, while ours was being repaired. which i thought was kind and generous of them.

Friday, 7 January 2011


Final Verdict: Completely dead. Flat, knackered and useless.

Putting off contacting the insurance company until we have some more news back from Aquafax, as to the state of the inverter. So far, we are down 4 batteries, £90 of engineer hours, and a £30 courier fee. Not a great start to the new year, really.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Another cold and grey day, with a bitter wind blowing up the river. The rain isn't helping much. We're sorted for logs and coal though, so at least it's nice and warm on the inside.

The batteries have been removed, refilled, tested, and taken off to Steve's garage for individual charging. One of them had definitely been venting gas. But when it was topped up, it showed us the best voltage. None of them seemed to be completely flat, or knackered beyond repair. So there is hope.

The inverter is still with Aquafax, in the UK. But the good news on that front, is that they can do quite a bit of testing and replacing themselves, without having to send it back to Holland. Now that the christmas delay is over, we're hoping they can turn it around quickly.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Battery Saga

The good news, is that the battery monitor finally rose up to 12.54v (90%) today. The bad news, is that it dropped back down to 11.75v (30%), ten minutes after the charger was turned off. Tomorrow we're going to unstrap the battery bank, and test them all individually. An annoying & fiddly job. But at least we'll then know exactly what the problem is.

Typically grey and cold misty morningSo far, most mornings of 2011 have been pretty much like this. Cold, grey and misty. Though the river is much calmer and lower than it was this time last year, there is still very little traffic on it.

greedy grasping handVAT increase day. The state now filches 20% from many of the things we have to buy to survive. Can't say that makes me feel particularly happy. I remember the day this tax was introduced. We were told that it was for "luxury items" only. Now it's applied to virtually everything.

dogma on the jettyReversed out to the main jetty to fill the water tank, and then back again. Without getting swept away downstream, ramming anything, getting the ropes tangled up, or falling overboard. Feeling pretty chuffed with myself, actually.

Sumo Nest

Sad News

Peter and Tasha at Cookham LockI was informed today, that Peter ('Big Baloo') lost Tasha over the christmas period. She fell over after eating her evening meal, and couldn't get herself back up. The vet diagnosed kidney failure, and recommended euthanasia, to alleviate any further suffering.

Tasha was such a lovely little dog, and a great companion for Peter. She made him very happy, and I feel really sorry for his loss. She hated living on a boat, and was always plodding off somewhere around the marina. I'll miss seeing her wandering about.

R.I.P Tasha