Wednesday 31 October 2012

Narrowboat windows with condensation outlets

When drying off the condensation from Jubilee's windows I noticed that the drips ran down the glass, collected in a channel, and drained to the outside. Now, you might be saying to yourself, "Where has Halfie been? Did he not know about self-draining windows?" Well, I didn't know.

And they work! I spent a good hour cleaning the channels (and filing off the burrs made by the drilling of the holes) and now they work even better. The above photo is of the inside of the window, looking down on the channel before cleaning. The hole is in the centre of the side of the channel.

This is from the outside. It was a matter of moments to poke a wire through the hole to dislodge any muck and keep the drain clear.

If condensation runs down the windows it should find its way to the outside, hence avoiding staining or even rotting the woodwork.

What will happen when it freezes? I imagine that regular wiping down of the windows (and airing the boat) will be required.

The rectangular windows are Caldwells windows - I expect the portholes are too.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Why the shower tray took a long time to empty

One of the jobs I tackled on Jubilee today was to investigate why the shower tray was reluctant to drain into its sump. If you're of a nervous disposition you might like to look away now!

It was easy to prise off the top of the drain... and then I pulled out wodge after yukky wodge of a disgusting gelatinous hairy gunk.

No wonder the flow was sluggish!

You might not want to click on this photo!

What a combination: long hair (definitely not mine) and shower gel/shampoo!

Needless to say, it all works a lot better now it's cleaned up.

I wonder how long it will be before it has to be done again!

Monday 29 October 2012

Webasto diesel heating timer made and installed on narrowboat Jubilee

Today, while Jan and Ally went for a walk, I installed the timer for the Webasto diesel heater on Jubilee. First I unscrewed the switch to see which wires to connect to.

Having noted the colours (red and black) I then found where they appeared by the Webasto electrics panel and stripped a little of the insulation from each wire. The next photo shows the panel before I did anything.

I soldered the mains lead to the relay's coil connections (don't worry - it's a mains-actuated relay) and soldered a couple of short wires to the appropriate switched contacts. These I soldered to the red and black wires.

Then I set the plug-in mains timer for a sensible time and plugged it in. Now the relay contacts are in parallel with the switch, so either will operate the heater.

We'll see (hear) in the morning whether it works!

Sunday 28 October 2012

Fun and games on board Jubilee

We received a very warm welcome as we arrived at MK Marina this afternoon. It was good to see and smell the woodsmoke coming from the chimney, and it was lovely and warm inside the boat. Ally and Ben had the fire going well, and the cup of tea tasted good.

One job was quick to do: I replaced the clock with the brass one I bought a few weeks ago. It looks good on the wall, as if it was intended to be there.

After tea we played a card version of Pictionary, and there were times when we laughed so much it hurt. OK, so the title was slightly misleading - "game" should be in the singular.

Sorry, no photo today.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 43

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 0945 on Sunday 28th October 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (=)

6 Waterway Routes (+1)

7 UKCanals Network (-1)

8 Water Explorer (=)

9 Granny Buttons (+1)

10 nb Epiphany (-1)

11 nb Waiouru (=)

12 Towpath Treks (+1)

13 Jannock Website (+1)

14 boatshare (-2)

15 Canal Shop Company (=)

16 ExOwnerships (+4)

17 nb Lucky Duck (+4)

18 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-2)

19 Contented Souls (-)

20 Narrowboat Chance (+8)

21 Baddie the Pirate (+3)

22 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (-5)

23 Narrowboat Bones (-5)

24 Seyella's Journey (-2)

25 boats and cruising (-2)

26 Boatshed Grand Union (=)

27 Derwent6 (+3)

28 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+1)

29 Halfie (-4)

30 NB The Manly Ferry (-)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 168 entries, down from 170 last week.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Curious red ash on the plate below the flue of the Morsø Squirrel

When I swept the flue of Jubilee's stove at the end of summer I cleared a lot of red ash from the angled plate which sits below the flue, above the firebox. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo. Is this the remnants of a "flue cleaning" chemical?

We'll be back at the boat soon, visiting Ally and Ben, and doing more jobs. And replenishing their wood pile!

Friday 26 October 2012

September sun sparkling the canal

We're back home after a very enjoyable few days in East Sussex.

Now I'll be able to resume some more canal-related posts...

... starting with this picture of the glinting ripples catching the sun at the beginning of last month on the Oxford/Grand Union between Braunston and Napton.

That trip seems ages ago, and the next one seems a long way in the future! I'll have to content myself with doing the occasional job on Jubilee.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Teasel-tastic Newhaven!

I don't think I've ever seen so many teasels in one place before.

We walked along the clifftop above Newhaven today and came across a field of teasels. They were all over the place! (What are they before they turn into teasels?)

In the town it was good to see a boat - Victress - being unloaded. I have no idea what the fine black cargo was.

Coming in to the port was Coastrunner, here flanked by a seagull.

Earlier in the day we'd walked along the River Ouse from Piddinghoe. On the outskirts of Newhaven, by the river, is this interesting building. It's the Newhaven Energy Recovery Facility, otherwise known as a waste incinerator.

Not quite so much walking done today: just over six miles. Eleven yesterday; four the day before; and nine on Monday. And no rain on any of our walks! It was certainly cooler today, though, with a strong wind on the ridge route we took from Newhaven back to Piddinghoe where we'd parked the car.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Brighton sun and sewers

More walking today - this time to Brighton. Six miles horizontally, plus a bit vertically, which took us three hours. That included a stop to eat our sandwiches - and more than one stop to consult the map. On the way the sun came out! It was the first we'd seen of it for a few days. By the end of the day it had dispelled the fog, which was good.

Our route took us past the race course. This was interesting: it seemed to consist of a horse shoe of track with each end closed off. I had expected a "circular" route along the lines of an athletics track or a motor racing circuit. Perhaps the Brighton race course is an equine version of a human's 100m sprint.

By the time we got to Brighton we were down to T-shirt order, and I was thinking I should have worn shorts.

Tucked away under the pier was an intriguing sign suggesting that it's possible to tour the sewer system. I'd love to do that! (I don't think Jan would be so keen.)

We walked to the end of the pier, and walked around a small part of the town, taking in the Royal Pavilion.

Then we got a bus to Lewes for some beer and food before the two mile walk back to the house. We went to the John Harvey Tavern where the Harvey's ale was every bit as good as Sarah claims.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Seaford, Seven Sisters, fog and friends

The plan today was to meet up with old friends from Newton Longville, where we - and they - used to live. First we drove through Newhaven and Seaford to Birling Gap, where there are access steps to the beach beside the Seven Sisters, a seven-crested line of chalk cliffs.

This is the view from the top of the steps. As you can see, we're still plagued by fog.

The chalk cliffs are impressive, though. There's just so much chalk! And flint. That's me in the centre of the picture, by the way, standing at the foot off the cliff to give some idea of scale.

After scrambling around on the chalk and flint for a while, we went back up the steps and walked along the top of the cliffs. There we met several birders intent on spotting a Siberian stonechat. No-one we spoke to had seen it. Later I kicked myself for not having photographed them with all their camouflaged telescopes and tripods, but just before driving away I spotted one. No, not a Siberian stonechat - I wouldn't know one of them if it had a full conversation with me - but a birder.

He looked this way...

... and that...

... before walking off.

So then it was back to Seaford, stopping this time to see John and Adrea for the first time in many years. They are also boaters, owning a narrowboat propelled by a very unusual method. Can you guess what it is?

Here we all are, at South Hill, Seaford.

John and Adrea took us on a tour of some local viewpoints with superb views. We believed them about the views, but struggled to see them in the fog!

The old meanders of the Cuckmere river were just about visible, though.

Thank you John and Adrea for the tour, the meal and the boating chat.

Monday 22 October 2012

Fog on the South Downs

It would have been a good view had we been able to see it.

We're spending a few days in East Sussex, in the South Downs National Park. So far the weather has been dry, mild and foggy.

Today we walked 9.5 miles, much of it in very pleasant hilly countryside, some of it along the South Downs Way.

Our boots are now white with chalk mud!

This is the house we're staying in, in Kingston near Lewes. It's on the line of Jugg's Road which runs from the South Downs Way to Lewes itself. The unusual name is something to do with the baskets carried by Brighton fishwives between that town and Lewes. Many things around here are "Jugg's" something-or-other. The pub where we ate this evening is The Juggs.

We explored lots of nice bits of Lewes, coming across the River Ouse...

... on which stands Harvey's Brewery.

You can buy lots of antiques and books in Lewes - but we'd not seen a Parking Shop before!

And, yes, it really is to do with parking.

Top Thirty, 2012 Week 42

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 0845 on Sunday 14th October 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (+1)

6 UKCanals Network (-1)

7 Waterway Routes (=)

8 Water Explorer (=)

9 nb Epiphany (=)

10 Granny Buttons (=)

11 nb Waiouru (+2)

12 boatshare (=)

13 Towpath Treks (-2)

14 Jannock Website (=)

15 Canal Shop Company (=)

16 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+1)

17 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (+6)

18 Narrowboat Bones (+4)

19 Google Earth Canal Maps (-)

20 ExOwnerships (-2)

21 nb Lucky Duck (-1)

22 Seyella's Journey (+4)

23 boats and cruising (+4)

24 Baddie the Pirate (-5)

25 Halfie (-4)

26 Boatshed Grand Union (-2)

27 Herbie (-)

28 Narrowboat Chance (-12)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-1)

30 Derwent6 (-1)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 170 entries, the same as last week.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Boating on the River Avon in the early 1980s

The other day I came across some old photos of a boat trip we made in about 1983. We'd been engaged to move a boat for a boatyard - they got their boat moved, we got a free holiday. The boat was Princess; we had to take it from Tewkesbury to Oxford.

This was taken from the Anchor Inn at Wyre Piddle.

I'll have to get Jan to remind me about some of the details of the trip, which will include how we got a nasty surprise one night!

Friday 19 October 2012

Early Nicholson Guide - a brief review part 2

Yesterday I talked about an early version of the Nicholson guide to the waterways, and how it differs from modern versions.

Now to the maps - the raison d'être of the guides.

1978 guide (on the left): 1/2" to the mile; towpaths not marked; orientated such that the waterway runs approximately vertically on the page, i.e. North is rarely up; roads indicated with black lines but not labelled.

1997 edition (the latest I have): 2" to the mile; towpaths marked; North always up; parts of OS 1:25000 map (with some road numbers) surround the waterways.

Here's part of the BCN from the old guide. Where are the bridges, you ask? The text helpfully explains:

"The Birmingham Canal Main Line passes through a heavily industrialised and built up area. The many bridges have been omitted in order that they should not obscure the map."


"Access throughout the BCN is bad: to visit shops or a pub usually involves scaling walls. Leaving your boat unattended is not a good idea due to the likelihood of vandalism. The waterways have been used as unofficial rubbish tips for years, and navigators with fibre glass hulls to their boats should proceed with the utmost caution. It goes without saying that old ropes and polythene sacks will foul your propeller. Not everyone's cup of tea, but a vivid relic of the Industrial Revolution."

It all gives the impression that they really didn't think anyone should actually try to navigate these waterways. I'd have loved it!

In terms of the guides things have improved enormously since those early days. The scale of the maps is now four times larger for a start, making it much easier to read. And today's mile marker pins make route planning easy. But the old guide brings home how much of the past has gone for good. Or should that be, "for bad"?

Thursday 18 October 2012

Early Nicholson Guide - a brief review part 1

Some months ago Capt. Ahab reviewed a 1963 British Waterways cruising guide. Last week I was given an early Nicholson guide, first published 1978; second revised edition 1981. Comparisons between then and now are fascinating.

1978/1981 edition (cover price £1.95) on left; 1997 edition (£9.99) on right

To start with, the size. In 80 pages in a slim paperback all the "Midlands" waterways are covered. Just two other volumes cover "South" and "North". And the text size is even smaller than that of the current Nicholsons - even with glasses I have to use a magnifying glass as well! There are some similarities, though: there's the same predominate red cover; and Derek Pratt's photographs are still used, albeit in colour these days.

But it's in the text where much of the interest lies. In the four pages given over to cruising information the section headed "Running aground" is one of the longest, ending with:

"Remember that winding holes are often silted up: do not go further in than you have to."

Advice is given about what to do when meeting a working boat, still possible then, but what about this sentence?

"If you meet a boat being towed from the bank, pass it on the outside rather than intercept the towing line."

How many horse-drawn boats were around at the end of the 1970s? Perhaps bow-hauling (of broken-down leisure boats) was common. Actually this advice is still in the modern guide, but the long treatise on what to do when you run aground has gone.

There's a list of daily checks which would be regarded as over the top now. Anyone following this religiously would be spending half-an-hour in the engine hole every morning (perhaps they should be changing the oil while they're at it!)

Here's the list (pruned down slightly):
  • Check the oil level in the engine
  • Check the fuel level in the tank
  • If the engine is water-cooled check that the filter near the intake is clean and weed free
  • Check the level of distilled water in the battery, and ensure that it is charging correctly
  • Lubricate any parts of the engine, gearbox or steering that need daily attention
  • Check that the propeller is free of weeds, wire, plastic bags and any other rubbish
It continues on the prop clearance theme:

"Although this is an unpleasant task, it is a constant necessity and will remain so as long as canals continue to be used as public rubbish dumps. The propeller and the water filter should be checked whenever there is any suspicion of obstruction or overheating - which may mean several times a day."

In those days it seems that there were more petrol engines than diesel engines powering boats. The guide suggests that cruise planning should take into account where the canal goes near roadside filling stations.

"Diesel powered boats pose more of a problem in obtaining fuel although their range is generally greater than that of petrol powered craft. [...] The tax-free diesel [...] can only be sold by boatyards, which are still few and far between on the canals."

Today there's just one line: "Hire craft usually carry fuel sufficient for your rental period."

Rubbish in the canals is a constant moan for the 1978 guide:

"Some canals are in a poor state today because they have long been misused as unofficial dumps for rubbish, especially in towns. Out of sight is only out of mind until some object is tangled round your propeller. So keep all rubbish until you can dispose of it at a refuse disposal point. (See the maps.)"

And that's where I'll stop for now - the maps themselves can wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Classic cars by the Oxford Canal

Just south of Sutton Stop there's a collection of old vehicles in someone's garden.

They have been there for some time - I always look out for the Volvo P1800S.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Twin-hulled boat Ailona gives me a surprise on the Oxford Canal

I just had time to whip my camera out as this strange craft approached.

Other than being trailable - the reflectors give that away - I really don't know how to describe it. Catamaran?

Looking up the registration number on Jim Shead's site gives the following information:

AILONA Built by NOT KNOWN - Length 6.02 metres (19 feet 9 inches ) - Beam 2.057 metres (6 feet 9 inches ) - Draft 0.3 metres (1 feet ) Fibre glass hull, power of 9 BHP. Registered with British Waterways number 107840 as a Powered. Last registration recorded on 20-Apr-2012.

I imagine it gets blown around a bit when it's windy, but the one foot draft must be useful.

Monday 15 October 2012

Arcangel - I get it now!

Half-an-hour north of Bridge 79 on the north Oxford Canal we passed nb Arcangel. Each time I've gone past this boat until now I've said to myself, "Ha ha - the signwriter's made a boo-boo and left the "H" out."

But no! How could I have been so slow? The name is a pun on the profession of the owner. Bim (Stephen) Simcoe advertises that he does marine engineering and welding services.

That'll be arc welding, then?

The board on the cabin top indicates that he's also a Boat Safety Scheme Examiner. (Still three+ years before I need his - or another examiner's - services.)

I'm led to believe Arcangel is a converted day boat.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Preparing for Christmas (2022) on the Oxford Canal

A hurriedly snatched photo, so apologies for the poor quality. Not too far south of Hillmorton on the Oxford Canal, through a gap in the trees on the offside, I spotted these Christmas trees growing.

A little on the small side for the Halfie household, but give 'em a few years...

According to Wikipedia we cut down 8 million Christmas trees every year.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 41

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 1315 on Sunday 14th October 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 UKCanals Network (+1)

6 Retirement with No Problem (-1)

7 Waterway Routes (=)

8 Water Explorer (=)

9 nb Epiphany (=)

10 Granny Buttons (=)

11 Towpath Treks (+2)

12 boatshare (=)

13 nb Waiouru (+2)

14 Jannock Website (=)

15 Canal Shop Company (-4)

16 Narrowboat Chance (=)

17 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

18 ExOwnerships (=)

19 Baddie the Pirate (+1)

20 nb Lucky Duck (+5)

21 Halfie (-4)

22 Narrowboat Bones (-1)

23 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (+7)

24 Boatshed Grand Union (+4)

25 Contented Souls (-3)

26 Seyella's Journey (-2)

27 boats and cruising (-)

28 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-5)

29 Derwent6 (-3)

30 (-)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 167 entries, down from 170 last week.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Strange but true

It has portholes...

... and fake rivets...

... but it's not a narrowboat.





I don't think I'll be doing this to my Volvo (below) just yet!

Friday 12 October 2012

New (to me) canal blogs

After a comment on one of my posts recently, I discovered a couple of interesting canal blogs.

One is Skippy's Random Ramblings (subtitled The Random Thoughts of a Geek in Limbo). The comment Skippy made was on my recent post about solar panels on boats. He referred me to his research on this. There's lots more geeky stuff here, and an awful lot of computer stuff, most of which I don't understand. But the electronics I can relate to.

Linked to from Skippy's blog is that of Miss Inexperience, aka b0atg1rl. The title of the blog gives you an indication of what to expect. Do have a look. Start at the bottom (oldest post) and work up. She writes very well, refers to herself in the third person, and is very funny. I hope she won't mind if I copy a small section here, to give you an idea.

The last stretch of the Kennet through Reading is extremely fast flowing and, as it passes through the city centre, narrows to approximately half the width above and below. There is also a low arched bridge, with a pub garden next to it and it is a sunny day. Miss Inexperience misjudges the flow, in full view of an almost overflowing beer garden, hits the bridge; losing in the process the handlebars to her bike (if it hadn’t been locked to the roof the chances are she’d have lost the whole thing) and the gas ventilator. Those in the pub garden cheered. If you are ever in a position to cheer at this kind of accident, please don’t. Miss Inexperience lost her ability to have a shower that day. Not to mention the cost of repairing the bike.

Her account of the problem with the shower pump is hilarious - but poor b0atg1rl! And has she stopped her boat sinking?

Thursday 11 October 2012

CRT? At least they're humans

Two recent Waterscape alerts show signs that the Canal and River Trust have real human beings on their staff. Yes, they're mostly the same staff as worked for BW, but perhaps there's a new ethos. A more human feel.

On 8th October 2012 I received this alert concerning the Grand Union Canal (South). (There were others in similar vein relating to the northern GU and the Oxford Canal.)

GUS Hedge cutting South East Waterway

Monday 8 October 2012 - Friday 1 March 2013
We have commenced the annual hedge cutting round, starting on the 1st October running until 1st March. Please be aware this work will result in thorns on towpaths. The specification includes the clearing of cut thorns from the tow path following a cut of the previous year’s growth, our contractors will blow/sweep/rake/clear the thorns off the path, however there will be areas where some thorns remain on the towpath or blow from the hedge onto the towpath following windy conditions. If you are planning a cycling trip please follow link for helpful tips. If you have a pet be mindful of tender paws picking up thorns on the path and under the hedgerows following this work.

Enquiries: 03030404040

This is the first time I've been aware of my attention being drawn to the hedge cutting. Yes, I know that thorns will land on the towpath and that they will lead to punctures. I have had to repair my inner tubes countless times in the past. But it feels good to be warned of the raised probability of punctures, and of the hazard to pets.

The next day an even friendlier alert arrived. This concerned the breach on the Trent and Mersey and the stranded boats.

9th October 2012 - Trent and Mersey Canal:
Between Middlewich Big Lock 75 and Lodge Lane, Bridge 213 Preston Brook

Tuesday 25 September 2012 until further notice
UPDATE (09 October 2012): Trent & Mersey Canal – Update 9th October 2012.
Engineering work at both of the affected sites has made good progress in the last week. At Croxton, our contractor has completed a temporary access road and constructed a temporary dam close to the damaged embankment. This has allowed us to start reducing the water levels in the affected area. Tree clearance has been completed and we are now able complete the design for the site repairs. At Dutton, our geotechnical team have completed a review of the site and ground investigation will be undertaken shortly to assist the design of the repairs there. Our outline programme for completing the repairs at Croxton remains Christmas. The programme for Dutton is more vague but a spring completion is a realistic target. We expect to be able to provide more detail on this in the coming week. The canal and towpath will remain closed at both sites until repairs are completed.
In the week we have also been able to establish an independent water supply to the isolated section between bridges 179 and 210. This has been essential to ensure that this section of the canal remains navigable. This week we will be able to re-water the canal section up to bridge 211 and re-float the boats caught there. This will re-water the winding hole here too making for improved access along the canal.
We have now been contacted by 20 boat owners expressing the desire to move away from the area using the Manchester Ship Canal route. We will be contacting these to discuss arrangements for, surveys, equipment, costs and other essential matters for this; and would expect that this can be resolved within the next 2 weeks. Our target is to ensure that people wishing to leave the area are able to do so with sufficient time not to be caught in stoppages remote from the area. If people wish to make their own arrangements to use the Weaver and Ship Canal in advance of this, of course they are able to do so.
If you are considering using this route or are affected by the situation and have not already contacted us, we would encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Please phone our Red Bull offices on 01782 785 703.
Finally, we are hugely indebted to all the people who have donated to the breach appeal which, at the time of writing, stands at £11,000. This includes an enormously generous donation of £1000 from the Trent and Mersey Canal Society, and Birkenhead YMCA donating £250 following sponsored car washing and other activities. Thanks.

This shows a real concern for the boaters caught up in this mini-disaster. And the last paragraph is heartwarming. Well done Birkenhead YMCA! And well done CRT.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Ancient and modern at Hawkesbury Junction

As we came off the Coventry Canal onto the Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction we were being followed by steamer Laplander (contemporaneous blog post here). While we were waiting for the stop lock the boy on Laplander whipped out a radio controlled speedboat and treated us to a spot of high speed antics.

I expect it was the fastest motorised vessel that patch of water had ever seen.