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Sunday, 29 March 2020

1 week in to 'lock down' - actually it's day 6 beginning come to think of it... just feels longer.

Who'd have thought nearly a week ago, we'd all be experiencing (what many consider to be) such draconian measures? -

I STILL GET IT...  I'd have liked a more honest approach to it rather than trying to scare folks into compliance...  I'm STILL only doing what the Government is allowing me to do - despite how 'vague' that instruction was!

Whom ever came up with such an emotive tag line of " Stay home - SAVE our NHS" deserves credit where due - I'm an emotional sort as you may have gathered and as a nation we DO pride ourselves on the NHS - even those who have abused it so many times... the whole idea of being compliant to SAVE it is a brilliant marketed strategy.  Well done that man/woman/trans/non-binary or whatever else we say today.

All this 'Social Distancing' too - another term we'd never heard of until this week... the irony being it's not social at all.  Hey ho. 

WHAT this week HAS shown - certainly to me living on a boat, is that there are a lot of vulnerable, lonely, bewildered and sometimes old people wandering around waiting hours for and catching buses - who DO THIS EVERY DAY... they just blended in to the back ground because of the numbers of people around.

'Ellis' has been moored near the bus-station in Skipton (the final place we got to before Boris Locked us in and CRT prevented boat movements (I'll come back to that shortly) - every day at least half a dozen poor souls have appeared (not at the same time) on the bench near the boat and just looked SO lost.  ME being me, have pretty much engaged in a conversation (using aforementioned 'anti-social distancing guidelines) to pass the time of day with them... PARTLY for my own sake I admit... ... but when you stop top think that perhaps THEIR every day is like that, its heartbreaking.

During my 'allotted' daily exercise walk - which can apparently be  of an unspecified duration
 but ONLY ONCE, I've also made a point of shouting cheery 'Hellos' to everyone else doing the same - some are stopping to chat about how bonkers the world is ... SOME are zig-zagging away (to obey the social distancing rules) and blatantly ignoring me ... as if to say "This is my exercise time so you shouldn't be outside making it more difficult for me" - that's the message I'm picking up anyway.

LUCKILY MOST are cheerful (if confused/angry/exacerbated) and trying to  comply whilst carrying on some normal life.

Going back to "boat movements for a moment" - I knew when Crt phoned me on Tuesday to ask if I still wanted my 2 bookings through Standedge in May, things were NOT going to be back to normal within Boris's initial 3 week lockdown.   I replied that of course as I'm a business I would HAVE to  continue with my route to ensure I'm in the right place at the right time... EVEN though most overseas visitors have already had to cancel due to travel restrictions in their own countries.  THEN a statement from the trust came out, basically ASKING (not prohibiting as without an act of parliament I don't think they can remove the right of navigation originally invoked when the canals were built )-  I could be wrong about that but it's all synaptic's anyway, BOATERS not to move unless going for Water or other boatyard services...

Various other statements have been coming out extending stoppages etc... a bandwagon perhaps now being jumped on to cover up over-running repairs nationwide - sorry.. I'm going off on a tangent.

POINT is - by Wed (Possibly Thursday) it was clear, 'Ellis' was not going to be going anywhere for a long time. 

READING between the lines and from the conversations I've had with CRT, they are clearly expecting a 3 MONTH (not week) nationwide lockdown... ergo, I've had to liaise with booked guests to try and postpone their trips... it's a nightmare - some have paid... some where due to pay... some have had to cancel THIS year all together as their trips from overseas are in limbo.   

I must say, without exception, booked guests (especially the returning ones) have been most understanding about it... moving a few until later in the year meant they didn't lose their money - with others I've been able to move their booking fees to next year and have offered to carry them forward to the year after (2022 when I get a route plan done) so as not make things as bearable as possible all around.

Financially, because the "travel and tourism/leisure sector" has been closed down by the government, I'd hoped to be able to get some help...  LOTS Of spouting on the news about 'Business Continuity Grants, Business rates cancelled , Loans etc - and of course the latest 'Help for the self employed'... WHICH for a fledgling business like this is NO use whatsoever...  you see, they used the words "Profit" as qualification for "help"...

I'll be perfectly candid here - 'Ellis' was NEVER a way to get rich... it was a way to sustain a lifestyle and just about pay for it... 

YEAR 1 - we only had a handful of customers as no-one knew we existed and reported a LOSS ... which was OK as I had redundancy money to live off...

YEAR 2 - I'm due to do my year end return on on 5th April - break even...

YEAR 3 - Cancelled for the foreseeable due to Covid 19

ER - how can I make a claim for 80% of average profits over the last 3 years eh?

I can't to put it simply.

NOW OK...  I can survive - BUT only as a result of accommodating guests transferring to later trips, keeping spending to an absolute minimum and rocking up credit card debts if this goes on for more than 3 months.    I have enough credit available to  keep the ship afloat (literally) and compared to some folks, have a much simpler situation with only self survival to worry about - I SO feel for the other struggling businesses forced into closure  - supposedly temporary who still have staff to think about, their own bills to pay and no immediate light at the end of their tunnels.

Still, we're all in this together so we're repeatedly told...  although at 3 am when the demons wake me up, it doesn't FEEL like we're in it together lol.

Anyway - enough about all that...

I've  'processed' my sulking (for now) and will carry on doing jobs... I still have the roof to paint and apply more non-slip stuff to ... I'm ALSO going to learn Sign language .

Skipton IS a lovely place to be stranded in... although without "people" it's rather sad...  My daily exercise walk will continue to be around the woods and I'll join the 2m apart queue around Morrisons car-park as and when I need to buy things... luckily, I have the boat quite well stocked in preparation for the guest season... I expect to be working my way through the gin stocks quite quickly though.

HERE is a quick snap of the first ducklings I've seen of this year...

DON'T worry - I kept a 'social distance' from them...

Until next time...

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Snapped Lines, Escaping the City and differing perspectives.

Sorry - this is going to be a bit dis-jointed...   The world is still bonkers and (being trapped in it) I fear the bonkersness may be rubbing off 😀

You'll recall 'Ellis' chugged up into Leeds the other week so as to be able to visit friends and continue prepping the boat for the forth-coming guest season.    The river was nearly into flood when we locked through into Granary Basin...  and once in there, we discovered very little in the way of water... OR mooring spaces.  Hobsons choice meant I had to tie up alongside between the Hotel and the Candle House - the problem here being the ledge that sticks out - it's fine when there is plenty of water AND the level is stable...  alas, when the level is NOT stable, you HAVE to leave very slack ropes to avoid the boat being tipped over/sunken.

It's not ideal.

Still,  knowing the ledge is there is better than not!

Having tied up and checked the weather forecast - WIND was coming... Anyone who has ever moored in Granary Wharf knows that WIND is a major problem ... the towering buildings all around funnel it down to ground level and cause havoc - what the forecasts say are 45 mph winds are possibly double by the time they slam into the boats moored down below - it's scary.  IT's MORE scary when you can't tie up tightly cause of aforementioned ledge and fluctuating water levels.

Why? am I waffling on about this? - well, in true Granary "wind" style, we took a major battering - for like 4 days and nights... 1 st of which, included the centre line (which I never normally use to moor with) snapping at Midnight ... the result of which meant the boat (on slack front and rear lines which had either been undone or undone themselves in the storm) began a scary journey across the basin - LUCKILY another boat had noticed (I was in bed trying to drown out the banging and clonking noises from the solar panels) - I DID hear voices above the wind and on poking my under panted body through the hatch, spotted Adam and an unknown other boater both desperately trying to pull Ellis back alongside via the front line.  Between us we got her back in and then securely re-tied front and rear lines - Adam having ashed up the bottom gates down to the river in a bid to keep the level from falling any further. The wind didn't let up for days and as the river was in flood, we were trapped in anyway.  Suffice to say, 4 nights with little sleep -punctuated by 6-7 times a night external trips in my pants to wedge bits of wood under the panels back in that had been ripped out by ferocious gusts.  AS soon as the river had dropped, I made a dash for it down to Clarence Dock - JUST as an overstaying CRT employee had buggered off (I have spies with a view)...  THAT trip was dodgy though as the river was going back in to flood again as we left Granary...

It was nice to be plugged in again AND along side floating pontoons I could tie up to night and tightly...

Having spent a couple of nights there, had supper with friends (I'm going to miss terribly) and also met a writer of 'erotic fiction'... I'll report back on his works at some point -  we departed and began our journey once more.

Leaving Granary, a chap was either practicing escape from being locked down, or measuring for new windows!

I suspect it may be for window guards to "keep folk on lock-down"...

By the time we'd got through Kirkstall little lock, we came across this boat that had been abandoned last year and now sunk... NOT in the most helpful of places... I wonder how long it will remain here.

The locks here was more fun than usual - lots of folk around "bored" - including one rather daring chap trying to skateboard down the locks... I videoed him.

He had cut his hand and was bleeding...  it irked me to have to stop and give him some first aid and bandages...  if I hadn't, he'd probably have ended up wasting resources in A & E...

Writing of A & E - I listened to a podcast earlier of an interview with an A & E Consultant... who was pleading with people to stay in doors - he DID stress anyone with  cold like symptoms.... NOT because everyone who contracts  Covid-19 WILL die but because if they pass it on, TOO many people will need help (ventilators mainly) at the same time and he didn't want to have to "choose" which 1 person gets put on one and the other 7 ... which perhaps die''s all about being able to cope with the numbers 'poorly' at the same time.  whilst 95% of people will survive 5% of a large number will overwhelm the care-givers... and I GET that... 

The trouble is - SOCIETY has already gone past the point of common sense in regards their USE/ABUSE of A & E anyway ... folk spending 4 hours 'waiting to be seen' with something that could have waited until the Docs opened the following morning etc... Folk have become TOO used to being able to TAKE and not give.

All this "if in doubt go see your doc" mentality (NOT relating to Corona virus) HAD created a nation of SELFISH folk who abuse the services provided - even before this current situation began.  

In those terms it makes sense... the trouble with 'people' is that in today's "age" we have become so self aware and developed a sense or "right" to live, we perhaps think we are more important than we really are - MOTHER Nature has other ideas.  

Hearing about peoples suffering is awful - the poor folks dying off as a result of contracting this virus is's probably more worrying for people who have pro-created - their (understandable) fear and feelings of wanting to protect those they care about must be overwhelming.  Sensibly staying home if you have even a hint of cough is perhaps a good idea ... keeping a couple of metres away from people outside is also perhaps a good idea of a way to slow things down...  

Like I said, being on a boat, except for dealings with shop-keepers and the like, sometimes you can go weeks without being close to anyone.  I don't fear for my own mortality/well being ...  I DO feel for the shop workers, medical staff etc who don't have much choice in their proximity to people...  I do fear for folk having to travel on public transport rather than just be able to get into a car and make their Journeys -... you can't STOP an entire planet from living... but I suppose governments around the globe have to take the approach that you CAN  stop it dying quite so fast!

Until Next time...

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Corona Virus - Apocalypse or media frenzy?

Don't  fret - I'm not dead yet... neither are many people... some are... more will be and most will not be.

I think that sums it up.

THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD... too many films along the lines of  ' 28 days later '.

Now I KNOW if you or someone you care about (which frankly should be everyone in need) falls into one of the groups of folk who are most likely to be at risk, it's totally understandable to feel anxiety about it... BUT the rest of the muppets emptying shelves and stock piling - thus depriving others who might actually have ran out of something and NEED it, should take a a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and what they will see looking back is "the true need for Darwinism" .

Others - such as my aging dad (who falls into the over 70's category) are taking a more common sense , stoic and logical approach...  I can't type his actual words here as the blog isn't rated solely for a mature audience... suffice to say, he's fuming... he will NOT be held under house arrest - right now I suspect he's forming an army of OAPS ready to wander around Tesco moaning....  like he says, there are more oldies than police and army,... and we are not China... 

I can see it now on the news at 10 - thousands of moroading pensioners "taking the streets back"

OK - I'm being a little tongue in cheek but as my dad said, the economy, peoples livelihoods, pensions and mental health is taking a far bigger hit than a few already on borrowed time folk pegging it with the flu.  He pointed out that there are too many oldies around anyway and all this prolonging 'life' for the sake of it - with little regard for the quality is NOT always the best thing...So long as the young people survives, then he's ok with that.

The Press/media have created a panic among the masses and when this all calms down, perhaps we need to take a long hard look at "freedom of the press"  - I dunno ... but I do know, that unless someone is pointing a gun at me, like my dad, i will take my chances with "life"...  what is is worth if it's not free?

I like my dad.

He is a stubborn chap but still the kindest, most humble and generous person I know... 

SO then - HERE on Ellis.... well, I always keep a few loo rolls on board anyway,  I have nappies in the bilge, hand soap and common sense... By virtue of boaty life, I suppose I'm in permanent self isolation at times anyway lol.

I have to admit, financially, what with borrowing money for the divorce, 2 cancelled overseas visitors and 1 postponed, it's going to be a tight year but at worst, I'll have lots of time off to explore the canals in between the UK guests - who I suspect will "keep calm and carry on" as least I hope they do. 

We all need to take  a breath... perhaps turn off the TV/Radio, take a walk ... perhaps by a canal - don't even bother trying to buy loo roll... most homes have a shower so if you need to make an adhoc bidet you'll be able to manage...  

Stop the world, I wanna get off...until I do however, I'm going to get some more paint on the Port side, touch up the blacking I scraped off getting to Leeds last week and then stock up on Gin- in preference to loo roll ANYDAY

Until next time...

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

And we're off...

FINALLY - the river levels dropped for a few days so those "trapped" in Stanley made a dash for somewhere else to lurk around for 2 weeks, which meant I could nip into the space they left on the visitor moorings and be near the car park.  This has made it easier to stock up the roof of the boat with coal etc.

To be honest, I've not been making much progress with boaty chores other than working on the new website... which I still hate but it's not far off done now - once I work out how to transfer the domain thingys to the new hosting service and point something at somewhere else, it'll be up on line.

I HAVE replaced what was suppose to be a temporary fix of lynch pins and cable ties, with a "dog lead" I chopped up... MUCH better don'y you agree?

#LegsEllis took a  bit of a battering the other day as no sooner had I walked the  9 mile round trip to the bungalow to pick up some things I'd ordered for the boat, than I got call from the next door neighbor to say something else had arrived.... me being me (read eager to get organised) decided to walk back again... ergo, 18 miles in one day.... my left knee was grumbling abit the next day and a little swollen - it's gone down now and none the worse for the exertion.

It's been quite nice on the visitor moorings - FAR more sociable than being at the end in the middle of nowhere... - even the morning views are nice .. although seeing another over stayer taking the micky does irk  a bit when I play by the rules properly.

Once stocked up with coal, I set off on my journey to Leeds - whilst the rivers were still playing nicely...  do you remember the boat that was marooned on the side of the Aire at Christmas ? - well I'm afraid it's no longer marooned... it's SUNK a little farther down stream.


I'm heading to Leeds for a couple of day trips before the season begins properly... a little worrying is the "panic" being caused by the media regarding the corona Virus...  AND the "travel restrictions" being threatened... it's already caused 1 overseas visitor to cancel... and as about half the explorers who join me in my continued adventure come from afar, it's a bit like a sword of Damocles hanging over the season before it's even began - NOTHING I can do about it other than, 'keep calm and carry on'...  Can you believe people have even been panic buying loo roll?... give me strength.

Still, rest assured, 'Ellis has a good stock' so if it gets hairy, I may start selling them off on ebay at a fiver a roll!

Until next time...

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Back 'off grid', boat lifts and more maintenence...

SURELY it can't be a week already? - REALLY? - ... oh well, I suppose it must be.

I've not stopped -either... in fact, in true 'ginger form' I appear to have been galloping towards a deadline that seemed eons away back in November... Thing is, I've always considered myself to be a self starter and generally very dogmatic about stuff.  I can't believe I'm nearly at the end of my "rest period" with still things to do.  NOR have I had a rest!    HOW on earth I used to work anywhere between 70-90 hours a week AND fit a boat out is beyond me now. 

Having spent last weekend - until Tuesday as it happens, "Off Grid" I soon got back into the charging regime of a "non-moving boater" ... ie, running the engine for an hour first thing to let the 175amp alternator do the bulk charge, THEN topping up on the genny for another hour or so to get to somewhere around 95% SOC and then leaving the solar the rest of the afternoon to finish off... the result being batteries back to 100% by around 2, sometimes 3pm. 

I must say, I'm still VERY pleased with that little  genny I bought from screwfix last year when the auxiliary alternator packed in - it's very quiet runs on fumes and so long as I limit the charger to 35amp, works like a dream. IF I make the mistake of putting the washer on (without selecting cold) it cuts out but other than that, it does what it says on the tin for an awful lot less money than a Honda!

JOB wise, whilst the sun has been out (all be it briefly) I've been out in the daylight doing more blacking (starboard side now), attaching bits of rope to fenders- ahem I might have been using cable ties for a few months lol.    Of course I'd forgotten how to splice eyes so that meant a quick you-tube tutorial

It's not perfect but it'll do to secure a fender.

WHILST buggering about in splicing mode the art was still fresh in my mind, I also dug out the new mooring lines to splice eye's on to them too... (the current mooring lines are the old centre lines cut down). The new lines are 15 metres long and although not the colour I wanted (stripes were preferable but costing 15 quid more I couldn't justify them), they've turned out OK too.

Replacing the mooring lines, ALSO freed up a 15 metre length of black rope which I've used to replace the now fading Anchor rope - WHICH to be frank had never really been long enough ... the rule of thumb is (I believe but I could be wrong) to have a rope 5 times longer than the change attached to the anchor... and as my chain is 9 ft long - that would mean a 45 foot rope...  Anyway - It's done now so whilst perhaps not the prettiest job, WOULD be safer if ever it needs to be used in Anger.

And of course the hoarder in me  emergency planner in me, has kept the old mooring line as a back up in case it's called upon - actually, come to think of it, it can be the 'Spanish Windlass' the next time 'Ellis' encounters an immovable lock gate.

Now it's warming up a bit (he says shivering cause the fire is out so he can re-paint the stove this morning) I've got some more paint mixed the same colour as originally used so as to begin touching up again.  

The 4 mile walk TO the paint shop was lovely - less so, the return lugging that lot!  - Still , it's on board now so I can leap into action when the weather is dry long enough...  TRUE to form of course, SINCE I got the paint, it's been bucketing down again... which has forced me to enabled me to spend some time doing accounts and working on the new website... TWO jobs which bore me stupid (and some would say I'm pretty stupid to begin with). 

Accounts are depressing at the best of times - more so when you've no income for a period but continue to have to spend money maintaining the boat..  It's going to be a while before I have any money "spare"  (for the next 5 years I'll be paying off the divorce loans from a business model that was only intended to sustain us through winter month without earnings, NOT pay loans AND live) but it's ok - I'm still in love with boating and can't wait to chug off with this years guests.    It'll be SO nice to have company again as like I've mentioned before, I really don't function well on my own.  I mean I CAN do it... but it's miserable on your own. STILL, Luckily I'm ginger (and by association) FABULOUS!

Anyway - having gone back to the Marina, On Thursday I awoke to lots of beeping and engine noises to find a crane being erected ready for a day of lifting boats in/out of the water.  It was SO much more interesting being able to watch when it's NOT your boat swinging around in the wind.  

I've put a couple of videos up on Twitter - if the links work that is:

There were quite a lot in total but as I had jobs to be getting on with, I couldn't hang around videoing all day.

I really ought to try and build a you-tube channel like SO many other boaters... thing is, it's all "been done" - I don't think I've anything unique I could add to the so many other wonderful you-tubers out there... NOR do I have the time to produce well edited material.... THAT Said, when it's been an interesting day, I sometimes wish I'd had a camera running to record the events - I'll sleep on that a while and see how it could be done, WITHOUT it becoming all consuming... The adventure is DOING IT not recording it being done if you follow... at least for me anyway.   THEN again, it might actually be a nice thing for guests who come along to be able to (at some point in the future) click and watch videos of themselves working locks etc... I dunno.

SO then -TODAY ... 29th Feb (I gained a day as I hadn't spotted it was a leap year) I leave my winter mooring and head back on to the cut.  I'm gonna hang around in Stanley for a week or so to try and get the garden as tidy as I can before setting off on my slow journey to Skipton to being the cruise season proper... well I SAY that - as it stands, both rivers Calder and Aire are causing mayhem at the moment so WHEN I'll be released on to them, is anyone's guess.

Until next time...

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Website woes, decree nisi, wine Wednesday (on a Sunday)and more maintenance

Righty ho then,

I think it should begin something like this "bless me father for I have sinned"...  Pride before a fall and all that coming into play.  REMEMBER how I was enthusiastic about the new website building platform I was coerced into by GoDaddy?

Well it sucks!

Why? - well, a side from it taking AGES to build pages in a restricted format that I didn't want but accepted I'd have to get used to - they ALSO impose a page limit... but they don't warn you it's a "limit" until you reach it...  they give you little hints along the way, such as "we notice you are creating a lot of pages (circa 20 at the first warning) - did you know you can create multiple sections within pages to increase site speed etc?"...  THAT sort of thing...

Of course, WHO in their right mind would worry about that warning when making a page for each cruise?  hmm?  - exactly.... SO I kept merrily (read grumpily) building away in my new (tolerated) format... until when still with nearly HALF the current years trips to write up I hit a wall - "You have reached the maximum number pages" - 50 ffs.  THIS being on a Saturday...  of last weekend which I'd allocated to devote entirely to doing it, thanks to 'Storm Dennis' coming in.  COULD I get hold of my account manger ?  could I buggery...  would "24/7 support" lift the limit? - WOULD they buggery.  ERGO, I had a strop and decided to START again from scratch on another hosting service.

Google (as usual) was my only available friend and she suggested various services... having fiddled around with a few, the LEAST prescriptive (although perhaps a bit slow) was WIX.   SO, I purchased a new domain ( ) ... I'd always been intending to buy it so at least that part of things didn't feel like a waste of money.  ANYWAY - Long story short, I'm now building away the replacement site on that domain in the background (not publishing it until it's ready) and WHEN it IS done, I'll transfer the away from godaddy and point the new site to that in stead... the theory being stay live with the old site until April ish and then it'll all run smoothly .

IT's still annoying though ... all this kerfuffle just to get a few columns to show up properly on a mobible phone... thing is, enough people have moaned at me now how crap (their words) the current site it... them obvioulsy not quite getting the fact that I'm a boater 1st... businessman 2nd. STILL, it is 2020 and I suppose even old gits like me use their phones a lot... ggrrr.

ANYWAY - I've got my 300 quid back from GoDaddy (thanks to the decent business manager bloke seeing my point of view and understanding his product's limitations) so fair play to them on that one...

REWIND a bit - "Storm Dennis" - having endured a weekend of hell from Storm Caira (I have a feeling I'm spelling that wrongly), I decided to move 'Ellis' before this one hit so as to be around other boats AND away from that blooming aqueduct.  A side from the fact I'm exposed to massive waves/winds down there, the noise from the blooming yogurt pot in front "flapping" keeps me awake big style... especially when coupled with the groaning and slamming into the pointy bits of the quayside.

Having moved into a gap in the long term moorings I felt much happier, safer AND more sociable.  It was lovely being around people again and having chats with folk I've not seen properly for ages.

The media hysteria re.the oncoming storm had me apprehensive again.... SO, ever prepared, I thought I'd sit it out in my new waders... a gift from a now retired (retired from boating that is) friend - he'd dropped them off the other week after seeing the effect of the previous storm.
TRUE to form of course, BEING prepared meant that I didn't need to be...  "Dennis" was a bit of a damp squib... for us at least at Stanley.  I know other parts of the country didn't get off so lightly.

I spent Saturday night continuing working on the new site (btw - it's not flashy it's Just the same as the old one but laid out slightly more phone /tablet friendly) when I got a message from Sally to see if I'd be around on Sunday afternoon her husband and her were dropping Tree off after a weekend with them up in Harrogate... 

THIS Meant a quick tidy around and then lunchtime trip to the pub for a catch up.  It was so lovely to see them all again - I so miss our 'Wine Wednesdays"..  it was just like old times (minus Andy which was a bit sad) but a smashing and welcome surprise none the less.  I even managed to ask a bloke sitting near to take  a "team Ellis" photo for me!

I posted it on a boaty forum in dispatches and Tree seems to have attracted a lot of attention from the old codgers more mature boaters lol.  She likes that sort of thing.

We spent a few hours in the pub catching up with each others news - mine being less to report than theirs, other than reaching decree nisi at court on the 3rd Feb - absolute to follow 6 weeks and 1 day from there I suppose.  That was  the sad part of the conversation but it's life and sometimes you have to accept even the things you don't want.  Writing of which, I think I've offended the solicitor dealing with it the other day.. she keeps sending what are (in my opinion) pointless letters to tell me things she could have told me when we went in to sign the financial  order  a few weeks ago... AND a few of the letters have contained spelling mistakes, wrong words (gender related re.divorce) and the latest a 'missing word' rendering the contents irrelevant.  HAVING pointed this out, I'll no doubt have been charged for "perusal" and THEN the reply acknowledging (note NOT apologizing) for the typos...  I suspect that was an expensive thing I did by bringing these matters to her attention .. I mean I make enough typing mistakes/grammatical errors myself.  THEN again, I'm not charging anyone £275 quid an hour for my writing services am I?


BACK in boat maintenance world, my perspex disks finally arrived - expensive but necessary ... (they are to replace the porthole shutters that got knocked off in the last few years).

A bit of a pain to carry 4.5 miles from home back to the boat in the wind...  but a bit of cable tying ingenuity meant I could tuck them under my arm and cling on

My plan was to stick magnets to them, and attach (using hot glue) the fiberglass mesh.  BEFORE sticking the magnets on (with epoxy resign) I had the foresight to create a key for the glue to grab hold of... my dremel now being burned out (and binned), I improvised with my trusty old drill.

Having done both of them and attached them to the side of the boat, it THEN occurred to me, rather than spending HOURS (literally) grinding a 45 degree angle on the inside of the old ones (that didn't fit the portholes totally) so as to get all the magnets to touch the boat, I SHOULD have just attached another magnet - thus making them stand 3 mm further out but with ALL magnets touching!!!  Hmmf...  hind sight and all that. Anyway - point is they are all now done and 'Ellis' has her symmetry back again.

I've completed the 2 side hatch screens too - I was going to get a filament of wood to cover the edges where the matting folds around but when I looked, they worked out at the best part of a tenner... ergo, I can live with seeing it lol.

I've also made them for opposite side of the hatch  than last time if you follow, to balance out the fading effects of the sun ... this time, attaching a half turn button to hold them in place.  I've finally (after 3 years ahem) adjusted the cabin hook to starboard to keep it open properly - last year it popped out and clonked a lady on the head... LUCKILY she was very nice about it (not being hurt) and didn't make a fuss... THAT's what I like about 'proper people'  ...  I suppose it's probably an older generation thing, NOT being litigious at the slightest thing... accidents DO happen.  I Know this more than most as I can fall over my own feet when sitting still! - Anyway... that's done now.  It's sometimes hard to see what I've been doing and I have to admit to being very busy since the end of last season but even I'm not always able to see "at what" .  I should  have kept a list I know.  

Another job that needed doing was to stabilize  the gas locker hinges - one had broken complete and it's only matter of time before the other does the same... I sourced a couple of stainless steel robust hinges from the 'tinterweb and bolted them on the other day as a stop gap until I can get a proper hinge welded on.

When I find the primer, I'll slap a coupe of coats of paint on to make it match... not a perfect job but sturdy enough to avoid losing the locker lid into the canal at least!

My final job this week was to fit a new rear button - the old one being long past it's best...  the new one (for now at least ) does stick out enough to protect the rudder... I suppose at some point I need to add another few inches in the  form of a tipcat or similar (actually I DO have the front button which I could use behind it) but that will have to wait until I've another pair of hands to help.. I don't want to risk dropping such an expensive item in the canal - or at least if I do, I need it to be in a shallower canal than this one (the Aire and Calder here is circa 5-6 foot at the sides and 12 foot in the middle)... 



I've also touched up the blacking as far down as I dare - it's not to protect it, just tidy it up a bit for this season... I'm booked into dry doc at the end of the year for blacking... which I cant afford but can't put off - the water line already looking a bit too shabby for my liking.

Today (it's just after 7am on Saturday as I finish this) I'm going "looking" for whatever it was blew off the roof about 5am and made a big splash...  I'm hoping it was just a fender rather than the life ring... a fender being cheaper to replace when  if I can't find it.

until next time...

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Storm Ciara, more jobs and a beginning the website rebuild.

Blooming heck it's been a rough few days - in fact, someone should tell the weather outside that "Caira" has gone cause the wind hasn't really abated for more than 20 mins in the last week almost now.  Wind (when moored) is generally not SO bad... when you can pull along side properly AND have faith enough in water levels remaining relatively stable so you can tie up tightly... alas, neither of those things apply where I'm moored at the moment.

To be fair - the marina DID offer me a pontoon mooring which might have been more stable - alas, it was right in the corner of the marina and I'd have been trapped in there - unable to nip in and out on little trips (like I have been doing), so I suppose it's my own fault.

Knowing it's my own doing was of little consolation at the weekend when storm "Caira" hit - to say it's been a 'bum clenching' few days really is an understatement.

You see, WIND a side (which as already mentioned bangs me into boats front and back) I'm also RIGHT next to the Stanley Ferry Aqueducts... both of them....and about 6 foot from the over flow that usually sends excess canal water down into the river.   AT the weekend, I learned that when the river Calder gets into flood conditions, it ALSO works in reverse!!!  ADD  to that fear of the flood gates at the other end of the cut being overwhelmed, as you can imagine has cause a few days without sleep... well  other than "nana-naps" in my chair when exhaustion got the better of me.

I took a coupe of video clips before it got dark, and TRIED for a couple in the dark... which (obviously) didn't work very well - I've uploaded them all anyway...

The one in the dark was taken about 4 hours before the river peaked... which was 3cm  ABOVE the previously recorded HIGH of Boxing day 2015...

Having watched the river rising all day, I took the decision to move 'Ellis' back up the cut to the other side of the swing bridge - my theory being that if it came in to the cut Properly, a) I'd be behind a swing bridge so wouldn't get washed away... b) I'd be around other residential boaters and able to help (and be helped) with/by them.  Obviously, at the other end of the cut was the worry about the flood gates being overwhelmed - or worse giving way all together...  with those thoughts in mind, I put walki-talkies out, wellies, waterproofs, laptop and my wallet ready at the door and spent the next few hours watching the Environment Agency data up stream.  Knowing the river had peaked 5 hours earlier at Ledgard it was waiting game to see how fast that water would get here and whether our gate would keep us safe until our peak came...I dozed on and off in my chair - complete with my clothes on just in case.  I have to admit, that whilst none of us could actually do a lot IF the worst did happen, we would at least all be in the "same boat" if you'll pardon the pun.

I've taken a screen dump of the measuring station data a mile upstream from here...  I'm sure they won't mind but if they do, well I'll remove it.

The river finally peaked here about 11.15 - with just 10cm of the flood gates remaining... WAY too close for comfort... but at least it did mean I got a bit of sleep - in betwixt logging in and checking data during the night.

On Monday morning, I moved back to my mooring and spent the day checking the river was still falling -  FURTHER upstream in the Calder Valley it's been a repeat of boxing day 2015 all over again...  Poor Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd being totally overwhelmed again... despite "flood deference" being 75 % complete...  25% is a BIG hole to fill with water.

Down stream from there, The Calder and Hebble Navigation (which is about 4 miles upstream of here) has seen a catastrophic breach at the Figure of Three locks - Selfishly, I'm SO relieved 'Ellis' wasn't planning on travelling that route this year - 

I've linked to a local chap on facebook's video.... I hope he won't mind.

At Broad Cut (a little farther down) the Scout boat has also ended up on the towpath outside the Navigation pub... they are appealing for help finding a free crane to get it back onto the water... ironcially by the look of the forecast, "storm Dennis" is on route so that may happen this weekend anyway!!!

It' fair to say that living on a Narrowboat for 99.9% of the time is lovely - it's just that 0.01% of the time (and it's usually in the dark when it peaks) it can be quite scary. Mother nature has her own ideas sometimes and we remain at her mercy.

That said, we can try and mitigate some of the potential for damage... such as scaffold poles (down the side of boats to keep them in the channel) in areas prone to flooding... ME ? - well after this winter is over, I'm going to re-locate to safer (hopefully) waters before next winter...  until then, it's a case of keepin an eye on weather forecasts and being aware of topology.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Rewind a few days to before the storm hit - I took 'Ellis' back into the town centre to be nearer the bungalow so as to continue working on the garden.  

I've been relatively disciplined - working mornings on the garden and then afternoons on boat chores.   Mooring on Wakefield Waterfront, behind the flood gates, felt OK but when the winds began to increase last week, the down drafts from the buildings nearby were so strong - they blew flames OUT of the vents at the bottom of the fire.   I'm not sure if this will work but I tweeted a short clip of it happening.

The sun had been shining quite a bit so I took advantage of the opportunity to do a bit of touching up at the bow - the planter and Anchor between them have done quite a bit of damage to the paint (read I'm not very careful sometimes) - 

So whilst out and about, I bought some foam pipe lagging stuff and made the anchor a little less hostile towards paint work - I've cable tied some strips to the main offenders ... I'm pretty sure they're not buoyant enough to stop it sinking.  I've now managed to get a couple of coats on the worse bits and the bow is looking much tidier... well , apart from the paint some ginger idiot I dripped on the new bow seats...  I ALSO did a bit of touching up at the stern - alas, I left it too late in the day so when it cooled down, the paint hadn't skinned enough to keep it shiny... there's probably a technical painty term for it... in 'ginger parlance' - I buggered up!

I've also been doing more painting inside - having decided I like the dinette walls painted white, I've done the same in the Galley and Saloon (kitchen and lounge) .

As well was painting, I've also began making another couple of (slightly sturdier) fly screens for the side hatches.  
I've not decided yet whether to leave them 'wood' coloured, or paint them grey... I suppose time will determine that one as looking at the calendar, February is galloping through now.

IN addition to practical boaty thingys, I've also finally bitten the bullet and began rebuilding the website - if you've looked at it on a mobile/tablet you'll notice the columns don't work very well ... it's a limitation of the "old" builder tool I do it on from GoDaddy.  tbh, I've quite gotten to grips with the old one and even like the simple style/format I've used since day 1.  ALAS,progress  indicates I must conform move with the times and as such, upgrade to the template based website building tool.  

THIS Means a complete rebuild and design from scratch - which (according to GoDaddy) will only take "your web team" a short while to do... AHEM... well as I AM my "web team", it is already taking me ages .... AND more frustratingly, I can't mimic the colours/layout I currently have due to being forced into using 'section templates' with predetermined font sizing and positioning etc.  I'm finding it very frustrating.  

THERE Is one bit of good news - the current site (along with  Google enforced SSL certificate) was costing about 300 quid a year in hosting fees etc.  The new one  has come in at circa 270 for 2 years... IF you ignore ALL the time it takes to a) work out how to use it and b) do it all again!... FACTOR that in and it's costing a fortune!

ANYWAY - I've got 2 months to get it all up and running before the current one needs paying for again... that should give me enough time to get it done and then copied over to the domain.


Until next time...

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Loneliness , Route planning and more jobs...

I'll start here with an admission - I'm still  lonely. I didn't used to be lonely but as a result of various circumstances, I find myself rather out of sorts.  Having worked full time WITH people for 28 years (well I say full time - quite often twice the hours of full time but you know what I mean) - finding myself on a 57ft long narrow tube, moored on an awkward angle with no folk passing by, means that if I don't force myself to make the daily walk into town, I can go for days without seeing another soul and even then the only interaction is sometimes the shop assistant.   What I've learned from my recently found misery is a new found patience for the old bird/bloke in the queue ahead of me - needlessly waffling on about nothing with the server...  When it's my turn... I find MYSELF doing exactly the same... just to keep a conversation with a real person going on a bit longer.  Whilst my predicament isn't ideal, the positive I'm taking from it is that compared to MANY, MANY people, I'm very lucky...  you see, BEING so candid with boaty people has presented me once more, with lots of boaty kindness - offers to drop in for coffee,gin  and cake.   I'm NOT taking folk up on these offers for a number of reasons... (pride a side) -I suppose the main one being a feeling of self sufficiency... I've always had this need to be independent.  BEING acutely self aware, this has rather clobbered my (previously unwavering) self belief.

When back on the boat even looking out of the side hatches/portholes offers little in the way of social distraction/interaction.... well apart from swans demanding food with menages or ducks that just could along side to make annoying noises .  I do however have "some kind of creature" that jumps around on the roof for hours during the night - (WEARING clogs by the sound of it) but I never get to see what it is as by the time I've unbolted a door and stuck my head out, it's gone into the thick of the night... never to be seen, only heard the following night and anyway, that's offering very little in the way of social interaction..just sleep distraction. Oh, and writing of sleep distraction...  where I'm moored (still in a space too short for me) means the bow is constantly rubbing against the grps fenders and the tiller clonks against the bloke behinds tiller - him not really being able to move away cause if he did he'd not be able to secure a line to something secure!  It's not ideal... neither is clambering my way on and off the boat - it's a good job I'm quite agile... alas, LESS so with a bag of coal - this can be evidenced if ever you'd like to don a diving suit and jump in ... WHILST you're in there, please feel free to lift the full bag of coal that  a clumsy ginger lump dropped fell in when I was loading the roof up the other day.... it's half a week of heat(circa £10) - currently sitting 6 ft down beyond reach of anything I've been able to think of to try and grapple it out with 😒 grrr.

Anyway - this winter of living alone on a awkwardly moored boat has taught me awareness of how OTHER people must be feeling...  given how fabulous I am, imagine NOT being so fabulous or self believing... or worse - NOT being able to go out on your own .  The down side of this "learning" is perhaps a realization that in 20 years (probably less given my propensity for precociousness) I could well end up the lonely oddball wandering around town feeding the pigeons or going to the bank first thing on a Monday morning to withdraw small denomination notes...

SO - I probably don't NEED to say this here cause if read these musings, you're probably already a good kind soul but just in case -  next time you're in a queue (and perhaps in a rush yourself) give the old dear/duffer ahead (who is making you ) late a kind thought and shuffle a mile in her/his shoes... it's bloody hard work... and quite often every step hurts like hell!

Enough of my self pity - I'm lucky... before long, I'll be sailing off on my continued adventure exploring the wonder canal network ,WITH the luxury of interesting guests aboard to share it with.  The first booking for this season is cruise 2 from Skipton and unless someone secures trip 1 before then, I'll be working my way to town a little early and spending a few days somewhere I've missed being around.  

BEFORE I set off (which incidentally I'm going to do at the end of Feb rather than wait a month and then potentially get trapped here by the river) I've still a few jobs to be getting on with.  

You'll recall my recent various attempts at securing netting over the porthole covers... well it turned out that velcro didn't work - well it did until it rained and the self adhesive ness gave in.  Elastic bands on their own didn't work cause they perished very quickly.

THE final solution was the knicker elastic, hot glue and para-cord - (that all sounds a bit "Fifty Shades" but it's not lol) and this seems to have done the trick.    OF course I've fallen at another hurdle.  Thee "hoops" needed a 45 degree angle shaving off to sit flush against the boat side (so that all the magnets touched)... well, after a good start , the dremmel burned out... still with a couple of loops to do.  It was annoying job as the battery only lasted long enough to do between 1/3 and 1/2 each time.... WHICH has meant doing it first thing... putting the battery on to charge for 3 hours and then coming back to the job.

I've moved them around so that 4 portholes BEHIND the centre lines are the ones that are flush - they are the ones that tended to get "knocked off" by the rope anyway.  I've also found a laser cutting company on line and ordered 2 new discs (as replacements for the ones that got lost last year)... I'll sort them out with netting when they arrive and stick them on with magnets too

Another job (not on my list- hmmf) was the shower thermostat cartridge thingy...SINCE my first electric bill for the shoreline (which was 105 quid for 2 months EEEK) I've been very sparing with my use of shoreline... I mean, the bungalow (3 years ago I admit) was costing less than 50 quid a month to run and that was with a hot-tub on 24/7 in the garden!   SO, having set the imersion heater to only come on for half an hour at lunchtime ish  and then 1 hour after tea, when I got in the shower the other night about 8pm I was grumbling at myself for being so skint as it was cold.  HAVING had cold shower and then decided to shave - on auto pilot I ran the hot tap in the bathroom basin only to find lovely hot water.. ergo, the shower mixer stat must be buggered.  

Having gotten on to my live-aboard companion (I call her 'Google') she suggested it might just be a bit scaled up and led me to videos of  lots of boring old farts (like me I suppose)   helpful sorts, taking them apart and cleaning them out.  WHICH was my task for the remainder of the night.

Having taken the thing out, bit of a school boy error (again) cause the water was off and once soaked in descaler, it needed a good rinse... which I couldn't do easily as the water was off  - that just involved a wander outside in my pants and crocs to the tap with the washing up bowl... hey presto, once re-assembled it's working good as new again.  I amaze myself sometimes.

AS well as pottering on with jobs.. MOST of which are now done barring touching up external paintwork btw, I thought I had better get a move on with the 2021 cruise schedule.   The first part of the year is going to be spent Llangollen-ing...  I loved it up there and whilst a bit busy later on, should be ok until 'Ellis' leaves for a few trips over the Huddersfield Narrow in mid-summer.  After which, I've gotten down as far as Market Harborough... at some point today I'm going to work my way back up to Llangollen for a couple of Autumn cruises (mainly to see the trees - the colours up there will be magical as autumn sets in), before making a decision where to over-winter the one after next...  IF my friends are still on their boat in Stone, 'Ellis' and I might head back there... if not, then perhaps find another marina ... so long as I can get plugged in and actually be able to get along side the boat to clean and paint it has got to be preferable to this.

I'm not very good at route planning - it's hard to work out what folk want... SOME guests only need a couple of hours "chugging" each day and love to go off exploring... others, would rather chug longer distances as it's the boating/locking they prefer to "touristy" things... as they say, you can't please all of the people - ANY of the time lol.  WITH that in mind, I try for the middle ground - ie, what I'd like to do whilst being as flexible as possible.... 

Until next time...