Friday 30 November 2018

Last night on the Home-Mooring...Spring Cleaning (early) and shank's pony.

It's been a pretty cruddy last week on our mooring weather wise - the occasional dry spell but not a lot of light for the solar panels, way more wind (outside) than we'd like and lots of rain too.

This has meant that a lot of the jobs we'd left until last minute are not going to get done before we chug off into the light blue yonder.  It's not the end of the world but it would have been nice to get them done - procrastination being to blame once more.

No matter - we will no doubt get some bright dry and not TOO cold days in the not too distant future - we hope.

ONE thing that I did get around to  during a brief dry spell - Not that it needed to be dry to be done , was to take the front and rear fenders off the boat, take them to a local garage jet wash and give them a good clean.

I had planned to do them when we had the boat blacked earlier in the year - alas, I never quite worked out where the power supply for their jet-washer was.  Anyway, it's done now and they're back on the boat - sans green slime... well most of it's gone compared to before.

With this being the last week in Wakey, my old banger went up for sale on Ebay - listed HONESTLY (unlike a lot of the rubbish that gets posted) with faults and all.

The chap was supposed to come and collect it yesterday but asked if he could pay the balance via paypal - and me smelling a rat, suggested he could come the today instead if that was easier... we'll see how that pans out later.  Worse case, we park it up and deal with it in the new year when we pass back through... Assuming it DOES go, it'll be shank's pony for us for the foreseeable - we're actually looking forward to having to THINK about what we buy when shopping as 9 times out of 10, we buy way more than we need.  THAT said, we HAVE stocked up on soft drinks, washing liquid and coal.

Writing of washing liquid,  we've now successfully switched the 'black water' tank from green/blue to bio-washing liquid.  It took a few empties and rinses to get rid of the traces of the blue - which presumably killed off the biological action of the laundry liquid but it has certainly reduced the pong  emanating from the exterior vent.... and (using Aldi's Alamat at  under 2 quid a litre, it's a LOT cheaper than before - not to mention better.  Add to that a spray bottle of diluted stuff in the bathroom (sorry- HEAD) to give a couple of squirts to stubborn bits, it's all good.

In preparation for our departure I'm going to do the next service and change oil/filters.  Including the pre-filter since I've got a whole load of them now.  

Let's hope it's dry today.

Until next time...

Friday 23 November 2018

Emergency Navigation lighting, more jobs and jump starting neighbours.

Now back when we were ordering the boat, the builder pointed out that navigation lights were a waste of time in his opinion because, due to the height of the boat, there is no way of FITTING them to apply with "proper" regulations pertaining to vessels of the length of the boat.

Believe it or not, at that time, I was so stressed about the whole boat building/buying business AND work etc. that I caved in and said "ok don't bother with the wires then" - looking back, his suggestion might have been more of a result of the wiring loom having already gone in rather than the legality of said lighting.

Anyway - fast forward 2 years of NOT going out (well at least not on rivers) in the dark, the other day it dawned on me that for the sake of a bit of buggering about, some battery powered thingys would actually DO the job - in as far as having SOME form of coloured lighting on the appropriate side of the boat.... and thus make short journies at night time on the river (say from Leeds Lock down to Clarence Dock) acceptable - and more importantly a bit safer should we encounter traffic coming the other way.  It also occurred that it might make it a little safer should fog descend during a journey although given the relatively low output from the lights, that might just be wishful thinking.

Initially, I thought about getting some magnetic LEDS in the appropriate colours - on searching I found their price to be a bloody rip off prohibitive (remember we're now TIME rich and CASH POOR) - (Donations welcome)  SO  I ended up buying a "set" from a chandlers on Ebay and they cost about 16 quid inc.  delivery... well I say delivery, "click and collect" from Argos but at least it meant not bothering the tenant again.

Attaching said lighting to the side of the boat when required, meant I needed to make some little hookey on bracket thingys... and having a bit of 25mm squared wood lying around came in handy.

3 homemade brackets which I then painted to match the boat.  OK they're NOT the neatest of things, but on this occasion I've gone for 'function over form'   - and they work just fine.

The lights clip into them and will live inside the boat when not required... 

Whilst outside buggering about - AND as the sun was shining for a change of late, I decided to sand down and repair a chip in one of the dinette tables... it'd been bugging me (a little bit) for months.  

Unfortunately, the only birch veneer I had left was the edging strip for the doors and although it is a little bit thing, it's tidied it up OK.  

I've given it 4 coats of varnish and now need another dry day to do the other side before we leave  - hopefully.

WHILST out and about, a neighboring boater came asking for help in the form of a jump start for an old car that'd not ran for a while...a car that wasn't actually needed at the time we were doing jobs but later in the week.

  As such, I  was a bit short with her and initially left Andy to it - it turned out that both my sets of jump leads, were not up to the job.  SO that only left one thing... and that was to "try out" my emergency planning jump starting thing I bought a while back - it' purports to be able to jump start a 6.5 litre petrol or 3.0 litre diesel engine.  The CCA are rated at 800 which for a thing of it's size seemed unlikely... it also has a built in torch (with disco modes???) AND a couple of USB charging points AND a laptop output.

Amazingly, it actually worked perfectly... and on the screen still showed 98% state of charge.  

I know most folk keep a pair of jump leads on their boats in case they need to jump start themselves off their leisure batteries (truth be known I've ANOTHER decent set "somewhere" on the boat) but this really is handy to have and HAD I had it when we came across a flat (batteried) hire boat the other month in Saltaire, we could have helped them along on their holiday... looking back now, I'd obviously picked up one of the NAFF sets of jump leads when I tried to help them.  

For a change, my ocd plan for the worst approach foresight has paid off.

Jump leads are now in the bin... I WANTED to keep the wire for emergency use but Andy put his foot down with a firm hand and insisted they were disposed of...  so I put them in my secret store of things that might come in useful  the bin as instructed.

Until next time...

Friday 16 November 2018

An Update on 'My Dad', MORE chores and a day off dieting.

IGNORING our current sulk Re. the L&L being closed above Gargrave again, I thought I'd stop a while and give you an update on my dad.

As one of you may recall (I forget what I write half the time too), just at the start of our first "season" my father became gravely ill - suffering a perforated bowel and resultant emergency colectomy surgery.  This of course happened when we had guests on board and were a long way from any way of me going home.  There was nothing I could have done even if I'd been able to go home but that didn't stop the feelings of guilt.  Luckily, my brother (and grown up children) live locally to the oldies AND they've a good network of friends/other siblings - ALL of whom took care of mother .

Dad had been struggling for many years with bowel related problems.  There must be some kind of genetic defect occurring as 4 of his siblings (no longer with us) all experienced similar - sometimes cancer related problems in that area and the remaining ones have various lower digestive problems...

He'd been struggling for as long as I can remember but if you've met my dad, you'll also know he's a right stubborn bugger.   headstrong/single-minded and refused to succumb to surgery.  None of us could understand why he'd not let the docs do what was needed a long time ago.  All this became apartment when dad was whisked into hospital and the choice was 23% live or do nothing and die.

THAT stark choice and the agony he was in, for the first time I've ever known, CHANGED his mind.

Of course you could argue that HAD he listened earlier, it could have been done under easier circumstances - with less complications etc. etc.  Hindsight is a pain in the arse wonderful thing.

The thing that DID become apparent to me, just on the other end of a phone, was the reason WHY my dad had been trying NOT to succumb for so long.  It turns out that he'd become the full-time carer for our mother... and obviously, he knew (even if he'd not been prepared to admit it publicly) that she needs constant care due to the combination of various conditions which have lead to mobility and memory issues. 

Being 100 miles away on a boat - often in the middle of nowhere was not the most useful places to be but being mindful of the daily falls and inability for her to get back up again (both knee replacements being useless) I arranged for the "Red button" to be installed so at least when she DID fall, help could be summoned.

Fast forward a few weeks after the operation, his stoma had began working, he was beginning to walk around the hospital and in HIS head, he was going to be back to normal in no time - acutely aware that he NEEDED to be back at home to take care of mum.

NONE of this he actually said of course - stoicism being part of his make up.

ANYWAY - after 6 weeks (I think) recovery, he talked the hospital into letting him home.

We had a break in guests, so the day after he got home, sorted out trains and cars and went to see him.  Talk about the walking dead- he looked totally defeated... knowing he'd come home too early but unable to admit it he did what he always does and that was to "get on with it"...

Fast forward another couple of months and he's just about back to normal - well, better than the normal he'd had for a long time.  He's got colour in his cheeks, can eat and drink anything he wants and - gaping hole where his stomach muscles used to be a side, is building up his strength like the super hero he is.   He's back to doing everything at home to look after mother and all with a kind heart - it's not everyone who'd be able to do that.

Super heros come in all shapes and sizes... even in Ginger and I have to say I'm really proud of my dad - of course I'd never tell him that... well you don't do you? 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Boaty wise, (and STILL ignoring the closure further up the L & L) I've been tinkering here and there.

I attached the chain to the chimney thingy so as NOT to end up trying to fish it out of cut if the wind takes it off.
Putting the chain on, SHOULD of course, mean it'll never blow over - fair enough... I'll take that.

ANOTHER chore that present itself (and which WASN'T on the list) was the toilet solenoid again... it looks like it's going to become a twice a year job this "cleaning" the valve.  Luckily, it's not an unpleasant task, just a pain in the arse as I can't (without my glasses)  - (which are never find-able) see the screws that hold it together.

It's just a matter of wiping around the rubber with a cotton bud and it's NOT even very dirty when you get it apart... it is dirty enough though for it to stick and leak water into the bowl however...

When that was done, I set to and began fitting the little recessed door handles (they've been in a cupboard for months) to the kitchen cupboard doors to replace the temporary ones I fitted AGES ago.

The temporary ones were OK but when you "squeezed" past someone in the galley, you would catch your clothes on them - ripping my favourite shorts on many occasions.

I'll fess up here - I measured the handles using a manual micrometer to ensure I bought the correct sized flat drill bit - ahem, I measured wrong so ended up cutting a 32 mm hole where I SHOULD have cut a 35 mm hole... and it's quite hard to then enlarge.  HENCE the gluing and clamping that went on to remedy the mistake.

It's done now so the days of snagging your clothes are no longer.

Today, (15th) is my mum's and brother birthday - as such, we've had a run up to see mother and take a selection of birthday buns... Sampling 3 of them before we arrived lol ... AND we're not going to the gym either so ner ner!

Until next time...

Wednesday 14 November 2018

You've got to be joking???

Notice Alert

Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Starts At: Lock 30, Holme Bridge Lock
Ends At: Lock 85, Lock 21
Monday 26 November 2018 08:00 until further notice
Type: Navigation Closure 
Reason: Water resources

Original message:

Following a further period of below average rainfall, the water resource situation on the Leeds Liverpool Canal is such that we will need to close the canal from Holme Bridge lock, Gargrave (Lock 30) through to Wigan (Lock 85) on the 26th November until the New Year. This action is necessary because of the limited water resources currently available but more importantly to reduce the risk of the reservoirs not refilling in time for the start of the main boating season next year. During this closure we intend to offer windows of opportunity for boats to move and so the navigation will be reopened each Saturday and if the demand exists additional days can be considered.
This notice will be updated in the next few days with details of the openings.
You can find all notices at the url below:

Please do not reply to the email. It has been automatically generated.
To unsubscribe from this service please go to: and uncheck the relevant box.

Looks like we're NOT gonna get as far as Foulridge before we return to Skipton...  ergo, Skipton is the end of the line (AGAIN) for this year... hmmf!

*goes off for a sulk*

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Chores, Chores and more Chores...

The thing about boating is, that whilst lots of little things 'need' doing... when you're boating you tend to put them off  - especially if it's a nice day with the lure of a chug.

Alas, as we're tied to base until the mooring (paid up) expires at the end of the month, we've had to fight the urge to 'play' and instead, knuckle down to some of the things we've been avoiding.

Nothing TOO onerous I'll grant you and half the time ONCE you've started to do them, you find yourself asking WHY you put off doing them so long.  NO MATTER.... First on my list was to get the chimney swept again - it'd been a fair few months since I last did it but I began to notice when topping the fire up, the resultant smoke - rather than be sucked  up the flue, would billow out of the opened door.

UNLIKE on previous occasions when I remembered to cover the roof with some sheeting, this time I figured it might not be too bad so risked it and made a little bit of a mess instead.  It wasn't too bad and looking out this morning, the rain last night should have washed it away.  

Once that was done, I made a note to get some chain to fasten around the witches hat and solar panel bracket - THIS being a result of noticing a fellow boaters chimney blowing off in the wind and into the cut the other week in Windy Granary Wharf... he spent ages fishing around with a magnet trying to get it back - I decided a bit of chain to STOP it blowing into the canal, might be a better method... of course I'm YET to do it but it's in the back of my brain now so hopefully next time I wander in to a hardware store it'll trigger a reminder I'll forget all about it ;-)

Another job I kept meaning to do was replace the little foam rubber things (again) that the porthole glasses sit on - they seem to wear out quite quickly for some reason.  I have to admit to being appauled at how grubby the inside of the frames were so a job for another day is to run a cotton bud around them to clean them properly... none of the drain holes had anything in them so at least there is no danger of water building up and flooding in.

Writing of water flooding in - you may remember a few weeks ago (eek it's probably months now) I fastened a couple of bits of beading to the outside of the glazed side shutters, in a bid to reduce the amount of water that leakes through the bottom if it's raining outside... the idea being to be able to leave the external shutters open on miserable days for a bit more light.

It worked to a point but not when the wind was blowing lots of rain directly at them.  An extra modification was required...

This modification came in the form of bead of clear silicone (only because I already had a tube open from doing the side of the worktop near the sink) and  once it'd had dried, it allowed for a tight seal against the wooden beading when the shutters were closed on to it - the theory (and it's still a theory because it's not rained properly since I did it) being that it will deflect the water to run off into the canal.  I'm considering this a prototype as because I did this from inside the boat (rather than outside), the line is a bit wobbly.  IF it work,s  I'll carefully remove the silicone and repeat it from outside using Sikaflex instead - Sikaflex being FAR better for just about any boating application than silicone is.

I''ll report back in due course.

My next job was outside - Having replaced the centre lines the other week (courtesy of Peninne Cruisers in Skipton) I HAD planned to use the old ones to make side fenders... it occured to me that apart from the bits frayed by the fair-leads, they were in better condition than the current mooring lines.  SO, plan b was to cut off the duff bits, splice a new eye on them and turn them into mooring lines - mooring lines that would be a) longer (the centre lines were 15ms to start with) and b) better condition.

Once I'd run them through the washing machine I set to and (armed with yet another you-tube video) began to make the eyes.

Rather than just 3-4 tucks, I went the whole hog and did 6 "just to make sure" - and, I have to admit to being rather pleased with the result.  I cheated I suppose by using self amalgamating rubber tape to tidy the ends up, rather than melting the ends to stop them fraying.

Once I'd done both ropes, I then bunged the old mooring lines through the washer and set to to attempt to make side fenders from them.

I was defeated!

I was following one of the VERY few tutorials available on you-tube - this one in fact.

OBVIOUSLY I chose to ignore the fancy bits where he stitched around the eye... LIFE IS TOO SHORT! - anyway, what seemed like 100's of attempts  I had to give in.  You see, it all goes wrong 7 mins and 6 seconds into the video where he begins the "wall knot" thingy for the bottom...  it appears you need 5 hand to do this... 4 to form the knot and 1 to keep pausing the video... trust me. 

Thinking outside the box for a moment, I figured that if I could get beyond the "wall knot" stumbling block, I might be able to make the rest of it up...  with that in mind, I searched for "wall knots" on google and found a 3 and 4 strand knot...  but NO 6 strand one.  Once again, thinking laterally, I decided to turn my 6 strands into 3 by doubling them up and to be fair WAS able to replicated the aforementioned, Tortuous knot, quite well.

That's where I gave up... I can not for the life of me (certainly from watching the video) work out how to get any further ... it's just too fast.  So - a first for me... a you tube defeat :-(

Hopefully at some point in the future, we'll come across a chap (or chappess) somewhere MAKING them and I'll ask for a lesson.

Until next time...

Thursday 1 November 2018

Final Guests of our first season & boat's 2nd birthday...

If you've looked at our original 2018 cruise schedule on the website, you MIGHT have spotted we're NOT where we had intended to be right now - ergo, instead of the trip to Wolverhampton, we did an 8 night Leeds/Skipton/Leeds jaunt followed by a 2 night Leeds to Wakefield.

The latter began on Saturday morning when we were joined by a lovely couple (from Wakefield as it happens) who are in discussions about buying a boat in a couple of years when they can retire.

I'm a bit annoyed that I didn't think to take any photos really - we just got along nattering so well, I didn't pick up my phone for the duration of their stay.    We left Leeds about half 10/11 o'clock on a bright but bitterly freezing day.  The first day this year I've actually worn long trousers - that's how cold it was.   The canal below knostrop lock was quite busy with rowers so we had a slightly slower than usual cruise but thoroughly enjoyed both that and the company.

We overnight-ed in Castleford on the visitor moorings and on another bright but even colder Sunday morning, began the final leg to Wakefield.   The plan was to go past Stanley Ferry, into town and then turn on the river after Thornes Cut before heading back to our mooring for the night - we HAD however, forgotten about the clocks going back, so rather than end up on the river in the dark, we turned a bit earlier at the bottom of Thornes Lock (near the gym) and shortened the day by about an hour.

After breakfast on Monday morning, Andy gave our guests a lift home and I began to work through a list of jobs - ranging from laundry to applying silicone to the recent attempts at deflecting the rain from the bottom of the side hatch windows.

We've discovered CRT have already let our mooring from 2nd December when we officially leave so we've been sorting out the storage boxes etc.  We've also filled the roof up with coal from the local chap, topped up diesel tanks and generally prepared for NOT having a car - the plan being to flog it in a couple of  weeks - once we've made a birthday visit to my folks for my mums birthday... from then on it will boat yards for diesel and coal as we chug around and the occasional hire car when needed.

The plan is to make a slow journey towards Skipton where we'll spend Christmas and maybe new year - probably going as far as  Foulridge before we turn and then try to get on to the Huddersfield Narrow in January to "try" Standedge Tunnel.  After that, we WERE going to head to Sheffield but looking at the CONSIDERABLE winter stoppage lists, that might not be possible until late February ...we'll have to see how that all pans out.

2019 is already looking good bookings wise though - we've got 7 new ones (one of which is a repeat guest from this year) PLUS 3 bookings we had to carry forward due to the problems with Marple locks and Water shortages... luckily, every one affected was really good about it and we really appreciate that.

I've called in at the paint suppliers this morning to get 2.5 litres each of both greys - mainly for touch up purposes next year ... it seemed prudent to get it now rather than wait until the current tins run out.   When the temperature warms up (at the weekend  like it's supposed to)  I'm need to touch up a few more battle scars before winter gets here properly.    My phone reminded me on the 27th, that it was the 2nd anniversary of getting the boat - we'd forgotten all about it...  it feels like forever ago and I cant imagine not living on it now.

Happy "launchday birthday" Ellis.

Until next time...