Cruising Notes

Well folks, this is the time of year that we hibernate in our warm and cosy boat, cruise enough to keep the batteries in good shape and generally ignore the rest of the world.

So, this edition is a collection of what I didn't put in some of the others. Think of it as a patchwork quilt of boating life.

Let's start with breakfast. There has been a boat restaurant at Braunston (the centre of the canal system) for many years that is famous for it's substantial breakfasts. It's called the “Gongoozlers Rest”. To give you an idea I filched a photo of it's regular breakfast. Please note that they do a bigger breakfast for those that are really hungry.

And that comes up with two slices of bread and butter on a separate plate and a mug of tea or coffee as well.

The owner is selling the business. Let's hope the new owner keeps up the tradition after a short apprenticeship as pyramid builders.

This is an odd one. The square covered holes are for the fire brigade. In the event of fire in the building the firemen are supposed to break through the holes to get water from the canal to put the fire out.

The canals are old and rivers are even older, and sometimes you see little glimpses of that when you are not really expecting to. After all just about everybody has seen mooring rings at one time or another. But, once upon a time they were not made in China in some perfect industrial process and delivered in plastic, they were made by hand. A few still exist.

Mind you mooring bollards can vary so much that sometimes people do not even recognise them for what they are. I guess Northampton had more civic pride when these were manufactured than it has today. It was a good investment as it stops the local yobs casting you adrift by lifting the ropes off. Nowadays they just cut through your ropes.

Similarly the edging of canals was not just buying (or pouring) slabs of concrete. They were made by craftsmen who were proud of them, and considering their almost pristine condition after all these years (probably 200), justifiably so.

Some “relics” are newer, and from a more industrial time. This loader menaces over the moored boat like an ancient one eyed monster. And that is just what it is these days. Mind you it could just be a dummy to make sure that nobody steals his mooring space. I certainly wouldn't dare.


Then there are the “up to date relics”. Some boatyards are messier than others (and there are a lot of messy ones about). This is one of the worst. It adorns one of the prettiest canals just to add insult to injury.

Mind you some relics look quite normal. This mooring looks like a nice place (it is Southall mooring on the Paddington arm of the Grand Union).

It's just that the natives have dumped so much rubbish in it that you cannot get within 3 foot of the bank. I know, I once spent 20 minutes trying.

We have seen our fair share of sunken boats recently. While realising that they were someone’s pride and joy once they certainly are not any more. This one is on a 48 hour mooring. I think it is due to get an overstay ticket. The blue “snake” is used by the emergency services and is designed to contain any diesel or oil discharges. It does not appear to be working too well.

Still better there than in mid-canal.

However, to lighter stuff.

Firstly there is the engine for the boat. I asked for something with a bit more power!

But, I settled for just changing the anti-freeze and new hoses.

Then there was the problem parking the plane, I wondered why this parking place was so cheap.

And then there was the problem of getting to the bus stop from the boat

It's been a bit wintery here, a bit of snow, nothing serious. This was our back deck. Pretty trivial by the standards of this winter in Europe I know. At least we haven’t had frozen ropes (so far). They are like iron bars and you don't go anywhere because you can't untie the boat.

Had to do a bit of ice breaking as well. The ice was thin, only about half an inch thick. This very short composite video shows:

the view from the back

the view from the front

from the inside (note the noise)

and the hole we carve in the ice as we pass along our way.

It's not a very peaceful activity!

Sadly that was the last video taken by that camera, I was busy filming when I touched the bank coming into moor and it toppled over and went for a swim. I have ordered a replacement, and a ball of string. I also ordered a headcam so that you can get a more dynamic view from the steerer’s perspective as the fixed camera is a bit static, and a bit far forward, for some of the things we get up to.

So, just a reminder, It's nearly Valentines day. Remember to send a birthday email to The Beech Nuts wishing her a happy 10th Birthday. Yes, 10 years since her launch and a shade over 9000 hours on the engine. If it does us for another 10 years I will be well pleased.

Keep warm, or cool, depending on which side of the equator you are.


P.S. I fact that I only learnt recently: A day on Earth lasts 48 hours. Yes it surprised me too but it's actually true.