Cruising Notes

We, in this country, are suffering from drought. Two years of low rainfall have lowered the levels of some reservoirs to the point where British Waterways have seen fit to close some canals, and that includes the one we have to traverse to get out of the east of England.

On the other hand, April has seen rainfalls that have taken our major rivers from low levels to flood. Naturally there is no convenient (read cheap) way of matching up these two. So we live with drought and flood restrictions simultaneously. It has a certain novelty factor.

The result is that we are probably stuck for a year, or possibly longer, depending on (would you believe it) next winter's rainfall. Still nothing is all bad, we have relatives and friends here.

So, if we were planning to visit your area, we could be a little late.

No cruising means less pictures but here is what I have:


This is the area we have been cruising, and “it's a long way from Ely to Denver” as the old song goes. However there are some minor things to amuse you along the way.

Firstly there is the boat speedometer. Boats don't have speedometers in the conventional sense despite having speed limits on the canals and rivers. Some of us geeks use GPS and actually know what is happening. Some rely on the engine rev counter to give them an idea, one boater I knew considered that when his oil pressure gauge showed 45psi he was at a good cruising speed. However no one gets that fussed except when someone gets stupid and anti-social about it.
Here is an “official” speedometer.


And if you think anyone bothers with that on a 5 mile straight bit of river, you are wrong!

Mind you, there are people checking. The river inspectors launch “Ouse II know” (whoever dreamt up that pun does not deserve a medal). The trouble is that you can see it from 2 miles away, but then again he can see you from 2 miles away as well.

Then there is the plant life.


Rivers and canals need maintenance, and that tends to involve heavy plant. They have been renewing some of the edging along the river over the winter. Please note the little boat on the outside, apart from crew transport, they use it to push the thing along when it needs moving.

Being on a river also highlights the attitude differences between GRP cruisers and steel narrow-boats (or more correctly, their owners). There is a minor rivalry between them with GRP cruisers being referred to as “plastics” or “yoghurt pots” and narrow-boats being referred to as “steel” or “sewer tubes”.

Some of the (unconscious) attitudes are different. A plastic boat usually moors in the middle of a mooring, or the middle of the largest gap between boats.


Whereas a narrow-boat would (normally) moor at one end, or in any gap of their approximate boat size. This pic gives a good example of the difference.

A similar difference is in tying up the boat, a plastic ties onto the bollard and leaves the end of the rope on the bank, a narrow-boat mooring rope is looped round the bollard and tied back onto the boat.

Then there is the centre rope, narrow-boats have a rope attached to the centre of the boat. This is used for general boat manoeuvring while mooring up. It is something you almost never see on a plastic, maybe they just prefer leaping off the front of the boat, it is certainly more athletic (and much greater fun to watch).

Some boat's don't fall into easy categories. This one is pretty unique.


It is owned by an old fashioned craftsman who makes figures out of willow, the boat is actually called Willow. Here he is at work:


And this is a small example of his work

OK, it may not be to every bodies taste but he was selling them so somebody likes them. I preferred his canoe, after all it's not often you see a decorated canoe.


Just a few oddball photos that don't fit anywhere

The willow trees in Ely just after their (much needed) haircut

Rioting in the UK, it's an old tradition not a new phenomena. It's just that the idea of an organised riot seems like an oxymoron to me, or am I taking the sign a bit too literally.


and just to show that despite turbulent times, there is peace and calm on the waterways.

Only one video this time (and that's one I found) but it does show the peace and tranquillity of life aboard a narrow-boat.

Just click this link. HERE (back button to get back)


That's it for now, Hopefully we will get moving soon. If not then we are stuck very comfortably.