Feeling drained

A cold spell is coming so off I went to ensure the boat’s plumbing will not be not damaged by the water freezing in the pipes and equipment. All it takes is to drain down the domestic plumbing. You know the sort of thing, open a drain valve and open a tap and let the water run out. Except of course the drain valve is at floor level of the boat and the floor of the boat is below the water line outside. Water does not drain up hill.
That is where my modification comes in, I put in a tee piece and air vent before the pump so I can pump the water uphill to a sink and let it run out. Well that was the first modification. Valves and tee pieces are fun inventions I think, the meccano set or lego set for the amateur plumber.
The other winter I decided that it would be useful to have a gas water heater for when the water tank had been drained. The water tank had a valve each side of it, so by adding a couple of tee pieces and a couple more valves I could switch over to the gas heater without refilling the tank.
That worked.
After a while I realised that if I had been using the tank, but it was tepid I could run water from the tank through the gas heater to get it hot enough for a shower. That needed a couple more tee pieces and a valve or two, my third modification.
Last winter it took ages to empty the tank ready for winter using a drill pump, but I got this idea that if I created a loop using hose pipe, from the bottom of the tank to the inlet of the domestic pump I could pump the tank dry in no time. But I had to add another valve.
So there we have it, the only thing I had to do when I got to the boat was to connect the hose and find the coded instructions which I now need to tell me which valves to turn to get the combination that I currently need. With valves A to G in the wardrobe and three others elsewhere I can easily drain the system, flood the floor or blow up the tank depending on whether or not I get it right.

This is the last month that I am keeping the boat in Apsley Marina. It has been OK for the last 7 years but I have not really got the value out of it. One of the things that the marina has, and it is outside the security fence, is an elsan disposal room. As an aside, the “security” fence is one of those low chain fences that you can either step over in the daylight or trip over into the canal at night.
Anyway the elsan point is in its own room which I have used quite a few times. I nearly always forgot to take my CRT key to open it, taking instead only the marina “security” gate key. Over the years I have remembered at last. At least once out on the canal I would still be able to use the elsan point, many boaters do because the nearest other one is a hour away by boat.
This week I went to use the point for the last time and I remembered to take the CRT key.
This week the lock has been changed to take a marina key. A key that I will have to give back when I leave the marina.
How is that for Murphey’s law?

Dividing Paths


For those who look forward to a read I must apologise for being silent recently. For those who just read these posts out of some sense of loyalty then thanks for hanging in there and I hope that you enjoyed your break. I am back “on-line” with a few things to write hopefully for your amusement or pleasure or information. All sorts of things are whirling around in my head from global warming, diesel emissions, plastic …

When I say these things are in my head I really mean the topics are, I do get a hot head sometimes, and plastic and diesel particles have been found about everywhere so they may be in my head as well.

I also promise to post a few more cheerful and practical things but first of all I wanted to put to bed a musing that has been on my mind. It does not fit into the normal facebook type blog, you know the type where everything is wonderful and isn’t life great. It is a musing on loss which is itself a part of life that these days we try to ignore. The problem with that approach is that when loss strikes we can be unprepared and do not know how to carry on.  Accepting loss as part of the journey would enable us to be better prepared to carry on in a more positive manner, knowing that we should not feel regret or guilt at enjoying life in our changed situation.


The two of us are walking side by side, along a country path with green pastures on every side.
The path has grass growing down the middle, she walks to the left of it, me to the right.
As we walk quietly on, the grass in the centre gets taller, until it begins to brush our hands, it is then that I realise that that we are gently touching hands, lightly holding them, and have been for longer than I remember.
We walk on and the grass is mingled with wild flowers but also gorse, nettles and thistles that occasionally prick and sting, yet we hold on. Gradually her path begins to veer away from mine, the green partition grows, the thistles increase and I tighten my grip.
She seems to be totally accepting that she is now on a different path, focused on where she is going.
As the paths continue to diverge our arms reach out further to keep our hands touching, until it is just our finger tips touching. The hedge, for that it is now what it is, is so high that occasionally I loose sight of her face for a moment.
We have to keep walking and I know that my path does not yet lead to her destination.
Then her path takes a slight dip and our fingers loose contact, I can’t see her any more.
My whole body is filled with a silent scream, a scream containing all the things I never said or did, all those missed opportunities. The scream is echoed by an empty silence as I stare at the green divide, there is no sign of her. I walk on with no awareness of where I tread.
Now and then, far ahead, I get glimpses of what might be a divergence from my path. I wonder if it leads to her destination, I wonder how peaceful I would be, no, will be, at turning aside from this path. But for now I walk on, slowly beginning to notice anew the green of the grass, the smell of the hedgerow flowers, the buzzing of the bees and the gentle breeze in my hair.

The Pulley

I have not had many opportunities recently to take Gentle Breeze out. That got me wondering about the sense of restlessness many of us feel. The poet, George Herbert seems to have captured the sentiment. He was born in Wales at the end of the sixteenth century, thus you will have to read this slowly to get the sense.


When God at first made man,Having a glass of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) pour on him all we can:
Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way;
The beauty flow’d, then wisdom, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottom lay.

For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewel also on my creature,

He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness:
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.

George Herbert.

This was reflected by a prayer, the collect for the day, at church today.

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you: pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

I am looking forward to getting GB out of the marina, and playing at full blast “How great Thou art” as I cruise past the autumnal colours.

Hooligans or helpers?

I moved the boat from Cowroast to Bulbourne, just a few miles along the Tring summit. Those locations themselves are full of local history.

The name of Cowroast on the old A41 was probably derived from cow rest, a place where cattle were rested up on the drive down to London.DSCN8169

Bulbourne is still a Canal and River Trust workshop, much diminished from the time when lock gates were made there. There is still a privately run dry dock alongside the first lock descending northwards since the London and the Thames some 37 miles and 56 locks away.

The summit cutting is up to 30 feet deep, or high depending on your point of view, and several miles long. It is a cool place to cruise as it is mainly shaded by trees on both sides.


As usual I was following a kingfisher as it flew from one waterside perch to another, catching insects from the surface as it went.

Mooring up early due to the heat I was able to spend some time watching the fish. Now being a trained biologist I know my fish. These were of the type that I would definitely describe as medium to big, about two foot long each. They seemed to be in a family, or gang, I think that is called a school, or is it shoal? Anyway these were fish. Like I said I know my fish when I see them as close as this. They were very close to the surface, I suspect that oxygen levels were low, due to the heat, and they were keeping near to the surface where it was more concentrated. That gave me a good view and enabled me to identify them, as fish. They had eyes, a mouth, they definitely had fins, no arms or legs, and were swimming, so I conclude these were fish. If you think that my definition could possibly include other types of aquatic animals I have checked and it is quite unlikely that they were dolphins or whales.

Now during the afternoon I got quite fond of my slow moving family of fish. They seemed to like to be around the bit of water where I was moored, it is nice to have a bit of company, even if my attempts at dialogue did not seem to result in any meaningful responses.

It was hot, really hot therefore even though my lighter painted roof reduced the impact of the sun I was driven to go for a shady walk. By shady I mean in the shadows of the trees, not anything underhand. Near Bulbourne there is a wildlife reserve where I sat and watched a tern swooping and diving to take insects off of the surface. It kept this up for at least 30 minutes that I watched it, a fantastic aerial acrobat.

It was one of those very hot nights, about 26C in the boat, when sleep does not come easily anyway. I say “anyway” because I was disturbed. I woke in the night to a noise best described as a “toyng, toyng”. A bit like a soft mallet hitting the metal of the boat. It kept happening but was not located in any one place, it seemed to come from all over the boat, suggesting that it was not a burglar or the usual type of vandal. It would stop for a bit then resume, “toyng, toyng, toyng, toyng”.

I looked over the side in the twilight, it stopped. But there in the water was the occasional bubble and tell tale movement on the surface that indicate there is something moving just below the surface.

Now I know that they meant well by cleaning the algae off of my hull, but why the hull couldn’t they do it in the day instead of lazily basking in the sun? No wonder they did not answer back during the day, they were embarrassed about what they were planning.

Anyway, I have finished my bit of carping.


Having found the supplier where I bought them I said I noticed the three extinguishers have a due test date of 2017. He says yes but they are 5 years old. So I say yes so can you test them. He says no, we can’t test powder extinguishers, do you want new ones? I say what happens to the old ones? He says they get scrapped. So  I say why does it say they are due to be tested. He says that only applies to water and foam, there is also a yearly check due by date that I should have been looking at. So I say what is the difference between a check and a test. He says to check them we weigh them and look at the gauge we can’t test them,  do I want new ones? So I say I have no choice. So he says look if you get two of the 2 kg ones it saves you money and they are now even higher capacity, more than you need for your boat. So I think, helpful guy and say yes that’s fine, how much? He says well as you have been giving me grief about having to chuck the others away I will give you discount and make it £50 for two. I think nice man and pay up, except it now increases by £10 because I was talking total, he was talking net of VAT.. He says you might as well keep the old ones coz they will still work, I just can’t certify them. So now I have a total of 6 old and two new ones (yes I still have the previous set off the boat.). Anyway I get back to the boat, fit in two new ones and just for luck keep one old one in case. I get home satisfied that I am way over the requirements for safety to find that no, not only do the regs require a certain capacity, but also number of extinguishers, I am now one certified extinguisher short. So I get on line to find out how much it will cost me, yes they are an awful lot cheaper on line. Well I still need another small one to meet the regs. But if I buy on line can I be sure that the locals will test, sorry check it next year. Why has everything got to be so convoluted? Nice swan though.



Run in to Little Venice

Travelling into London one comes across this odd looking “island” with its Middlesex shield. The barriers each side give the clue that it is an aquaduct. In fact this is one of the quietest ways of crossing the North Circular road.


A sideways glance provides a view of the traffic below, oblivious to the relative calm of the canal crossing above them.


As an undergrad I visited the Greenford site of the pharmaceutical company Glaxo. A job in the industry evaded me for a few years but I always remembered that visit, and the rather merry students on the minibus on the way home. It was many years ago but it seems I am wearing a little better than the site which is being demolished. Mind it has looked sad and neglected for a few years.


At the festival there was the usual pageants and activities. Of which the most spectacular is the Sunday evening illuminated boat parade. It will probably be the same again next year, as is my annual commitment to give it a miss next year.

DSCN7861However if one gets a little bored then there is always the world championship snooker to watch on board.DSCN7854


Reuse again

My temporary repair to the bilge hose would probably have been sufficient to do the job but if not, and the boat sunk then the insurers would probably claim the boat was not “sea worthy”. Now they use this get out clause whenever they can. There have been boats that have broken down on an estuary and sunk when an un-forecasted storm has hit. The insurers claim the boat should not have been out in the storm. It would not have been if it had not broken down. In other words if you can foresee and prevent all eventualities then the insurance is valid, and not needed!

Well coming back to my repair of my hose by taping a vinyl glove around it, I decided as I was passing the chandlers at Uxbridge I should buy a new hose.


For those wondering why you need a pump in the engine bay I shall explain. First of all the engine is under the loosely fitted deck boards. In England it rains. Most of that water goes down drain channels but as we all know waterproofs leak, just like us getting rain down our necks in heavy rain so the water gets down into the engine bay.

Secondly there is the hole in the back of the boat. Rowing boats, sailing boats and paddle steamers use a sensible means of propulsion whereby the force is applied above the water line. But for boats with an inboard engine there is the need to pass the propeller shaft out through a hole in the hull, normally below the water line. There is a gland with a seal and it is normally set up to allow a mall amount of water to drip through to lubricate the seal surface. During the day the drip can become a dribble and if left unadjusted the dribble becomes a trickle. Moor up for a couple of weeks and you can come back to a sunken vessel. Hence the pump and its automatic float switch. There are other sources of water like waves on rough estuaries and forgetting to secure the weed hatch properly but that will do for now.


Enough about technicalities, I thought it best to get a new hose. I measured it as a 1 inch diameter hose. I bought a 1 inch hose. Later that day I moored up and found that the existing hose had somehow shrunk to a ¾ inch hose. I have yet to find a tape measure that I can rely on. On searching my bits and bobs box (don’t all men have one?) for some adapters I came across a length of ¾ inch washing machine drain hose. It does the job, does anyone want some 1 inch hose?