Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The folk that live on these “boats” certainly seem to have got the message about reducing and re-using. I’m not sure they can be classified as canal boats and I wonder how the safety surveyors and insurers think when they turn up to assess them.

The better side of cruising to London

Having pointed out some of the down sides I have to balance that with the better bits. Like waking up early at Denham, and locking through Denham Deep lock. Although it is only a few miles from the Northolt and Heathrow airpots, within the M25 it is a peaceful mooring point with nature parks on both sides of the canal.

Southward bound

Spring and summer were apparently here last week in preparation for the season of boating. Working away in the engine bay, with the sun beating on the canopy it seemed a shame to be missing out on the sun. However I knew that if by chance it rained a bit whilst out on the canal at least the newly painted engine bay would have proper protection from any dribble of water that may find its way down there. Having finished up it was with pleasure I started out on the 33 mile, 23 lock trip southwards towards Paddington and the canal Cavalcade festival to be held on the bank holiday.

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What is more, this season I have the newly painted roof in a lighter colour that will have less solar gain in the sun. The above photo is me and GB passing the flats which are built on the defunct Ovaltine factory, along with nb Tickety Boo. At that point it was not raining. And then it did, and some more, and heavily. By the time I moored up for the afternoon the deck was awash, my shoes sodden and every now and then I had to lean overboard to empty the water out of the brim of my boater’s hat. The forecast is not for dry weather but never mind, if it wasn’t for the rain we couldn’t have canals.  Us boaters can cozy down inside with our fires and central heating, change into dry cloths and watch the ducks swim by. But I do spare a thought for the visitors and stall holders at the festival. Also for all those unfortunate liveaboard boaters on subsistence living who have not got the facilities aboard to stay warm, dry and properly fed. You don’t see much of that side of canal living on the TV programmes featuring John Sergeant or Timothy West.

Well tomorrow is another day of cruising, along with the Met’s yellow warning for rain and wind. I had better tie the hat on tight!

Knots on boats

I think one of the most useful knots is a virtual knot. I don’t mean one that is visualised in some sort of daft computer 3D head set but the equivalent of a knot in a handkerchief.

That is not to diminish the usefulness of different knots on my boat. There is the lighterman’s hitch for rapid tying up without it ever over tightening, the two half hitches for knotting to a stake. I love the double slip knot tying the centre and stern rope quickly and temporarily together to drop over a bollard whilst closing a lock gate. And how about that highwayman’s hitch or the similar tumble hitch that can be undone quickly by pulling on the loose end (too dangerous for use when climbing though).

The preference for the knot in the hanky was reinforced when I was painting the bilge/engine bay of the boat this week. People often use the phrase “don’t forget to ..” or “remember to ..”. But how do you do that I ask myself? I have an on/off switch on the smoke alarm of the boat. The galley grill is often the source of smoke from bacon or toast so when the alarm sounds I just switch it off and hang an oversized label on it which dangles in my way until I switch it back on and remove the tag. It is in effect a reminder to “remember to” switch it back on.

With much more dangerous situations human error is prevented by more elaborate systems. Such as the multiple pad lock systems used by different engineers working on high voltage systems or transmitter masts.

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But what has this to do with my engine bay? I went back to finish off painting the engine bay following a day out on the boat which had interrupted the paint job. Lifting the boards and getting ready to paint I noticed the bilge pump. This normally sits on the bottom of the bay, ready to pump out excess water up its flexible hose and out of the boat. I had needed to move it out of the way whilst putting the first coats of paint on and there it was, still resting on the top of the fly wheel coupling. The coupling that yesterday had been running round merrily whilst cutting holes into the hose and wrapping the pump’s power cable around itself.

So me thinks that next time I do anything that requires rectification before starting the engine I should hang a tag on the ignition switch, effectively tying a virtual knot in my virtual hanky. Oh well, get out the electrical repair and hose repair kits!

Chaplain lock training

Gentle Breeze behaved admirably when she made herself available for lock operation  training / refresher training of some of the local chaplains.

These folk all were all pretty good with the locks anyway. But to be honest helping others through the locks is the last of what they do. They give up loads of their own time they give up make lots of effort to help out total strangers on the waterways.

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Boxing day boating in Berkhampsted

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This was a lovely sunny break in the weather. Amazingly there were no other boats moving, at least none that I came across. There is loads of industrial history in Berkhampsted, the history boards along the canal give a good insight to the heritage. From the 1067 castle to timber goods for the Crimea war effort and barge building the town made a significant contribution. Now it is mainly a commuter and market town.

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The most life seen today were the Boxing day after-dinner walkers. Most boaters seemed to be hunkered down in their boats, which come in many shapes and sizes.  This one seems to have a very durable “canopy” on it!

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