Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Before FL

Fellow blogger Nev did an interesting post about his boating history and encouraged other bloggers do the same. Since it's raining today and I can't do any painting this is is our boating history 

After trawling through a few thousand digital snaps I can access on the boat the following are the best I could find, some are paper photos taken with a digital camera so not very good quality. The Freeman photo is not of our actual boat (I couldn't locate one) but a picture of the same model from the internet. I am sure there are plenty of better snaps in albums at home, so I will endeavour to hunt them out next time we go home. 

Our story really started after hiring an inter-coastal boat on the inland waterways of Florida in 1983, we had enjoyed it so much that within a week of our return home we had bought our first vessel. 

We viewed 'Ultimate' in Windsor marina, only 21 foot long, she had galley and head facilities  including a shower, a dinette to port opposite the sink and two burner stove, hot water was provided by a Poloma instant gas water heater, her snub nose gave plenty of room for the bed. Being nervous newbies we employed a skipper to show us the ropes on the journey to her new berth. 




'Ultimate' Neptunis Passat  30HP Yamaha outboard
We moored her in Shepperton marina. We loved her and spent all our leisure time on her, evenings after work, most weekends and all our annual leave were spent aboard. 

In Romney lock
In 1990 our daughter was born, after a lot of deliberation we decided baby's and boats might not work.  We sold her in favour of a touring caravan, after pulling the thing around Devon and Cornwall it was clear it was not for us, caravan sold we had another boat before our baby was a year old.

Freeman 22 MK2 in Surrey | Power boats used 52491 - iNautia
Freeman 22 Mk2 inboard Ford petrol engine 
We spotted 'Capricorn' a Freeman 22 Mk 2 on an end of garden mooring from the towpath in Shepperton with a for sale sign taped to the window, the next day she was ours.  We only kept her a year  mooring at Bates Marina in Chertsey, although she was a foot longer than Ultimate she wasn't as roomy. She had a Ford Anglia 105E engine with the ability to start it with a crank handle if the battery went flat.
'Aquarius H'  -  Princess 32.  120 HP Volvo penta petrol engine to outdrive leg.
'Aquarius H' we first saw in Bray marina she had all the room we needed and was perfect for weekends and evenings but our two week annual holidays would now terminate at Oxford and the low Osney bridge.
'Rest Days' Birchwood 33 GT  twin 80 HP Ford diesel engines.
Being relaunched after winter on the hard.
'Rest Days' is the only boat we have named as the previous owners wanted to retain the original name, a boat fitted out to a very high speck by an admiral who moored her on the Isle of Wight. 

We now had the luxury of a separate rear cabin with a huge double bed although I never got to sleep there, it was wife and daughters domain, I was relegated to the dinette. She had twin engines and handled like a dream, she also had twin refrigerators, one under the chart table for the captain's refreshment. 

We kept her at Penton Hook marina, this gave us the ability to moor at Bray marina which was owned by the same company. She was sold seven years later by the same broker we bought her through for more money than we paid for her.

Only snap I could find of her afloat.

We kept her until we up sticks and moved to IOM in 1997 where we bought 'Lapwing' just to be able to get out on the water, although it had a cuddy we never stayed overnight aboard. Kept in a drying out harbour at Castletown after we moved her from Douglas, she didn't get much use as we waited for the right conditions to coincided with water actually being under the hull. 

We did get out as often as we could for fishing trips, We caught some nice cod, but our daughter, 7 years old at the time had been brought up angling on the Thames, she insisted all fish were returned to the sea.


IOM fishing boat Mercedes diesel engined (Captains teapot pose!)
We always knew we would be getting a narrowboat when we retired and FL was one of 20 we viewed after dismissing countless vessels on the internet.

We  had been on an old school friends working boat 35 years earlier on the Grand Union canal, and was completely taken with the cosy boatmans cabin with wood burner, that was the limit of my narrowboat experience. 

So here we are, for the last seven years living with her, we have enjoyed every minute aboard. She is boat number six for us and has that number sign written by the previous owners on her panels!

FL  57' 43 HP Vetus diesel engine.
The pull of the Thames is huge for us and although there is so much of the canal system to explore we still find ourselves heading south most years to Dukes Cut and the river. If we ever get back to the bank I would possible get another Neptunis or Freeman to spend the summer months on the river.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Don't be an idiot



Usually this time of year the marina would start to empty out,  a quarter of the berths would now be empty, many more this easter weekend. Seems the boating fraternity have got the message, folks aren't making non essential journeys from home to their boats and winter moorers have not left yet. 



Thursday, 2 April 2020

Exercise Cygnus

Its a mystery why the UK government didn't act on the findings of its own 2016 simulation of a pandemic  -Exercise Cygnus -.  The findings were so damming about the unpreparedness of the NHS  it was thought to horrendous to publish . Still they did nothing.


Today was to be the day we left the marina, instead with the restrictions on cruising we will stay put, it's not 'essential' we leave. We also can't go home as the IOM has closed ports and airports to residents as well as visitors.

Today the island had its first virus fatality, hopefully the restrictions will keep the deaths to a minimum.

Our daughter and her team of twenty have all been set up with IT equipment to work from home, I wonder if even after the world is clear of the virus that some firms will give up the expense of renting/owning office space in favour of a remote workforce.  Her boyfriends boss closed his firm down completely and laid all the staff off, it was an office refurbishment business.

Keep Safe.



Thursday, 26 March 2020

Isolation Tube

We have been getting some chores done over the past 6 days while in our steel isolation tube. Spring cleaning inside and out, brightening the brass bits and getting all those jobs done that are usually left on the back burner while out cruising.  I'd like to get some painting done but it's not quite the weather for that yet. We have had some glorious sunny days but frosts at night.

C&RT have advised only essential travel by boat is allowed, so we may be in the marina for longer than we intended. Some boats on the canal are moving out of necessity, to fill freshwater tanks, use the dumpable facilities and get fuel.


Boris has been slowly ramping up restrictions, but he doesn't appear to be getting through to the general public. In times of crisis, we need a statesman for a leader, big fibber Boris in his ill-fitting shirt, unkempt hair and bumbling manner just don't cut it.

Crowds gather on Snowdon on Saturday at Pen y Pass
People ignored the PM and flocked to Snowdonia.


Standing on the rostrum next to the intelligent Rishi Sunak and smooth Matt Hancock, Borris would be the last pick for guessing which one was PM.


NHS is battling at the sharp end of this emergency, our wonderful nurses are in there daily tending to the worst of the virus until they too succumb. It's about time they were paid there worth. How a part privatised disjointed health service would cope we can only imagine, with BJ and his backers at the helm I think we will find out in the future.

The irrational fear that caused panic buying is hopefully slowly subsiding, the delivery services of all the major supermarkets are creaking, it's very difficult to get a delivery slot, It took 4 days of trying to get a slot for Sues mum.

Here in the marina, we all remain healthy, the gates have been padlocked to prevent casual callers, the marinas extensive grounds are popular for dog walkers. The usual boater gatherings at the end of pontoons with chair and bottle are not happening, social spacing is being observed.

Stay safe - stay at home.

Right, I'm off for another game of ludo.





Saturday, 21 March 2020

Big boat home.


Eight o'clock in the evening it seemed the whole of Bilbao were out on their balconies clapping their appreciation of the emergency services, Sue joined in from behind our hotel rooms locked window.

We got a late checkout and left the hotel room at 15:00 for the twenty-minute drive to the port for the 17:15 sailing.
Image result for connemara ferry

Our boat, the Connemara, is BF no-frills economy service, I was impressed at how they handled embarcation so social distances were maintained, meal times would also be segregated but once in our cabin (all ensuite) we didn't leave it.



We were second to last off the boat and it took an hour to get through border control, which got us to Dunchurch hotel in Rugby gone midnight.

Any other guests must of been self-isolating.
Lonely breakfast.
In the morning I dropped Sue off at the supermarket while I went and jet washed salt of car, it had been on the open rear deck during the crossing. Sue got everything we needed but there were empty shelves where the pasta and rice should have been 😠

Welcomed back to the marina by staff and friends, sensible precautions are in place here to try to protect staff and moorers. The marina's bar and restaurant are closed in line with government orders, they are opting to do a takeaway service, last night we partook of the fish and chips for a fiver. Our daughter has ordered us a takeaway Mothers day meal for Sunday too.

So here we are back on the boat coals are lit, and we will self isolate here as much as is possible for the next two weeks.

Stay safe peeps.


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Don't Panic

Since I wished you a merry Christmas we have been on our annual winter pilgrimage to the sun drenched Med.
Balcony breakfast

It was cut short somewhat as the authorities placed us all under house arrest so we could stay virus free, we were allowed to go bog roll hunting in the local supermarket and shopping for other essentials. To make sure we stayed in they have closed all gathering places - the beach, paseo, bars and restaurants, oddly hairdressers could remain open. The gestapo were patrolling the streets in loudspeaker vehicles hailing the balcony brigade to stay put or face the consequences.

Pre shutdown get together

In the Spanish supermarkets the first items to be bulk bought by scaredy cats were pasta and rice, the same happened in Britain. Why?! If I fancied going on a panic buying trip myself I'd head straight to the pie aisle, pork pies, cornish pasties, and Fray Bentos tinned pies, then on to raid the freezer aisle for fish and chips and Aunt Bessies Yorkshire Puds.

Hopefully all the selfish panic buyers will take excess stuff to the food banks after they realise food production/distribution isn't going to stop because of coronavirus. What happened to the British stiff upper lip.

As a result of the emergency measures we decided to bring our departure date forward to 'Paddy's Day'.  Listening to the panicked voices of Sky News presenters we heard of travel permits having to be sourced, borders closed, police blockades and the military turning folk back around at Madrid. We did the whole journey to Bilbao via Madrid in 9 hours and only saw couple of police officers, going about their usual duties. There were signs on all motorways saying only justified journeys allowed.

We stayed a night at the Ibis, no food outlets are open during the emergency, the kitchen made us a carbonara, pizza and a salad which we had to collect and take back to our room with a couple of bottles of San Miguel.

Brittany Ferries have just announced that they are stopping sailings between Spain and UK from the 20/3 till the 12/4, so lucky we moved when we did. BF have told us all outlets onboard will be shut, bring your own food and drink, we will self isolate in our cabin the whole 26 hour trip.


Family balcony photo



Breakfast get together

Girls just like to have fun.



A more serious pose bar the bunny ears.


Don't panic Russel.

On a serious note we planned to drop in on Betty my outlaw on the way home but have decided best not to, she is very relieved. Which brings home to me just how scary this situation is for the elderly.
She received a Tesco delivery today and a few essentials were out of stock!

Stay safe.


Saturday, 18 January 2020

Happy New Year

Since my last post FL has been secured to her pontoon in the marina and wont be going on any outings until April.

Seen in Stone.

We went home for a few days over Christmas, we were well looked after by our daughter and beau.





It was nice to be waited on by our hosts who prepared a feast for us all on Christmas day. During our stay we also had meals out at the Mona Lisa and the Forge.  We also took in the latest Star Wars movie at the Palace cinema.

Night out in Laxey.
Tom and I visited the Manx Motor Museum among the exhibits were three types of car I have owned in the past, which really made me feel old.

Humber Super Snipe


Ford Zodiac

Jaguar XJ
If I had kept all the vehicles I have ever owned (33) I could have my very own motor museum scrapyard.


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Back to a cold boat to see in the new year with hot chocolate and hot water bottles. 




It soon warmed up once the stove was lit.



Last week we took the Cap Finistere form Portsmouth to Bilbao, a nine hour drive got us to Mojacar.

Happy New Year to you all.