Yes it's that time again, you can't stop it and why would you want to when you can get dressed up and come along to the glittering occasion to top them all. Forget the World Cup, forget Strictly, ignore the Sussex's Netflix series and plug in to the real seasonal highlight -
The Famous Traditional
16th Herbie Awards (est 2007).
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. With:
Best Boater's Gadget 2022
Everybody (?) likes a gadget -well I do any way, and this year I can think of quite a few that I've been glad of aboard Herbie. Maybe it'll give you an idea for a Christmas gift for boater, who knows? These are all things so useful that if we lost or broke one, we would immediately get a replacement. Here they are
1. Stove glove. Why did we never think about using a glove to handle the hot coal stove handle and control knobs before? Then one came with our new stove and we've never looked back. Ours was a special black stove glove but I suppose a normal oven glove would work.
2. Magnetic hatch cover. Herbie's side hatch used to let in rain water sometimes - just at the bottom. So this year we bought some waterproof fabric and some magnets and made this rectangular cover with bar magnets (easily available on line) sewn into the hem and bingo -no more leaks. Keeps out draughts too.
It's quick to take on and off, withstands strong winds and easy to make as long as somebody can sew a simple hem.
3. In line hose tap.
Don't rush back and forth to the bankside water tap to turn the filler hose off and on. Fit a cheap tap to the free end of the hose. Something like this would do.
We fit a short length of hose after the tap too, just enough to poke safely into the boat's filler hole. The tap also save spillage when you take the hose out when the tank is full.
4. Safety ladder. Well I guess this is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, because we bought it after Kath fell in the canal at Hillmorton this summer. It was a hell of a job getting her out. So now we keep a ladder on the roof. I think two metres is long enough on most canals to stand it on the canal bed,
or failing that just hang it by a rope from a deck fixing such as a stern dolly.
5. Check list for leaving the boat.
A great peace of mind trick. I print off a wad of these pre-made forms and use one each time we clear up the boat before we head off home after a trip. It not only ensures we don't overlook anything important (e.g. switch off the fridge, take your phone home etc. ) but when we take the completed tick list home with us, it stops the nagging worry that we might have forgotten to do this or that. Even better when our kids use the boat and we're not there, it gives them the prompts they need to leave everything OK. I suspect it has saved us a number of return journeys (100 minutes each way) back to the boat to do something we'd forgotten or to collect something left behind.
6. Phone shelf. We're often in spots where we can only get a phone or data signal inside the boat by putting the phone in the window. But we don't have window ledges wide enough, so I made a small wooden clip on shelf, only about 6 in long, which attaches to the rail that you tuck the bottom of the curtains into. You can move it to whichever window gets the best signal. The shelf has a lip on the outer edge so you can prop up the phone leaning against the window itself. (Sorry I forgot to get a photo of it.) Ours gets daily use and often makes the difference between signal and no signal. Cheaper and easier than any sort of aerial or dongle.
7. Cardiac pacemaker (!??!!) - it's very unlikely that you'll need one of these, but I can assure you I need mine and without it I doubt I would ever be safe to boat again. Its a fantastic gadget and it really works. However I accept that including it is perhaps outside the rules of the Herbie Award Academy so it can't be the winner.
Which one merits the coveted award? A tough choice. Let me know your thoughts on a favourite. Results next time, as well as some nominees for Best Rural Overnight Stop 2022