Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Wooden handrails - a blessing or a curse? Plus a short marina tour.

Herbie has two unusual features. One is the hinged hatch lid and the other is the wooden handrail atop the cabin sides.  The wooden rail has the great advantage of not getting too hot or cold to put your hands on in extremes of weather.  However the downside is that wood is not so weather resistant as metal and the fact that it moves differently to the metal it is screwed to means that the paintwork on it tends to suffer.  So I need to paint it at least every two years.  

Over time the wood has also developed cracks and abrasions here and there, so prepping it for repainting is a non trivial task.  I did the starboard side rail (not as well as I should have done) last autumn, so last weekend I set about the port side rail determined to be more thorough.  Sand, fill, wash down, spot some more cracks, fill, sand, wash down again etc.  I didn't count how many hours but was quite a few and it's still not perfect because the wood is now twenty years old.  Anyhow here it is in new pretty pink undercoat


I would have put on a top gloss red coat but then it started raining, so that'll have to wait. Then I've only got about twenty other jobs to do.

While "watching paint dry" I took walks around the marina which is looking very smart right now with smartly clipped hedges and lots of daffodils.  The sign on the road gate outside makes a bold claim

I don't know if it is the prettiest but it must be a contender.  (These photos all look rather better if you click on them to see them big)

The marina has two separate basins called Sunrise and Sunset.  Both are spacious.  Here's just a part (about half) of Sunset.

Herbie nestles up in a quiet corner of Sunset. Here she is settling in last summer

The Sunrise basin is huge (too big to photograph) and spread between a number of bays And here's about half of it.  You do need to click it up big to see it properly

A far cry from the overcrowded feeling of some marinas.  A walk round both basins is about a mile and a quarter!

Ventnor does not allow residents (apart from a couple of staff) although I noticed someone is planning to start a resident family on site.

Thursday, March 24, 2022


 Well we might not be on the Dock of the Bay, but we have been sitting in the morning (and afternoon) sun.  On the canal bank actually.  

Butterflies (brimstones and a peacock) have shown up, dozens of rooks are cawing in their rookeries (or crockeries as our daughter Claire used to call them when she was little) and sitting on their nests, no less than seven buzzards circled together above us near Flecknoe (vying for mates maybe), and the towpath has celandines, coltsfoot, daffodils and violets.

 So I think we can safely say that spring has started springing.  At our marina they have a super show of daffs between the two basins.

Our solar panels have resumed earning their keep too. I reckon they gave given us perhaps 50 amp hours yesterday.

This is all very encouraging of course, although a not especially close post winter study of Herbie 's exterior reveals a lot of jobs to do.  Hey ho, I'll do it a little bit at a time and maybe it won't hurt too much. I promise to start on it real soon.

Interestingly, although there are quite a few boats about, it's still relatively quiet. In the middle of Braunston yesterday there were at least half a dozen free mooring spaces.  In a few weeks time that'll seem like a distant dream.

As if all that wasn't cheerful enough, how about this lorry which came to empty the waste tank at the marina.

Now that is clever.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Warm at last

 Well who'd a thunk it? Were afloat on the boat at last. I think that's the longest time we've abandoned poor old Herbie in the 16 years we''ve owned her. Actually despite a chilly breeze we're more warm and cosy here than at home. Our son Peter who is a committed eco warrior has persuaded us to set our thermostat at home to 17 degrees, but here on the boat our little stove easily beats that with a  handful of coal.

Today was the AGM of the Ventnor Marina Moorers Association so we thought we should  show up and give some support to the committee who put in  the effort to lay on occasional breakfasts, wine and cheese, barbeques and soup an sparklers during the year as well as craft demos and talks.  Good eh?

The Association also represents moorers interests to the marina management so I was pleased that when I suggested rallying support for the provision of HVO diesel fuel at the the marina ther were some others equally keen. Maybe we'll make iit happen.

Were not venturing far this time, probably to Braunston and back. We might treat ourselves to lunch at the Gongoozlers Rest or maybe the Nelson. For added excitement we might even walk up the hill to the butchers shop and buy a pie. We might be old but we know how to live it up.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Canal Map Quiz answers

 If you're still pondering the results of the picture quiz in my previous post and don't want the answers yet, look away now.

For the rest of us here are the answers.

A. is the ring formed by the Limehouse cut, the Hertford Union (Duckett's cut) and the Regents canal.

B. is the ring formed by going up the Thames past Port Meadow in Oxford, then along the Duke's cut and back down the Oxford canal (or the other way round of course)

C. Is the incredibly tortuous stretch of the upper Thames upstream of Rushey lock where the tiller never stops swinging.

D. Is the ridiculously wandering route over the summit of the Oxford canal between Napton and Fenny Compton

E. Shows the Marsworth lock flight on The Grand Union between the Wendover Arm and the Aylesbury Arm.

F. Is on the Caldon canal where the branch to Leek crosses over the branch to Consall Forge

G. Is the complex where the boater rides the tide between Salters Lode and Denver Sluice. Once navigated, never forgotten.

H. is just past the Northern end of the Harecastle tunnel where the Macclesfield canal leaves the Trent and Mersey canal and crosses over it.

I.  Is the canal basin at Market Harborough - nice place!

J. Shows the distinctive shape of canal basin at Coventry.

How did you do?

Wednesday, March 09, 2022


 Most people enjoy a puzzle or a quiz.  The latest puzzle fad seems to be Wordle which we play as a family each morning to see who gets the answer first. Then this morning I came across WORLDLE where you have to guess places from their map outline.  It's quite clever, giving you help after each guess saying how far away you area and in what direction.  Having coded my own version of Wordle recently I at first mused about doing something like it for canal places, but I can see that is would be a big job because of all the distance and direction thing.

So as a consolation I've knocked together this simpler map quiz for you to have a go at if you fancy it.

The picture below shows ten places on English navigable waterways.  Can you identify them? I'll give a bit of help in the description below.

These are definitely not all to the same scale.

A and B are two shortish circular routes easily done inside a day.  Excuse my poor tracing, the lower right hand line in A should I think be dead straight. This loop contains four named waterways. B is part river part canal.

C and D are extraordinary wiggly stretches D is easy if you've ever been that way. C is on a narrowish bit of river and is an afternoon's run between two locks slaloming sharply all the way  for about 3 miles - a real test on the tiller.

E shows a short downhill / uphill stretch (with a number of locks of course) between 2 junctions.  You could walk it in about ten or fifteen minutes.

F is a junction after which the branches cross over each other

G is a complex which you have to negotiate on a through route. Not for the faint hearted.

I and J  (the lower one) are canal termini

H is another crossover junction.

Good luck.