May 072013

When is a cruise not a cruise?

With a long weekend booked and a good forecast. The May Bank holiday weekend was looking nailed on as our first overnight cruise of the season but fate was yet to play its hand as my adult daughter came down with mumps and we couldn’t leave her to suffer alone. I say “we”, although his can also be interpreted as “the wife said”.

However by Saturday afternoon the sickness had subsided enough to allow us to leave her alone long enough to get the boat out for an hour of so. Although the promised good weather was yet to make an appearance. I’m pleased to say the engine fired easily after the recent electrickery issues and we had a short but challenging trip in the stiff breeze.

Sunday was middle son’s day off and usually he would visit for some of Mothers cooking. However he hasn’t had mumps yet and thought it prudent to stay away, so we agreed to take him out for the afternoon. Where could we go? A repeat run of the previous day’s short cruise was in order. The only difference was that the wind had dropped and the sun was making a valiant effort to shine.

And so to the Bank Holiday Monday itself. The sun finally made its promised appearance as we headed towards Preston Boat Jumble with the now much improved daughter in tow. After spending far too much money on stuff we didn’t really need, and breathing a sigh of relief when we found out a ten foot boat hook does fit in a Toyota Verso, we left after lunch with the intention of dropping off our purchases at the boat en-route home.

Arriving at the marina we stowed all the new gear on board. The pub across the cut from the mooring was busy and the visitor moorings alongside full. Several boats chugged past making the most of the sunshine. We all agreed there was no rush to get home and the tea would keep. I started the engine and rolled back the canopy and we headed out of the marina for a run up to Tewitfield and back. It was just too nice not to.

Over the weekend we probably cruised more than we would if we had stuck to our original plans but it still felt like a weekend missed. There’s more to cruising than pottering up and down the waterway, pleasant as it is. We still missed out on waking up in the middle of the countryside. Sharing an evening beer with other boaters in a canalside pub. Lazy afternoons drowning maggots or just watching the kingfishers darting back and forth.

But there’s always next weekend…

Apr 242013

We went to the boat one Saturday morning recently, just to give the engine a run as we had been doing throughout the winter months, we turned the ignition key and the engine turned over. It turned over and tried to start, and then it turned over and died. All the electrics to the cockpit were dead. Even the LED lighting didn’t have enough power to light (although the lights inside the cabin worked fine).

We’d come across this before and assumed it was a battery issue. Although the battery meter told us all the batteries where fully charged, if you left things alone for an hour or two everything would come back to life. We assumed this was down to the solar panel providing a boost to the starter battery. We returned to the boat the following week armed with a new starter battery. The boat was still dead but we changed the starter battery and hoped for the best.


We sought out the Marina owner, a Marine Engineer who also runs a car repair business and found him up to his elbows in a BMW. He agreed to have a look at the problem for us and would give us a call if he found anything.

I asked him if he’d be interested in re-wiring the whole boat for us during the winter.

“What do you want to do that for, it works doesn’t it?”

“Obviously not”, I replied.

We never heard from the Marina during the week and returned to the boat the following weekend to find her just as we had left her, still dead as a doornail. I went looking for the Marina owner thinking he had forgotten us. He swore he’d visited the boat, turned the key and she’d fired up first time. “There’s nothing wrong with it” he insisted.

“Oh yes there is” said I, and he followed me back to our berth. He stepped on board and turned the key. It was a nervous moment. If the boat started now I’d look a right idiot. I was almost glad when nothing happened.

“It’ll be a solenoid” he said, as his head and arms disappeared into the bowels of the boat where most of the electrickery is hidden away. “Bloody el! It’s more like a bleedin’ space shuttle than a boat”, he says.

“I told you it needed rewiring”, said I.

Armed with a small adjustable spanner, there was much scary banging and showers of sparks as he used the spanner to short various circuits. “There’s power” he said over the top of the firework display, and for a brief moment the control panel of the boat flashed into life.

“Whatever you hit then worked for a moment” I said, trying to be helpful. But all it seemed to do was provide a reason for another round of bangs and sparks while I went over the instructions for performing CPR in my head.

“I’ll go and get my test meter”, he said.

“Good idea”, I replied, relaxing a little.

We removed the boats control panel to reveal the brightly coloured birds nest of fine wires behind it. I subtlety hid the spanner while he prodded and probed with the test meter, before declaring “I have an electrician. I’ll get him to look at it this week”.

True to his word, he had his electrician look at the boat and he called me at home to report that the elecmagician had fixed the electrickery and the boat was now sorted. He didn’t know what the root cause was, but It had taken the guy two and half hours to fix and afterwards he’d said, “That boat needs rewiring.”

The next weekend we arrived at the marina, turned the key and the engine fired up first time. With a rather lighter wallet and an expensive appointment with an elecmagician in the winter to look forward to, we headed off into the sunshine for a short cruise up the canal. It wasn’t long before we settled back into the pace of the canal and we appreciated the real value of having a working boat and the sting of bill eased slightly.

They say “A boat is a hole in the water in which you pour your money”. But when you’re pottering along a canal in the sunshine watching the scenery and wildlife slip by to the low hypnotic beat of the engine as it pushes you along a tranquil waterway. You realise the money is an investment in your soul and down payment on your sanity.

Sep 082012
An Unexpected Weekend

The weather had been awful all week to the point that many areas had suffered flash floods. We knew we’d have to visit the boat at the weekend to check she was still dry and likely slacken the mooring lines. Little did we know it would turn into such an unexpected weekend. Sat in the office on Friday morning people were talking about the forecast for the weekend being so good. The weather had been a common topic all week and looking out of the window at the hail storm currently giving us a pounding you could see why. Nevertheless [More…]

Jun 062012
Jubilee Cruise

The plan was to avoid as much of the inane media coverage of the Queens Jubilee by spending an extended weekend cruising on the boat. The plan was to set off from Carnforth on Thursday evening and head south towards Garstang, returning to Carnforth the following Tuesday. The first thing we noticed was the number of boats that had been dressed in bunting for the weekend. Avoiding the Jubilee was going to be harder than we thought. After spending the first night at Hest Bank we moored just on the approaches to the Lune Aqueduct for lunch on the Friday. While [More…]

Apr 012012
Posting a windscreen

The boat was put back into the water at the end of March without a windscreen in place. We ordered the new windscreen in plenty of time and it had been sat on the boat for weeks waiting to be fitted. We concentrated on the jobs on the hull and sterndrive, which had to be completed while ashore, intending to fit the windscreen a couple of weekends before she went back in the water. Despite bad weather we were roughly on target and removed the old windscreen and threw it in the skip. The following weekend we set off to [More…]