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…

Sep 082012

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 I checked the met office application on the phone and was surprised to see bright sunshine symbols predicting good weather over the weekend.

By the time October arrives you have to make the most of the good weekends as they tend to be few and far between so I phoned the crew and told her to pack for the weekend. I finished work at lunchtime and we drove to the marina. The plan was to spend Friday night on board to get an early start on Saturday and make the most of the promised sunshine.

Arriving at the marina I was pleased to see that some kind soul had already slackened our ropes for us and the canal did look as high as I’d ever seen it before. Unfortunately this was probably done by the same person tasked with power washing the jetties who had also managed to blast off paint from one of our rubbing stakes. Another job added to this winter’s to-do list.


Excellent Roach from Carnforth Basin

We moved across the basin to tie up outside the Canal Turn Pub and I enjoyed an afternoon fishing until the heavens opened once again forcing us to close up the boat and hibernate. The rain lifted long enough for us to walk into town for an enjoyable chippy tea before the sun set and the cold night air forced us inside. At this point it was hard to imagine things improving very much as thunder and lightning lit up the sky. We were considering abandoning the trip but once we lit the fire the boat soon became snug and we even forsook the visit to the pub and opened a bottle and watched TV instead.

Approaching Tewitfield

Approaching Tewitfield

Saturday morning was glorious. It was still chilly but the sun shone, the clouds had disappeared and the air was still. We set off and motored at a very sedate pace up to the terminus at Tewitfield. The canal is taking on its autumnal hues and the trip was a delight. We never saw another moving boat and practically had our pick of moorings when we arrived in time for a late lunch. The only boats we saw moving that day came later that afternoon when the weekend hire boats exited Tewitfield marina.

Sunset sky

Sunset sky

Once again we forsook the visit to the pub and opened a bottle and watched TV. But this time, instead of shutting out the night we had the pleasure of seeing the orange and red hues of a lovely sunset through the windows of the boat and we were so glad we hadn’t abandoned ship the previous evening.

Incredibly, Sunday was an even better day and as we say on the back of the boat enjoying our morning cuppa we watched a small colourful flotilla of canoes pass by and head off south. Our usual Sunday morning ritual at Tewitfield involves the Greenlands car boot sale and lunch at Wellies Café. But watching the canoes pass by made us itch to get moving and repeat the pleasures of the previous day.

Tewitfield Canoes

Tewitfield Canoes

We set off after the canoes but with the engine barely above tickover we didn’t catch up with them until they stopped beyond Kellet Lane just before Carnforth. The canal was like a millpond and the towpath busy with walkers, but still we only passed a couple of moving boats. We were entertained many times by the flashing iridescent blue streaks of the kingfishers as they darted along just an inch or so above the mirror like surface of the canal.

We reached Carnforth basin for lunch and moored up. The basin was busy with both people and boats coming in for a pub lunch or out of the marina for a day trip. After lunch we sought refuge at quieter mooring further down in Bolton-le-Sands for the rest of the afternoon before tagging onto the end of a returning convoy back to the marina after a most excellent and unexpected weekend.

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…]

Oct 272011
Global Warming and the Obesity Crisis

The most powerful energy source affecting this planet is the sun. Energy from the sun arrives on earth in the form of heat and light. Ultimately the plants and animals that populate this planet absorb this energy in some form or another. Since the first creatures crawled out of the primordial soup they have been consuming the suns energy, some more efficiently than others, which is why they evolved at different rates and into countless forms. In prehistoric times the planet was sparsely populated. The majority of the plants and animals had evolved into giants in comparison to the creatures [More…]

Oct 172011
Time and tide wait for no one.

Let me start by stating, “I like wind farms”. This is just as well because we have one of the largest being constructed just offshore and you can’t get in or out of the area I live without passing numerous hillsides littered with wind generators. Nevertheless, I like them. I think they look good, tumbling over the landscape like cart-wheeling giants. Renewable energy is a goal well worth striving for and I accept we aren’t going to get there quickly or get it right first time. There will be lessons to be learnt on the way. I’ve heard the so-called [More…]