Sunday, 25 December 2011

Single-handed cruising

As my profile says, I have 3 conditions that need to be met to go on a narrowboat holiday on the UK canals. The first is having a minder for my house and cat, which is resolvable with a trusted friend or paying for a service, or both. So if all else fails, mere money can resolve it.

The second item is affording it, which is also a mere money resolution and not my biggest concern. Thank goodness for mere money.

The third is having someone to travel with, which is more a matter of the heart. And I must say that recent times have not been sympathetic to this condition. There is an alternative which I hadn't considered before.

I had discounted single-handed cruising as too difficult. Especially since, at this time, I have zero experience on the canals. I do have plenty of experience cruising single-handed in sail and powered craft on inland Australian waters and at sea.

True, it would be more physically demanding and would not be as much fun, but it would be a significant challenge and much more fun than staying at home and not doing a canal trip at all. I'd say boat hire and boat share would be out of the question.

And, I could play out my Lomax from “Travelling Man” fantasy of a single bloke going from adventure to adventure while roaming the UK canal system on a boat about the same size as “Harmony” or around 30ft – 36ft. (NOTE: I reviewed 3 suitable boats in October.)

Harmony from the Travelling Man series, residing on the Bridgewater canal. In the series it was red.
And who knows, being out and about I may even meet someone. Though I have read, in respect of the Lomax character, the series departs from reality and firmly becomes fiction in respect of his reoccurring ability to meet women. Apparently, single guys living on narrowboats (in reality) have an almost certain prospect of remaining single. Kudos to those that have partners that share this interest.

I digress …...

Trolling through the FAQ's on the website I came across the following information on single-handed cruising.

Question: I would like to go boating single handed in a narrowboat on the inland waterways. Is this a practical proposition please?


Yes it is. Most things are likely to take longer - you need to take your time and plan what you are about to do. One contributor even suggested that women might be better at it than men because " have a general tendency to rely on brawn because they can but women are more used to not being strong enough to do things that way so look at problems with more of an eye to doing something the simple way."

Most boaters recommend a centre line which should be attached to the centre of the roof of the boat, long enough to reach back to the steering position. When mooring, bring the boat in at an angle to the bank with the bows up to the back, then gently drive the stern in. Put the gearbox into neutral, and step ashore with the centre line and, if there is nothing to tie to, a mooring pin and hammer.

Secure the centre line, then get the bow and stern lines properly set, and then think about putting some springs out. (a second set of lines at a different angle such that one bow rope (and one stern rope) prevents the boat moving forward and the second prevents it moving aft). Consider carefully where you are going to moor. Things to take into account include the direction and strength of the wind (it may tend to blow the boat away from the bank) and the depth of water. Here is one contributor's method of single handed lock working:

Locking up -
Tie the boat up with the nose in against the lower gate, and a tight line off the roof to the bollard below the gate, if any. If no bollard, tie the line to the gate itself. (roof lines are handy when solo boating. My roof line is long enough to extend from the middle of the boat roof to the floor of the stern deck. I keep it neatly coiled next to the back hatch for easy access)

If you need to let water out of the lock, the flow of the water will cause your boat to go down and forward against the gate. When this happens, be sure the nose of the boat doesn't catch on a plank of the gate. A good bow fender is recommended.

When the lock is empty, open the gate, untie the boat, and navigate it in. Climb up the ladder. In a double lock, like on the grand Union canal, one ladder is near the rear of the lock, the other is usually toward the front. Keep your boat to the REAR of the lock when locking up. Less turbulence. Keep the engine in neutral.

Take the line with you when you climb up the ladder, even in a single lock. You never know when you may need to pull your boat back from the front gate if the fender or nose gets caught under it. Always have control of the boat at hand.

Close the bottom gate and paddles, and open the top paddles. In a double lock, open the ground paddle on the side your boat is on first, then the gate paddle when the gate paddle is covered with water, then cross the gate and do the other side in the same order. The pressure of the water will keep your boat tight to your side in a double lock. It doesn't matter in a single lock, but I follow the same procedure just to keep the discipline of it anyway.
When the lock is full, open the gate and exit by navigating. Moor up just above the lock at the BW bollard or ring. (if any....;( not always there) Close the gates and paddles and go on your way.

Locking down -
Tie up to the ring or bollard with your topline. If its a double wide lock, nose the front of the boat into the opposite angle of the far lock gate, and use your stern line to secure the boat across the canal to the bollard on your side.
Fill the lock.

Untie the boat, and pull back to allow for opening the gate. Open gate.
Enter the lock, and take a turn with the topline around a bollard. ALWAYS keep the boat well to the front gate when locking down, because you are unable to control it due to the turbulence and the sill can break your rudder, or even sink the boat. Some people keep the boat in forward gear tickover.

Never go down without control of the line. I take a turn round the bollard, open one paddle, and then let the boat go slowly down, holding the line against the bollard to keep it in place I use cotton lines for my top line, NOT nylon. A cotton line will break under the weight of the boat if things go wrong, a nylon line will break the boat attachment weld. Also, cotton, though more expensive is kinder to the hands, doesn't shred your skin, and can be washed and bleached nice and clean at the laundry. (Put them in a nylon net bag or they will tangle and harm the washer during the spin cycle)

Open the bottom paddle on your side first, then the opposite. Keep your eye on the boat, making sure it is forward to the gate and not getting caught in the gate, and not drifting back towards the sill. Again, keeping the boat in forward gear at tickover will assist here, but some people dislike the boat being in gear when they are not aboard.
When the lock is empty, open the gate and bowhaul the boat slightly forward to secure the gate open.

With the line on your arm, climb down the ladder carefully. It will be wet and slimy. I wear rubber soled shoes with a heel and deep tread to get good purchase on the ladder. I try to climb down to the gunwale rather than the roof, it's safer, though muddier. Walk back to the counter, and navigate out.
Tie up below the lock, and walk back up to close the paddles and gates

Special Situations -

Stuck gate...not broken, just too hard to move.

Be sure the level is correct. Open or close the paddles as appropriate
Tie the bow line to the front of gate when going down, and gently reverse the boat to pull the gate open. GENTLY, or you may pull the gate off its pins. BW would probably hate that.
Going up, untie the boat, GENTLY nose up to the gate until you are touching it, and slowly and carefully push the gate open with the boat. A gentle nudge is sufficient, or else the gates will slam against the walls and bang back onto your boat.

Please note that this is one person's locking method - there are others. Also the technique may need to be modified depending on the locks. In time, you will develop a technique which suits you. Be particularly careful when tying up at the bottom of wide locks - the turbulence as the lock empties can be considerable. Keep an eye out for what other people are doing - if they are opening paddles too quickly for your liking then ask them to stop. Remember, take your time and think out what you are going to do. It's not as difficult as it sounds.

Swing or lift bridges can be a real problem. With some it may be possible to open them manually from the tow path side and then wedge them up with a boat shaft. Where this is not possible you should nose gently up to bridge, climb off the bow onto the bridge, fasten the end of the front line to the bridge and then open the bridge. In an ideal world, the boat will stay where it is whilst the bridge swings, taking up slack in the line haul the boat through the bridge gap, putting the front line back aboard and refastening to the other side of the bridge using the stern line. Close the bridge, haul back boat, board and set off.

There are two problems with all this. Firstly the wind. If the boat is being blown on to the bridge at any time it makes it near to impossible to continue safely. In these circumstances you could request that a passer by operate the bridge. Secondly, like all single handed stuff, slow, thoughtful, careful and efficient are the watchwords. You may find this *very* difficult to maintain in front of numerous irate motorists.“

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Boat #5 - Hull by Dave Clarke / Fitout by Darren Roberts

And another in the criterea from Nottingham Boat Sales at £59,995, though this exact boat pictured just went under offer.

Technical information:
Wooden flooring throughout. Spray foam insulation. Standard steel plating 10-6-4
Fully RCD compliant, High quality finish and specification.

Main Cabin:
Open plan, solid fuel stove with tiled surround. Two full length wardrobes. Large chromed designer central heating rad. Two double power points, L shaped dinette can be installed.

Corian style worktops incorportaing sink & drainer. Shorline 12v fridge, Stainless steel 4 ring hob , eye level oven & grill. Space for microwave. Side hatch & breakfast bar with two stools

Full width cross bathroom. Corner shower unit which has been fully tiled. Hand wash basin with storage. Thetford cassette toilet. Two storage cupboards with shelving.

Fixed double with drawers under and cuboards above. Full size double wardrobe. Extra storage under stern steps.

Engine Bay:
Isuzu 42hp diesel engine. Skin tank cooled and linked to calorifier.
Stand alone solid fuel stove. Webasto diesel central heating for radiators and hot water. Hot
water also from engine.

12 & 240v Sterling combi 1500w inverter & battery charger

Additional Information:
Washing machine can be added under the rear deck steps should you prefer to have your own facilities on board.

And you get £5 change from your £60k ... bargain !

Boat #4 - Standard Narrowboats

The fourth boat in the 'New Boats for Under £60k' is the 50ft cruiser stern Cygnet, available from Nottingham Boat Sales.

Technical info:
Plate thickness: Base 10mm / 6mm below gunwales / 5mm cabin sides / 4mm roof. Cruiser stern with handrail. Gas locker with new cylinder and bubble tester, no well deck. Approximately 725ltr stainless steel water tank, Jabsco Paramax water pump. Integral diesel tanks. Spray foam insulated. Lined in Ash throughout. 5 layers of high quality paint, to create an outstanding finish.

At £55,500 and ready to cruise, it's an interesting option, despite being 7ft shorter than the other boats in this category. The trade off is a more complete spec, a better finish and it comes in £4.5k under the target price.

The smart part of this boat's design is the lengthways full width bed and a stubby bow without seating. This is where the space saving is made to avoid comprimising the interior layout.

Fixed king size double bed with luxury mattress. 3 large storage compartments with locker lids. Full-length wardrobe with adjoining desk.

Fully fitted luxury walkthrough bathroom with Thetford Cassette toilet (electric flush and swivel bowl), full vanity unit with washbasin, fully tiled 800mm quadrant shower enclosure with thermostatically controlled mixer and tiled bathroom floor.

Solid fuel stove with tilled surround and 55ltr Surecall calorifier, heated by engine and immersion heater.

Fully equipped galley located at center. Fridge freezer under worktops, Gas hob, grille and oven unit. Copious amounts of storage with Formica work tops. Stainless Steel sink with mixer taps. Tiled floor.

Main Cabin:
 Fully carpeted. Light open living area with 2 Side hatches.

Barrus Shanks, 45hp diesel with hydraulic gearbox, water-cooled with skin tank and linked to the calorifier. Twin alternators.One for start battery and one for leisure batteries. Finished in red international bilge paint to create a clean well kept engine bay.

12v & 240v systems.
40 & 110 amp alternators.
3 x 110amp leisure batteries, 1 x starter battery.
1600watt inverter / charger unit.

Additional Info:
Gas leak detector integrated in LPG system, for self-checking your gas system.
Boats are supplied with a cruising kit, 3 x good quality ropes, 6 x side fenders, front and rear fenders and 100ltr diesel

Full 1 year warranty.

What makes this such a clever boat is that space isn't sacrificed by a lesser length. The advertising blurb points out that being a 50 footer, the reduced length can save around £500 a year on licences and mooring costs, though my calculations tend to approximate the saving at £285.59 per year, give or take.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Wanna see a nice cratch ?

I wandered upon this pic in my travels. I can't remember the boat or any details, but I think it was out of the for sale area of the apolloduck website. I could be wrong.

I like how this cratch works, both in the traditional way and folded down as a table. Just a good idea I may save for later on.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

And yet another pocket liveaboard from eBay

While we are looking at a few small liveaboards listed on eBay ... I'll add this 34 ft 2002 Piper built (and fitted) narrowboat.

It is currently at £14,500.00 with the reserve not yet met and about a day to go before the auction ends.

"Mischief" has interior woodwork in cherry and oak with sapelle trim. Excellent headroom throughout.

Spinflo Nelson stainless steel cooker with grill and oven (FFD to all rings and oven).
Electric fridge. SS sink and separate drainer.

Comfortable saloon aft with an L shaped dinette which converts to a double berth. Kabola "Old Dutch" diesel heater. 300 watt 240 Volt inverter.

Forward cabin with two single berths which convert to crosswise double if required.

12 Volt systems with 200 Ah domestic batteries.

Shower. Thetford cassette toilet with electric flush. Spare cassette.

Yanmar Shire 1000, 25 bhp diesel with PRM 80 gearbox

Water tank 120 gallons.

Diesel tank 178 litres

Safety cert and BW licence current

Mooring: There is a pontoon mooring with mains electric hook up and water, in Hatherton Marina located on The Staffs & Worcs Canal. The fee's are 38p per ft per week + VAT.

Not a lot of bucks to get on the water with some style, I must say.

Another classy pocket liveaboard on eBay

Usually the pickings on eBay vary anywhere from dubious to dilapidated. And then, you get the occassional gem.

Here's another great listing ...

42 Foot Mike Heywood Narrow Boat


£38,950 asking price o.n.o

Recent full repaint in traditional colours with Vinyl signage
Recessed panelled sides along the whole boat
Traditional Pigeon Box and side hatch to engine room
Font canvas cratch cover

Saloon finished in Oak and white. Lined in pine stained white to leave traditional wood effect yet giving light and fresh appearance.
Saloon features 2x faux black leather recliners with oak effect base. Solid wood flooring (Oak), and freestanding oak furniture.
Bay window doors to large bow deck area.
Oak effect aluminium blinds sit perfectly within recessed window panels.
Galley features brand new kitchen units, 30mm star galaxy granite work surfaces, new Thetford gas cooker and 12/240v fridge

Bathroom (heads):
Walk-through modern wet room style bathroom
Fully lined in white ceramic tiles with grey slate effect floor
Thetford cassette toilet
All chrome and aluminium fixtures

Engine Room:
Home to the beautiful and rare Russell Newbery DM2 engine. Sounds amazing when cruising and will run forever. Still in production today, built to order for over £20,000 alone!
Scrumbled throughout and features pigeon box and side hatch for additional ventilation.
Floors lift up for full access

Back Cabin:
Small double bed folds down. Comfortable and easy to make bed sleeps 2 and folds away when cruising
Loads of storage in fold down table plus extra cupboards above, below and to the side of the bed.
Additional storage under seats on the starboard side.

Equipment and inventory:
Hot water from on demand Paloma gas boiler. Efficient and cheap to run
Heating from solid fuel stove in back cabin. Additional heating from 240v radiators in saloon
Large plastic water tank (size unconfirmed)
12v provided from 3 leisure batteries (one starter battery in same battery bay)
240v provided from Sterling Combi charger/Inverter
240v Hook up
Will include in sale all ropes, fenders, stakes and poles etc required for immediate cruising.

Boat was out the water late this summer for a full professional blacking, hull survey and have 4 new annodes fitted. The hull was reported to be in immaculate condition 10/6/4/4. Survey available to view and included in sale.

Kiskadee is currently moored at Pilings Lock Marina where a berth may be available if agreed with marina owner. Rates very reasonable in by far the tidiest marina in Leicestershire!

How tasty is this one. Follow the link if you want to check it out ... or buy it !

Very nice 'pocket liveaboard' listed on eBay

This is not part of the boats for 60K series of posts. But I had to make a post on it.

It's listed on eBay for £21,995 or offer ... and here are the stats ...

For Sale a 32ft steel Nb Encore

Manufacturer: Hancock & Lane
Style: Merlin Hull with Cruiser stern
Material: Steel
Berth: 2
Year: 1975
Engine: Lister 2 cylinder diesel (SR2 Aircooled) serviced
Dimensions: 32ft by 6ft 10' wide
Gearbox: Lister LM100

Professionally refitted in 2011 to a very high standard, with a modern and fresh feel (Please see below for a full list of work carried out).

The hull is solid with good anodes, it was re-blacked earlier this year (May 2011), plus had been totally re-bottomed in 2001. Receipts and details for both included.

All fixtures fittings and furnishings included.

Re-fit includes:

- As described above the underside has been re-blacked this year, taken back to the metal and had 5 coats of blacking and is in good condition
- The sides were painted some years ago and are still in very good condition
-The top has been re-painted this year
- Solar panel charging for on board leisure batteries
- Comes with stern cover for the winter months
- Aerial fitted is high frequency, to work even in the poorest of reception areas
- Windows were replaced in 2005, receipts included. Single channel glazed in a brass finish.
- 240 v hook up in engine bay

- The boat was gutted prior to commencing work, what was salvageable inside was saved but everything else is brand new.
- The floor was solid, had 3 quarter inch marine ply on it. It was then over boarder with 8mm marine ply.
As you walk in there is the main 12 v leisure battery switch off, the main control unit, with ignition start, running hour log.
- Sony faceoff explode, radio CD player.

- Original fuel burner - resealed and re-blacked
- 20" flat screen TV, with digital receiver and build in DVD player
- Sofa with under seat storage, finished with modern, comfortable and durable coverings.
- One side contains the bed framing, with room for duvet and pillows. The other side is free storage
- Bed can be made up in under a minute, simply a case of pull out and slot in.
- High grade 10 mm olive wood laminate, through lounge, kitchen and diner.
- Spotlights throughout

- 12 v and 240 v fridge, also gas compatible (but only wired for 12 & 240 v)
- New kitchen units, high gloss doors, and brushed metal handles. With modern red granite effect work surfaces. Includes under unit lighting.
- 240 v plugs
- Used stainless steel oven (around 3/4 years old) but it is in very good condition
- New sink and tap
- Brand new high gloss white gas powered diner stools
- Painted throughout in white soft sheen

- Tiled throughout
- Paloma water heater that provides hot and cold water to the kitchen, bathroom sink and shower
- New shower unit
- Vanity unit, with mirror and fittings
- Porta Potti

- Water tank housed under cratch
- Faux leather cushion covers
- Under seating storage

- Moorings paid to the end of the month
- Possibility of residential moorings for an extra cost and at the marina managers discretion
- Boat Safety Certificate to September 2012

Moored just outside of Leicester.

A survey on this boat would be most interesting. It looks the business.