Tuesday, 17 July 2012


It is the middle of winter here in Mandurah. It is the height of summer in UK.

I thought I might compare the weather.

Mandurah mid winter
This is the 7 day forecast for the Perth area, which includes Mandurah:

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Western Australia

Perth Forecast
Issued at 4:35 pm WST on Wednesday 18 July 2012

Warning summary

Forecast for Wednesday evening
Clear. Light E/SE winds.

Precis: Clear.

Forecast for Thursday
A cold morning followed by a sunny day. Light NE/SE winds.

Precis: Cold morning. Sunny.
City:                  Min 2    Max 19
Mandurah:          Min 7    Max 17

UV Alert: Nil , UV Index predicted to reach 2 [Low]
Fire Danger: Coastal Plain: NOT RATED

Friday                     Cold morning. Sunny.            Min 3      Max 21
Saturday                Cloud increasing.                     Min 6      Max 24
Sunday                    Shower or two.                      Min 10    Max 21
Monday                  Shower or two.                       Min 8       Max 21
Tuesday                 Cloudy.                                  Min 7      Max 19
Wednesday          Partly cloudy.                             Min 6      Max 19

Almost no boats and swimmers in winter.
At this time of year, Mandurah's nightly temperatures are about 2-4C higher than Perth City (displayed) as Mandurah is coastal and the city is about 10 or so km's inland.

And here is the forecast for Manchester:

Manchester five-day forecast
   Date        Temp   

Wed 18     H  16 °C       Good
                 L  15 °C       Moderate

Thu 19       H  14 °C      Good
                 L  12 °C      Good

Fri 20         H   18 °C      Good
                 L   11 °C     Good

Sat 21        H   19 °C      Good
                L   14 °C     Good

Sun 22       H   21 °C      Good
                L   15 °C      Good

Last updated: 0401 on Wed 18 Jul 2012

Manchester skyline
Not a lot of difference between Mandurah and Manchester weather at this time of year. In fact, the nights being 2-4C colder is about it.

As I sit here in a thick minky-blanket-style dressing gown, with the heater on my feet, I am reminded of an observation by Alain de Botton in "The Art of Travel".

It's not what is the same as home that can make a travel destination interesting, more the differences. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012


This entry is in awe and wonder of the work of Simon Birtwistle. You have no idea how much I'd like to be one of his clients.

A favourite boat of mine is "Leviathan", a BCN butty that I have previously written about. Maybe these few pics may remind you.

Leviathan (Fore)
Leviathan (Aft)
Looking forward - Galley - Dining - Bed
Looking aft - Galley - Office - Engine Room & Bathroom (behind door)
Remember now ?? Tasty huh !

This fit-out is some of the fine work of Simon Birtwistle.

And here are a couple more ...

I like Leviathan from top to tail. His timber ergonomic / organic forms really do it for me. Though it's not the whole of the next boat, 'Pilgrim' that appeals to me, more so some of the parts. Check out the back door and hatch ...

I suppose it's not bad for a seat
Bathroom Pod - check out the door on the right
Cosey bed nook
These pics are like 'boat porn' ... here are a few shots of a widebeam with the Simon Birtwistle touch.
Step onboard
From the fore deck, step into the salon
Fix yourself something to eat
Ohhh yesss
What a way to wake up
The creature comforts
Being a commission by a client, Simon's flair is more restrained here. Still nice though, but not quite as appealing as his other work. Here is a link to his website once again.

Art, form and function of this calibre is rare ... and obviously Simon Birtwistle is a man who can deliver it.
A Birtwistle-ised Horse Transport
He sells a premium product ... so if one of my art union tickets comes good ... I'll be in touch.

We are not worthy !!!  We are not worthy !!!

<Exit in a bowing motion>

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


I've been writing about mid length narrowboats. I think this is the first time I am writing about Sea Otter boats. 

What makes Sea Otters different from all other narrowboats is that they are alloy and not steel. In aussie terms ... they are a tinnie.

And being alloy ... Sea Otters up to 31ft are light enough to be towed on a trailer by a 4WD because of a water ballast system. Clever huh !

The Sea Otter story began with an 18 footer, which evolved into a 21ft production boat. A great endorsement to the joys of Sea Otter ownership is the original 18ft 'Marionette'. It is a cute little thing. Still owned by the original owners who have absolutely no intention of ever selling it. 

And here is a link to Sea Otter's 21ft original boat test/review by Waterways World magazine (June 2006). 21ft ?? Now that's a design challenge.

21ft Layout
The 36ft is the newest on the range. I remember hearing some time back that Sea Otter had financially gone under. Though the website remained. And a little over a year ago I heard about the new design. Shortly after I received the June 2011 issue of Canal Boat magazine which reviewed it. And it was obvious that Sea Otter was back ... or hadn't gone anywhere at all. 

So whatever rocked the company ... it didn't put them down for the count. 

31ft Sea Otter (Layout 1)
31ft Sea Otter (Layout 2)
A trailerable boat provides the ability to cruise the navigable waterways of Scotland, Wales (Mon and Brec), England, France, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany,  Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia,  Sweden and Ukraine. That's a lifetime and a half of holidaying and venturing if you live in that part of the world.

In brief ... the advantage of a tinnie narrowboat is:

1. Low maintenance
2. Low cost of ownership
3. Trailerable (to 31ft)
4. Longevity
5. High resale value

The down-side is their intial cost. A standard 27ft - 31ft boat (before options) is £55-60K. A pump out loo is a £2,385 option for those that prefer a hands-off approach to waste management.

A trailer might be a consideration for the avid road venturer ... also allowing on-land 'mooring' ... errr parking ! Otherwise Sea Otter's towing service (or other boat towing company) provide that. 

Some clever marketing by Sea Otter at Crick Boat Show
The most benefit of Sea Otter ownership is derived by continuous ownership (and use) of a boat over a long period of time.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


In my previous post I mentioned the challenge of fitting out a 40-45ft narrowboat hull.

The Pickmere 40 by the Northwich Boat Company is a prime example of how well a couple can cruise the canals on a 40 footer. 

Technically it can accomodate 4, but I wouldn't want to try it. But two ?? It would be very comfortable indeed.

The website price of £45,995 includes a great list of inclusions making it ready to cruise, however, one may want for a few luxuries such as pump out loo, L-shape dinette, gas heater with towel rail and radiators or sine wave inverter for instance, which will add anothe £6-7K to the base price.

But for mid-length narrowboat comparison, the Pickmere is a great yard stick.