An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Bingley 5 Rise

Very impressed with the BBC coverage of the work being being undertaken at Bingley this weekend by BW.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Byfleet Boat Club Magazine

For my sins I edit the Byfleet Boat Club magazine 'By The Wey'.  At the committee meeting last night the Commodore announced that he had received an E-mail as a result of my editorial (January-2012 magazine) about pumpout facilities - 'A difficult time for those equipped with a pumpout loo system over Christmas with both Pyrford and Guildford Boat House unavailable. A case for a pumpout at the Club?'

I commented that it was nice to have feedback on the magazine and another committee member did say that the membership only seemed to comment when I talked about s^&t.  I could see the very funny side but it is hardly fair...... :-))

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Basingstoke 'Open Access' Approved

Well - I am delighted that Open Access on the Basingstoke Canal has been approved.  The decision now needs to go to two more committees (The Joint Advisory Group - Friday 27-January - and the Joint Management Committee - Friday 10-February).

This will mean that subject to there being sufficient water (as with all canals) it will be possible to turn up and go as licences will be available via the National Trust at Thames Lock and Dapdune Wharf and The Locker Company (TLC) at Parvis Wharf on the Wey.

There's still a lot of work to do but we do not anticipate any huge issues.  Please don't publicise this any further without reference to the Basingstoke Canal Authority on 01252 370073 as the ball is now in their court to deliver.

Update 27-Jan-12 - The Joint Advisory Group (JAG) have approved the 'Open Access' policy so all it needs now is the Joint Management Committee (JMC) approval on 10-Feb-12. (Why are there so many levels of committee in local authority structures I wonder.... Answers on a postage stamp please....)

Update: 10-Feb-12 - Open Access approved to start effective from 01-April-12

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Basingstoke 'Open Access'

For 20 years boating on the Basingstoke Canal has been subject to direct supervision by the Basingstoke Canal Authority rangers (none of whom are boaters).

After a year of campaigning a number of interested boaters were charged with producing an 'Open Access' policy - what we mean by 'Open Access' is 'the use of the Basingstoke Canal by boaters without the direct supervision of the Basingstoke Canal Authority, as if they were using any other part of the canal network. ‘Open Access’ is required to enhance the Canal’s reputation and to attract more boats, and is seen as necessary due to staff reduction and to maintain Health and Safety. The aim is to bring all boating in line with the industry norm where visiting boaters make a positive contribution to the bottom line.'

We present this access on Wednesday 25-January-12 and do hope that it is accepted and the Basingstoke will become a 'normal' canal.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Nice little trip up the Wey

This weekend was Byfleet Boat Club's 3rd Friday Social event and our annual winter BBQ on the Saturday.

'Poddled' up single-handed on the Friday morning with great help at Coxes Lock from a fisherman - see they are not all bad! and decided to go all the way to Pyrford Marina to turn rather than doing that on the Sunday morning.

A quiet '3rd Friday' but it is early in the year.  The BBQ was excellent with 20% of the membership attending.

I have seen the results of fitting a 12v TV and a 12v fridge this weekend with no need to run the inverter all weekend and only running the engine once mainly for hot water.

Back down to Addlestone this morning in company with Aqua Vitae and now home again - need to plan some more boating.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Full List of boats invited to QDJP

I came across this list last night.  My friends Rodney and Valerie Wardlaw and I remain surprised that we were selected to be with such august company and that so many of those who took part in the practices were not invited.  I suppose that's life.

There's a BBC news report here and just to be fair here's a Sky one (sorry about the advertising)..

I hope we can represent all those who applied, but were unsuccessful, in an appropriate way.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Basingstoke Volunteer Days

The second of our volunteer days today.  Finally the Basingstoke has got the message and we have now had two well attended volunteer days - 10 people on each of the two days.

Anyone reading this who would like to contribute to bringing the Basingstoke back to a fully navigable state please E-mail info at

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ice on the Basingstoke

I live right alongside the Basingstoke Canal and looked out of the kitchen window this morning to see ice on the cut.  It must have been very cold last night.

It is, in my view, the kind of weather we should experience at this time of year.  Just hoping for a bit more rain in the spring to fill up the reservoirs.

Friday, 13 January 2012

London Boat Show

In a word - disappointing - very little Inland Waterways with just one Sea Otter on a stand along with Tingdene Marinas.  The IWA (London Branch) were present and that was about it.

Got a good deal on a life jacket (buoyancy aid?), a pair of gloves and managed to find a large New Zealand flag (black with a  Silver Fern) for a fiver and that's about it.  Judging by the boats there I suspect there is a lot of money somewhere....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A new home for Leo No2 (Part 3)

Well, a surprising call from the developer (Anchor Homes) who say our 'Heads of Agreement' document will be submitted to the board on 2-February-2012 as there is no need for any discussion.  That sounds promising - let's hope it is.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A new home for Leo No2 (Part 2)

Tomorrow my friend Mick and I meet with the Project Manager for the Care Home where the boathouse is that we wish to lease.

Not sure what the meeting will bring but we hope it will be fruitful for both sides...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Cruising Plan for 2012

Quite a bit on the agenda for this year.

  • Easter - tackle the Basingstoke again and do some weed cutting for them
  • 5-7 May - Byfleet Boat Club is organising 'Weyside 2012' at Send so that's a must for me
  • 12-13 May - Join St Pancras Cruising Club for a Tideway cruise (we were known last year as 'the Tideway Talent'....)
  • 01-04 June - Queen's Diamond Jubilee pageant.  So lucky to be selected to participate.  Spending time at the Royal Docks
  • July - Probably the Kenet and Avon to Bristol and then across to Sharpness and then to Stratford-on-Avon for a boat repaint by Stem to Stern
  • August/September - return to the Wey via the Oxford and the Thames
  • Suspect there is an annual Thames licence in here somewhere...

A new home for Leo No2?

My friend Mick Joy and I have been looking at leasing a boathouse on the Wey which is on a property called West Hall.  West Hall is being converted into a care home for the elderly and it seems, following a conversation I had with the project manager, that they have no use for the boathouse and are not sure what to do with it.  We have today submitted a draft 'Heads of Agreement' document which lays out our suggestions for leasing the boathouse.

The boathouse at West Hall

There is some work to do - dredging and clearing the undergrowth but you can see from the picture that there is not too much to do.  The 'pontoons' are, unfortunately just 5' apart and the walls just 4' high so, despite its size, the boathouse will only accommodate 2 narrowboats.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

QDJ Pageant

The selection process seems to be unclear. I am in the fortunate position of having been offered a place but a lot of my friends have not; people whom I was sure would be accepted and some of whom took part in the practices we participated in.  It would be helpful to understand the selection process for all of us I think.

The narrowboats I understand (* means confirmed) have been invited to take part are:

Hazell Nut (Byfleet Boat Club) *
Leo No 2 (Byfleet Boat Club and Basingstoke Canal Boating Club) *
Doris Katia (St Pancras Cruising Club)
Galatea  (St Pancras Cruising Club)
Orlando (Thames Scouts Cruising Club) *
White Heather (Basingstoke Canal Boating Club) White Heather is a Marylebone Tug *

Monday, 2 January 2012

Licence Renewal

The bill for the Wey licence has arrived up £12 to £204 - not too bad I suppose but the 'sneaky' one is the increase in mooring fees, up by about 10% which makes my chat with the owners of a boathouse on the Wey (which is in need of use) quite good timing. Let's hope something comes of the discussions about the boathouse.

Slightly off topic but just seen that my home country (New Zealand) and especially the city of Christchurch has suffered 48 earthquakes in 24 hours - can't begin to think what that must be like for them; poor souls.