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.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

At Limehouse

Well we are safely at Limehouse but it was a bit lively on the river when we turned to come into Limehouse and a very strong back eddy - we made it but it was 'interesting'.

Off to have a wee sleep as I didn't sleep very well last night.  Briefing at 19:00 this evening.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Final Countdown

It is almost D-Day for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant - we are off to the boat in the morning and will make our way to Hampton Court (or thereabouts) for the evening.  My friend Sue in on her way from West Wales and will be here this evening - my only concerns now are that I haven't finished cleaning the brass and the boat is filthy on the outside but the current 'heat wave' really hasn't made it easy to wash - ever tried washing a steel narrowboat when it is almost too hot to touch?

Thursday will see us through Teddington about 45 mins before the high tide (so we'll push the tide to Richmond) and then take the ebb all the way to Limehouse not forgetting to check out our moorings for Sunday.  We'll be in the company of Hazell Nut and Orlando (a bit of 'tideway talent' there) and also Swingbridge 2 and Mr David who are quite new to the experience of the tideway. We estimate Limehouse at about 15:30 - well in time for the briefing (and evening meal) in the Cruising Association at 19:00.

Current plan for Friday morning is to West India Dock via the Limehouse Link and Bow Creek (assuming enough water) otherwise it will be via Limehouse Lock and round past the O2 Arena.  Friday evening another briefing.

Saturday will be scrutineering in West India and the arrival of my friend Trevor Skoyles to complete the crew.

I'll hopefully be able to update this blog with what actually happens when we are there.  

Monday, 28 May 2012

Bit of a worry

I haven't had a great appetite recently so went to see my GP.  The practice is wonderful and I was asked to come back a week after the first appointment.  I did (feeling a lot better but not 100%) so a blood test was taken.  The results will be back on Monday they kindly said.

I rang, as agreed, this afternoon and was told that the doctor wanted to discuss the results with me and he would call me after 19:00.  I spent a good few hours discovering I had every disease known to humankind except, perhaps, for housemaid's knee!

The doctor who rang was not the one who took the blood sample - when the phone rang it took me ages to answer it but answer it I did.  He quietly asked if I had fasted before the blood test - no I hadn't as it was a 'spur of the moment' decision to take the test.  Oh that's OK then he said - your glucose level is high (7.8) but if it was a non-fasting one everything is fine.

May be I do have housemaid's knee and nothing else!!!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Thank You to the New Inn

Presenting the photographs
As readers may know Byfleet Boat Club had a very pleasant event at the New Inn at Send some three weeks ago.  The weather wasn't brilliant but the New Inn gave us a huge amount of support so yesterday (Saturday) we went to the New Inn to present them with two photographs (thank you Suzanne) of members of BBC dressed in boater's Sunday best - nicely printed in sepia to match the photographs on display in the New Inn.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

I think I am ready

Will it all be as quiet as this
QDJP practice September 2011
I was going to wash the boat this weekend but it is just too hot to try - I suppose I should have gone down there early this morning before the sun managed to get any heat in it but it just didn't work out that way - may try tomorrow.

I now have:
  • 15m of anchor chain (very expensive)
  • 35m of 14mm rope
  • My boarding card (sounds like being back working for BA again) and my crew have theirs
  • A full diesel tank
  • Three full 3.9kg gas bottles - front deck is too low to accommodate larger ones
  • A full water tank
  • An empty poo tank
  • All the paperwork - in my days with BA it was always said that an aeroplane could never carry the weight of paperwork required to get it to fly - I think we are at that stage now but we won't sink!

Just a polish of the brass, a wash and attendance at two further briefings - one just for narrowboats and one for the narrowboats along with the Dunkirk Little Ships, the Avenue of Sail, the recreational boats (known irreverently as the Tupperware Navy!) and the Dutch Barges AND the scrutineering which I am not looking forward to - rather like having an MoT for the car - someone else nosing about your pride and joy - but I suppose it will do no harm.

The only thing that is bugging me is that I don't feel 100% well but I am putting that down to nervous anticipation and I hope that all will be well on the day.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

QDJ Countdown

Rodney and Valerie on
Hazell Nut in West India
on QDJ practice - Sept-11 
Well in two weeks time we'll be sitting on the trot moorings at Barn Elms with, I hope, a high degree of anticipation.  We've still got a few hurdles to cross as follows:
  • We have to get there - the plan is to leave the River Wey on Wednesday 30-May at about 12:00 (Thames Lock, River Wey, closes at 13:00 for an hour) and make our way down river to be within easy striking distance of Teddington Lock for late morning on 31-May-12.
  • Teddington high tide is estimated to be at 11:43 so we'll try and get through Teddington at 11:00 and push the tide to Richmond half tide lock.
  • Thursday evening we'll be in Limehouse for a briefing at the Cruising Association.
  • Friday off to West India with its huge lock in time for a briefing (another one) at 19:00 in the Hilton Hotel. An update on Sunday evening advises we are not going out through Limehouse lock but we will have an early start and go via Bow, City Mills and Three Mills locks and we will, I understand, be very close to the Olympic stadium which means Olympic security as well.
  • We have to pass scrutineering - I think that will be on the Saturday in West India dock.
  • We need to decorate the boat - not too much I think as we need to be able to navigate safely. I have a variety of flags (not allowed to fly the Union flag) and some St George's and New Zealand flag bunting.
  • I have the anchor chain (thank you Rodney) but due to its weight have split it in to two equal lengths joined with a shackle.  It's just too heavy to move around as one piece. Goodness only knows what will happen if we need to deploy it! I have decided to buy some new anchor warp - 35m is the requirement - I am sure it will come in handy sometime.... I could have cobbled that length easily but it would have been joined a number of times so one piece is probably better.
  • Oh and we have to complete the passage plan which I think I am now happy with and read the 35-page manual of dos and don'ts.
  • My insurance is in place - £3,000,000 public liability cover!
  • The boat is full of diesel, gas and water and the pumpout tank is empty.  The engine is working well and within date for maintenance and so on.
  • I'll wash the boat and polish the brass the day before but with so much yellow oak pollen around I am not sure if it will look as good as it could.
I am sure it will be a wonderful day - full of memories, but it is a bit stressful trying to get everything into place to meet the H&S and scruitineering requirements.  And the cost of taking part is not insignificant for a poor old pensioner - is it Rodney?!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Moving Moorings

I've been waiting to move from the linear moorings at Addlestone to the herringbone moorings as I perceive them to be a little more secure.

This was planned for 01-May-12 but the boat that was on the 'new' mooring and going to Stourport couldn't move due to the conditions on the Thames - red boards everywhere.

I understand that Rasa Sayang has now gone off to Stourport - safe trip Dave - so I can now move Leo No2 which I'll do this afternoon - Friday 18-May-12.

Leo No2 is in this picture (green front roof and raddle red rear - 3rd from the top) when it was owned by Mick and Suzanne Wilson - the new mooring is about 3 or 4 slots towards the bottom of the picture.

Update: Moved successfully this afternoon - great success.

Getting Ready for QDJP

Well the chain has arrived - £111:40 for 15m (44kg) and probably (hopefully) something I am not going to use but 'they' have insisted.

All the documentation arrived yesterday - there's a 35-page booklet of instructions and a 45-page Generic Passage Plan document - I have done all my working out (sounds like being back at school) and I think we are there now.

It's going to be the volume of traffic on the tideway that I think is the scariest thing - don't want anyone in front of me baulking or slowing for a bridge as the concertina effect behind (the Dutch barges are there) is quite a thing to contemplate.

The boat is full of diesel, the water tank is full,  the pump out tank is empty, I need one new gas bottle - Leo No2 takes 3.9kg propane which, although small, tend to last quite some time and I have three on board.

I think I have everything in place - paperwork - there's oodles of it, the boat is ready (apart from the gas bottle), the flags and bunting are on the boat, the crew (Trevor and Sue) are ready and we are off on Wednesday 30-May-12 and will lock through at Teddington on 31-May-12 just before the high tide  which is predicted for 11:43 (BST) - we'll try and go at about 11:00 and push the tide until Richmond half tide lock.  Overnight in Limehouse for a briefing and then on to West India on the Friday.

I'll try and keep the Twitter feed up-to-date but if not we'll update the blog in the evenings.

Monday, 14 May 2012

We've found the chain we need

A little bit of surfing and we have found an off cut of chain that will be suitable for our needs but at 21m it is a bit heavy at 46kg.  My good friend Rodney also wants some chain and as luck would have it he needs 6m and I need 15m!  I am sure it will come in useful at some stage but I am firmly of the belief that if I need to deploy (very technical term!) the anchor two things are obvious - 1) we are in big trouble and 2) I'll not be able to recover it easily.  However it will come in handy should we absolutely need it.

Whilst on the subject of difficult river conditions (well sort of) may I commend the blog of the other Leo (or 'Blue Leo') and their trip from Wallingford to Oxford in difficult conditions which can be seen here. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Planning for the QDJP and what 'they' want

It's not far away now and there's just soooo much paperwork and things to do.

The boat is fuelled up (Tingdene on the Wey (Pyrford marina) now allow self-certification of the diesel split (Heating/Propulsion) so that's a help) and I've done a pump out - may have to do another one before the big weekend but with 300 litres of fuel on board that should be enough.

Looks like I need to purchase some anchor chain and rope - 'they' are saying the minimum is 15 meters of chain and 35 meters of rope - can't think I'll ever need that again!

Leo No2 during the September
2011 QDJP practice
Also 'they' have sent a generic passage plan with all sorts of things in it but it seems 'they' want me to know how much air draft and how much space under the bottom of the boat at each bridge with allowance for tidal surge - I wonder if it is not good enough that it's all been done before and we didn't hit anything? Oh and I have to allow 0.5m extra under the boat and 1.0m above the boat.

'They' talk about flares - not sure I'll need those again and buckets for bailing!

Leo No2 and all the other narrowboats are so much smaller than a huge proportion of the other participants I just feel 'they' are trying to cover themselves for everything.

Brain is going into fade mode - I'll look at it in the morning and do what I can to ensure I abide by what 'they' want.

I have now had a go at doing the 'Generic Passage Plan'; it looks a bit like this:

Bridge North Centre South Remarks
Hammersmith Min Depth (-1.4) 1.2 0.0 Air draft OK
Height 2.7 2.7 2.7 Barrier closed
Free Water 1.3 3.9 2.7
Draft 0.6 0.6 0.6
Keel Clearance 0.7 3.3 2.1
Additional .5m 0.5 0.5 0.5
Clearance 0.2 2.8 1.6 Tight on north
Putney Min Depth 0.0 1.3 0.0 Air draft OK
Height 3.0 3.0 3.0 Barrier closed
Free Water 3.0 4.3 3.0
Draft 0.6 0.6 0.6
Keel Clearance 2.4 3.7 2.4
Additional .5m 0.5 0.5 0.5
Clearance 1.9 3.2 1.9 Looks good

We are given the minimum charted depth and at the end of the document the predicted height at each bridge (assuming the Thames Barrier is closed).  I have assumed a draft of 0.6m and then, as instructed, added an extra 0.5m for 'tidal surge'.  Leo No2 is scheduled to go down the Centre. I have not concerned myself with air draft other than to consider that there are a lot bigger boats around to whom it may be an issue.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Weyside 2012 is over

Well we had a lovely weekend despite the best attempts of the weather to make a mess of things.  We had 12 boaters in 'Boaters Sunday Best' and well done to Suzanne W who won the ladies prize and Terry S who won the gentlemen's prize.

Some of the boats at Weyside
2012 - Leo No2 is immediately
behind the boat at the front
We had an excellent rock / pop band on the Saturday evening and illuminated boats. On the Sunday we enjoyed a dance band and the films 'Painted Boats' and 'The Bargee' in the National Trust workshops at Worsfold Gates - thanks Steve and wife Charmaine (she made popcorn and provided the sweeties) and Steve handed them out, tended the fire and showed the films.  In the evening we had a group singing shanty songs and also club members contributed with various skills.

If we can enjoy such a great weekend with the weather against us goodness only knows what it will be like next time if the weather is in our favour. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Weyside 2012 update

We now have 22 boats at Send - very good considering the weather and the river conditions.  Thanks to the National Trust for keeping us up-to-date with the conditions on the river sections of the navigation.

We are enjoying a lovely time at Send - albeit the weather could have been kinder but we have no control over that so we'll get on and enjoy our event.

The top of the Thames seems to be on 'Stream Decreasing' boards (well one) so hopefully those caught by the Red Boards will be able to start moving again.  I see there was also a flood alert on the tidal Thames 'We've issued a Flood Alert of the Tidal Thames riverside from Putney Bridge to Teddington Weir' from The Thames Barrier Twitter account. Wonder if that has anything to do with the closeness of the moon at the moment?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Weyside 2012

Well here we are at Send (just outside Woking) for Byfleet Boat Club's Weyside 2012.  We currently have 10 boats here, which is a good achievement considering the river was on Red Boards until Wednesday lunchtime and again most of Friday.  The National Trust have done everything possible to help get the boats here and we are most grateful to them for their help.

The weather forecast for the weekend is not great - but not great for anyone in the UK (especially the South East) from what I see on the Met Office forecasts.  Nevertheless we shall enjoy ourselves.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The river opened just in time

The River opened at midday - thanks to the National Trust for their excellent website we were able to set off late afternoon and get to the New Inn at Send by 19:00.

An E-Mail this morning from the IT department (well Ian our man who knows how it all works) of Byfleet Boat Club to say everything is 'on' for this weekend is great news.

The forecast is not stunning but we go to these things for the fun of going and enjoying ourselves and we are moored right outside a pub - the New Inn at Send.  Looks like a good weekend is in prospect.

Not so much fun on the Thames at the moment according to Ian and Helen.