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.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Byfleet Boat Club Working Weekend

The boarding over the slipway
needed attention 
We always need a cup of tea
Thank you Val, Betty and Jackie
We have a 'working weekend' twice a year, in the autumn (to get the grounds and building prepared for the winter and the hire boats out of the water) and again in the spring (to get things in order for the warmer months and the hire boats back in the water).

Not only is it a good opportunity to get all those little jobs done that the combined expertise of the membership can do but it also provides an excellent way of members working together for a common good.

All-in-all an excellent weekend with all jobs completed.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Brookwood Pound being cleared

Well done BCA.  The Brookwood pound is today being cleared; more than a day's work BUT excellent progress seems to be being made.  I must say the process the BCA use with a workboat, woodchipper and three experienced people who know what they are doing and work as a team seems very efficient.

House move by boat?

NBT boats Nuneaton and
I have seen the house (of my dreams?) and been to see it. It's alongside a canal about an hour or so away from where I live.  I have put my house on the market.  It occurred to me that as my house is canalside and the new one (if the sale and purchase is successful) is also canalside that I should consider moving my house contents by boat.

I asked the Narrow Boat Trust if, in principle, they would be interested in such an undertaking. I was delighted when the reply from the Trust said that they would love to do it! I think all my 'stuff' would fit on one boat so it looks, if the sale and purchase is successful it will be Nuneaton.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Another good Basingstoke update

The BCA workboat right outside my
 house having cleared some trees in the pound
The BCA workboat appeared in the Brookwood pound yesterday - that means it has come up the Brookwood 3 so they must work.  That's great news as is the news (late on Friday) that Byfleet Boat Club may use Woodham, St John's and Brookwood flights for their Christmas / New Year cruise.  Things really are looking up.

Update @ 16:00 - A knock on the door.  An Irishman was there asking if I wanted a new drive.  No thank says I, at any price.  His eye was, however on the BCA workboat with its outboard motor and covered wood chipper.  Who owns the boat he asked.  Nothing to do with you was my answer - would you now please leave.  It was very clear to me that he was here to suss out the boat with a view to relieving it of an outboard motor and wood chipper.  The boat is locked to a tree of mine, the outboard is locked on and the wood chipper has had a wheel removed on purpose but I suspect that will only delay them should they choose to take these two items.  I have informed the Police that I had an uninvited guest at my front door. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Brass Tunnel Light

For quite some time I have had a chrome Francis tunnel light on the boat which originally came from the Fire Service Benevolent Fund in Aberdeen.  As most of the metal items on the outside of the boat are brass I looked into getting the light de-chromed.  Quite a cost at £175 plus VAT (£210) plus 28 days (ish) to do the work.

I nosed around in E-Bay and found one that had already been de-chromed that still had the, in my view, all-important foot.  I knew how much the de-chroming would cost and had a fair idea how much the old light would sell for so knew how much I could safely bid.  The chromed one (brass under the chrome) has gone to a good home and the brass one is in place on my boat and I think it looks great.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Article in Tillergraph

There's an article in the October issue of Tillergraph about Dave Moore - Guild of Waterway Artists about his work which is illustrated with him working on Leo No2.  What a surprise.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

An update on the bridge repairs

We have ascertained that the bridge (as are a number on the Basingstoke) is a Grade II listed structure.  We have been in contact with Rushmore and Hart district councils and Hampshire County Council who have been somewhat dismissive of our concern.  However we have made contact with English Heritage who, through a person connected with the waterway movement, are seemingly less than impressed with the repairs (the bridge is owned by Hampshire County Council and not the Canal Authority).  We are working with English Heritage to see what can be done to have appropriate repairs undertaken.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Industrial Vandalism?

Poulters bridge as was
Poulters Bridge on the Basingstoke Canal has been repaired recently.  This structure is at least 220 years old (although it's clearly been through a number of reincarnations and/or repairs over that time).

When the Canal Society were repairing Slades Bridge at the western end of the canal the late Pete Redway spent weeks (if not months) ensuring he had the correct bricks and the correct mix of lime mortar to ensure the repair was as invisible as possible and that repairs were undertaken in conjunction with, and to the standards of, the County (Hampshire) and District (Hart) conservation officers.

I have pointed out a number of things that have happened on the canal recently that have not been undertaken to what I would describe as usual waterway standards (e.g. the stop plank grooves at Lock 12).

The modern repair
The repair (as shown in the photographs taken by David Jackson) can only be described as industrial vandalism in my view - how this type of repair could either be authorised or approved is quite beyond my comprehension. I think those responsible should should hang their heads in abject shame for standing by and watching our heritage being defaced in such an appalling way. I suspect their answer will be that it was cheaper to do it this way - cheaper in the short-term may be but more expensive in the longer term and an absolute disgrace to our industrial heritage.  Any thoughts or comments to Hart District Council.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Basingstoke Canal Boating Club rally

Victoria  M - built by the
current owner
The Basingstoke Canal Boating Club holds a rally annually at the Fox and Hounds public house in Fleet.  This year is was put back 3 weeks or so on the 'hopeful' understanding that Deepcut would be open - it's not but it won't be too long we hope.

Meanwhile here's some picture of some of the boats who are based above Deepcut who came along and enhanced the day for all.

Steam boat Lady Selsey
Steam boat Lizzzeee

Friday, 5 October 2012

Lock 12 finished

Well so nearly.  The coffer dam is being 'deflated' over the weekend - it's made of a very strong rubber/canvas type material which is being emptied of water over the weekend.  All the silt has been removed (you can see the mark on the lock wall where it came up to) and I expect by Monday morning it will have been handed back to the BCA in order for them to recommission it along with the other two locks of the Brookwood three.  This will enable the BCA workboat to be brought up from Woking and  put to work so that the off-side bank can be cut back.  No excuses for not delivering now in my view.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lock 12 almost complete

The stop planks in place
for a test
The huge pile of silt ready
to be removed on Friday
We're getting near the end now, you will be pleased to hear.  The new stop planks have been approved and seem to be holding the water back so the contractors have spent a lot of the day getting prepared to lift the silt out of the bottom of the lock tomorrow. It's made challenging by there being no access from the non-towpath side and the towpath side having a petrol station just a couple of metres from the lock.

I asked the contractors to measure the distance between the new stop plank grooves - its 13' 8", which is, according to my elementary maths twice 6' 10" so you wouldn't want to try and use the lock cut alongside another narrowboat or try and get a breasted up pair into (or out of) the lock. It isn't as if the stop plank grooves are pleasing to eye, they most certainly are not but now they restrict access; I wonder if they have thought about the BCA dredger or their work boats?  I expect not.  It's doubly frustrating because the boaters have offered help and advice all the way.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Basingstoke update (10)

The Leonard Leigh wooden tug
Christopher James at the top of
The pound between 28 and 27
is full to overflowing (almost)
 I decided to go to the volunteer day in Deepcut today as the work on Brookwood bottom lock was coming to  close and the contractor's Health and Safety man was visiting this morning and the last thing they would have needed was an 'old' girl walking round with a camera!

Deepcut is filling with water very fast now and at long last it looks like a flight of locks again although the upper gates are still to be fitted to Locks 25 and 24 - one gate, I understand, was sent back to the manufacturers due to a knot in the heel post.

The pound between 26 and 25 is
also full
Almost all of Deepcut now has at least some water in it and I suppose now is the time the BCA will be looking at the infrastructure to see if there are any areas of concern.

I feel that boaters have a moral responsibility to use the canal and as such Byfleet Boat Club are intending to visit Brookwood (proper and not Brookwood Country Park) between Christmas and New Year (2012!) and to use Deepcut at Easter 2013 (29/30/31-March and 01-April). That should give the BCA adequate time to review and resolve any issues found in Deepcut.  I hope and expect any issues found can be dealt with on the basis of a short (hopefully) stoppage period rather than reverting to closing the entire flight again.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Basingstoke update (9)

The new cill.  The small gap
was filled with something very
quick setting
A bit of 'fire and lightning'
as some bolts are 'cut to size'

A hive of activity in the rain this morning. The final fitting of the lower cill (they are also going to fit rubber edges to the cill as an experiment to see if it stops (slows) any leakage).  There's a couple more day's work I understand.

Meanwhile the re-watering of Deepcut continues.

The rubber seal on the mitre
and the cill are both visible

Both paddles are in place
but the paddle gear is still
to be fitted
I went back to Brookwood bottom lock this afternoon to look at the rubber seals that have been 'the experiment' with this lock.  I think the seals on the cill will work but I fear the seals on the mitres of the gates may well get knocked off by boats trying to 'single gate' their way in to or out of the lock. Time will tell - I hope the process works as someone has put a lot of time and effort into the design of this in order to retain the one thing the Basingstoke doesn't have - water.