A smidgen more sunshine and a tad less wind – things are looking up! #narrowboat #England

England has had some peculiar weather this year. [Bites knuckle in theatrical mock-surprise.] Our summer was akin to something one might expect from a small planet too close to twin suns in the Scorchio System – too hot to do much of anything with. For weeks there were just brief opportunities at dawn and after dusk to move around outside, the daytime was to be spent under a wet flannel in whatever shade might be contrived. In recent, winter, weeks we’ve had the longest spell of continual grey overcast dull nothingness that I can remember for a long time. The only variety has been the coming and going of high winds and torrential rain. My solar panels, bloated and over-fed during summer, have, of late, been starving…

Yesterday though, when Carpenters’ songs were so far away, we had an encouraging spot of mild sunshine and a bit less bluster. Today there’s a wedge of blue sky up there, and something low but bright behind the distant trees. The windypops is an iota or two more single-hander friendly too.

Tomorrow, according to the Met Office forecast using the data from the Shugborough Estate station (the closest), is proposing to be even less windy. We may well move again!

These moorings have been v.pleasant indeed, being nicely rural and quite a contrast to my recent string of urban, town and village, mooring choices. Tick, and VG.

The past couple of evenings have been spent, I confess, early to bed with a Larry Niven collection or a Heinlein novel, a steaming mug and an ear for the wind tugging the boat around on his ropes. Tis cosy indeed.

On a more domestic note, we (the Cardinal and I) met the fuel boat, Halsall, and bought such supplies as we could. It is amazing to be able to live on a boat and have these things delivered, passed from boat to boat over the gunwales. Long live the fuel boats!

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The Cardinal’s front deck. I don’t mind things being stashed here, they are largely out of the general line of sight, but I won’t be starting to bung stuff on the roof. For one thing, I want to see where I am going…

Fifty litres of diesel, or some such amount, a 13kg jar of LPG, two bags of splendid kindling and six bags of coal. The inside coal cellar is full with another four bags (well, three and a bit, now…) and with kindling and the general makings of Man’s red fire, and six bags is about the limit for storing outside on the well-deck. I refuse to begin lobbing stuff up on the roof of the boat, therein lies a slippery slope that I am not going to slide down. The roof of the Cardinal is strictly for only stuff that ought to be up there, such as solar panels, chimneys, lights and ropes.

The lifebelt is usually on the roof too, I brought it down onto the well-deck before the recent winds… it will go back out soon enough.

I calculate that what coal I have will, if consumption remains at circa one bag per roughly four days, see us through to just about the first week in January of 2019. Consumption depends of course on whether it, the weather, becomes warmer (possible) or much, much cooler (probable). In England in the North Atlantic there really is no definite knowing.

Sufficient unto the first few days of January is a bit close for my liking, especially over the Silly Season, when businesses don’t business half of the time, so I will be calling in at any likely-looking marina/chandlery that lies ahead for another sack or three of the black stuff, once we’ve burnt our way through some of what we have.

There are another couple of the “The Towns” thingies coming up on our route too, so mayhap a quick run into people-infested waters (tarmac) for fresh and store-cupboard comestibles, eh?

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The early morning sun, cheekily peeping around the trees to whistle at the Cardinal’s stern.

There have been boats going past, maybe half a dozen or so over the past few days, but they’ve been multi-crewed and/or crewed by nutjobs. I don’t mind cruising in the wind, that’s easy, but what I won’t do (if I can possibly avoid it) is to moor (and dis-moor) in more wind than is comfortable. It’s all very well making preparations and leaping off the Cardinal armed with every tool possibly known to mankind ready to tie off to something soonest, but the window of opportunity is small, and if missed just results in me being on one side of the canal holding a centre-line while the Cardinal is on the other side and trying to get further away…

Not my sort of game. Been there, tried it, it wasn’t fun, won’t be doing it again if at all possible. 🙂

The Bro calculated once – after we’d involuntarily done some unfortunate empirical research into the matter – that a 30mph gust on the side of a 57′ narrowboat requires a counter-thrust of some 800kgs in order to bring the boat back… I don’t know about you, but that’s well beyond my capabilities!

Besides, I do look a right twit leaping off the boat with a lump-hammer between my teeth, a rope in one hand and a nappy-pin, mooring pin and goat-chain in the other.

We’re a day or two (half-days!) away from our immediate goal of being ahead of the winter stoppages (about nine miles and eleven more locks…). After that we have to begin to plan for and time our arrival at the Harecastle Tunnel adventure…

In winter all passage through the tunnel has to be pre-booked (except, oddly, for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, when passage is an un-booked free-for-all). Since the approach to the tunnel is slap bang in the depths of a lovely town (tongue firmly in cheek here) named Stoke on Trent, I want to be able to mooch right through, swiftly, and directly up to the (booked) tunnel. It’ll take a bit of juggling with the charts and compass.

After the tunnel, some time in the next slack handful of mooching-weeks, I have about twelve miles and thirty-one locks to complete before (almost) completing our cruising circle, and being back in terra familiaris. Sounds easy.

Sounds like fun!

Right, I must away and murder some vegetables for lunch, see to the stove, cobble up a couple of emails and write some more of my next – boaty – book.

Chin-chin for the mo, chaps.

Ian H.

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11 Comments

  1. Where do you find your energy for all this moving about? I am so glad that my bed stays in the one position all the time.

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    1. I don’t really have the energy for it, it’s just one of those things that must be done – mind you, I do have an inordinately emotional relationship with my cabin and bed on the Cardinal! I don’t so much sleep sometimes, it’s more of a long-term hibernation… 😉

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      1. Much as I do; my bed is the most comfortable place for me to be so I spend a lot of time there, reading, knitting, internetting etc., I do get to the kitchen to cook and eat you understand. The only difficult thing is painting and drawing – they definitely require standing.

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  2. Ian. I hope you have a plan, a life preserver and a gas mask on hand. The tunnel seems fraught.

    I like how Wikipedia blithely says “canal traffic is managed by sending alternating northbound and southbound groups of boats through the tunnel” No Mention at all of who does the sending? Are there traffic lights? Are you relying on the good sense and fairmindedness of your fellow boater? Because that seems a Unwise upon recalling your various descriptions thereof. The article mentions that a tug was used for a time, but that seems to have gone out of fashion in the 50s.

    Whose in charge of that mess???? Fraught. No other word for it.

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    1. I think that there are volunteers who act as gate-keepers, count boats in and count boats out, and check for strays and stragglers – but I’ll find out soon enough! I have no idea whether I will be a gibbering wreck before, during or afterwards, I am not good in confined spaces… but there’s no avoiding the damned thing. 😦

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  3. Thank you for alerting the world to the fact the ball in the sky still exists. Those if us in parts of the US had begun to wonder, what with days of clouds, dense fog and constant drizzle. We are predicted to have “wintery mix” for a few days and the probability is forseeable. All creatures on four legs are perched on window sills looking ever so pitiful or attempting to dig through the door for entrance. It’s a reprieve from “get out and go” for humans who enjoy a good book and a cup of hot tea. Settling into day five. 📚🤗

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    1. I generally don’t mind weather, unless it’s this constant dull, grey nonsense, when my personal version of Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in (after about twenty minutes!) and i get all miserable and grumpy (grumpier than usual)… If the weather is actually doing something then you can react, but if, like thi stuff, there’s nothing at all going on, all you can do is to wait for something to move…

      Good luck with the wintery stuff. I’ll look outside tomorrow and check on how accurate our forecasters have been, then I’ll make my mind up whether to move again or not! 🙂

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  4. That latter picture is amazing and could only be surpassed by actually being there I imagine. I hope the weather stays calm until you get to where you’re going.

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