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Thursday 29 October 2015

Fuel Costs for 2015

Gas.......................................   50-04
Electricity.............................  24-54
Coal......................................  20-00
Diesel................................... 730-36
  TOTAL.............................. 824-94           TOTAL 2014 1156-66

We only used  two 13kg bottles of gas this year and the one in use is quite full too. I'm not sure why we haven't used as much as last year as the weather hasn't been as  warm although we only use the gas for cooking. Helen has done a fair bit of baking this year and despite cruising a month less on the boat, over a cooler month, I don't reckon that we would use a full bottle in that time. The average of the 2 bottles is £25-02 and last year it was £24-73 so not much more of an increase there.

Our electricity consumption has been lower this year, although I haven't been able to add in the charge up until Christmas in these figures as they are metered. Last year the total was £61-75. Where we have taken moorings during our cruise and the electricity use has not been included in the fee we have only spent £4-54! At Dewsbury before we set of the electricity was by card and we spent £20. It will depend on how cold the run up to Christmas is as we have heaters rigged to come on when the temperature inside the boat drops below 2 deg.C.

We have only bought a bag of coal this year as we still had a little left from last year. I have tried to use more logs as they are now well seasoned. However we haven't had that many fires this year at the start or end of the season. I think if we had been cruising until the end of October we would have needed a couple more bags which would have made us a bit above last years total.

We have used 964.79 ltrs of diesel this year at a cost of  £730-36. An average per litre of 75.7p
Last year we used 1062.6 ltrs at a cost of £985-79. An average of 92.8p per litre.
Obviuosly the diesel price has dropped significantly which has definitely made boating cheaper this year.
The highest price paid 2015 has been 90p/lt and 2014 was 100p/lt. The lowest this year was 55p/lt and last year 76p/lt. (all at domestic tax tariffs)

We only have one tank for fuel and the engine and our Hurricane heater come of it. Our Hurricane ran for 95 hours this year, That is about 31 mins a day which is just enought to heat up the water for showers in the morning. The makers reckon on 0.84 ltrs/hr so that is 80 ltrs.

For propulsion that means that we used 884.79 ltrs of diesel during the 560.5 hours the engine was running. An average per hour of 1.58 ltrs per hour. That compares with 1.38 ltrs per hour last year. This could be explained by the fact that I have had a slightly bent propeller blade for most of the year and that we were on a lot of rivers and the Severn Estuary so we the revs would have been higher. Also the hull is in it's second year following black and is definitely weedy thus making the engine less efficient pushing the boat through the water. I am actually quite please at the average per hour.

This was us leaving Keadby Lock out onto the Trent on a misty day for our trip down to Torksey. The first of our 'major' rivers of the year.

We left Stourport on the Severn and back off it to explore the Droitwich canals before heading down to Worcester and out on to the Severn again. This is Worcester Cathedral as we left Diglis Lock. We stopped over at Twekesbury before completing the trip into Gloucester. 

This is us heading out on to the Severn Estuary just at the other breakwater of Sharpness Dock. We were flat out at this time with the engine racing to punch against the tide and to get round the breakwater. I wondered how long we would have to keep it up as I kept a wary eye on the temperature of the engine. We were soon able to ease back as we got out of the main flow and then the tide changed.

After a lay over in Portishead  we headed into the River Avon. I had to stem the tide a little before Avonmouth to ensure we made the right time at Bristol but otherwise it was a great run in glorious weather under the M5 motorway and the Avon Gorge bridges. The start of the rock cut valley is above Pill and this beacon is close to Sea Mills on the other bank.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Mooring Costs 2015.

Mooring costs for NB Holderness in 2015 were as follows:-

3 months at Savile Town Wharf, Dewsbury......................  533-28
8 nights at Goole................................................................    54-48
4 nights at Barton, Trent and Mersey................................     38-00
2 nights at Tewkesbury (Avon Licence)...........................     20-00
Portishead locks and 1 day lay over...................................    22-00
8 nights at Newbury...........................................................  102-00
4 nights at Kings Orchard..................................................    40-00
3 months at Kings Orchard................................................  714-79
                                TOTAL for 2015                                1524-55
                                TOTAL for 2014                                1298-48

The main increase in our mooring fees for this year are the fact that we are paying for an extra month as we moored up for the winter a month earlier this year for various reasons. Plus the marina we are in now is in the Midlands and not the North! Also there was no security at Savile Town Wharf as it was all open to the public and the facilities were much more rudimentary. We decided to stay in the central area rather than get back up North as this gave us more time stooging along rather than rushing and we are expecting to be heading south next year so again would give us more time to do everything slowly. We had the same number of nights on paid for moorings this year as last, 27, and we paid a bit over £10 extra this year.

I have included the Avon Licence as a mooring fee as all we did was moor on the visitor moorings. There are moorings close to the lock on the river which we did consider using. Asking at the lock it seems that there is supposed to be a fee charged there by the private owner. However it is the Avon Lock Keeper who is supposed to collect it and it depends on how busy they are. We judge that we would be safer off the river (marginal really as it is a bit of a by water), and the Avon Trust may as well have the all the fee rather than a percentage for collecting it.

At Portishead there was a charge for accessing the lock in and out and a lay over on a pontoon for about six hours. I placed the Bristol fees in the fixed costs as we had to travel along the waterway there. However we were lucky in being able to have a reduced fee when we paid on the way out to the Kennet and Avon.

Savile Town Wharf was nice and handy for us in Hull, only about an hour and a half maximum. It is also handy for the shops as there are large chains a short walk from the basin, plus the very good market and  some nice pubs too.

We stayed at the end of the Aire and Calder at Goole whilst I went to work at our local beer festival. This photo is looking west along the Aire and Calder Canal and taken from South Dock Bridge. I regularly used to bring ships into here to moor at Timms silos. I even piloted Lore Prahm several times. The construction on the left is the one and only hydraulic tower for lifting the Tom Pudding compartment boats up and tipping them into sea going vessel. There were five of these lifts in Goole at one time.

William Hammond was the Aire and Calder Engineer and came up with this method of transporting coal from Stanley Ferry and Doncaster to Goole for export. Each compartment carried 30 tons of coal. At first they were to be 6 compartments long but soon realised that they could actually fit 7 in the locks so settled on that. They were designed to use a pusher tug and a 'jebus' bow shape at the front (as can be seen in the photo). They were to steer round the corners by pulling and slacking hydraulically on wires run down each side of the compartments. They found however that they could tow more than 7, rather than push and up to 38 have been towed. Each compartment could be filled at a different site and assembled in a train. between Castleford and Goole there are no locks so bigger trains could be towed. The last Tom Pudding trip was in April 1986 after starting in 1865! At the beginning it took 8 to 12 hours to get from Castleford and 3 hours to discharge. To move the same amount of coal by train could take weeks as there was such huge delays on the train tracks. There are only four or five 'Tom Puddings' left and one jebus.

We then headed down the Trent and Helen ended up in Barton Marina on the Trent and Mersey as I had to go home again. It was interesting to see that we  didn't have sun all the cruise this year! Mind you she did enjoy looking round the shops about the Marina and we did go to the cinema there when I got back.

We passed through Birmingham and down the Severn where we stopped over at the Lovely town of Tewkesbury and here we are on the visitor moorings on the Avon.

We had a marvelous trip down the Severn Estuary from Sharpness. You leave a little before high water but we didn't have the speed or power to get into Bristol, via the Avon, in one tide. We could have anchored off between Portishead and Avonmouth over low water but chose to go up into Portishead Haven. It is like a South of France Marina and well worth the money to break the jouirnel, even for a short while.

We had to both go home from Newbury so we hired a car and took Macy cat with us too. Newbury was quite a nice place to linger too, with a pretty walk into town and plenty to see when we got there. This is the Kennet and Avon heading through the centre of the town.

King's Orchard Marina is nice and remote and doesn't offer all the shopping opportunities and high numbers of boats of some other marinas in the area but it must be doing something right as there wasn't a berth free. It is close to Lichfield and actually takes a little less than 2 hours to home for us. It is dual carriage way or motorway all the way home, bar about 5 miles!

Saturday 24 October 2015

Fixed Costs for 2015

CRT Licence....................................  856-70
Insurance..........................................  232-64
RCR Bronze.....................................  126-00
Insurance for Severn transit.............    30-00
Severn Pilotage................................   190-00
Bristol licence..................................     29-75
Thames licence for 2 days...............     39-00
Total                                                £1504-09       2014 Total   £1157-57

Our licence was £23 more this year and the insurance was £34 more but we had made a claim the previous year. However the main increase was for the insurance and pilotage for our trip out on to the Severn Estuary from Sharpness to Bristol. However I had already made a study of the costs of transiting the  Kennet and Avon one way from Bristol rather than a there and back trip from Reading. My conclusion was that there is nothing in it as although you have the extra  costs of insurance and pilotage, plus a lay over in Portishead (see mooring costs later) the extra fuel used in doing the length of the canal again almost comes to the same. That obviously depends on your engine, the cost of the fuel etc etc. However just for the experience of such a fantastic day it was well worth any extra money anyway.
We certainly wouldn't have been in a position to take this photo of the Balmoral under the Avon Gorge Bridge if we hadn't come via the Severn. It was certainly one of the highlights of this years cruise.

Our short cruise on the Thames to get to Oxford and back on to the canal system certainly has whetted out appetite for having a good poke about on the Thames etc next year.

On a Thames lock cottage wall.

Thursday 22 October 2015

All down hill?

Well that is it now. I have hit 60 and it is all down hill now. Or is it? Other than the body not being quite as able to do as much in a short space of time these days all seems okay, touch wood. And actually now the kids and the work is behind there is more time to do things so I can take my time. Helen sorted a nice day out for us. A trip to Cropton near Pickering at the foot of the North York Moors. The journey over was lovely as you have to pass over the Yorkshire Wolds and through the Vale of Ryedale. When we arrived we had a bite to eat at the New Inn and then had a guided tour of the Great Yorkshire Brewery that is built in the quarry behind the pub. 

The New Inn, brewery tap of the Great Yorkshire Brewery, formally Cropton Brewery until 2010.

Heygate Road into Rosedale Abbey.

After a few more beers we had a substantial meal before retiring to our room. I was most partial to the Yorkshire Pale and the Chocolate Orange beers. The next day we drove up the road to Rosedale Abbey. The rain had stopped but our walk was very clarty. In fact we cut it short as Helen managed to fall dwon a hole right up to her knee, twice! Once she had cleaned up we went off to Pickering for a walkabout and a cup of coffee and a slice of cake before setting off home. We popped into the church as despite coming here numerous times over the years we had never been inside. It is a beautiful church and the highlights are the wall murals on both sides of the nave. ( I had also learned earlier in the week that the ecclesiastical word nave comes from the word naval as the roofs looked a bit like an upturned boat. The paintings are medieval and had been lost sine the Reformation until the late 19th Century.

They are a little blood thirsty with a beheading lower left and the body full of arrows to the right.

Murals were painted in most churches until the Reformation as they were away to pass a story/message over to those who could not read scripture, and I think they would brighten the place up. I recognise George and the Dragon and St Christopher in the lower photograph.

Once we got home Helen set to getting a roast dinner ready for us and No.1 son and Sam. We had a nice evening and a good chat. I also got more presents of chocolate and a lovely scarf to go with my book of pub walks. I wish I was sixty every day, well probably for a week or so.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Short summary of 2015 cruising.

The pace is not really letting up at home, but it must at some stage, mustn't it? I thought I would take a moment to take stock of this years truncated time out on the canals hoping that it may just settle me down a little.

We set off from Savile Town Basin in Dewsbury on 1st April. We were lucky to get to see the Mikron Theatre compnay performance of Rising Agent in the Leggers pub by the basin and very good it was too, and was a good start to the year aboard.

Figure of three Locks on the Calder and Hebble Canal. We are 58'8'' plus fenders and so far we haven't had to do anything other than be a little careful in the locks of the Calder and Hebble. However I understand that they are a little shorter going from Cooper Bridge Junction with the Huddersfield Broad to the west, especially Salterhebble Locks but we haven't been that way yet on 'Holderness'. We don't have an proper hand spike for use on the locks here but have found that a hickory handle for a sledge hammer works just as well. Actually we have found that as there is such a mix of lock gear on the canal we have done there has been no need for one as there has been always a paddle that doesn't require it to open.

We have actually traveled along 37 waterways this year. That compares with 38 last year.

Dewsbury Arm, Calder and Hebble.
Calder and Hebble
Aire and Calder
New Junction Canal
Stainforth and Keadby canal
River Trent
Nottingham Canal
Beeston Cut
Trent and Mersey Canal
Coventry Canal
Birmingham and Fazeley canal
BCN Main Line
BCN Old Line
Netherton Branch Canal, BCN
Dudley No.1 Canal, BCN
Dudley No.2 Canal, BCN
Stourbridge Canal
Staffordshire and Worcseter Canal
River Severn
Droitwich Barge Canal
Droitwich Narrow Canal
Worcester and Birmingham Canal
River Avon, Worcestershire one
Gloucester and Shrtapness Canal
River Avon, Bristol and Somerset one
Kennet and Avon Canal
River Thames
Oxford Canal
Grand Union Canal
Titford Canal, BCN
Gower Branch Canal, BCN
Wednesbury Old  Canal, BCN
Walsall Canal, BCN
Wyrley and Essington Canal, BCN
Digbeth Branch Canal, BCN
Saltly Cut, Grand Union
Ashby Canal.

The two Severn Crossings on our trip from Sharpness to Portishead.

If were to count the Severn Estuary as another waterway then we would be equal with last year at 38.

From start to finish we used 974.9 ltrs of diesel, that compares with 1062.6 ltrs last year for a months more cruising.

Our engine hours this year were 560.5 hrs  and last year 686.5 hrs. in all that time we had the Hurricane on for 95 hours. This is mainly for heating the water in the morning for a shower. I can't remember having the Hurricane on to heat the boat for more than a couple of hours all the time 

Thornes Lock on the Aire and Calder near to Wakefield. In April it was still cool enough to have the stove lit for most of the day as can be seen by the smoke from the chimney.

As best as I can work out we have traveled 752 miles this year where as we put in many more last year at 1027 miles.

This year we have completed 524 locks where as last year it was a very large 764 locks. maybe that accounts for why I am a couple of pounds heavier this year!

This is the lock into Portishead where sat over a low water before heading into the Avon and through to Bristol. It was a fantastic day on the Severn and it was like arriving in another world as we ascend the locks as when the gates opened we thought we had arrived at a Mediterranean marina.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Where did that week go?

Being used to to speed on the canals this week seems to have disappeared in the wink of an eye.After getting back Thursday evening I was on duty the next day taking my Mum to Hospital for out patients appointments etc. It seems to take most of the day but I did manage to cut the grass afterwards. It took about three hours as it was so long. It normally takes an hour. We did manage to celebrate our homecoming with an Indian meal that evening.

On Saturday I was helping at the our local CAMRA beer festival to celebrate our fortieth year. It must have been a real growth time for the campaign as this summer as we have travelled round there has been several groups celebrating that milestone. Ours was called '40 Beers for 40 Years' which I thought was quite catchy. It wasn't very well attended though but I was there from 1100 to 2300 so managed to avoid watching the England rugby game, for which I am truly grateful as Helen is still going on about it!On Sunday we had a lazy day catching up on ironing the piles of clothes that have been washed that we brought back from the boat. As the weather was so nice we went for a walk in the afternoon and came back with a couple of kilos of sloes.

Later in the week the sloes were washed and de-stalked and placed with some sugar in the jars. We don't really 'do' gin so we make it with vodka. There bottles of ALDI's cheapest will be turned into a beautiful drink by this time next year. The sloes, once having done there work, will make a nice jelly too.

Part of the reason that we are home a month earlier than normal is that Helen had an offer of work so we were up early on Monday for her to get off. I make the tea and get her pack-up ready before bidding her fair well. She will be busy for a few weeks administering the anti-flu nasal spray to young children all round Hull and the East Riding. Later she will be doing all sorts of other inoculations that kids have these days. She enjoys the work as it is just turn up and do it rather than all the paperwork and procedures that she had to do before that wore her out. It worked out well for us really as that was what prompted us to buy the boat. I couldn't go back to bed, even if I had wanted to, as I I was off to whisk my Mum off to another out patient appointment that took all morning.

Tuesday was spent sorting out my pensions that are due for payment at the end of this month when I turn 60. Yes how did that happen? Of course I only look about 35, so long as there are no mirrors about that is. It will be nice to have some money coming in again though. Helen was again out with the sprays, this time in Bridlington. I am also the Chairman of the United Towing and Salvage Society so had plenty to catch up for that. I worked for United Towing for a few years. It is a local company to Hull and their vessels ranged the Globe towing structures all over. On the way there were a few salvage jobs too. Most of the crews were from Hull and all the ships had the suffix 'Man as in 'Yorkshireman'. The company is no more but we are trying to amass as much of the history and the stories of the crews to preserve for future generations. If anybody reading this is interested leave me a comment and I'll be in touch with you. Membership is a mere bagatelle at £10.

Wednesday it was another appointment at the outpatients for my Mum. I am hoping that these visits to hospital will reduce in number as they amass information and are able to sort out a diagnosis and a treatment. Wednesday evening our son was coming back from sea and we were to pick him up at Humberside airport. It is a lovely little airport with about five flights a day to Amsterdam so saves having to suffer coming home via London. This was a milestone for us all as he wasn't coming home to us but going to sleep in his own house that he sale had been completed for whilst he has been away. This would be the first night that he and his partner would be sleeping in it. So that is it, he can now officially said to have left home. There are now just the two of us.

Today Helen is again out looking up the noses of the young children of Driffield so I have been left on my own to wash the floors and sort out tea. I will catch up on some emails and get tea ready but, is the first day where I can slow down a little. The weather is set to be quite good over the weekend round here so with a little luck we will get some time in the garden as we seem to have been taken over by nettles this year. I like to have a few in the garden for the butterflies but unchecked they seem to take off, and this year must have been good for them. There is much pruning and weeding to do too. That is one of the drawbacks of going away on the boat as the work to restore the garden when we get back is a right pain. Patio gardening at the next house for sure.

The nettles have all but hidden the shelter in the corner at the bottom of the garden. With their stinging it is a brave man (or woman) that would seek the tranquility of the bench in there at the moment. The rhubarb has gone over for another year. Our rhubarb does so well that I reckon I could supply shops with organic stalks if I was home.

The roses and ivy have also gone mad and almost sealed off this side of the garden. It is a real secret garden now. I expect I will be back on first name terms with the lads at the local council tip soon.

Thursday 1 October 2015

The party's over.

The day started dull and overcast and that matched our mood really. We got on as normal and set off to our terminus for the year.

The Hopwas Wood didn't look so beautiful without the sun shining on it but we will be close enough so that with luck we will be able to come and see the autumn clours soon.

Instead of flashing white and looking futuristic and a valuable asset like they did yesterday the  wind generator looked quite menacing today. It always surprises me what a bit of sun can do.

As previously promised I jumped off when we passed the boundary stone marking where the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal joined with the Coventry Canal in July 1799. The stone and plaque were erected two hundred years to the day after the event by the local IWA and dedicated by Roger Harrington of British Waterways. There has been a lot of water and many, many boats passed since then, and after all it is  25 years ago.

We were following a very slow boat and had to slow down for lots of moored boats too so we were a little behind scedule when we winded at the entrance to Kings Orchard Marina. I wanted to get port side to so that I could get that side cleaned before we went in as I knew that would be the 'off side' of the pontoon. A boat went in to get a pump out and then there was another on the services so we had lunch and packed up a little more before going in.

The wind was in a generous direction today and light to boot so no problems going on the services and then reversing on to the same pontoon we had for a week the last time we were here. The price of diesel has gone down since then and is now 59p heating. We filled up to the brim so as to try to stop any condensation in the tank over winter as so far we have been lucky in not getting and water in the fuel tank which could cause problems with the growth of fuel bugs. That would need some treatment to prevent it clogging up the filters and systems. We are on our pontoon, electric hooked up and now ferrying stuff to the car.

The sun had come out just as we turned into the marina so I hope that is a good omen. I think I have done everything required to lay the boat up for a prolonged period. Hurricane turned off, water closed down and shower hose off. Taps drained. We don't drain the system down as we leave thermostatic convection heaters plugged in on very low to ensure nothing freezes up in the boat. If we are having an ultra cold snap we will have to visit to check I expect.

We were reluctant to leave but once the decision is made there is no use in dragging it out. Macy didn't seemed to be bothered this time. She seems to sense something is going on normally and look very forlorn. I hope this doesn't mean that she doesn't like being on the boat as she didn't meow or move about in the car as she usually does. Mind you I did make her a great spot to settle down in. 

 I gave the boat a little pat as we left and whispered thanks as she hasn't missed a beat this year. other than the Hurricane breaking down for a week or two (but that didn't cause any problems other than pecuniary) and us bending a blade on the propeller, again. I will have to do some figures as it can't be fuel efficient to have a bent blade, and add that to the fact that we are putting off a blacking this year as we are having a re-paint this time next year we may be pushing a vertical lawn (a very weedy underwater section) through the water with a two and a half bladed propeller!

It took us a couple of hours to get back home as the slight delay leaving got us mixed up in the rush hour. It was good to be back home in a way. We could boil the kettle in seconds and can put the lights on without thinking too.  The first load of washing was on before the tea was made and we were having our traditional welcome home tea of beans on toast.

Another year of fantastic memories lodged in the memory bank and the pictures to prove it. I will not be blogging every day from now but will add one or two a week until we get back aboard for another prolonged cruise next year. Thanks for reading.