Saturday, 27 October 2012

Mooring... tick!

They say the most important thing to do before buying a boat is to secure a mooring (unless you plan on becoming a 'continuous cruiser'). Well, as of 2 weeks ago, I've done just that. I was actually offered a mooring on 20th September, but, because of the way the system works, it benefited me to hold off my acceptance for as long as I could.

Let me explain: Due to my lack of a certain item that no self-respecting boater would be without, i.e. a boat (who said 'a brain'?? You git!), I now have 3 months to get one and move it onto the Cam. By holding off, I've managed to buy myself a few extra weeks, should I need them, and also saved a month's mooring fee in the process! :-)

So the clock's ticking: Friday, January 11th is D-Day (hopefully, without any beachings!) As a result, there will be no celebrating Xmas or New Year until I'm safely on the Cam in my boat, IS THAT CLEAR??

Ooh, ta very much! That's most obliging of you.

For the eagle-eyed among you, you may have spotted that I've reset my ex-smoker tally on the little widget to the right of this blog. Yes, sadly, in a moment of weakness, I succumbed. So now I've bought this vaping kit. It's such a shame. At eight months, I really thought I had this thing licked!


To cheer myself up, I bought myself one of the most essential pieces of boating gear - the boater's hat. At first I ooh'ed & ahh'ed at all the 'Indiana Jones' style hats on offer (they seem to be quite popular with boaters), but everytime I tried to picture myself in one, the haunting whistle of an Ennio Morricone score began echoing in my head (and with my head, that was some echo!) Nope, it just ain't me. So I bought one of these instead:

A prat in a hat.

The look I'm going for here is one of understated authority...

"You see that boater over there in the hat? He really knows his stuff, but you never hear him brag about it."

... you know, that sort of thing.

Yeah well, I've bought the damn thing now. And who cares what YOU think, anyway?!
I LIKE IT!!!! :-P

Handily, it will also double as my fishing hat.

Talking of boating paraphernalia (and I may need your help with this one), I've been trying to compile a list of provisions that I'll need to take or buy in order to bring my boat safely & comfortably home. Here's what I have so far (please bear in mind that I'll be single-handing, and, of course, that some of these items may come with the boat):

Things I have already:
  • Nicholson's Guide to the Broads & Fens (sadly out of print since 1986, but I picked up a copy here) - for general navigation and location of waterpoints, fuel depots & moorings
  • Re-sealable/zip-up freezer bags to keep various bits & bobs dry (including the navigation guide)
  • First aid kit
  • Flotation device on keyrings - cork ball or modern self-inflatable
  • Aquapac for mobile
  • Sea Searcher magnet
  • Water resistant, non-slip footwear and spares
  • Laptop, smartphone (with relevant phone numbers - Stanground Sluice & Salter's Lode) and chargers
  • Adjustable spanner
  • BW keys (and handcuff/anti-vandal keys)
  • Standard kettle (non-electric), thermos flask & plastic mug
  • Coal, firelighters & household matches
  • Gloves & strong cutter - if something nasty gets caught on the prop
  • Lifejacket
  • Waterproofs
  • Spare windlass
  • Torch & batteries
  • Pen, paper, pencil, marker pen & selotape - in case of emergency, and I need to leave a note in my window
  • Toiletries (incl. bog roll)
  • Wallet
  • Tin opener
  • My new hat & vaping kit!

Things still to get:
  • EA key
  • Anchor & chain/rope - I will have to navigate a short stretch of tidal river on trip home (see comments)
  • Get spare keys cut (to the boat)?
  • Motor oil - type dependent on engine
  • Spare drive belt - dependent upon what type the boat has
  • Gas bottle spanner?
  • Pins (x4) & hammers (x2)
  • Fuses & spare bulb for tunnel lamp
  • Binoculars? - for looking ahead to the next lock
  • Cuddly toy :-)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Enough clothes for the trip
  • Food & drink provisions
  • Boat pole, boat hook & gangplank

Anything I've missed or won't need? If so, give us a shout.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

I'm a name, not a number!

Okay, scrub that. I am a number - I'm number 5.
  1. MWL157
  2. MWL158
  3. MWL160
  4. MWL161
  5. MWL162
I also have the allotted designation: MWL162.

On checking the Mooring Licence Waiting List last week, I noticed that I'd managed to creep into the top five! This will come as quite a relief to the council (who I've been pestering on a more frequent basis just recently), as I can now lookup my progress online! I did email the council to see whether the licence renewal process is now finished, but haven't had a reply as yet. You can see the impact of this process from the graph below:

I don't know if there was an exceptionally large number of licences on offer this year, but the renewal process certainly was/is a lot more drawn out than I was expecting, and I'm still a little shocked by my rate of progress!

Today it's been exactly one year, one month, one week, and a day since I joined the mooring list. Definitely time to start getting my arse in gear with regards some sort of plan of action, methinks. :-)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Do you want ChYpPS with that?

By the start of April, my curiosity had gotten the better of me and I fired off another email to the council about my position on the mooring list, only to be told that it remains unchanged (24th). All is not lost, however, as they did say: "we are about to offer quite a few licences now the renewals for current licence holders have been completed, so it would worth checking again next month."

So it has taken about a month for the validation of renewals, and now possibly a further month to finalise the allocation of the vacated licences. If memory serves, Amy & James got a heads-up about the chance of being offered a licence a few weeks before finally getting one, so it's not looking good for me this time around. Ho-hum.

I'll give it another week or two before pestering the council again.

Digging through my photos the other day, I found the original photo I used as the main banner for this blog:

Note: To achieve the soft-focus, I deliberately left the camera lens greasy. :-)

It was April last year, and I just happened to be wandering past Jesus Lock while it was being operated (a rare event) so I started snapping away. The boat going through is ChYpPS (Children and Young people’s Participation Scheme) Community Play Boat. Funded by a Lottery grant, she cost £130,000 and her maiden launch had been two months earlier. Local kids were involved with decisions regarding layout and design, and, according to the council, "[the boat] will give children opportunities for urban adventure play, which is all about taking risks in a safe and supervised environment." - didn't we used to call it 'having fun'?

Gongoozlers look on as the bottom gates are opened.

Trusty First Mate.

Plenty of room on board this 57' x 10' widebeam narrowboat.

Friendly skipper - had a laugh and a joke with onlookers.

What a glorious day to be out on the water!

Edited to add: On reflection, I suspect the younger gongoozlers in the above photos were actually ChYpPS passengers that had been dropped off before the lock. The red balloons should have been the giveaway!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Interior Boat Layouts

Like I've said before, I haven't even set foot on a narrowboat as yet, but I don't believe this should stop you dreaming about the type of interior you'd like! This is what I imagine for myself based upon the interior photos I've seen of other people's boats:

It's a 57 footer, trad stern, with a fairly standard layout. Of course, this layout may change drastically once I've looked around a few boats! I designed this using the Boat Planner at the Waterways World website. Takes a little getting used to, but it does the job.

By the way, feel free to leave a comment and tell me where I've gone wrong with my design! Personally, I think the saloon should be extended, and the bedroom shrunk a little. And I have to admit, I'm not 100% certain about the colour of the bedsheets. :-)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Wow, look at those beautiful lines...

... oh, you thought I was talking about boats? Nope, I'm talking about graphs! But they are graphs about boats! Sort of.

It's been nearly a year now since I joined the waiting list for a Cambridge Residential Mooring, and I've been plotting my progress on a graph. By extrapolating this data, I hope to get a better idea of when I might be offered a licence. Now, going by the data collected so far, and applying a little common sense, it's not unreasonable to assume that this graph will be subject to exponential decay (don't worry, I think there's a spray for it!) meaning the closer to the top of the list you get, the slower your progress will be. This is due to the fact that:
  1. an increasing proportion of all 'drop-outs' (for want of a better expression!) are now behind you, and no longer affect/improve your position.
  2. the people ahead of you are less likely to drop out, having already remained on the list for this long (possibly 2-4 years!)

The dotted lines on the graph represent the two events that could have a big impact on the positions each year. The first one, in red, is the council audit to ensure that everyone currently on the list wishes to remain on it (I'm assuming this is yearly - there's currently no mention of it on the council website). The second, in green, is the renewal of existing mooring licences. All renewal forms must be in by the first week in March, so I'll be asking for another update on my position in early-to-mid April, when hopefully all the dust has settled! Fingers crossed, progress will be made. I'm currently 24th on the list, so even if my position remains unchanged I really can't complain after only 10 months of waiting!

This graph predicts my progress up to October, assuming that the current trend of data continues. Part of me, of course, wants the graph to be wrong and for me to have a meteoric rise to the top, but another part wants the data to support the graceful curve predicted by my graph!

Time will tell.

I guess this will only be of interest to people considering a residential mooring in Cambridge (and perhaps not even them!), so apologies if I've just bored the socks off you. I do that sometimes. :-)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Rivers Day Festival

An upcoming event in Cambridge this month is the Rivers Day Festival (Sunday, 25th September 2011, 10 am - 6 pm, on Jesus Green), which I'm thoroughly looking forward to! It covers a whole host of activities from canoeing, rowing, punting & fishing, to chats with local residential narrowboat owners and a look around their boats (I really ought to think about a list of questions!). There will also be some short river-related films to be shown at The Waterman (one of my fave pubs!) I'll try to post some photos.

In the meantime, to gather as much information as I can, I've been scouring online forums (CanalWorld seems to be one of the more popular ones) and investing in a few boaty books. A list of these can be found in my new Boat Books widget that I've added to the righthand column. For what it's worth, I'll add my reviews on these books as & when I read them.

Mooring List Update A few weeks back I received an email from the Streets & Open Spaces team, who asked if I still wished to remain on the list. After confirming that I did, today I found out my current position - 51st.

I have to admit, I'm quite shocked at how quickly I seem to be progressing up the list!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Mooring List Update

Today I emailed the council to find out where I am currently on the mooring list, and got a pleasant surprise - 92nd!

A jump of 39 places in 2 months!

The main reason I got in contact was that the council website (which shows you the next 5 people to be offered licences) always seemed to show the same 5 reference numbers. Apparently, these 5 are waiting for wide-beam licences (2.15 metres/7.06 feet or more), which rarely come up. In fact, these guys have been waiting since the very start of the current mooring policy in 2006! This renders the info on the website pretty meaningless, so I'll have to email them every time I need an update (the administration of which has now been taken over by the Streets & Open Spaces team).