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Posts posted by Grassman

  1. 20 hours ago, beerbeerbeerbeerbeer said:

    So we can avoid them?


    I didn’t think they’d be about til Easter. 


    Some, and probably most, don't start until Easter. But in my winter cruising area I've often seen them at Penkridge and Atherstone. Never at Fradley though. They seem to be a strictly Easter to October operation, except for the last few weeks but that's only because they've been helping the dredging boats through the locks between Woodend and Hunts Lock.

  2. 8 hours ago, Captain Pegg said:




    HS2 will run from Old Oak Common to Handsacre in Staffordshire with a spur to Birmingham that allows access to and from the north as well as London.

    Direct services from London to Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire, Glasgow and north Wales will all use the line as far as Handsacre where they will join the existing West Cost main line to complete their journeys. 


    I've been told from a very informed source that the once the HS2 trains join the existing WCML at Handsacre they will be slower than the existing trains for the rest of the journey north because they won't have the tilt mechanism, so any time gained coming from London will be lost once it joins the WCML.  Also the HS2 carriages will be shorter so the capacity might be less as well.


    The same person told me that there's already a bottleneck on the WCML caused by Handsacre Tunnel where the existing WCML has to reduce from 4 lines to 2 lines, so the addition of HS2 trains will make it even worse and probably slow  the journey down even more.

  3. 16 hours ago, IanD said:


    Sometimes you don't have much choice, given the canal tree pruning standards in many places today combined with inconsiderate mooring or incompetent steering of a boat coming the other way...


    It's main reason I approached CRT 6 years ago about starting a joint IWA/CRT offside vegetation cutting venture in our area and why I've been part of the volunteering team since I started it 🙂.  I had booked a full back to metal re-paint job on my boat for 2 years ahead and wanted it sorted before I splashed out all that money!


    Suffice to say that 4 years since the re-paint (by CTS, Cannock), and a brush job not spray paint job, it's still looking great. I've incurred the occasional scratch from protruding vegetation but because of the quality of the paint job and depth of paint, I've been able to polish them out quite easily.

    • Greenie 1
  4. It's probably a combination of the above possible explanations, but I think the change in our climate has a lot to do with it. Heavier downpours of rain saturating the ground before it has chance to drain/seep away is bound to put more pressure on the stability of embankments. Also not just heavier downpours but we seem to be having more prolonged spells of rain meaning that in places the ground is already saturated and struggles to cope with any more.

    • Greenie 1
  5. 11 hours ago, PaulD said:





    I stood next to Bob Hawke in the gents urinal. Does that count ?


    Similar to mine. I stood with Sir Alf Ramsey in the gents urinal.


    That ought to count as it was in a pub, and we were both getting rid of our pints after consuming them 🙂.

    • Greenie 1
  6. I think it's getting increasingly difficult to get volunteers. Obviously this depends to a degree upon what type of volunteering it is, but generally they tend to be retired or semi-retired people, and as each generation of retirees evolve, more of them seem to have other interests to pursue so don't have the time or inclination to volunteer.


    Add to this is the fact that many are having to stay in work for longer due to the changes in the retirement age and/or due to economic necessity and this exacerbates the problem further.



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  7. Nobody has mentioned CRT's contracting out some of the work which must figure in the equation somewhere. I wonder how the cost of that compares with using their own staff and/or volunteers?


    For our (IWA) offside vegetation cutting I have 2 teams of 6 volunteers and each team does about 6 hours a day. I think the UK minimum wage for paid staff is £10 an hour, so using volunteers is saving them at least £360 per each days work. Some (not all) of us are trained to use a pole chain saw and wood chipper which cost CRT about £150 for each course but the certificate lasts for 5 years. All other training such as helming, is done 'in house'.


    Other costs are medicals (about £100 a year per volunteer), a mileage allowance (£0.43ppm) which less than 50% actually claim. Then there's things like the provision of PPE etc, but they'd have those costs using their own staff anyway.


    I think the value of volunteers is subjective, in that it comes down to how important what they do is deemed to be. Things like litter picking, painting, other 'cosmetic' jobs, and lock volunteering. The navigations could manage without them but would be a worse place if these jobs weren't done.  Each has its value and merits but are they as important as something like vegetation cutting which has a direct benefit to navigation? Opinions on this will no doubt differ.


    Then there's the perceived benefits of volunteers being the public face of CRT. When doing the offside veg cutting we get a lot of nice compliments from the public as well as boaters, and like them or loathe them the lock keepers engagement with the general public is good for CRT, especially given the fact that they are trying to get the public's support at the moment.


    Whether it's a good thing or not, CRT are currently looking to deploy volunteers more and more for vital maintenance work such as dredging for example. Starting shortly they will be doing some dredging in our area, and we will be assisting with shuffling the hopper boats, taking away a full ones and feeding the dredger with empty ones. Is this a good thing or should they stick to contractors or their own staff for this type of work?

    • Greenie 3
  8. I’m looking to do the Wash crossing in September and would be grateful for some advice please, specifically with regard to the pros and cons of which direction to do it, and not just with the Wash crossing but also the pros and cons of which direction to do the River Nene in.


    I’ve researched on here and watched some vlogs so I’ve a general idea of what to expect, and I’m fairly experienced with some other big tidals having done the Severn Estuary, Ribble Link, Mersey etc, but with the wealth of knowledge and experience on this forum I’d really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions please.


  9. We did it on our own. Stuart the pilot reckoned you could fit 100 60ft narrowboats in Eastham Lock. I'm not so sure you could, but it certainly was a massive one.  Did you have one pilot for the whole convoy? 


    My only disappointment was that we didn't encounter any large ships on the move, just a dredger and a tug was all we had.

  10. On 11/01/2024 at 19:07, Ewan123 said:



    which does a decent job of making it sound scary enough to take the crossing seriously. Sounds like we need to invest in a radar reflector too (otherwise I think we have the required kit at least).


    Time to look for a pilot then 👍


    We did it from EP to Liverpool 2 years ago. Don't be put off by the Peel Ports guidance notes, as there's a lot in there that you don't need and that includes a radar reflector. You don't even need navigation lights on your cabin (we don't have them). Just a suitable anchor, life vests etc and do your usual pre-trip checks. You will need the Peel Ports Certificate of Seaworthiness for which the criteria is very basic and nothing to worry about.


    I would recommend using a pilot, we used Stuart Wood, and I'm fairly sure that Peel won't let you through Eastham Lock unless you have one. Also your insurance company might insist you use one. As well as piloting, Stuart is like having your own tour guide as he gives you snippets of interesting information about what you're passing.


    The turn into Brunswick Lock in Liverpool is fairly straightforward depending on the tide and wind conditions, but the timing of the opening isn't an exact science and can sometimes mean an uncomfortable wait outside for 5 or 10 minutes before they let you in.

    It's a great trip and well worth doing despite the cost.



  11. 13 hours ago, StephenA said:


    Indeed - we were moored at Braunston a good long time ago and the rain was so heavy that the entire marina went up by several inches and water was starting to top the puddle banks.



    Similar to this??

    Floods 5.JPG

    Floods 6.JPG

    Floods 8.JPG

  12. Naturally with my job as a pest controller I came across many strange and bizarre wasps nests. The largest one I dealt with was the size of a fridge freezer (in a barn) and the strangest one was in a bed in a gap between the pillow and duvet.


    It was a rarely used spare bedroom at the end of a cottage, and south facing. There was a hole in the wooden window frame where there’d once been an aerial cable through it, and this is where the wasps were getting in and out.


    Regrettably I haven’t a photo because it was in the days before camera phones.

  13. My Webasto is secured to the cabin bulkhead and I've had no problems despite having quite a leaky cruiser stern (deck boards, drainage channels etc). Because the unit is slim the steel part of the deck protrudes from the cabin far enough to protect it from dripping rainwater. It's mounted on the port side so the exhaust outlet is easily routed through the skin of the hull.


    I may be wrong but I think the Eberspachers are of similar size and shape, however the Hurricane heaters are much bigger and not as slim.

  14. 11 hours ago, Jerra said:

    Possibly only one year.  In the main, the colony dies off apart from Queens who seek somewhere to hibernate like a snug narrowboat.


    After a bit of a Google Pestuk.com say:


    Firstly, wasps nests cannot be reused. Each year the queen wasp will build her own nest. Queens will not reuse other nests and it is unlikely that another colony would move into an already built nest.


    During 10 years as a pest controller, every year I received calls about wasps in the weeks leading up to Christmas. People were going into their lofts to get the Xmas decorations out, and disturbing hibernating queens. 


    Someone commented on there seeming to be less wasps around last summer. This may have been because the preceding winter was mild. As a pest controller mild winters were bad for business because the warmer days would rouse hibernating queens into thinking it was Springtime so they would emerge and then find the was no food around (insects etc) and they'd die. As a consequence less queens obviously meant less wasp nests in the summer. Whereas a cold winter meant the queens would stay safely hibernated. It varied so much, for example one year I dealt with 507 nests but the following summer I only did 85.

  15. Hopefully the changes to CRT’s licensing system will persuade more widebeams to follow The Grey Goose’s lead and abandon their waters.


    Even though they can fit into the locks, much of the canal system wasn’t built for wide boats and the increasing presence of widebeams in those unsuitable waters cause unnecessary hassle and inconvenience to other users.


    Happy Xmas


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  16. We were told by a regular link user that if you have a deep drafted boat try and be the first in the convoy on the outward journey and the last on the return journey, they said this should mean a better depth on Savick Brook.


    Our boat is well within the draft limits, but our length is nearly 63ft so a few of the bends on Savick Brook were challenging. However because its mud rather than silt we tended to slide nicely round them, so the same might probably apply for the deeper drafted boats. There are a few places were rocks jut out, but generally it’s fine.


    As others have said, on the way to Savick Brook keep up a good pace, and don’t just stay behind other boats because if they’re too slow and miss the ‘window’ then so will you.


    On the return journey we found the most challenging part was emerging from the brook into the Ribble. Having to make sure your stern clears the sandbanks and then turning into a strong incoming tide needed full revs.


    A couple of internet vloggers called Foxes Afloat were in front of us. They made the mistake of heading straight into the middle of the Ribble where the tidal flow was strongest before starting their turn and got into difficulty, briefly being swept sideways towards Preston. Then once recovered they filmed us coming out and it clearly shows the tide trying to push us towards Preston as we made the turn.


    If you want to see it, here’s the link to the vlog and it starts at 8 mins and our turn into the brook appears at 10 mins. All those vloggers tend to over dramatise things but in this case it really was quite a sight. They were being swept sideways towards Preston, but soon managed to recover. Unfortunately by the time we started filming them they had straightened up but were by then the Preston side of the brook instead of the other. 




  17. I went through a similar experience recently. The problem with a repair or refurb is that you're relying on the skill and thoroughness of whoever does the job. You frequently hear stories where people have gone for this option and it hasn't worked out, so if this happens to you then you've effectively wasted a few thousand and are back where you started. I opted for a new engine. and as well as the guarantee it comes with I also have the peace of mind that the likelihood of any problems occurring has been reduced.

    • Greenie 1
  18. 19 hours ago, Rebotco said:

    I gave up using a wet vac on my cruiser stern.  It is designed to have a wet bilge, and and takes multiple empties with a vac.

    It does have an automatic bilge pump, but this still leaves about 2" of water.

    So now I also use a cheapie small bilge pump fixed to the end of a stick, with crocodile clips to temporarily attach to the domestic batteries.  I also use a longish piece of hose, which will reach the far side of the towpath.  So I just dip the pump into the bilge and it runs continuously, with no emptying of a vac., until I'm happy with the result.  If there is a bit of oil as well, it doesn't much matter as its not going into the cut.  I find this most useful for emptying the bulk of the engine tray especially, as this cannot be dealt with automatically.



    I did a similar thing. I fitted a Whale Gulper pump to the cabin bulkhead in front of the engine, and attached one hose to a pole so that I could vac up the water, and the other hose was long enough to reach over the side of the boat to discharge the water. If there was water in the engine bilge I'd put the hose end into a suitable container for proper disposal. 

  19. We had a 12th boat share for 4 years and employed BCBM to manage our syndicate because none of us wanted the hassle of self managing it. They were excellent, and another reason to consider having a syndicate managed is that they can act as an independent arbitrator in the event of any disputes or other issues within the syndicate. Andrew Barton was running BCBM in those days and now I believe his daughter Dee runs it.


    Back then our annual meetings were held in central England at a hotel but I'd imagine these days there'd be a Zoom option for those who live far away.

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