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About Ray

  • Birthday 08/02/1948

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  • Location
    Milton Keynes

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  • Occupation
  • Boat Location
    Beds / Herts / Bucks border
  1. Ray

    Chiltern Countess etc.

    Over time there were several different day boats - and up to three concurrently. They probably all shared the same exciting experiences! I know not whether the last day hire boats were sold on as hire boats or for private use. The newest member of the fleet was a converted cruiser, much altered to become suitable for day hire. By then that one and one of the others had precious little metal bodywork above the gunnels so was really unsuitable for anything more than day hire (unless they found somewhere warm to be operated from)! Many thanks for that. It sounds as though she might have met a similar fate to one of her predecessors. I last saw that - Kingfisher of Tring - in passing as a live-aboard at St. Pancras where I believe she still is. I'm not sure I'd fancy cruising Countess on a river as the electric motor was barely powerful enough for canal work.
  2. Ray

    Chiltern Countess etc.

    Many thanks for that. She brushes up well for a 30 year old boat.
  3. Ray

    Chiltern Countess etc.

    In 2005 Countess's motor was still solely battery powered. The generator, which was water cooled, was purely for providing 230v for on board facilities like a DJ's deck. However, I believe an on-board charger was added in the last few years and I'm told that the/a generator was used continuously whilst cruising to either provide power for the motor via the batteries or to charge them whilst the boat was underway. Countess wasn't the fastest on the cut as numerous people on here will probably be only too well aware of. That said, with a decent crew who knew what they were doing we seldom caused too many delays and I've frequently followed a diesel powered boat over the longer pounds only to be stuck behind them each time we arrived at a lock (and we needed both gates open). Personally I hated the trips when we had with the generator running and would do my utmost to avoid using it as I felt it destroyed the ambience of what was otherwise a virtually silent vessel. BTW I well remember Canis and the (to me) unusual head attire of the owner, someone with whom I regularly exchanged banter (as I did with many of the local moorers). It was only in the last ten years or so that the "noisy" trips transferred from Princess to Countess and the mainstay of these trips likewise transferred to working south of Pitstone instead of to the north where the longer vessel was unable to turn before reaching Slapton - a four hour round trip. Reports of alleged damage to the lock gates don't surprise me. I've pushed said gates open the same way on many occasions but I'd been taught how to do it without causing damage by a master. The final owner of the trip boat business on the other hand found no place in his vocabulary for the word advice so never had the opportunity to gain the same knowledge.
  4. Ray

    Chiltern Countess etc.

    Thanks for the responses. I understood that the three day hire boats went to Harefield on brokerage. One of the trip boats - believed to be Princess - was craned out at The Boat Shop at Leighton Buzzard. The last I saw of Countess she was over-staying "on" the towpath opposite Cooks Wharf earlier this year. One of the trip boats is reputed to heading somewhere to start a new life as a restaurant. I think Manchester was mentioned. The closure of the local pub was allegedly caused in part by the trip boat's presence when the owner of the premises applied for change of use. I retained an arms length relationship with the owner of Pitstone Wharf after I ceased to tolerate working for the last owner of Grebe Canal Cruises. Therefore I have my on views on why Grebe shut up shop at the end of 2014.
  5. Chiltern Countess - "often referred to on here as the electric brick" - was built in 1992 and plied her trade on the Southern Grand Union Canal on the Beds, Bucks & Herts border until she was disposed of by the then owner earlier this year after he took the decision that Grebe Canal Cruises would cease trading at the end of 2014. A sister vessel - Princess of the Chilterns - was built some 8 years earlier and being diesel powered rather than electric, had a slightly larger cruising area. She too ceased her original (trip boat) task at the same time. I was closely involved with both vessels and for the last few years of my close association with Grebe Canal Cruises was probably the most regular skipper of "Countess" - the others found the speed derived from the electric motor - the egg whisk - and the tighter clearances in locks and under bridges less to their liking. I worked on "Princess" for all but the last three years of her life at Grebe and worked part time for Grebe for about 25 years. I understand that both trip boats moved elsewhere although I know not where on when. I'd be specifically interested to learn what happened to Countess (which I also played a small part in fitting out). We sold our own narrowboat a couple of years back due to (my) health issues and I bowed out of active participation on this forum around that time which is why I have not been around. Thanks you.
  6. Ray

    Stoke Bruerne Visitor Moorings

    If what Allan said is correct and I have no reason to doubt it, the person concerned is the last person who I would have thought would have been passing apparently incorrect comments about that particular situation. That person is one of the most fastidious and boater friendly CRT people that I know although I have to admit that I have only ever had communication with them in passing since they've worked for CRT (I did also work with the person somewhere else on and off for about a year and they behaved in a similar exemplarily manner then in my view).
  7. Ray

    Mooring at Slapton GU

    There are three groups of off-side moorings between bottom Seabrook lock and top Ivinghoe. I wouldn't know whether there are any vacancies although I recall a sign by the road bridge saying there was. I'll echo the comments about Horton lock, I think I've only ever been there once in 25+ years and not had the pleasure of the smell of the local cattle's outgoings! I believe there is one mooring vacant at Pitstone Wharf, on the Marsworth side of the railway bridge.
  8. Ray

    Advice wanted on possible boat purchase

    As of earlier today On Schedule ! (the Rugby Boats link) is sold subject to survey. The electrical ability of any boat to survive several days of non cruising will primarily depend upon the amount of electricity that you use. The less you use, the smaller the battery bank required or, conversely, the longer the batteries that you do have should last between charge. Beware of electric fridges as they are often the main electricity consumer. I would suggest that you might be pushing things a bit to expect your batteries to last more than a couple of days if you're running a fridge/freezer. Running things via your Inverter can be another gobbler of power. Beware also of the size of the toilet waste retention tank. Ours is small - it will last two people approximately a fortnight. We placed a higher priority on the extra storage space that we could gain under the bed by having a small toilet tank. Hope that helps.
  9. We've always rough planned our trips more to give us a guide as to where we should be if we want to be back when we're due to be. Invariably we end up ahead of the plan and have been known to deviate from it considerably - like the time we arrived at Stratford on a Monday afternoon - about three days ahead of the plan. The plan said we need to be in Brum the following Saturday evening for a concert. Instead of turning round and heading north we went via the Severn and Worcester and still had a day to spare. We tried an unplanned trip once and hated it. We're not the type of people who can just sit and read or doze (although as we get older we're finding the latter a bit easier but then suffer at night as a result!). At home we're on the go all the time and don't holiday any differently. I suppose we never grew out of hire boat mode where we felt that we'd paid for the boat and paid to use the canals and that's what we'd do. But that's us.
  10. Ray

    Did I see a member on Pointless??

    I like the title of the star studied version which is "Pointless Celebrities". I'm surprised that hasn't been changed
  11. I have to admit immediately that I'm not technically qualified but . . . From my experience (at home and) on the boat, it takes a while for the engine to get up to temperature - and that will be extended slightly I presume with the additional water in the system to heat the radiators. I would anticipate about 30 minutes total. I'd guess that it will take a while for the radiators to have an impact on the ambient temperature around them, possibly more than 30 minutes? If the radiators then cool quite quickly, say another thirty minutes, I can see you needing to run the engine more than once in the depth of winter when the temperature starts to drop mid afternoon. I do wonder if this is the right way to solve the problem (although I can't think of an alternative)
  12. This is how it all began! The red light was reported as not working so a little investigation revealed a number of possible causes. The first appeared to be the float in the cassette being dislodged. Having attended to one cassette today we now know that we have one with a properly positioned float. It would be nice to get the other cassette in a similar state. Part of the problem is that the boat is used infrequently and the cassettes only need emptying about three times per year each. At least now we can see what happens when the cassette currently fitted fills - if it does before the end of the "season" - at which time it will be emptied come what may (although we may try topping it up with water if it isn't full to see if the warning line comes on).
  13. The boat concerned is a charity boat that provides play sessions when moored up. The play workers are not boaters and are not used to cassette toilets let alone how they work! The warning light has always worked prior to the most recent incident and I feel morally obliged to repair damage that I caused. All I'm hoping is that someone can tell me whether the whole assembly can be changed and, if so, confirm how it is done.
  14. Ray

    Stoke Bruerne Visitor Moorings

    They won't be getting any casual passing boat traffic then will they!
  15. Having not investigated the inside of one before, I was a shade over enthusiastic when attempting to locate the float arm in a C200 cassette with the result that the float arm has parted company with the bracket that holds it. I have tried to re-locate the float arm in the bracket but as I'm working blind I haven't managed to do so. The illustrations in the Thetford manual aren't too clear so I'm not too certain whether the float arm and the holding bracket can be replaced or not. The way I interpret the manual the whole assembly (or the mounting bracket minus float arm) can be unclipped with a screwdriver, removed from the cassette and, I presume, have the arm refitted and then slid back into place. Has anyone replaced the entire assembly and is my understanding correct?

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