Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas Album

Some pictures of the river and environs, oh, and some more purely gratuitous 'cute cat' shots.......

I took a trip into Cambridge to pump out before Christmas. James and Amy Duck tagged along to help with the lock and keep me company. It also meant that these two committed boaters could start their journey to a family Christmas in Devon via The River Cam with a trip upstream toward the bus station on a wide beam.

Apt, I thought...

Amy had a go at Pippin's helm:

She started to enjoy it after a bit.......

We all also took turns at photographing the snow-covered scenery on this loveliest of mornings:

We passed our riverside local.....

and poor old "Jester", now firmly ensconced at The Cam Conservators 'naughty mooring' at Clayhithe.

As you can see, it was freezing cold, but Pippin's fire roared in the wood-burner, and James soon had the tea and toast conveyor-belt running smoothly, so we didn't suffer unduly. (Although as it was James Duck toast, at least one slice had to be thrown overboard, presumably as some sort of burnt offering to appease the River Gods....)

We soon arrived at Baits Bight Lock. I was a little concerned that the control panels or hydraulics would be iced up, but all worked smoothly.

Having dropped the Ducks in Cambridge, I pumped out and set off for home. On the way, I saw these cormorants or shags congregating in this tree: It really reminded me of the crows in that scene in "Dumbo" when the flying pachyderm awakes, up a similar tree, having got rather sloshed on champagne the night before...........

And then, to end a perfect day perfectly, we rescued a boat!

Now, followers of this blog may be aware that Pippin only becomes 'The Mighty Pippin' when involved in good turn-type stuff, like defending friends, not mowing down novice rowing crews, generally helping out where possible, and towing to safety anyone who's stuck up the creek without a paddle, or, as in this case, gearbox......

Incidentally, while it has been pointed out that though all I share with Mr Incredible is the tummy he has before he gets back into shape, I do enjoy a spot of "Pippin To The Rescue!!!" type stuff.

Hey, it's a wide-beam thing........Just no capes, darlink, Okay?....

Anyway, a venerable cruiser had been stuck at the 48's at Clayhithe for quite a long time. As this is a favourite venue for those who deliberately overstay, it was small surprise to me when the owner told me The Cam Conservancy wanted him gone asap.
He had hailed me as I went past in the morning and asked for a tow to Bottisham Lock as his gearbox was busted. I'd agreed to tow him up to the lock on my way back. "Simple enough", I thought, "in line-astern straight up to the lock and moor up, then untie the tow and haul him in by hand. Easy-peasy!

Except he hadn't got a rudder either.......

Well, here's how we did it:

Pippin goes astern of the tow, tow is cast off from the bank, tow's stern line is passed aboard Pippin, I haul tow stern-first alongside, tow's owner jumps from his to my bow and makes fast, I make sternline fast to Pippin's rail.

It would have been a lot easier if the tow's owner had had some idea of boat nomenclature, though he was getting the hang of it by the end.

But I musn't be snooty. Everyone's got to start somewhere, even if this means at the front , rather than the bows............

Here's a couple of pictures:

As you can see, the tow's gunwhale was right in line to bash against Pippin's windows, but nothing daunted, we set off for the lock with the tow's skipper keeping the two boats a safe distance apart by the simple expedient of wedging himself in the gap between the two superstructures.

Now, before you all start writing comments about the extreme foolhardiness of such an action, let me just say that at no point was he going to fall between the two boats or get caught, crushed or otherwise damaged.


Anyway, we got to the lock sans mishap, and Pippin executed a perfect Picard Manouvre to deposit the tow safely in the lock. I am pleased to say this was all done under the watchful eye of a neighbour who, some time ago, while watching me reverse Pippin out of our mooring, had the temerity to suggest that I might consider a handling course.......


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

James, your toast was more scoffed than scoffed at!

Either way, the one slice that was deemed inedible certainly did the trick with the Nymphs of Baits Bight Lock, which was with us in both directions.

Perhaps you stumbled on something last summer, aboard James and Emma's 'Kestrel', with The Emergency Toast-Jettisoning Incident.....!

I can see the sacrifice of The Ceremonial Flaming Slice becoming a Cam tradition.

Now, what to offer the dryads that inhabit The Trees That Remove Chimneys?......

By the way, I'm still having to add this comment as a P.S. as blogger still won't let me comment on my own blog!

It's frustrating. Any bright sparks out there got any ideas how to fix it?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It's been a long day........

I got back from a very hard day's hole making, (so busy on this late shift that I didn't get my 20 minute supper break...), to a very empty (Jackie in London doing T.V. world stuff) and incredibly cold Pippin. Soon got the fire lit, a beer opened and a sandwich made.....

Small problem.

Ou et le chat? Ne pas dans le bateau... Tiens! (Which had better be French for "sod it".)

Je donnez les Wellies Anglais, avec le seriously warm manteau de l'armee Suedoise, grabbed un assiette et un cuiller, et marchez dans le floodbank et crier "Tom! Tom!", et bangez dans le assiette avec le cuiller......

( Se Rappeller-vous, il est bloody cold avec une white frost, je suis knackered, et mourir de faim...)

Mais maintenant, dans le bushes, 'tinkle tinkle tinkle' from le petite cloche dans le neck de le chien disparu, et il est arrive.

[Edit following Amy's comment: Error line 17: For "chien" read "chat".......!]

Et maintenant, dans le bateau:


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Stealth Boat Maintenance.....

Twenty-six tons of bright blue wide-beam could never even remotely be considered stealthy, so it's the maintenance, not the boat, which has a stealthy element to it.....

I had a day off from my new and fab hole-making job today. Jackie had to be in London at silly o'clock to do some T.V. editing, so I dropped her off at the local station.

So, how to spend the day? Well, I read a bit, went grocery shopping, then took in Emmaus.

I bought some cork place-mats and an old Port and Stilton wooden box for £3.00.(We'll use this to house our supply of matches and fire-lighters safely....)

The place-mats, however, reminded me that sometime back in the early Thirteenth Century, I had bought a pack of cork floor tiles from Emmaus for the purpose of insulating the inside of our main hatch. (In winter, the lack of any insulation means a half-glass of really cold condensation drips down the neck of the first person to open the hatch in the morning.)

Time to resolve this problem.

An hour or so of cutting and tessallating the tiles to fit the inside of the hatch was followed by a manic glueing session.

It has all worked rather well.

Thing is, how long will it take Jackie to notice.......?