Friday, 24 January 2014

Just Checking!

Hello! ‘Futurest’ here.

This is a just a quickie without him realising to check that all you good people are reading my blog as well as this one.

This one by the Skipper tends to be a bit wishy-washy and airy-fairy so I want you all to know you’ll find the real story as told by me at

Hope you all had a good winter holiday and are looking forward to 2014 like me.

See Yahs! 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Saltisford and Seasonal Thoughts

The weather has been most generous by remaining so mild for this time of the year, which encourages me to wish I had remained cruising at the beginning of November instead of tying up here at Kate Boats. Being mobile on the waterways is what we are all about after all.

But this conjecture is now with the benefit of hindsight, which is never our friend since it can very easily convince us on all occasions that whatever caused our action in the past was always the wrong decision.

By remaining here at a secure private berth for the four winter months, notwithstanding the knowledge that much of the waterway system will be closed for refurbishment anyway and the chances are that the weather will be challenging more often than not to any kind of movement, allows me plenty of time to catch up with relatives and friends. I don’t feel so bad at neglecting them in the Summertime then.

This period also allows one to experience the sheer pleasure of 240 volts shore side power for a little while, including the decadent bliss of using an electric kettle and toaster. One can relax briefly from the continuous anxiety of “What state are the batteries in?”

while another benefit is being able to get all those necessary engineering jobs that have niggled during the Summer  done by an engineer whose professionalism one knows to be the best. At Kate Boats because of other hire boat commitments, this may be a lengthy process to organise, but as long as it is all accomplished during the four winter months, who cares?

Last week engineer Rob fitted ‘Futurest’ very swiftly with a new pressure release valve in the top of the calorifier, which immediately allowed me to leave the freshwater pump on continuously without fear of it pumping over the side, in the course of twenty four hours, the total water supply on board; another anxiety had been quashed satisfactorily.

What sheer bliss there is in winter inertia!

On Wednesday the weather was very fine and warm after a cold and foggy day  previously. I had a bit of shopping to do and was just putting on my coat in preparation for a nice long walk as well, when I had an uncanny urge, because of my thoughts above perhaps, to take ‘Futurest’ out on the water. It was one of those swift decisions that I don’t make very often: “To hell with the shopping!” I said “Let’s take ‘Futurest’ out for a cruise!”

And it was a wonderful experience. Very leisurely my little ship and I chugged, at a very slow tick-over, on the same short journey that Janis and I had taken recently in her ‘Roots and Wings’, up through the two Cape locks as far as the Saltisford Arm. Turning round there for the return passage, we tied up briefly while I enjoyed an appetising pint of ‘Hooky’ Ale at ‘The Cape of Good Hope’ and was served with the most enormous helping of ‘Bangers and Mash’ in a Yorkshire Pudding base. It was delicious but almost too colossal for me to cope with.


DSCN0034  'Futurest' in the Top Cape Lock

At rest in the Cape Top Lock


I was amazed how easy the whole four hour journey was. Maybe it was the relaxed speed we were doing and the leisurely way  the whole operation was carried out but it seemed as if the effort needed from me was entirely minimal.


DSCN0035  A pair of self appointed guard geese

A pair of self imposed guard geese on the way to Saltisford


‘Futurest’ performed so brilliantly. I was at the controls but so little effort was required from me to accomplish what was needed that I felt she was in complete control. I know there was no wind whatever to harass us but so  easily did she steer herself not only along the canal but through the single gateway into the big locks, and as I hopped off with the centreline as she went in, she knew exactly how far to go without me having to stop her with the rope. I could swear she had a mind of her own and it was uncanny the feeling I had.

You know, even the throb of her engine was a happy very satisfied one, I recall.


DSCN0037  'Futurest' turning at the Saltisford Arm

‘Futurest’ turning herself around at the Saltisford Arm


I understand completely that over time one gets to know one’s ship very well and therefore the gained experience makes handling much easier. But one can nevertheless understand how seafarers of old through the centuries have superstitiously endowed their ships with an almost deified life of their own.

‘Futurest’ is special I’m sure.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Proximity of Spring

Here at Kate Boats we appear to have been spared the onslaught of Winter so far. While much of the rest of the country have been enduring frightening and terrible weather conditions overall, though we have had some rain here in Warwick and the River Avon has been high, there’s been no damage due to flooding and the Sunshine has been our compassionate companion for much of the time, while the air temperature has remained veritably Spring-like with sharp frosty conditions normally so prevalent at this time of the year almost non-existent. There have been odd anomalies where the temperature during the night has been much higher than that on the previous day for example but the evenings are getting lighter and the local Snowdrops are beginning to show their pale green tips again after such a short sleep. As they say and sing:

“Spring is in the air.”



Brave little Snowdrops


Nothing much is happening here and I am back to normal after the extended Christmas and New Year Holiday. If the weather remains fine I’m thinking of shooting off sometime this week for a short cruise up beyond the two Cape Locks, turning round at the junction with the Saltisford Arm and returning the same way. In distance it’s only about two and a half miles there and back but with the locks in both directions to work and a stop off for lunch at the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ Pub, it will be a good day’s run in the limited light conditions.

I’ve been stationary for too long.

Had there been thick ice on the canal I would not have had this urge to be cruising at this time of the year, but as it is, the liquid green, albeit murky water that becomes even more enticing when the Sun shines upon it, that I hear lapping against the ship’s side, is offering me an invitation I cannot resist.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Enter 2014

In my experience every new year arrives with a bang; and I don’t mean welcomed with fireworks, which are often let off earlier on New Year’s Eve anyway and can be a bit of a fizzle out as well.

Rather do I mean, the arrival of the first of January is always supplemented with a climatic weather display that is out of the ordinary. In previous years at this time we’ve been blighted by severe cold temperatures by way of frost, snow and iced up waterways, which have always seemed at their worst on New Year’s Day. But this time, though the temperature is mild (and apart from the news that England have been whitewashed in the Ashes Series, which is a big enough blast for anyone to cope with) it is heavy rain, with it’s resultant flooding in many parts of the country, high winds and tides, causing storms at sea and around the coasts that is creating this impressive accompaniment.

However let’s not be misled into seeing anything too mystical about the event. None of us even notice it’s happening really, simply because after all it is the time of the year for such conditions. However it is nice to think that 2014 has arrived with such a Natural fanfare this time as to make me at least notice it has arrived. 

While Janis was at Newark I secured the little ships for a few days and spent Christmas with my brother at Stratford-upon-Avon. Though the river was high there, the town was lucky enough not to have any problems with flooding, as they have done in the past. He and I ate out on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day (as all good bachelors should) accompanied by David’s charming friend Patricia. Afterwards we all agreed that it was the happiest one we’d experienced for some years.

On New Year’s Eve I remained aboard but to finish off my holiday celebrations, on Thursday last I travelled by train into Banbury and stayed the night with my good friends John and Maggie. They did me proud and on Friday I returned to the ship very ready for the coming year.

So now may I wish everybody a very peaceful, fruitful, healthy and especially happy 2014.