Friday, February 24, 2006

End of entrapment in sight!

New lock gates have arrived by barge and lie waiting their installation at Stanstead Abbots. I spoke to the engineer in charge of the lock repairs today and he reckons the lock should be open by next weekend. When we head for "home" will then be at our discretion. I've just put in place our new Ecofan. This amazing device made in Canada sits on top of the heating stove and generates its own elecricity to run its own motor to drive the fan, which distributes the warm air better throughout the boat. Not quite sure how it generates the elctricity but its something to do with temperature differences in its body. Anyway it works a treat and is virtually silent.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Location Map

Dave asked where, in relation to the waterways sytem we are currently moored. This map shows all.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

To Hertford and back

Hertford is not what you'd expect really. For a County town it is very small and undeveloped. Lots of nice old buildings, including the brewery, and no big shops. The river runs right into the middle, and we arrived in style on Saturday afternoon watched by shoppers and towpath strollers. After scraping under an amazingly low bridge, practically on our hands and knees, we did a quick about turn and the end of navigation and headed back under the bridge to moor at the town allotments. As we had passed a nice looking pub called the Old Barge, we popped in to investigate as soon as we had moored. Black Sheep, Adnams, Ruddles and other beers I can't now recall, and a good atmosphere. Definately one to return to.

Jacob took the tiller practically all the way to Hertford and back and seems quite a competent helmsman. He can stand on the seat on the rear deck and see clearly in front and can easily reach the tiller at the same time. The adults only did the tricky bits coming up to locks, moorings etc.

From our base to Hertford is a leisurely three hours (or ten minutes in a car!) and mostly in pleasant rural surroundings. The bits through Ware and Hertford are also attractive and olde worldy. The three locks each way are deep, heavy gated, poorly maintained, and slow, but in attractive enough settings.

Herbie continues to function well except that I can't get the diesel filler cap off to inspect the fuel level. It needs a special spanner which I can't find anywhere on the boat. This week I phoned up the boat's original builders to get a spare. The lady on the phone said "Oh I remember that boat - I fell off it into the water when I was painting it!" I'm hoping thet as it has a 45 gallon tank, there is plenty of diesel in there.

We are looking for a new name for Herbie to avoid all the Volkswagen references! Any ideas welcome asap as we want to do it soon before we renew the licence in March.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cabin boy joins crew

This week, Jacob joins the crew. Its Friday and today we only had time for a short trip through the nearest lock and back. Good practice at manoeuvering at turning the boat though. On the straights Jacob took the helm and did pretty well. After a successful trip, he is happily playing on his playstation while I am writing this. Tomorrow we plan to venture up to Hertford which is reputed to be nice.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More pics

Kath at craft work on board
Kath and Herbie at the Saracen'sHead
Drink driver woman seen on river Lea

A boozy night , then Our first pub! (on Herbie anyway)

We’re finding our feet, and receiving a welcome here. Thursday night we were invited along to a Mick’s boat for a glass or three of wine. Mick is the man to know at these moorings, and sets up the WiFi for you, gets you coal, and generally dispenses help and advice.

So somewhat hung over on Friday this morning, we motored up Ware as planned. Getting out of our home moorings was er.., hard and we made a bit of a pigs ear of it, and of course we had an audience of the experience boaties. Apparently it’s notoriously difficult there when the wind is in the wrong direction. The trick, they now tell us, is to let the wind blow the boat the wrong way and then reverse out. Maybe we’ll try that next time.

At Ware, on Mick’s advice, we moored overnight outside the Saracen’s Head a big and busy pub, and of course felt duty bound to patronise it and sample the local McMullen’s Ale which is fairly quaffable. Waking up this morning we had a cheery flock of swans, ducks and geese alongside, and it was all rather satisfactory. Ware seems quite nice and is largely unspoiled by chain stores etc..

We turned the boat immaculately(!), and when we got back to base today we made a respectable job of squeezing back into our narrow mooring space (no wind this time), so we’re feeling pleased. However I don’t think we had an audience this time. Sods Law!

Owning a boat is quite stressful at first. Will the engine start? Will the batteries charge up? Will we be frozen stiff? Well all we can say is it all works so far.

Next to the river here, up an embankment is “The New River”. This is a 25 mile long aqueduct carrying water from Hertford to feed the needs of Londoners and apparently still much in use today. Quite a flow on it at the moment in fact as water is getting short in the city. The amazing thing is that it was built in the 17th century.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Well here we are! A nice cold sunny day and we’re aboard. Wi Fi access is OK but can't seem to post photos on the blog at the moment. Sorry - will try again later. I think we'll be able to do emails - I'm going to try that in a minute.

We celebrated with a bottle of bubbly, saving a few drops (but not many) to pour over the bow.

Herbie is all ship shape except that the glass door to the stove got broken when Roy and Val were clearing out. Not to worry, there is a stove shop in the village (!!) and we get a new glass tomorrow morning. Meanwhile we’ve had the opportunity to test the back up system which is a heater running off diesel which runs our radiators and we’re happy to say it works fine.

The boat looks very bare with all the nick nacks gone, but I’m sure we’ll soon fill her up.

Down the river bank is a nice little village with a few shops, take-aways and pubs so whilst we’re stranded here waiting for BW to repair the lock (could be another month) we’re quite content.

Tomorrow we’re off for a cruise up to Ware (for Tescos) and possibly Hertford. Tonight (surprise surprise) we’re trying out the pub!

Will post more tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Moored and Insured

Only a week and a day until we take over Herbie, and we are making preparations. We've now booked a secure mooring at High Line Yachting at Iver near Slough from late Feb / early March. This will give us a safe haven near home with facilities like electricity to charge up the batteries etc. We've also got Herbie insured (much cheaper than car insurance, and in fact only 3 times as much as our trailer tent insurance, although over 20 times the value, and although the lady at the insurance company said that some people do manage to sink their narrowboats!). We are covered for any competent driver over 21.

Lots of stuff still to buy for the kitchen, sorry, galley, but we are making inroads. Next, a telly for the saloon.

I hope this freezing weather departs before we have to leave the boat unattended. Its just as well Roy and Valerie are still living on her at this time so we don't have to worry about frozen pipes.