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A River Tale

13 Feb 2019 16:14

Having deliberated for months over whether to buy a river boat or a sea boat, the river won, but it had to be a proper boat, and the dutch do know how to do it. Blue Dolphine was probably built in the 70s and has a 110hp Bedford diesel. I’m sure it would be quite capable of making sea passages in favourable conditions, but lacks any navigational or safety equipment, so the rivers it is.

 We picked it up from Chertsey and motored up to Shepperton, not without incident, before lifting it out and transporting it to Fosdyke on the Wash. Having mostly sailed and being quite cautious, the 6 mile two lock journey to Shepperton didn’t look much of a challenge. It was a nice day and I motored gently using the upper helm position on the rear deck. Slowing down in good time I motored towards the bank to moor up and wait for the first lock. A touch of reverse, er a touch of reverse, what no reverse! It was a choice of what to hit. Fortunately there was a small landing stage, and a tweak of the wheel enabled Dolphine’s steel bow to ram it squarely.

 A pre-flight check is mandatory on an aircraft, but a river boat? Complacent I was. I tried reverse again, it definitely wouldn’t engage. The lock keeper was understanding and caught our lines as we motored into the lock. We proceeded cautiously to the second lock and repeated the procedure.

 Whilst in the lock it occurred to me that the morse on the inside helm position might be capable of engaging reverse. It did, and so I changed position.

 It was very windy and the lock keeper warned us to be careful on leaving the shelter of the lock. To be on the safe side I switched the power on to the bow thruster. The gates opened and we motored out. There was a canal boat waiting to come in, and so a touch on the wheel, er a touch on the wheel, no response. A blast on the bow thruster, yes, that did it. Wheel hard over, nothing. The strong wind blew the bow back towards the canal boat. Reverse, bow thruster, ahead. Wind blows bow over, repeat.

 I can see the canal boat skipper’s face now, the fear, the disbelief. Finally we were past him and with some difficulty and several pirouettes managed to moor on the weather bank, there being no other options.

 With the road transport arranged for the following morning and overnight berth in Shepperton arranged and the evening approaching the answer was obvious, a tow. We were close to the marina and the work boat could pull us in.

 Unfortunately the workboat was elsewhere and a commercial tow was quoted at nearly £400, which I thought outrageous, no, I’d steer from above and my wife, the crew, would at the sound of loud rapping on the coach house roof pull the morse lever back and engage reverse.

 This worked a treat, and we moored safety just outside of the marina. However, with all of those very expensive boats inside, and with some persuasion we obtained the assistance of the marine manager, who took over the helm, whilst I manned the morse control. We moored on the craneage berth and all heaved a sigh of relief.

 The moral of the story, go by bus.


An Early Season Sail

9 May 2018 14:25

Well, it looks like spring has finally arrived and hopefully there aren’t too many jobs left to be done. I’ve always thought that the expression ‘winter project’ is a bit of a silly one. When we kept our boat on the east coast it was often too cold to think about working out in the biting wind. What with that and the short days a lot of work was left until the springtime. Hopefully skipper you have a boat buddy or two to help out.

 I remember a trip to Guernsey early in the season, the boat was spruced up and looking good. As we approached St Peter Port the sea was confused and slopping about, with quite a swell. As the wind was on the beam this presented no problem, but a playful wave would come aboard now and then. The old smack had a dog house cabin, which housed the navigation equipment and a comfortable double berth. We had allocated this to George, in accordance with his perceived standing amongst the crew.

 George was below styling his hair and applying aftershave in anticipation of a run ashore, and it was his misfortune to poke his head out to check on progress, just as a rather large sea came aboard. There was plenty of room on deck for us crew to avoid the worse of it, but George had no chance. Just as his head appeared the wave broke over the dog house, flattening his quiff and soaking him thoroughly.

 Laughter was not an option given the terrific display of temper as he pulled the companionway doors closed and the hatch cover over. The incident was never mentioned.

Chilly start, but great Opportunities

11 Apr 2018 09:53

There are some amazing opportunities for Boat Buddys that have been recently added to the website, including a boat share in California, and a catamaran trip down to the Med, as well as lots of UK coastal sailing. All we need now is some decent weather!!

 Personally I like sunny warm days, force 4 sailing or pottering along a canal or river. My friend, however just loves it when the wind gets up and the boat is surfing down the waves. The occasional Yee Haa serves as an outlet to his enthusiasm.

 I remember a trip in our old 60’ Smack from Yarmouth to Weymouth on such a boisterous day. Unusually the wind was on the port quarter blowing us along, rather than on the nose as usual. We left the main stowed and sailed under jib and staysail. The boat romped along and on one occasion we touched 10 knots ( with a little tidal assistance ). Entering Weymouth bay we noticed that the S shaped hook that attached the jib to the traveller had straightened out to the point where the jib was almost able to come off. That hook was made of 5/8” steel, which goes to show how much power was in that sail.

 There has been a record number of new members joining over the last month, and to all of you I wish you a great season, Advertising on the site is free and upgraded membership is only 25 for the year, I would have put a pound sign in, but my keyboard is American!

Welcome to the 2018 season.

11 Mar 2018 11:30

There have been lots of new members coming aboard over the past couple of weeks. Remember that you can advertise on the site for free, so tell us about yourself or your boat.

Boating, whether sailing or motoring is great fun. Don’t be put off by thinking it’s complicated, or a lot to learn. There’s a world of difference between a sunny calm day in the Solent and a rough, cold night at sea, I know which I prefer. The same applies to all of the gadgets, AIS, radar, chart plotters. They all have their place and it’s good to be cautious, but there is no substitute for planning ahead and keeping a good lookout.

 I was with a skipper once who ran aground whilst studying a possible entrance on his chart plotter. On deck we crew tried again and again to get him to look up through the hatch, and see what was obvious to us. He was having none of it and was getting very angry, and as the skipper he made the decisions. As there was no danger to life, just inconvenience, we gave up and gently ground to a halt. We were towed off in due course and the incident never mentioned again.

 Happy boating.

French Canal Trip

29 Apr 2017 11:17

Gordon Fraser, a catamaran owner/skipper is taking his boat through the French canals this summer and is looking for paying crew. This is a cruise he has done before and has fond memories of it. 

The first leg departing mid June ish takes the boat down to the Med. Then leg two goes on to Sardinia and finishes in the Greek Islands. The boat is based in Lefkas, where Gordon is based for around 5 months each year. He takes guests whilst there for sailing/walking holidays. He advertises on the BB site and can be contacted by any interested full members.

Sounds like a fantastic trip to me.

2017 Here We Come

26 Jan 2017 11:18

On a cold, wet January day, where outside jobs become an ordeal, spring seems a long way off. Most boats are laid up, although some brave souls do go out, but that’s not for me. I like to think about those balmy summer days and plan ahead for new ones, and, judging by the number on new Boat Buddy accounts registered so far this month, I’m not alone.

 So Skipper, if you are going to need a hand getting your boat ready for the season, and or some crew later on, why not put a free advertisement on the Boat Buddy site. There are lots of Buddys out there, many of whom have good and useful skills, together with a will to help.

 You get the help you need and they get the boating/sailing experience that they want. It’s an arrangement that really does work for both parties.

 Boat Buddys can advertise as well, again it’s free. You may be just the person that Skipper is looking for.

 Also remember this is not a fixed arrangement, unless both parties want it to be. A Buddy can buddy several Skippers though the season and gain lots of experience on different boats. Likewise the Skipper may want a pool of Buddys to ensure always having crew.

 Whatever you do have a great 2017.

A Catamaran Experience

4 Sep 2016 09:10

I had a new experience last week, sailing on a catamaran, something I’ve wanted to try for some time. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings concerning cats and a little prejudice, which is a shame. It’s rather like a sports bike rider looking down his nose at a Harley, as it’s not so fast or sharp, but that is missing the point.

 The cat derives its stability from two hulls placed some distance apart, so draft can be relatively shallow and ballast not necessary. Result, little heeling and faster, plus much more accommodation. Leaving aside the theory in my opinion it sails upwind like a bilge keel boat, but without the heeling angle, about 50 degrees off the wind, very comfortable, and a least a knot or two faster than an equivalent average mono hull boat. Down wind it flys.

 I missed the ‘in the groove’ feeling that you get with a long keel boat upwind, but you can’t have everything.

 If you favour a bilge keel boat to avoid grounding worries, and or want to spend time at anchor in shallow creeks, rivers etc. a catamaran offers even more. One look inside at all that accommodation would convince a lot of people.

 My background is biased towards traditional boats, so I’m the Harley rider. I’ll arrive to, but in better shape.

Holland Boating

2 Jun 2016 10:59

Well, whilst I’m writing this the wind outside is howling, force 6 and it’s raining, and has been similar for the last two days. Not great boating weather for June and if you are at sea, it’s going to be rough.

 I’ve just got back from Holland, the weather was somewhat mixed, but much better than today. They certainly love their boats over there, and bicycles or course. We hired the smallest motor cruiser that the yard had. At 38’ and 14’ wide, I didn’t consider this small. A very luxurious boat designed for a couple only, with inside and outside steering positions, a bow thruster and stern thruster there should be no excuses for getting it wrong. Well that’s the theory.

 I’d recommend sailing or motoring in the Friesland area that we went to. It’s like the Norfolk Broads on a massive scale, with the big improvement of manned lifting bridges, so no taking the mast down. Lots of free mooring outside of towns, but very reasonable if you go in, maximum £20 in our case. It’s also nothing like as crowded as the Broads and the towns are quaint.

 We had a couple of bicycles on the boat and did a bit of cycling. Holland really is the country of the bicycle and it’s much safer over there to ride one, as motorists are really bike aware.

 The season is off to a slow start this year so fingers crossed for a big improvement. What are your plans?



BST Yeehaa

2 Apr 2016 10:11

Well April has finally arrived, and those clocks have gone forward at last. Somehow that step change to BST seems to bring the spring on, and of course planning for the season ahead. In fact I’ve been thinking about it for the last few weeks and have planned among other things some boating in Holland, which is something I’ve always fancied. If anyone out there has any tips, please let me know. I’ll be going out of Sneek, a strange name to us English.

 If you have a boat and are looking for help or sailing companions please get your advert on the site, it’s free. If you need any help just email Boat Buddys. Similarly if you are looking to get aboard as a Buddy, again advertise yourself. Beginners and experienced crew are always needed.

 If you have any boaty stories put them on the forum.

 Happy boating.

Merry Christmas

23 Dec 2015 11:49

Happy Christmas to all boaty people and a big thanks for your support.

 Once Christmas is over, I like to think ahead and plan for the new season. I realized an ambition this year and sailed on the West Coast of Scotland and went through the Caledonian Canal. It’s wonderful sailing on that coast and lots to see. The rain and the midges can be a problem, so an element of luck is needed if you can’t be flexible with your timing.

 I’ve never managed to get to see much of Cornwall or the Scillies, so maybe an opportunity will arise. I’m still in the market for another boat at some stage, but I’m really enjoying being a Buddy. It’s great helping out and having a chance to meet new people and sail in different areas. I use the term sail, but I have been motoring on rivers and canals as well.

 Please take the opportunity to advertise your boat or yourself as a potential Buddy on the website, it’s free and you never know what or whom will turn up.

 Merry Christmas and a Boaty New Year.



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