Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Clover and her butty, Fazaley pass Rose Narrowboats on the north Oxford

Friday, 10 August 2012

Off to Rose Narrowboats

Yes tomorrow we depart north on route to Rose Narrowboats at Stretton on Fosse. Arranged to have our electrics sorted out but in no rush for the 40 mile trip. Should arrive at Blisworth in the middle of the festival and be at Rose Narrowboats on Wednesday. It might be batteries or charging either way it needs sorting. Also thinking about a solar panel 250 watts with a Victron controller. Hopefully will meet friends on route.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Training at Willow Wren.....

Just back from another days training at Willow Wren Training. This time it was the diesel engine course and I will save the costs when I undertake my first oil change. Plus I can deal with a lot more and hopefully deal with a few problems. Next Sunday it's the VHF Radio course so I can get my licence and then safely use the various tidal rivers. A big thank you to Steve Vaughan our trainer.

Give then a try.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Our new tiller pin

I owe a big thank you to Carol at Miracle Leisure Products who was exhibiting at the Crick Boat Show this year. I said I was looking for a unicorn tiller pin. Less than a month later she had is brilliant. Find them at

A new tiller pin just for La Licorne

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Iron Trunk Aqueduct, Cosgrove

The boat needed an airing and a chance to charge the batteries, so a short cruise down the GUC
saw us crossing the restored Iron Trunk Aqueduct near Cosgrove. Really strange stood on a boat crossing the Ouse which is about 50 feet below the 200 year old aqueduct. We continued south and across another aqueduct over Grafton Street before turning in the winding hole and returning to Kingfisher Marina. Great day out.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

BW registered Number and SSR

Our old rusty BW plates needed replacing and we needed to have the Small Ships Register number painted on both sides, so it would be easier to have both numbers painted on the side near the bow. A local sign-writer came this morning, the first dry day for a long time, and within two hours the job was done, complete with the new Canals & Rivers Trust logo. The old rusty plates can now be removed.

Tomorrow we are meeting the lads from Kinver Canopies in the hope that they can make a good canopy for the semi trad stern.

I was lucky earlier because I wanted to fit an electric socket in the semi trad well, but it needs to be waterproof. Screwfix were selling the perfect solution for half price and their local store is just 5 minutes away and it wont take long to fit it and wire it into the socket behind the rear bulkhead.

Just couple of other jobs to finish and then we are ready to set sail again. Just hope the continuing rain, sorry short interruptions in the drought, ceases and maybe even the sun will shine. So is it to be Stratford on Avon or Oxford?

Monday, 4 June 2012

Just back from Crick Boat Show

Well at least we chose the right day because the weather was reasonably kind. As always The Crick Show was great. This year we were not looking at boats to buy but for those little extras and fittings that will finish La Licorne and make it well and truly our special boat. We bought a brolley mate to keep me dry and out of the sun if that ever returns, and a Prop Mate to make clearing the weed hatch that much easier. Judith wanted two Turtle mats to keep both ends clean and we got some that say Please Wipe your feet in signal flags. Also I caught up with Steve from Willow Wren Training and booked the Diesel Maintenance Course and the VHF Course and Exam for July, as though I haven't got enough to do with the OU course that will hopefully lead to a Degree in Criminology and the F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone.

I had useful talks with BetaMarine, General Ecology, Yelvertoft Marina, the IWA, B&MKWT, Irish Waterways, and so many more exhibitors. I must talk soom to Cabincare about the side hatch, Kinver Canopies about the tourneau cover, Craftmaster Paints about some UM01 ultramarine blue, and EliteFurnishers about the roller blinds.

Well La Licorne is going to be our homes for many weeks/months each year so we have to get it right. Even Tescos have been helpful reducing the price of the photo posters, we I have ordered 4 of the 16 x 20 inch posters from my photo collection that will fit the empty frames in the boat.

Definetly time to Splice the Mainbrace.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Sileby to Yardley Gobion 2

Thursday saw us completing the River Soar and having gone through Kings Lock we entered the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line. The water level was really low and we got stuck under Bridge 103 but BW quickly came to our aid and the journey continued. On Friday a tree across the canal was completely blocking our path but again BW came to the rescue and half the tree was cut down and removed so we off we went again. But by Saturday we reached Foxton Locks and moored in the lower pound. A good evening meal in the canal side pub prepared us for the day ahead. On Sunday we changed our plans and instead of climbing the flight we went along the Market Harborough Arm to Union Wharf in the hope that the pump out was working. But when we arrived everything was shut for the day. However a good mooring was available so we prepared to stay for the night. A walk into town found Tesco's open and we had lunch in the Waterfront Restaurant.

By 9am Friday we were ready and waiting for the pump out, but it was broken and never going to be repaired. So we returned along the arm and climbed the Foxton Flight after an hour wait. The following canal length was without locks so a very pleasant cruise. We even managed to find a marina with a working pump out and a quiet mooring. On Tuesday we descended the Watford flight having gone under the M1, and continued to Norton Junction via Crick and the Crick Tunnel.

By Wednesday we were on the GU main line and heading for the 2 mile long Blisworth Tunnel. Things were going well and hoped to get through the Stoke Breune Locks but that we proved impossible so we stopped another night on the towpath bank. The short trip on Thursday morning saw us arrive at the Kingfisher Marina in Yardley Gobion, La Licorne's new home.

So our first trip ended with mixed emotions..............

Sileby to Yardley Gobion

The wettest drought in history stopped us moving La Licorne for a few days since the River Soar was in full flood and the levels were so high that passage was impossible. But fortunately the heavy rain meant that the route through Leicester was now open and we could take the shorter route home. Alex at Sileby Mill Boatyard had fitted the inverter, repainted the engine bilge and lifted Tinking out of the water so that the new sign writing could be completed in the dry shed. We took the opportunity of a delay to have the sink renewed and to have a new thermostatic shower mixer fitted. But on Tuesday 15 May we got the train to Sileby, changing first at Nuneaton where we arrived after a 14 minute delay which meant we missed the connection. Anyway an hour later we got a train to Leicester, there a strike by East Midland Trains staff meant a replacement bus service was operating. Eventually we got to Sileby just in time for a heavy hail storm, still it was only a mile walk to the boatyard.

We stayed the night on La Licorne and were ready to leave bright and early on the Wednesday morning. The river was still high and flowing well so locks were difficult but the journey went reasonably well given it was our first day on a new boat. We moored at Castle Gardens in the centre of Leicester, a secure BW mooring free for 48 hours and an easy walk of local shops.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

La Licorne is officially named

Visited the boatyard today where Jon from LetterKnight was starting to sign-write the new name. He had made hand drawn a full size tracing showing the name, home port and the unicorn. Once we had agreed it he spent a few minutes with a small spikey wheel tracing over the outlines. The tracing was then taped in place and he rubed chalk dust over the small holes cut by the wheel. This left the most delicate outline of the whole design in the right place and ready to paint.

The new inverter had been fitted and the engine compartment was being painted. Alec at Sileby Mill is great and I highly recommend him and his team. A great boatyard, hire company and small marina.

Back there on Monday with lots of things so that we can start the journey home once the river calms down. Still in flood washing down lots of large timber and rubbish which swirls around in large clumps. I will post a copy of the finished paint job then!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

La Licorne's new home

Yes it's all set once we collect La Licorne from Sileby Mill Boatyard and bring her south via the River Soar, Trent & Mersey canal, Oxford Canal, Coventry Canal and the Grand Union Canal this quiet marina near Yardley Gobion will be her new home. Alex at Sileby is fitting a new Vitron inverter, repainting the engine compartment and preparing the rear panels for sign-writing and that should all be done by the bank holiday weekend.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


Visited Tradline Ropes & Fenders today to buy two fenders, ropes and clips. They are such nice people, a great firm to do business with, try them at

Also found the cafe boat near the Braunston Marina, a great place to stop for a fry up.

Thinking about a cratch and screen on the bow.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Training and then moving!

By the end of Saturday both of us were well and truly cream crackered. Our training day with Willow Wren Training in Rugby started at 8.45 and finished at 6pm. The course included almost every aspect of using a narrowboat and our trainer, Steve, was excellent. We sailed along the North Oxford Canal through Hillmorton locks and back again to their mooring in Rugby Wharf, using winding holes to turn and the restricted section to practice reversing. We each handled locks upstream and downstream, plus trying springing off and mooring and of course the man overboard proceedure. By the end of the day we were awarded our RYA inland waterways helmsman certificate.

Tomorrow we take La Licorne from Barrow on Soar to Sileby Mill boatyard. Just hope the training sank in!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A thank you to ABNB

An old narrowboat buyer from Fenny
Looked and looked but could not find any
But a quick trip to Crick
Meant ABNB did the trick
The right boat was there among many

You could try 

Monday, 16 April 2012

La Licorne takes to the waves

Everything seems to be in place for the purchase of La Licorne on Thursday 19th April. The written report from the surveyor has been received and is fine. Contracts have been exchanged. We have found and arranged a mooring at Kingfisher Marina, Yardley Gobion ; a lovely secure pontoon mooring just north of Milton Keynes and only 14 minutes drive from home.

Insurance is arranged and I have to ring BW to finalise the licence for Canal & River since she is already licensed for Rivers and they know the boat safety certificate is current. The Small Ships Register application has been submitted and should be with me soon.

Early next week we move her to Sileby Mill Boatyard who are going to fit an inverter, repaint the bilge in the engine compartment and repaint the rear panel. Then while La Licorne is in their paint shed LetterKnight is going to paint the new boat name and home port together a small picture, wait for this on the website! Picture coming soon. When La Licorne was out of the water for the survey we took the opportunity to have her blacked with two coats so that should last for at least four years.

In early May we start the journey home to Fenny Stratford via the River Trent and Fradley Junction. But this Saturday we both take the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Course and hopefully pass the exam at Willow Wren Training in Rugby. The weather forecast is heavy rain such joy!

Another excuse to Splice the Mainbrace.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The deal is done subject to survey!

Yes today we agreed terms to buy, subject to a satisfactory survey, this 50ft semi trad narrow boat. At the moment she is called Tinking but that will change to Narrow Minded once the sale is complete. She was built in 1998 by Midlands Canal Centre and has been lovingly maintained by her caring owners from new. Repainted and reblacked last year she is in excellent condition. A Beta BV 1903 engine is supplemented by a 6HP bow thruster and 3.5KW travelpack generator.

Judith is pleased that there is no dinette and that there is a macerator pump out toilet and shower. The galley has double oven, hob and washing machine so not much else needed.

The survey takes place on Wednesday 28th and we should have the report within three days.

Doesn't she look good

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The search continues

Well moving in and getting straight took longer than planned but when the new doors are fitted tomorrow to the fridge and freezer almost everything is finished. We have managed to look at a few boats and search the internet for ideas and boats. Last Friday we looked at a few at Braunston and on Sunday at a few more at Whilton Marina. A new 44 ft narrowboat built in China was quiet interesting at Whilton, but as someone has said it doesn't have any tumblehome, a great nautical phrase, but is was new and had just about everything we need albeit a little short.

At Braunston we looked a few and a 60foot traditional narrowboat called Tabaluga Too took our fancy. A Reeves hull fitted out by Kingsground, they have a good reputation, but it needs a repaint and a out of water survey. Plus the electrics need some up dating and a decent inverter. No washing machine but everything else. I think we will be going back later this week to talk about an offer and a survey, which we have to pay for even if the sale does not proceed.

On Saturday we joined the chairman and a few members of the DBA, the Barge Association, for a short cruise down the Thames at Cookham followed by lunch at the Bounty. 6 very nice barges tied up for lunch and some good banter. A great day out!

On this Thursday it's racing at Towcester and the weather is going to be excellent so a day off!