Cruising Notes

Well, it's nearly Christmas and we are still firmly frozen in with little chance of moving the boat in the near future. We have largely stabilised the situation and expect to maintain the status quo for at least the next 3 weeks. Then I have to find a source of both diesel and calor gas. It means that I will probably have to fall in the hands of the local crook who is trying to supply us frozen in boaters with basics at prices that ensures he has a highly profitable year.

We have acquired a little fuel for our stove, hopefully enough for the complete winter.

one of our few snow free days

So we are going to be warm and snug whatever else happens. Naturally with a stove running 24/7 we cook a good percentage of our food on the stove, indulging in the sort of old fashioned meals that take hours to cook, and a few of my curry recipes that take days to cook.

Who needs central heating when you have one of these in the corner

We have not turned our central heating on in the last 5 or 6 years

Fortuitously, I had added double glazing to the boat just prior to this cold spell arriving so we are getting the full benefit of that. I also added some modifications to the boats electrics which (as a side benefit) lowers our diesel usage.

So with the basics under control, it's time to contemplate the sheer beauty of the situation.

Freezing fog produces breathtaking scenes right outside our front door

The boat opposite us decided to break through the ice but failed to leave the edge due to the thickness of the ice and, at that time, it had been thawing for about 3 days. My best guess is that we will not make it to the locks at Braunston before they close for repairs on the 10th of January (It's only about 7 hours cruising). So we will probably be here for the whole of the winter.

Ice won, narrowboat lost

As a side benefit the “cherubs” can't untie our ropes as they are more like steel rods in these temperatures (not that it would make any difference, we are hemmed in by at least four, and more probably six inches of ice). Hopefully they will be back to school soon and have less time to roam around.

So, what do we do with our time? Well I had originally planned on learning how to weld this winter but that is not going to happen so I am writing a mobile phone app for boaters and am re-learning how to fly model planes by using a simulator on my laptop. Hopefully by the end of the winter I will be a competent “pixel pilot” (it's much more difficult than flying real planes I assure you) and will have replaced half of the guides that we use cruising by the use of my mobile phone. Who knows, I might even sell a copy or two of the app to other boaters.

Judy does her cross stitch work, and, when she gets cabin fever, goes shopping in the local towns. We are in the West Midlands so there are a lot of towns within an hour on the bus

Now, a consequence of freezing and snow is, frequently, flooding when the white stuff melts. Mostly on rivers. If the water rises more than about 2ft 6in above the surrounding land you can, if you are not careful, drift onto the towpath. The You Tube video below shows you what can happen if the people sent to rescue you are not the most competent around.


A couple of pictures taken before the freeze in, the first is a blacksmiths, so far as I know the only floating one on the canals.

and lastly an inspection boat. When the canals were in their heyday (and making money) they were regularly inspected by their owners. Naturally this was done with much pomp and show so a suitable type of boat was used. Despite being largely built of wood some have survived and been restored/renovated. I suspect that they look better on the outside than the inside. I'm not sure if this is an original or a copy.

So that's it for this year folks, I hope you enjoyed the ride. We certainly did.

To the kind folks that have been concerned over our welfare in the freeze, thanks for your concern. Getting frozen in comes with the territory as far as we are concerned. However this has been exceptional, there are boaters abandoning their boats, and several reports of boaters abandoning the life style altogether. We, however, are in good shape and well provided for. If we remain frozen in till the end of March it will be nothing but a minor inconvenience. After all, we have to be somewhere, and here is pretty much as good as there.


Have a wonderful Christmas


Great new year

but mostly

Have Fun!

John and Judy