37 WHEN ONLY A MOORING WILL DO

It might not be the ‘done thing’ to take a berth for an ex­tended stay if you want to be a con­tin­u­ous cruiser, but there are times when it’s nec­es­sary

Canal Boat - - Contents - WORDS AND PIC­TURES BY DAVID JOHNS

Live­aboard David Johns com­mits a ‘heinous crime ‘– mooring-up for the win­ter

This month I have seem­ingly done the most heinous thing pos­si­ble for a live­aboard con­tin­u­ous cruiser: I’ve paid for a mooring. Yes, mooring. You know, one of those spots at the side of the canal where you can pop your boat for a bit with­out be­ing told off by the Canal & River Trust for not mov­ing on. And I do mean on an on­go­ing ba­sis, not just be­cause I want to stick in one place for a few weeks.

Ac­cord­ing to some com­ments I’ve re­ceived, this surely means the demise of my canal ad­ven­ture. “No more Cruis­ing the Cut?” they gasp. It’s as if they be­lieve hav­ing a base lo­ca­tion some­how dis­ables the pro­pel­ler. But let’s con­sider the rea­sons for my ap­par­ently hereti­cal move in the hope the dis­cus­sion may be of use to any­one else con­sid­er­ing liv­ing afloat.

First, I’ll need a base for win­ter. I’m not yet one of those hardy souls who spends the dark, damp, chilly days from Novem­ber to March out on the cut, bat­tling the el­e­ments and hop­ing not to get frozen in with a near-to-burst­ing Thet­ford cas­sette.

Sec­ond, we’ve just had peak sum­mer time and the canals were rather busy with hol­i­day-mak­ers. I’m happy to stay out of the way for a few weeks and wait for it to calm down again in the au­tumn. That’s the joy of liv­ing aboard your own boat – year round free­dom to cruise when­ever the mood strikes.

Third, I need some­where to store the car. I know, I could sell it and rent one as nec­es­sary but I don’t trust car rental com­pa­nies not to rip me off mas­sively with charges for ev­ery­thing. Plus, my car’s cheap and cheer­ful so it doesn’t mat­ter if it gets dented. Quite the para­noid op­po­site with a rental.

Fourth, I do oc­ca­sion­ally still ven­ture back into the real world for paid em­ploy­ment, the bet­ter to keep the boat

in diesel and me in G&T. It’s not prac­ti­cal by train. A mooring means I can re­turn there when any work’s due, go and do the job in the car and then go out cruis­ing again.

The way I see it, if a con­tin­u­ous cruiser can still be so with a win­ter mooring, surely I can still be one with a year-round mooring pro­vided I don’t just sit on that same spot and never go any­where? A con­tin­u­ous cruiser in spirit per­haps, even if no longer tech­ni­cally so on my CRT reg­is­tra­tion.

Re­gard­less, I’m still liv­ing aboard wher­ever I am. Glad that’s set­tled.

At the end of my last ar­ti­cle, I’d stopped at the Salt­isford Arm in War­wick. It was there I re­sorted to gaffer-tap­ing an upturned ce­real bowl over my stove chimney to keep the rain out, after los­ing the proper roof half­way down the Lap­worth lock flight. While de­lighted with my in­ge­nu­ity at first, the aes­thet­i­cally ru­inous ef­fect on all sub­se­quent pho­tographs of the boat caused me to rue the im­pro­vi­sa­tion un­til such time as I found a chan­dlery and bought yet an­other re­place­ment chimney lid some days later. A les­son has not been learned, though, as this one is still not fas­tened on but stays in place via grav­ity and hope.

Leav­ing Salt­isford I headed east, curv­ing around War­wick and through Leam­ing­ton be­fore reach­ing the lit­tle vil­lage of Rad­ford Semele on the out­skirts where I stopped for the night. A lovely spot, al­though had I moored frac­tion­ally fur­ther along – around the cor­ner, past a wind­ing hole – I’d have been spared the hourly buzz-past by a trip-boat work­ing out of Leam­ing­ton for which the hole was the turn­ing point of its jour­ney. Note duly made in the Log.

A se­ries of wide locks pre­sented them­selves there­after – Bas­cote, Itch­ing­ton, Stock­ton, Cal­cutt. For­tune pre­sented me with com­pany for most of them in­clud­ing the de­light­ful folk of the Mikron Theatre Com­pany boat who not

‘The ge­nius who de­signed my boat put the gas vent holes pretty much on the wa­ter­line with­out any slope or curve on the locker floor’

only did most of the hard work op­er­at­ing the gates and pad­dles but also made me a cup of tea and handed over some home-made biscuits. If that’s not good enough rea­son to plug their per­for­mances, I don’t know what is. Take a look at mikron.org.uk

I was head­ing back to Yelvertoft ma­rina to do some DIY re­paint­ing and main­te­nance on my rust-rav­aged gas locker. The ge­nius who de­signed my boat put the (ad­mit­tedly es­sen­tial) gas vent holes pretty much on the wa­ter­line and with­out any slope or curve on the locker floor such that any in­com­ing water would flow straight back out. In­stead, the water sploshes into the locker at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and seem­ingly en­joys mak­ing its home there un­der the gas bot­tles. This has led to co­pi­ous rust. And yes, the bot­tles are raised off the floor by plas­tic mat­ting but it makes no dif­fer­ence to the water flow.

There was no op­tion but to pull the boat out onto hard­stand­ing, don a knot­ted hanky over my nose, put on my shab­bi­est clothes – quite tricky be­cause after sev­eral months on the boat nearly all my jeans and T-shirts are ru­ined, so pick­ing the worst out is quite dif­fi­cult – and descend into the com­pact quar­ter that is the gas locker armed with an elec­tric drill and a wire brush attachment.

Health and safety ad­vice: I can tell you now that a knot­ted hanky pro­vides zero pro­tec­tion for your lungs from an as­sault by newly-sanded rust par­ti­cles. You’d think prior ex­pe­ri­ence might have given due warn­ing as years ago I sanded some an­cient lead-filled paint off the wood­work in a house and was vi­o­lently ill the next day. Do­ing the gas locker wasn’t quite as bad but not far off. Still, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, eh?

A cup of Fer­tan rust treat­ment fol­lowed – for the locker, not me – then primer paint, bilge paint and, for good mea­sure, two coats of In­tertuf blacking as well. If that locker doesn’t re­sist rust now for a good few years, I’ll eat my Fer­tan-stained brush.

Then it was back into the water and off to my new mooring – gasp – where I now sit bask­ing in the sun­shine and pon­der­ing where next to cruise.

You can fol­low my ad­ven­tures – on and off my new mooring – in video at

Cruis­ingTheCut.co.uk, on Twit­ter (@ Cruis­ingTheCut) and, of course, here in

the pages of Canal Boat.

Moored nr Bridge 103 on the GU

Time for tea on the tow­path near Braun­ston

Ap­proach­ing stair­case at Long Itch­ing­ton

Gets a bit tight on some parts of the Ox­ford

Hazy, lazy days at Braun­ston

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