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
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