Little Venice to The Guardian

Three ex-Guardian journalists on board, so where else can we head for than Kings Place, the new offices overlooking Kings Cross marina and the Canal Museum. Skipper’s son and grandson joined the crew for a while. Here they are going through the Maida Hill tunnel.

Continue reading “Little Venice to The Guardian”

Rainy Day in London Town – or A Splendid View of the North Circular

Rain forecast all morning, so wet weather gear and a stoical attitude called for, with half hour watches steering. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find that there are no locks until Camden, which we won’t reach until tomorrow. Camden is the end of a 27 mile lock-free stretch before a gradual descent to the Thames at Limehouse.
The best surprise was that far from cruising an industrial wasteland we were actually spending much of the time in a green corridor through London, sheltered by trees, with a profusion of wild flowers, certainly as far as Wembley and Alperton. Even in the industrial and retail parks of the North Circular and further in, there’s a May-time profusion of greenery and flowers along the canal itself.

And what can be more detached from normal London than standing on the boat above the North Circular Continue reading “Rainy Day in London Town – or A Splendid View of the North Circular”

Cruise by tube

The London circuit
The London circuit

This is a map of our next cruise: a circumnavigation of London using the Paddington Branch and Regents canals, with a detour to see the Olympic Park via the Hertford Union, the Lee Navigation and Limehouse cut, then the River Thames from Limehouse to Brentford and back to our starting point via the Grand Junction Canal.

We have just had the cheapest ever holiday fares – zero – as we got the tube to Greenford and a bus to Tesco’s car park using our Freedom Passes, before a short walk to Willowtree Marina. We were expecting an industrial backwater, but nothing of the sort: a neat marina with a bar and restaurant, surrounded by trees. Evie is the barge’s name, 70 feet long but still a squeeze at 7ft 6 in wide.

Here’s the captain (David, right) and crew, waiting for what turned out to be a splendid takeaway from an Indian restaurant in nearby Southall.

Slowboat round Britain and Ireland

We did it!
A toast to a great cruise!

After spectacular scenery on the West coasts of Scotland and Ireland, and many interesting harbours and anchorages, Spring Fever is back where she started last year, on the River Medina at Cowes. There was nothing heroic about it: the  longest single cruise  was only 24 days, from Ardoran near Oban to Truro in Cornwall this summer, taking in Iona in the southern Hebrides, Tory Island off Donegal, the Aran Islands off Galway, and the Scillies. Continue reading “Slowboat round Britain and Ireland”

Charts, pilots, weather – Scotland, West of Ireland to Scillies

The cost of a portfolio of paper charts for the British Isles is enormous, so we ignored advice in magazine articles and pilot books to stock up on large scale charts and relied mainly on electronics. (See this link to earlier posts: electronic navigation ).

We have:

C-Map NW Europe – chartplotter.
Memory Map UK and Ireland – laptop.
Navionics UK and Holland, including Ireland – iPhone.
Antares, Bob Bradshaw’s ultra large scale inshore charts for West of Scotland – laptop. (We tried them out in some very tight little anchorages, and they seemed very accurate). Continue reading “Charts, pilots, weather – Scotland, West of Ireland to Scillies”

Back to the Solent

Monday 17 September: Tony picked the boat up at Malpas and took it down to Falmouth Yacht Haven, mooring singlehanded in 35 knot gusts. Dinner at the Ghurka restaurant. Forecast 5-7 from the Southwest, occasionally 8, so decided to wait till Wednesday. Falmouth has the depressed look it always assumes in rain and chilly wind, with glum holidaymakers patrolling the long narrow shopping street. Continue reading “Back to the Solent”

St Mary’s and Tresco

Ashore for a walk, and lunch in a pub. Beautiful day, sun shining, children swimming on the golden beaches; what an extraordinary contrast with the day before.

Hugh Town, St Mary's
Hugh Town, St Mary’s

Went to the vicarage’s annual garden fete, a feast of nostalgia, Continue reading “St Mary’s and Tresco”

Quiet after the storm – the Scillies

The less said about today the better. One for those who enjoy surfing down the face of very large waves at 14 knots! You wouldn’t believe it from the photo of Hugh Town Harbour in the Scillies, as the sun set. The bad weather started clearing the moment we arrived there in the evening. Continue reading “Quiet after the storm – the Scillies”

Kinsale – leaving Ireland

Ashore for brunch, shopping and a walk up Compass Hill. Pretty views, stone-walled gardens and the imposing Officers Club above the bowling green. There is one large, empty, austere looking building left, which might just have been part of the 23 acre site, but it could equally have been a school, a hospital or a convent. Something to check out another day.

Empty building on Compass Hill, near where the Military Barracks was demolished in1922
Empty building on Compass Hill, near where the Military Barracks was demolished in1922
Round Britain 2013 053
The skipper of the day looking pensively at the weather as we head out from Kinsale

Fuelled at the other marina across the river (which ran out of diesel for the next boat) and set off for the Scillies at 1600. A bit of a risk, Continue reading “Kinsale – leaving Ireland”


Round Britain 2013 029
Chris at the helm on the way to Kinsale

Up early at Castletownshend, perfect morning, still water, the sound of water falling in the woods, birdsong, a heron on the rocks: made tea and slowly to sea, admiring the pretty sunlit village. Fast reach in sun all the way to Kinsale, past the Old Head, with the wind gradually rising. Continue reading “Kinsale”

Castletownshend – an English village in Ireland

To pontoon and ashore again in Baltimore. Forecast 6 or 7 south west. Nervous. Don’t want more heavy swells and wind for a while. But outside harbour, which we left early afternoon, was sun and a force 4 all the way to Castletownshend, a pretty wooded estuary and village, reminiscent of Cornwall, with an English-influenced history to it. Picked up buoy on wooded bend of the river, beautifully quiet and sheltered, near trees. Ashore by dingy to Mary Ann’s, a gourmet pub, rather expensive, though nice. There was a children’s band marching up and down in the evening, part of the regatta celebrations.  A very smart holiday village.

Passage notes: 14 miles, 3 hours, max SW 4 (forecast 6-7), min SW 3, long 2 metre swell, sunny and good visibility

Chris as we get ready to leave for dinner ashore
Chris as we get ready to leave for dinner ashore

Continue reading “Castletownshend – an English village in Ireland”

Swiss National Day!

Swiss National Day fondue dinner

Jean-Jacques has offered fondue and white wine for supper because it is Swiss National Day. So lots of discussion over breakfast of how to construct a table-top heater for the fondue without setting the cabin alight! Continue reading “Swiss National Day!”