Narrowboat for sale – Oh no its me!!!!!

Well what  a sad posting after over 6 months without blogging.

But its true – daddy doesn’t seem to love me any more and he has just put me on Apollo Ducks narrowboat for sale section, filed under cruiser stern and Harborough.

(Actually not true – I still do love Zulu but its become a bit of a luxury running two boats and only being able to live on one at any given time – MIKE)

He should be asking a lot more for me too – but he told me there’s nothing to be ashamed about being offered for a mere £13,995 ono.  despite being making me of the cheapest narrowboats for sale on the canal.

So if you are interested, please check out Apollo Duck in the first instance. They are apparrently just pondering the advert before allowing the world to see it, so you will see a link here the second it goes live.


And seriously, despite the current weather (which you will have to get used to if you are investing (insert smiley) in a boat) I am more than happy to light the stove and fire up the engine for a test run for any serious prospective buyer (subject to ice conditions of course).  If you see it in the cold and the rain then you will not have to wonder what it will be like in the winter so get it over with now!

And dammit that’s nearly got be back into the blogging flow….. watch this space!


And heres what the advert says if you cant wait to see it.

Zulu is a classic cruiser stern boat originally built a a hire boat but has served most of her life as a comfortable liveaboard.

From the cruiser stern which houses a Lister SR3 engine the rear door opens into the galley, which is modern and clean with brand new spinflo gas cooker – 4 burners, oven and grill.

There’s absolutely loads of storage space in cupboards and drawers throughout the kitchen area, and a stainless steel sink with hot and cold mixer tap. The hot water comes from a reliable instant water heater, mounted in the galley.

Straight through to the lounge/living area we have a large comfortable built-in sofa with huge cushions allowing it to form a single bed without conversion, or a double by raising the wooden frame on hinges. Shelving units alongside mean ready storage for all those books and CDs.

Opposite is a corner unit for the TV etc, and more and more shelf space. There is still room for a table (provided) or a desk if you prefer.

In the far corner is a clean Morso Squirrel stove in excellent condition, with fireproof board surrounding it.

Next is a short corridor to the bedroom, but not forgetting the shower room and toilet, which has a very clever arrangement allowing it to expand into a square room for showering while remaining as an L shaped room while using the loo. The toilet is an almost new (and spotlessly clean) flushing chemical loo, with a tank for pink fluid and flushing water which gives a pleasing cleanliness while the waste drops through to a removable cartridge for easy disposal at numerous facilities throughout the canal network.

Into the bedroom we have a good sized double bed raised up on top of drawers and cupboards, and an excellent massive under-bed storage area which is a real bonus when living on a boat.

There are more shelves too and a small fitted wardrobe which houses a 12v car radio – included in the sale.

Finally the front bedroom doors open out onto the huge foredeck which most unusually for a Harborough design boat is fitted with a metal deck – plenty of room for a couple of comfy deck chairs and table (included in the sale). The entire deck is covered with a green tarpaulin cover which is in reasonable condition.

The electrics consists of 3 x 110v leisure batteries and a separate engine starter battery, all charged by a single modern alternator which works well and keeps everything so simple in this department theres almost nothing to go wrong.

Then an almost new Sterling 1600w combi inverter/charger converts battery power into 240v mains voltage, or charges the batteries when connected to a landline (cable provided).

Heating – the all important question especially with the recent weather we have been experiencing. Well I lived on Zulu last January to March and the whole boat is superbly comfortable with just the Morso Squirrel stove – these are the business and this one can be used to warm up a cold boat quickly or by closing down the air vents it can be almost extinguished while remaining warm – I once left it for 3 days and it was still on when I got back – opening the vents and adding a bit of fuel and a roaring fire was all ready to greet me within seconds.

Unlike many boats of this age, I have cruised Zulu quite extensively and covered many hundreds of miles over the last two years – all the way between London and Manchester in fact.

Zulu is currently on a British Waterways mooring at Uxbridge, Middlesex and I would be delighted to show anyone round on this mooring, but pllease remember that BW do not allow change of ownership on a mooring.
That’s not to say that the new owner must move to another mooring permanently – just that the vacancy will be advertised on their mooring auction website and will be awarded to the highest bidder. I can give much more information about this and any other aspect of living aboard to interested parties.

I would also be happy to deliver this boat to you, or assist you with your first voyage. Anyone seriously interested will also have the chance to try the boat first – its a boat after all, not a permanent fixture, and I dont believe there’s any way a new owner can recognise the full potential of what they are about to buy without a test drive!

The overall condition is as you may expect for its age – please dont expect everything to be perfect, but its very tidy, comfortable and even homely inside – these boats ooze character with their very distinctive high bow profile and superb sitting out space on the cruister stern deck.

So I look forward to talking to the prospective new owners – I have owned her for over 2 years now and as I live aboard another boat full time, I now can’t justify owning two boats.

Two years ago I had the boat out of the water for 3 months with new steel plating professionally added to the bows and stern areas which had been identified as needing attention by a professional survey. I also had a brand new diesel tank fabricated and fitted and new steel floors in both the aft gas lockers, so as far as I am aware the hull is in a sound condition. The previous owner had obviously spent a lot on a new weed hatch and propshaft bearing all of which is in very good condition, and a definite weak point on these older boats.

The asking price is therefore offered as seen, but to reflect the additional inclusive fittings such as the inverter charger and cooker which are worth about 1,200 on their own. I can’t reduce it by much but I will be totally honest about all known faults for as much peace of mind as I can offer!

Theres even some diesel in the tank and the loo is empty so right now theres nothing which would stop you from turning up with a suitcase, pint of milk and sailing away – there’s even a jar of coffee waiting for you!

All cruising equipment will be included – you wont have to buy a single thing to get going… this includes life belt, boat shaft and boat hook, mooring pins, piling hooks, mallet, windlasses (2), anti-vandal key, BW key, hose and reel, mooring lines and extended handling lines (all good quality black or cream ropes), headlamp and horn. Furthermore the galley is equipped with a lovely range of white china plates, really nice cutlery, mugs, glasses, knives and utensils, tea towels, pots and pans galore. OK and pint of milk if you insist. You will of course need to licence and insure the boat — the licence is valid until end of May and the essential boat safety certificate is valid until April 2014 so thats still over three of its four years left to run – she passed with flying colours too.

But why not try an offer? I can only say yes, no (or maybe…) lol.

Catching up and spending too much

Zulu in London, taken from Lapwing
Zulu moored in London, taken from Lapwing

There’s not much happening on the Zulu front at present hence the silence.  Since Cavalcade at Little Venice I took Zulu back to her moorings in Uxbridge after work one night, travelling into the moonlight and arriving for a food stop at West Drayton at midnight, starving and freezing cold.  I pulled in to the seldom used bollards by the bridge near the station and went off through desserted streets in search of food. Never has a KFC tasted as good as that – well it was the only option at that time of the night!

The other big event of the month was passing the Boat Safety Scheme examination with only a warning about strapping up the gas cylinder (even in a locker which is not much bigger than the cylinder itself), which was easily put right on the spot.  That’s Zulu’s  BSS sorted for the next four years then – and with the certificate in hand I was able to renew the licence by emailling a copy to BW and the new licence discs were posted by return (excellent service from the BW licensing office).  An expensive month, but not restricted to paying the best part of 800 pounds for the BSS and licence, but the other boat is having its annual battery crisis and I have spent a total of 500 pounds on that too, plus a promise to get solar panels as soon as possible.

The bank balance certainly doesn’t look too healthy at the moment, so I took a look at what I may be spending money on without any particular benefit and cancelled the following subscriptions which I had been paying but never using:

1. World of Warcraft account – £9 per month.  I used to play this but seem to be far to busy now – its 6 months since I logged on, so its not surprising Blizzard, the distributors, are making a fortune.

2. Experts Exchange account – £9 per month.  Taken out to solve one particular string of IT problems with intention of cancelling before the free period ended (last year).  Hmmmm.

3. A spare online database which I never use, £30 per annum.

Its actually amazing how easy it is to sign up for something online and then just let it automatically renew month after month.  So I feel a bit better for making these changes, potentially saving almost £250 per annum, which should be enough for a couple of tanks of diesel.  Easy come easy go I suppose!

I name this boat Zulu Warrior!

The newly named Zulu Warrior at Little Venice

Zulu is not one of the smartest looking boats on the cut, and like many older boats its a long time since a name of any sort was painted on the side.

However when I bought Zulu, the previous owner presented me with ready made sticky backed names for the cabin sides.  I had more imporant things to fix at the time and so they have remained in a cupboard until today.  Spurred on by overhearing a couple of walkers looking at the name on the licence plates and asking if this was the ex Royal Navy narrowboat I decided to investigate whether the old name decals would still be usable.

I originally planned to paint the cabin before using them, as they are green and the cabin is green too (nothing of course to do with the dozen shades of green) , but today I decided that painting the cabin sides has already taken over two years and is unlikely to happen this month.

And so out came the fairy liquid to clean off the grime and on went the decals – the first time I have applied these, and very successful it was too.  Within 15 minutes I had one side done, so quickly turned the boat around and did the other side too.  Why it has taken me two years to do this I don’t even understand myself.

So if you are in Little Venice this weekend, for the Cavalcade, then you will now have a much greater chance of identifying us!  See you there!!

Uxbridge to Little Venice

Monday and Tuesday 26/27th April 2010

Zulu at Bulls Bridge Junction

Whilst the regulars have all desserted Little Venice, Zulu has deliberately made the journey into town, to be around and about during the IWA Cavalcade 2010.

We set off from Uxbridge after treating the dogs to a bus – train – bus journey from Burghfield, near Reading to Uxbridge.  I don’t think they minded too much but I was relieved that all three of us arrived intact just in time for another walk.  Exhausted, we arrived an hour or so after the walk, at Cowley lock where I decided to call it a day, fill up at the handy local shops and introduce the dogs to Cowley Park (well intoduce one of them, as the other has been here many times) and suitably exercised we all had dinner and collapsed into bed.

As a result of our early night we needed an early morning start so when the dogs decided to take me out at 5:30 I didn’t protest, and enjoyed a beautiful walk at this, the best time of the day (at least according to the dogs).

We left Cowley lock at 07:30 and arrived at Little Venice at 12:30 – its about 15 miles, so three miles an hour isn’t a bad average for Zulu.  The weather en route was superb – its hard to remember this is still April – and the thermometer inside Zulu’s cabin clocked 26 C this afternoon.

I was expecting Little Venice to be more chaotic, as the 14 day moorings between Brownings Pool and the footbridge opposite the Waterway Bar, and the 7 day moorings on the Paddington Arm up to the glass footbridge are reserved by the IWA between Monday 26th and Friday 7th.  Most noticeably all the regular moorers have moved back to Kensall Rise moorings, so in fact when we arrived Paddington was relatively desserted, and we found a 14 day mooring without a problem which is more than I could have said if I wanted to stay at Kensall Rise!  There was even one space on the 7 day moorings in Paddington Basin itself, but whilst very secure down there, it isn’t as nice for the dogs.

So here we are.  One of the reasons we are here for Cavalcade is that I am working on a trip boat over the weekend as well as being on duty today (Tuesday afternoon), so after a quick change and an hour of dog walking, I changed boats and went on a busman’s holiday down to Camden and back!

Winkwell to Uxbridge – we finally made it!

Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th April

Zulu is home!

On 18th December, the day the Trent and Mersey reopened at Middlewich, we set off from Middlewich on a three week trip to our new moorings at Uxbridge.  Almost 4 months later we have finally arrived thanks to ice and stoppages along the way but it has been a great winter cruise.

So the final leg of the trip was from Winkwell, through Hemel Hempstead where a “charming” boater told me that single handed boaters were the scourge of the canals, then tried to engage me in conversation about how he detested London as it had become a foreign city, staffed by foreigners to serve foreigners.  Fortunately he was heading in the other direction and he cheerfully told me to stay onboard and worked me through the lock – I thought I might as well live up to his expectations so did just that!

Easter Eggs all over the Hemel area.  Are they all gone now?
Easter Eggs all over the Hemel area. Are they all gone now?

All around the canalside in Hemel were plastic A4 sheets tied on with cable ties – remnants of an “Easter Egg” hunt and still flapping from trees, bushes, lock gates, buildings.  Many had obviously been placed there by boat due to their location.  I do hope the organisers are going to make sure that every single one is removed along with the cable ties as right now this looks a dreadful eyesore after only three days.

Once out of Hemel I love this stretch of canal as it drops down lock after lock into the wonderful surroundings towards Cassiobury Park where the dogs had a fantastic run with at least six others.  Cassiobury lock is one of the slowest I know, and one of the busiest for onlookers.  We certainly gave them something to watch as I met up with a boat already in the lock, despairing that they had picked up their rope on the propellor and after an hour still hadn’t managed to free it, or to find anyone who could do it for them.

So always up for a challenge when it comes to getting rubbish of props, I was delighted to be able to get them moving again within 15 minutes.  Plenty of practice I guess!

I travelled with them as far as Rickmansworth, stopping briefly to reminisce at the old moorings where exactly two years ago, on 7th April 2008, I picked up Zulu from her long term home on Batchworth Farm moorings.  I moored opposite Tesco, exactly where I stopped two years ago and took a walk into town for something to eat.

At Wetherspoons Tuesday night is Steak Night, offering exceptional value – just the job after a hard day’s boating and I look forward to Wetherspoons April Beer Festival taking place for the next couple of weeks. 

Back to the boat for the night, and an early start with the dogs next morning led us down the final stretch towards Uxbridge.  For many years Black Jacks Mill has been empty so it is nice to see it all restored as an up-market bed and breakfast.

Continuing to drop down the locks, I got badly caught out at Coppermill lock where a fierce side stream enters the canal opposite the Fishery Inn Coy Carp.  Its not like I didn’t prepare for it and steered right up into the current but I was taken by surprise by the strength of it and poor old Zulu’s engine was no match, so with an almighty bang we hit the concrete coping sideways on, but no damage was done – nothing even fell off the shelves so it probably felt worse than it was, but next time I will crawl along the towpath side if the river is flowing like it is today!

From there it isn’t far to Harefield and the long stretch down to Denham Deep Lock with its charming tea garden and lovely walks through Denham Country Park.  This is our new home territory – a short walk from Uxbridge – and before long we were passing our new moorings and dropping down Uxbridge Lock for a quick service stop at Denham Yacht Station and a night at the Swan and Bottle.

Next morning we finally made it up back up Uxbridge Lock and onto our new mooring.

The trip from Middlewich has been 208 miles and 219 locks.  I think Zulu probably needs a well deserved rest, for now!

Marsworth to Winkwell

Easter Monday 5th April 2010

Marsworth locks are one of my favourite flights in a beautiful setting alongside the reservoirs.  They are quite easy locks too, not too deep and in very good working order, so we made light work of them, meeting the first boats of the day at the top lock where a small queue was forming.

So having reached the summit level we were definitely on the last leg of the trip to Uxbridge but by no means there yet with still another fifty or so locks before finally reaching the end of the journey.  Somehow these locks fly by as they are mostly quite well spaced and in a variety of rural and urban locations which adds a bit of interest, dropping down through Berkhamstead which always has the air of a holiday destination, with a very popular mooring site in the town centre, lined by a park on the offside.

We made a quick stop at the canal side Waitrose where for a small fortune I got myself a reduced price meal for one and a supply of dog food, bonios, biscuits, chews and poo bags.   At least the dogs will be well fed!

It was so tempting to stop at the lockside Rising Sun but we kept going and arrived at the last locks of the day at Winkwell, where Zulu spent the first two months of her new life being repaired on land just after I bought her two years ago.

Another stroke of luck with the electric swing bridge as two boats were just coming up as I was coming down, so I got a free ride through without holding up the (very) impatient traffic here.  I moored on the long straight down to Boxmoor in the shadow of the railway line and took a walk back to the Three Horseshoes at Winkwell bridge for a couple of pints – another great dog friendly pub where we all curled up at the fire and dozed off! 

Today :: 9 miles 23 locks

Thames flowing too fast for Pooh Sticks

Easter Saturday 3rd April 2010

The World Pooh Sticks Championships have been cancelled for safety reasons.  Traditionally held on Easter Sunday at Days Lock on the Thames for the last 27 years, sadly this year’s event will not take place, according to the Oxford Mail.

Am I bored tonight?  Yes I guess I am – LOL!

But tomorrow, Easter Sunday morning, nice and early, Zulu will be off through Fenny Statford, Leighton, Marsworth and maybe even down towards Berkhamstead.   Fingers crossed for a nice day.

Taking the Pee on the Regents Canal

Running away when they saw the camera
Running away when they saw the camera

On Saturday I was moving a boat through London.  What a shame I didn’t have the camera easily to hand. The shadowy figures (there were 5 or 6 altogether) escaping in my picture were running away because they though it amusing to pee over the boat as we went under Lisson Grove just at the far end of Maida Hill Tunnel after leaving Little Venice.  I stopped before being in range, and of course seeing the camera they scarpered before I could get a good shot.  Next time you wont be so lucky!  In fact there may not be a next time as two police walked by shortly afterwards and recognised the description.

Lets hope this isn’t going to be a silly season with a start like that – and meanwhile if you are passing through Lisson Grove Estate you may like to carry an umbrella just in case!

Weedon to Milton Keynes

Sunday 29th March 2010

Zulu at Cosgrove Bridge
Zulu at Cosgrove Bridge

What a busy two weeks since I left Zulu at Weedon.  I did return to the boat once, to do some maintenance as I remember being amazed that after 3 days the fire was still smouldering away, but being away last weekend and working yesterday, this was the first chance to make some more progress.

Its never a smooth journey when travelling on a weekend, and I made a terrible mistake of taking a train to Northampton from Euston at 6:30pm.  I should have checked the football before boarding a train to Stoke, full of course of jubillant football supporters foul mouthed drunks after Stoke beat West Ham.  I wonder if these people will all be off to the office tomorrow or whether they are professional yobs.

By the time I was getting off the bus in Weedon it was very late, just time to light the fire, get a takeaway and prepare for an early start on Sunday morning, on the night the clocks go forward.

Sunday was dry and sunny for the most part, but surprisingly cold, and the canal was fairly quiet until Blisworth tunnel where suddenly there were 5 boats all inside at once!  I met three oncoming boats and a fourth was following me, so I was pleased to have the company going down the Stoke Bruerne locks, especially when a whole troop of family members turned up to work the locks.

After that its a lovely long lock free run through Cosgrove and Milton Keynes, which is such a nice place to pass through by boat.  I was heading for Fenny Stratford, but after realising there’s no trains on a Sunday I made a split second decision to stop a mile or so before, just outside the Plough, in the company of a good dozen other boats.

In a bit of a rush to get to the station before the last train home I made a huge mistake of following a main road, whereas in Milton Keynes roads are for cars, and pedestrians need to know their way through a maze of footpaths and tunnels to find the nearest bus stop.  For the first time the iPhone really did save the day, as the mapping application not only found me a way to the bus stop, but told me it was coming and would arrive at the station with 10 minutes to spare.  It was another public transport experience from hell though, as the little 7E mini bus was absolutely full and hurtled round bend after bend tipping push chairs over, squashing people together,  turning the floor into a river of spilt drinks and generally making getting off a total relief.

A mere four hour journey from leaving Zulu I finally got back home, and not without yet another encounter with drunks, who took over the buffet car on the train from Paddington to Reading.  This being after 10pm, these guys were so drunk they could hardly stand, and their attempts to talk or sing simply turned into the foulest of language.  I can’t help thinking there is something terribly wrong with this country when this behaviour has become the norm for a weekend, especially when they thought it amusing to get off at Reading and pee on the train.

So here endeth an eventful journey, a really boring post and a lovely day’s boating. 
Total today: 27 miles and 8 locks.

British Waterways Complaints – Freedom of Information Reply

A couple of weeks ago I was really annoyed with British Waterways as I felt that having raised complaints about various aspects of the information they were providing to boaters during my extended winter journey, they were failing to do anything but send a standard acknowledgement while the subject of my complaint had not been rectified.

Its not that any individual event was a huge issue but when the promised response didn’t arrive within 15 working days for the third time in a row, the tone of my fourth complaint was most definitely louder than before.

When I requested these to be raised to level 2 of the complaints process, I was not surprised by receiving an almost  immediate response to two of the three older issues, plus an instant response to my latest complaint.  In fact I was pleasantly with two of them which actually left me feeling like I had raised a genuine issue which was indeed being addressed by people who cared, while the third was more defensive, most likely as a result of viewing my final comments about the stoppage at Buckby Locks in isolation rather than as the fourth factor in a row.

The reasons for failing to respond within 15 days were given as guilty – an email response had been sent back to customer services instead of to me (by the IT department!), guilty – a second identical complaint to mine had been processed the same day and my reply had been overlooked and he jury is still out about the third.

But on my angry night two weeks ago I filed a Freedom of Information request to BW to ask “How many complaints are satisfactorily handled?” and duly received my response.  I used which makes the whole process very easy.

The answer was interesting and is shown below in full.  What intrigues me about the figures quoted is that if it is true that only 363 complaints have been handled in the last 12 month period, then having written 4 times I personally represent 1.1% of all complaints during this period, and possibly  yet apart from this series I have not made a written complaint to anyone else anywhere in the last 15 years (I tell a lie – I did write to BW last year to complain that I was unable to walk safely to my boat on my BW offside mooring due to mud churned up by hundreds of dog walkers a day, but they didn’t agree that the council should be taking action to repair the path!). 

Hmmmmmh.  I wonder if these figures are produced by the same counting methods as the number of waterways users which extend into the hundreds of millions!

British Waterways Answer:

Chris Gray
British Waterways Board17 March 2010

Further to my correspondence with you of 16^th March 2010 I am responding
to your request for information regarding:

1. How many complaints did you receive in the last 12 months.

2. how many have you responded within 15 working days many are resolved to the satisfaction of the originator?

2008-2009 level 2nd level
Apr-08 31 4
May-08 47 3
Jun-08 42 7
Jul-08 48 5
Aug-08 50 9
Sep-08 40 7
Oct-08 30 5
Nov-08 20 3
Dec-08 34 3
Jan-09 25 0
Feb-09 24 4
Mar-09 26 13
417 63

2009-2010 1st level 2nd level
Apr-09 43 3
May-09 30 7
Jun-09 43 8
Jul-09 48 11
Aug-09 29 4
Sep-09 23 7
Oct-09 33 8
Nov-09 20 4
Dec-09 24 5
Jan-10 25 6
Feb-10 19 1
337 64

The number of first level complaints responded to within the 15 days from
written acknowledgement – 94% (average response time is 11 days)

The number of second level complaints responded to within the 15 days from
written acknowledgement – 39%

The number of second level complaints responded to within the 15 days from
written acknowledgement or within an extension agreed by the customer 98%
(average response time is 25 days)

Do not keep info on satisfaction but this could be gauged by the number of
complaints progressing from one stage to the next. The number of
ombudsman accepted complaints in 2008/09 was 16 and so far this year is
22. Also to date (in the financial year 2009/10) the Waterway Ombudsman
has completed 18 investigations. The Ombudsman fully upheld three of these
complaints and she found partially against British Waterways on five
occasions. Ten were not upheld.

If we haven’t reasonably met your expectations in relation to a request
for information or you believe we may not have acted in accordance with
the above legislation you should write in the first instance to Caroline
Killeavy Head of Customer Relations, 64 Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts
WD17 1DA outlining your concerns and asking for a review to be
undertaken. Your correspondence will be acknowledged and a review of your
case will be undertaken. The review is usually undertaken by a director
and you should receive a response within 15 working days.

Should you remain unsatisfied by the response you receive you are able to
contact the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF [1]

Yours Sincerely

Chris Gray

Information Officer


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