For all those boat owners wondering what the market is like at the moment – it seems pretty buoyant to me.

I had intended to put Zulu on the market in the summer but last Friday I started to write an advert on Apolloduck – one thing led to another and I decided to test the water, as it were and pressed the “publish” button.

Within three days I had a dozen enquiries, some more serious than others.

And by Tuesday I had a buyer who collected Zulu yesterday.  I would therefore say that the market is fairly alive certainly in this lower end price range.

So best of luck to the new owners – I know you have a nice mooring already and hopefully Zulu will give you as much pleasure as I have had during almost three years of ownership.  Doesn’t time fly!

Now I wonder whether I have saved enough to buy another one……..

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!!

Viking Warrior – was that Zulu’s long lost sister?

“]Viking Warrie]
Viking Warrior at Lapworth

In the 1980s Zulu Warrior belonged to the Royal Navy as one of two narrowboats based at Uxbridge on the Grand Union.  They were basically hire boats, available for Navy personnel attached to the nearby “Stone Frigate” HMS Warrior, otherwise known as Northwood HQ near Rickmansworth.  The staff at Uxbridge Boat Centre still remember having Zulu based there.

Amongst the paperwork which I inherited are the old hire boat inventory, handling manual and some of the log books.  I never found the actual “brochure”  for hiring Zulu, but I do have a glossy A4 leaflet with the details of the other boat, purpose built for the job in 1975, as opposed to Zulu’s history as a former hire boat.

This sparkling new all steel boat was called Viking Warrior, and was apparently 50ft with 8 berths.  From the faded photos it isn’t clear whether Viking was a cruiser or trad stern and I have no other information about her.  Searching Jim Shead’s boat listing for Viking Warrior came up with only one GRP boat which couldn’t possibly be the original, so for the last two years I have assumed that she no longer exists.

Potentially rare shot of Zulu Warrior and Viking Warrior together for the first time in 30 years
Potentially rare shot of Zulu Warrior and Viking Warrior together for the first time in 30 years

This weekend look what I found, on its mooring just above Bridge 28 at Lapworth on the Stratford on Avon Canal.  Viking Warrior, all very shiny, and a traditional stern but remarkably similar bows and window pattern to the photo in my brochure.  Could this really be the long lost partner for Zulu?  Searching Jim Shead’s boat list by the index number comes up with Viking Warrier (sic) which of course is why I couldn’t find her in my original search, and the index number 60553 could well be from the 1980s but isn’t exactly datable as it is from the era where all existing boats were handed a sequential number regardless of their actual age.  The length is given at 45 feet, but there again Zulu was sold to me as 7 feet longer than she is in the real world.


I hope to do some more research so if you know anything about these two boats it would be really great to hear from you.  I would especially like to see old photographs of Zulu.  Meanwhile I have been reminded (Thanks Brian – see comments) about an article Royal Navy Narrowboats on published shortly after I bought Zulu – indeed published because I bought Zulu.  There is already a wealth of detail about Viking Warrior contributed by Noel Durkin, and mentions Dick Pryce-Jones as being in charge of the naval narrowboat project and apparently still has his own narrowboat, nb Juniper, at Upware.  So if either of you read this, or anyone else with more information, I would love to hear from you.

Although Zulu and Viking have long since been decomissioned from the Navy, there are still at least two Royal Navy narrowboats, so you never know who you may meet in the next bridge hole.  The most recent, the Warneford VC, was added in March 2009 as covered by and will be based at Hilperton on the K&A and I believe at least one more, the Emma is based in the Midlands.  These boats are, like Zulu, used for recreational and occasional team building exercises.

BW Mooring Auction – Zulu is on the move

Middlewich no more!

Last month I tested the new BW Mooring Auction system for the first time and as a result Zulu will soon have a new mooring at Uxbridge Lock, Grand Union Canal.  Even though the Middlewich mooring is much cheaper, the cost of getting there is quite prohibitive, and we have had our fun after over a year in Cheshire, so its time to move on, with the added bonus of now having a West London mooring.

Winter stoppages, including one at Middlewich Big Lock itself mean we can’t start the journey south until 18th December, so Christmas and New Year is going to be a crazy mixture of family visits and boating.  I hope to get past Braunston before the January stoppages commence, otherwise we will be stuck there until the end of March.

Check the closing time!
Check the closing time!

The auction system itself is certainly an improvement on the old tenders trial, where you only got one chance to guess a price, but I was almost caught out by the new system.  At 13:00 hrs I was the high bidder and assumed that this meant I had won the auction.  To my horror another bid was accepted after the deadline, and I had to log in and bid again.  In fact I thought there had been a mistake, as I had scrutinised the Terms and Conditions document which clearly states that the auction ends at the closing time.

What it doesn’t mention is that the closing time is extended beyond the original deadline until no bidding activity has taken place for 5 minutes, as an anti-sniping measure.  Whist this is an excellent feature I was very annoyed to end up losing the auction on a technicality, which is not even mentioned in the Terms and Conditions for Bidding but according to BW the website FAQ section must be considered part of the T&C, and it is here that the anti sniping is mentioned.  So be warned – if you are bidding make sure that you watch for an extended closing time in case anyone tries to jump in at the last moment.

Fate was on my side though, as 2 weeks later the original bidder had not met their obligation and so I was offered the vacancy, as the next highest bidder.  I have paid more than I intended, but I have a superb mooring to look forward to in one of my favourite locations on the canal network.   Zulu was actually based in Uxbridge in the 1980s when she was one of the Royal Navy’s own hire boats, and when I bought her she had been moored for years in Batchworth, so to all intents and purposes, Zulu will be coming home.

Only 182 miles and 163 locks to go!

Water water everywhere – the pump’s broken

A visit to Zulu this week started badly.  She was definitely down at the stern more than normal, which immediately starts the heart racing, as the last thing I need is to find the engine bilge flooded.

But all was well in the engine department – an automatic bilge pump sees that the rain water is removed and so I relaxed for a moment, until putting the kettle on and finding no water in the taps.  I optimistically refilled the tank so I could check for leaks and have a cup of coffee.

It didn’t take a genius to work out that with an empty water tank and a tail heavy appearance, the contents must have moved from the front to the back – and indeed this was confirmed when I opened up the water pump cupboard and found the newly refilled tank pouring its contents back into the newly dry cabin bilge.  The Sureflow pump had failed spectacularly – how are these things constructed so badly that they can burst open and flood the boat (this is the third boat with a Sureflow pump and the third time I have had to mop up a leaking Sureflow pump).

I really don’t understand why I then went out and bought another one the same – at least it fitted back into the same space without replumbing too.  At least it has a three year guarantee.

So Zulu you well and truly got your revenge for being neglected last month.  I promise not to leave you so long again.

Marston Doles to Claydon

Marston Doles to Claydon, South Oxford Canal

Woke up to a lovely morning, although as usual it had been raining through the night. Took Seth for a walk all the way down the Napton flight, hoping to find some fresh bread and milk at the Canal Stores adjoining the Folly pub, but despite the “open early” signs there was no sign of life, other than three or four other boaters also milling around before doing as I did and heading up to the village stores, which is actually not as far as I remembered.

Fresh bread was available too, albeit “Cuisine de France” brand, frozen dough but baked on the premises. So many local shops seem to have replaced the traditional English baker, getting up before most of us go to bed, with an electric oven and deep freeze, but at least it is still freshly baked bread and I will happily take that in place of sliced white any day.

Returned to Marston Doles via the lanes which pass Napton Water Buffalo farm and sat in the sun for a while and trying to spot a gap in the more or less constant traffic of passing boats so I could do the last couple of locks in the flight without a crowd.

Last time I did Marston Doles top lock there was a most horrendous road accident attended by the air ambulance which landed in the field beside the lock, but this time the only disturbance was the wind as I slipped past the queue waiting to descend the locks and headed out into the long summit pound.  The weather simply can not produce a normal summers day at the moment, but it was very pleasant despite the breeze.

Ended up just outside Cropredy for the night – no point in rushing there yet.

Rugby to Marston Doles

Rugy to Marston Doles – Oxford Canal

The weather forecast was pretty accurate today. Rain, no rain, rain, sun, rain, no rain etc. And freezing cold at tea time too – that wasn’t so much the forecast as a general observation from the tiller.

Hillmorton locks were all but desserted today, and between showers the day was quite a pleasant relief from yesterday’s scorcher. In fact the showers were quite pleasant too – even warm – until one particularly vicious one which caused us to do an emergency parking manoeuvre beneath a large tree until it passed over. Not too far to Braunston from here, so Seth got a nice three mile round trip to the supermarket and back. Naturally the gentle rain wasnt wet enough for him, so he simply jumped into the canal on the way with a “That will teach you to keep me on a boiling hot boat all day” look on his face. I gave him a “That will teach you that wet dogs have to stay off the sofa” look in return, but he didn’t understand. Such are the innocent pleasures of being a dog.

After so many miles and so few locks it was actually quite nice to do 9 in a row, especially with the cold evening turning into a lovely warm mellow summer twilight and not a soul to disturb us.

So pretty much on schedule for arriving at Cropredy tomorrow. Just one slight problem – we have no food on board!!! Eeek… the South Oxford without food. Planning was never my forte. We may even have to resort to pub bistro food, such are the facilities en route. Still I guess the village stores in Cropredy will be taking in bumper stock this week ready for a 72 hour festival sized queue next weekend, which hopefully will not have materialised by the time we arrive.

Hawkesbury to Rugby

It was all part of the plan. A few days in Newbury and then back to Zulu, who has been on the 7 day moorings at Hawkesbury Junction for 6 days now.

With two boats we now play the car-boat-boat-car shuffle. No car and one boat is the most simple variation, but we are doing the more complicated version of two cars and two boats. Except today I thought we should take the train instead.

Newbury to Coventry – £34.00 single.

But lets do the train fare shuffle.
Newbury to Banbury – £22.10
Banbury to Coventry – £7.90
Total Newbury to Coventry with two tickets, same train – £30.00 saving £4.00

Now lets use my Network Rail Card which gives 30% off off peak fares for only £20.00 per year.
Newbury to Banbury – with 30% off – £14.60
Banbury to Coventry – £7.90 (no railcard discount)
Total Newbury to Coventry with two tickets,same train – £22.50 saving £11.50

Unfortunatley part of the journey – Oxford to Coventry was with Cross Country Trains – formerly operated by Virgin, and a common sight when boating on the Oxford canal as the sleek modern trains zoom past the boats at a rapid rate. What you cant see from a boat is the inhumane conditions passengers are expected to tolerate inside these trains. Today we had nine people and two dogs, a pushchair and two of the biggest suitcases known to mankind, not in the carriage or even on the train itself – this was in the vestibule area before even getting into the carriage which had obviously been completely full before arriving at Oxford. So we had to stand and sweat and put up with stupid people who obviously thought that the nine of us were too stupid to look in the carriage ahead, dragging their bags over the dogs and squeezing past the suitcases in the doorway only to find that the carriage ahead was also crammed full, and also was first class, and then they had to come back past the cases, and the people, and over the dogs before doing similar to our alter-egos in the next vestibule, while their counterparts made their way from the back to the front of the train. God how I hate Cross Country trains. Why cant they add more carriages – it would not be amazingly complicated to provide a service compatible with the demand by doubling the number of carriages. Or maybe they should stop selling discounted advance tickets for a tenner for a ten hour journey.

So we got tipped out of the opening door onto Coventry Station platform, took the bus to Longford, which I now know to be pronounced Long … Ford, and walked the fifteen minutes up to the boat, stopping for lunch at the Greyhound and savouring yet another gorgeously poured pint of Mild.

The weather forecast today was for cooler weather than of late, with rain moving in from the west. Excellent – it won’t do that then! In fact it was somewhere between boiling and unbelievably hot with not a cloud and certainly no rain, as we set off for Rugby and tonight, many hours after leaving the train we are just outside Hillmorton.