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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Thursday, 2 December 2010



What a difference in the weather from the beginning to the end of November, but we are very cosy and warm on Skyy and the electric blanket is lovely making Jacquie’s sexy!! fleece pyjamas almost superfluous. At the beginning of the month we had a delivery of ten 25k bags of Homefire Ovals from
www.coals2u.co.uk, it burns hot and long and one bag lasts between four and five days, depending on how cold it is. We have just ordered another ten bags which road and snow permitting will hopefull reach us before we use the last bag.

Fortunately the water supply remains turned on and providing the day time temperature gets above freezing we are able to keep our water tank topped up. The only problem is that the needle on the gauge to the loo tank is now well into the red and SKYY is well and truly iced in. Even if we could break SKYY free of the ice, the pump out facilities are frozen and very often the basic on shore toilet is also frozen. To save us having to keep walk crossed leg to MacDonalds, Homebase, Sainsburys etc. we decided to order from an EBay supplier a Porta Potti, fortunately it will fit into our bathroom between the existing toilet and the shower and we can empty the cassette at the Sanitary Station at Selby Lock, unfortunately the new Porta Potti is frozen into the couriers depot in Hull, but hopefully it will arrive tomorrow.

Duggie loves the snow, all ten inched of it, but hates his coat and hides when it comes into view, but on these very cold days it’s essential. As it is his legs and face gets covered in snowballs that stick to his fur and depending as to how much is stuck he either goes into the shower or a bowl of hot water and a flannel will suffice to melt it.

Since the beginning of the month I have been attending the rehab sessions and ‘Romping through it’ was how my progress was described by one of the physios. I have one more week to go, this weeks session having been cancelled because of the bad weather. In between there have been numerous trips to the doctors for final cardiac assessment, blood tests, retinal photography, test results and dentist etc. and the good news is that I am absolutely fine.

Ever since SKYY came to Selby Boat Centre the Motor Vessel Ouse Patrol had been moored up behind us. This is a very sturdy business like boat but was starting to look rather tired and neglected, when a couple of chaps came along and said that the intention was to take her back to Goole Docks. Whilst they abortively attempted to start the twin six cylinder diesel engines, batteries were very dead, I had a long chat with them. Up to 2004 this vessel went out every day from Goole to plot the shipping channel along the Rivers Trent and Ouse, and each day the river pilots were given the daily plot. In October 2004 the Ouse Patrol and it’s regular crew all retired and the boat has unsuccessfully been up for sale ever since. Jeb, one of the crew lent me a DVD of a film of that last day at work and how different she looked with all her brass work gleaming and her shiny white paint. On the 11th November the crew returned and the batteries having been recharged the engines started in a cloud of exhaust smoke and slowly she eased out into the middle of the canal all the time scrapping the bottom. Her destination was Selby Lock and downstream to Goole, but I was surprised that evening to see that she had only got as far as the Selby Swing Bridge, just before the lock basin and there she still is and surprisingly vandal free, but for how long? Hopefully she will soon be on her way to a safer location.

In the middle of the month we drove south, stopping of at lots of different friend before staying nearly a week with Tor and her nine month little girl, Emily, what a delight, although I stayed well out of the way at feeding time and nappy changing events, Emily got on well with Duggie providing the stair guard was between them, saving Duggies, Dennis Healey eye brows from tugging and Emily’s fingers from a nip. We ended our trip at Kim and Johns, before heading back to Selby on Sunday.

Monday evening, just after I arrived back from rehab, Phil and Lynne plus Stanley the dog arrived for a visit. Duggie and Stanley had a quick spat before peace and eventual friendship took over. On the Wednesday Lynne brought her ninety year old Dad for a visit. He joined us back in the summer on the River Weaver and as then, we went for a little cruise, although the weather was dry and bright as it was last time, it was very cold, but we got the stove stoked up so that it was warm enough for him to sit under the cratch cover in the front well as we cruised up to Haddersley Lock. We turned and stopped for lunch here, arriving back at our mooring just before it got dark when Lynne ran her Pop back to Brighouse before returning to SKYY for supper. They left us early next morning for the start of their return trip to the West Country.

Our intention is to stay on SKYY for Christmas and at the moment it looks as if it will be a white one, it is all very pretty at the moment but warmer weather if it arrives won’t disappoint. In the meantime stay warm and our good wishes go out to all those brave continuous cruisers.

Friday, 29 October 2010



I'm obviously feeling so much better that I feel the need to do a bit more blogging.
The sun is shinning and the stove is keeping us all cosy, I've had a little snooze and even my brain is feeling fit, so here goes.

Again thank you to everyone who has left a comment on the blog, saying nice things and wishing us well. I find it hard to understand that my blog 'followers' has doubled to 24. Obviously there is nothing like a good medical drama to increase interested concern and again thanks.

Our stay in Selby has not been lonely, we have had visits from Kim and John, Marilyn and Brian and Colin and Barbara and a very surprise visit from John of N.B Tangine Queen on his way up North to join chums for some serious walking.

We have also visited the lovely market town of Knaresborough with its unusual painted windows. I amazed both Jacquie and myself by being able to walk up from the river to the castle with just a short stop to catch my breath that would have been impossible before my operation; the angina would have meant stopping several times until the pain subsided, what a result!

We have also visited my hospital chum Bob and Christine, twice at their home, which is in a magnificent setting, once whilst he was waiting for his operation following his MRSA infection and happily again a week or so following his successful valve replacement. We also keep in touch by phone and he is progressing well.

Jacquie, Duggie and I are regularly walking between four to six miles a day and my bottom half is feeling very fit and although Jacquie does allow me to look after the ash and coal for the stove and other boat chores my upper body feels a bit weedy, excepting of course that I was never was a Charles Atlas. However I have now started the rehabilitation course at York hospital and the team know that I expect to look a little like Charlton Heston in Ben Hur when they have done with me, although I have been told not to hold my breath.

The course is for six weeks, two hours, two days a week. The first hour is carefully controlled and monitored exercise. A waist strap and wrist watch continually show my heart rate and before, during and after exercise my blood pressure is taken. I have also enrolled onto a research project to confirm whether additional strength exercises are beneficial in the long term for cardiac patients. This means that I get to use weights and some machines which most certainly will be beneficial for me when we start cruising again, but at the moment my back is a bit achy but by Monday I shall be ready for the next session. The second hour is for informal talks and discussions relating to every aspect of recovery and our future well being. Without doubt we made the right decision to stay the winter in Selby and make the most of this excellent programme and all the other follow up appointments with my cardiologist and for blood tests etc.

Life is full of surprises, our computer throws a wobbly a couple of weeks, and firstly we couldn't send or receive emails through Outlook. My mate Andy who initially set up our web page enabled us to access our emails through the internet, but then we suddenly also lost our internet connection and for us that is really like being up a creak without a paddle. Whilst idly chatting to boating neighbour Pete, I casually mentioned our computer problem, when he said "Before I retired I was an IT communications expert, maybe I can sort it for you" One hour and a cup of strong tea later, the problem was solved. Our virus checker Norton had somehow got mashed and was blocking everything. Pete had a Norton removal tool on his 34G stick, he removed Norton, replaced it with AVG, a free virus checker and now everything is hunky dory, what a star.

Off to a pub quiz tonight with Pete and his Wife so we will have an opportunity to say thank with more than just a cup of tea.

That's it for now, but will occasionally post a blog to keep all interested followers up to date. Stay warm and dry.

Friday, 24 September 2010



Jacquie and Dawn planned to collect me at about 4.30 which was just as well as it took all of the day to prepare the discharge letters and my medication and to remove the stitches from my three drain holes, but finally all was done.

Before I was released I got a phone call from Bob, he had been transferred from York and was now at Hull in Ward 27. I checked with the Charge Nurse and he escorted me to bay 10 in the adjoining ward, it was great seeing my hospital chum and Bob was impressed to see me walking tall as I approached him. We didn't have long as, like me a week earlier; there were lots of staff needing to see him. A nice touch was that Jacquie and my sister were able to wish Bob good luck as he was being wheeled in to the lift on his way for an X-ray as they arrived to collect me.

There was grateful farewell to all the staff who had looked after me so well and it was really amazing to think that less than a week ago I could hardly sit up in bed and now I am walking down the corridors and out into the sunshine. I waited whilst Jacquie brought the car to the entrance; I had a fear that getting into the car would be painful, but not a problem. I did have to hold the seat belt away from my chest, but it was a lovely drive home and soon I was back on SKYY.

I slept much better than expected, deprived now of the all singing and dancing hospital bed, I was propped up with all the spare pillows that Jacquie could find. My Sister headed for home in the afternoon and I took my first totter around our new home, The Selby Boat Centre and its interesting collection of boats, both in and out of the water. I also met and was able to thank many of the folk who had helped Jacquie get SKYY settled in.

The only downside to the day was a call from Bob to say that his operation had been cancelled at the last moment, due to a nasal swab showing that he had picked a hospital infection at York and he was going to being sent home until the infection was cured. It was only because Bob had had his pre-med that he could laugh at the situation as he was really gutted and this would delay his operation for up to three weeks.

I continued to improve, but my appetite was diminishing and by Saturday I was having to push food in to me, this was a mistake as shortly after lunch it all forcible returned and poor Jacquie had one hell of a mess to clear up. This condition was caused by the anaesthetic working itself out of my body and for the next twenty four hours I ate nothing and drank only water as still my sense of taste was awful.

By Monday I was feeling much better and the weather was still bright and sunny, so Jacquie drove Duggie and me, with the roof down to Bridlington. Jacquie parked in the harbour car park and I was delighted to be part of the big wide world once again. The seagulls were hovering in the wind that was smashing the waves over the harbour wall and the smell of fish and chips was everywhere so that we soon succumbed. Sitting in the sunshine with a beautifully battered cod each and a portion of chips between us, this was the best tasting meal I had enjoyed for a long time, my taste buds were obviously returning to normal.

We finished of our stay with a drink, only diet coke for me, in a bar with a panoramic view of the coast, before Jacquie drove us home, with me feeling so pleased to be alive.

Not much more to blog about now, we have taken the decision to winter at Selby, everything is so convenient. The towpaths are in excellent condition and this stretch of canal is very attractive giving me plenty of reason to keep extending my walking distance. I will take advantage of the rehabilitation course at York hospital, two days a week, so that by next spring I will be fully fit and ready for cruising again.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped, offered help and shown concern over the last couple of months, and to everybody who follows this blog and a very special huge big thank you to my Jacquie, it certainly reassures your faith in the goodness of human nature and most definitely in the NHS. The excellent treatment I received and their fabulous staff were magnificent.

I probably won't be blogging much between now and the spring, but we anticipate an early cast off as soon as weather permits, when the adventures of N.B. SKYY will continue.

Friday, 17 September 2010



My memory of the next couple of days are a bit vague, but I was soon out of ITC which has a dedicated nurse to each patient and into HOB, High Observation Bay, which is a six bed bay with two nurses. During my stay in this bay I was encouraged to sit out, albeit still attached to bottles by drainage tubes. Eating and washing were also important activities and eventually the various tubes were removed except the one in the neck, allowing me to totter of to the loo supported by the wheelie stand supporting my insulin drip.

All of these activities were initially exhausting, but it was amazing how quickly strength started to return and within two days of the op. I was returned to the general ward and had my first shower, wow, now that was exhausting. My wounds were healing well and my appetite had returned and regular bedside X-rays showed that my lungs were clear. The only down side was that my observations, including blood sugar was being taken every two hours, right through the night, leading to very disturbed sleep.

The following photo, taken on my phone shows me enjoying the current edition of Canal Boat magazine.

Jacquie's B&B was great and she was able to leave Duggie playing with her hosts two dogs whilst she was visiting me. On Tuesday my Sister, Dawn arrived. Jacquie collected her from the nearby station and brought her to visit me, following which they both returned to SKYY at her new mooring. Almost as soon as they had gone the insulin drip and the line in my neck was taken out and as I was now free from all encumbrances I was able to prove to the physio that I could walk the corridors and manage the stairs up and down. On this basis the decision was taken to discharge me late tomorrow. Hooray! almost a month to the day from my admission to York Hospital I was going to be released and one day within the anticipated seven days after surgery, yippee!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010



I was scheduled for the second sitting or more appropriately second laying. Jacquie arrived at 9.30 and then commenced the long wait until my trolley arrived at 1.30. I was starving, but my hunger was soon forgotten as several needles were inserted in my arm and then the mask descended.

Jacquie popped her head into Intensive Care Unit at about 9pm, having already been told that operation was a success and three grafts had been made. However she didn't stay long as I was still on a ventilator and not yet ready to chat.



Today I was to be transferred to Castle Hill Hospital at Hull. I had had swabs taken from up my nose, armpit and groin to hopefully prove that I wasn't incubating anything nasty, but ward experience had taught me not to expect anything to happen until it happened and when Sister Sara said "Your transport will be here within the next ten minutes or four hours" that pretty much summed it up. As it happened it was within the hour and when the ambulance crew complete with wheel chair came to collect me there was a rush of goodbyes to my fellow patients, especially Bob, who I hoped to see in Hull on the following Tuesday and of course the wonderful nursing staff, with hugs, chaste kisses and a few tears. They are stars, every one of them.

It had been decided that Jacquie wouldn't visit today; she had made arrangements for two chaps from the Selby Boat Centre to help her move SKYY from her birth beside the lock to an on line mooring at the Centre. About half a mile away. Here it should be possible to pick up a TV signal, but more importantly SKYY could be plugged into mains electricity, thereby saving having to run the engine for several hours a day.

Before being snugged into her new home, which would be with another narrow boat breasted along side us SKYY was pumped out and filled up with diesel ready for my return.

I arrived at Castle Hill about one hour after leaving York and was wheeled into a very smart two storey state of the art Cardiac Unit and was made very welcome by both the staff and residents of bay three ward 26. The other three residents were all post operative and it was very encouraging to see how well they were doing.

The big surprise was when I was told that my operation was being brought forward to tomorrow. Less time to worry about it for me, but Jacquie wasn't planning to decamp to Hull until tomorrow by which time I could be on the operating table. Jacquie had made arrangements for her and Duggie to stay in a dog friendly B&B close to the hospital. Fortunately a call to the B&B confirmed that it would be fine to arrive a day earlier. Jacquie coped with the pressure of ensuring she had everything packed in time to get to visit me that evening and without getting too lost found her way to the welcoming B&B.

During the afternoon I had more swabs taken, had all the risks explained by a Doctor and the odds of surviving the operation were about 97%, had a chat with the anaesthetist and the Doctor who would be removing the donor vein from my leg and stitching me back up afterwards and finally Mr Choudary, the surgeon who would be doing the actual grafting, scuse the pun. After all that I was supposed to sleep well, but surprisingly I did.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010



During this period Bob and I settled down to wait patiently for our forthcoming operations and would invite new admissions to join our little clique. John came in and immediately isolated himself via head phones and his notebook computer. It took us a little while to realise that John was still in a state of shock following his heart attack, but being a fellow Scot along with Bob, he started to talk about what had happened to him and eventually he was relating to the rest of the ward.

It was intriguing though, that just before John was going to be transferred to Leeds for a Pace Maker implant, a relatively simple procedure, and he said “I don’t know if I really need this implant operation" considering that he was only alive because his wife had been a nurse and had administered CPR until the ambulance had arrived we assumed that his comment was due to his fear of the procedure. We took it upon ourselves to assure him that the alternative to not having his procedure could be fatal and packed him off to Leeds with our good wishes.

Back at Selby interesting things were happening and Jacquie was right at hand to capture the action on camera. A full size tree had been brought off the River Ouse, hauled through the lock and up to the side of the basin. It was too heavy to be lifted out in one piece, so Nigel and Jim the BW lengths men, assisted by Fred the lock keeper pulled it out of the water as far as possible and gradually reduced it in size and loaded it onto the truck bit by bit.

The following picture is of Fred relaxing in his Lock Keepers hut and a couple of SKYY showing her safely moored up beside the lock. I take this opportunity to publicly thank him and his BW colleagues for their help and assurance that they gave Jacquie. Another example of how BW staff at the sharp really do go the extra mile when the need arrives

Over the weekend Joy, a long time friend of Jacquie's, arrived from West London at York railway station in time for visiting, a very welcome companion for Jacquie for a couple of nights and a fresh visitor for me who came bearing chocolate, naughty!

Another thing had happened to Jacquie that I had forgotten to blog, on the previous Monday our new 100ah alternator failed to start charging. Jacquie called RCR and within a couple of hours they had an engineer out, Jacquie is getting used to playing the 'Woe is me' role. He used our jump leads from the car and showed Jacquie how to link the starter and domestic batteries, but only whilst the engine was running. She would have to run the engine for considerable longer than usual, but at 9am on Thursday another engineer turned up and fitted a replacement alternator making only a very modest charge. Again congratulations to RCR for handling this situation so promptly and considerately.

Monday, 6 September 2010



Before I continue to relate the alternate adventures of Cap’n Mac, which will have a happy ending, my thanks to Carol and George of Rock’n’Roll and to Sue & Vic of Retirement No Problem for their good wishes through ‘Comments’. Also to Clive Davies aka Swampy, who I met on the Aston Canal in 2008, on my first and last attempt to fish. Congratulation on your purchase of Widget and good fortune in restoring her over the next few months and I look forward to catching sight of you and Wychcraft next year.

The days roll on, the regular appearance of nurse with the blood pressure machine and then the drugs trolley become high points of the day and an opportunity for a little cheeky banter. All conversation stops when food arrives and it is surprisingly good, best described as school dinners on a really good day.

The most important thing to happen in this period was on Friday when I was visited by Mr Choudary, Hulls Heart Head Honcho at Castle Hill Hospital. I was expecting his visit in the afternoon and Jacquie had prepared a list of questions to ask and intended to be there, however he arrived mid morning and without wasting time explained that it would have to be a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, usually referred to as Cabbage. In my case four bypasses were required, but it might not be possible to carry them all out, in the meantime it was thought best to keep me in hospital until I would be transferred to Castle Hill Hospital in Hull.

Whilst Jacquie was visiting that afternoon Sister came around with the news that I was booked in for surgery on the 27th of August and would be transferred to Hull on the 25th, now we can start planning.

There were four other patients in my bay and every now and then somebody got to go home. Tom from Selby left to be replaced by the larger than life George, 83 and forever breaking into song. Peter, considerable younger than me, had been in for over five weeks. He was on a six week course of IV antibiotic drip every four hours night and day. If at the end of this treatment his MRSA infection had cleared up he would be transferred to Leeds to replace a failing a ten year old pig valve with a metal one. Fortunately Pete's zany sense of humour matched mine and we became the cheeky chappies/grumpy old men of Ward 32.

Jacquie’s isolation was broken towards the end of the week by the arrival of her son Ashley and at the weekend, Justine, Ashley's girlfriend also arrived. The weather was good and they managed to enjoy a visit to Castle Howard before brightening my day. Jacquie also brought the camera into the ward and took a picture of me trying to get the blog up to the point when we got SKYY back to Selby

Bob arrived on the ward and instantly we became the Three Amigos, but shortly afterwards Pete was transferred to Leeds for his Op. However by now Bob and I had discovered that we had so much in common, our interests, life’s tragedies and our attitude to life and mostly an aversion to bed pans, that we became our own support group, plus Jacquie and Bob's partner, Christine, hit it off so well that we know our friendship will last long after recovery.

Sunday, 5 September 2010



By now I felt fine, no pain and I was being well looked after, I had been transferred to the general coronary ward and at some point I had a scan of my heart taken, just like a pregnant mum only I didn’t get to keep any pictures. Jacquie was coping well. She had hired a car to get to and fro for visiting time and the lock keepers at Selby had moved SKYY from the visitors mooring and into the basin close to the long term moorings. There was a water point and hose right along side, but no electricity, but SKYY could stay there for as long as necessary.

During the weekend Jacquie returned the hire car to Enterprise in Leamington Spa and got a taxi back to Wigrams Turn Marina to collect our car. As expected, after four months the battery was flat, but Don the Harbour Master jump started the car and Jacquie’s first stop was Halfords in Daventry for a new battery to be fitted. That done Jacquie headed up to Nottingham to stay the night with Ann and Brian and arrived back in York in time to visit me and this time with Duggie who obviously had nearly forgotten who I was, unfaithful little fella.

On Monday morning I was sent down for an Angiogram, the first I knew of it was when Sister dropped one of those flappy open back gowns and a pair of paper knickers on my bed and said are you OK to shave your groin, sadly I had to admit that I probably could manage on my own, so no fun to be had there then.

In the very high tech visual imagining suite, they insert a tube up the femoral artery from the groin right into the heart and at various stages a dye is introduced into the blood stream, the progress of which is monitored via several X Ray screens. The way the dye travels through and around the hearts arteries indicates where the problems are. In my case there were two completely blocked coronary arteries and a couple of others that were 80% blocked. Something would have to be done but at this stage the Doctor performing the procedure wasn’t willing to confirm the way forward, but said that the heart specialists at both Hull and Leeds hospitals would confer on Friday and decide on the best way forward.

Nothing for it but to be made a model patient and patiently wait until Friday.



Here we are again, not cruising yet but an explanation for the delay in continuing our return journey south is called for.

Unfortunately at approximately 5.30 on Tuesday morning I started to experience chest pain which continued to increase until I realised Jacquie needed to call for an ambulance.

I was diagnosed with angina twelve years ago and had got used to managing the pain, understanding that pain was the heart telling me to slow down or stop whatever it was that I was doing. However last Friday whilst I was filling SKYY with water at Boroughbridge unexpectedly pain kicked in and for the first time ever it did not go away when I sat down.

By the time Jacquie returned from the shops the pain had gradually subsided, but I was left feeling a bit shaky. After a rest I felt OK enough to start on our return to York and after a few hours we arrived safely and happily I was still feeling OK.

I had a very lazy weekend in York, with Jacquie taking over all dog walking responsibilities. I realised that I needed to visit a doctors and that it was possible that I would be sent to hospital for tests, but I didn't want to leave Jacquie and the boat vulnerable on a river that was prone to flooding. On Monday morning I felt fine and we returned to the safety of the Selby Canal.

My intention to visit the doctors in Selby on Tuesday was rendered obsolete as the ambulance drew up right alongside SKYY and seemingly in no time at all we arrived at the emergency entrance of the York Hospital at about 6am. The pain had subsided after several sprays of GTN, and after a short stay in A&E I was transferred by trolley to the Acute Medical Unit on the second floor, for further observations. Around about lunch time and surprisingly I was looking forward to it, well, I had missed out on breakfast, I was informed by Ann, Sister of the Critical Care Unit that I ticked enough boxes to be admitted to her ward. By wheel chair this time Ann took me up to the top floor and the moment I arrived I was wired up and told not to move, but press the red button for what ever I might need. My scepticism that a bottle made out of recycled egg boxes could hold a liquid was ill founded, which was good news considering that 'not moving' meant exactly that.

I was in CCU for 48 hours whilst they decided that I was out of risk of another attack. Blood tests confirmed that I had experienced a mild heart attack and that I should be kept in for further tests. I obviously won’t be back on SKYY for a while yet and regrettably there are no photos as Jacquie forgot to pick up the camera as I was being lead out to the ambulance, you just can’t the staff!!!

Monday, 16 August 2010



Some consideration as to the route of our continuing journey south had been taken. The return in to Selby Lock was a little cause of concern and we had thought that maybe we would continue down the River Ouse to Goole but following phone calls to Associated British Ports and to the Goole Boat Club we decided to come off at Selby. Unless we arrived at exactly the right time at Ocean Lock, before or after high tide there would be substantial charge for locking through and if we had to moor against the pontoon whilst waiting for the right state of tide we would incur additional charges. Also the very helpful chap at the Boat Club pointed out that it was very easy to run aground and on an ebbing tide which would mean having to wait until the tide turned and floated you off, his belated suggestion was that we should have gone to York via Goole as that was a much easier passage for a narrow boat, too late for that now,

The lock keeper at Naburn lock had previously advised us that 1.15pm was the time to lock through so we had plenty of time before leaving York. While we were having a late breakfast a flotilla of large river cruisers arrived and moored up nearby. They had had a difficult passage coming upstream from Goole because of the amount of debris in the river. My immediate reaction was ‘whimpy plastic boat owners’ as when we came upstream whilst the river was still in flood, there was hardy anything in the water, anyway we would soon see for ourselves.

Just over an hour later and having passed under a disused railway bridge which supported a remarkable wire sculpture of a fisherman with a train on the end of his hook we cruised into the cut for Naburn Lock. I almost missed the turn and had to back up a bit, but fortunately there was no sign of the weir. As usual, right on the dot of 1.15 we were in the lock along with a BW work boat, several small river cruisers and one other narrow boat and a few minutes later we were on our way downstream.

Well, those cruiser owners were right, the river was absolutely full of rubbish, from clumps of weed to full size tree trunks, the workboat and cruisers soon left the two narrow boats behind as we weaved our way between the obstructions. For the first hour or so the current was still against us and at one point where the river narrowed it really slowed us down, although I had the engine revs at the fastest that I have ever cruised at 1,800 rpm. Gradually the flow slackened and with hardly any delay it started to flow the other way and our speed past the river banks and the obstructions rapidly quickened. At one point we passed a floating inflated bull and on the bank a herd of cows looked on, possible mourning the loss of ‘big daddy bull’.

As we approached the last turn in the river before Selby, I called the lock keeper on the VHF and was assured that by the time we got there the lock would be ready. I passed under the left hand arches of the two swing bridges and as the lock came into view I reduced the revs to tick over and keeping to the left side initiated the 180 deg turn. For a moment I thought I might have been able to sweep straight into the lock, but the current continued to swing the stern around and just like last year on the Thames, SKYY slowly started to move back upstream and gradually the bow entered the entrance to the lock and we were in.

Safely tied up in Selby basin we were concerned to hear that the swing bridge at Keadby was broken and unless repaired fairly soon, our only way onto the River Trent would be at Trent Falls which is where the rivers Trent and Ouse meet on their way down the Humber to the North Sea, not a journey that I would willing contemplate. However we decided to stay put for the time being, so there probably won’t be much blogging for a while, but normal blogging service will resume as soon as possible.

Sunday, 15 August 2010



Jacquie attacked the shops whilst I strolled up to and over the combined pedestrian/railway bridge and along to the National Railway Museum. No entry fee required, but a donation was requested, I have no problem with that.

I started in the main engine shed where displayed close together is the first practicable steam locomotive, Stephenson’s Rocket and one of the fastest streamlined locomotives to be built, alongside a streamlined Chrysler car from the same period, sadly The Mallard, which actually holds the speed record at a 126 mph was not on display. Of course every period of train development is represented right up to a section of the Channel Tunnel and a Euro Train and the only example of the Japanese Bullet Train outside Japan.

For the real steam enthusiast a full size locomotive and tender, has been sliced open, exposing all their innards and at various times during the day the huge wheels are turned by electric rollers and the movement of the pistons and cranks are explained by a young but very knowledgeable chap.

Three hours later I felt that I had had my donations worth, but I could have easily spent at least another couple of hours, just wandering around the ‘warehouse’ where train ephemera is stacked high, with everything from bath chairs to station clocks. Of course this museum is really for the chaps but there is plenty for everyone especially the royal carriages, from Queen Victoria through to Elizabeth 11.

On Sunday we visited the Minster, Brian and Ann had been there the previous weekend and had ‘Gift Aided’ which allows unlimited entry for up to a year. We took advantage of their ticket as even the OAP price is £7 each. The museum in the crypt is fascinating, showing Roman foundations of a secular basilica and also those of an earlier Norman church. These remains were discovered when urgent work in the late 1960’s was undertaken to support the central tower which was found to be in imminent danger of collapsing and massive concrete collars were placed around the base of the four supporting columns.

Much wiser we returned to SKYY to mentally prepare for the return tomorrow down the tidal Ouse and the interesting 180 deg. turn upstream into the entrance to Selby lock, no problem, I don’t expect it will be any different to our entry to Limehouse Basin on the tidal Thames last year.



Whilst Jacquie did some shopping I manoeuvred the boat over to the water point on the other side and filled her up. On Jacquie’s return we shoved of and almost immediately worked our way through Milby Lock. The journey down to Linton Lock was uneventful but fortunately we had the help of several people to help open the top gates, as there was more water leaking out at the bottom than coming in via the paddles at the top. Replacement gates and repairs to the cill are scheduled for September, but in the meantime it was brute force that was required.

After a few more hours of cruising we were back in York, but the only mooring spaces left were reserved for a charity boat and a cafe boat. There was just one other spot, but a concrete shelf extended out just under the surface which prevented us from snugging up to edge, but the stern was close enough for Duggie to jump on and off, so that was fine and we decided to stay there for the weekend.

Saturday, 14 August 2010



Our 48 allowed hours at Ripon were up and it was time to start our return journey from this Northernmost point on the canals. The last of the three locks let us back onto the River Ure and only a little further on and Newby Hall once again came into view, there was no other boat tied up at one of the three wooden staithes, so there was plenty of room to come alongside.

We walked though the gardens and play areas and admired the black swans with their curly feathers with no hindrance on this crowded sunny day. We did buy tickets for house and garden at the entrance pavilion, not cheap at £11 per person and that was the concession price. The house was superb, Robert Adams input was beautifully evident and our guide was very informative and we concluded that the entrance price was good value.

After the essential ice cream and a game of 'chase the fallen apple' with Duggie we continued our return to Boroughbridge and sneaked back into our previous mooring spot, I even managed to use the same hole for my pin albeit that SKYY faced the other way this time.



A pleasant day in Ripon culminating in a Sainsbury shopping trip and an evening drink in the Black Bull. The reason for the lateness of the visit was to combine it with the blowing of the Wakeman's horn at 9pm in the city square.

This custom that has taken place without missing a single day for over eleven hundred years. King Alfred, he of the burnt cakes, presented a horn to Ripon in lieu of a charter and a Wakeman was appointed to blow the horn from the four corners of the market square at nine pm. and from then until daylight the town was under his protection.

George Pickles is the incumbent hornblower and a fine figure he cut in his coat and tricorn hat, but he now blows the fourth horn, the original one is on display in the town hall. After carrying out his horn blowing duties George gave a humurous and informative talk in a typical Northern manner and then handed out lucky wooden pennies with a promise that riches should fall our way. Obviously Jacquie is still a sucker for a man in uniform, I've never seen her move so fast when George offered to have his photo taken with anybody. A great ending to a lovely day.

Monday, 2 August 2010



Ripon had always been our intended destination today, but the anticipation of meeting up again with Julie and that free pumpout spurred us on and the seven miles and four locks whizzed by. Not quite true, the gates at Westwick lock were incredible hard to open and close, but fortunately some fit young Environment Agency guys gave Jacquie a hand, in opening the gates, obviously.

A little while later we passed the mooring staithes for Newby Hall and then the hall itself came into view. We hooted and waved back at the passengers on the little train that trundled around the grounds and along the river side, this looked and sounded well worth a visit, hopefully we would find time on the way back.

Previously the two bit miles of the Rippon Canal had only been open between ten and two o’clock but the extra rain had lifted the restriction, as it was we arrived at the immaculately kept white Sanitary Station at 2.30 and Julie was waiting for us and kept her word and pumped us out. Julie is one of the last ‘Lengths-persons’ with BW and the smartness and fresh paint on all the locks and bridges are a testimony to her love of the job.

The final entrance into the little basin at the end of the canal is delightful, with new and restored building fitting together very well. SKYY was turned around in the basin and was the only boat to tie up at the road side mooring, a little noisy, but not too much of a problem. Weh Hey, we had finally reached the most Northern point directly accessible on the English canal network, we would leave The Ribble Link and the Lancaster Canal for another time.

The evening sunshine warmed us as we wandered around this tiny City dominated by its Cathedral, but we would have all of the morrow to investigate.