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Boat Blog: Getting ready for an adventure

Posted by indigodream on 8 January, 2009

Wednesday 7th January

We started our preparations for our tidal adventure by travelling up to Limehouse Basin from Surrey.

“So what” I hear you cry, but we came up by public transport with the two greyhounds.

Blue and Lou on a commuter train!

Blue and Lou on a commuter train!

Actually, Blue and Lou are brilliant on trains – they’re calm and unusually obedient. Blue, who is normally the more nervous of the two, was fine today, while Lou, who is normally very bold, got a bit stressed. But we had our secret weapon – two fluffy blue blankets. Put a fluffy blanket on any floor and they’ll automatically do what greyhounds do best, lie down and relax. Of course, we had to be bit sensible, we travelled mid-afternoon so that they’d have plenty of space and the extensive research on dog-friendly tube stations meant that we had smooth transfers.

We got to the boat by 2.30pm-ish and were relieved to see some of the boats that were booked onto the convoy – Dutch Barge ‘Young Adam’, nb Fair Fa’ and nb Fulbourne. That meant enough boats had come through the ice to make the trip worthwhile. But Doris Katia, our leader, hadn’t yet arrived – they’d planned to toil through the ice during the afternoon with the remaining boats from St Pancras. It was still early though, so we settled down to do a bit of work and to prepare the boat for the transit. Richard finished the wiring for the stern light and did all the engine checks. We decided not to check the prop until after we’d picked up whatever garbage was going in Limehouse Cut the following day!

We love it here in Limehouse Marina – there’s such a friendly atmosphere. We chatted with Robyn, the marina manager, and Lou barked at her gorgeous dog, Biggles; we chatted with the driver of the BW tug who’d obligingly broken the ice in the marina; we chatted with the crew of the yacht that was moored in front of us. We had a thoroughly convivial afternoon which made our boating chores (like watching the water tank fill for half an hour) go all the more smoothly.

By now the dark was drawing in and the St Pancras boats still hadn’t arrived. But then we heard the crackle of  ice and there they were, nb Doris Katia, nb Panacea and nb Barnaby. We were also joined by Tug Major who’d come down the tideway and who would be our informal safety boat. So, the convoy was complete and, with BW’s assurance that they’d break us a route up to the Bow Locks, we knew we were on for the big voyage.

Andrew Phasey giving us a graphic briefing

Andrew Phasey giving us a graphic briefing

We met up with the various crews in the Cruising Association bar where Andrew Phasey, arguably ‘skipper’ of the Doris Katia and undisputed organiser of this trip gave us a comprehensive briefing. It was reassuring and supportive, though we fully understood that we were captains of our own destinies, in the form of our well-prepared narrowboats, functioning life-jackets and working VHF radios.

Afterwards, we stayed on in the bar and enjoyed a few drinks and some very good (and very cheap) food. When we did this two years ago I was too reticent to go and talk to the other crews, consequently I didn’t get to know anyone. This time I did a round of the tables, making a thorough nuisance of myself while trying to get to know the other crews. It was great to talk to other committed boaters and chew the waterways fat. Don’t ask me for people’s names though, I know all the people in the park by the names of their dogs, likewise everyone in the bar will forever be known by the names of their boats!

I was particularly fond of the crew of Tug Major who were really lovely. We had the common experience of owning shares in a boat and had a productive chat about the different ways of getting along with other owners! We also got acquainted with the skipper of  Fair Fa’, who was still smiling despite having had a horribly eventful year in 2008. We were kindred spirits because he has two gorgeous dogs (alas not greyhounds) and we we had a long chat about the highs and lows of sharing our lives with hounds.

A nightime view from Limehouse Basin

A nightime view from Limehouse Basin

It’s a bit pathetic, but by 9.30pm we were knackered so back we went to the boat. Not before time – you could hear Blue whining right across the marina. We got back to a rapturous welcome and Richard took them out for their constitutional. The heating had gone off while we were out – the Webasto seems to have settled on working for 67 minutes then turning itself off. Why? It shouldn’t be turning itself off at all; or at least it should be turning itself back on after a decent interval, Bah!

We wrapped Lou in her pyjamas and dived under our snug duvet. Richard’s not know for being romantic but he did warm up my side of the bed before I got in – aaah. Lou woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that she was hungry, she needn’t have, there was food in her bowl. Once she’d eaten that she got back on her bed and finaly settled once I’d rearranged her pillow to her satisfaction and covered her with a blanket. So much for the pyjamas keeping her warm all night. I

Lou in her PJs

Lou in her PJs

personally think she just enjoys the extra cuddles 🙂

Blue nodding off in his snug new housecoat

Blue nodding off in his snug new housecoat

2 Responses to “Boat Blog: Getting ready for an adventure”

  1. Lesley K said

    Best of luck you intrepid cruisers!
    Blue and Lou look great in their Jim Jams – would two Labs appreciate these outfits I wonder?

  2. Greygal said

    Oh dig those funky PJs! I love the fact that you rearrange their pillows and blankets. If mine create in the night, I just tell them to shut the flip up and turn over and go back to sleep. Bad mummy! All the best for a wonderful cruise – very jealous but there’ll be a next time I’m sure.

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