funeral for a friend - November 28, 2023When I was young I wanted a Thames barge. We lived near Maldon and some of my early memories were walking along the sea front with loads of old boats in various states of either rebuild or decay.
canals on the decline - September 6, 2023Simon Woollen expresses his concerns on the future of canals in the UK despite a current boom which is seeing more and more stretches of canals being restored.
you can't beat a good night's sleep - June 5, 2023Simon Woollen gives us some tips on cleaning a hull; getting rid of dampness including damp electrics; and on how to ensure you get a good night's sleep.
why can't they leave things alone? - March 3, 2023I am a bit late writing this article: my phone has stopped working; apparently it needs ISO, whatever now, and thus is no longer supported. To add insult to injury, the word processing software I use to write with now needs a new licence.
water water everywhere and not a drop to drink - December 1, 2022In 'Water water everywhere', Simon tackles leaking windows by fitting external drip strips, makes a waterproof canopy and then finds a leak in his water tank..
more speed less waste - September 7, 2022Simon Woollen advises us on how to save money on fuel by making our boats as light and smooth as possible, through thinking ahead and finding the optimum speed.
to err is human - June 6, 2022Simon Woollen finds that after long spells of lockdown the pre-cruise checks he carries out are no longer second nature to him. But as he says, to err is human.
the voice of reason - March 1, 2022Winter. I hate it - tons of free time on your hands with dark winter evenings for boat projects, but as always the weather / life stops everything. (I am writing this with storm Eunice howling around.) I was supposed to be making a new canopy but the supplier sent the wrong stuff...
it's a blast! - December 1, 2021Simon Woollen looks at the problem of crazing on the glass fibre of his Dawncraft boat Dawntreader. As usual, he manages to find a unique and craft way of curing it.
dawntreader - September 1, 2021Ok, so what am I doing with motorbikes and boats? I am a Blood Bike volunteer and on the weekends that I am acting as Co Ordinator, I lock my self on DT and respond to 60 odd calls for help from hospitals all around Somerset on a 24 hour basis.
at least your engine works! - May 31, 2021Time to recommission DT after almost a year of lock down. Or if you’d rather, a lesson in why second-hand boats that have been stood still for a year or more go wrong the instant you turn the key.
adrift - March 1, 2021Simon Woollen points our that often our boats survive most things thrown at them, despite worrying about them all the time.
possession is 9/10th of the flaw - November 30, 2020Simon tells us a spooky tale about a possessed Carbon Monoxide detector that seems to go off in exactly the same place on the canal. He can idle, cruise anywhere, and nothing happens. But in this one spot...
we are back - August 20, 2020Simon Woollen is back cruising in his Dawncraft after the Covid 19 lockdown. He has plenty of advice for checking your boat is safe, plus some diy tips!
splendid isolation - May 31, 2020This is a difficult article to write as like so many of us, I haven’t seen the boat since March the 23rd and obviously miss it. However, one thing I learnt racing boats for much of my youth plus a long spell in the prison service teaching horticulture, is rules are rules - and what you might think is irrelevant, that’s what you have to do.
an embarrassing problem - March 1, 2020It's dark , the worst days of winter and not very inspiring but I have a personal problem that needs addressing . I have Polleniardus – and its not the kind of complaint that you can get the one-off. It's cluster flies, masses of them.
from somerset to the canal du midi - December 1, 2019Now for something completely different. In the last week of September Mrs W and I left the middle of nowhere in Somerset for the bright lights of Toulouse and the start of our tour of the Canal du Midi. We had a brief stop for a few nights in the city, taking in a boat trip that explained the importance of this canal as well as giving us our first glimpse of an automated lock (more of these later!). We then set off by train to the French version of the middle of nowhere Port Lauragaise about 40 minutes train journey and the base of Nicols boat hire.
all white? - September 1, 2019First the news, and for the first time in Ten years or more we are dry. Suspiciously dry inside given the spate of recent thunderstorms one of which is happening as I write. Ok I have kept the water channels in the windows clear of moss and even drilled the drain holes out a little and the odd squirt of eco washing up liquid helps but there are not the usual drips from the vents or roof lining something that I have spent far too much time and expensive mastic on to no avail. So, what did I do so very different?
sound ship and take to the boat - June 1, 2019I have just come back from Crick boat show so bouncing full of new ideas, but something struck me looking at all the boats with some superb fit outs that are better standard than our own cottage. We are not a house we are a boat and things can and do go horribly wrong and we need to be able to “sound ship” and in a hurry.
minutes of the steering committee - March 1, 2019The last few weeks have been a bit of a trial to the point where I quite missed my old sailing boat and started to wonder if Dawntreader would be better converted to a Sailing Wherry than ever trying to retro fit an outboard to a boat that wasn’t built for it. I still think arriving at Semington under 1500 foot of billowing canvas on bank holiday claiming right of way is just what the canal needs.
no place like home - February 1, 2019I said that I wasn’t going to do anything to the interior over the winter. In fact, I stated that I could achieve more in a decent day in March or April than I ever could in January or February. However, spurred on by pictures of fellow boaters on the internet completely refitting interiors and remembering that mine is shabby – the chic bit having been missing for years, I bit the bullet - but this time with a little bit of wisdom and experience.
cabin fever - December 1, 2018It is the season to be jolly and for those of us boat orientated it throws up a dilemma of a few days off work enjoying our hobby or the call to arms that Christmas is all about families not boats. Now I have got away with this often in the past by sailing the icicles race on Boxing day - a race that had it origins based on the great classic Christmas film the great escape - and our need to.
bloke down the pub said... - September 1, 2018Time to service the out board! I am very protective of mine. It might only be a second-hand Honda 8 with very faded silver cowling and the remains of a broken tiller handle still attached. However, its purpose is to push the boat along with out dramas.
weighed yourself recently? - September 1, 2018Since my last article I arrived at the boat to find my well used and abused Honda 9 outboard had been stolen. OK maybe I could have been more security conscious even though I am in a marina, but this must be weighed up by the damage that a determined thief possibly stealing to order can inflict on a plywood interior. Also, the cost of adding £500 outboard to the insurance policy. One must write it down to experience. Still a nice comforting pamphlet on being the victim of crime later and we are back at square one. We need power.
not on my life... - August 1, 2018OK we are getting the idea that although I have an unswerving passion (that some would consider obsession) with all things boats, it is not one necessarily shared by family members – or at least to the same extent. So, I find myself often than not single handed. Suits me.
gone cruising - July 1, 2018It’s that time of year when the TV is full of adverts for cruise ships showing off their levels of comfort and sprinkling the word luxury onto everything from the food to the service and even the bathroom. Even the chance of seeing exotic sea life. And all this before it's tied up in some sun-drenched port offering excursions and the chance of fine dining alfresco with the natives.
wet from the inside out - May 1, 2018When I first bought my Dawncraft it had no insulation at all but was covered in navy blue office carpet – parts of it still are and some even worse brown carpet on bunk sides - two bits of which still exist years later. The reason for this was to stop the dreaded condensation. This issue never really occurred to me as I had more than enough leaks from vents, windows and anything else connected to the outside world to worry about a little damp from condensing water vapour. However, over the last few seasons I have noticed it getting steadily worse and my desire to stay warm may be the problem.
it was cheap - March 10, 2018When I bought my Dawncraft 25 it had to fit three strict criteria: available immediately, local and come with a mooring. The rest I thought an intelligent man like myself could sort out. The money was duly handed over and I stood on a flexing roof the proud owner of a 1973 icon of boating history.