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winterise your boat

winterising your boat

tips from river canal rescue to help you save on costly repair bills

With winters getting colder and sub-zero temperatures becoming more common, River Canal Rescue has put together some tips on how to winterise your narrowboat and so avoid costly repair bills.

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babies to boats

babies to boats

a journey of new beginnings

If someone had told me 4 years ago when I semi retired from the NHS  that I would own and run a narrow boat holiday business instead of looking after mummies and babies , I wouldn't have believed them for a moment!  And yet here I am running, single-handedly, Tiller Girl Narrow Boat Holidays.

mummies and babies

tiller girl melanie franklin pryce

Having spent my 45 year working life with the NHS, firstly as a Cardiac ICU nurse then Registered Midwife. I have been so very fortunate to have had an exceptional career. I love meeting and working with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, its what makes life interesting and varied.

Having cared for  women, babies and their families for the past 26 years it has been a roller coaster of emotions, but I have loved every minute (Well nearly every one...).

But all good things come to an end and times change. The opportunity to take flexi retirement. I would have more time with my family and hobbies, but keep one leg in midwifery and still maintain a working wage. It seemed to be a good move.

I had for some time been thinking of having a second income such as a self catering property and had been looking for a small cottage preferably in the Yorkshire dales (I'm a Yorkshire lass through and through) or on the Yorkshire Coast to invest my hard earned pension.

My eldest son Ben who bought a narrow boat a few years ago to live aboard and who completely rebuilt the interior, said 'Mum, a narrow boat would be better!'   He  felt it would be easier to maintain and hire out, being closer to home. So off we went to have a look.

a boat of my own

tiller girl luxury boat hire

We were offered a viewing there and then... she really seemed to fit the bill and because she was only 4 years old, we felt she would be a sound investment. My father always said when making a big decision, sleep on it and if it still feels good in the morning then do it!

I had searched the internet to look at average costs and what type and standard of narrow boat was available, the range was mind blowing but we felt that this was the one for us and had lots of potential.

Within a week the job was done!  Following a full survey (which we would always suggest!) and  a bottom blacking, John and I moved her to Sawley Marina and changed her name to Tiller Girl which was John's suggestion because, as he keeps telling me, she is my boat, not ours!

I must admit to waking a few times in the night with  'what have I done, that's a lot of money to spend!' but on the whole couldn't  wait to get started on the refurb!

Tiller Girl was built as a 2 berth live aboard in 2014 and I felt she would  perfectly fit the bill of my idea to have a couples' retreat, a luxury boat for time out and relaxation as well as family holidays.

Then came months of the steepest learning curve ever!  I thought my midwifery  studies were hard, but this was a different kettle of fish and with no guidance or  tutor but myself! Although we had had many river and canal holidays growing up as a family, and having a brother and nephew as marine engineers,  I still spent many an hour on the internet researching hire companies, insurers, Facebook narrow boat pages and the Canal and River Trust website to find out what I needed to run my own hire boat - as well as reading all the manuals and building specs of the boat. My brother Rob, now answers the phone to me  'Canal boat engineer support'! He says I only phone him when I need something...!

interior

And then we started on making the interior into what I felt would be expected of a luxury hire boat.

Every bit of the internal woodwork has been cleaned and sanded, waxed or painted,  a carpenter friend carried out a refit of some of the internal doors,  fitted new oak worktops and breakfast bar and righted all the wrongs or 'unsafes' that were highlighted on the survey. Ben helped me with loads of advice and support with painting some of the exterior.

Learning the ins and outs of how to service and look after a beta marine engine and how the electrics and batteries worked was difficult to say the least and so much to take on board that I must admit to feeling overwhelmed and having doubts whether I could ever manage the boat maintenances. But I pulled up my big girl knickers and faced it head on!

Applying for the commercial licence from The Canal and River Trust meant I had to write a hand over manual which was pretty comprehensive and descriptive and again other boat companies were a great resource (No plagiarizing though!) and having  a good understanding of writing health and safety with the NHS it was finally accepted and my license arrived! The Boat Safety Certificate had to be completed for commercial hire but very little needed to be done which was great news to my  bank account!

Julie Cutts, the manager at Sawley Marina where we decided to moor her,  was an absolute gem as are all the staff (and many of the boat neighbours) and have supported me all the way with great wealth of knowledge of hire boat companies, to mooring and giving us our own embarkation point at the marina and for all of this I pay a commercial mooring fee which is an extra 30%.

I'm sure every narrow boat owner has a dislike for the wind when trying to navigate a 57 foot boat of steel in any wind stronger that a whiff of breeze!  Marinas are so tight on space and with other boaters (experienced or not!) watching and commenting(!) makes it even worse getting out and on to the canal! Red faces and lots of apologies were often the order of the day when first starting to learn manoeuvres! So having the embarkation next to the canal was a god send in the beginning.

Great working relationships are the key, and luckily having experienced this in my job as a community midwife made it easier when dealing with companies, boaters and the general public.

Then COVID-19 reared it's nasty viral head and everything came to a sudden stop! I fully refunded everyone who had made a booking and by this time, funds were running low. I couldn't carry out the planned external painting and the Marina was flooded. So a worrying time all round.

The external painting didn't happen apart from little bits here and there to make her more presentable. Tiller Girl is Sapphire blue and orange and not the colour I had imagined my hire boat  to be, but we have had so many positive comments on the 'Floating Jaffa Cake' that she will remain as she is and I have built our image around it.

By the time I was free to go back on to Tiller Girl, I was eager to get started. Time was running short and I needed her ready for when I could get her out on the water and earn some money!

Enquiries for holidays started coming in as soon as the Facebook, Instagram and web pages were up and running. I had cards printed and sent them to all the marinas in the area, left them on shop notice boards and in chandleries and the marina office.

Bookings for spring and summer came in although a great many enquiries did not lead to bookings.

I wondered if it was to do with the cost/pricing. I had thoroughly researched costs of other hire boats and took an average although I was advised to put the prices slightly higher as it was felt to be 'an exceptional hire boat'.

I offered to donate money to a spaniel re homing group from any bookings on their website which worked well.

I maintained low season prices as I felt this may stimulate custom and it certainly seemed to work as I was fully booked until mid October! Dates had to be flexible due to COVID giving 72 hours between bookings, deep cleaning and my part time work Rota at Sherwood Forest Hospitals

As soon as we were given the all clear from the CRT and the government to begin hiring, I had many more bookings and enquires and our first guests arrived on the 27th July!

Hand over is intensive and  takes around 2 hours, with a tour of the internal features including fire safety, exits and cassette toilet. I encourage all hirers to read the manual and watch the videos on the website prior to coming on Tiller Girl and ask them to sign an agreement that holds them responsible for the boat.

All hand overs are  socially distanced with face masks and hand sanitizer. I have removed many of the luxury features such as books, games and soft furnishings  due to covid-19 and strictly follow the government guidance on deep cleaning.

We then leave the Marina and guide them through to first lock, discuss and demonstrate casting off and mooring up, good water etiquette  and boat manoeuvrability amongst every thing else.

It's a massive amount to take on board (Literally!) and when the guests feel happyish and me too, I leave them and make my way back to the Marina on foot or bicycle. I wish I could take a picture of their faces when I leave! There's such a mixture of panic,  realization and excitement that it's now all up to them!!

There have been a few hiccoughs along the way which I have managed to straighten out without too much hassle; Lack of battery power, inverter problems (due to lack of Battery power), water ingress from the mushroom vents in torrential rain and a leaking stern gland, all manageable thank goodness.

I have my phone next to me 24 hours a day so guests can ring me at any time, I must say they have been very respectful! Experienced HGV drivers and caravan owners seem  have a better understanding of manoeuvrability, the contribution of strong winds and battery power.

Safety is my main concern and I work hard to maintain good safety procedures and an extensive hand over to ensure that beginners are fully aware of the dangers of the water, especially around locks. My heart was in my mouth as I watched a not young, returning guest walk along the roof of Tiller Girl entering a lock!  We supply a range of sizes of buoyancy aids - even some for dogs as we are pet friendly.

I have had a very hard season running Tiller Girl, working as a healthcare professional through covid-19 which led to a much higher work load in the NHS and the strict deep cleaning on Tiller Girl.

There is still plenty to do to reach Tiller Girl's full potential but I am looking forward to another hopefully successful season with much still to learn and experience and many more wonderful guests to welcome aboard.

I have taken the plunge and will be retiring fully from the NHS in January 2021 to focus full time on Tiller Girl! Fingers crossed!

Melanie Franklin-Pryce is the owner of Luxury Narrowboat Hire 'Tiller Girl'.

Tiller Girl is based in Sawley Marina on the Trent and Mersey canal.

07739 709 242
ask@tillergirl.com
https://www.tillergirl.com

coalcage

coalcage

an ingenious idea which saves you time, effort and fuel!

Isn’t it funny how things go around sometimes?

Wayne & Rosie with coalcageLong ago I met my future wife after mooring up next to her. We spent the next few years being young ‘love-aboards’ and enjoying Narrowboat life.

We then did the ‘house thing’ and 30 years later, after ending up with the neighbours from hell, we decided to return to Narrowboat life.

We revelled in the freedom of it all again and, once we’d got used to the space, settled down to the usual daily routines of boaty life.

One of these was the stove. The good old glow in the corner.

It was while going through the usual faff of coming in and getting the stove going that I thought that there must be some way of improving this procedure.

You know what it’s like - bits of paper, firefighters, carefully stacked kindling and the precarious balancing act of the coals. Then watching it all fall apart and trying to jiggle things about and re-stack etc etc only for it to go out and start again.

It suddenly dawned on me that if it had a basket of some sorts I could just bung it all in and it would take the faff and balancing act out of the procedure.

I got the pliers out and made a rough prototype out of an old fire guard and, guess what, it worked a treat!

I couldn’t believe it! It worked and it was so simple.

All of a sudden I had a stack of glowing coal that looked good and all I had to do was top it up. In fact what I soon realised was that I could actually put an amount in that would last me all day with no constant topping up and no over-filling of the stove base. The pyramid of coal was no more!

I couldn’t wait to tell my wife when she came home.

All we could do was sit and look at it! It was better than telly!

coalcageSurely, I asked myself, there must be something available already? No - nothing. Nothing at all like it was available as a stove accessory for coal.

I wanted to tell my acquaintances in my boaty world but it dawned on me that I may have stumbled upon a potential future income that needed more thinking about.

The original prototype lasted a week!!! I didn’t realise that metal burned!

This meant getting into the qualities of materials. I learnt more about physics and metallurgy over the next few weeks than I had at school!

Stainless steel and sturdy construction was the way forward. Another prototype - and this was the answer.

Wherever we moored we would be off sneaking about in stove shops measuring grate sizes to get the most appropriate size for a mixture of stoves.

Next it was off to Birmingham to have a chat at Birmingham Library with the Intellectual Property team and access to a free interview with a Patent Lawyer.

All the while this process was going on it was the hardest thing to keep quiet! We we’re so excited with how it was working and improving our stove experience. Visitors to the boat were kept at a minimum whilst we tried surreptitiously to draw any attention away from our stove. We now couldn’t imagine life without it!

I was constantly trawling the internet and trade magazines in case I’d missed it somewhere but, no, it appeared that we had definitely stumbled onto something.

The big leap was taking out the Patent Application and the costs, plus trademarking the name and registering the design.

We went through the usual ‘think of a name’ scenarios and decided that ‘Coalcage’ was what it was, and what it did, so decided that this was it. This is what we’d called it from it’s inception anyway!

I wanted it to be a UK product so searched for a supplier and, after few brush offs, I found my saviour up north and a fabulous Victorian family business who could produce the quality the product needed.

Getting the first batch was so exciting as it suddenly became real. Boxes and labels agreed with a local printer and we were away.

It’s hard to believe that it’s taken two years to get this far!

The way things are going with the government's clean air policy we are being encouraged to use smokeless fuels and wood. Smokeless fuels are being better regulated all the time so using it in conjunction with a Coalcage can only benefit future emissions as it doesn’t encourage you to overload your stove and waste coal. It allows you to quickly establish a deep fire-bed that feeds itself with better control. As it’s open ended it also doesn’t impede any riddling mechanisms in the stoves grate. It could also prolong the stove's life by reducing ‘hot spots’ and stove fractures.

We’ll be out and about selling from the boat wherever we are throughout the year. Price is £20 plus £4 postage. They’re also available from Midland Chandlers & Venetian Marina.

Hopefully you’ll catch us at some point but we are also able to sell via the website www.coalcage.com

or EBay, or you can contact us at coalcageinfo@gmail.com for individual enquiries.

Rosie & Wayne Sharman live aboard their narrowboat James Arthur and if you are lucky enough to spot them on the cut, you can buy directly from their boat.

Alternatively you can order one direct from their website, by phoning Wayne or by emailing them.

Tel: 07776 217 125 Write:  coalcageinfo@gmail.com Visit: www.coalcage.com

Coalcage is also available from most chandleries, and on Ebay.

excel voted best fuel among boaters

excel - voted best fuel among boaters

Oxbow Coal Ltd were delighted to win Canals Online Magazine’s award for best fuel among boaters for our premium quality Excel briquettes. The fuel is hugely popular among the boating community up and down the country and we’re very proud that Excel has truly become the fuel of the houseboat over the last few years.

oxbowThe Excel briquettes are produced at our plant in County Durham in the North East of England.

Originally the plant had ovens and baked the briquettes but after a fire burned the facility down, they were forced to start again. With no money to replace the ovens then owner John Bartlett came up with a plan to produce the country’s first cold cure briquettes.

That vision blossomed over the years and Oxbow partnered with John’s business in the late 90’s before acquiring the business in 2014, by which time Excel and Oxbow’s other fuels Red, Newheat and Glow were all established as firm favourites in the home heating market.

OxbowSince then Oxbow have learned not to mess with the classics and the Excel remains consistently top quality with the recipe largely unchanged for many years.

While other manufacturers produce countless different fuels, Oxbow chose a different route as the ‘stove revolution’ began early in the 2010’s.

excel briquettes. OxbowInstead of bringing out a new fuel to compliment the open fire fuel Excel was considered to be, Oxbow, with minor adjustments, made the fuel versatile enough in its own right to be considered a multi-purpose fuel.

Whether used on a closed appliance, a multi-fuel stove or on an open fire, the fuel remained the premium brand on the market at an affordable price.

It’s also a fully approved smokeless fuel, so when the legislation changes next year nothing will change and it’s also fully HETAS approved.

For those not aware of the difference Excel can make, like all of the Oxbow fuels it’s very low in ash compared to its competitors - meaning a lot less time spent cleaning out the ash pan. In addition it’s a high heat output fuel and gives a long lasting burning.

All in all the ideal fuel for the boating community. We’re proud to be your first choice fuel.

Oxbow coals logoOxbow Coal Ltd provides a diverse line of products, backed by expert technical support and knowledgeable customer service. Our philosophy is that the most effective way to earn a customer’s trust and loyalty is through the superior performance of our products as well as the energy and talent of our people.

01469 577 635
Immingham@oxbow.com
http://oxbowcoal.com/products-and-services/1

lockdown – here we go again!

lockdown - here we go again!

aqueduct marina learns to live with covid 19

Aqueduct Marina - first lockdownHere we go again. Locked down, so why does it feel different?

Back in March locked down for the first time felt like starting a new school. It was a combination of fear and excitement mixed with a determination to make the best of it.

This time round it is like the middle years of school, starting the Autumn term. The novelty has worn off, leaving school seems a long way off and there are some important exams ahead.

aqueduct marina perspex screensIt does feel vastly different, not only because schools and colleges are staying open, but we have now, as standard, Perspex screens at customer contact points, one way systems and people wearing masks. In short we have learned to live with Covid.

The other major difference from the spring lock down is that November is a time of year when we generally start to see less of our customers visiting their boats as the cruising season has finished and C&RT start to close locks and bridges for maintenance. Whereas in the spring the opposite applies, we were gearing up for the spring rush.

Where it has impacted us is the onsite café that normally remains open 12 months of the year. , Our cafe has had to close again as it was not worthwhile doing take-away. So, our four café staff are back on furlough for the time being. The decision to re-open the cafe after the lock down will very much depend on the restrictions (tier level) we are put into. Working with family groups and those in a ‘bubble’ only was proving unviable.

The Brokerage operation has also been curtailed because we cannot carryout viewings in person. Combined with getting boats in for sale which can be difficult over the winter anyway, Covid restrictions will make for an even more tricky winter period.

aqueduct marina boats for sale We are though still successfully completing sales already in the system, with buyers not pulling out.

Encouragingly we are also getting enquiries from new boat buyers who are generally buying to a specification rather than relying on a viewing.

Though the sooner we can get back to viewings in person by appointment the better.

The Chandlery is interesting, we found it actually worked quite satisfactorily during the first lockdown as a Click and collect outlet, with customers happily phoning/emailing ahead and collecting, then paying either over the phone or we emailed an invoice out for online payment. So, the Chandlery will revert to this C&C system only for the time being.

This system also works for the diesel and pump-out which have remained successfully DIY all summer.

aqueduct marina work going onMoorings with customers visiting their boats are normally quieter at this time of year, but this year combined with the lockdown is even more apparent. Though on the plus side the engineers are getting asked to do a few pieces of work on boats as the owners cannot get down.

The storage yard is similar to the moorings but does have a few more frustrated owners who had planned to do some out-of-water DIY maintenance and are unable to attend to their boat.

In summary, this second lockdown feels much less dramatic than April, with business as usual in most areas.

While typing, the American election has a winner, and a Covid vaccine appears a more realistic possibility next year. Just get Brexit Done and we may have a much more positive 2021-2022 than many predicted even a few weeks ago. Just need to knuckle down now and revise for those exams!

Aqueduct Marina LogoRobert Parton is the managing director and owner of Aqueduct Marina - a modern, award winning marina on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union near Nantwich.

Call: 01270 525 040  Visit: Website Link

very different personalised canal boat gift idea!

stoke art pottery

brings you a very different, personalised canal boat gift idea!

the beginnings of stoke art pottery

Established in 2006, Stoke Art Pottery was perhaps a bit of an accident. First of all, we are not a pottery or even "potters". But an online store, selling high quality pottery and ceramics.

The owner of Stoke Art Pottery, Malcolm Dean, realised that the potteries landscape in Stoke on Trent was changing dramatically. Instead of the area being dominated by very large factories, there were now a large number of small potters and ceramic artists working independently, setting up their own studios or working from home. Malcolm thought there was an opportunity here: he could work with these people to develop their businesses, and Stoke Art Pottery was born.

Being based in Stoke on Trent was quite an advantage. It enabled Malcolm to work very closely with the Ceramic Artists, enabling him to offer Studio Trials and One Offs that were totally exclusive to Stoke Art Pottery.

who are these ceramic artists?

The first ceramic artist to come on board was Anita Harris. Formerly the Lead Designer at Poole Pottery, Anita was also a senior designer at Moorcroft.  Alan Clarke (another well known designer for Poole Pottery) and Deborah Wood (hand painter of Brian Wood Designs) soon followed.

grotesque birds - stoke art pottery

It was not long before Stoke Art Pottery were also stockists for Lorna Bailey Artware, Burslem Pottery (famous for their Grotesque Birds inspired by the Martins Brothers),  Emma Bailey Ceramics, and Marie Graves (a well established designer for Carlton Ware). In addition to several other ceramic artists.

the potteries' best kept secret

The close working relationship that Malcolm had with each potter and artist worked extremely well with Anthony (Tony) Cartlidge.

Tony has been a free-lance ceramic modeller and artist for some considerable time, and  is often described as one of the best kept secrets of the Potteries.

Normally working with many of the large pottery manufacturers based in Stoke on Trent, Tony's career has included designing and modelling two-sided character teapots for Royal Doulton.  These were produced in 2002, each one in a world-wide Limited Edition of 1500.

stoke art pottery character teapots

royal doulton character teapots

However, probably one his most exciting projects was being involved in designing and modelling “The World’s Largest Toby Jug".

the largest toby jug in the world

Standing over three feet tall, this Toby Jug was commissioned by the American Toby Jug Museum, based near to Chicago in the USA.

Tony modelled it, building up the three-foot Toby Jug around a barrel and a bucket.

Tony says it was probably one of the most complex projects that he had ever worked on, due to the extreme size of the jug, and having to ensure that it did not collapse around him!

It was then hand painted.

The first giant Toby Jug was delivered to the museum in 1999, with others available by special order (limited edition of 50).

 

stoke art pottery - exclusive designs.

hand painted vase by tony CartlidgeMore recently, Tony has been hand painting vases with his own designs for Stoke Art Pottery, each design being totally exclusive.

It was through the close working relationship that Malcolm had with Tony that the idea for the Personalized Canal Boat Gifts was conceived.

Tony had designed and painted vases with canal scenes, and during various discussions someone said, (and no one can remember who, exactly) "How about personalising these designs with individual canal boat owners own boats?"

hand painted vase by tony cartlidgeThe idea was hatched - so after some heart searching it was decided we should go ahead and offer the facility of hand painting owners own canal boats onto the scenes already developed.

These hand crafted vases would be totally hand painted with one off designs, Totally different and unique!

fantastic souvenir and a great gift idea!

Just picture your own boat on one of our hand painted ceramic vases, with a choice of different locations (currently Trent & Mersey and the Macclesfield Canals).  A totally unique piece of pottery. Hand painted by one of the Leading Ceramic Artists, Tony Cartlidge. Each one will be signed by the artist and designer. And will come with a signed Certificate of Authentication.

the craftsman at work

stoke art potteries - hand drawing on vase

Tony Cartlidge hand painting design on vase

Anthony Cartlidge with one of his creationsThe hand drawing and hand painting of each vase will take three to four days to complete. The delivery time for each order is 28 days, and as already stated, each will come with its own certificate of authentication.

stoke art pottery

Stoke Art Pottery is an on-line business, but we endeavour to give a personal service online. We are a small family business, not a faceless large business. Your custom matters to us. If there is a problem it gets sorted quickly and professionally. Regretfully on occasions something does go wrong. Or mistakes are made. That is Life! Thankfully these instances are very rare.

Call: 07872 435 590 Write: info@stokeartpottery.co.uk Visit: website

painting tips for canal boats

painting tips for canal boats

expert advice from rylard paints

COLOUR CHOICE 

When choosing colours, ensure that comparisons are undertaken in daylight. It is always advisable to compare colours with a painted boat as it is difficult to appreciate the colour in large areas. Our printed colour charts have accurate colour rendition but the enamel will appear to be lighter when applied to large areas, especially when adjoining complementary colours.

Where possible, ensure that you have the same batch number for the finish coats.

CONDITIONS
rylard paints for canal boatsWeather conditions play an important part when painting outside. Avoid if possible painting in direct sunlight or when the boat is obviously warm to the touch. The ideal temperature for painting is between 12oC and 20oC. Higher temperatures could result in poor flow, rapid drying and loss of gloss. Windy conditions will lead to dirt pick-up and faster drying. Do not apply in damp conditions and aim at finishing painting by mid-afternoon, as overnight condensation may affect the finish.

Drying times will vary considerably depending on conditions, but at 20oC in still air, light touch-dry for both undercoats and topcoats will be 1 to 3 hours, and through-drying will be 12 to 24 hours. If possible, longer drying times should be allowed before overcoating as this will make rubbing down easier. Where low temperatures are experienced and there is little air movement, drying times can be as much as doubled, so take this into account when judging when to apply the next coat.

A dust-free environment is essential to obtain a really good gloss finish. The removal of dust prior to painting is essential, and dust and debris must be removed between the sanding of each coat and the application of the next.

Rylard Plus Enamel has a high pigment level and therefore thorough stirring is necessary. Best results are achieved with a wide flat-ended blade or a piece of clean, flat-ended wood. Screwdrivers are not efficient for stirring! It is advisable not to wear loose or woollen clothing when painting as this can contaminate the freshly painted surfaces.

PREPARATION OF SURFACE

Rylard paints bare metalBARE STEEL

Preparation: For best results, steel should be blast cleaned. This is not always possible, so alternatively mechanical cleaning by sanding and wire brushing can be undertaken to remove any rust.

Cleaning: The surface should then be thoroughly degreased using a water based or water dispersible degreaser, which must then be thoroughly washed off. Solvent cleaning is only efficient if clean wiping cloths are frequently replaced, otherwise the solvent just spreads the grease or oil around without removing it. Any remnants of grease or oil will affect paint adhesion and can cause slow drying and tackiness of the paint. Do not use diesel, paraffin or turps substitute for cleaning as they promote rust – white spirit is preferred.

Priming: The hull above the water line should then be coated with 2 coats of Rylard Zinc Phosphate Primer. If it is to be left outside for any length of time before applying finishing coats, 2 coats of Rylard Holding Coat are essential to prevent rust spotting.

narrowboats brightly paintedPREVIOUSLY PAINTED SURFACES
Rusted areas should be abraded down to clean steel and existing paint edges feathered to prevent ridging showing through. All clean metal areas should be patch-primed with 2 coats of Rylard Zinc Phosphate Primer.

Should rusting be extensive, consider having the boat blast cleaned and professionally repainted for long-term protection.

Where there have been feature lines, names, etc., ensure that these are completely removed to prevent shadowing-through.

If there is general unevenness and poor feathering, several coats of Rylard Primer/Filler should be used, abrading between coats to give an even surface. Rylard Primer/Filler can be used directly onto small patch areas.

Rub down the surface overall to an even matt finish using 320 grit wet and dry paper. If a colour change is to be undertaken, the relevant undercoat colour should be used.

PAINT APPLICATION

Rylard Paints side of narrowboatApply the paint using a good quality 2½” to 3” brush. Gloss rollers and pads can also be used. To ensure even application, apply by crossing brush strokes before laying-off. On boat sides, always lay-off with vertical strokes. With large areas such as cabin tops, best results can be obtained by two people applying to prevent loss of wet edge – one person applying, the other laying-off. When brushing, it is recommended that the brush is held at 45 degrees to minimise brush marking. Where masking tape is being used, it is recommended that this is removed before the paint has reached a light touch-dry state, as this will ensure a smoother edge.

Clean brushes regularly (about every 20 minutes), to prevent thick build-up of paint in the brush. Stir the paint regularly during application.

Except for the primer, rub down with 320 or 360 grit wet and dry paper between coats, to ensure a completely smooth, even finish. When using wet and dry paper, always use it wet, and occasionally apply domestic soap to the paper, as this will prevent blocking and aid abrading. (‘Blocking’ is build-up of paint debris on the paper, which may cause scratching of the paint film).

Rylard PaintsWipe over thoroughly after abrading, as dust and debris will affect the final appearance. The smoothness of the finish is ultimately dependent on the preparation, especially for Undercoats and Primer/Filler. Where coarse profile steel has been used, or where underlying imperfections in the surface exist, extra coats of Primer/Filler and Undercoats should be used.

Under normal circumstances thinning of the paint is not necessary, but where application is undertaken at low temperatures, or previously used paint has bodied in the can due to evaporation, small quantities of recommended thinners can be used.

SPRAY APPLICATION
Rylard primers, undercoats and topcoats can be applied by air assisted or standard airless spray. Thinning may be necessary dependent on the spray equipment used, please consult the relevant Product Data Sheet.

TRADITIONAL and POLYURETHANE VARNISHES

red narrow boat Rylard PaintsNEW WOOD
Bare new wood should be sanded using either sandpaper or wet & dry paper, finishing with a 180 grit paper prior to applying the varnish. Ensure that all sanding dust is removed by either brushing or vacuuming before applying any varnish coats. The use of a tack cloth to remove any residual dust may also be used.

It is essential that any new oily wood, such as teak, is degreased using white spirit or cellulose thinners in order to improve penetration and adhesion. However, it should be noted that Polyurethane Varnish is NOT recommended for use on oily woods such as teak. The first coat of varnish should be thinned – 1 part varnish to 1 part of white spirit – and thoroughly stirred. Brush this coat well into the pores of the wood to ensure full sealing. After drying, sand smooth to remove the timber ‘nibs’ using a 320 or 360 grit wet & dry paper.

EXISTING VARNISHED SURFACES
If the existing varnished surface is in poor condition and is showing flaking or other imperfections, it is recommended that it is removed back to bare wood (using either a proprietary paint stripper or sanding) and the timber treated as for New Wood. If the existing varnish is in sound condition, rub down with a 320 or 360 grit wet and dry paper and clean with white spirit.

To obtain a good depth of gloss on both new wood and existing varnished surfaces, a multiple-coat treatment is recommended, with a minimum of 3 coats, with light rubbing down between coats using either a 320 or 360 grit wet and dry paper. Note: Rylard eggshell varnishes are not suitable for exterior surfaces.

SLIP RESISTANT DECK PAINT KIT
non slip tread paint on narrowboat roofRylard Slip Resistant additive can be used with all Rylard topcoats.

Thorough mixing must be ensured to obtain an even dispersion of the fine aggregate.

Care must be taken to ensure brush marks are not apparent.

All Rylard topcoats are suitable for sand-blinding, but care must be taken to ensure the sand is thoroughly dry.

SUMMARY

painting tips for canal boats table 1

QUANTITY GUIDELINE

painting tips for canal boats by Rylard

  1. To obtain the cabin length deduct the length of the bow and the stern from the overall length of the boat
  2. Deck area should be approximate to window area and has been allowed for in the above calculations
  3. On bare steel 2 coats of Rylard Zinc Phosphate Primer should be used at a similar coverage rate to the topcoat
  4. All figures are approximate and given for guidance only

rylard paintsRylard Paints is a well-respected name in the supply of paints for canal boats, narrow boats, dutch barges and leisure craft. Through its Research and Development program Rylard continues to provide state-of-the-art products, manufactured in the UK to the highest Quality standards. We provide a range of coatings for canal boats, from blacking to topsides, anti-slip for decks and roofs, to brass lacquer to keep metal fitments glowing.

01623 510 585
sales-huthwaite@axalta.com
http://rylardpaints.co.uk/

 

yorkshire bespoke tiller pins

yorkshire bespoke tiller pins

the story from the very beginning...

Pennine Cruisers, SkiptonThrough odd canal holidays, trips on the rivers and being fortunate enough to have friends on the canals as a child, I eventually caught up with our fantastic inland waterways and the lovely people that live, work and holiday on them. We found a fantastic company to hire from, Pennine Cruisers. A Skipton based company on that lovely Leeds and Liverpool canal. This company soon became the key to the start of Yorkshire Bespoke Tiller Pins. As the article goes on you will see why. All staff and owners, over many trips with them, soon became what me and my wife class as our Skipton family.

I had decided to make one of the staff there (and now good friend) Wayne a gift. At this stage I really didn’t know what. He had just finished off his boat that he had recently moved onto, having built it from a bare shell. Back home I was in my workshop wondering what I could make him. I knew it would be for his boat.

On rummaging around, I found an old piece of round brass stock, along with a solid piece of aluminium from my workshop stock. Straight away I knew I was going to make him a tiller pin. The two pieces of material had caught my eye, even though they were both very dull. I thought that if I could use the two pieces together, the result would be quite unique. I began looking at new ways on how to work and join the two pieces together. I also knew when they were machined, they had to give a flawless impression as though they were all from one piece. I eventually found a way to do this and set about making the blank into an attractive eye-catching shape. This just seemed to flow and sooner rather than later, the tiller pin was made. I was unsure if I was on the right track with it all, so for a bit of confirmation I sent a picture of it to ‘Our Zoe’ at Pennine Cruisers to ask her opinion. I was expecting some changes may be needed, but all I got from Zoe was ‘Wayne is going to love that!’ It was buffed, polished and ready for our trip up to Skipton for our next of now many boat trips.

We got up to Skipton for our week’s break, and as we were unloading, I presented Wayne with his gift. He was delighted and said, with a smile on his face, he had never seen anything like it. Job done; off we went for our week’s cruise. My wife Jayne stated as we were cruising out of Skipton towards Gargrave ‘I got the impression he was over the moon with that!’. I agreed.

Halfway through the week we had winded round and got back to Skipton as planned to spend the night around the town catching up with our Skipton ‘family’. Of course, this meant a night with Phil before heading towards Bingley in the morning to achieve a bit of east and west. As I went into various pubs on our evening out, it seemed like the whole town knew I had made Wayne's tiller pin. I was introduced as ‘that’s that fellow who made that tiller pin’, all with lovely comments and positive feedback. I was chuffed but didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t till Jayne and I were back in the Boat House that I realised people were being very serious and even suggesting I should continue to make them.

THE NEXT TRIP UP

By our next visit 6 weeks later, now October 2019, I had come up with 4 new designs all combining brass and aluminium. However, one of these was clearly turning heads: Tiller Pin Zoe (all my pins are named after the staff at Pennine Cruisers). Tiller pin Zoe was a little different, because I had incorporated a recess in the top to house an enamel Yorkshire rose.

I had taken a total of 16 tiller pins up - 8 given for the shop, and 8 to go on a craft boat which goes around the network (a good friend of Wayne’s).

The positive feedback and interest were increasing, and all seemed to be going well. We soon arrived back at home; it was clear that I may be busy out of work hours.

THE BOMB SHELL AND THE PLUNGE!!

In the middle of November I had the unfortunate, very poorly timed news, that after 11½ years I was to be made redundant from my place of work. To be honest it was no shock: I was the last of four employees to go. The firm had hit problems and that was that chapter over.

I was now out of work with time on my hands and a new venture that was not yet established, still in its infancy, but with an interest growing. The product was there - just not known. I now started to use my redundancy to pay myself a basic wage to cover my bills. I soon started altering the workshop to accommodate much needed machinery tooling and workspace. This took around a month, and while my tidy lovely workshop of many years was in bits, I couldn’t work in it. However, it was eventually completed and workable – but without work.

coal miner tiller pinI started getting odd jobs - repairs, lathe work brazing and odd bits. Then people started sending me brass items that they wanted me to turn into tiller pins. Many were hollow and could not accommodate a good thread for the actual pin itself. So, I would machine a solid brass boss, then tig braze that to the hollow cast body. This was becoming a popular request, and other work started to flow in. Praise for my work was building and it was common for customers to say they were told that what I managed to do couldn’t be done. I suppose wrong advise from wrong person scenario.

One afternoon my oldest son and I were having a drink in the workshop after a day of help from him altering the workshop again. I got a very lovely comment (beer may have been kicking in) he said, ‘you are a very clever very multi skilled talented man, but you are not known enough, and word of mouth is going to be very slow’. He suggested that I speak to my daughter in law Sammie and ask for help in getting myself known, joking that I am useless with computers and social media. The next day I took my son’s advice and asked Sammie if she would be interested in helping me out. Sammie was over the moon I had asked her.

WOW!!!

The rate and pace to me was exhausting. Sammie was relentless. Left no stone unturned. Within three days Yorkshire bespoke tiller pins had a running Facebook account. Had a web site not only built, but up and running. Had a PayPal account set up etc. Groups were getting in touch from our posts asking us to join. I had picked up my first big order thanks to Finesse boats who were very helpful and encouraging. This led to me finding a Sheffield based enamel logo and badge place. Which led to a local material suppliers Avus Metals. The snowball effect was starting to happen. New customers from the website and from Facebook were steadily on the up. Comments and positive feedback were a massive incentive for me to carry on. What really hit home was just how willing the much bigger companies, boat builders, marinas online canal merchants were to get behind the little firms. It really felt like big brothers were keeping a look out.

LOOKING AHEAD

variety of tiller pinsIt is very early days. I have a range of tiller pin bodies now and there will be more designs in the future. All named after Pennine Cruisers staff. There are now many other material options available and body material combinations. I am passionate about brass ware and love to repair figures that are broken – it gives them a second chance with a fantastic view from the tiller for their retirement. I find it very warming to know I have turned a personal object into a lovely tiller pin for someone. I now incorporate and work with more enamel options in my own tiller pin range along with boat name plates. I’m also venturing into other things for my growing customers, the cards are still on the table, but I believe they will be something to consider on your boat.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME AND I INSIST NONE OF MY TILLER PIN RANGE WILL BE SOLD TO ANYONE FROM STOCK. EACH ONE IS HANDMADE FROM START TO FINISH PERSONALLY FOR THAT CUSTOMER!!

file and tiller pin
array of refashioned and hand crafted tiller pins

COVID 19

As for many this has just wiped out the order books. I have not been idle – I have spent time making special tools to assist me in my work. I took delivery of a lathe which is much larger than my original one. Now I am able to work the two in different rolls, which will be helpful.

This was in the pipeline when things were advancing forward. It has pretty much broken me financially, and I feel the timing couldn’t have been more wrong. To help keep things going I am currently working early morning starts in a supermarket, picking online orders. I am hoping to do this as well as my tiller pins. It is do-able. I believe hard work pays.

TAKE CARE ALL AND BE SAFE IN THESE TIMES.

yorkshire bespoke tiller pinsStephen Johnson is the owner and creator of Yorkshire Bespoke Tiller Pins. 'We are a new small family business, created in Skipton.  Our Handcrafted tiller pins are made to suit you, different designs are available. Reliable, friendly service. Please send us a message if you have any enquiries. We are willing to help with any further questions. Thank you.'

Tel: 07775 593 852  Visit Website  Follow on Facebook

castles and roses

castles and roses

phil speight introduces his dvds and tells us how he came to make them

Canals Online asked me to write a piece about my motivation in producing a series of tuitional DVDs on traditional narrow boat decoration: I thought it would be easily done. However, having thought about the subject for three or four days now, it seems it was harder than I expected it to be!

To do so I must go back forty years, to the beginning of my career on the canal. The first roses and castles I painted were much admired by friends and family. This, and my own satisfaction with them, was – I now realise – misplaced. In short, they were attractive in their own way, but WRONG. Not perhaps wrong in their actual appearance, but wrong in the description I knew them by. I described them as ‘traditional canal art’ and certainly, the word art in itself begs the question – was it in fact art, or was it craft? The distinction has not gone away with the passing of the years. It’s still a valid question. My bigger error was in describing them as ‘traditional’. I did so because at that time, I had not made the in-depth study of canal art and culture which I am still pursuing to this day. It seems to me that, innocently enough, my mistake is one that many modern painters still make.

Phil Speight Canal ArtTimes have changed on the canal. The ‘old days’ are fading and a whole new community of canal dwellers and leisure boaters has arrived. This cannot be a bad thing, because it ensures that we still have canals to enjoy. With it has come a whole new generation of painters, many of whom have taken up painting roses and castles. A substantial number of these are producing attractive work, which is much admired but has drifted away, over the years, from the original.

Roses and castles were, in the days of the working boats long before the leisure boom, part of the culturally important decoration applied to the boats. Working canal families, a completely separate subculture, had many cultural, social and working practices that were entirely their own. The decoration on the boats was of great importance to them. It appeared not only on the boats themselves, but also on some items of boating equipment: water cans, nose tins, hand bowls, cabin stools, seat boards and so on. The flowers were bold, as big as the space would sensibly allow, and painted with great verve and vigour.

Phil Speight canal artNowadays the painting has, quite understandably, spread to all manner of items which can be acquired, painted and sold more easily than the original boating equipment. As a result of this, when some of this painting is applied to boats and associated items, it does not have the power and panache of the original. It has been developed for much smaller articles, and a much different market. None of this implies any criticism of the excellent painters who are producing this work. It is simply that the traditional motifs which we all love have, of necessity, been greatly modified and adjusted to suit a completely new range of artefacts. Consequently, they can’t rightly be described as ‘traditional’ good as they are.

Now, to my DVDs. They were produced for a number of reasons. One has to be money! But be assured that the amount earned this way should be seen as beer money, not a significant proportion of my income. Secondly, they are self-published and I suppose there must be a degree of ego or vanity involved.

The main reason, though, is that I wanted to record, for the benefit of newcomers to the art (or craft), the things I have learned about the real tradition and its practice over forty years of continuous learning. I hope that although I myself still have much to learn, my pursuit of this important area of English cultural heritage will be of use to those who really wish to learn it.

This is my contribution (though others of great scholarship have done so much more) to preserving our canal heritage. Hopefully future painters will be able to look at my DVDs and add my research to their own, to produce something even more authentic.

Phil Speight Canal Art
Phil Speight signwriter

No1:  Roses

  • Around I.5 hours long.
  • Filmed over the shoulder and with close ups of the various brushes as they work.
  • All materials in use in any given process are listed on screen as well as described in the commentary along with verbal descriptions throughout.
  • Two swags of roses painted. They are the same layout but the first is relatively basic and the second is much more developed.

No2: Castles

  • Around I.5 hours long.
  • Filmed over the shoulder and with close ups of the various brushes as they work.
  • All materials in use in any given process are listed on screen as well as described in the commentary along with verbal descriptions throughout.
  • One castle is painted.

.

No3: Signwriting

  • Set of 5 DVDs, running time about 6.5 hours
  • Starts with how to paint the simplest of block capital letters and goes through the alphabet as far as necessary
  • It covers both sans-serif and serif letters
  • Then how to lay out writing on a cabin side
  • The whole finishing up on screen as a fully written panel with serif, sans and script lettering

Phil Speight SignwriterHow to Paint Roses and How to Paint Castles are available for £13.50 each, or £25 for the two.

The 5 disc box set To the point - Signwriting is available for £25.

Email or ring Phil 07368 244866 for details and to order.

a fresh water warning

a fresh water warning

by Elliott Berry

Elliott Berry MIIMSAs some of you may know I contracted Leptospirosis in May 2014 and although I didn’t really want to write this article and elicit sympathy from anyone and have avoided writing it for a few years, I felt that now was the time especially with the increase in vessels being converted into houseboats.

I was called to a vessel that was apparently sinking in the River Medway.

Upon arrival at the vessel it was clear that the vessel was in fact afloat still but had a large volume of water in the after cabins. My first response was to ascertain whether the water was  indeed from an external source i.e river water or from an internal source i.e. a fresh water leak.

As I had done many times previously I conducted simple taste test and quickly ascertained that it was in fact “fresh” water. I then examined the vessel’s water system and found that all piping was still well installed and properly connected and that the water tank was in good order with no sign of leaks, a mystery indeed.

I advised the owner to pump out the water and to keep the area under observation and to call  me if any further water were to appear. After six or seven days I had heard nothing.

During the next couple of days, I had been doing some work in the garden at home and started  to feel unwell but initially I put that down to having overdone it. Over the next few hours I started to feel weak and developed a serious headache, at this point I rang the doctor and made an appointment. Initially the doctor intimated that it may be meningitis but that as I had no rash or sensitivity to light was quickly dismissed. The advice was to go home, drink lots of water and take paracetamol and to return in a few days if the symptom persisted.

Unusually for me I followed the doctor’s orders but the weakness and headache became  progressively worse and I developed uncontrollable shivering and so a visit to the Accident and Emergency department ensued upon which it was decided that I had contracted hepatitis A and should go home, drink lots of water and take paracetamol.

That night my wife became increasingly concerned as I had developed a fever so a further visit to hospital was undertaken. Upon arrival, it was clear to the doctors that something was  seriously wrong and I was admitted immediately and placed on a saline drip.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur but a huge number of blood tests, CT scans and ultrasounds were carried out and initially nothing was diagnosed although the blood tests showed that my liver had extremely elevated readings.

I was given numerous antibiotics and liquid paracetamol over a 24 hour period but the 41 degree fever would not subside, to the point that it was clear that my life was at risk.

A series of different medications were administered to me and, after eight days in hospital, I  had recovered sufficiently to return home although at that point nothing had been officially  diagnosed and the only possible suggestion to fit the symptoms was leptospirosis despite not  showing up in blood tests.

After a further three weeks convalescing, I was able to return to work and some investigation into what may have caused the illness was undertaken.

As it turned out, the vessel in question had been converted to a houseboat some twenty years previously and the bilges were cleaned out but, instead of disposing of the contents properly, the liquid and debris were placed into one of her ballast tanks. The tank had subsequently corroded from the inside and had deposited its contents into the aft cabin ready for an unsuspecting surveyor to taste it. Obviously, the true contents of the water are unknown but I can assure you that I no longer undertake taste tests on water and advise that no one else does the same.

In order to prevent anyone suffering the same as I did, I thought it prudent to highlight the  dangers faced when working in or around water.

Introduction to Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by certain members of the genus leptospira.

LeptospirosisMost people who develop a leptospirosis infection only get mild symptoms but a bit more serious influenza- like symptoms are also quite common. In a minority of infected persons, leptospirosis develops into the dreaded Weill’s disease. Weill’s disease is a serious condition that can involve liver failure, kidney failure, meningitis and sepsis. Weill’s disease can be fatal.

Weill’s disease is caused by leptospira interrogans belonging to the serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae or Pomona. A person who develops Weill’s disease will usually have gone through influenza like symptoms of leptospirosis for a week or so and seemingly be well on their way to recovery. After a short period of no symptoms or only mild symptoms, the person gets very ill with symptoms of poor liver function, poor kidney functions, meningitis and/or sepsis. The lethality for Weill’s disease is 5% – 10%.

Transmission

Urine and blood from a leptospirosis infected person or animal can contain a sufficient amount of bacteria to spread the disease. A common transmission route for humans is getting urine or blood from an infected animal on damaged skin. Even a tiny skin abrasion can be enough for the bacteria to get into the body. Leptospira bacteria can also enter the body through mucous membranes, e.g. those found in the eyes, nose, mouth and genitals.

dog retrieving stick from waterWhen infected blood or urine gets into water or soil, the bacteria can survive there for several months.

Many different animals can carry and transmit leptospirosis, including dogs, rodents, cattle, horses and pigs. An infected animal is often symptom free and can continue to excrete bacteria into the environment year after year.

The incubation time for leptospirosis in humans is usually one to two weeks but anywhere from 48 hours to more than a month has been reported.

​Symptoms

Examples of symptoms from the eyes
  • Eye inflammation can occur, with reddening of the eyes and increased sensitivity to light.
  • If leptospirosis bacteria causes liver inflammation with poor liver function as a result, one noticeable symptom can be the yellowing of the sclera. The sclera is the white part of the eye; the part that surrounds the iris. When the liver isn’t working properly, the sclera becomes yellow due to increased levels of bilirubin in the body. In some cases, the sclera can even look greenish. Always check your eyes before you put in your contact lenses if you wear colored lenses. If you do not you risk not seeing the symptoms of leptospirosis, liver damage and a long row of different diseases.
Examples of symptoms from the skin
  • Skin rash
  • If leptospirosis bacteria causes liver inflammation with poor liver function as a result, symptoms can include the yellowing of the skin due to increased levels of bilirubin. In such situations, itchy skin is also common. In severe cases, the skin can look greenish rather than yellowish.
Examples of symptoms from the digestive system
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • If leptospirosis bacteria causes liver inflammation with poor liver function as a result, symptoms can include pale faeces and dark urine.
Examples of symptoms from the respiratory system
  • Coughing up blood (caused by lung bleeding)
Examples of other symptoms
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache

Edema Treatment

Leptospira bacteria are sensitive to several different antibiotics, including well-known ones such as Penicillin and Doxycycline.

If the infection is diagnosed early and symptoms are mild, oral antibiotics are often sufficient. In more severe cases, intravenous treatment with antibiotics may be necessary. Each individual symptom can also require specific treatment. If kidney function is impaired, dialysis can be carried out.

When an MD has good reason to suspect leptospirosis in a patient, antibiotic treatment is typically started right away, without waiting for test results.

How quickly can an illness develop?

Human leptospirosis takes a while to incubate, and the normal range between exposure and illness is 3 to 14 days, although it can take up to 21 days. It’s considered extremely unlikely that the illness would show earlier than 24 hours after exposure, even if the patient was otherwise unwell. In rare cases the incubation time can be very long (several weeks) but we normally assume that if there is no illness after 30 days then infection is either not present, or was subclinical.

Illness that develops within 12 hours of the exposure event would not be leptospiral in origin. Often infections that involve contaminated water can show illness very rapidly, caused by the effects of other unrelated bacteria and viruses in the water (such as E.coli or cryptosporidium) or from some chemicals, and while these would not in themselves normally be life-threatening, they can mask the later symptoms of leptospirosis.

The incubation time depends on the strain of bacteria involved, as some strains reproduce faster in human blood than others, but the main factor is the size of the ‘inoculum’ – the dose of bacteria that entered the patient during their exposure. Although it’s perfectly possible to be infected from a single bacterium, in reality the illness develops because the rate that the bacteria are reproducing is faster than the patient’s immune system can control. Bacteria grow by splitting in half, so one becomes two, two become four, and so on. If the patient received a large number of bacteria from the initial contact then the numbers in their bloodstream will be larger, and increase faster – hence the illness develops sooner.

It’s very difficult to predict the incubation time in a patient, but in very general terms the concentration of bacteria in the inoculum will be important (water from a large clean river will have many times less bacteria per litre than urine direct from a rat) and the volume that enters the body (infection via small cuts to the skin usually involve very small volumes of liquid, but swallowing water after a fall into a lake will of course involve far more. The balance of course is that the situations where patients suffer a high-volume intake are usually those where the liquid has a low concentration (you are unlikely to fall into a tank of rat urine).

Precautions against infection

To minimise the chances of infection, the only truly effective way is to avoid contact with contaminated water and animals, thus avoiding exposure to the bacterium. If you are in a high risk area, you should always attempt to minimise contact, as there are many hundreds of other organisms that can lurk in the water apart from Leptospira. Unless you are required to enter the water, you should stay away from it. Animals themselves present a risk while infected, as their body fluids can contain the bacteria.

Water

The vast majority of human cases are from contaminated water, and of those the majority are  occupational cases from areas of the world where agriculture and rodents mix – rice-farming, cane-growing and so forth. Recreational exposure is next, with cases amongst swimmers being the obvious top grouping. Lowest of the risk groups is occupational exposure in the developed world – water and sewer engineers, construction, pest control and so on.

Clearly there are problems in preventing exposure in the highest risk activities (rice-farming and such) and in those areas the only option is to be aware of symptoms and seek early treatment. At this time there is no universally-agreed human vaccine, and the preventative use of antibiotics can only be considered for short periods.

Swimming is the greatest risk, and several cases are reported each year from swimming in  contaminated water (both in the developed world and in activities such as adventure racing). There is no practical way to prevent exposure as some water will always enter the mouth. For one-off activities such as expeditions there is an argument for using a preventative antibiotic (doxycycline) which can offer increased resistance to illness for a few weeks. It should never be used long-term.

Anglers and bankside/sewer workers should wear splashproof clothing and expecially gloves. Anglers are at higher risk as it is reasonably common to cause minor cuts with hooks, knives and the like, and this greatly increases the ease by which the bacteria can enter the body. Fish caught from suspect areas should of course never be eaten. Whilst cooking does in theory kill any bacteria within a fish, very often the level of cooking is insufficient to guarantee safety.

Recreational exposure (swimming, skiing, sailing, caving, etc) is clearly done at the person’s own risk and they must weigh up their own balance of risk vs. desire. The same preventative measures apply – minimise the risk of water entering the body by any and all means, consider antibiotics if the risks are very high, and be aware of the symptoms and seek treatment immediately. There are no ‘quick fixes’ to prevent infection. Some swimmers wash their mouths with antibacterial rinse, though this has not been proved to offer any significant benefit other than keeping their teeth clean.

Scuba divers, who are particularly at risk, should opt for drysuits and try as much as possible to avoid swallowing any water when purging or changing regs. Commercial divers are required by their employment regulations and insurance to comply with strict rules when working in contaminated water, these include the use of hard-hat systems, wash-down stations and regular medical testing.

Remember that this advice applies to FRESH water – the risks in saltwater are virtually zero.

Elliott Berry is the owner of Marsurv, Independent Marine Surveyors and Consultants, and is himself an independent Marine Surveyor/Naval Architect & Consultant.

This article was first produced for and published by The Report in June 2017

Call: 0844 567 7709 / 07500 881731; Visit website or write