canal logbooks

canal logbooks

narrowboat logbook and journey planner

by Joseph Gascoigne

My name is Joseph and I live on a Widebeam named H2O with my father Steve. We have lived on the boat since July 2021 and are continuous cruisers; prior to that we lived in Newark On Trent. My dad has always loved boats and fishing, in fact if he's by water he is happy. I on the other hand was a typical teenager who enjoyed playing on my games console, meeting with my friends and doing all of the normal things an 18 year old would do.

So it was a bit of a shock when my dad suggested moving onto a boat. It was a lot of turmoil selling the house and getting rid of so much of the stuff you accumulate when living in a house. At that time I also had the added pressure of my A Levels, but we muddled through. Whilst all that was happening the boat was being built to my dad's design. He had planned it all out before we even had a boat builder, so he would go up to Manchester every week to check on its progress, and I would be at home either taking exams or revising for them.

So the day actually arrived, the boat was launched and we moved on, I hadn't seen the boat for months, so when I actually saw it completed for the first time in the water I thought it was great.
We were a bit nervous when it came to moving it for the first time out of Whilton Marina where it was launched, but when we actually were out on the cut I thought it was brilliant. I enjoy the peace and quiet of a country mooring, long walks with my dog Leo and nights on the boat with the log burner, I think I am turning into my dad!

After a couple of months getting used to canal life , we decided we wanted to start some sort of business. I had noticed that my dad would scribble things down in a notepad, about the moorings we found, the diesel we purchased, what the Wi-Fi was like etc. and was always rummaging through his pad trying to find where he had written something. And that's what gave me the idea of producing a Logbook and Journey Planner.

I produced a draft copy and let my dad fill it in as we travelled, to see what sections needed to be added or edited. Then, when we were both happy with it we looked for a way of printing and publishing it.

After sorting out the printing & publishing aspect, we published my book through Amazon and my dad made a Facebook post telling fellow boaters about it. We had a great response from the community and the book began to sell. In the first week it was the No 3 best selling book in the boating section on Amazon!

narrowboat logbook

The Narrowboat Logbook and Journey Planner contains sections to record your
travels on our waterways. Initially there is a section to record the boat's details, such
as overall dimensions, engine & gearbox model, fuel, waste & water tank capacity.
Then licence and Insurance details and renewal dates. There is a Diesel Log for recording Fuel Purchases, followed by a Propane Gas Log.inside narrowboat log book showing diesel and journey planner

The next section is the Travel Planner and Log, which allows you to plan your route for the day's travels and highlight Water Points, Elsan, Moorings and Shops on the way. There are spaces for 120 travelling days.

The following section is the Pre Travel Check List: the daily reminders of things to check before casting off. There are also sections for recording contact details of Friends On The Canal and Places of Interest.

Finally there are Notes Pages and Useful Contact Details, such as CRT, RCR and Environment Agency.

Over the following few months I produced a series of books for the Boating Community, both for Narrowboats and Wide beams, and the response has been great.

My most recent publication has been One Pot Meals For Boaters and for that one again I asked my dad to ask fellow boaters on Facebook for their favourite recipes and again the response was amazing.

We are at present on the Grand Union heading north and the weather makes you feel spring is really on the way. It's nice to see boats moving again and a few more smiles on people's faces after the tough few years we have had.

If you do see us out on the cut, do give us a wave!

js logbooks - logoWe are continuous cruisers and Joe my son who is 18, who I was initially concerned would not adapt to the boating lifestyle, really loves it and was looking for some sort of business that he could run from the boat and would be to do with living on the waterways. He came up with the idea of a range of books for boaters and as his A levels were in media and business, book design sort of fell into that.

Logbooks are available through Linktree or Amazon.

published so far...

  • one pot meals for boatersone pot meals for boaters
  • narrowboat logbook and journey plannernarrowboat logbook and journey planner
  • narrowboat service & maintenance logbooknarrowboat service and maintenance logbook
  • narrowboat moorings logbooknarrowboat moorings logbook
  • canal holiday 14 day plannercanal holiday 14 day planner and journal
  • narrowboat fit-out logbook
  • widebeam fit-out logbookwidebeam fit out logbook

magnetic pull

magnetic pull

magnet fishing with Sophie Doyle

sophie doyle - magnetic pull

My name is Sophie Doyle and I am a magnet fisher.

I clean up our waterways by using quality Magnets, grappling hooks and winches. I remove items which are harmful to wildlife and a danger to those who use the waterways, like Narrowboaters and Bargees.

I found the Hobby by watching others do it on YouTube and have Magnet Fished for several years now. You would be very surprised what some people throw into the waterways! There are lots of laughs to be had with friends in the Hobby. It's also great to socialise outdoors.

I find submerged items such as stolen safes, motorcycles, bikes, knives, firearms and even World War Ordnance.

I have previously found three Grenades and a 157mm World War Artillery Shell. The Artillery Shell and one of the grenades were still Live and had to be destroyed in a controlled explosion by the Bomb Squad.

The oldest thing I have found has got to be the gunpowder filled hand grenade which I have managed to date to 1651. I am extremely happy with this find!

Any found firearms are handed to Police on scene and knives are put into a Police Amnesty Bin, to ensure that they don't get into the wrong hands again. Criminals tend to use the waterways as a way of discarding evidence, that's where I come in and retrieve it. I successfully retrieved evidence to aid in a 1990's Cold Case.

German Mauser Bullet

magnetic pull - 16th century hand grenade

I travel around the Country but mostly the North West Region where I'm from and I enjoy meeting up with other Magnet Fishers.

I often give items back to passing Boaters as I tend to find a lot of Fenders, Mooring Pins and Lock Keys. I'm happy to help retrieve lost items for Boaters.

We have a Magnet Fishing Committee working with Canal & River Trust to legalise Magnet Fishing. In my experience the CRT have always been very grateful for my help. I have a good relationship with CRT, they know I always get rid of anything pulled out of the Canals via "Dippers & Scrappers" on Facebook; a directory of free Scrappers. I take non-metal items like tyres and plastics to the Tip myself.

The hobby does come with risks; however these can be managed. For example, by wearing thick waterproof gloves, watching your footing, correct manual handling, using sharps bins, never going alone. Also children should always be supervised and wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs).

There is also a Facebook Group called "Dippers Identify" so that if a Magnet Fisher anywhere in the world finds something that looks like Ordnance, they can post a photo in the Group and get a very quick response with an accurate ID on what it is. The general rule is, "If in doubt call them out" immediately. Royal Logistic Corps (The Bomb Squad) have always been extremely polite and professional when I have found Explosives.

A lot of Magnet Fishers are very much into History, and there is a lot of it in our waterways buried in the layers upon layers of Silt.

My newest Magnet from OnlineMagnets can lift 1800kg (nearly two tonnes), which also makes the Magnet sink deeper with more chance of finding historic items.

The hobby itself is very addictive and has been growing in popularity for a number of years.
It's important for all Magnet Fishers to remove all of their scrap by using a free Scrapper on "Dippers & Scrappers" on Facebook.

Sophie Doyle - Magnetic PullSophie Doyle  is a Magnet Fisher from Bolton, Greater Manchester. She says "I'd like to publicise my hobby and the free service I provide. I'd encourage anyone to contact me at Magnetic Pull if a particular section of Canal needs some items removing or if you fancy a go at Magnet Fishing.

You can follow Sophie on Facebook and see her in action on YouTube

 

life with a composting toilet

life with a composting toilet

We are Nick and Fiona, and since Autumn 2017 we have lived full time on our 63ft narrowboat Meand’er with the plan of enjoying the waterways over the coming years.

Our voyage into the world of composting toilets began during lockdown! We had been on a couple of long trips on our narrowboat and experienced huge issues with broken elsan points and the frustrations of trying to find somewhere to empty our cassettes.

We had talked about composting toilets before but truly began investigating further during lockdown - I think my husband wanted to keep me amused!

We soon discovered that there were a variety of different styles of composting toilet and we needed to narrow down the right one for us on our narrowboat. We would be using the same space as the cassette toilet did so it had to fit!. Another factor was capacity of the toilet as although we were currently going nowhere, the future plan once retirement happened was to explore the waterways - hopefully not having to worry about elsan points!

We read many reviews and joined groups on social media to find out more, and there seemed to be a big difference of opinion on which toilet to purchase. Price was obviously a major consideration for some people and this could vary from making your own DIY toilet up to spending £1000. Now this may seem slightly excessive but as hubby pointed out, it was going to be in regular use and hopefully the only one we ever bought!

After much investigation we knew we needed a toilet with both a large liquid capacity as well as a large solid capacity. The final question was did we need a fan or not? The purpose of the fan is to remove all odours from the solids container. It sounded like a great idea and as we had a 12v volt feed to our cassette toilet, we would be able to utilise it.

We chose an Airhead toilet for its design, capacity, mechanical stirring system and ease of use when emptying. The only part likely to need replacing in the future would be the fan and they were easy to pick up. Installing the Airhead was fairly painless as we had plenty of space and we were able to route the hose for venting through a hole in the cupboard behind the toilet and up through the roof of the boat where there was an existing hole which had been capped.

Nick made a wooden plate, shaped to the roof, to attach the fan housing onto and after uncapping the hole we fixed a new mushroom vent to the roof.

mushroom air vent on roof of narrowboat

air pipe from composting toilet

The fitting of the actual toilet was probably the easiest part of the whole process!

We have always used Coco Coir in our solids container which we purchase in brick form, packs of 6 from Amazon. There has been a fair amount of experimenting with these bricks as to how much/how little water to use for reconstitution. We now keep the brick dry and break by hand with the aid of a large screwdriver!

To start off with we only used one brick but we have now found over the months that one and a quarter bricks is what works best for us - we are both vegetarian which means our poop is likely to have a higher water content. The solids container is changed every 3-4 weeks and that is with both of us using it full time.

airhead composting toilet side view

airhead composting toilet front view

So where do we empty the solid’s container I can hear you asking!? Well we are fortunate to currently be resident in a very forward-thinking marina and they agreed to install composting bins! There are 4 in total with each one being used for 3 months and then left to compost for 12 months before emptying. There is currently another couple using the bins and we know a number of other boaters are thinking of changing to a composting toilet. As ours is a private marina these bins will only ever be available to marina moorers. For when we are cruising we have 3 plastic boxes with lids, specifically made for solid waste, for emptying into which sit neatly under the floor in the bow and no they do not smell at all! (For those who don’t know, it is the urine mixed with the solids that causes the odours!)

When we first started using the toilet we could often be observed sniffing our outside vent to see if there was any smell but I can happily report it is just an earthy smell if anything at all. Having the extra boxes will allow us to be cruising for approximately 16 weeks at a time without needing to return to base and empty into the composting bins.

Our liquids container has a sight glass at the front so you know when it is full, but as many Airhead owners will tell you it takes a few months to get into the habit of not only checking the sight glass but also listening to the sound as you urinate! You definitely know it is full when you suddenly get wet feet as it has overflowed - we have purchased extra bottles so actually have three!

We use Ecover toilet cleaner to clean the toilet bowl and have put it into a spray container. We also put a couple of squirts in each bottle before use as this helps keep the bottles spotless and also stops there being any urine smell.The urine bottle is emptied in the Elsan but can also be emptied in an ordinary toilet or under a hedgerow/under a tree when out - as long as it is not near a water source.

Are we pleased with our toilet? Yes and we wouldn’t change it for anything else! It gives us so much more freedom when we are cruising and takes the headache away of planning where we can empty.

practically green logo

For access to more in-depth blogs from Fiona and Nick, and for more information on various types of Composting Toilets, visit the Practically Green website

marine electricals

marine electricals

marine electricals

Hello to the wonderful world of the inland boat ways! We are very new to the world of canal boating. Being based in Plymouth we have always dealt with the ocean-going variety of boats, but we realised that there is much more to boating than life on the ocean waves.

Marine Electricals is the online relative of our parent company Western Electrical Marine. Legend has it that we were born from one product query from Princess Yachts here in the city, and from that one enquiry we have grown to the stage that we now do circa 4 million pounds yearly business with Princess, alongside our rapidly growing Trade Counter customer base. We wanted to expand that same great service our local customers receive, alongside the great prices they pay, a little further afield from Plymouth, and to do that we needed an online presence, which is when Marine Electricals was born. We are now owned by Edmundson Electrical.

So I am here to persuade you to have a look at our website and what we have to offer.  Of course there are many Marine goods outlets both locally to wherever you might be and of course on line, so why should you want to come and shop with us here? Well firstly we have been operating within the Marine world for 25 years, so we know what we are doing, and during those 25 years we have cultivated great relationships with our suppliers meaning we are able to pass on to our customers the great prices these relationships allow us to utilise. We regularly compare our prices to the other online Marine suppliers to ensure that we always remain competitively priced.

But it’s not all about the price, there is no point in being the cheapest if you cannot match the bottom line with your customer service levels, and here at Marine Electricals we pride ourselves on our customer services. Our team are dedicated to making everything as easy as possible for our customers, nothing is too much trouble for us and we always go the extra mile to ensure you will get what you need. We have a good range of products on our website, but if you cannot find what you need, please do get in touch and one of our team would be delighted to help find you exactly what you are looking for. We use Parcelforce for our national deliveries, we have found them to be the most reliable service so you will be assured you will have what you need for when you need it.

acoustic insulation

acoustic insulation for boats

Now you know who we are, and where you can find us, I am going to highlight a product we sell that doesn’t quite fit in the Marine Electrical bracket, Acoustic Insulation. Life on board can get noisy at times, the engine or generator running can be distracting, or you can hear noises at night from adjoining cabins and from outside. The easy way to alleviate these annoying sounds is by using Acoustic Insulation, and we have two very good examples that you can use for many applications on your boat, from the engine compartment to the wheelhouse, to basically anywhere you need to dampen noise. It comes in a Black or a silver and white finish, one of its key benefits is the fact that its very lightweight, a key factor to consider on a boat. It is also compressible, it's not solid construction - meaning it can easily be stuffed into any gaps or spaces where noise is an issue. Not only is it very adaptable in its uses, its also a very good sound absorber. Both are easily bonded to most surfaces, and both are a very good sound proofing solution for Marine purposes. They are both manufactured by 3M which I’m sure you have all heard of, which highlights the quality of the product.
The silver version is linked here
The Black version is found here

We are called Marine Electricals, so I guess I had better highlight at least a few of our actual electrical products! As good a place as any to start would be our Marine Cables.

marine cables

For anyone new to the world of Marine Electricals, there are two options for cables on your boat. Firstly there is the Tinned variety. Tinned Copper cable is an ideal solution for wiring on a boat, as it is coated in a thin layer of Tin which protects the copper from the sort of corrosion that exposure to humidity and moisture can lead to. Although Tinned cable is the more expensive option, it is in the long run the best option for Marine applications due to the constant proximity of moisture. Of course for internal applications this should not normally be an issue, in which case non-Tinned cable would be just fine.

We have a great range of both Tinned and Non-Tinned cable always in stock. We only buy British made Oceanflex cables, made by Automarine, so you can always be assured of its quality. Here are links which will take you directly to our cable sections on the website firstly non-Tinned and here is the Tinned Cable section.

Luckily, we always have a great selection of all Marine Cables for you choose from, and if you are not sure exactly what you require one of our knowledgeable sales team will be happy to help. We also stock cable accessories such as Crimps, Lugs and Heatshrink and flexible conduit to complement your cable choice.

marine cables

electrical marine cables

trade or non-trade welcome

If you are a trade customer, you can log onto our website and create an account, at which point we would be able to unlock our trade prices for you. Alternatively we would be delighted to offer you a trade credit account from our parent company Western Electrical Marine, where you can simply phone, text or email your orders directly to us and we will get them sent straight out to you.

For all you non-trade customers, we would like to offer a complimentary discount from your orders if you use the code canal10 when you checkout.

We do hope that you will check out our website and we can help with your Marine supply needs, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

do you paint or polish?

do you paint or polish?

Most boat owners ask themselves the question at one time in their ownership of a boat. “Do I polish the boat or do I repaint?”

The reason for this question is the dreaded oxidized or stained paintwork possibly with a few scratches thrown in.

What is oxidation?

And to answer that without getting hugely technical I have an illustration here.

effects of light on gloss and oxidised paint surfaces

bullet polish specular reflection

bullet polish diffused reflection on oxidised paint surfaces

So dull or oxidized paintwork diffuses sunlight in all directions instead of reflecting it in one direction as polished paintwork or surfaces do.

Depending on how severe the oxidation is determines whether you try and polish or “cut” it out or go for the re-paint.

The picture below looks horrendously oxidized; possibly beyond colour restoration however you will be pleased to know that this paintwork was recovered by just a hand applied Colour restorer.

Bullet Polish - boat with oxidised paint being restored

On the left hand side of the boat we see how dull this vessel had become and the owner thought that it was going to cost a fortune for a re-paint.

However, with two applications of colour restorer, you can see that on the right hand side of the boat we were able to recover the paint surface to a beautiful gloss again. This was the same for the whole boat - all 75ft of it!

Wax build up and airborne contaminates mixed with bird lime can also make paint surfaces dull or “milky” over time. One client solved this by first using Panel Wipe, a mild form of paint thinners (Halfords) and by applying this with cloths removed the buildup of old waxes from the surface, then went over again with a colour restorer and finally used a spray Carnauba Wax to seal the surface and bring it back to its glossy former self thus saving him several thousand pounds on a re-paint.

once recovered then comes the task of keeping it shiny

what to consider and what to consider avoiding:

  • A great number of polishes, paste waxes & spray wax products contain Silicone. This is death to paintwork surfaces. Yes it makes them super shiny very quickly, however if one has to go back to the “Body shop” for major or minor work then the silicone covered paintwork has to be taken back to bare metal again as paint will not stick to silicone and the same goes for products containing PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which will make the project cost more.
  • Most “waterless wash” spray waxes contain Silicone and yes it’s great for onsite/on the water instant shine but in the long term it is a false fix.
  • Avoid Silicones & PTFE enhanced products.

consider using:

  • Carnauba (Car-noo-ba) Wax is the world’s hardest known natural wax and comes from the leaves of the Carnauba palm of northern Brazil.
    It only takes a small quantity of this wax to achieve a superb deep shine on most hard/semi hard surfaces. This can come in paste wax format, creams & spray wax formats too. The amount of “Elbow grease” you wish to use will determine your choice of product.

points to consider:

  • Choose a good quality colour restorer, one that removes oxidation but also seals & shines at the same time.
  • Consider a good quality cream wax or spray wax for the finishing coat & preferably one enhanced by Carnauba Wax. Again avoid silicone based products.
  • Micro fibre Cloths for these types of products and the overall project are crucial. “T” shirts & yellow dusters are not going to do it nor will the old “Scrim cloth”. A good quality Microfibre will set you back about £1.50 each however there are ebay sellers who will sell you packs of 10 for less. The finish you expect will only happen with Microfibre cloths
  • Application sponges, again ebay for these as they make application of colour restorer, cream & paste waxes easier and are cheap to buy.
  • Set aside good quality time to clean the boat surfaces, to colour restore and to finish polish. We recommend a weekend should be enough time to completely restore & polish a 75 foot narrowboat but that time will have been well spent for the coming months of sunny or harsh weather as the surfaces will now be, in effect, “Armour plated”.

Once you have the colour restored and the finish wax is applied then sit back and watch the neighbours on the canal marvel at how good your boat looks now.

Please note: If you have tried a small area of colour restoration and it is not removing the dullness in the paint then you may have to consider a re-paint.

For products and information about boat oxidation click the link to this short video we made in 2013

Please go to Bullet Polish for information & to read the testimonials from happy boat owners.

Bullet Polish LogoBullet Polish Europe Ltd is a family owned & run business which was set up in December 2010 following a road trip through America by my wife Stella & I in our 35ft RV named GUS. 26 States & 13,000 miles later we returned home to England with Bullet Polish.

01299 896117
james@bulletpolish.co.uk
bulletpolish.co.uk

argy bargey

Argy Bargey

the creation of a new canal game, by Henry Biglowe

Argy Bargey is a new board game where you compete to create your own canal empire.

Each player must complete routes between towns and cities, competing against each other. Using tiles, you'll want your waterway to take the fastest possible route across the board.

Just like real canals, you'll need to use locks and tunnels to tackle hills. Junctions will be needed to connect other canals and create an efficient network.

With an approximate playing time of 45 minutes, 2 to 6 people can gather to do battle - canal style! Can you become the greatest canal tycoon of the 21st century?

I've been asked several times what made me decide to create a canal themed board game and the process of manufacturing it, so thanks to CanalsOnline I'm going to document it here. My name is Henry and I'm not a professional game designer, I'm a railway worker who decided to give it a go.

Henry Biglowe

I’d already been asked once to do the dishes and as the Southampton match was coming to an end on the telly, another excuse was urgently required. Scrambling around the living room, I came across a pen and paper. It was obvious, the only logical decision was to create a board game.

In reality I had been playing around with an idea for a railway themed tile game for a while. Square tiles with railway track on them would be placed direct on to the table top with the idea being that various special industry tiles would be connected for the players to score points. (Wheat to a flour mill, flour to a bakery, that sort of thing). There was only one problem…It didn’t work. Dejected, I succumbed to the inevitable, and the dishwasher was loaded.

Argy Bargey canal game

Time passed and Covid struck. My brother Tim, and his girlfriend Sam were forced to return to the UK from China earlier than expected. Their original plan to buy a property outright in the UK quickly faltered having accumulated less funds than anticipated. They finally settled on the idea of living on a narrowboat, perfectly combining their love of travel and their willingness to own their own home. On a roll, Tim and Sam quickly established their own YouTube channel ‘Chugging Along’, documenting life aboard their narrowboat Mary L. My wife Abbie and I enjoyed days out cruising the network, and as Chugging Along’s following grew, my mind reverted back to board games. However, railways were out and canals were in.

Tim Biglowe and girlfriend Sam with narrowboat Mary L

A re-think was needed, my previous attempt suffered from over complication and I was also aware of my lack of any experience in designing a game. With this in mind the new design needed to be simple, and would require testing from multiple trusted friends and family. Like Newton with his apple, I had a break-through moment too (yeah alright, I’m overplaying the importance a bit), this came in the form of a geographical baseboard. And yes, I know, a baseboard for a board game isn’t particularly revolutionary, however it was this simple change that provided the necessary structure for the game to work. The mechanics of the game came together really quickly thereafter, the basic principle being that two cities must be connected, and the shorter the route, the more points that will be scored. This simple premise gives players the impetus to both make their routes shorter and to make their opponents routes longer, adding an extra element of tactical fun in the form of sabotage. With that, all the ingredients were now in place for a nice and friendly family argument and with thanks to Sam's artwork a cardboard prototype was knocked up.

Test, test, test. Titivate and then yet more testing. This was my wife and I’s life for the next few months, taking the opportunity to play as often as we could, particularly with Tim and Sam, but also with our parents, friends, work colleagues and neighbours. We felt it was important to play with as broad a spectrum of people as possible, to check our rules were clear and most importantly that the game was enjoyable. We're so grateful to everyone who helped at this stage and finally, when we were all happy, it was time to take it to the next stage. This involved finding an artist/designer and a supplier. It quickly became apparent that although we’d have loved to of used a British company, costs would create a product that would be too much for us to reasonably charge and so we settled for a company in China to handle everything.

Argy Bargey canal board game

Tim was to handle our communication with our Chinese associates, he'd obviously lived there for a time and while he wasn't fluent in the local lingo, he had an understanding of their working practices. This was to prove a lot longer than we first appreciated and took the best part of a year, toing and froing with our designer. During this time we set about finding a name, an impromptu focus group was set up at the end of one of my brothers famous (in our family anyway) online quiz events. 'Canal Network', 'Waterway to have fun' and 'Savvy Navvies' were all thrown out, although the latter has been deemed good enough to be set aside for a potential follow up game. Eventually we settled on the fun and punchy 'Argy Bargey' and when the design was complete we had a sample sent out, it was beginning to get exciting.

That initial sample delivery from China was probably the most exciting part of the whole project, over a year's worth of work in a single parcel. With the anticipation levels through the roof we were not let down, any fears of quality issues were instantly quashed and we were delighted with what we saw. A couple of minor alterations were all that was required, another hill here a typo there and we could look towards printing, CE testing and shipping.

Argy Bargey canal board game

After checking, momentarily stumbling into the hedge trimmer and then rechecking, the internal dimensions of my garage were attained and allowed for an order of a 1000 units to be placed. It was really happening. Random samples were sent to be tested for various nasties, and the all clear meant we were good to go. Pat, my old school friend and under 11's strike partner, set us up with a shipper he uses for his online rubber duck business. This was particularly handy because it meant we knew we wouldn't get fleeced and the shipper would deal with any paperwork at Felixstowe. They arrived safe and sound in November 2021, thanks for the recommendation Pat.

The whole dynamic of the business suddenly changed, we were no longer manufacturing a game, we were marketing one. Tim and Sam created a YouTube video advertisement on their channel and it was up to Abbie to dispatch the orders that were flooding in on our website. Secondary advertising came in the form of posting on relevant Facebook groups and Tim, Sam and myself have done various interviews with the inland waterway press. Looking forward we have plenty of other marketing opportunities, in particular we are all looking forward to attending some of the boat shows later this year. Crick and the Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice have already been booked up for a bit of wheeler dealering and we're also hoping to get Argy Bargey into a Chandlery near you. We're a friendly bunch, so don't hesitate to say hello if you bump into us.

Argy Bargey - new canal board game

Anyway, it's been a great adventure for all of us so far and if you're thinking of starting your own business we'd say go for it. Although it turned out to be quite a lot of effort, just to put off doing the dishes. It's hard work being lazy you know!

Argy BargeyArgy Bargey is available online 

marine safety & training business expands in the midlands

marine safety and training business expands in the midlands

Birmingham & Midland Marine Services Ltd offer a wide portfolio of services to the Civil Engineering, Rail, Utilities, Environmental, and Ecology sectors, working in an open water environment.

  • Occupational Water Safety & Rescue Training
  • Procurement, Project & Safety Management
  • Commercial, Support, Safety & Rescue Vessel Services
  • Boat Coxswain & Crew Training – Workboat, Powerboat & Safety /Rescue boat

Companies and organisations working on, beside or above open water are faced with a multitude of logistical complications; in fact, a ‘minefield’; ranging from obtaining workboats, floating welfare vessels, pontoons, safety boats, licences, permissions, marine risk assessments, obtaining lifejackets and rescue equipment, plus sourcing the appropriate training specific to the environment in which they will be operating.

water safety training

training session on working boat

Further complications can include providing emergency first aid support at these often-inhospitable waterside locations, seldom easily accessible by ambulance

Training requirements can be confusing for Human Resources and Health & Safety Managers: The HSE, DEFRA and the CDM Regulations 2015 all have a requirement for training and the levels of training required also change depending upon the location of the watercourse, the specific environment and the expected level of water contact those personnel are faced with.

Potentially having to contract a specialist safety team to cover the water margins is a further complication; to what level should the rescue teams be trained? with what equipment, licences, and insurances?

Does this sound like a stressful day at the office?

In steps Birmingham & Midland Marine Services Ltd.

water safety training - river

water safety training dinghy

Headed by Rich Gray, Maritime & Coastguard Agency Boat Master, ‘Water’ Rescue Instructor and Rescue Boat Operator with 23 years’ experience in the industry; Birmingham & Midland Marine Services was established in 2013 and expanded as a Limited company in 2020 in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic.

water safety training in action

water safety training with dinghy

As a small yet niche business servicing the civil engineering, rail, utilities, environmental & ecology sectors, supporting & training the ‘Search & Rescue’ sector, clients are assured of a one-stop-shop approach to having the project supported from the initial tendering process to completion.

water safety training - throwing a life line

people on water safety training course

Registered with Achilles on the National Procurement Framework, the Commercial Boat Operators Association, the Inland Waterways Association and British Marine, approved trainers to the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency, the companies’ credentials are assured.

Current contracts include Marine Support of a major National Infrastructure Rail project and training provision is available for National Flood Resilience personnel. Canal & River Trust approved contractors with ties to the pontoon and specialist marine plant sectors.

Procurement and provision of specialist floating equipment, access solutions, and safety management systems and training all in one package.

outreach rescue - water safety training

MCA and RYA approved training centre

Approved Training providers for Outreach Rescue, The Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the Royal Yachting Association, the Royal Life Saving Society and the Canal & River Trust’s ‘in-house’ training scheme,’ CAATS’, a broad portfolio of courses are on offer.

Sector specific training can be advised upon, and accredited courses delivered ‘in-house’ by our specialist training team.  Aquatic PPE and safety / rescue / medical equipment can be procured for clients from our framework of suppliers. Workboat and Rescue boat training a speciality.

Recent courses developed by Birmingham & Midland Marine Services include a bespoke ‘Small / Inflatable Craft’ course for the Canal & River Trust’s Craft Licencing Department and an ‘Inland Waters – Rescue Boat Operator’ course, certificated by Outreach Rescue.

This new rescue boat course bridges the gap in the safety / rescue boat training sector. Basic Powerboat handling and ‘sailing club’ type ‘Safety Boat’ qualifications were not designed to satisfy commercial or industrial safety / rescue vessel role requirements -the DEFRA Module 4) Rescue Boat qualification which is utilised by Fire & Rescue specialists in ‘swift-water’ and flood environments is ‘over-kill’ for the requirements of a ‘standard’ safety / rescue boat crew working in many land-locked counties, hence the development of a far more suitable and accessible training course.

canal tunnel with workmen

water safety training - rescuers on dinghy

This new RBO course is ideally suited to companies wishing to provide an element of in-house support on the water, derived from the higher-level course yet excluding the fast-flowing water, tidal and coastal considerations. The syllabus includes casualty management, recovery, shallow-water operations, capsize drills and search considerations.

water safety training - capsized dinghy

water safety training - jeep and boat

For those companies looking to provide their personnel with relevant First Aid Marine Environment training, encompassing elements such as the protocol for drowning within CPR, crushing, amputations, use of tourniquets, cold water shock, hydrostatic squeeze and vasoconstriction; elements not found in a ‘standard’ First Aid at Work course, Birmingham & Midland Marine work with our TQUK registered partner to provide bespoke marine environment Level 3 TQUKS regulated (RQF) Emergency First aid at Work, First Aid at Work and First Responder (IPOS) courses. 1, 3 and 5-day courses available. The higher-level award also covers spinal management and oxygen therapy.

Royal Yachting Association VHF radio and First Aid courses also available at Gailey Wharf Training Centre with our partnering trainers.

Occupational Water Safety & Rescue courses are, in the main delivered via the Outreach Rescue DEFRA training programme. Based upon the DEFRA Flood Rescue Concept of Operations documentation, and commercial river-based courses are based around the Annex ‘H’ syllabus, satisfying the Environment Agency as well as DEFRA. Basic DEFRA Module 1), Module 2) Water Rescue First Responder and Module 3) Water Rescue One Technician courses also available in ‘closed course’ format by arrangement.

Commercial Boat courses include workboat oriented RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate training, Powerboat Level 2, Rescue Boat Operator and Maritime & Coastguard Agency Boat Master training, including ‘Boat Fire Safety’ and ‘Water Safety & Personal Survival’ ancillary courses.

With the company’s primary base being canalside at Gailey Wharf on the Staffs & Worcester Canal, Base-Two at a privately owned stately home with sixty-acre lake and licences and permissions in place for various other venues including National Trust property, our training areas a both diverse and dynamic: the marina, farm shop and cafe at one of our training venues in Great Haywood, Staffordshire is owned by the descendants of the inventor of the lifejacket!

water safety training - rescue of man in water

water safety training team

New courses are being developed and accreditation is underway, examples include the ‘Inland Waters Marine Operator Programme’. The IWMOP is full suite of courses available as a package and aimed at those looking to break into the inland and open water commercial sector is currently being developed for roll-out during the Spring of 2022. The ‘IWMOP’; is a four-week programme developed to take a novice to a sufficient level of competency to begin working in this expanding sector.

Another course under development is our ‘Workboat’ course; specifically designed to provide relevant training and experience to commercial skippers and coxswains, working on category ‘A’ & ‘B’ waters, canals, and non-tidal rivers. Covering craft ranging from small inflatables, landing craft, displacement workboats, pusher tugs and towing operations. Again, breaching a gap between a leisure oriented RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman licence and a full Maritime & Coast Guard Agency Boat Master’s Licence.

A ‘Rescue & Recovery from Lock Chambers’ course and a boat-based HIAB Operator course are also planned for the 2022 season.

Further information can be found on the company website: www.midlandmarine.co.uk and the Management team are always happy to invite potential clients to their Gailey Wharf canalside depot or our second training centre and event location at the Chillington Estate in Staffordshire to discuss their requirements.

water safety training - workboat training in lock

my alerts!

MyAlerts!

First of all, a little background.

Canal living is particularly attractive to retirees… as a result, the boating community tends to be significantly older, on average, than the population at large (the latest reliable estimates suggest that, since the turn of the millennium, the mean age of a permanent boater had risen by a little over four years, to 59).

Sadly, the wisdom of age is served with a generous side order of underlying health conditions, ominously referred to in these pandemic times as 'co-morbidities'.  A fact that I know all too well!

It gradually dawned on me that, should I become incapacitated in some way, then giving first responders or carers access to my medical information would significantly improve my treatment and prognosis.

My own research revealed that all front line emergency workers (Police, Fire fighters, Paramedics & hospital medical staff etc.) are trained to look in a non-responsive patient's wallet, purse, bag or pockets for medical notifications.  They also routinely examine a patient's wrists for 'medical alert' bracelets;  silicone wrist bands that are widely available to purchase on the internet from around a fiver or so, and cover a wide variety of conditions and drugs.  Unfortunately, these bands only alert to one specific condition or medication.

In my case;  I have type 2 diabetes, and take anticoagulants (so called 'blood thinners'), beta-blockers and a vasodilator for a heart condition, so I used to wear four.

I should, in fact, have worn at least one more, but the medications prescribed for that particular condition changed too frequently for my Amazon account to keep up with all of the orders… thank goodness I didn't have any dangerous allergies, or I would have run out of arms!  :o)

With a professional background in web software development, I set about designing a better mousetrap, and the result is now available to you as MyAlerts!

Guaranteed privacy…

When you register online, you'll receive a membership card with a holographic Personal Identification Code (PIC), which gives first responders instant access to your most important medical information on a mobile phone, laptop or tablet, 24 hours a day.

MyAlerts! will never ask for your name, telephone number or email address, and there's no need to worry about anyone guessing your PIC... with 1.6 Billion possible combinations, a hacker would stand a better chance of scooping the Euro Millions jackpot more than ten times in a row!

You can update your Public Alerts as often as you wish, including any underlying health conditions or dangerous allergies you have (or may develop over time), changes in the medications you are taking, your vaccination status, blood group and emergency contacts.  Because this page is only accessible using the PIC on your card, and doesn't identify you by name (unless YOU decide otherwise!), it is wonderfully secure!

Try it from the point of view of a first responder, by going to https://myalerts.uk and accessing our boater's demo account using the PIC  Z6T84Y

Plus;  the reverse of every card has a QR code which will take a first responder DIRECTLY to your own Public Alerts page.  Again, try accessing the canal demo account by scanning the QR code below…

MyAlerts and What3Words

No internet?  No problem… every card also carries an emergency 03300 telephone number that will be answered 24/7 by one of our volunteer Angel Operators, who will read the contents of your Public Alerts page to the caller!

(03300 numbers are charged at the normal rate from landlines and are included in free minutes from all mobiles!)

MyAlerts! on the cut

Whilst not developed specifically for boaters, MyAlerts! does provide a solution to some of the unique challenges of life on the cut, such as the lack of a fixed address.  For example; when you cruise to a new mooring, simply update the location in your Public Alerts page… and you can show the EXACT position of your boat on any canal, river or marina in the UK using what3words.

Imagine trying to give the Ambulance Service directions to a remote mooring on the Grand Union, South West of Northampton, just after the village of Bugbrooke… about halfway between the Camp Hill canal bridge and Robinsnest Mooring.  Or, just go to https://what3words.com and tell them you are located at;  screamed.candle.resorting

(Watch out for more ways you can use what3words in a future issue of CanalsOnline Magazine)

Similarly, although you may be amongst the minority of boaters registered with a doctor's surgery, accessing your medical records is far less straightforward when you could be on any waterway, anywhere in the country.

If you should suffer an accident or medical emergency, whether onboard or during a shopping trip to a nearby town, MyAlerts! could be a genuine life saver.

MyAlerts for pets at home

Pets@Home

Imagine a situation where you are unable to return to your boat… what will become of your dog, cat, parrot or goldfish left alone onboard?  This section of MyAlerts! is designed to ensure that whoever you nominate will be alerted to look after them in your absence.

…but at what cost?

MyAlerts! is operated not-for-profit, and so Membership is just £20.99 for five years (then we give you an extra six months free, so that you have plenty of time to renew)… which works out at exactly one penny a day!

MyAlerts and What3Words Editor's note: I sent off for my own MyAlerts! pack, which arrived promptly. I then went online to activate my card and fill in my medical information. It was very easy to do. I now wear the wristband all the time, and go nowhere without my MyAlerts! card - usually tucked in my phone case. I have the reassurance that now, should anything happen to me, all of my medical details are available to those who will need them, and my pets will be safe.

To order your own pack today, simply go to MyAlerts!

a stirling idea

a stirling idea

from Warpfive Fans

Most of us have a mad cap idea at least once in our lifetime. Ours came along a few years ago, when we decided to design and build Stirling engines. Little did we realise how much effort and dedication would be required, but once the bug had bitten there was no going back!

heat used as fuel?

Stirling engines are amazing miniature engines. Three things make them special… they use only heat as fuel, they are almost silent plus they are extremely powerful. Furthermore they have no electrical components and are purely mechanical. Consequently they’re extremely reliable and with care will last a lifetime.

warpfive fans

Warpfive Stove Fans

How do they work? Place the Stirling engine on top of a heated surface and let it warm up. Once the air inside the cylinder has heated at the base of the engine, it is forced up by the displacer to the cool top plate. As this sealed volume of air moves from the warm base to the cooler top plate, it expands and contracts. While it expands it pushes the piston up; and when it contracts it pulls the piston down. The piston is connected to a crank shaft and the oscillating cycle rotates the crank.

Because Stirling engines are very precise little devices, they need to be built with extra care and attention. However the effort is greatly rewarded when the crank rotates and the engine begins to work - this is when the engine produces mechanical power. Industrial Stirling engines produce so much mechanical power that they are used in cryogenic refrigeration, submarine propulsion, and electrical production. At Warpfive Fans... we use the power to spin a fan blade. Our stove fans are so efficient that you can reduce your fuel usage by up to 22%, and heat your narrow boat up to 40% faster.

Warpfive Stove Fans

Warpfive Stove Fans

thermodynamic mumbo jumbo…

Now you know what a Stirling engine is. But why complicate life by delving into this world of thermodynamic mumbo jumbo? The answer is simple really – at Warpfive we care about our planet. Efficient thermodynamic management systems are the future.

Stirling engines are highly compatible with alternative and renewable energy sources. They are extremely efficient, work quietly and can be used on almost any heat source. The Stirling engine is currently exciting interest as the core component of solar powered electricity generators, as well as in the space industry to power satellites.

At Warpfive we’ve gradually expanded our range of Stirling engines to include a variety of stove fans for use on top of your log stove or diesel heater, as well as aroma diffusers and table fans for use in your home. However we still spend an enormous amount of time researching emerging technology and examining the performance of low-emission alternative power sources. Why? – Because we are on a constant drive to improve our products by making them even more efficient.

Over the last 13 years, our ‘Stirling idea’ has evolved into a small family run business. We design and hand-build all of our products here in the UK, whilst always aiming to make a positive contribution to our planet.

warpfive fans

Warpfive Stove Fans

Warpfive Fans logoWarpfive Fans manufacture a range of eco-friendly products for use in your home.  Every product is designed to combine classic elegance with engineering excellence.  We aim to create beautiful products which you can enjoy and admire for a lifetime. All of our products are hand-crafted in the UK from durable materials that have been sourced and worked in the most eco-friendly method possible.

01626 866643   contact@warp-five.com   Warpfive Fans

angel community canal boat trust

angel community canal boat trust

Angel Community Canalboat Trust was one of the lucky winners for our free prize draw for a Miracle Leisure brass polishing kit.

brass polishing on narrowboat
The Angel  Community Canalboat Trust (A.C.C.T.) has been operating for over 40 years, carrying about 2000 people each year for both day and residential trips  based on the Regents Canal in London.

Project Manager and Skipper Phil says, “We cater for all sections of the community: from local nursery groups, educational school trips, days out for our Elderly & Isolated passengers, and our recent venture for families who are victims of domestic violence, providing a brief respite from the difficulties they have endured. We offer a safe and nurturing environment to all our users. The highlights of our year are the 5-day residential trips for youth groups, who learn to steer Angel II and operate the locks safely.

“What they see as a fun holiday is also a great educational experience, learning about the history of the canals and discovering the abundance of wildlife that dwells along our inner-city canal system, as well as essential life skills such as teamwork and communication skills.  For many of these young people it is the first holiday they have ever had.

“We believe that if the young people are presented with a well maintained and polished boat, they will respect it and will be happy to take part in and enjoy keeping their temporary home looking its best.

“A.C.C.T. is now up and running again after the recent pandemic; bookings are starting to look up and we are looking forward to welcoming groups old and new.”

If you happen to see Angel II as you travel along the canals, give us a wave and our passengers will certainly be happy to wave back!

We Need Your Help…

The Angel Boat relies on donations, grants and fundraising activities to continue providing trips to local residents at a cost they can afford.

See how you can help us - click here .

Contact: Phil Gavigan, Project Manager/Skipper, A.C.C.T. by email; through the website; or by telephone 020 7490 5125