hydrogen afloat

hydrogen afloat

goodbye generator

I’ve lived aboard for 14 years and my list of what makes this life so special is extensive - the peace, the wildlife and the inclusive community of fellow boaters all rate pretty highly. I’ll bet they are sitting somewhere near the top of your list too. But, let’s be honest, there are some aspects of living aboard which wouldn’t even qualify.

Most of us know that feeling when, late on a winter evening, the water pump starts to make a deeper, slower tone as you brush your teeth. Your heart sinks as you wonder whether the batteries will lose voltage before morning and the fridge will start to defrost or whether you’ll need a torch to get dressed tomorrow. In these moments the choice is either to cross your fingers and anxiously hope for the best or put off sleep while you lug out the generator and charge the batteries for an hour or so. Those of us living afloat have always had to be conscious of our electricity usage. It’s fine if you have an electric hook-up facility as part of your mooring rental, but those of us who are continuously cruising or renting an off-grid mooring are limited to the power they can generate themselves.

I got myself some solar panels when I first moved aboard and they worked great during the summer - free power from the sun to keep my batteries topped up between biweekly boat moves. But in winter it was a different story. Basically, unless you have a solar installation the size of a small field and live on a very frugal power budget, you have to idle the engine or run the generator to create domestic power a few times every week. As well as the hassle, I was also unhappy at the amount of local diesel pollution I was creating and was conscious of annoying the neighbours (afloat and land-livers) with the noise. The only consolation was knowing that my boating neighbours were wrestling with the same problem, so we could give each other some slack if the generator occasionally came out at an unsocial hour.

hydrogen afloat

As an Engineer I am always keen to create solutions, to do my bit, however small, to make things better. For more than 30 years I have worked in the UK rail industry. My projects include adopting new technology, reducing environmental impact, and improving efficiency. In the midst of exploring hydrogen and its possible applications for trains, I set about applying the skills I use in my day job to the problem of domestic power in my home life.

Hydrogen and fuel cells have long been used in industrial, scientific and specialist applications, and I was sure there was a way to harness their potential to provide power on my boat. I set about connecting the dots and created the prototype ‘HyArk’, named for the fact that it’s a vessel and that hydrogen molecules flow into the fuel cell two by two!

Very quickly I noticed a huge difference. As the sun got lower and more distant towards the latter part of the year I found myself switching on the HyArk instead of lugging my generator out onto the towpath or starting my engines up. Because it was virtually silent (a tiny puff of hydrogen is emitted into the sky every now and then) I could sleep peacefully through the night knowing that in the morning my fridge would still be cold, my water would flow, and I would have light to ensure I was wearing a harmonious pair of socks for work. It was extraordinary - no noise, no pollution (the fuel cell emits only water) and in addition less wear and tear on my engine plus battery life was extended too.

Having lived with this prototype for two years I worked with designers to create a model which is both good-looking and practical. It was an exciting time, sourcing expert craftspeople and networking with other innovators in the hydrogen field. We added a remote on/off switch for the cabin and configured an ‘auto’ mode which means that the HyArk works seamlessly with solar panels, backing off when the sun is shining and switching itself on when the voltage starts dropping. As hydrogen must be well-ventilated and therefore on the roof, much attention was focused on the design of the casing. The outer unit is made from a ​tough resin infused polyester material, designed to be both robust and light weight. Made by a small team of boat builders in Falmouth who are used to crafting yachts from this material, it’s ergonomically designed to ensure low branches and ropes can glide smoothly over it.

Hydrogen Afloat - HyArk

There are a small number of very low bridges in the canal and rivers network, so it was vital that the unit can be easily removed and carried along the towpath, along with anything else up there such as chimney stacks and bikes. And for security the unit has high quality German locks and hinges, along with a vigorous fire-proofing system. The HyArk can even be vinyl wrapped to match the colours of your boat.

In some ways the HyArk has come a little too early, before there is a canal-side infrastructure ready to supply hydrogen at a price comparable to or lower than LPG. Currently retail hydrogen is only available from BOC Linde’s Gas and Gear shops and as such, is relatively expensive. However, there are other suppliers getting ready to enter the market with green hydrogen and it’s like the proverbial chicken and egg - demand creates supply but also supply creates demand. We need a few early adopters, like myself, to innovate and create the demand and this will in turn increase supply of hydrogen, making it much more accessible for everyone. Once an infrastructure is in place the potential to use hydrogen for boat propulsion will be a reality and we will be able to say goodbye to diesel for good.

More than 250 years ago the canals were early adopters of cutting-edge technologies of that time. As one of the first ‘leisure’ applications of hydrogen technology perhaps in some small way we are now continuing that tradition? If you want to learn more about our product or discuss joining us in the green hydrogen revolution, please visit our website at hydrogenafloat.com.

hydrogen afloatWe are a small company harnessing the ecological benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology to create domestic power without pollution and noise. As liveaboard boaters, we know the importance of reliable onboard power all year round. We integrate hydrogen fuel cells and their gas storage into a system that can easily be installed onto a narrowboat, wide-beam or inland waterway cruiser.

07702 725158
nick@hydrogenafloat.com
https://www.hydrogenafloat.com

recoheat

recoheat

Recoheat makes a unique pumped-air heat recovery unit for solid fuel stoves, and this year’s Crick show was their first customer-facing event. The device fits into the flue of a stove and pumps air through a steel coil to super-heat it. The resultant jet of hot air passing over the top of the stove draws the heat from the stove out into the room in a pressurised flow. The heat from this flow is then passed into the wider area by the equalisation of the air pressure, so travels much further and more evenly than by any other means.

“We came to Crick because one of our first customers was convinced the product was ideally suited to the live-aboard market. He lives on a 70’ x 14’ broadbeam on the Ouse and after 20 years on boats of various sizes, this was the first device he found that actually heated the whole boat, and also completely got rid of condensation through its creation of a flow of warm air. He invited us to visit and explained how difficult condensation was to overcome, and since then has been enormously supportive in presenting us to his fellow boaters.”

The company is now based in Suffolk, but the device is the invention of Kevin Haworth, a plumber from Burnley. He launched the product in 2014, but with no backing or support from the academic and business communities he approached, he couldn’t meet the CE marking requirements and was forced to close. Luckily, that wasn’t before he’d sold a Recoheat system to Will Burrows, who used it for three years before returning to buy another. When he found the website down, Wil got in touch with Kevin and took over.

“I had my unit heating a 30’ x 14’ cabin with three rooms and a corridor, from a 5kw stove. It was extremely effective, and when I went to buy another unit for a new workshop and found the website gone, I got in touch with Kevin. The product was too good to lose: there aren’t many things you come across that really do work much better than anything else around.”

recoheat system and the recoheat team

Some of the effectiveness of the device was easily understood. Stoves use convection to move the radiant heat from the metal box into the rest of the house, so the fire first heats the walls of the stove, which radiate into the air, which warms and rises, drawing fresh air into the stove. When the fire starts to die down, the convection flow stops very quickly so that the stove stops moving heat into the room almost immediately. The pumped air on the other hand, starts pushing air from the combustion as soon as the fire is lit, and continues to pump it for hours as the stove cools through the flue: for anything from three to eight hours depending on the size of the logs and stove. However, there were a lot of other performance peculiarities that the company only discovered from their customers.

In their first winter season, they sold a few units, mostly to sweeps, installers and engineers – people who had the confidence and curiosity to test a completely new system. “For us, every sale was marketing: we knew the device worked, but explaining why was hard, and people would only believe other customers, of course. It was their support that got us started again, and it’s what drives us now. It’s also what teaches us about how the system actually performs, which in turn has helped us understand the physics involved, which is really fascinating.”

Notable customer feedback comes from installations as diverse as barn conversions, yurts, terraced houses, stone cottages, farm houses and even chateaux, mountain cabins and two bedroom bungalows. The common theme of the feedback is that the heat dispersal is bizarrely wide, moving out of the main room into corridors and other rooms, including upstairs even on large properties. In the barn conversion, the system ​heats the bedrooms from the ground floor, and several customers have reported that their large rooms are warm right to the walls, and even more remarkably, that their feet are warmed when the device is operating.

recoheat for widebeams and cottages

“There was a lot of feedback we couldn’t explain – particularly in terms of the heat profile. Typically you observe that the room temperature is much more even – you don’t have a hot area around the stove whilst the rest of the room is cold. But heat rises, so how could the unit heat to the floor?”

It was through Recoheat working with an engineering consultancy that the mysteries started to be unravelled. “At first they told us that our observations and explanations were fanciful, but when they discovered they weren’t by measuring the inputs and outputs, they not only understood it but were able to model it in their simulation software.”

The key to the heat transfer in the unit itself, as well as in the room, is turbulent air. Essentially, air heats molecule by molecule, so when it’s all flowing gently along in one direction, the heat transfer is quite slow, which is why an air gap is good insulation. But if you can induce a turbulent boundary layer, you disturb the airflow until the molecules are all bouncing around very fast, coming into contact with lots of other molecules and passing heat between them very quickly.

The high-powered pump and the coil shape creates that in the airflow, which means the air heats very fast. The air that comes out of the unit has been accelerated as the heat makes it expand under pressure, so that the outlet jet is three times faster than the inlet. This hot, high pressure jet is still turbulent when it passes over the top of the stove, so the hot air rising from the stove is drawn into it much more efficiently. So then the heat from the coil and from the stove are pushed into the room, but are crucially at a higher pressure than the colder air in the room. The pressures have to equalise, and it is the equalisation that disperses the heat so widely without any additional work from the device. This also means that it is the coldest, and lowest pressure areas that heat first, and that the distance from the stove isn’t important in something like a boat: if the air passes freely between areas, it will have to equalise in the same way water has to level.

Will now works on the project with one of his sons, with help from some of his four other children when needed. “We sold ten times as many units last winter as in our first winter, and twenty times as many last summer as in our first summer, so we’re hoping to maintain that level of growth. Launching in lockdown, and navigating some of the most difficult economic conditions for decades is tricky, but we know we have a product for the times: we’re allowing people to replace their central heating and sky-high oil, gas and electricity bills with their stoves, whether in whole or part. Our general feedback is that a 5kw stove with a Recoheat will heat a two bedroom house or its equivalent. The core of the house will be warm and the bedrooms will be cooler, but not cold, and that’s a massive thing. We really want people to benefit from this, because everybody needs the help.”

Recoheat have a website  and maintain a Facebook page and YouTube channel, which has driven most of their business to date, and is certainly responsible for bringing them customers as far afield as the States, Canada and even Australia, as well as all across the UK. They’ve been on TrustPilot collecting independent reviews for just a few months, but already have an impressive profile.

You get a good picture of the relationships they have with customers, doubters and supporters from their interactions on the different platforms, and they’re conversations they obviously give a lot of importance to. It looks very likely that those conversations will grow over the next months and years.

Listen to what Mark has to say about the efficiency of Recoheat on his widebeam here

WIN! A Recoheat system in our Autumn FREE prize draw! CLICK HERE TO ENTER...

Will Burrows of Recoheat

CanalsOnline Magazine met Will Burrows of Recoheat at this year's Crick Boat Show and were amazed at the efficiency of this product. Recoheat is a family run business with lots of glowing customer testimonials.  Well worth investigating!

https://www.recoheat.co.uk/
sales@recoheat.co.uk
01638 445180
https://www.facebook.com/recoheat

boat furniture – it’s more than ok

boat furniture

it's more than ok

Tibor Kunya is the owner of Ok Joinery Ltd,  a company based in Kidderminster who design and manufacture furniture for houses, offices, sports complexes and, more interestingly for us, narrowboats, wide beams and Dutch Barges.

Originally from Hungary, Tibor is the owner of OK Joinery. He is both a Master Joiner and a qualified Marine Engineer. He began his working life expecting to be carrying out agency work, but he very soon found himself working full time for Sealine International, a boat building company of high repute. ( A leading UK boat builders, bought up by a German company in 2013.) Working with designers on the interiors of boats, very often with complex hull shapes, Tibor realised that he had found his vocation. He loved working on boats and trying to make everything fit perfectly and work correctly. And he absolutely loved being creative.

After a while, Tibor decided to go free-lance, and established OK Joinery Ltd with his partner Miroslaw Ochnik. Being based in the Midlands, Tibor turned his attention toward the inland waterways and began to concentrate on inland waterway craft. He explained, "The boats themselves are in some ways more straightforward to work on, as the hull shapes have less tapers, curves and tricky radiuses. Motor boat furniture has to be shaped, but narrowboats have straight sides. The only area that is more complicated and where there’s a bit of an angle is under the gunwale really.”

According to Tibor, many narrowboats have similar internal dimensions, which makes for more straightforward templates when designing fittings for them. However, this also means that careful planning is required. There are always problems which can be unique to a particular boat. But as Tibor says, "Making things fit in tiny spaces isn't new to us."

Practical creativity is very much part of Tibor’s working life. Recently it’s seen him design a narrow boat dinette/bedroom/living space with about fifteen permutations, and finding out how this could function has clearly given him a lot of pleasure. “A car mechanic just fixes things that have already been made. With joinery you’re creating something, and I love working with wood,” he said.

The dinette project came through conversations with boat building clients, and gradually the idea of a space that could be both lived in and used for sleeping took shape. “We were looking at something that could change from having seats into a single or even a double bed, and started by sitting down and sketching,” he said.

A prototype was built using sections of MDF, and the design was refined and developed, so that the end product has around seven permutations. Tibor claims that it’s unique and thinks it could also have applications in recreational vehicles, campers and caravans. To gauge reaction and get feedback, Duplex Dinette was built into a show boat at the Crick boat show in 2018. The company were back again in 2019 on the basis that Crick was a good place to get feedback and meet potential clients. Tibor was heartened by the number of boaters who liked what he’d done.

ok joinery - narrowboat furniture

“This business has to be based on trust. What we’re doing is not like buying a chocolate bar. People need to go away and think about things,” he said. The design is essentially fit for straight galley with passageway in the middle and also fit for “L” Shaped kitchen with basic size parameters of around 6ft x 6ft, although there is some wriggle room on the exact dimensions, so the product can be adapted for different sized narrowboat interiors. The deluxe version of Duplex Dinette can be used now in fifteen different modes. Tibor envisages it as being something that can be bought and fitted virtually as a flat pack, although he will also install it as a retrofit, and is keen to find work with narrow boat builders so that variations of his design become original equipment.

ok joinery - narrowboat furniture

All of which begs the question. Does he own a narrowboat himself? Tibor said because of the pressures of work and a busy family life, that he does not, and adds that his children are sufficiently young that their idea of fun is simply to play outdoors. “I don't own a boat, I’m a family man with two kids and I’m just too busy. I am sure I'll design one boat for myself when I am retired! ” He talks wistfully about this situation changing when his children are older, but seems more than happy that for now, messing about with boats involves designing their interiors rather than piloting them on the canal network.

things to consider when buying a dinette for a narrowboat

Owning a narrowboat and experiencing life on it has become very popular. Recent events have also prompted thoughts for many people of changing home. Also the aspiration of living at a slower pace, restful and relaxed. Voyaging along a beautiful canal, visiting amazing places. What else is needed ?

The answer is the boat itself. The options for everyone vary and depend on personal budget. Buying brand new, second hand or a start up project that you fit yourself.

Here we are considering one option for furnishing your boat. In particular your lounge area, knowing that your desire is to choose the best furniture for the purpose. Some people think it's easy, just buy a sofa and the seating area is sorted. However, they then realize it's too big to get through the door and that it also takes up a large space in the boat.

Narrowboat lounge seating that is simpler than a sofa, is a Dinette. Dinette furniture can include the options of a sofa, seating with table, a bed and storage in the base units. A typical multifunctional bespoke opportunity to cater for your needs.

OK Joinery Limited manufacture many different types of dinette. You can choose from a Single dinette , Pullman Dinette , L-shape dinette and our new multifunctional Duplex Dinette. Bespoke Dinette options also exist.

All furniture is delivered to your boat as ready assembled units that are easy to install. All work handmade in Worcestershire. Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your needs.

Tibor, OK JoineryIf you are fitting out a new canal boat or maintaining an existing narrowboat you need to be able to find suppliers who specialise in narrowboat furniture.

With OK Joinery, you can be sure to find something that will suit your lifestyle as well as offering practicality, style and comfort. The quality and unique details of the interior fixtures and fittings will ensure that your boat becomes “a cut above” the rest.

01562 540204 / 07895 438833
orders@okjoinery.co.uk
https://www.okjoinery.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/Okjoinery

scenic lake cruises in switzerland

scenic lake cruises in switzerland

an introduction by Anna Timbrook

With more than 1,500 lakes throughout the country, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to scenic lake cruises in Switzerland. Whether you want to admire fabulous untouched nature or discover a big city’s landmarks and attractions from the water, you’ll find a couple of appropriate lake cruises right here!

Also, with the Swiss Travel Pass, you can do all these cruises for free! From the massive Lake Geneva to the mesmerizing Lake Thun, here are all the best and most scenic lake cruises in Switzerland!

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland, so naturally, it offers the most options when it comes to scenic cruises. Some of the cruises even allow you to embark in Switzerland and disembark in France, giving you the opportunity to discover two countries on a single lake cruise. Most cruise boats that operate on this lake are Belle Époque paddle steamers and being on such a boat just elevates the entire cruise experience.

Cities along Lake Geneva include Lausanne, Montreux, Nyon, Geneva, and many smaller towns. Some of the prettiest scenery along Lake Geneva is between Lausanne and Montreux. Passengers can observe the vast Lavaux Vineyards on the northern lakeshore, all
the while admiring the majestic Alps in the backdrop. The boats also stop at smaller villages along the shore, allowing passengers to experience all the best spots Lake Geneva offers.

Lake Thun

Lake Thun, Switzerland

The mesmerizing town of Interlaken is nestled between two lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Both offer some of the most scenic lake cruises in Switzerland, with fabulous nature everywhere you look. Lake Thun is the bigger of the two lakes, as well as the largest lake in the entire Bernese Oberland region. Some of the largest towns on the lakeshore are Interlaken, Thun, Spiez, and Hilterfingen, each with its own fascinating attractions awaiting to be discovered.

It’s possible to cruise from Interlaken to Thun, and vice versa. The two-hour cruise is likely the best way to explore the lake and all of its beautiful attractions since you get to see the most landmarks during this cruise.

Castles, vineyards, tall mountain peaks, and forests are just some of the most popular sights of Lake Thun cruises. The vast lake is also popular for culinary cruises, with numerous passengers embarking upon the Fondue and Fajita boats to discover the mesmerizing scenery with a side of a delicious meal.

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

Situated in Central Switzerland, Lake Lucerne is one of the most panoramic lakes in this part of the country. Many different boat cruises are available on this 38-kilometer lake, ranging from quick, one-hour excursions to five-hour round trips that cross the entire lake.

Quick panoramic cruises are most popular with passengers who are just passing through Lucerne. They offer a glimpse of the lake’s dramatic rocky slopes and charming coves with majestic Mt. Pilatus in the background. Passengers who wish to discover more of Lake
Lucerne’s astonishing nature should choose one of the longer boat excursions, which traverse the vast lake's different corners.

Lake Zurich

Lake Zurich

Cruises on Lake Zurich are a great way of discovering the city’s most famous attractions from a different perspective. They’re also perfect for discovering the natural attractions of Central Switzerland, particularly for passengers who choose one of the longer cruises on this fabulous lake.

A round trip cruise from Zurich to Rapperswil is one of the most popular ways of discovering the lake. The boats traverse nearly the entire length of Lake Zurich, for a truly unforgettable experience. Admire the lakeside promenades, see the charming City of Roses (Rapperswil), and experience the spectacular Uetliberg mountain from the water – these are just a few highlights of the scenic round trip cruise.

Lake Zurich is also a popular destination for many other kinds of boat excursions. Whether you’re trying to travel from one lakeside city to another, or you just want to enjoy some fondue while admiring the rolling landscapes, Lake Zurich will not disappoint.

Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz

Situated east of the city of Interlaken, Lake Brienz is one of the prettiest and most famous lakes in the Bernese Oberland region. It’s often overshadowed by the larger Lake Thun, but this smaller lake has just as many wonderful sights to offer to passengers who decide to cruise its waters.

Interlaken is the best-known town situated on the lake, but a cruise on Lake Brienz allows you to discover the many scenic villages that lie on its shores. See the small streams that flow into the lake, discover the impressive Giessbach waterfall, and witness the stunning landscape of the region. The most popular cruises on Lake Brienz traverse from Interlaken to Brienz, for quick but incredibly scenic trips on the turquoise waters.

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano is situated in southern Switzerland, right on the border with Italy. The mesmerizing lake is shared between the two countries, and many of the cruises on the lake allow you to discover the breath taking nature of both Italy and Switzerland.

The lake is surrounded by beautiful green mountains, for spectacular panoramic vistas no matter where you look. The biggest city on the lake is Lugano, and it’s the most popular starting point for lake cruises. Embark upon a boat and head to one of the many picturesque villages along the lakeshore to discover their narrow cobblestone streets, old houses, and fascinating landmarks.

It’s possible to return to Lugano by train, and you can also just catch a different boat back into town.

Lake Neuchatel

Lake Neuchatel

Lake Neuchatel is situated in the French-speaking Swiss region of Romandy. It is mainly situated in the Neuchatel Canton, but parts of the lake also stretch into the Bern, Fribourg, and Vaud cantons. This is the largest lake that lies entirely in Switzerland, so you can imagine just how popular cruises on Lake Neuchatel are.

This lake is also one of the lakes that are traversed on the famous Three Lakes Cruise. The other two are Lake Biel and Lake Murten. Both are connected to Lake Neuchatel by water but have a much smaller water surface. The Three Lakes Cruise is one of the most popular scenic cruises in this part of the country, and a great way to discover the spectacular landscapes of Romandy.

expert world travel logo

Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has travelled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel.

You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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 I was initially concerned that my 18 year old son, Joe, would not adapt to the boating lifestyle. But he really loves it and started looking for some sort of business that he could run from the boat that would also 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

We have 5 games to give away in our FREE prize draw. ENTER HERE

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