Category Archives: Marina Life

Gas Panic

Saturday 19 July 2020

Gas Panic

We run out of gas! It ran out last night actually. There is this terrible panic when you turn the cooker knob, press the piezo-electric lighter button and – nothing happens. You suddenly think

” Everything’s stopped working on the boat!”

“We’re doomed!”

“We’re going to sink!”


“Oh, no. It’s just the gas that’s ran out”.

It gets me every time (although this is the first time it has happened on Silverdale. It has happened a couple of times on MIRRLESS in the past).

I went to the stern (Ooooh, fancy terminology) and lifted the gas locker lid to reveal two pristine orange 13 Kg cannisters tanks – one connected, one in reserve. I unchained the now empty tank (it’s chained in place for safety purposes) and looked for the gas spanner. The gas spanner is a specifically-sized spanner that allows you to undo the regulator and connect it to a new tank.

“What gas spanner?”

Gas Spanner in the Works

There wasn’t one! It’s usually tied around the neck of one of the cannisters. So, no problem. I can use my adjustable pliers; one of three pairs in ascending size, except they don’t adjust enough! They adjusted about two millimetres too short. We went off to Daventry (after a detour via Northampton for a cup of drive by tea – we were gasping) to purchase a gas spanner or adjustable spanner – extra large.

Back aboard Silverdale I once again lifted the gas locker lid, tried to undo the regulator but no! Too small! Was this collar some none imperial or metric size? It must have been Babylonian! Another tool for the toolbox.

Luckily Louie, a neighbour from a nearby boat kindly lent me his gas spanner (the correct tool for the job) and it became a doddle! I removed the empty cannister, manoeuvred the new cannister into place, connected it up to the regulator (with the regulation, borrowed gas spanner), double-checked it, then went into the kitchen to turn on the gas and make a cup of tea – nothing!

I double checked the connection, it was fine. Then, lifted the cannister and then lifted the old, empty cannister, they both weighed the same – they were both empty!


Firestarter 101

It was Sunday and the Marina Chandlery doesn’t open on a Sunday – no gas. So, this was a perfect opportunity to try out the Ghillie Kettle. The Ghillie kettle is a thing of beauty and we had purchased it for just such an occasion. It’s basically a ‘rocket’ stove. It runs on anything that will burn and heats water in no time

I placed the kettle safely on the metal pontoon, above water and away from the boat. after several failed attempts with matches (the slight breeze, channelled down between the two narrowboats was enough to keep putting them out), I managed to light it. I used my Swedish Firestarter (it wasn’t Twisted).

A Nice Cup of Tea

The kettle burst into life, my water started boiling and smoke started billowing. Pretty soon I was worried I would be smoking out the whole marina! If I had a been a fisheater, I could have smoked haddock! All went well however and we had a nice cup of tea. There’s something about drinking tea outside that takes it to a whole other level.

In fact we had another soon after but this one was from the Marina Café. I didn’t want to risk more smoke and someone calling the the fire brigade for a “narrowboat on fire!”.

The cup of tea at the café turned out to be fortuitous as we met Stuart there – Stuart works in the Chandlery. We explained about our gas panic and he kindly offered to open the Chandlery and let us purchase some gas AND a gas spanner, as he had access to the keys. I promptly drove cannister in the the car around (even an empty cannister would have been a struggle to walk and/or roll around from the boat) to the Chandlery. The gas was connected (via the gleaming silver gas spanner), the cooker was lit and all was well with the world.

Gas panic over.

We finished the day listening to vinyl: Pink Floyd, The Stones, New Order and XTC but

Here’s Oasis and ‘Gas Panic’

rp – peace and narrowboats

Tolkien-inspired and Pirate-inspired

17 – 18 July 2020


murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Tolkien-inspired and Pirate-inspired - Tolkien books image

It was another Friday so another non-working day. I do like them. I have got so used to them in such short a time, I don’t know how I could live without them now 😉

Once again it was sunny and hot. It had been sunny and hot yesterday and so, there was nothing else for it, I had ordered a book. I ordered Tolkien – The Maker of Middle Earth by Catherine McIlwaine from the Bodleian shop. It was a book produced in support of the exhibition of the same name, the Bodleian Libraries’ summer 2018 exhibition, at

The Weston Library, Oxford
1 June 28 October 2018.

Mu and I both went to the exhibition when moored in Oxford with our previous narrowboat – MIRRLESS. It was inspirational. I never bought the book at the exhibition but decided to rectify this now. The one thing you have to know is that it is a big book, especially as I ordered the hardback. I also ordered a print of the the jacket cover of The Hobbit. The print is going to take pride of place, on the wall, just to the left of my desk. I’m not sure about the book…

Adrian had returned and tidied up the woodwork that had been disturbed in the fix of the overflow pipe (see We Found a Leak). It was as if nothing had ever been disturbed.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Tolkien-inspired and Pirate-inspired - LOTR book image

Following on with the Tolkien-esque theme (I am also currently re-reading The Lord of the Rings) we also started watching The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey such a great film.


Saturday saw us travel to Kings Lynn. Kings Lynn is the nearest piece of coast to where we now live. We weren’t planning to visit a beach, just hopefully ‘go to the sea’. It had been a very long while since we had. It didn’t quite turn out to be the ‘Oh, I do love to be beside the seaside’ experience we had expected. This will become apparent.

We had set off a little later than we had liked but it was the weekend and a little lay-in was in order (or more like, “Oh, what? Is that the time? I thought we were setting off early?”). It was a long way, well it seemed a long way when actually plying the highways. Also, there were also a lot of roundabouts. I am no stranger to roundabouts having worked in Swindon for many years – they have the ‘magic roundabout’. It seemed that no sooner had you crossed a roundabout, another reared up on the horizon.

Pleasantly Surprised

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Tolkien-inspired and Pirate-inspired - statue image

We were pleasantly surprised with the town, it was very nice. The estuary of the River Great Ouse had places to explore, with Ferry Lane and Purfleet Road giving a distinctly ‘pirate’ feel to the area. Sculptures of anchors and chains and a figure in a tricorn hat was inspiring. This was especially as I’m writing The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters , on Ko-fi as we speak.

We sat out in Tuesday Market Square at a socially distanced Prezzo for coffee, which was handled really well. We bought a vegan pasty each and a vegan chocolate muffin from a local, independent bakers (one door in, one door out) for our return to Silverdale.

As we had arrived later than we had liked, we never got to walk down to the sea. So, there was no harbour to wander around and no sea to look out to but we were pleasantly surprised with Kings Lynn and will return to explore further, another day.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Tolkien-inspired and Pirate-inspired - anchor and chains image

rp – peace and narrowboats

We Found a Leak!

10 – 16 July 2020

Hole Under the Steps

We Found a Leak!

Well, we found two actually and when you’re living on water, the last thing you want is more water, in the form of a leak!

Friday 10 July and it was sunny, after three days of rain. Listened to Barclay James Harvest on vinyl. As it was a non-working day it meant I could do that type of thing.

The cratch cover cup feet we had ordered arrived (two were missing, presumably lost at sea canal). This meant we could put up the front cratch cover (soft canvas, no cratch board). This is important as we have no scuppers in the front well deck. This means that when it rains, the water gathers, has nowhere to run and consequently rusts the metal decking. We had it partially erected but rain gathered in the droop of its top. With the frame up, this would hopefully be taught and the rain would run off (no more trying to tip it off and getting soaked through). Success! It’s not my favourite look and we reserve the right to change to a hard cratch board and canvas cover in the future.

We went into Daventry and sat outside, at a socially distanced table at Coffee Number 1. This is the first time for over three months we have been to a coffee shop, sat down and enjoyed a cup of coffee – takeaway cups, masks before and after and lots of hand gel. How things change.

Out With the Old

Out with the old chair, in with a new one. The old one was too big and it wasn’t adjustable. I ordered a gaming chair – it is something to behold. More on that in a later post.

Leak Number One

Wednesday 15 July saw a potential change in fortunes – we found a leak! This one was under the sink, in the bedroom/bathroom area. It must have been there for some time as lifting the old carpet (it needed lifting as it was old and horrible and was going to be replaced), found a small amount of moisture. There was a tiny leak, a drip from the water pump. Me jumping in would have turned a drip into a flow so I consulted with the Marina Office. Once again, they were extremely helpful and would send someone to check it out for us.

A couple of Marina mechanics arrived, knocked on the hull of Silverdale and Tim proceeded to address the pump leak. After a look, a walk back to the workshop and return with an O-ring and some grease, the problem was solved. The leak was resolved and it has been bone dry to this day.

Leak Number Two

On to leak number two. The second leak was actually the first we found but was addressed after leak number one, hence leak number two.

Leak Number Two was in the front well deck. On top of the port gunnel is the water tank inlet. From here, a pipe leads down into the water tank. We had no idea the type of tank as it is completely sealed away and thus, inaccessible. Down in the well deck, a pipe comes out of the deck and out, through the hull, into the outside and canal. Or at least it should. This pipe was the water tank overflow outlet. It had corroded with age and when filling the tank, excess water leaked into the well deck. So, even when it’s not raining, the sell deck gets to rust! Barry took control over resolving this issue. It was a thorny one.

We knew Barry from our previous narrowboat MIRRLESS, he helped us out at Enslow when we were overheating and fitting an expansion tank. He remembered us, how could he not 🙂

The reason the issue was a thorny one was that the pipe was short and badly corroded, leaving little in the way of being able to weld to. Worse still, his evaluation showed the inlet pipe would at some point go the same way. That ‘some point’ would be sooner rather than later. However, deciding upon what to do needed a view of the tank and this was hidden away, behind panelling, inside the boat. The well deck floor, as far as could be seen through the rust was sealed and impregnable. Inspection would have to be from the inside. Barry called in Adrian- the resident site woodworker.

Eve of Destruction

Adrian brought a multi-tool with him (I’ve got one of those). As it was getting late in the working day, he decided to cut a small inspection hole – simple. Not so. Behind the pine panelling, thicker boarding was revealed (from the boat’s Anglo-Welsh days we think). After a lot of cutting, a small part of a tank was revealed. This was good news as the existence of a tank meant the water wasn’t held integrally within the hull.

With very little to see, it was decided to call it a day and return first thing in the morning to cut a larger inspection hatch, after removing the steps. All mu’s hard work on painting the panelling a pristine white looked like it was all going to be undone.

Now that’s what I call access

A Window on the World Beneath…

Thursday 16 July saw Adrian arrive early (just as he said he would) to remove the steps, cut through the panelling and then through the older, thicker boarding. We had a window on the world beneath our well deck. This revealed a stainless steel water tank – hurray! This was a result. Barry returned with Tim. Adrian nearly disappeared into the hold but thought better of ‘full immersion’ as he would have probably have got stuck. It seemed strange to see legs and feet sticking out of the front of our boat where the steps had been.

Cut and (Th)rust

Barry commented on the ‘novel’ pipework around the tank but set to coming up with a solution to our overflow outlet pipe leak. A welder was called in to cut both the outlet and inlet pipes and then Barry connected flexible hosing. A new outlet via a new skin fitting (higher up the boat) was made by Tim, leaving the old skin fitting as a hole to be welded over at a later date. It was a neat solution that would mean years of trouble-free water tank filling. I do admit, there is a bit of work I need to do in fixing up all that rust 😉


All Finished and Then Nothing

After tidying up, the water pump was turned back on – nothing! We ran the taps – nothing! Basically, after worrying, fiddling about and worrying some more, it all suddenly worked. It was most probably an air lock.

Adrian would return the next morning and fix the boarding and steps, leaving the access hatch easily accessible – just in case…

Phew! We had found a leak! Well, two in fact but both were addressed by Whiton Marina and we couldn’t be more grateful – fantastic job guys.

rp – peace and narrowboats

Throwing it all Away

Tuesday 29 June 2020

Throwing it all Away

You know that most people, when deciding to move onto a narrowboat get rid of all their worldly possessions (mostly), right? They take the opportunity to ‘clear out’ stuff,: sell, give away to charity, throw away? In readiness for a smaller living space? Minimal if you will. Well, we didn’t. Well, we did but not enough.

Today is the day we had to hand the padlock to our lock-up back to the Marina Office and they would have expected the lock-up to be empty – I know, crazy isn’t it?

The lock-up is empty, the boat is full.

Hopefully it will all get assimilated in suitably Borg fashion but only time will tell (there’s no way we’re throwing it all away).

On another front, the Makita came today and it was the right one – hooray! It’s a beautiful piece of kit. I went to Toucan Tools (very good service – I recommend) and went for the 2x 5AH batteries. I love the Macpak 3 case. It’s a tool for life. Oh, I haven’t got any attachments for it yet so I can’t actually use it, or get that excited about it.

rp – peace and narrowboats

It’s Hot on a Boat

Friday 26 June 2020

It’s Hot on a Boat

murpworks - The Tales of Siverdale - It's Hot on a Boat -

Just for a change, it was very hot today. Trying to keep a narrowboat cool in hot weather is difficult unless there is a breeze blowing through, from stern to prow or vice versa. You can open both ends and the problem is solved. Not so, today. There was a cross breeze but with the sun coming in, we had to have the blinds and curtains closed, which negated the breeze.

It’s hot on a boat and there was only one place hotter than the narrowboat and that was the lock-up. And yes, we had to visit it. Several times. Back and forth. In and out. We did fortify ourselves with a drive-thru coffee first. It didn’t really help though.

Our lock-up is basically a shipping container. Although in extremely good condition and clean inside and out, that’s it. No air conditioning or humidifier. Just a big metal box. Now I’m no scientist (ooh, actually I am a bit of a one) but sun > metal box > hot! Our lock-up comes to an end at the end of June and it was fast approaching. We were emptying the metal hot box and loading, sorry cramming the last of our worldly goods into Silverdale. We hope she won’t sink!

She didn’t sink and we did get everything out and onto the boat. There’s very little room to do much but it does feel good to be surrounded by my books and vinyl (yes, vinyl) and CDs and magazines. I will get it all organised soon.

rp – peace and narrowboats

Marina Days

Friday 19 June thru Thursday 25 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Marina Days - Canal towpath green image

So, living in a Marina is very different to living out on the cut. The marina gives you the luxury of everything on tap whereas out on the cut, you’re lucky if anything comes out of your tap! We have a home, it’s long and thin and there are compromises that have to be made but by and large, it’s pretty much like being in a house. We will, at some point move onto the canal system and travel but for now, we are loving the freedom of not moving anywhere – Marina Days.


We travel because we have the luxury of a car and went back to the West Country for a day, to collect a package that got sent to the wrong address. Friday was my non-working day, a luxury.


Saturday saw me performing socially distanced queuing to get into Waitrose (yes, they let me in). I also spoke with the Marina regarding a small bit of welding that needs to be done. The water tank breather pipe has a hole that needs fixing, so I don’t have to sit there watching the tank being filled. Currently, if I don’t, the forward well deck gets filled with water. Someone will come along and evaluate it at some point.

Pirates loom heavily at the moment, as I’m attempting to write a story – The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters (you can check it out on Ko-fi), we watched Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest. It’s research.


murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Marina Days - Lego Yellow Submarine - John image

Sunday saw me release Piece 3 of The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters – you can read on our Ko-fi page. We then visited Wilton Marina Cafe for a Vegetarian Breakfast, sat out in the sun. Mu got the final quarter of the saloon masked and washed down in readiness for painting. We then walked to the local farm fruit & veg shop for provisions. I then managed to start my Lego Yellow Submarine. We finished the day watching Breaking Bad.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Marina Days - mu masking image


Monday I was back to work (remotely). I emptied the loo at the Elsan point. The hi-light of the day (no, emptying the loo wasn’t) was that the money for the Makita Multi-tool that wasn’t the Multi-tool had been refunded (see All the Gear, No Idea) – Hooray!


murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Marina Days - The Heart of the Shires sign image

Tuesday was fully back into working remotely. I bought milk from the marina chandlery to support local. We went for a walk along the canal, to The Heart of the Shires, a shopping village outlet in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside. It was hot, very hot. There was a little shade with the trees but not a lot. We bought a knife for cutting tomatoes and cucumber – Victorinox (ignore the fact that it says cheese and sausage – it’s great for tomatoes and cucumber) at the Abraxas Cookshop. I was fed up with using the bread knife.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Marina Days - mo on the Canal towpath image

We also had an ice cream from the Darlington’s Tea Room there. It had opened for takeaway. It was very good and there was lots of it. A good antidote to the sun. We walked back (no cooler) and had a cup of tea sat out on Silverdale. It had ended up being an idyllic day.


Wednesday. It was very hot again. We’re not complaining. It was another of those Marina Days but I went shopping in Daventry which required the car. It was 31 degrees. I complained about that.


murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Marina Days - marina ducks image

Thursday. It was very hot. I know, it’s getting a bit samey. There were ducks tho’. We had the windows open, the doors open, the parasol (which we found in the top box on the roof of the boat) up, water in the fridge and no hot meal. It worked. This was also the first week of work completed and it had gone well.

Marina Days – this is the way we roll in the Shire…

rp – peace and narrowboats

I Feel I Have to Mention the Trains

Wednesday 17 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - I Feel I Have to Mention the Trains - out the front door image

I Feel I Have to Mention the Trains

Whilton Marina is situated in the idyllic Northamptonshire countryside. The Grand Union Canal runs beside it. Oh, and it is nestled between the M1 Motorway and a high speed train line. The trains are fast and fairly infrequent but there are times when there seem to be a glut of them.

Oh, yes. It’s just when you come to a crucial, quiet moment in a tense TV Series or when mu and I are trying to talk with one another from opposite ends of the boat. It is more noticeable at the moment due to the damned glorious weather we are experiencing – we have to have all the windows open. At night, they seem to operate them with a special ‘extra engine noise’ function operating. It can sound like they are passing along the pontoon we are moored to, at times. It’s probably just the hearing being more sensitive upon waking, as the rest of the senses are dead to the world. The greatest is the 197-long container truck train that travels at 1.5 miles per hour, through the dead of night 😉

The trains are not a problem really and they don’t put us off being here. You mostly switch out their sounds. The beauty of the railway line being atop an embankment is, that the view from Silverdale’s front door is one of green bushes. Elderflower bushes are in flower at present – a delicate cream now that will eventually bear purple fruit.

The motorway is wind dependant. If it blows toward us, we hear it. If it doesn’t, we don’t.

All in all, it is a fantastic place for us – we can’t recommend it highly enough.

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Walk at Norton Junction

Tuesday 16 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Braunston sign image

A Walk at Norton Junction

The interior painting continues – a slow job being brought to fruition by mu. I’m writing. Tenses, Elevenses, a Vege Deli Sandwich crated for Lunch. Then we went out.

We drove in search of Everdon Stubbs (an SSSI). It was Little Everdon we found, which took us through a little village, sown a dead end road what looked like the very long route up someone’s driveway. We found Everdon but no Stubb. We decided to drive back and go on to Long Buckby Wharf. In the past, we had walked to here but not beyond.

Up The Junction

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Norton Junction bridge image

Norton Junction is just a few hundred yards from the Top Lock. It’s where the canal splits to Braunston and to Leicester. On our previous travels we had narrowboated to Braunston, threading past the beautiful cottage that sits in the crux of the canal junction, on green lawn, with trees and a Shepherd’s Hut. An idyllic site. We walked on, up over the footbridge, behind the cottage and over the canal bridge. This drops down onto the canal towpath on the Braunston side. There was just the occasional boat was moored in this serene spot. It was quiet and peaceful. If you pass this way, it’s worth stopping and taking in the scenery here. We walked on, which took us two bridges further, then turned and walked back.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Norton Junction canal image

Braunston is four and a quarter miles from Norton Junction which would have taken a little while, therefore maybe a walk for a little earlier in the day.

rp – peace and narrowboats

Power To The People

Monday 15 June 2020

Power To The People

I was laying down a few letter in a semblance of order i.e. writing and mu was painting the interior of Silverdale (yes, still painting. It’s a long narrowboat you know). Suddenly, without warning. Powercut!

Immediate panic ensued. Was it the landline power cable? Had it become wet or had it become disconnected? Was it the Battery Management System? Had it come to its last legs and died because we were over using it? Was it the fuses? Had we blown some? We have had previous experience of nothing working.

It was none of the above. After a walk to the Marina office, it turned out that the power cut was site-wide, even extending to the carpet warehouse just beyond. Phew! The boat was still fine. No surfing the internet to find YouTube videos of how to fix something I had absolutely no idea about.

After a little while, the power came back on and all was well. Power was restored to the people – of Whilton Marina.

The Ducks are Demanding

There are lots of ducks on the marina (they don’t have their own narrowboats, they don’t need them). There are some ducklings that ‘cheep’ and scurry about on land and in the water, following their mother. Adorable to watch. There are also teenage ducks, they strut around a lot more purposefully. The adult ducks are the most demanding. They come around at regular times and ‘quack’, making their presence known and demanding food.

We drink a lot of tea. We’re using leaves for a better class of drink. However, there is a lot of byproduct waste. On a narrowboat you are always conscious about where waste is going to go. As tea is considered grey water, it can be disposed of via the canal. This is great for us. We can cut out the middle men of the sink and the Whale Gulper and pour the spent leaves straight in. The ducks are getting even more demanding though – they’re requesting Darjeeling!

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Bit of An Update

Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 June 2020

A Bit of An Update

Thursday 11

Thursday saw us go for a drive in the surrounding countryside to see a few villages. Both Crick and Yelvertoft have figured highly in the YouTube Channels we avidly watched each evening once we decided to buy a narrowboat again. Everyone has either lived there or driven past and vlogged it. Both were very nice places on the canal. We ‘oohed and aarhed ‘ and saw the canal and gave a hurrah for we were part of it now. Back in Daventry we picked up a takeaway coffee at Coffee Number 1, just before it closed – an unexpected pleasure in these times. It was all socially distanced as I was the only person in there. There were shields up at the counter and a one-way system in operation.

Friday 12

Friday was Tim: our son’s Birthday so we got video call. I also finally got to send the Makita back (you may recall it wasn’t the Multi-tool I was looking for).

Saturday 13

Saturday saw us start the day with a drive-by, sorry, drive thru coffee in Northampton courtesy of Costa (there’s no loyalty, we’ll drink coffee from anywhere). We got to sit with a view of very nicely landscaped gardens. In the distance was a tower. It reminded me decidedly of Orthanc! In the afternoon we walked to Buckby Top Lock, along the canal towpath. Half way, the little shop was closed but a narrowboat was selling crafts and we bought a Toilet Roll Holder made of brass piping. It was very hot.

Just beyond the Top Lock, you come to Norton Junction and just before there, there is a sign showing four and a quarter miles to Braunston. Add onto this, the distance we had already walked and it would be just a bit tooo far to walk to the Boathouse pub and back, once they open again – shame. there is still The New Inn at Buckby – much more doable.

Sunday 14

Sunday saw us set out with good intentions to visit Milton Keynes. We’ve been once before and wanted to spend a little time and understand it a little more (well, it was more me wanting to than mu). Round and round and up and down. Nothing was open, was it too early? Or was everything still in enforced closure. After what amounted to what seemed like four days, we cut our losses and set off back. The motorway services on the way back (there was a detour as a road was closed) proved to be no less entertaining with the Costa Drive-thru being closed, leaving a ‘make it yourself at a machine’ the only option.

Back at Whilton Locks, we had a Cheese & Onion pasty at the Whilton Marina Cafe to console ourselves – delicious as ever. It’s nice sat in the sub by the Buckby Flight Bottom Lock or Whilton Lock or Lock 13. I never know what to call it.

I published Piece 1 of The Tales of Silverdale – a Pirate Ship in Dark Waters on our Ko-fi page. Afterwards I downloaded Pirates of the CaribbeanThe Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) and watched it. We love that film.

rp – peace and narrowboats