The Globe Inn, Old Linslade

After yesterday's sun today was cloudy and dull. It even briefly rained, although not for long enough to help gardens and the grass grow.

Before we left Great Linford we were treated to BW contractors "cutting" the grass. Well that was what they were supposed to be doing. The only problem was there was no grass to cut! I actually thought the operator of the mower was just transporting his mower along the towpath using the engine. But when I saw that he was followed by two other operatives strimming, I realised he was actually at work. What a complete was of time and money! To add insult to injury one of the strimmers did not stop strimming the canal edge alongside our boat and showered Albert with grass cuttings. It was just as well he didn't pick up any stones! I have seen BW mowing gangs stop operating as boats pass. This gang couldn't even stop strimming right up against our boat.

Following our grass showering, we washed Albert and then had a pleasant trip through Milton Keynes. We moored up for lunch at Fenny Stratford close to two interesting distance markers indicating places that are far apart.

Distance to the Thames (presumably at Brentford)

Lock distance marker

When we got to Stoke Hammond lock we met NB Benbecca who was single-handed. He joined us going up the three locks at Soulbury.

Stoke Hammond Lock looking pretty in autumn sunshine

We had planned to moor close by the winding hole at Old Linslade where the canal widens. It is one of our favourite spots. Unfortunately the pound was low and it is now badly silted and in need of dredging. We tried morring exactly where were did on our trip in 2007 but we went aground several feet out from the bank and it took a considerable effort to get us off. We tried and failed to moor at two other spots close by because we went aground again. Eventually we tried mooring at The Globe and finally succeeded, although even there our first attempt failed.

Albert moored at Old Linslade in April 2007 - exactly the same spot where we went aground in 2009!

It strikes me that BW should pay a bit more attention to their dredging and have tighter control of the their mowing contractors. The Linslade pound is only down by around six inches (see below), heaven help us if it really gets dry!

And this drop caused us mooring problems

Fun small boat!

Great Linford

Yes, we are on the move at last! You should be able to follow our progress via Google Latitude. We have just added the widget/badge to the blog.

We are taking a week's trip to Aylesbury. We left Yardley Gobion late this afternoon and, in very pleasant sunshine, we made our way south to Great Linford. As we left Brian and Irene O'Neill from NB Rangitoto, who moor next to us in Kingfisher Marina, were getting their boat ready for the winter. The O'Neill's spend their UK summers boating and their UK winters back home in New Zealand.

We passed the new marina at Cosgrove (Thrupp Marina). It is finished but still stanked off. It opens on October 1st.

We hope to get to Marsworth by Thursday to pick up our friends Anne & Edward Winter. The plan is to take them down the Aylesbury Arm and back. On the way we will have clean up Albert - she has a good coating of dust, lots of spider's webs and the odd lump of "guano".


I recently reported that herons appeared to be becoming less disturbed by the passage of boats. Many thanks to Heather from Taketezy who contacted me to report that some herons are not only getting less disturbed but getting downright cheeky. They have some pictures on their blog of a heron that visited their boat regularly last year when they were moored up on the Rufford Arm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Also both NB Gypsyrover and NB Epithany also report a very bold heron at Springwell Lock on the Grand Union.

Origin of Roses and Castles (Again)

I have to admit that I don't often buy Canal Boat magazine. Some time ago I decided that two canal magazines a month was just too many, so I chose Waterways World. When I was a regular reader of Canal Boat the column that I read most avidly was that by Hugh McKnight on canal history. It was therefore a happy coincidence that recently I found myself browsing the magazine shelf in a newsagent that I don't often visit and I found the latest edition of Canal Boat (October 2009) containing a great article by Hugh on the origin of Roses and Castles.

It was to Hugh that I first turned a few years ago when I was seeking to identify the painter of our small old "water can". He suggested we contact Tony Lewery who finally identified it as early Nurser Brothers, painted around 1911. Our can is very similar to that shown on page 63 of Canal Boat.

Hugh appears to have covered the area very well and found some excellent examples of the 19th century artwork that appears to have inspired the boat painters. One illustration he uses in his article particularly caught by attention. He shows a 18th century Dutch Delft tile from a fireplace surround showing a castle scene that is very similar to the narrow boat painters Castles. When were recently in Tallinn we visited the famous Kadriorg Palace which was built as a summer palace for the Russian Tsars. In almost every room are large 18th century stoves decorated with similar Delft tiles. We were so taken with them, and their obvious links to boating Castles, that we took several photographs of them.

Delft Tile Stove, Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn, Estonia

Several Castle Scenes on Tiles

Close-up of Castle Scenes

Sorry about the flash highlights! - I took the photographs very quickly on my Nokia N95

So again it appears that the hypothesis that Roses & Castles have a long popular art tradition is supported.

Steve Parkin

Cruise Ships, Tall Ships and a link to Canals

We left St Anthony Head last Friday and travelled home to Northants.

Before we left we found that the cruise ship Albatros had arrived over night and was moored up at Carrick Roads near St Mawes castle.

Cruise ship Albatros

On our journey through St Austell we diverted to visit the historic port of Charlestown. Since we last visited the harbour in 2003 the area around the port has been developed. The tourist attraction is much bigger and there are several more restaurants.

Charlestown Harbour in 2003 with Kaskelot, Earl of Pembroke, and Phoenix

Earl of Pembroke and Phoenix in Charlestown Harbour in 2003

The port is the base for the Square Sail Company who operate their squared-rigged vessels from the port. They are mostly used for television and the movies. In 2003 all three of their vessels were in port but there was no explanantion of their history.

Kaskelot in Charlestown Harbour in 2009

This time just the three-masted barque Kaskelot was in port but she was open to visitors for a small fee. It was fascinating investigating her. She was laid down the year I was born, 1947, and spent her early life around Greenland. Her hull is in oak, but has some steel plating on her bows to protect her from ice. An interesting addition to her rigging are baggywrinkles. They are made from old frayed rope and are to protect the sails and movable rigging from rubbing against the fixed rigging.

Foremast of the Kaskelot (showing a baggywrinkle on the right of the picture)

Bows of the Kaskelot

What is the connection with canals? Well all the ships owned by square sail have all visited Gloucester Docks using the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.

Another Research Ship

This evening the Cefas Endeavour entered Falmouth harbour. She is another research ship but not sponsored by NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) as with the James Cook, but by Defra. Cefas is the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science and is an agency of Defra. It is effectively the fisheries arm of government sponsored science. Their main base is in Lowestoft which is where the Cefas Endeavour is registered.

Yesterday I spotted an unidentified tanker being bunkered (refuelled) in Falmouth Bay. My binoculars were not good enough tho make out her name. It appears she is the MV Tarnvik . Tomorrow she departs Falmouth Bay and so do we.

St Anthony Head

Ships in the landscape and at sea

Today the weather cleared and visibility from St Anthony Head was very good. This morning the six vessels waiting for orders are now down to five. The Methania appears to have gone, however the Falmouth Port website shows that she will be back on Friday. The MV Ormond is being bunkered in the bay.

We took a trip to Trelissick Gardens, the excellent National Trust Gardens close to King Harry Ferry on the River Fal. As always there were ships "mothballed" upstream of the ferry. Given the narrow nature of the channel, they appear to dwarf the surroundings.

The new King Harry Chain Ferry on the River Fal

The ferry is new with glass sides and glass observation panels so the moving chains can be seen.

Just some of the ships anchored by King Harry Ferry

The view of the ships from Trelissick is almost surreal.

Ships in the landscape, King Harry Ferry 
(Tregothnan estate is on the the hill)

In the evening, from our vantage point on St Anthony Head, we saw a UK Border Agency (formerly HM Customs) cutter race across Falmouth Bay and overhaul a former fishing boat heading for the Helford River. The Border Agency crew boarded the boat using an inflatable but she continued her journey. It appears that there are five similar Border Agency cutters operating around the UK. We also watched the coastguard ship Anglian Princess enter port. Appropriately enough she is registered in Lowestoft.

More ship movements in poor visibilty

Today the weather was not good with a sea fog and occasional light rain. The fog horn at the lighthouse on St Anthony head intermittently sounded and a couple of unidentified container ships were being bunkered.

St Anthony Head light house

In the afternnon we travelled to St Mawes and whilst watching the shipping at St Mawes Castle we saw the research ship RRS James Cook arrive from an expeditition exploring the mid-atlantic ridge. This time last year a friend of ours, who works on geology at the Open University, went on a similar expedition.

RRS James Cook arriving at Falmouth in poor visibility, Sept 8th, 2009

Onboard this year they had an extra passenger; the ship has rescued Peter Bray, a rower attempting a trans-atlantic crossing.

Fog over Carrick Roads - Falmouth Cut-Off

Tonight a thick mist rolled in from the sea and we can't see Falmouth - hence the title adapting the famous 1930s headline. We can hear various fog horns around the bay.

Just to complete our ship spotting list, we recently saw the Federal Oshina and the BRO Juno arrive off-shore Falmouth waiting to be bunkered.

In Gerrans Bay we saw the Lapis Arrow car transporter which has been moored up waiting for trade for some time. Her unusual shape makes an interesting sight on the horizon.

Pilot Gig Racing at Portscatho

When we visited Porscatho on Saturday afternoon it was the Roseland Gig Club Regatta. Fifteen crews from across Cornwall were attending. We saw crews from Padstow and St Ives attending. The weather was very good for sea rowing with very little swell. We arrived in time to see the last race.

Crews Landing after a race

Crews from Truro and Caradon departing for a race

It was great fun with lots of crews and their followers lining the shore. When I raced on the sea back in the 1960s around Cardiff and Swansea in places like the Mumbles and Penarth, we rowed in standard racing fours over straight courses. Gigs, without sliding seats and clinker built are very much heavier and the courses include turning around buoys. We saw some gigs being loaded onto trailers. It took quite a team to lift them. A crew from Falmouth towed their boat backed home using a RIB. I saw them passing Zone Point near St Anthony Head. Looked a better bet than going by road.

A Gig from the Charlestown Rowing Club, St Austell

There is a excellent website devoted to the sport and an offical site.

More Waiting for Orders

Yesterday we reported on the 6 ships "waiting for orders" off Falmouth. Steve spent some time at the observation post on the headland trying to identify them. They were the container vessels E.R. Elsfleth, E.R. Cuxhaven, E.R. Caen, E.R. Stralsund, and Commander; and the natural gas tank Methania. There is a good report by the Falmouth Packet on these ships. It appears that they have been here for some time. The Methania appears to be particularly notorious having loaded and then unloaded a cargo of gas which its owners couldn't sell. It is also on the Greenpeace scrapping wish list.

However, while we were watching the moored ships they were joined by another empty tanker the the King Darius. We also watched one of the Falmouth refuelling bunkers, Clipper Beaune, service a passing container ship. The Falmouth pilot was also busy.

Falmouth refuelling bunker, Clipper Beaune

In the evening we watched the departure of the cruise ship Aida Cara. She was quite a sight, especially with the smiling face painted on her bows.

Cruise Ship Aida Cara leaving Falmouth

We managed to access her website and found her webcam. Her bow webcam showed St Anthony Head with its lighthouse. Pity you couldn't see us watching her from on the head!

Webcam view from the Aida Cara looking towards St Anthony Head as she leaves Falmouth

The Grande America then left using three tugs. Along with the pilot boat it was quite a flotilla.

Grande America leaving Falmouth

What a fascinating place Falmouth Harbour is.

St Anthony Head, Cornwall

We are spending the week with Maggie's mum, Mollie, in a National Trust Cottage on St Anthony Head in Cornwall. We used to spend family holidays in Roseland in the 1980s so the area is familiar to us. However, the scenery never ceases to impress. Today, with a blustery wind but sunshine the bays and sea around the Carrick Roads looked magnificent.

The cottage is in the former gun battery that protected Falmouth so the views of the coast are excellent. This is certainly a good spot for ship spotting.

Mollie ship spotting

There are usually some ships waiting around here for orders, and some are usually laid-up near King Harry Ferry, but when we arrived late this afternoon we found large six container vessels anchored off Falmouth Bay. Presumably there isn't much trade because of the recession.

"Waiting for orders" - at Falmouth

However, the Italian registered container ship Grande America is in Falmouth and she appears to be loading or unloading. She looks very large.

As we looked at the shoreline through binoculars, a Royal Navy vessel arrived. It was P281 HMS Tyne a fishery protection vessel. She dropped off an RIB which went into Falmouth with some crew and then returned. Mollie thought they were going to get fish & chips for supper. HMS Tyne then disappeared towards the East.

P281 HMS Tyne

Looking at her details on Wikipedia she has two Ruston diesel engines. So she she has something in common with Albert! However, her two Ruston engines generate 5,500 HP each at 1,000 RPM - not 15.

Sloe Gin

Took out Albert for a trip down to Cosgrove on Bank Holiday Monday. We stopped for tea and took a walk down to the River Tove near Castlthorpe and found a great crop of sloes. We will definitely be making sloe gin this year!

Albert's exhaust note is now much more crisp after her exhaust port decoke.