Monday, 28 February 2011

The Bounder Startled Me!

My usual Sunday walk didn’t happen due to another engagement, so I took to the hills this morning.  Weekday in the conservation parks behind our house are nearly always quiet and today was no exception.  I was quietly walking along deep in thought when this bounder jumped out at me from the bushes beside the track and jumped off into the distance.  I was initially quite startled!  Damned kangaroo’s: their colouring allows them to blend into the surrounding vegetation.

There is one portion of today’s track that opens out onto a rather scenic view of the gorge in Morialta Conservation Park.

2nd Falls are in the middle of the photo immediately to the left off the piece of brown/red cliff.  There has been little rain in the past few weeks which means the falls are almost dry.

My thoughts have turned to the sale of the smaller of our two cars.  I’ve been very impressed with the Hyundai and would happily purchase another sometime in the future.  Over the next couple of days two more removalists are calling to inspect our household effects and give us a quotation to move them to New South Wales.  Time marches on and we have less than three months before we depart for England.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Compiling Navigation Information

Anyone who has read my earlier posts will know I’ve been tracing the canal network in Google Earth and then adding information from a variety of sources.  My idea is to create both a digital and paper compendium of canal navigation information.  I don’t want “all our eggs in one basket” which is why I don’t solely want to rely on digital data.

Over the last few days I have downloaded some useful information from the British Waterways website.  This has now been double sided printed and laminated, before hole punched and placed into a ring binder

A trip to the local “Cheap as Chips” shop unearthed a $2 set of plastic dividers and we now have a reasonably weather resistant compendium of canal and river information.  The major negative factor is the weight.  If we are to keep within our checked luggage limit I think the folder will need to go in my cabin bag.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Big Flood

One of my rail industry colleagues sent me this photo of the floodwater out on the Nullabor Desert.  You may recall the massive cyclone which struck Queensland and flooded some two storey houses to their roof line.  Another major storm struck the North West of Australia and the floodwaters have been making their way south across the continent over the last several weeks.

The Trans Australian Railway between Adelaide and Perth has been cut by the floodwaters and isn’t expected to reopen for four days.


This is as far as the Hi-Rail vehicle was able to go.  You can just see the faint outline of the submerged rail at the end of the vehicle bonnet and to the right of the right floodlight.  The waters extends to the horizon in all directions (except behind the vehicle).

Friday, 25 February 2011

Where’s all the Concrete


One comment frequently heard from people “down-under” who have not been to the UK is “Why do you want to go to a concrete jungle?”   Well as any UK readers know “it’s not like that!”  Each trip Jan patiently allows me to spend a day walking in an interesting part of the country.  I quite like the Lake District where I have completed three walks.  The one problem is each time I get to the top of the hill I’m either in the clouds or driving rain, so I’ve never seen anything :-)

In 2005 I completed the “3 Peaks Challenge” in the Yorkshire Dales.  Jan spent the day in Skipton whilst I took the rental car to Horton in Ribblesdale.  The idea was to climb to the top of three local hills in less than 12 hours.  I competed the route in an anti-clockwise direction taking just over nine hours.

The first hill was Pen-Y-Ghent and despite taking an incorrect turn I made it to the top in good time.

From there I headed down and past the railway bridge

I would have been ahead of this young lass except I stopped and waited for the train to pass over the bridge :-)

One of the pleasant things about walking in the UK is you seem to meet a number of people out enjoying the countryside.  In Australia I can go for a three hour walk and not see anyone!  As I started up the second hill (Little Whernside) I caught up with a large number of walkers around my own age or older.  Initially I was impressed that they had managed to be so far ahead of me but then I realised they were only attempting this hill.

The top of Little Whernside with the third hill on the horizon.

By the time I reached the top of the third hill (Ingleborough) I was starting to feel my age.  I needed to get this walk over and done with so I joggled back down the hill to the car.  Unfortunately for me, I thought it was a short journey from the top of Ingleborough back to to the car at Horton in Ribblesdale.  It wasn’t! 

Driving the car the next day was agony!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Always Moving

One of the disadvantages of hiring a boat is you feel the need, or are required by time, to constantly keep moving.  The situation isn’t helped when the literature from some hire boat companies advise a journey can be completed in an optimistic timeframe.  I remember the year we completed the Four Counties Ring.  We decided to book the boat for 10 days instead of the suggested seven.  It wasn’t leisurely cruising, however we did have time for some brief scenic stops.  Another boat with a young family seem to be keeping pace with us until we reached Great Haywood on the second evening.  They thought the journey was going well until they discovered we were doing the ring in 10 days whilst they had 6.5 days; and had already used two of them.  When we woke in the morning they had long gone and I can imagine it would have been a very busy holiday.

When booking a boat in 2005 for the Cheshire Ring we allocated two weeks.  This gave us some time to visit Bugsworth Basin and even a short portion of the Caldon Canal.  Even then I tend to complete the first half of the planned trip in less than 50% of the total time as you never know what might occur.  When we reached Bosley Locks there was a long queue of boats waiting to go down.  Walking to the flight I found the bottom of one lock was at the surface.

We lost almost one day waiting for the hard working BW crew to repair the collapsed lock sill.  One boat crew from the same hire company simply ran out of time and abandoned the boat leaving it for the hire company to recover.

On a more positive note, we met a lovely English couple at Manchester who were also doing the ring for the first time.  We discovered travelling with company was a far more pleasant experience.  Hopefully we will met Joyce and John again when we get to live on the cut.

One other thing I’ve noticed is how reserved a small number boaters can be.  Perhaps it is because I’m on holiday and happy with the world!  Whereas they don’t appear to see me, looking stoically ahead when I utter a cheerful greeting!  Although on one occasion I did get a reply and was told “Go back where you bloody came from!”   To which I doffed my hat and wished him a pleasant day.  No ignorant curmudgeon was going to spoil my fun!  Others are more than happy to let the hire boat crew do all the work at the locks.  It’s almost as if we hire boaters are apprentices and should be doing all the manual labour.  However these people are a very small minority which is why we are so enthusiastic about our plans for life on Waiouru.

If my memory is correct this is Hall Green Lock on the Macclesfield Canal.  It’s a stop lock at 6” deep with a pretty canal cottage beside it.  The occupant had placed out a range of wares to tempt passing boaters.  Jan was tempted!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Camel Has Arrived

It seems only the other day I was complaining about the speed at which the camel delivering our January and February edition of Canal Boat magazine was travelling across Australia.

Today she plodded, wheezing and spitting, past our letterbox!  The wheezing should not surprise anyone given we have received two magazines in one week :-)

Pity the poor subscribers in Perth.  It will take her another three weeks to cross the Nullabor Desert! 

When I first started planning our own trip across the Nullabor Desert in 1993 I thought it was an Aboriginal word.  I was slightly surprised to subsequently read it was Latin.  Null (no) abor (trees).  And it is aptly named!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I’ve just finished reading our January edition of the Canal Boat magazine and particularly noted the reviewed boat had a can-bus DC power distribution system.  The reviewed boat was fitted with a system from Mastervolt whereas our is an Empirbus system.  I compared both systems before selecting the Empirbus. 

My reasons for selecting the Empirbus were:

1.  The Mastervolt system was very integrated almost requiring the exclusive use of various Mastervolt components whereas the Empirbus system provided much greater flexibility in the integration of components.

2.  The Empirbus system had the option of remote keyless access and the ability to communicated with the boat via text messaging.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Progress Report

Last night we made a VoIP phone call <click here for explanation> to our builder Ben Harp.  Ben was able to tell us Waiouru has been spray foam insulated and he hopes to be able to move the shell to his premises for fit-out sometime around the middle of this week depending upon the availability of transport. 

We gathered that Ben has been having some long days commuting daily from Stafford up to Sheffield to work on Waiouru. His travelling time should reduce when the shell is closer to home.

I’m quite pleased we bought the VoIP box and found a VoIP provider.  We have gone with Maxotel and although they are based in Brisbane we haven’t had any issues, apart from a problem with phoning 1300 numbers.  We discovered if we phoned an Adelaide 1300 number we would get a Brisbane number.  The VoIP phone gives us three advantages.  All local and national fixed line calls are 12 cents.  These calls are also untimed.  The 3rd advantage is we can phone the UK for 2p a minute.  As a result it’s now cost effective to phone Ben and Kelly rather than attempting to explain everything in an email.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A Blog Visitor from Launceston, Tasmania

I was looking at my blog traffic in Google Analytics and noticed I had received a single visit from someone in Launceston, Tasmania.  This was a new visitor so I checked up on the date the visit occurred.  They actually visited whilst I was down in Launceston on business!

Klong… tingle… tingle!  The penny dropped.  It was me…. I posted to the blog from my hotel room  (LOL)  I guess that means half the visits to the blog are from me checking if everything is working ;-)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

It Has Arrived

Two days ago I posted that our monthly copy of Canal Boat magazine hadn’t arrived and I suspected it was a problem with Australia Post.  I made one error.  It wasn’t the February but rather the January edition we were missing.  We are always at least a month behind!

Well look what arrived in today’s post.

Was I too quick to condemn?  It’s only a few days late.  Hang on…… Let me look at the envelope it came in.  It’s not the usual clear plastic cover, but grey.  And where did it come from?

New Zealand!!!!!   Jan informs me she had earlier emailed Canal Boat magazine reporting we had not received the January copy.  It looks like there was a spare copy in New Zealand and they have sent it across the Tasman Sea to satisfy an Adelaide customer.  But I’m curious.  What’s under the NZ Post label.  I’m going to see if I can soak the top label off and look underneath. 

<20 minutes later>  Interesting….. Under the label is Swiss Post 8010  Zurich Mulligen. 

Oh, the reviewed boat in the January edition has a canbus distribution system.  However that system is from Mastervolt whereas ours is from Empirbus.  I selected the Empirbus system instead of the Mastervolt because I calculated it had better ‘whole of boat’ system integration properties.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ben has been “Beavering Away”

Kelly kindly sent us a few photo’s of the work Ben has been doing in anticipation of receiving the shell from Wilson Tyler.  We are quite impressed with what looks to be a very high standard of joinery.


My initial reaction was “What are these?”  Then I realised they must be the inner porthole liners.

houdini liners

There are no square windows so these must be the surrounds for the Houdini hatches.  I can see someone standing just out of view of the camera.  They are wearing gloves <brrrr> and the ground looks wet.  How will we cope during the English winters.  Actually, we might also ask ourselves the same question about the summers!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Canal Boat Magazine

I see Adam has written on his blog about the boat review he has written for the March edition of Canal Boat magazine.  We would like to see our February edition! 

Somehow I don’t think it’s a problem with the publisher or distributor.  We have been speaking with the postman who told us they are only given a certain timeframe to complete their route along with a upper limit on the number of items that can be carried.  As a consequence “lower priority” items are left behind until there is a quiet day.  We’re starting to think they might mean quiet “week” or “month”.

Never mind.  In four months we will be able to purchase a copy directly from the nearest UK news outlet.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Grandparents Out There – You will understand!

Patient Grandfather

A woman in a supermarket is following a grandfather and his badly behaved 3 year-old grandson.

It's obvious to her that he has his hands full with the child screaming for sweets in the sweet aisle, biscuits in the biscuit aisle; and for fruit, cereal and pop in the other aisles.

Meanwhile, Granddad is working his way around, saying in a controlled voice, "Easy, William, we won't be long . . . easy, boy."

Another outburst, and she hears the granddad calmly say, "It's okay, William, just a couple more minutes and we'll be out of here. Hang in there, boy."

At the checkout, the little terror is throwing items out of the trolley, and Granddad says again in a controlled voice, "William, William, relax mate, don't get upset. We'll be home in five minutes; stay cool, William."

Very impressed, the woman goes outside where the grandfather is loading his groceries and the boy into the car.

She said to the elderly gentleman, "It's none of my business, but you were amazing in there. I don't know how you did it. That whole time, you kept your composure, and no matter how loud and disruptive he got, you just calmly kept saying things would be okay. 

William is very lucky to have you as his grandpa."

"Thanks," said the grandfather, "but I'm William . .. . the little bastard's name is Kevin."

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Three Minutes

Today I took a day out of my life and travelled 2000 kilometres for my biometric appointment at the British Consulate in Melbourne.  I’ve made the journey between Adelaide and Melbourne by both air and road on many occasions, however it’s the first time I have used the ‘Sky Bus” between Melbourne airport and Southern Cross Railway Station in the CBD.  There is nothing “Sky” about the bus, however it is quick.  No seniors discount on the fare as they wouldn’t accept my South Australian card.  One wonders why my South Australian card is accepted in the UK but not the State next to my own…. and we’re the same darned country!

The consulate office is about 1.5km from the railways station so I could either walk or take the tram.  The temperature was in the low 30’s so I decided to walk the distance.

The route was slightly uphill and I have a tendency to walk at a fast pace.  As a result I arrived at the consulate 5 minutes early for my appointment but with my shirt stuck to my back.

Mine was the first name called when the “booths” opened after lunch at 1.30pm.  I was asked for my appointment document, visa application and passport.  I assume the latter was to confirm I was the person providing the biometric details.  Next I had to place each hand in turn on the optical scanner to have my fingerprints recorded.  This was followed by my photo being taken. 

The whole thing took less than 3 minutes. 

Whilst walking back to the railway station I managed to take a couple of quick photo’s of the Melbourne CBD.

This is the Rialto Building on Collins Street.  It’s a hotel which I’ve previously stayed at.  I was informed the gap between the two buildings used to be where the horse drawn stage coaches pulled in to a central courtyard.  The courtyard is now an atrium and contains the hotel restaurant.

Another quick photo whilst I was walking along.  The centre of the street is taken up with a tram stop and the vehicle lane in the middle of the photo is the only means motor vehicles have of navigating up and down the street.  Most of the other Australian State capital cities tore up their tram system years ago.  Melbourne is now almost unique in having retained their system. However Adelaide is now starting to install a new light rail network.

Not all the trams are new

I’ve just counted the cost of the trip.  Apart from taking up a day it cost us nearly $350.  All for three minutes.

Now I must send my visa application to the British High Commission in Canberra for processing and; hopefully; approval!

Monday, 14 February 2011


Whilst completing the Cheshire Ring we stopped for the night at Lymm on our way to Manchester.  Is it pronounced ‘Lime’ or ‘Limm’ as in limb?

If my memory is correct this photo was taken on the outskirts of the town.  It had an interesting market square and; more importantly for us at the time; a small supermarket when we could restock the boat.  The canal appear to cut the town in half with many of the houses below the level of the canal.  Obviously the planning laws were considerably different when the construction took place.

It was one of those lovely warm and sunny English evening so we decided to have a BBQ.  There wasn’t much room on the towpath and we were bemused by the reaction from the dogs as they walked passed our sizzling steaks and sausages.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

British Waterways

It’s been interesting reading the many and varied comments regarding the performance of the British Waterways executive management team.  They mostly appear to be reviled!

I’m not “close to the action” so I’d like to think I’m being objective in my assessment.  I don’t doubt their competency as executive managers and I have some sympathy for them with their efforts to develop a sustainable business model.  They appear to have tried developing a range of revenue stream ideas (eg; property, pubs, marinas).  None of this appears to have been successful.

I suspect the previous government gave them a mandate to develop a sustainable business model and were prepared to “pump money in” to get it established.  If the executive management team had succeeded and made a profit, then I suspect the government may have sold British Waterways as a commercial operation or left it as a self funded government corporation.

The board and executive team have failed to achieve this and the GFC; plus change of government; has resulted in the decision to move BW towards being a charity.  The National Trust seems to be quoted as a successful example of what can be achieved.  Unfortunately I see very few business similarities.  The National Trust appeals to a far wider audience who are prepared to pay a modest sum to visit a heritage structure.  Whereas the canals are basically a network of ditches.  Some will pay to float on them (which is expensive) but almost no one would pay to walk beside them.

The cost of an annual licence will never reach a level that could form the sole source of income.  Moreover I suspect the majority of volunteers want to “recover” derelict canals rather than maintain the existing network.  And recovering derelict canals only increases the BW maintenance task.

I suspect we will see the canal network fall into slow but steady decline with the less popular sections being the first to close.

One would expect the BW middle management and workers to be very demoralised after years of restructuring and “right-sizing” to find the business in an even poorer financial situation.  

As for the current board and executive management team; they have failed.   In the commercial world senior executives are paid large salaries for two reasons.  Either to reward success, or keep them from leaving when the business is in financial difficulty.  This is because the board doesn’t want competitors or creditors to know.  BW is a public organisation so the latter reason doesn’t apply.  Therefore the board and executive team should do the honourable thing and resign rather than wait for a “golden parachute”! 

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Long Way Home

I’m always apprehensive about flying out of Launceston; especially on a Friday afternoon!  Invariably the aircraft is late and on one occasion it didn’t arrive.  Qantas obviously know there is a problem with the sector as they allow an additional hour for my onward connection in Melbourne.

The aircraft only arrived 5 minutes late which was somewhat a surprise.  Everyone boarded quickly and we waited for the door to close.  And we wait……. and we waited!  Then there was a announcement “would we please unbuckle our seatbelts as they were going to refuel the aircraft”.  This was a new one!  So we waited.  Then the pilot announced we were waiting for the refueller to refuel a search and rescue aircraft that was about to arrive.  Fair enough, safety first!  Finally we were refuelled and departed.  It’s a 60 minute flight from Launceston to Melbourne and I usually read during the journey.  About 30 minutes into the flight I realised the sun was playing “peek-a-boo” with the aircraft.  One minute it would shine through the port windows and 10 minutes later it would be briefly in my eyes from the starboard window.  There were two options; either the pilot was doing barrel rolls or we were completing racetrack circuits over Bass Strait.  Probably the latter.  But why?  Either someone onboard was low on frequent flyer air mile points and trying to accumulate a few more or there was a problem at Melbourne.  More likely to be the latter.  Looking at my watch I realised we had already been in the air 90 minutes.  Then the pilot decided to have some fun punching holes in the clouds.  I watched the time for my connecting flight arrive and depart.  Great; a missed connection home on a Friday night. Just what I wanted!

Eventually we landed 30 minutes after my connection in low cloud and rain.  The “Flight Customer Service Attendant” (that’s code for “Hostie”)  then made an announcement that Adelaide passengers should go directly to Gate 4.   Which; of course;  was on the far side of the terminal.  I worked myself up to 130 paces to the minute and scurried around to the gate.  As I approached from a distance I could see the display showing closed and the seats in the departure lounge were empty.  Bugger!!!  Then I realised the door to the air bridge was open and the Hostie… oops Flight Customer Service Attendant; was waiting to scan my boarding card. I made my way down the air bridge to the front of the cabin expecting to be greeted by a sea of angry faces all impatiently waiting for the “missing” passenger.  Instead I was greeted by a sea of resigned faces.  I slipped into my seat expecting the door to be shut behind me.   The flight was already 50 minutes late.  But we waited.  Then the pilot announced we were waiting for one further passenger.  Five minutes later they boarded and we waited.  Ten minutes later the pilot announced we were second in the queue to depart.  Oh yeah and the tooth fairy is the co-pilot!  The aircraft door was still open and we were remained attached to the air bridge and ground power.  Twenty minutes later we pushed back and proceeded to taxi to the end of the runway…… stopping for 3 minutes every 100 metres.  Perhaps the pilot intended to drive the 737 to Adelaide rather than fly.   Eventually, with a cheer and sigh from those onboard;  we departed after the time we were scheduled to arrive in Adelaide.

We were seriously late and I hadn’t eaten lunch.  My stomach was asking my throat if it had been cut!  I don’t like doing it; but I knew I was going to eat the in flight meal.  It duly arrived and I tore the foil top off the hot container with some trepidation.  Yup,  catering from Air India.  Curried chicken and steamed rice.  Hiding under one corner of the rice were some soggy ‘greens’ that looked suspiciously like boiled weeds.  You have to be careful with the sole bread roll.  If you don’t grip it firmly on one hand when attempting to saw it open with the serrated edge of the plastic knife it can spring out of your hand and crush a toe. The secret to eating them is to cut it open and then hold one corner in your mouth using your saliva in an attempt to soften it.  At least they bung you up killing your appetite.

We landed before the curfew and don’t you just love it when the crew work to the standard script.  “Thank you for flying with XXXX; we hope you enjoyed your flight and look forward to seeing you next time you fly!”

What Happened to the Sky?

Up well before dawn and off to the airport to catch my flights.  There are no direct flights between Adelaide and Launceston, Tasmania which meant a connection in Melbourne.

The aircraft touched down in Launceston and the first thing I noticed was it was It was decidedly cooler.  I had booked a small car with a local car rental company, however they didn’t have one available so I was given a free upgrade to a larger vehicle.  It was a Renault four door automatic with a microchip card instead of an ignition key and an automatic park brake.  I sat in it for a few minutes familiarising myself with the control before heading towards the city.

Being a Renault, it’s European.  I must have the cleanest windscreen in Launceston.  Every time I indicated my intention to make a turn I cleaned the windscreen.  This isn’t a new experience for me.  It occurs for the first few days each time we arrive in the UK.  Why can’t the rest of the world’s car manufacturers get their controls on the right side!

The Tasmanian authorities must have changed the flight path into Launceston.  I was sitting in the office working away when I recognised the roar of a low jet directly overhead.  Then the old grey matter kicked in and a distant memory told me that was the sound of heavy rain!  Indeed it was; and I stood at the window watching it pour down.  It’s been some time since I saw the wet stuff arriving with such intensity.

There isn’t much to write about the hotel.  All hotel rooms seem to be the same.  One annoying thing I’ve noticed they all seem to have in common is the poor level of lighting.  If you want to read in the evening then I have to go to the bathroom which is the only source of decent light!

This morning I woke to an overcast grey Tasmanian day.  It wasn’t cold, but I had this foreboding feeling we might be waking to many similar days on Waiouru.  You don’t get a green land and lush vegetation without rain!  Over the last couple of decades my four seasons have been “Warm, Hot,  Hotter, Bloody Hot”.  Snow looks nice – but I’m now starting to have doubts! 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


I was reflecting on our first canal holiday in 2001 and realised I had taken very few photo’s of our first week afloat in a narrowboat.

This was probably due to the banks lunging at me; tunnels shrinking in size; ever the oncoming boats were bigger and wider.  Who has time to take photo’s when you’re living on nervous energy and dare not lose concentration for even half a second.  All the boat photo’s were taken by Jan and she seemed to have a lovely relaxing time.

Our second holiday in 2003 was slightly better.  My steering improved and I discovered the other boats on the Four Counties Ring were the same width as ours.  However, I again took no photo’s.

In 2005 we did the Cheshire Ring and I could actually briefly take my hand off the tiller.  More importantly, we had purchased a digital camera which I could hold in one hand and ‘point and shoot’.  As a result most of the photo’s I took are looking forward with the full length of the roof in front of me.  Unfortunately every time I attempted to take a photo behind us the towpath made a sneaky lunge at the bow of the boat!

At the start of our trip we were advised there had been a breach in the canal and as a result it had been drained for repair near Manchester.  Fortunately this proved to be old news and we were able to cruise right into the centre of the city.

I took this photo in a very quiet moment on the 2nd morning.  The previous night there had been a “battle of the bands” around the city moorings.  Realising it was going to be far too noisy for us to sleep in the middle of the city we watered the boat and turned around, mooring for the night beside this famous football ground.

Old Trafford.   

Damned Computer

I hate Windoze….. Each day the computer starts to perform more like me…. slowly!

What I should do is reformat the hard drive and reinstall the Windoze XP operating system.  This would probably get rid of much of the surplus ‘junk’ which is the likely cause of the poor performance.  However with only two months to go before it gets placed into storage, I can’t be bothered.  I’m mindful by the time it comes back out of storage in 5 years it will be even more obsolete.

By comparison the three older desktops are using Linux Ubuntu and are running as if they are on steroids.  I’m becoming rather fond of Ubuntu.  It breathes life back into ancient computers!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A Trip North

Yesterday I had an interesting business trip north to the city of Port Pirie.  It’s a 2.5 hour drive north of Adelaide but as it’s quite a good road I always enjoy the journey.  The first third of the road is dual carriageway and the latter portion has numerous passing lanes.  By departing at 6.30am I missed much of the morning traffic and was only delayed once by two huge sections of a wind turbine tower moving in the same direction on massive low loaders under police escort.  Despite their size the vehicles were travelling at 80km/h.  The number of wind farms in the area has increased significantly in the last decade.  They looks so small in the distance and yet you realise how massive they are when under one.

Although the road runs parallel to the coast there are very few portions where you can actually see the water.  My favourite spot is the crest of a hill 25km before Port Pirie.  At the crest the land opens before you with panoramic views of the upper gulf and the surrounding plains.  In the middle stands the Port Pirie smelter “stack” at 205 metres high.  Port Pirie has the largest lead smelter in the southern hemisphere.  It was established in 1889 when ore from Broken Hill started to be carried by rail down to Port Pirie where it was smelted and the lead then exported by sea.  There is reputably another 200 years of ore waiting to be mined.

After competing my business it was back on the road for the return journey.  With the road being relatively empty it was possible to get the vehicle up to the legal limit of 110km/h and set the cruise control for a relaxing drive home.

If you would like to know more about Port Pirie <click here>

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Cockpit

We’re rather impressed with the amount of work that has gone into manufacturing the lockers in Waiouru’s cockpit.

Our expectation was the locker would be a simple ”bin” design with a lift up lid.  As you can see in both photo’s the actual locker construction is far more sophisticated.  The above photo is the general storage locker whilst the next photo is the starboard gas locker.

Our specification requires all the external lockers and hatches to be secured by individual locking mechanisms operated from within the shell of the boat.  We didn’t want hasps, staples and padlocks. 

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Side Hatches

Brief description – Waiouru has two!

I think we agreed Waiouru would have side hatches after slowly cruising past a row of moored boat on a summer evening and observing a lady leaning out her side hatch feeding mother duck and her ducklings.

The first big decision was how many side hatches.  We settled on one pair either side.  That way it didn’t matter which side of the boat was moored against the bank we would always have one side hatch facing the water.  The second decision was where to position them.  If they went in the galley it would be possible to stand at the bench and look out the open hatch. However the bench would prevent someone from actually leaning out the hatch.  Moreover they would be shut on an inclement day potentially making the galley very dark.

In the end we decided they should be almost opposite each other and be positioned at the end of the saloon adjacent to the galley.  You can see in this next photo that the hatches are slightly offset.

Finally, we specified at least one hatch had to be sufficiently wide to allow all of the major galley appliances (oven, fridge, washing machine) to pass through it.  This was a precautionary measure as we are unsure whether it is possible to manoeuvre the appliances through the boat and out the bow or stern doors.

We have also specified glazed, timber framed inner doors so we can still have a view and light on cold or windy dry days.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Friday, 4 February 2011

Getting a Grip

During our second canal holiday in 2003 I decided to check the depth of the water.  This occurred  as a result of my failure to maintain my grip on the cabin handrail. (the water was waist deep!).  I think this unplanned action was partially caused by an increase in body mass which had occurred over the previous two decades along with the relatively sharp edge to the handrail on the roof of the hire boat.

The design of the cabin handrail on Waiouru provides a much rounder edge and; whilst I have no plans to do any further testing on the depth of the canals; we are hoping the improved handrail design makes walking along the gunwale safer.

Waiouru also has some rather nice scroll work

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Up front

Tim Tyler recommended we add one foot to the foredeck area otherwise it would become very cramped.  We agreed to this and found the additional foot by cutting 6” from the original length of the bathroom plus a further 6” from the saloon. This has allowed us to keep Waiouru at 58’6”

One of the main reasons for Tim suggesting this is the size of the locker that runs above the bow thruster tube. It has reduced the foredeck area and if we didn’t add the extra foot then there would be almost no foredeck.

We actually hadn’t anticipated a requirement for this locker and as you can see it is rather substantial.  It looks like there will be plenty of room for the two 135AH AGM bow thruster batteries and some additional storage. 

Tim said he would construct it at a height which would enable it to be the second step when alighting from the bow.  This is another thing we hadn’t considered and no doubt will prove quite useful for a couple of “oldies”.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Satellite Dome Mounting Points

We were slightly concerned to see the location of satellite dome on the roof in the earlier photos as it appeared to be too far forward.  However, this photo appears to show four small mounting brackets in the correct place immediately forward of the centre houdini hatch. You will also note the second arrow pointing to the “Boatman’s Beam” that runs across the roof of the boat. My assumption is the beam adds strength to the roof and also reduces the volume of water that might run to the rear of the boat filling the semi-trad cockpit area.

One thing I immediately noticed in the photo was the clean and tidy Wilson/Tyler workshop area.  In my opinion it’s a sign of a safe and professional operation.

If the houdini hatches are able to be opened bi-directionally then I think our opening sequence is likely to have the leading edge of the front hatch up and the reverse with the last hatch.  The idea is the front hatch will act as a scoop for fresh air and the rear hatch will be the exhaust.   

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

More of Waiouru’s Derriere

We’ve been able to identify more detail on Waiouru’s stern.  The original anchor points (I think the correct term is “dollies”) have now be replaced with the ‘T’ shaped anchor points we specified. Why did we specify this style of anchor point?  It seemed to me this design gave an improved grip on the mooring rope.

Note the separate cover to the weed hatch.  This should reduce the possibility of a loose weed hatch cover accidentally flooding the engine compartment.  Oh, and I’ve also noted the two small holes in the corners of the drainage gutter around the engine compartment hatch.  This confirms the responses from our blog readers who informed us the holes on the exterior of the shell were likely to be for the drainage of water and gas.

The gas locker will be located in the left locker (starboard) as shown in the photo.  The right locker is for general storage.

I’ve also noted the four small anchor ‘loops’ on the stern and I’m fairly certain they are used to secure the fender which protrudes from the rear and prevents the rudder being struck. 

This is a better view of the stern