Thursday, 21 May 2015

More progress

Nautilus is in its last lap which is a good thing as I am really ramping up my efforts on the book about the Lynx now.  Hopefully I will finish it before I get swamped with work for the new one.  In addition to agreed input from nearly all interested parties I now have an old naval colleague, Steve George, on board for the project - he is a very gifted cartoonist, it was Steve who did the cartoon of my Lynx helicopter.  He has agreed to illustrate elements of the book which will add another dimension to the product.

Guess wot I are doing? 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A good day

Two successes today. Firstly, I finally got the draft contract from my publishers, only a week after I was promised it - just have to read all the small print now. But this means that I am definitely going ahead with the book about the Lynx helicopter. Second success is that I now have agreement from all the Lynx flights that participated in the Falklands War. I have at least one willing contact from each. I also have the current front line squadron (815) champing at the bit to provide input as well as one of the original test crew who flew the first ever prototype. Going to be a busy year. For those who haven't seen it - here is my aircraft from 1982:

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The most heavily armed ship in the world

Nautilus is now nearing completion - we are heading home from our narrow boat next week and my aim will be to have the book ready for publication in about six weeks from now.  If anyone wants an advance copy then I'm more than happy to oblige (as long as you take the time to let me know all the typos).  The climax to the book takes place around a certain battle in October 1805 off the coast of Spain (bit of a clue there then).  One of the stars will be this ship below, not HMS Victory - she's small by comparison.  This is the four deck, 140 gun Santisima Trinidad, the Spanish Flag Ship.  Mind you her size and firepower didn't help the Spanish much.  The battle was fought in light airs and she had serious trouble manoeuvring as she was so big which meant the good old Royal Navy gave her a pounding and she eventually surrendered.  Sadly she sank in the subsequent storm, although they think they might now have found her remains on the bottom near Cadiz.  There is also a full size replica of her in Alicante although it is built over the hull of a modern merchant ship.

Change of plan

For the last few weeks we've been in a bit of a quandary (and there was me thinking it was a canal).  Looking at the year ahead it seems there is going to be very little chance of using Amelie May very much as I need to get on with serious writing and there is a good chance I need a new hip/knee or something.  I've always subscribed to the principle that its wrong to pay good money not to use something, in this case marina fees to store a boat that's not only not going to be used but also will deteriorate in the process.  So its with great reluctance that Fi and I have decided to put the boat up for sale in Venetian Marina - where we bought her from several years ago.  We've had tremendous fun.  I estimate we've covered about 1600 miles - all at 2.5 miles and hour, done over 1000 locks and emptied the loo well over a hundred times.  We've had an excellent sampling of Sunday Lunches and beers from around all sorts of out of the way places, I caught two (tiny) fish and neither of us has fallen in the canal - although Tigger did twice.  We've even managed to be nice to charter boats - most of the time.  So give it a year or so and we'll be looking for the next adventure. - Anyone want to buy a narrow boat?????

Friday, 8 May 2015

Downhill in the rain

We're almost at the end of the Llangollen now and once again its b***y raining but why am I surprised its England after all.  Mind you I'm probably not as fed up as some politicians are at this moment!!  Some gratuitous photos:
Not quite like getting back over the M4/Severn bridge

The view from the dining room one evening (when it actually wasn't raining for once)

So yet another weather forecasting tool proved wrong - they're all standing up and yes - its raining.

Waiting for a lock to drain, Tigger wondering whether its too far to jump

What you can't see is that directly on the opposite side of this lock is a pub.  It was only mid morning so there was no one to watch us - so we did it perfectly.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


I thought we’d experienced everything in our previous two years on the boat – not so.  When we woke up yesterday morning in a quiet spot with no other boats close, it was calm, grey and drizzling.  We left early in order to ensure that we didn’t get caught up in a queue at the locks only half a mile away.  With the number of charter boats around that was a distinct possibility.  We managed to fill up with water and go through the two locks with our normal aplomb – and then the wind started.  Because of the forecast , we had all our foul weather gear on but when I checked the met office web site the previous night there had been no mention of a Force Eight gale blasting across the canal.  In fact I have to wonder what the Met Office spend all their money on because their forecasts are crap.  It can’t be on decent computers and forecasters that’s for sure.  So within an hour the wind was getting extremely strong especially below the numerous squalls.  Now if we had been at sea I would have been a little worried but hey?  On the canals?   -  Wronnnnng.   We were going around a left hand bend when a really strong gust hit us.  Amelie May weighs in the order of 18 tons and you would think that wind would have little effect.  With full left rudder she wouldn’t turn at all and suddenly I was heading straight at the opposite bank.  More power to make the rudder more effective had b***er all effect and by the time I slammed the throttle into astern the bow was nicely embedded in the opposite bank.  The stern then elegantly did the same.  We were completely jammed across the canal.  The weird thing was that the wind should have been blowing us off but for some reason I’ve discovered that when she is broadside to the wind the stern is pushed harder than the bow. 

So what to do? Because we have a bow thruster, I’ve never used the bank stick that’s been slowly rotting away on the roof and I needn’t have bothered now as we were firmly embedded in the bank.  Likewise my idea of grabbing the stern line and pulling the back end free along the towpath came to naught.  The only consolation was that as boating accidents went it was pretty small beer.  Both ends of the boat were embedded in dry land after all.  However, the embarrassment factor was another thing, especially as we had a charter boat following us.  I was rather hoping they might come up and give us a shove – no chance – we never saw them, maybe they had their own accident because they were laughing at us so much.   So there we were, not going anywhere in a hurry when another boat approached from the other direction.  Seeing our plight he got close enough for me to throw him our bow line and was then able to drag us clear.  Profuse thanks were offered and we slunk away, highly embarrassed.  However, afterwards, when we chatted to other boaters we’ve discovered we were not the only ones who had major issues with the wind which has made us feel a little better.

Sorry no photos – even if I had some do you think I would post them??!!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A.... bout .... Turn

Escaped from Llangollen this morning and made another transit of the scary Aqueduct.  Most unusual for us to  pootle on a Sunday but you only get 48 hours on the mooring and as we arrived early we had to leave early.  Still we found a simple pub near the Aqueduct (called the - Aqueduct!!) and had a very pleasant meal.  Because it was unpretentious, cheap and came with a separate gravy boat we gave it a 9.  Should be down back at the end of this canal by the end of the week then plans will have to be made.................

The title of my previous post was slightly wrong as the canal goes on for a further 2 miles but is unnavigable for normal boats and this is the absolute end - but....

on the other side is the River Dee and a certain Mr Telford built this weir known as the Horseshoe Falls. The depth of the water above the falls is the same as the head of the canal - keeping it topped up.  Simple engineering but bloody clever all the same, how did they get the heights right?

One for my sister.  This welsh pony, strangely called Taff, pulled the flat bottomed tourist boat up to the head of the canal.