Monday, January 29, 2007

Are we friendly to the environment ?

NO is the short answer. What IS 'being friendly'? Don't answer that.

The world of nature will look after itself, so look out human beings. (GAIA theory, James Lovelock). Nature changes and adapts oh so slowly we may not notice in a lifetime. But then you may realise that it has changed if you look further back. We do not get snow at Christmas now. The Thames never freezes over and the ice caps ARE melting.

Burning wood is friendly. Coal or oil is not. This is because coal and oil took millions of years to produce. During that time it was absorbing CO2 while storing the suns energy. We have been releasing that CO2 and using the energy over a relatively short period of time.


I understand that our 'pink' diesel is one of the dirtiest fuels. It may be cheap but it is very UN friendly. Perhaps the addition of duty and tax will be a 'blessing in disguise' for the environment. We must be encouraged, not just by cost, but by availability as well, to use friendly fuel. 'Low Sulphur' and 'Bio' comes to mind. I do hope that the boat yards, private suppliers and British Waterways will be helped to make the friendly fuels available to us boaters. There has to be a profit in it.


On a separate tack I find it appalling that pumpout cards are not available from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust because there is no profit in it. The cards are used to activate the pumpout machines. Thankfully we do not have a 'black tank' to empty. We have cassettes which we can empty for free.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Closures before and after the storm

We seem to be OK on the Kennet & Avon canal for the moment but it is closed near Reading. Kate Bush owns property near the canal and in fact the river Kennet goes across her land. The river drops over a weir there which collapsed in December. It will apparently cost £100,000 to repair. British Waterways have not been maintaining the weir because it is on private land. Its collapse caused a rush of water which sank a boat and now a section of canal is empty!

There has been so much rain that the Thames is in flood and that very windy day has blown down a lot of trees. Many have blocked the canals all over the country. BW has advised all boaters to check with them before setting off on a trip! They will have a lot of work to do to clear the trees and continue the planned winter maintenance as well.

The workers

Meanwhile we keep busy working on No Problem.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Diesel taxation

Apparently commercial hire boats will still be able to use the 'lo tax' pink diesel. But non commercial boaters will be obliged to use the 'hi tax' diesel. We will not be able to fill up at commercial boat yards unless they install 'lo' and 'hi' tax diesel. We will have to find private marinas which soon will be forced to convert their supply to 'hi' tax diesel.

The EU law specifies a minimum rate of duty but our government chooses to add more than the minimum which is why the fuel in this country is more expensive. If the government applies the minimum duty to diesel for non commercial boaters then this will encourage it's use. It will also limit the possible purchase for boats of the 'hi tax' fuel at road side pumps.

A green boat

We use far less power than a normal household. Our engine and batteries provide just enough power to run a small washing machine. Maximum electrical power required only to get the water up to 40 degrees after filling with hot water. Each day the engine is run mainly to charge up the batteries for between 1 and 2 hours. During the day our solar panels keep the fridge, and occasional use of the computer running. When purchasing new electrical equipment we have to consider its power requirement. Our TV is only 40 watts, the digital tuner only 15 watts and the computer is 100 watts. And of course they are not left on stand by. We manage with an efficient 8 watt light because it is only 6 feet away. White LED lighting is an interesting development which promises even better efficiency. There are many boats with solar panels and wind turbines generating 'free' power which does not pump the dreaded CO2 into the atmosphere.

I do wish more can be done to encourage us all to consider the amount of power our equipment uses. There is a label on the back which gives the power rating either in watts or amps. Why do we have to search for this information? It should be on the front. How 'green' is your TV ? When power costs money and its generation damages the environment I wonder why we use so much.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Staying on the waters

Not had much time or inclination to write. Moving the boat provided the motive in the past. For the next few months we will be staying on the Kennet & Avon near Devizes. Not far from family or friends if they wish to visit. Should be easier to arrange as we are not a moving target for a while.

Our time will be spent helping our friends fit out their new boat 'NO PROBLEM'. See Sue's blog to keep up with that activity. To avoid confusion the original boat of that name is now 'WASNP' !

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New year reVolution

A change in emphasis? Less about waterways more about our way of life, family and friends. We feel that we have 'done' the inland waterways. It has been a wonderful voyage of discovery over the last 6 years living on the boat exploring the 2000 miles or so of the navigations. Our web site will remain as a record of our adventures. With an album of pictures of all the waterways we have explored. The book may well end at Chapter 11 (2006). For it has covered our adventure of discovery which is why I wrote it. Somebody might be persuaded to publish it?

At this point in time we cannot see us going back to 'dry land'. We both still enjoy life on the waterways. The freedom, lifestyle, peace, countryside, wild life and exploration which is only possible while on the boat. Having been back to see family and friends we know that the boat and the waterways are our home. Despite the apparent loneliness we have got to know so many people on the waterways.

Christmas and birthday were celebrated, last year now, with family and friends old and new. There is a promise of fresh opportunity for my brother is returning to his home country. Lovely to see him, his new place and exploring our old haunts together. We will try to stay close to the south coast so that family and friends can enjoy short trips to visit us.

At 65 I need time to explore in other directions. Like reading that 'Wogan' book Sue gave me, watching DVD's, maybe write about my working life, listen to music as always, keep the blog going, learn more tricks with those web pages…………..Should also get out for a walk with Ann & Molly.