Gosh, its been almost 18 months since I last posted. We're still here on 'Misterton', just busy running our boatyard. I've made some progress on the new engine, we did a test run on it the other evening.


Rival Arrival

Almost 4 years ago I helped take friends Brett and Sandy's barge 'Rival' from Staines to Nieuwpoort. they have been cruising around Belgium and France since, but decided it was time to come back to the UK. Luckily I was able to join them and their crew for the return trip. 

Rival was moored on the canal at Nieuwpoort where I last saw her, but facing the other way, towards the sea.

We went down through the lock on the wednesday evening, ready for an early departure the next day, mooring on the quay used by the sand dredger 'Rio'.

We were up and away before 6:00am local time, motoring out to a glassy English Channel. Before long we were out of sight of land....

IMG_0712 from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.


 As with the last trip, it took a while to get used to steering a straight course with nothing to aim at. In the end I discovered that relaxing a bit and letting my subconcious take over produced the best result. 

The wind did pick up a bit, but the waves remained below 1m.

IMG_0711 from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.


There were a lot of ships out there, but coming into Harwich was uneventful, I made this video whilst steering.

Entering HarwicTrim from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.


We arrived safely at Ha'penny pier and ended up moored alongside our friends the 'Excelsior'.

Rival's final destination is the River Deben, but she is currently waiting for the next spring tide. It was a great trip and a good chance to catch up with people. I learnt a lot and I ate a lot, you are well catered for on this ship!



February Trip

We went for a slightly shorter trip in february, just to Sommerleyton and back. I setup the ipad to take some videos using a free time lapse application and here they are.

The first one is leaving our boatyard in Beccles down to the junction with Oulton Dyke.

Beccles to Oulton Dyke junction from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.

The next one is from the Dutch Tea Gardens to Sommerleyton, going through the railway swing bridge. The slightly chaotic start is because I'd forgotten to turn the fuel on for the engine, so it started to falter just as we were trying to leave.

Dutch tea gardens to Sommerleyton from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.


The final one is from the North Cove moorings back to Beccles. We had the crew of the 'Golden Mean' with us, they left their boat at the mooring and I dropped them back later that day. It took a while to moor up as the tide was too low to get alongside.

North Cove to Hippersons Boatyard in Beccles from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.



Winter Cruise

 When I first mentioned the concept of a winter cruise to Mary, I'm sure she imagined herself in the mediterranean with a cocktail in hand. In fact, my original destination was Norwich, but as Network Rail couldn't open Trowse swing bridge, we went to Cantley instead. On the way we stopped off at various favorite mooring spots such as the Dutch Tea Gardens and Somerleyton. Although it was cold, Nate managed to practice his rope throwing skills right up until sunset.

We were warm and cosy inside, thanks to central heating and wood burning stove, and luckily didn't have to contend with too much ice. We did get fog on the day we went to Cantley, and this coupled with an old (and innacurate...) map that I'd found meant we weren't too sure if we would get there. For non-locals, there is a sugar beet factory at Cantley, perhaps the largest industrial installation for 30 miles, but we couldn't see it as we went up the river. The picture below shows the Reedcutters Arms, a very friendly pub. Right behind it are giant storage silos and a factory. No, I can't see them either.

You'll notice the black & white cat - that's Little Ollie, Nates cat, who came on the trip with us (Big Ollie stayed back at the yard). This trip was the longest we've been away for several years and only the second time away with Little Ollie. He did very well, always coming back to the boat and although he doesn't like the noise of the engine, he likes hunting at each new mooring.

We stopped off at Reedham on the way back, and executed one of our best moorings ever, but of course there was no one to see it. Friends Jeremy, Harriet and their daughter joined us for a trip down the new cut to Somerleyton on New Years eve.


New Years was spent at Somerleyton, where we met up with the crew of the Golden Mean, after that it was Worlingham Staithe, and then back to Beccles.

 All in all, a very enjoyable trip. It wasn't long, only about 40 miles in all, but it works for the attention spans of the younger crew members (cat & boy...). Through the use of my highly accurate fuel gauge (a stick) I worked out we only used 48 litres of diesel. I think we probably drank more wine than that. :)



Almost winter again, where did the time go? Well, I know where it went, we had our busiest season ever at the boatyard. More here if you are interested.

Misterton is slowly getting work done on her, Mary did a great job of updating the wheelhouse interior this summer, I've painted the outside of it. Just need to upgrade the wooden window frames now.

Last week we took her out for a few days, with little Ollie, Nate's new kitten (young cat now) on board to see how he'd acclimatise to boat life. He doesn't like it when the engine is running, but liked exploring new moorings.

In order to get back to Beccles we needed to leave early, Mary took this video from the bow.

Misty morning at Somerleyton from Simon Sparrow on Vimeo.