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   The Steamboat Association of Great Britain


Topical notes and archive about the SBA and the world of steamboats

  • 30 Aug 2016 22:53 | Anonymous member

    Have a look at this flickr album of ( mainly ) steam boats on Windermere from the 2016 SBA Windermere Week - and some from from earlier years.  Thanks to Robert Beale for compiling the album.

    Roger Heise

  • 12 Mar 2016 09:05 | Deleted user

    As Chantilly’s adventures at John & Françoise Tilley's hands terminated with her sale in 2015 (to France of course!) they have elected to compile their Funnel reports of her travels, hopefully as encouragement for those contemplating similar cruises or simply to while away the odd coffee break.

    Each article will be republished online throughout 2016 or you can download the full document here (10Mb).

    John & Françoise write:

    This event, as was boldly advertised in FUNNEL, was an international meeting of old or interesting power boats, which had clear requirements of venerability for the motor boats, but welcomed any steamboat made of anything!

    So, with such a warm invitation, we took Chantilly, joining Iola built by the late Richard Hayne, very attractive fitted out open F21, as the ‘G.B’ contingent and met up with Oxbird from Bordeaux Maritime Museum, Lord Byron F21 from Lake Geneva, Sarina also from Geneva, a simple, practical, and obviously satisfying paddler, built around a lake Geneva fishing skiff, another very pretty boat Scylla of Messina and Asphodel, the only resident Lac du Bourget steamer, the biggest boat , proud and purposeful, belonging to the late André Coudurier, the event organiser. An international gathering, but all ‘ex pat’ English boats! I should also mention albeit briefly, the 20 or so splendid old wooden power boats brought from all over Europe, who added at least noise and spray to this colourful gathering!

    The first phase of this meeting was based on the port of Aix-les-Bains and was arranged also as a visitor attraction, for which the town provided generous sponsorship by way of hotel accommodation, meals, coal, and endless speeches, and receptions which was a great excuse to sample the excellent Savoyard wine.

    Day one was ‘Viewing of boats on trailers’ and launching, a crowded public spectacle and a good excuse to go walking the beautiful Jura foothills surrounding the town, to avoid it.

    Day two had boating activities on the Lake, the first a manoeuvrability test around buoys, I missed whilst fighting steam raising gremlins. The second ‘regularity trials’ I also missed by steaming, with Richard and Robert, to a distant lakeside restaurant for lunch. Iola however did eventually enter the event, apparently aimed at maintaining a regular speed around a buoyed course, and concluded the
    activities by picking up a buoy line in her prop in a big way and being towed to the hoist to be fetched out and disentangled!

    The third day took us in convoy to the head of the Lake, where the Canal de Savières links it to the Rhône, pausing as we passed the strikingly majestic Abbey de Hautecombe. We moored in the delightful canal side village of Chanaz where a picnic for all 100 or so boaters and hangers-on was arranged outside a genuine working water mill, which was fully restored a year or so ago and was producing oil from walnuts and hazelnuts. We were invited simply because Edouard the mill owner liked things old and mechanical.

    That evening brought, with speeches welcomes and drinks, prize giving! Everyone was a winner of something, but particularly of note was Lord Byron as the most manoeuvrable boat of the event, and Iola as having the “best engine” with a superb Mallinson Twin.

    The second phase of the event, and perhaps more to my taste, was a three day cruise on the Rhône, taking in a mysterious ‘boat lift’ over barrages.

    On Monday, we were due to steam up the Lake again, in a party of six boats, to join the Rhône at Chanaz, but sadly a hooley blew up over night, and the Lake was impassable for small steamboats.

    After 20 or so early morning committee meetings, we all set off across the Lake in Lakshme an old Lake Geneva motor boat, which at 11m was fast and weatherly. Then to be taken by car to a little mountain town Culoz that was honouring one of its past residents the brothers: Henri (1848-1915)and Léon Serpollet (1859-1907) with an exhibition of notes and photographs of his wondrous turn of century inventions with steam powered cars, bicycles and other devices. This also occasioned speeches, welcomes and drinks.

    As the weather had not abated, I elected to return to Aix, fetch out Chantilly, re-launch on the Rhône and join up with the rest of the party in Lakshme at our evening stop.

    The Rhône at this point runs at the foot of the Jura Mountain range and varies from wide, shallow and fast flowing thro’ rolling green valleys to over 40m deep in majestic gorges. Apart from a few fishing punts, there are virtually no boats, and very few landings.

    At a number of places, the river has been left to follow its course, and huge navigable canals feed hydro-electric stations, giving a 30-50 foot barrage. No locks exist, but navigation past these dams is possible by use of a ‘portique’. This is a three wheeled self powered machine which rumbles down a wide slipway to pick up the boats-up to 5 tins-in slings, winch itself back up the slipway, casts off then trundle down the road at walking race, past the power station to re-launch in the outfall.


    One purpose of our organised passage on the river was to hopefully overwhelm the navigation and establish a case for installing locks to re-open the river to navigation but with a flotilla now only numbering two boats, the portique seemed to cope admirably. Nevertheless, like conquistadors we were greeted by hoards at the few towns en route, and subject to more speeches, welcomes and drinks. Where no town existed, the locals set up a mobile reception centre, and dispensed welcomes and drinks from the river side on folding tables-fortunately no speeches this time!

    On the Rhône!

    After 3 days of travel on this wild, remote and beautiful river known in places as the ‘Blue Valley’, we 10 or so adventurers formed quite a strong band, and many was the merry picnic lunch (no speeches, much wine) and late night revelry at the Auberge du Gland. This inn, apart from being the site of my initiation into the delights of frog legs,the only item on the menu, a ploy, I’m certain, by André to challenge the English ‘sang froid’- I beat him at his game however, by being the first, for seconds! The Auberge has a mountain stream running in the garden and the innkeeper has installed a couple of turbines in his garden shed, and produces 1000KW (yes KW, not watts, I saw the instruments) for sale to the national grid. He also drinks like a fish and drives like a Frenchman not a happy combination when chauffeuring us back to our boat late at night!

    Crêpes Chantilly!

    We parted from the group at Chanaz, as they had to leave, and we spent a couple of days exploring the Lake and its environs. The only place in the vicinity where the ‘bière pression’ was served, was the Abbey de Hautecombe, the provisions however were to be found on the opposite shore, 3 miles to buy bread and back for another beer filled in a pleasant half day’s steaming!

    A splendid event, in gorgeous surroundings, made inevitably all more fascinating by being adopted by colourful locals.

    We made the journey in one long day, and travel apart, had to spend very little. Our thanks to our friend André Coudurier, an unflappable, generous “Bon Vivant”, who managed such a cosmopolitan bunch to the total enjoyment of all.

  • 21 Feb 2016 09:32 | Deleted user

    As Chantilly’s adventures at John & Françoise Tilley's hands terminated with her sale in 2015 (to France of course!) they have elected to compile their Funnel reports of her travels, hopefully as encouragement for those contemplating similar cruises or simply to while away the odd coffee break.

    Each article will be republished online throughout 2016 or you can download the full document here (10Mb).

    John & Françoise write:

    After waiting some half hour the top gates of the three lock flight at Marseillette opened and out ‘popped’, under apparently random pilotage, a handful of hire cruisers.

    Having drawn the fire in anticipation of imminent action, we were hailed by the lock-keeper who asked us to wait a while longer as a ‘Péniche’- which has priority-was approaching shortly. “Whilst wishing to oblige” quote Françoise in impeccable French, “we have unfortunately too much steam and there is some danger of explosion” upon which the safety valve blew, and the highly impressed, and now motivated lock-keeper raised his brolly in defence of such eventuality, and immediately locked us through in record time. After hundreds of years of waterway lore, the ‘péniche’ had been ousted as primeur by a steamboat!

    Quick to capitalise on this advantage, we re-established our ‘priorité’ at succeeding locks by judicious use of the blower, to encourage the safety valve to emphasise the urgency of our transit.

    We were at the beginning of Chantilly’s adventure ’93 on the Canal du Midi. This canal, rightfully described as ‘Le Canal des Deux Mers’, links the Atlantic at Bordeaux to the Mediterranean at Sète and was built in the 1600’s by one Paul Riquet, a self-taught engineer whose most unlikely beginnings were as a tax collector! (Has BW now gone the other way?)He crowned his most remarkable achievement by ‘expiring’ some few months before it was opened and hence remembered more for his initial success than some of the subsequent operating difficulties. It is probably the most interesting and varied of the French waterways and has the added attraction of touching the Mediterranean with the (presumed) attendant splendid weather.

    The difficulties are that it is a long way from Blighty, needing two full days’ travel each way; as a water feeder for the Provence vineyards and agriculture, it is sometimes allowed to run dry in summer, and it can be very hot and rather expensive down there.

    As we had some time available in early spring, it seemed to overcome some of the possible difficulties and offered an exciting start to the steaming season.

    Our starting place was chosen as Carcassonne which, apart from having a beautiful ancient city, is about half way along the ‘Midi’ proper and would give us a comfortable two weeks’ cruising to reach the ultimate terminus at Beaucaire on the Rhône. Contact was made with the Captain du port who on earlier telephone calls was unsure whether he had a suitable slipway or not. Arriving late evening we discovered that slipway they had not, but did sport a muddy groove in the canal bank!. Unwilling to drive further, and against local advice, I did indeed launch from this spot-mainly because once committed down the slope no way could I drive out again with Chantilly still on the trailer!

    Impressed by this display of English foolhardiness, the captain gave every further assistance, including stowing the car and trailer in his yard for a couple of weeks.

    Although it was spring, the weather was not all that one might expect of the south of France-in fact it rained ‘chats et chiens’ for about a week, causing considerable flooding of the locality. Apart from turgidly, the canal proper was not affected, but we heard that where the canal crossed the River Hérault at Agde, the canal was closed. Just before AgdeThe tiny ‘Libron’ also crosses the canal: normally a ditch it becomes a raging torrent in spate and a Napoleonic ‘flood lock’ is brought into play to allow it to cross the canal at its higher level. To our dismay this was closed as we approached Agde and I feared unreasonable delays, but a conversation with the ‘army’ of lock-keepers that had been sent to operate this amazing device gave us hope-again ahead of an impending peniche-of being ‘locked through’. It was a unique opportunity to witness and assist with its very rare operation.

    Just before the locks the Libron bifurcates into two streams and rejoins just after. When needs press, the stream is allowed to pass across the canal through channels formed by sets of sliding gates, suspended on rails above, forming two sealed channels with a space of some 200m of canal between.

    To pass through when in operation, first one of the two streams is dammed off with sluice gates, the sliding gates opened, with ‘inch bars’on the rails above, boats pass into the lock space and the gates are inched shut behind. The same is repeated with the front channel to allow the boats out.

    The amount of clanking, grunting and expletives employed in this event have to be seen and translated to be believed!

    This ‘wonder’ was matched for eye popping only by the inclined plane at Beziers. A staircase of nine locks has, not unlike Foxton near home, an inclined plane or water chute alongside. Unlike the Foxton plane, this has a smooth-sided channel running from the lower point to the top level, with a great ‘machine’ which runs up it on rubber tyres, straddling the channel. Boats pass under the machine at the lower end, it lowers a great paddle into the channel behind the boats and then grinds its way uphill, pushing a wedge of water (1000 tons I calculate) ahead, discharging water, boats and, I suspect, a few fish, into the top level. Sadly, like Foxton, it wasn’t working so we had to take the ‘conventional’ locks down.

    The only reported account of its operation is an occasion when it was descending with three or four boats, the brakes failed, the emergency brake failed, the operator, deigning not to be associated with the impending disaster, leapt off.

    The device reached 25km/hr; the innocent boater thought it a wonderfully speedy alternative to locks until it hit the bottom pound. The boats did not suffer much, but the surrounding area did with the ensuing huge wave!

    After a couple of pleasant days spent holed up in Agde, we eventually were allowed to cross the still angry Hérault and entered the Étang de Thau, a sea lake 15 miles x 3 miles wide, crammed with oyster baskets and fishermen in 200hp punts. Although not above a force 4, the trip was quite adventurous enough in a 21 ft river boat and it took days to remove the salt stains from the brass work.

    Mèze before the Étang de Thau

    Stopping at a couple of lakeside fishing villages, we reached Sète- the official terminus of the Canal du Midi. From there we entered the Canal de Sète et Rhône, not without an enforced overnight stop alongside the rather inhospitable railway wharf due to the wind upping to a 6 and the waves being considerably higher than our spirits in the early evening.

    This last leg enters the Camargue, and although whilst true legend white horses and flamingos abound, the only black bull I saw was on my plate in a local Auberge!

    The canal passes within half a mile of the Mediterranean coast and a number of fishing towns in this area have their own cut from the harbour to the canal.

    One such town, Palavas-Les-Flots, advertised at its entrance a sadly all too rare a commodity on this waterways-showers!

    On all of our previous French waterways cruises we had found excellent waterside facilities by way of showers and toilets at many locks- but not so, on the Midi. Although we did manage to somehow meet our daily needs, it did require some ingenuity, and required that one showered and toileted at any hour of day or night, when the opportunity arose.

    We found ourselves lathering up in such places as a football stadium, un-let hire boats, ‘Douches à la Chantilly’, and occasionally, to our delight, in a marina.

    So this opportunity had to be taken. When we entered the town’s new marina, we were immediately ‘adopted’ by the Captain of the port, François, who gave us the prime berth-right outside the loo’s and offered us the freedom of the port. Within minutes, a small crowd of his boaty friends had gathered around, including a local reporter for the ‘Midi Libre’ who was also a member of the local old boats club.

    After giving a few trips around the harbour, and steaming briefly out into the Med, we were invited as guests of honour to a specially convened dinner by the old boats club, ‘Les Vieux Grémants’.

    On the Med!

    A convivial evening of good food, plentiful wine and probably misunderstood anecdotes followed, by which time the Commodore declared that they would be delighted to entertain any SBA or TVSC members similarly-but please would we not all come at once!

    Steaming continued well into the night with Chantilly taking the last of the party back to the marina at around 1am.

    Next morning, before breakfast was finished, visitors arrived once more, this time bringing gifts of wine, food, books, etc. More trips followed and we eventually left many new friends, a little sadly, amidst multiple whistle blasts and promises to return.

    It seemed like only a few shovels of coal before our journeying was completed at Beaucaire, then en train to Carcassonne to fetch the car and trailer for our return home.

    Our trip took us some 300 km with about 50 locks, we consumed 200 kg of coal (after coaling difficulties on our previous trips we took it all with us!) which computed to around 20 kg for each steaming day of 10-12 hours. We had no real mechanical problems, and to illustrate that we missed nothing, we arrived back home with only 5 kg of coal and five francs!

  • 07 Feb 2016 09:19 | Deleted user

    As Chantilly’s adventures at John & Françoise Tilley's hands terminated with her sale in 2015 (to France of course!) they have elected to compile their Funnel reports of her travels, hopefully as encouragement for those contemplating similar cruises or simply to while away the odd coffee break.

    Each article will be republished online throughout 2016 or you can download the full document here (10Mb).

    John writes:

    Although Chantilly has steamed a number of the better known waterways in France, there is still a lifetimes cruising left around the edges.

    The pin this year stuck in la Charente, navigable from Angoulême inland to Rochefort in the estuary-and then into the Bay of Biscay.

    As a plus the River Boutonne was stated to be navigable from the estuary for 30 km inland. This gave a projected cruise of about 200 km and 40 locks- comfortable for the 8 steaming days available.

    We reached Angoulême 20 hours from home, overnighting on board Chantilly in one of the comfortable ‘aires’ found on the autoroutes. Slight set back one, was that, although advertised in the carte fluvial as having a slipway, and full services, Angoulêmes didn’t agree and offered only a meagre slipway, rocky banks and a weedy river. Advised to try downstream at Chateauneuf, we found a splendid starting point with lock side facilities, including a restaurant private car park and a railway station opposite.


    The line, which followed the river for its length, was to be a boon for ultimate car recovery, but a bit of interruption to nocturnal repose.

    Our first steam was upstream towards Angoulême, to cover the bit missed. The Charente, as many French waterways, is only really used by English operated hire fleets, so 4 boats a day was crowded! It has a noticeable current, and for the upper half more than noticeable weeds. Our previous training for weed avoidance on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal was not wasted! The water is astonishingly clear; and the weeds can be seen growing from the bottom in 10 or more feet of water, so careful navigation, and coasting with engine in mid gear thro’ the un-navigable patches reduced attacking the prop with the boat hook, to a minimum. This clear water gave a magical view of underwater life and no doubt gave the many fish a choice as to which worm to nibble.

    On the surface, we had a plethora of game birds, and coipu. These friendly fellows were happy to bask in the shallows with the ducks and took no heed of us. Kingfishers a plenty, sadly absent from our waterways this year, were so populous that they often hunted in pairs. Add to this the many often crumbling, mills and chateaux, gave an aura of wild, uncharted waters. The locks are occurring every 5 or 10 km and are large 30 m x 7 m with usually 1m drop, and all bar one are hand operated, self service although occasionally, one would meet a lock manned by enterprising youths to whom one tossed serious money in exchanged for respite from the 150 turns of each of the 4 paddles. We found the usual surfeit of gourmet cuisine, and some delightfully fruity Charentais wine, which despite the untold cubic ‘metres’ distilled into Cognac, still flows a plenty. Our journey downstream, at a very easy pace with the favourable current, took us to St Simon, now a quiet hamlet but until the early 1900’s, a major boat building centre of the 100 ton square rigged sailing barges, the Gabare.

    Sadly for the town, when boat building died, with the onset of steel barges, the termites imported with the African timber, didn’t, and many of the buildings are now suffering serious roof droop from the still thriving beasties.

    On next to Jarnac, a major hire base where we discovered slight set back two- the Boutonne was navigable, but only by canoe, and the lower tidal reaches to Rochefort were most unattractive to small boats, as one needed to travel the 30 km on a falling tide and wait in the mud till high tide, before the sea lock would open into the harbour. This effectively eliminated 3 days of our intended route. This fact turned out to be a boon, allowing us to explore the freshwater Charente in more detail, and spend time with a number of the many steam boat afficiados we met.


    Like Antoine, who spent a morning showing us his fascinating family Cognac distillery, and then joining us in Jarnac for a steam and bank side produce sampling, and meeting his best friend Pierre who was building a model of a steam boat- and Jean-Claude near Cognac who has made, in 20,000 hours over 14 years, a collection of the most intricate working steam models, marine plants, loco’s, road vehicles, including Cugnot’s carriage (1769), stationary engines and a few revolutionary devices of his own design- all to scale and from old plans making everything in house, including the steering chain links for a ¾” scale traction engine.

    Then there was Philippe in St Savinien at the end of our navigation, who with his Swedish wife Eva, runs a Swedish restaurant, and imports old ‘Peterson’ wooden motor boats from Sweden and, restores them.

    All of them, fired by thumbing thro’ our copy of the Index, and a data sheet on Chantilly prepared before in French, are now hell bent on constructing a steam boat.

    The cruise continued on thro’ Taillebourg, where the chateau overlooking the river was used for B&B by such notables as Richard the Lion Heart…on to Cognac, with its splendid new harbour, a well kept interesting old town, bristling with distilleries all housed in imposing chateaux. Then through Port d’Envaux, once an important port, now a quaint waterside village but still with splendid hostelries, on to St Savinien.

    Unable to continue by water, we entrained and visited our goal, Rochefort by rail. Here, the ‘temps’ ceased to be ‘beau’, and we had torrential downpours that found Chantilly’s canopy a little less than watertight (but a 60 KW boiler soon dries damp bedding). We then had a long days steam, 55 km and 2 locks back to Cognac, spent our last day steaming around with new found friends and, witnessed the hilarious local sport of water jousting, where the technique seems to be to upset and deflect the oarsmen before the jousters meet. Amongst the many attractions of Cognac was a most effective slipway, and a TGV station from where I was whisked, a breakneck speed back to Chateauneuf to collect car and trailer.

    Then end of our steaming, but not quite the end of our adventures, as at our overnight stop off at Chateau-sur-Loire, ‘F’ espied an ad for 3 old Vélo Solex mopeds ‘like Grandad had’, so after a phone call, we deviated early Sunday morning 50 km to Ponce where we met the family and accompanied by Dad in his night attire, we whistle along the county lanes testing their 20 cc capabilities to the full, did a deal for a 30 year old model in splendid original condition, popped it under Chantilly’s canopy, and returned with a really useful souvenir. A leisurely trip on an unspoilt waterway. 170 km and 30 locks of steaming- and we brought back some of the 150 kg of coal we started with; which sadly meant less need for the usual wine ‘ballast’ on the return trip!

  • 27 Dec 2015 12:29 | Deleted user

    During 2015 Philip Webster will be giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo:

    Full of 'eastern promise', the weather here was perfect for a steam trip. Blue sky, warm sun and a light breeze, our hurricane type weather promised for tomorrow!

    Banjo seems to like these unscheduled rests, the outward journey against the tide, and again homeward bound, were completed very briskly, then to top it all the engine (Beryl 2), ran down to five P.S.I. ! The extra speed may have been helped by the shortage of crew. One was watching snooker in York, the other frog marched in to some retail establishment, ugh!

    Down to three and a dog again this week, just means we get to lunch a bit quicker! It almost seems a shame to pull her out when going so well, just two more trips then I can investigate those rattles! Steam boating has that wonderful quality of being interesting and enjoyable on the water or in the shed.
  • 30 Nov 2015 12:00 | Deleted user

    During 2015 Philip Webster will be giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo:

    When the weather is fine, some say,

    it's fine to be a steamboat driver,
    Wind steam and sun make jolly good fun
    It's great to be out on the river.

    But when it gets cold and bones rather old
    we need a good friend like our Betsy
    She's warm , round and thoroughly sound
    And usually eats all we feed her.

    From sticks and coal to telegraph pole
    She gives us steam from her belly
    At eight bells, that's noon she'll whistle a tune
    To say they are open, lunch ready.

    The weather is anything but cold just now, hence the predictions of a hard winter. If comfortable we will continue steaming every Friday into the New Year , then pull out for refit. I have been tooling up for an attack on the  Stevenson's link. With the design parameters to hand and a little more understanding of how it works I hope to make a better job of the valve gear.

    Five brave men and a dog squeezed between Abigail and Kate and ignored the date. The weather turned foul but the strong wind helped the draught, and another tasted good with our dinner. (that is what we call lunch in Norfolk). We had to get back to BSC by three for a site meeting, (the flood defence works are now complete), we guess that the Gremlins cannot swim fast as the wind over the funnel gave us a record run home.
    What a difference this week. Blue sky and sunshine but cold northerly gives us a hint that winter is 'coming. The bonus of this is the extra wild life that joins us on the river. Yesterday we saw an otter with his lunch of bream, a hare having a bath, (a first for us), also ducks galore, cormorant, shag, grebe,but no coot, where have they gone. In my youth they had coot shoots on Rockland Broad, perhaps the shot too many?
  • 07 Nov 2015 20:26 | Deleted user

    During 2015 Philip Webster will be giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo:

    The first Friday steam was abandoned, due to Golden Wedding celebrations, fancy having a 'do' on a Friday! However, steaming hours were compensated with an extra trip on Tuesday. Ian, who usually provides a good spread for lunch had just been 'let out' after a hip replacement and desperate to get afloat again. The last time he came we gave a tow to three young maids in a canoe. They had imbibed fairly well and looked in need! All went well, they passed a bottle forward and we responded with chocolates. At that time they were wearing life jackets, but with only a hundred yards to go the canoe inverted and the long haired blond was detached from her life saver. Fortunately she was not wearing a wig, and Ians demonstration of how to grasp a mermaid's tail' will stay in my memory for ever. She slid aboard like a wet fish, much relieved to be in our warm dry saloon.

    This month's activities seem doomed. It is not often that the Friday steam has to be postponed, or even cancelled, but, we all have the 'dreaded lurgie', or to be modern, man flu. It is years since I had an attack and find it most debilitating. However, being confined to the 'indoor shed', I am able to indulge in u-tube videos. Wonderful stuff of Thailand rice factory, powered by steam, saw mills in the US and the recovery of a steam dredger from it's last job, 50yrs. On! All wonderful stories, with explicit commentaries and NO background music or amplified applause!

    She steamed like a witch, the rest did her good
    The curry was great and so was the pud,
    The Gremlins lost out , no problems it seems
    Must be saving themselves for Haloween

    At least we finnished the month on a high, three weeks ashore is classed as 'cruelty to Norfolkmen'.

  • 01 Oct 2015 21:11 | Deleted user

    During 2015 Philip Webster will be giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo:

    Still short of crew, so George and I had a day out on the razzle! George had not stoked recently and found several little alterations. These must have taken his mind off the job in hand as he had three goes at lighting the fire. Coffee at moorings and a short trip to Surlingham for a slap up lunch of liver and bacon.

    George and I are getting the hang of two man steaming. In spite of the adverse tides and strong head wind we completed our planned cruise to Lim's shop and enjoyed every chip. The fish added to the small celebration of the digital rev. counter, laser powered from the flywheel. The lollipop stick is a 'temporary switch depressant', that stayed put all the way there. We now know that 330rpm really is our cruising optimum. I am hoping this may be a significant step along the journey to a digital indicator, which, perhaps will tell me that the valve timing is correct after all?

    On Saturday the 19th. We acted as turn boat for the Triple 'B', setting the up river turn buoy and watching diligently for any misdemeanour’s. This sailing race, raises funds for the 'Waveney Stardust'(see August). This was the 25th. Time we have run this race which usually goes from Buckenham to Breydon Water and back. This year however the bridge at Reedham was undergoing a spot of maintenance and could not open. In order to enable the race to proceed we rearranged the route to include Brundall as the other 'B'. The weather treated us kindly and all the 29 entrants completed the course with no mishaps. The 'Catas -trophy' however was awarded to BSC, as the safety boat could not be started, dead starter. Just proves that steam is more reliable!

    Last steam of the month had a mission. We delivered a '25th. Triple B' mug to the Harbour Master at Reedham. He has quite a collection in his office, where they get well used by the visiting crews.


    George kept up a good head of steam on the way back, and in spite of pushing the tide we caught up some sailing cruisers(oh yes we did). They were enrout for Coldham Hall for the 'Yare Navigation Race', another classic event, twice as old as the 'Triple B'.

  • 06 Sep 2015 09:19 | Deleted user

    During 2015 Philip Webster will be giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo:

    For many years, the first week end of August has been reserved as a charitable event for those less able to enjoy water sports. Banjo usually does several trips with 4 or 5 guests at a time. All went well until the last trip, when a small party of rather heavy helpers came aboard. As we passed another of our fleet, I gave the obligatory whistle and lots of waves. My shirt was wet so , thinking the whistle valve had a leak I stood up to inspect it, and got a wet bum. The bilge water shone prettily in the sunlight as it proscribed an arc from the flywheel to my seat! A bit of baling and load adjustment cured the immediate problem, but a higher bilge pump outlet has been arranged. A Plimsole line might be another addition, or a set of quay side scales!

    Yesterday we enjoyed what could be our last pint at the Burney Arms. Situated at the inner end of Breydon Water it is really only of use to the passing boat trade. This, nowadays is sadly insufficient to continue trading so the owner has applied for change of use to private dwelling.

    On our way down river we met the flood about a mile from Breydon. We also met two gin palaces who had enjoyed the unrestricted Breydon Water but had forgotten the speed restriction in the river!. Banjo sliced through the wash without hesitation, no green stuff over the bow this time. However, who should be following us, just around the bend, the Broads Authority patrol boat. To catch two speeders together made their day! If we had been in a canoe things might have been a bit fraught. Ironically our trip back to BSC was done in record time, with the tide flooding all the way Banjo took a little time  to cool down at moorings !

    There are very few things that interrupt our regular Friday steams, but a bulging sick bay and a leaking roof are two of them. My part was the carport roof, built 30yrs. ago to house the mobile home, (now scrapped), it works well as a winter maintenance bay. The canopy can be winched up and stored while machinery is lifted out. I had used a sort of corrugated cardboard sheeting, a new product at the time, but thirty years proved well past it's usable life span. The galvanised replacement will, I am sure last me out. I now know the real meaning of 'a cat on a hot tin roof'!

    The last trip of the month found the Burney arms still serving. Another minor achievement this month was the control of cylinder lubricant. Flow from the displacement unit is controlled by a needle valve, until recently. The sudden excess clogged the infeed pump filter, as well as everything else. A 'new', larger valve from the 'stores' allowed a bit of modification. The spindle reworked to accommodate a spring which bedded onto a brass jumper, (courtesy of George's stair rods). The resulting adjustment features control to acceptable level.

  • 01 Aug 2015 14:06 | Deleted user

    The month started with a sizzling heat wave. The Gremlins, unused to such weather decided a swim would be in order, inside Banjo. A sorry sight when we arrived Tuesday morning for a day's sailing. The tide would be flooding for the next four hours so we sailed away, looking forward to an evening baling! Joyfully, on our return we found Capt. Liberte had dropped in a mains electric pump, job done, except for the wet seats etc. . The heat wave worked for us then for by Friday, nearly everything was back to normal. Cruised up to Surlingham and lunch ashore and overtook the Albion, the wherry that tried to catch us on Breydon. We offered them a tow, naturally, but our thirst overcame chivalry!

    IF the battery had kept the pump a'pumping'
    IF the coal had not been used from starboard side,
    IF the leak had been addressed when first was noticed,
    Then the Gremlins would have missed their gala day.

    The low ebb proved no problem to the re-hashed trailer. The new axles with smaller wheels, the drawbar dolly and extension pole made recovery a doddle, home by coffee break and repair to the leaky plank half done. After lunch the fire tubes were given a birthday treat inside and out.

    Damage from the total immersion is a lot less than feared. A few rusty bits and a bit of mud is only to be expected, but electric rev counters do not like it! A mechanical model is to hand, but a higher mounting point is being considered. However, after stripping and a few days dry out we seem to have revs again.

    During this week's 'rest' I have made the helm's and engineer's windows open outwards. I hope now that they will be rain proof. The extra couple of inches freed up inside will also be welcome, Banjo is fairly slim amidships, 4'6” for two adults and an engine.

    The rainproof windows have had their test, and they are draught proof as well. We had the pleasure of following the fleet on the down river race to Reedham. The fore cast was for rain and wind so we had a good excuse not to sail! On the way back we had the pleasant company of the Club newly weds, Steve and Sara. The foul weather could have strained relations a bit, but a ride home in the warm dry saloon on Banjo, will, I am sure, be a pleasant memory, for all.

    The last day of the month and summer has returned. The record temperatures, high and low, plus the extreme rainfall and wind certainly tested the windows. Another job I should have done years ago.

    Our last trip of the month, with the 'guest stoker' restricted to 160psi, a pleasant cruise up river to Whitlingham for lunch aboard. An 'all in' with fruit and custard, home brew and coffee. Tomorrow we are steaming again, giving rides to disadvantaged club guests.

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