Puttering, one way.

The route planner was set not taking more than 9 days. 5 hours a day.
That daily grind limit went for a bucket of chalk after day one.
Eventually we were casting off at 6.30 – 7.00 am and finishing (on average) at 6 pm at night.

Putting a 82 inch wide boat through locks and bridges only 84 inches wide one after the other in quick succession for hours on end is “a little bit stressful”.

Add a lot of gusting wind, 6.5 tonnes of aluminum needs a strong hand on the tiller.
Me walking the boat out of the locks on a rope to save time as we were on the clock.
As for SWMBO?
She was shattered at the end of each day as leaning on lock gates all day is not a lot of fun.
We shared the load but more often than not SWMBO was looking after her little old man!
Plus squeezing in and out of tight gaps was my forte not hers.
This was a trip of 78 miles, 6 furlongs (126.7 km) and 97 locks.
How does a river lock work? It ain’t rocket science, just loads of hard work.

44 miles, 17 wide locks along a river.
This we knew how to do and the first part of the journey was peaceful and relaxed.
No excitement and loads of rest.

And then,
13 miles, 34 narrow canal locks followed by,
21 miles, 46 wide locks which included the dreaded Hatton flight, which consists of 21 locks in a tight series, descending 146 feet (45 m) over 2.5 miles (3.5 km).

Luckily a friend came to help us.
We had a huge breakfast to fortify us and in 4 hours the flight was completed.
Only it didn’t stop there. He went home, we continued on for another 4 hours.
Tiny locks, heavy gates, hard concentration, heavy labour.
The workout from hell!

A nights sleep followed after a meal prepared by SWMBO with me carrying out the daily routine maintenance and washing down the boat.
We ate but without much enthusiasm and crawled into bed.
Next day the grind went on.
4 flights of locks, one ‘3 tread’ staircase lock.

Finally we crossed 3 aqueducts and puttered though a majorly VERY cold, drippy wet, low height tunnel. 7 minutes it took and I was deep frozen and sodden. SWMBO wisely sitting up front with the camera. Worse bit about it? The damn flash reflected off the front canvas tilt (cratch cover) and we got ZERO really good photographs.

Death toll?
3 badgers, one beautiful fallow deer, and a tiny puppy (which deeply upset SWMBO).
Animals fall into a lock or a canal with it’s steep banks, usually at night, and they just swim around until they drown.
It’s a sorry thing to see but that’s life.

Major tilts?
One busted rudder (thank Gawd I always carry tools).
Add a couple of stops for debris round the prop, one keel haul to release a trapped branch beneath the boat, the heating failing which caused me a complete nightmare but after a full forced shutdown it fired up again!
We used 50 litres of Diesel.
Top speed? 4 Mph. Chugging speed and locks? 2 Mph.

We met some extraordinary people, learnt a complete new skill set.
Eat what has got to be the best “Full English” breakfast in the world!
Travelled through the centre of the narrow boat world in the West Midlands where canals once ruled supreme and for the most part still do.
What struck me the most?
The number of families living on boats in less than austere conditions.
No running water, rubbish being burned, and I’m pretty certain toileting involved the use of a shovel for some. Add no electricity apart from batteries, the ocassional solar panel or wind turbine.  A complete society with no apparent safety net yet the kids were clean, bright, articulate, and polite.
Welcome to the other side. The UK’s version of the fourth world that no politician will EVER talk about and that UK’s culture is trying to grind into the dirt by upping the yearly fees at an expotential rate in order to drive ‘them with nothing’ off the water and into  homelessness.

So, what do you want to know apart from that?
The weather?
Sun, snow, ice, sleet, rain, WIND, very cold, very hot.
We both ended up well sun tanned and wind burnt.

Injuries? My hands look like chopped meat from rope burns.
SWMBO has developed a set of muscles most personal trainers would die for.
And as for our personal body weights?
Working flat-out throwing heavy wooden gates around weighing between 490 kg to 3250 kg (each gate has its weight carved into it). Winding lock mechanisms all day, every day, and me fighting the boat, SWMBO has put on 2 pounds (a kilo) in pure muscle, and I’ve lost 2 inches from my waist staying the same weight!

As for anything else.
Nope, nothing, no colds, sniffles, upset stomaches, headaches, we had a few aches for the first couple of days, and we’re both fitter than we’ve been for many a year.

So, photographs. Which of the 127 to pick from.
I’ll settle on one  I think.

The Captain,
aka SWMBO!

p.s. The sad bit? Driving off leaving our home behind.

Posted in miscellaneous, prepping | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Going 10.7 for a while.

10.7 Out of service.
What else would you expect from an old-time CB’er.

tomorrow starts our 9 day river and canal trip.
97 locks, 54 miles, and two oldies with the odd physical problem or two.

Posting will of course be infrequent.
We will use hot spots where possible (MacDonald’s) but at least you’ll get a rest from my scribbles for a while.

Posted in miscellaneous, prepping, survival | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Foraging 1. The fortress preppers nightmare.

What is a fortress prepper?
That’s a person whose sole mission plan is to go into lock-down and only leave their facility when the emergency is over. Thus they are totally reliant on their stores and equipment they have built up over time.

Then everything goes wrong and they have to leave!
At that time (CBRN and climate contingent) they / you may have to evacuate without notice with just enough time to grab your BOB.

Now you are dispossessed,
Possibly in the hands of a government agency if you are really unlucky, so what are you going to do, apart from run like hell away from a G.man saying “We are here to help you”?

The basic BOB is built round the premise that all you need is 72 hours of supplies before the ‘government’ will be ready to help you.

STOP LAUGHING, some actually think they will.

Anyway most of the weight you’ll carry SHOULD be made up of water, 6 litres per person.
(Rule of threes, you’ll start to suffer badly without adequate clean water after 3 days).

Whoa! The hard case preppers will be saying there is no need to carry 6 litres as you can find water and purify it on the go. So you can guarantee that?
Even in a CBRN scenario? You have a nice day now.

So what happens when the water runs out?
Some (of the above) will be thinking about solar stills, survival straws, Katadyn water filters, boiling, chemical purification and all that stuff, but here’s the thing.
If you were dispossessed because of a CBRN event or something like a flood, the very water you’re trying to drink may contain ‘nasties’ your high-tech novelties won’t filter out.

As an example think of the multitude of chemicals from industrial units.
As for radioactive iodides? Most of them boil at less than 100 Celsius so boiling and distilling won’t actually achieve a lot.

Right about then you’ve got to switch to foraging for what you will desperately need i.e. a source of uncontaminated, drinkable (potable) water.

So what’s foraging?
To search widely for food or provisions.
Using your knowledge and skillset to obtain what you need for survival.

Foraging used to be a frowned upon skill by fortress preppers and regarded as strictly for the bush craft fraternity.
Some see it as looting, which in an austere / disaster time, that’s probably what you’ll be judged as doing. So you’ve got to be more than a little careful.

Consider what happened in 2013.
Typhoon Haiyan hitting The Philippine chain of islands.
No immediate aid, infrastructure wreaked, government help not forthcoming, and people desperate for the basics started “looting”.
Only they weren’t looting were they? They were foraging for the basics of life .
What happened? Troops, police and US marines are deployed against them. De facto martial law is already in place. (Guardian)

Thus when I say “be more than a little careful”, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Foraging is not exclusively a rural thing.
You don’t have to bug out to forage.
After all if you are a fortress prepper, use it as a base while you go looking for what you’re running short of (preferably before you run out).

Only in a CBRN scenario,
The fish, fowl, and furry you carefully trap won’t tell you they are full of toxins and feeling really ill. Clear water can look safe even when loaded with chemicals and nasty particulates. Not forgetting anything else you are looking for and casually pick up.
Bit of a problem isn’t it?

Us living on a river some may think water is easy to source for us.
On the 42 miles of navigational water, there are 6 sewage treatment stations which with no electricity will fail, loads of industrial units, and farms. Why farms? They should all be careful about what they spray and use preventing it from entering the water courses. Some aren’t. As for animal effulent, PHEW!
There is also this wisdom from Sun Tzu..
If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
With all the consequences of those decaying bodies to deal with.

There are three main scenarios to think about,
One general moderator for all three, and a caution.

The scenarios are Rural, semi rural (suburbia), and city/township.
The moderator for all is what’s happened i.e. all three could be subject to CBRN and natural event considerations PLUS one other factor.

The Caution?
You won’t be the only one looking for items you need to survive or trying to stop you from “Looting”.

CBRN, A brief refresher.
I keep on talking about CBRN. It is generally taken as a military term but has migrated through the emergency services as they are exposed more and more to hazards.

CBRN. It isn’t just mans way of killing everything!
C=Chemical includes ‘made for war’ and what is used in industry.
Take a plating works. Top chemicals? HLC, Cyanide, Chromium, and Cadmium.
Not forgetting the products of bio matter.
i.e. Blue-green algae a.k.a. cyanobacteria have the ability to produce really nasty toxins.
B=Biological (man-made and natural) Pandemics or simply a contagious pathogen.
R=Radiological matter like radioactive isotopes), and
N= For the products of nuclear fissile material which may include fallout or even material from the nuclear industry, not forgetting Fukushima, still happily poisoning the oceans.

Yet that’s not the bottom line as really there is no bottom line.
Consider 9/11.
When the twin towers fell, loads of debris was aerosol’ed into the air and it contained all kinds of hazardous debris. Asbestos was only a tiny bit of the huge list of materials. Personal protection 101 calls for a dust mask, N 99 or FFP 3 minimum to protect your lungs, BUT what about the fallout of all those nasties washed from their landing point into the water courses by rain. Now you’re filtering water like mad and trying to stop chemical contaminates.

Not easy is it?

Note:- The military have portable ways of ‘cleansing’ water in bulk.
A three stage approach of ceramic filtration including passing water through an activated carbon filter, Reverse osmosis pump, and finally ion exchange filters. Each stage reduces the likelihood of toxins passing through BUT NO SYSTEM, even this combined system is ever 100% effective. Add a touch of chlorine and all may taste nice, look good, but still have trace poisons within it.

As said, it’s a bit of a problem isn’t it?
There could be rain and water everywhere and you can’t easily use any of it.
So what’s safe to drink without too much treatment?
That’s the $64 question and will bring you into conflict if you are not careful.
Here is a basic list to be going on with.

  • Unopened bottled water. Sounds simple doesn’t it.
    Purified before it was bottled and, despite the purists saying plastic bottles contain dangerous chemicals that leech into the water, it’s probably the main thing to look for.
  • Covered Sources
    1. Toilet faucets.
      While most have lids, they will usually have a vent or overfill pipe going to the outside. Possible source of contamination? Maybe.
    2. Cold water tanks in houses.
      Same thing, if sealed well they might be OK. Same overfill pipe.
    3. Hot water tanks and hot taps. May again be OK.
      BUT ONLY IF you can stop the tank from refilling as you drain them.
    4. Cold Taps. There are two trains of thoughts here.
      If the event has just happened and hadn’t disturbed the pipes (difficult to know), you will be able to draw water from them until the pressure goes. The caveat there is you haven’t got a clue who “up the pipe” left a tap on and by drawing water you could be sucking in contaminates.
    5. Covered reservoirs.
      This one is fraught with danger as they get a feed from somewhere.
      You won’t know where from or the condition of that water.
      Some will say you will only be taking a little.
      Conventional wisdom says there is no minimum level for contaminates despite what the Government say is safe.
    6. Covered Wells.
      Definitely one to leave unless you can act instantly.
      Wells are usually fed by ground water or underground streams.
      You will have absolutely no idea what is going on there.

So, initially that’s my thoughts on water.
Boil it, chemical it if you like, distillation is optional.
Ultimately getting rid of some dissolved chemicals and radio iodides for the average person in an austere scenario is going to be nigh on impossible.

And finally.
Lots of talk, and I’ve not actually spoken about HOW TO FORAGE.
That’s coming later.
Right now I recommend you think about and concentrate on obtaining pure drinkable water as a priority because (The rule of threes) once you run out of what you are carrying, you’ll only have three more days before your cognitive and physical performance will decline dramatically.

Posted in prepping, survival | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

UK Prepper Forums

So, I thought I’d go for a browse at the state of play and one took my eye.
Bit different from last time, the rules and regulations about what can be written, and thought, are typically UK aka Very PC, multicultural, and ‘play nicely’ folks.

OK, I can live with that but it’s going to be a very benign thoughtfullyprepping who joins in the fun. UK forum, UK rules.

Ultimately I’m curious if it’s going to be any different to a few years ago.
That ended up with the observation that only a few write, many just read, and everything got real stale after a while.

As for what I’m looking for?
An update on the state of play of the UK Prepping world would be nice.
That and an update on what’s been found useful exclusively in the UK.

I’m not expecting to make meetable contacts.
Like dating, long distance and the Internet isn’t contusive to building up a rapport.
Besides UK preppers are generally a ‘secretive lot’.

I also don’t ‘do’ the annual prepper fests some organise as they are sometimes ‘unusual’ in the activities. For instance, frying burgers and cooking Tesco chicken legs isn’t actually my idea of swapping ideas about survival in austere times.

Come to think about it, maybe I’d better look at the survivalist side of things as well although I’m definitely not into debris huts or bashas anymore.
Fun for a weekend, not practical for real survival over a protracted time and pretty bloody useless in a CBRN scenario.

Um, I’m now wondering if there are a few more urban survivalists about.
I know I was in the minority once upon a time as the UK’s (we copy the US in everything) theme was “Whatever happens, get out into the countryside”.

Actually I’m really looking forward to writing up the final assessment.

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Wanna read petty, EU/UK style?

Syrian president’s British-born wife Asma al-Assad faces calls to be stripped of her UK citizenship. Asma was born to Syrian parents in London.

Not unlike all the British born jihardists, terrorists, and other ethnically challenged rabble rousers.

Yet their UK citizenship has never been revoked.
Why is that exactly?
Oh I know why,
Because they are all Muslim and it wouldn’t be PC, multicultural, or religiously tolerant!

Anyway Asma is already subject to European Union sanctions that make it illegal to render her economic assistance and ban her from travelling in the European Union with the exception of the UK, because she holds British nationality.

Wow, this one woman scares the EU more than Merkel !?!

The Liberal (we lie about everything and will sleep with anyone if it’ll get us back in power) Democrats will send an official letter to the Home Office today, calling for her citizenship to be revoked.

The letter states: “If Asma continues defending the Assad regime’s murderous actions, the onus will be on the UK Government to deprive her of her citizenship or demonstrate that her actions are not seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom.”

Wow, what a threat to the safety of the EU and UK this one woman poises.
She could storm the shops, stay in a posh hotel, or something!
Hang on, I’ve got it, it’s so obvious.
She’s got more followers on social media than Trump and Theresa May combined!

Still if you can’t apply sanctions to Russia or the Syrian president, it’s best they pick on women and kids. Right Boris? and how very British Public School and European thinking that is.

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I nearly wet myself laughing.

‘Poodle’ Boris Johnson has ordered North Korea to stop risking international security and adhere to UN resolutions.
OMG, I can almost feel Kim Jong-Un’s anguish following the threatening tone of the most stupid of UK’s leadership.

Perhaps he will sell up and move on into fast food.
Anything but face the wrath of our poodle.


Posted in news, politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Unintended Consequencies

While the US is tear-arsing round the world threatening everyone, it seems calmer minds are looking on.

Russia slaps Tillerson around, Iran supports them, and for Assad it’s business as usual.
The UN are ground to a halt by a veto, and G7 shuts down Poodle Johnson.

North Korea.
A US carrier group is on way, South Korea is alarmed, and the North Koreans test launch which, despite the failure, is to me a clear “fk. off  US of A”.

Meanwhile China and Russia have got together to cool things down with North Korea.
Two real military giants right on North Korea’s borders who don’t play games.

I’m now wondering when China and Russia will enlist more help, which could include the UN, to de-fang the main trouble maker.

That trouble maker being the US.
What, the US doesn’t see itself as that?
The world’s policeman that can do no wrong?

Wise up America, your recent actions have disturbed everyone’s Chi.
If it is found that the chemical attack wasn’t as advertised, the street cred of the US will take one hell of a bashing. There will be “world payback” for that too.
Perhaps all those ill thought out actions are about to bite you back.
Iraq, Libya, Syria, China’s little islands, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Russia, Afghanistan, and anywhere else the US has “imposed it’s vision of democracy”.

Some will probably see this as me being anti American.
Far from it, I’ve no problem with the American people.
My angst is (as always) with your government, leadership, and NATO’s ancient warhorses.

Problem you guys and girls is the perception that is growing round the world that YOU are the problem.

Posted in military, politics, prepping, survival | Tagged , , | 3 Comments