Thursday, 13 December 2018

Repainting the Hull

When Wye Invader Two was lifted out the water a few weeks ago, the hull was pressure-washed to remove the mud and river life in general that had accumulated. What soon became clear was, for whatever reason, the bitumen that had been applied 2 years ago and the touch-up that had been applied in May 2018, had not bonded properly to the lower part of the hull, the part that was below the waterline.


So I decided to remove all the bitumen below the waterline and repaint with an industrial coating to give more protection to the steel hull and then reapply the bitumen from the waterline down.

The bitumen was removed from the starboard side first, then washed down with water and left overnight to dry. The next day it was then sanded down with 60 grit discs using an angle-grinder, followed with a wire brush on the same angle-grinder. The dust was brushed off and washed with panel wipe and then 2 coats of paint applied. Weather permitting the Port side from the mid- line to the bow will be started next week.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Wye Invader Two Winter Maintenance 2018/9

29 October Wye Invader Two passes through the Sharpness Dock Bridge to join the queue waiting for lift out on to the hard standing.

14 November she’s lifted out on to hard standing.

List of Jobs for Winter period 2018/19

17th November - Pressure wash the hull - Done.

24th November - Cover the cabin with tarpaulins for paint work protection - Done.
Remove all the Bitumen below the water line.

Repaint using primer, a 2 pack etching primer then top coat, 2 pack colour - Black.

Fuel Filter change.

Engine Bay, Repaint a small area of rust on each side of the engine bay.

Oil and filter change and gear box oil change.

Rear Cabin door - repair or replace.


Monday, 26 November 2018

Looking Back.....and Forward

Remembrance Sunday, has special significance for me for 2 reasons, not only to remember the family, friends and colleagues who’ve fallen in service to their Country but this year Remembrance Sunday is 29 years since I sailed Wye Invader into the history of the River Wye as the largest vessel ever to navigate the River Wye as far upstream as Hereford.

I spent most of the weekends of 1988 walking the banks of the River Wye with a camera, notepad and map noting obstructions in and on the riverbanks and plotting each item on a large scale map of the Wye Valley, and then on the Tuesday evening following Easter Sunday in 1989, Wye Invader entered the River Wye on a rising tide, the passage being about 10 miles up river to Tintern and then under the Old Rail Bridge where we dried out as we lost the tide on the right bank above the bridge, this area had been a common mooring for years.

On Wednesday 14th November 2018, I thought It might be interesting to revisit the River Wye from Monmouth down and see just how things have moved on or changed, so I’ve been back to have a look and here are some of my camera shots and observations.


The field adjacent had no bank that ran down to the river, today the river bank has been rebuilt and the farm buildings above restored.

Brockweir Quay, a mile upstream has been restored and is used mainly by canoeists and, for the last 4 years by Wye Invader Two on our visits to Brockweir, although I‘m told the loading of canoes is not generally welcomed.

Redbrook a large area of grass and riverbank has now been fenced off to form a Park and the remainder of the riverbank going downstream are now parking places.

I think the most obvious difference from 29 years ago, is that if you walked the river bank or canoed the river back then, you might occasionally have come across a sign stating ‘Private River Bank’, ‘No Fishing’ or ‘No Landing - Private Bank’. Today almost without fail, if you walk along any of the River Wye Banks in a very short period you will come across many more of these signs.

I find this difficult to understand, if the Severn Valley Walk is used as an example, there is a tow path on each bank and the walk follows the tow path’s along each bank. The River Wye has 4 Acts of Parliament, the first I believe was the Act of 1662, this allowed for a path of 4 foot on either side of each bank. 

Three more Acts followed (none of which have ever been rescinded), the last was an Act to build a tow path from the City of Hereford to Chepstow. I’m told that these 4 Parliament Acts together, reinforce what was a Common Law Rite, in that the banks of the River Wye and the River Wye itself, have been used as a public Highway for thousands of years. 


Monday, 12 November 2018

Into the Washing Machine!

or that's how it seemed at the time!

On a Sunday evening in early October I was considering a trip to Portishead with Wye Invader Two, I watched the 10pm BBC Weather for the coming week, a small high pressure was forecast for Wednesday the 3rd, Thursday 4th and Friday 5th October, an online check gave me the wind speed at a gentle breeze of 5 to 10 Knots, Andy who helps out as crew and looks after any filming was not available at a short notice so a trip out on Wye Invader Two was down to me alone.

Monday morning I booked the access bridge for the Docks for Wednesday 1015 hours, a pleasant trip downriver to Portishead and back to Sharpness in the late Autumn sunshine was on the cards and I might even fit in a few beers as well in Portishead!

The Journey down.

Wednesday 1015 hours. The bridge was on time, and Wye Invader Two passed through to the Lock, about 10 minutes later a second Narrowboat arrived and moored up alongside, as we were lowered the Pilot in the second boat held the rear stern line and I held the forward one, I asked what their plan was and he informed that they were leaving as soon as we were clear of the Lock so as to be in front of any queue at the last lock up in to Portishead and I might think about doing the same, so I followed him out a few hundred metres to the rear.

As we were almost 2 hours in front of High water, I followed close to the left bank of the tidal River Severn, left of the channel the water is deeper and out of the river current, about a mile past Berkeley Power Station I then moved out and away from the bank on a fixed sight line or Transit from Berkeley to Hayward Rocks and then onto the Green Starboard Channel Marker at Hill Flats. As I followed the other narrowboat and we moved more towards mid Channel, it became clear that the wind was a lot more than a gentle breeze, we had the making of a 'Wind over Tide' situation, we were now on an ebb tide and there was a fairly strong wind and now, with no chance of returning to Sharpness as the Lock closes an hour after High Water and the tide was on the ebb.

Under the Old Severn Bridge.

As I came off Slimeroad Sands and passed under the Old Severn Bridge, we seemed to drop into a dip, the waves seemed to become organised in groups of 3 to 4 and around 3 to 4 foot high (about a Metre) from 45 deg off the port bow, so changing the course of Wye Invader Two to take them head on was fine, however as I dealt with them, it was all most like a computer game, the water falling out of the River Wye on the right became large waves on the Starboard side and found I had to turn into the oncoming waves, to get back on course.


New Severn Bridge (Prince of Wales Bridge)

The last 500 metres to the bridge was almost calm, however 500 metres further on downstream the river motion moved up a gear, we now had a swell on with standing waves as we made our way towards Portishead. At about this time the other Narrowboat eased off and I almost came alongside only to be told that my front cabin door was open, I had no option other than slow Wye Invader Two to a stop, go below and secure the door this, as I was single crewed I think could be called an interesting experience! Avonmouth was about 1 mile ahead on the Port side, 20 minutes later Wye Invader Two Locked into Portishead, a little wind swept to say the least and ready for that pint!


Return to Sharpness.

1100 Hours. Wye Invader Two is locked down on to the River Severn and the journey back was a real pleasure, the sun came out, the wind was about 5 mph (a gentle breeze!). The first 6 miles were fairly quick to the Prince of Wales Bridge and the total time back to Sharpness was just over 3 hours. When Wye Invader Two was in the Lock at Portishead I spoke to the Pilot, he had also checked online for the weather and wind speeds as had I, they were forecast to be 10mph or less, I think the lesson from this is, do all your checks online and then ring a local contact ie: Portishead or Bristol VTS who are responsible for the day to day management of Avonmouth Docks and approaches for their assessment before committing to a trip that has potential weather and safety considerations.

Monday, 29 October 2018

End of the Season

Wye Invader Two moves from her mooring into Sharpness docks to wait until 'lift-out' for the Winter.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Autumn on the Sharpness Canal

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Short run out from Sharpness to Saul Junction to top up fuel, weather outwards was a bit windy and a little on the cold side, the run back in the Autumn sunshine was spectacular with the leaves turning golden brown. Highlight of the day was the guy in Saul Junction Marina who shouted "I've seen you on the Internet" - Good to know someone actually reads the website! https//

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Sunday, 7 October 2018

An Autumn Gale, well that’s what it felt like!

The plan:

Sharpness Marina > Gloucester >Tewkesbury then return to Gloucester on Saturday, and back to Sharpness on Sunday.

Weather Outlook:

Sunshine and the occasional shower and wind gusts between 20 and 30 miles per hour in the River Severn Estuary.

Journey to Gloucester.

The wind caused problems at almost every bridge, as the bridges are operated on a traffic light signal system, if the traffic signals are red you have to stop but, with a 20 to 30 mile an hour wind blowing behind your stern, it’s difficult to keep from crossing the red signal and additionally, most of the bridges are operated by hand, making it difficult for the bridge operator under those conditions.

1620 hours. Llantony Bridge is the last access bridge before Gloucester Docks, this closes at 1630 hours for 1 hour to allow the road traffic more access to the city centre and stratification management from 1730 hours. The bridge then opens on demand up until 1900 hours.

1730 hours. Return to Wye Invader Two after a brief visit to Sainsbury’s superstore, next to the Sharpness Canal for odds and ends for the rest of the weekend. 

1745 hours. Turn into Gloucester Docks to moor for the night.



1055 hours. Enter Lock to exit Gloucester and proceed up ‘The Parting’ and Lock Down.

1123 hours. About halfway up the Parting, just below the last corner a large tree was blocking more than half the navigation channel from the starboard side to past the mid-line, I phoned the Lock Keeper and it seems no one else has bothered to do the same! It was my understanding that the ‘Edward Elgar’ was on it’s way back down the River Severn in a few hours, with passengers onboard.

1200 hours. As we cleared The Parting, the wind was still gusting at between 20 /30 mph but the direction was still from West by North West, so the trees on the left bank give us some shelter. 

1218 hours. Wye Invader Two was about 1 mile below the Red Lion pub and about the same upstream of Ashleworth when the work boat ‘Riparian’ passed by on it’s way back towards Gloucester, we later found out it had been called out to deal with the tree in The Parting.


1330 hours. We were passing Deer Hurst, Upper Load Lock was about 2 miles upstream, the wind was still gusting and the rain showers hadn’t stopped.

1355 hours. The Weir at Upper Load has come into view, Wye Invader Two eased off as we turn to the Port left out of the main river course and round the corner, the Lock Gates were open and we had a green light.

1410 hours. As soon as we’d cleared Upper Load Lock and passed the Weir, it became clear that the wind was still gusting, we turned onto the River Avon and as we rounded the last corner, the ‘Edward Elgar’ was held against it’s mooring by the wind and was unable to leave until early the next morning, when the wind had eased.



0930 hours. It was still raining, it started at 0800 hours, and was forecast to rain all day until late evening, so we decided to return to Sharpness rather than get wet for another 2 days. On clearing the lock at Tewkesbury, the ‘Edward Elgar’ was no longer at her mooring, she had cleared her mooring on or before 7am and was now well on her way to Gloucester.

0945 hours. We moored in Upper Load Lock and noticed the water in the lock when the gates opened after we had been lowered, was only about 1 foot lower and the fishing platforms along the river bank were only a few inches from the river water covering them, so I guessed there was about 3 feet of fresh water in the river because the rain in Wales had made it’s way into the river, so the 14 miles to Gloucester should be a little quicker.

1200 hours. Gloucester Lock.

1650 hours. We arrived back at Sharpness Marina and it was still raining however the wind had eased.


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Sharpness to Portishead and return with Wye Invader Two

SATURDAY 1st to Sunday 2nd September 2018

Weather - Cloud and sunshine with light winds from the South and a moderate swell below the The Prince of Wales Bridge, an ideal time to enjoy the delights of the  River Severn between Sharpness and Portishead.

Saturday’s tide height - 7.6 metres 12.05 hours, outbound
Sunday’s tide height -  7.8 metres 12.30 hours, return journey

The access bridge from the canal to Sharpness Dock and the sea lock was booked on Thursday morning, we were told to be at the bridge at 10.00 hours on Saturday. 

Saturday morning 10.00 hours -  Wye Invader Two passed through the bridge, then on and into the Lock. We locked down at 10.30 hours and then moored alongside the floating pontoon to wait for high water at 12.05 hours. I phoned Portishead Marina and was informed that the last Lock In will be at 15.15 hours, so we have 3 hours and 10 minutes to travel the 20 miles to Portishead. Bearing this in mind we decided to leave Sharpness 35 minutes before high water and then cross the half mile of the River Severn using the right bank which was in the Lee (sheltered from the on coming tide) and on past the stone structure of Lydney Harbour entrance, then on to the Old Severn Bridge to speed things up a little. 

11.25 hours. Wye Invader Two moved out of the Sea Lock and onto the River Severn, as we left the shelter of Sharpness we were carried sideways at right angles to the oncoming tide and forward, at just over one mile per hour.

11.46 hours. We crossed over the River Severn, we were just upstream and in the Lee, picking up speed as the tide turns off Lydney Docks.

12.05 hours. As we pass Lydney Docks it was now High water and from this point on the Tide picked up speed as it ebbed (as the tide goes out it picks up speed as it moves down the Severn estuary).

13.09 hours. Wye Invader Two was now about half a mile upstream of The Old Severn Bridge, speed was around  9 or 10 mph.

13.19 hours. We passed under the Old Severn Bridge and were now passing the island, half a mile below the bridge on our Starboard side where the River Wye falls into the River Severn.

13.41 hours. Wye Invader Two was now about 500 metres downstream of the The Prince of Wales Bridge. I contacted Portishead Marina and we were advised that the next Lock Up will be at 14.15 hours. The next five and a half miles were covered in 25 minutes, we arrived outside the Lock with 5 minutes to spare!


14.10 hours. We were now in a queue with lots of small boats waiting to be Locked Up into Portishead.

14.15 hours. All the boats are secured to the floating pontoons, the gates were closed and we were Locked up and into the Marina.

14.45 hours. We visited the Marina office to pay for the mooring, at the same time I booked the Lock for the return to Sharpness, the first Lock out is at 08.30 hours on Sunday morning.


Sunday 2nd  September.

08.15 hours. Sunday morning, the traffic signal is on green we have moved into the lock for Lock down at 08.30 hours.

08.30 hours. The Lock gate closed and we were lowered to sea level, the Lock gates were opened and we were first out on to the rising tide.

08.45 hours. We were now about halfway across the Main channel into Avonmouth Docks, heading towards the new Severn crossing, now named The Prince of Wales Bridge.

09.20 hours. We covered the last five and a half miles in about 25 minutes and were just about to  pass under the the The Prince of Wales Bridge.
10.29 hours. Wye Invader Two has now completed the transit above the Old Severn Bridge, between Inward Rocks and Chapel Rock and we turned to Port with Oldbury Power Station’s Tidal Reservoir astern and with Sharpness ahead, about 6 miles in the distance.

11.25 hours. Wye Invader Two turned into the Sharpness Outer entrance and then into the Sea Lock and we moored alongside the Pontoon. We had a wait of about half an hour while the access bridge to the docks were opened and the boats passed through, they were then secured in the Lock and then lowered before we can Lock up.

12.30 hours.  Wye Invader Two was moored up in the Marina and a pleasant weekend was had by all.

More from Wye Invader Two on our website

Friday, 7 September 2018

Bank Holiday Weekend 24-27 August 2018

Friday 1230 hours. Arrived at Sharpness Marina and parked the car, we then walked down to the Wye Invader Two berth with enough food for a long weekend as we planned a visit to Stourport to see a boat a friend has spent the last 4 or 5 years building, it was as good a reason as anything for a few pints!

1300 hours. We left the mooring and Sharpness with the sun shinning and a forecast of showers, as we neared Gloucester, the first heavy shower and strong winds spoil what was turning out to be pleasant afternoon. We made good time with no queues at the bridges along the Sharpness Canal and by 1600 hours, the bridge lifted to allow us and other boats to pass Llanthony Bridge, on to Gloucester Lock and then up the Parting, as we cleared the top of the Parting the rain clouds followed and about every half hour or so we got wet.
1930 hours. We moored on the River Avon for the night just outside the Lock.


Saturday 0800 hours. Breakfast first, about 0830 hours we called in at the Avon Lock and paid the £5 fee to the Keeper for use of their mooring overnight. 0900 hours we started the engine and the days adventure begun. The 16 miles to Worcester soon passed and by 1145 hours Wye Invader Two was sat just below Diglas Lock waiting to enter along with another narrow boat, the crew were from Australia, it's a small world!

1200 hours. We left Diglas Lock, we soon passed through Worcester having taken photos of the Cathedral and the Bridge, the river seems to narrow and we have more trees close to the banks, Oaks and Ash not but no Willows.

1300 hours.  Bevere Lock is the first lock after Worcester, as we entered, the gates closed and the clouds opened and we were soaked by a rain shower, as the lock opened the sun shone, it was then onward to the 2nd lock, Holt Fleet.

1545 hours. Lincomb Lock is just below Stourport,  as we passed through the Lock and then joined the River, on the left is the Weir and just a few hundred metres further upstream, on the starboard side is Stourport Marina, as Wye Invader Two entered, a sign gives you an instruction to sound your horn, this we did and then moved to the right to moor along side the Visitors mooring at 1625 - it was still raining!


1900 hours. We stopped by the Marina Club and Bar for a few beers.

Sunday 0830 hours. We departed the Marina, the rain started to fall, the wind increased and it continued for the next few hours until we got back down river to Tewkesbury and Lock up, it finally stopped at about 1800 hours.

Monday 0800 hours. We were the first to Lock down out of Tewkesbury and by 0830 hours we were in Upper Load waiting to lock down.

1055 hours. Wye Invader Two entered Gloucester Lock, the journey down to Gloucester was a pleasure after yesterday’s rain and wind.

1257 hours. We were now more than halfway along the Sharpness Canal, having just passed through Fretherne Bridge.


1426 hours. Sharpness Marina. We moored up after 116 miles and 50 litres of diesel and about 26 hours of engine time, a long weekend and all for just a few beers!