Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Sharpness to Bristol? - No!

Sharpness to Bristol via Portishead was planned for Wednesday 5th June, out on the morning tide
to Portishead then out from Portishead on the early evening tide arriving Bristol, stay overnight and return to Sharpness on the morning tide on Friday, however this was cancelled because the wind speed combined with a high tide that was too risky for a Narrowboat, so option B was a trip to Tewkesbury and return to Sharpness Friday.

Wednesday 0800
Wye Invader two departed Sharpness 08.00 and arrived at Gloucester Lock at 12.09, we were Locked down 12.15,  by 12.30 we were on The Parting and the tide was still on its way in, we had been informed that there was a lot of flotsam i.e. trees (and anything else that could float!) in the channel for the next 2 miles. The next 12 miles were soon covered and Wye Invader Two arrived at Upper Load Lock at 15.16, the journey was uneventful apart from the cold wind blowing up the River Severn. We cleared the Lock and was soon on the River Avon and then Locked up in Tewkesbury by 16.00.


Thursday 11.22
Wye Invader Two cleared the River Avon and then moored in Upper Load Lock on the River Severn, by 11.45 the Lock was lowered and the gates were opened, were soon out on to the Severn and the next 11 miles to top of The Parting soon passed. I phoned the Lock Keeper and was informed that there was again, flotsam in The Parting. The Parting was clear all the way down to the second to the last bend, as Wye Invader Two entered the bend it was blocked by 2 large trees wedged across it. The tide was just about to turn, so Wye Invader Two was used to push the trees apart, as the river tide picked up speed the trees soon parted and we eased through and rounded the last corner, the Lock was then 200 metres ahead. At 14.05 we locked up, I spoke to the Lock Keeper and was told the trees would be cleared the next day.

We waited until 13.00 for the rain to stop, it was still raining when Wye Invader Two left Gloucester  and we finally arrived back at Sharpness at 16.30.


Thursday, 16 May 2019

Stourport - Just for fun!

As the lock at Gloucester had re-opened and the weekend weather was set to be fine it seemed like a good idea to go to Tewkesbury and try the lock out for the first time this year. Wye invader left Sharpness at 08.15 hours and after stopping for fuel at Saul Junction we arrived in Gloucester 12.45 hours. We locked down in the refurbished lock by 13.00 hours then proceeded up The Parting and on to Tewkesbury mooring up on the Town Wall at 16.10 hours.

Sunday morning and on the return we decided to go to Stourport and as the weather was still fine, it was 09.30 hours as Wye Invader Two cleared the lock and turned onto the River Severn, Worcester was cleared by 13.30 hours and we arrived in Stourport at 16.45 hours.


Wye Invader Two departed Stourport on Monday at 08.30 hours and arrived in Worcester 11.00 hours, it was then on back to Tewkesbury and The Parting, we locked up in Gloucester at 16.30 hours.  As the manned bridges over the canal close at 18.00 hours we stayed in Gloucester andthe return to Sharpness would have to be continued Tuesday.

On Tuesday Wye Invader Two departed Gloucester 08.50 hours stopping for fuel in Saul Junction and we arrived back in Sharpness at 12.30 hours, the total distance covered over the 4 days was about 120 miles.


Monmouth - Skippers Log

Download a copy of the the Skippers Log for the Wye Invader Two trip to Monmouth.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Back to Normality!

Easter Weekend and it was back to reality after the Wye Invader Two trip to Monmouth on the one of largest tides of the year so far! The Bank Holiday weather was set to be the hottest so far this year so it was decided to go to Gloucester on Good Friday, stop for fuel in Saul Junction on the way and then on to Gloucester to stay over and have a look at the currently closed Gloucester Lock and try to get an under-standing as to why it is taking so long to repair.

Friday 0815 hrs. Wye Invader Two departed Sharpness Marina, as the wind was blowing strong from the North East as soon as the bows were free of the mooring, the wind took Wye Invader Two bow first down the Marina, as we do not have a bow thruster this required going astern to exit the Marina.

0830 hrs. As Wye Invader Two left Sharpness the skies were clear of clouds, the wind was still blowing from the north east and it’s cold!  However, there are no other boats or very few moving on the canal and it’s a beautiful day to be out.

1015 hrs. Wye Invader Two stopped at and moored alongside the fuel stop just short of Saul Junction

10 30 hrs. As there were no other boats on the canal we soon cleared Saul Junction and passed Hardwick off to the starboard side, by 1125 hrs the canal then moves into a cutting and is sheltered from the wind as we pass by Quedgeley and a definite improvement as far as temperature is concerned.

1200 hrs. Wye Invader Two passes under Llanthony Bridge and into Gloucester Docks, there were 2 Wide Beam Barges moored on the west side just short of the lock entrance and 4 Narrowboats on the finger moorings by Dr Fosters in the north east corner, not what you would expect on a Bank Holiday. In the lock, the water had been stopped from the river side and 2 pumps were dealing with a small amount through the lock gates from the dock. A friend had made enquiry of the Canal Trust and been told that the lock will be open on the 28th April. we all hope so!

RETURN TO Sharpness Saturday.

1030 hrs. Checked the engine and gear box oil, started engine and cleared the mooring, the wind had eased, the day was warming up and there was very little cloud about. The journey back was a very pleasant one, Gloucester Rowing Club was out on the canal in force and, by the time we had passed through Saul Junction the rest of the boating community had decided to take full advantage of the day.

Wye Invader Two arrived back at Sharpness and was soon moored up, fuelled up and had spent a very pleasant 2 days on the Sharpness Canal.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Recent question asked.

An interesting question was recently asked on the Wye Invader YouTube page about the trip to Monmouth, the reader asked if I thought it was "somewhat irresponsible to attempt the trip in those conditions?". I replied with the following…

"Many thanks for your comments. I appreciate your concern and would stress I did not undertake the trip lightly. I’ve spent many, many years studying the tides on both the Severn and the Wye, essential for the original trip with the 130 foot Wye Invader trip to Hereford in 1989 and again back down to Sharpness with Wye Invader in 2012/13. Wye Invader Two has an uprated engine, a new gearbox in 2018, larger propeller and extra cooling tanks, along with all safety equipment such as lifejackets, radio and flares and, just days before had been subject to 5 months out of the water for full winter maintenance including a new starter motor, new water pump, all new marine spec hoses, all new filters along with a complete back to metal hull service with new bitumen. I have a Day Skipper Tidal and RYA-MCA Coastal Skipper and YachtMaster Offshore qualifications and would not have attempted the trip to Monmouth had I thought there was any significant risk to my crew, Wye Invader Two or myself."

Just for information the qualifications I hold are:

  • Day Skipper - Tidal
  • Dutch Barge Course (2 days - Friesland) - Carmel St Quentin
  • Inland Waters Helmsman Certificate
  • Day Skipper - Sail and Power Craft
  • RYA/MCA Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Offshore
  • RYA Diesel Engine Course
  • RYA/MCA Small Craft Sea Survival Course
  • RYA Dayskipper commercial endorsement
  • RYA International Certificate (Pleasure Craft)
  • Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Competence

Saturday, 6 April 2019

New Mooring for 2019

Friday 5th April. I booked the bridge 24 hours in advance as required and for 0745 hours on Saturday 6th April to gain access to the Sharpness Canal after spending the last 5 months working on Wye Invader Two, and following her trip to Monmouth a few days ago, a distance of just over 110 miles did not show or highlight any problems, so with a strong headwind and sharing the water with HERMAS, the main problem for today was clearing the exit bridge, gaining access to the Marina and then mooring up on my own while going into the mooring stern first, all good fun and by 0815 hrs it was job done. With the Lock in Gloucester out of commission, Wye Invader Two could be spending a lot more time on the River Severn downstream of Sharpness this year!

Monday, 25 March 2019

Monmouth - No problem!

Thursday 21st March 2019 was an epic day for Wye Invader Two, after several years of planning, the conditions were just right to attempt a journey to Monmouth Rowing Club. After 5 months winter maintenance and having only just gone back into the water the night before, she set off for Portishead….

Wye Invader Two arrived in Portishead to wait for the tide to return later that day, it was then a quick trip across the River Severn turning left into the mouth of the River Wye, onto Chepstow, then to Brockweir and finally Llandogo for the night, arriving just after dusk the same day. On Thursday at 08.00am she set off for Redbrook and then Monmouth, arriving in Monmouth at 11.00am that day after battling severe flood water under Monmouth Bridge. Video footage was taken on the journey and will be available soon - Keep watching the website for details. In the meantime here's a taster from still images taken by the crew.

To see more photos see the Wye Invader Two News page

Friday, 15 March 2019

Finishing touches

The area where the 3 trestles supported Wye Invader Two, had their first bitumen coat applied in February, they have now had a second and final coat. The weed hatch was also removed, sanded down and repainted with bitumen, the rubber seal was cleaned, gasket sealer applied on both sides and then the weed hatch was replaced.


The starter motor is often forgotten, in the case of Wye Invader Two it only took 10 minutes to remove, put in a bag and have checked at an auto electricians, there was problem and it has cost just a few pounds to fix, that’s got to be better than the starter motor not working when you are in the middle of nowhere, the starter is back on the engine and checks out all working correctly.

By Thursday, most of the job list had been completed and it was time to clean the interior and refill the water tank, now it’s just a final full check before we are back in the canal.


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Nearly all finished!

Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th February 2019

The main fuel pipe from the in-line fuel filter to the diesel injector pump was replaced and the diesel low pressure ‘leak off’ pipe from the injectors back to the injector pump has also been replaced.

The diesel fuel filter was been changed and the in-line water separator has also been cleaned, resembled and checked for leaks, which is fairly important as Wye Invader spends a lot of time on the Severn Estuary.

Coolant antifreeze leak - one of the hoses was replaced, the system topped up and checked and the engine run up to pressurise the system, there are no leaks at the moment after 3 days and the coolant level in the pressure tank has stayed the constant.

Finally, the engine was washed down with hot water after it had been degreased with an oil solvent.


On Wednesday, the 3 trestles used to support Wye Invader were moved to allow the remainder of the baseplate to be cleaned of bitumen and rust and then repainted with a coat of fresh bitumen, along with the hull which had it’s final coat.

A busy 2 day’s but summer is on it’s way and we still have the 5 anodes to replace and some rust spots areas in the engine bay to sort out.

Thursday, 21 February 2019


Over the last few weeks we have been busy removing bitumen from the hull of Wye Invader Two, and running the engine to top up the batteries. A couple of weeks ago after I removed the diesel spill mats from under the engine bilge, not only did we have a small leak of diesel but also antifreeze. On further investigation the coolant was coming out of the water pump from the fan bearing, so I’ve now replaced the water pump. At the same time, with the bilge mats removed, the diesel leak became more apparent, this was traced to the main fuel pipe from the filter to the injection pump so a new fuel pipe and copper washers have been fitted.

Monday, 18 February 2019

More bitumen, 'Thomas' & 'Pride of Bristol'

Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th February

The baseplate from the middle of Wye Invader Two to the bow has already had the rust and bitumen removed down to the steel and the first coat of new bitumen applied from the forward support trestle to the bows, about 2 meters in all.
The crew got stuck in with a 7 inch, 24 grit disc angle grinder and the remainder of the  baseplate was down to bare steel. The next 2 hours were spent using the small 4 and a half inch grinder with a 24 grit disc, cleaning out the areas of rust in small holes and scrapes and then, the remainder of the baseplate had its first coat of bitumen. By 1800 hours, that was enough for the day, a quick clean-up and then adjourn to the Dockers Club!

Wednesday  was spent on completing the second coat of the baseplate and then painting the complete hull all the way round, baseplate and bow to stern.

Saturday 16th February

The anodes were removed and the old welds ground flush ready to replace with new ones.   

The top 30 centimetres of the hull down were painted with a semi matt black to finish the hull, then a water coolant leak was found on one of the pipes which will be replaced next week all in all, a busy 3 days.


On Wednesday, as I was about to leave Sharpness, the dry dock had been emptied and blocks arranged on which the boats are lowered onto so they don’t sit on the floor of the dry dock and work can be carried out under the boat / vessel.

I made an enquiry as to what was due in, to be told it was the ‘Pride of Bristol’ an ex Royal Navy vessel for survey. The survey is required every 5 years and carried out by the MCA - Marine and Coast Guard Agency. On Saturday there was a crew of volunteers onboard, working hard trying to get it ready for the survey and inspection on Monday, at first glance they all seem to be at least as young as me and I’m just over 70 (ish!).

Moored by the entrance to the dry dock is an old tug that goes by the name of ‘Thomas’. It looks in need of some TLC, I made an enquiry about ‘Thomas’ only to be told it is the last remaining tug used in ‘Operation PLUTO’, and used to lay a petrol fuel pipe line from England to Normandy for the ‘D Day’ Invasion of Europe in 1944, I was told people are trying to raise funds to save ‘Thomas’ and restore her.