Monday, December 20, 2010

Turning the Wheel of the Year

     Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2010 offers a celestial sky show with a full moon and a full lunar eclipse at 29 degrees in the constellation Gemini, discernable in the Americas if the sky is clear. The eclipse will be visible after midnight PST, reaching it's maximum at 11:15 p.m. The last winter solstice eclipse was in 1638, and this one will be followed by the Ursid meteor shower.
     For those of us up reveling around bonfires and keeping  company with the longest night, a lunar eclipse is a very special event. To us the moon is the embodiment of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone. As one who celebrates holidays other than those found on the standard calendar, I wish everyone a Merry Solstice as the Goddess gives birth to the sun/son and we turn the wheel of the year once more towards the light.
Buffalo at Yellowstone © natgeographic
     This year I pay my respect to Pasowee--Buffalo Woman from the Kiowa tradition. She is a medicine woman, herbalist, and great healer. She received the sacred healing knowledge of Buffalo medicine for her tribe. Its hallmark is endurance. The crone's teepee is a place where light flourishes in the darkness, new life is protected, and inner growth and healing take place. Her time is winter when seeds lie dormant in the ground and there is opportunity for solitude and reflection.
     Tomorrow night my own tribe will gather and raise a cone of power. We will dance the spiral dance and look into one another's faces; we will turn the wheel of the year and rejoice: Light is returning even though this is the darkest hour. I will jump the bonfire for good health, love, and prosperity, and offer thanksgiving for the gift of friendship and laughter. These are the seeds I will sow this coming year. Happy Yule and Blessed Be.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Six Year Plan

     Now that I've made contact with narrow boaters I find my obsession for narrow boats and canals transformed into a refined passion--coals banked deep in my breast--which is a very good thing because in the days and weeks to come, the hurdles one must jump to stay in England longer than six months are daunting and I don't even own anything remotely exotic as a passport. After reviewing the U.K. Border Agency's complex website regarding visiting and/or emigrating to Great Britain, my brain feels like it has been tossed into a cocktail shaker and thoroughly muddled.
    Growing up in a country famous for the raised torch of  "The Mother of Exiles," and the attendant philosophy of Emma Lazarus'  "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses straining to breathe free...," with generations of ancestors who waved at Her as they passed through the gates of Ellis Island, I find the strictures on emigration/immigration daunting and confusing. The U. K. Ancestry scheme would have allowed me to immigrate easily since my maternal grandmother Lilly George was born in Cardiganshire, Wales in 1891.
     Unfortunately for me this scheme changed post 9/11 to include only those who are born and raised in a commonwealth nation. The Border Agency defines commonwealth nations as having "experienced direct or indirect British rule."  
     Do you suppose Great Britain would loosely interpret that point to include an American born and raised in a former colony as a member of the commonwealth? Since my ancestors who arrived here on The Mayflower in 1620 begot men who served as surgeons in the Revolutionary War (known as the War for American Independence by the British) and thumbed their noses at King George III and the British Parliament I don't hold out much hope!
     Ah well....I don't know why I should expect immigration to England to be any easier for me than it was for my grandmother to emigrate to America. Lily George crossed the Atlantic ocean in steerage aboard the Carmania in August of 1919 with her Puerto Rican husband and two toddlers in tow. She knew no one in this new land--not even her sponsor. 
     The next scheme to consider is the Tier II Worker category which will allow me to apply to work in the U.K. if I can find a sponsor, and a job. Under this scheme I must earn a minimum of 50 points to be eligible. An employment sponsor can earn me 30-50 points depending on whether or not the position is on the shortage occupation list, or it meets the resident labour list--which means the employer has exhausted all known eligible British citizens who have applied for the position and needs must look elsewhere. 
     The occupation shortages are in manufacturing management, mining and quarrying managers, biological scientists and biochemists, physicists, geologists, and engineers of every flavor and hue. 
     One can earn 30 points for switching from a student to a worker. I earn 10 points for speaking English. The points based system and the six different schemes require one to download a PDF manual of instructions 35 pages long just to figure out how and where to begin.
     I am quite befuddled by all the links one must click to access key information on the Border Agency website. It feels like I am playing scavenger hunt without a map and the rules are so convoluted: you may emigrate on a Wednesday in a month with a blue moon; other wise you must wait until the wind is from the west northwest at five nautical miles an hour and we must inspect your umbrella for leaking seams. Sweating blood while we check your documentation is much appreciated but will not earn you any additional points. 
Isis Lock, Oxford; © Tony  Steele
     While mulling all this over I wonder what jobs might be available in the education industry in England near a canal. This idea requires a familiarity with England's geography and employment that I do not possess. 
     I download Google Earth and begin the painstaking process of mapping out the canals and navs with different colored tacks for each one. This is an ongoing process which will take me many months--especially since boaters and others have uploaded pictures of canal features and I find myself lost in the beauty of each canal as I map it. According to Google Earth there are canals passing directly by the University of Birmingham at Edgbaston, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I'm certain there are probably others but it will take time to find them. 
    Meanwhile I find a link to a job listing website that allows me to narrow my search by country and industry, and it sends me postings every other week. I join Expat Forum in order to ask questions about passport processing and life abroad. The forum is not much help as the ex-pats living in England are doing it in the conventional manner: renting flats, traveling in cars, and paying an arm and a leg for it with strange money while driving on the wrong side of the road.
     I draw up my six year plan, which allows me time to pay off my home and square away my finances while working on writing a book about my journey through cancer and recovery. As they say, "don't quit your day job." 
Washington State University, Pullman, WA; © Summit Realty
     With the warmth of my passion to fuel me I head out to work each day to Washington  State University where I advise 500 plus distance degree seeking students. My students earn their degrees completely online--they never have to come to campus and they live all over the United States and fifteen countries abroad. 
     I specifically advise active duty military and international students. I have students in the front lines in Afghanistan, and on mine sweepers in the Gulf of Bahrain; on air craft carriers off the coast of Korea, and on submarines running silent and deep. I've even had a student in Antarctica. 
     I also serve as the academic integrity coordinator. If distance degree seeking students are brought up on plagiarism charges to the Office of Student Conduct, they are referred to me and they must write a ten page research paper on plagiarism  in order to continue on with their studies. 
WSU in winter;
     One of the unspoken and little known sides of academia is the rule of service. Faculty are required to offer service to their institution above and beyond teaching or advising. I grade junior writing portfolios, and sit on several faculty senate subcommittees. Surely I think to myself, there must be some way to translate all this experience into a job in England.
     In the meantime Dear Sir replies to my email: 
Hi Jaqueline,
     How nice of you to respond to my call for overseas readers. I do get some E mail throughout the year from people who are thinking of a boat holiday and some that are going to live the dream and i pride myself in answering them all. Some i have met on my travels and one couple of Canadians stopped for a chat after spotting NB Valerie as they passed by on their holiday boat.
     You mention Sue on No Problem who has been a good friend since i bombarded her with requests for info about living afloat long long before i even purchased a boat and herself and hubby Vic were the first to invite me onboard for a day a few months before i launched `Valerie`.
     Single females of all heights and ages are here on the canals so no reason for you to not one day realise the dream, everything is done slowly so any mistakes are hardly noticed and if they are we boaters will step in and help out.
      I once met a man in his eighties boating all year round on his own and he had been walking the walls of York City on Christmas day and then set off for London on his boat just for the hell of it. Certainly gave me hope for a long boating life.
     Bye for now and if you want any info e mail any of us boaters, we don`t bite.
     LES x

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Sir

     After having assimilated every smidge and snippet of information I can find on the Web regarding narrow boats and British Waterways I decide to join Canal World Forum, using my 'Net handle Wyn2joy. " We are a friendly discussion based community, with focused discussion on any issue relating to inland waterways....Membership is open to anyone and is free and members are able to browse the forum, discuss issues, post pictures and contribute to an ever increasing links directory and all we ask is that you provide a valid e-mail address...With forums on boat building and maintenance, trip planning, living afloat and just about everything else canal as well as our very own 'virtual pub' there's something for everyone." (Canal World Forum;; accessed 12/11/10)
     Canal World Forum has 9000 members who post an average of 150 times a day on a wide array of issues from General Boating (all things to do with boats and the waterways) to Equipment--with threads on topics such as gas alarms, temperature sensors, tilley lamps, bilge pumps, inverters, porti-potties, and oil filled rads; Living Afloat which offers ideas regarding recipes, postal services, weather forecasting, what makes a live aboard a live aboard, organic markets near the cut, and cats on board for a start; a section for those new to boating; Boat Handling, Boat Building and Maintenance, Stoppages (which parts of the waterways are subject to closing for maintenance, weather, or emergency); History and Heritage, and the ever popular Virtual Pub. 
     (Aside: Americans unfamiliar with British humor often believe that old saw about Brits not having any sense of humor or having a "dry" wit akin to a meal of hard tack washed down by Schweppes Tonic Water. British humor as displayed by narrow boaters is brilliant--intelligent, sharp, quick, and many layered. Their play on words and with words is nonpareil--perhaps because it is their language--we Americans only imported it--we didn't create it.)
     One night I followed a string in the pub for two hours as locals virtually came and went from the UnStable Bar hosted by the Friday Beer Company. Playful verbiage and quick witted repartee ran amuck in a tongue in cheek manner. I swear I could smell the brew, hear the chatter, and feel the uneven floor beneath my feet. My sides ached with laughter. I've not been back for awhile--too hung over in the morning....
     As October 2009 turns toward November, the narrow boaters I am following are engaged in the following:
Mo and V aboard NB Balmaha are saying farewell to one navigable river and moving on to another one: from the River Trent to the River Soar.
 R. Soar, © NB Ballmaha
    " We nattered to a Canaltime hirer while we took on water and I laughed when he mentioned his reluctance to go down the river from Sawley because the maps didn’t show anywhere to turn the boat. The same thing happened to us in the summer when we couldn’t see where to turn a sixty footer on the Aire & Calder. Of course it all became clear when we got there, the navigation is so wide that winding points aren’t worth mentioning....The night was spent at bridge 34 which seems to be gathering popularity as a stop-over between towns. Sunny days and clear skies at night produce blue-grey mornings with mist off the fields swirling across the water...The uphill side of Old Junction Lock looked too attractive to miss so we pitched on the rings and spread out across the towpath with table and chairs making the most of the sunshine....
Old Junction Lock, R. Soar © NB Balmaha
Thinking it was warm enough for paint to dry I sanded and varnished the utility room floor. Leaving the windows open to get the air to circulate I walked off looking for a distraction and hearing the click-click of lock paddle gear I poked my nose out to see who was coming our way. It was Dave and Dil on Trundle with her fresh coat of bitumen (Trundle’s not Dil’s). Well one thing led to another, chatting made the throat dry, wine fixed that and before we knew it the afternoon was gone. Aren’t boaters lovely." (Excerpted from NB Balmaha's blog entry for Monday 12th to Sunday 18th October 2009, author Mo)
     Andrew Denny aboard NB Granny Buttons is at the confluence of the Grand Union and Oxford canals near Napton Junction:
Fields at Shuckborough © NB Granny Buttons, 2009

"Following my post about ridge and furrow a couple of days ago, I just remembered this photo of the R&F fields at Lower Shuckborough, taken from the canal.  
If only I'd set off earlier from Wigram's Turn Marina, where I'd spent the previous week.  Early/mid morning in April is the best time to capture this scene.  But you really need sheep grazing in the picture, since this helps to point out that this fossil of mediaeval ploughing methods is only preserved because of several centuries of non-stop grazing after the introduction of the Enclosures." (NB Granny Button's blog entry dated Saturday 31 October 2009, author Andrew Denny)
Clifton Locks, 1884 © Oxfordshire 
County Council photo archives
    Maffi and his NB Milly M are moored at the top of Clifton Lock above the weir on the non tidal River Thames, where he's come upon a treasure trove of trash left by some prats, despoiling the area for others. Maffi cleans up the garbage, hauling seven bags of rubbish to a "boater's dump place," leaving the area clean for others. (NB Milly M blog, dated October 30-31, 2009, author Maffi)

 © NB No Problem 2009, at Gailey Lock heading to Norbury
     In October of 2009 Sue and Vic's lovely NB No Problem is undergoing a refit of the back half at Norbury Boat yard on the Shropshire Union canal, which is hosting an Opening Day with all kinds of boat related events. Sue is thinking about taking a canal art class to learn how to paint in the style of the Roses & Castle motif. Vic is making repairs and taking care of some boat maintenance. (NB No Problem blog dated October 30, 2009, author Sue)
NB Valerie courtesy L. Biggs
     On board NB Valerie its owner, Les Biggs, is recovering from a back injury. He's been moored near the junction of the Grand Union canal and the Aylsebury Arm for 25 days while a torn muscle in his back heals. His blog post for October 31st is titled Thoughts of Freedom: "Been moored here at Marsworth for 25 days and as my back is much much better the urge to once again be free to cruise is getting stronger. Although the mooring here is 14 days max the BW guys who rescued me said they would make sure those that needed to know would be informed and for me not to worry about overstaying and just give the back time to heal. One of them has even stopped by to ask how i was and also to take away my rubbish...Quite a long time ago i added on the right of the page the NeoCounter that has so far recorded 16,879 visits from 74 countries....Come on readers if you are following the blog from outside the UK let me know. From e mails i get i do know of some but there must be lots of people who read but never comment or make contact so if you are one.....let me know..." (Blog excerpt from Boats & Cruising "Valerie", October 31, 2009, author Les Biggs)

Dear Sir
Dear Sir, 
Per your request within your blog I am following your NB experiences, as well as those of several other narrow boat bloggers. I just discovered narrow boats and canals mid October while watching Burt Wolfe's Travels & Traditions on PBS. He was on the Canal Du Midi in France...I am totally knocked sideways! How I wish I'd discovered the canals and NB's of the U.K. twenty years ago. My greatest dream at this point in life it to work out the means of buying my own NB (I already have a name for her), and retiring to the waterways of the the U.K. which is awfully hard to do for a fifty something Yank with too few points to count herself in the immigration schemes in place now. I guess I will have to write a best seller and see if they'll let me in on a retirement visa. Wish my maternal grandmother had stayed in Wales!

Sue from NB No Problem was kind enough to respond to my post asking if it is possible for a singular female of my age and vertical challenge (5'1'') to operate a narrow boat and negotiate locks on my own. Her answer gave me hope and I shall not give up. 

I was sorry to read of your back troubles.  I hope you are mending well, and will soon be out and about on the cut and adding more to your blog about your daily life. I suppose you and the other bloggers might wonder if nattering on about one's fairly run-of -the-mill daily experiences are worth the time spent blogging. I can only tell you I am thrilled to my toes every time BlogLines informs me of a new post. These missives of the un-moored are vying for chocolate and public television broadcasts of Inspector Lewis, Lark Rise to Candleford, and New Tricks, as my one weakness!
To your good health, 
Jaqueline Almdale
Pullman WA USA

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cancer, Writing, and Procrastination

("Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing." Anon

     Part of my depression comes from working on a book about overcoming cancer. Titled Journey of a Thousand Miles: Through Cancer to Wellness, the book chronicles my experiences dealing with ovarian cancer and choosing a nontraditional, alternative treatment (Gerson therapy) in the face of opposition from the standard medical establishment. 
© 2001 Dr. M. Walker & Gerson Institute
     When one is faced with a diagnosis of cancer, one should not have to engage in research to determine the efficacy of treatments--orthodox or otherwise. Accurate information and research on treatments across the spectrum should be readily available to all patients in order to make a truly informed decision rather than relying solely on traditional medicine practices which some statistics indicate cause nearly 40% of cancer patients to die from the treatment instead of the disease.
    In the United States the American Medical Association, the American Pharmaceutical Association, and the American Cancer Society have powerful lobbyists who ensure the federal government primarily funds research which supports and underwrites their constituents--at a great cost in the mortality of cancer patients who are not told the truth about the outcome of treatment or the ghastly and often permanently debilitating side effects.
© Devra Davis 2007
     Chemotherapy's roots lie in mustard and other poisonous gases used for chemical warfare in WWI and II. Radiation's treatment is also rooted in war--atomic war. These tools were created for their ability to destroy human life. I personally believe the last thing we should do when fighting cancer is poison the patient and then hope he or she recovers. We need our immune systems more than ever when facing cancer and traditional therapies destroy the tool evolution provided to help us survive. 
     It is my hope that by the time my grandsons have grandchildren the medical establishment will look back on 20th and early 21st century cancer treatments the same way we look back now on the 17th century treatment of syphilis with mercury.
     Writing this book means going back through five years of medical records and reliving the diagnoses, the fear, the opposition and ridicule I received from medical professionals and well meaning friends, and my children's terror of losing their mother. It is also painful.

Book excerpt
I walked across campus in the searing August heat to the Human Resources and Benefits office and spoke with a benefits specialist for fifteen minutes. I told her I had been through an initial diagnosis and surgery for ovarian cancer in 2007 and had just been given a preliminary diagnosis of stage III metastisized ovarian cancer. I had $25,000 worth of life insurance coverage, and if I died while still in the employ of the University and the State of Washington my daughters would split the sum. I asked her to please explain the procedure to me, so I could inform my daughters of what needed to be done to ensure they collected on the insurance at my death. I took notes, avoiding the woman's sympathetic eyes as she explained my executor needed to mail or hand deliver a copy of my signed death certificate to her office and checks would be cut and mailed within two weeks.

I left her air conditioned, artificially lit room and sat on a bench in the shade, weeping. I was filled with sadness and terror as young, healthy, oblivious students hurried by to their next class. I was going to die and it was going to happen soon--a painful death from metastasized cancer.  A totally surreal feeling enveloped me. I felt myself dying and fading away, becoming a ghost in what was left of my own life. 

     The more one cares about what one writes, the more painful the process. One of the assumptions non-writers make of those driven by their nature to write, is that if one is considered good at it then it is somehow easier for them than for everyone else. As someone who has been compelled to write whether anyone ever reads it or I am ever published; with a University degree in English who tutors in a writing lab on a college campus, and grades research papers and university junior writing portfolios, I can say unequivocally: writing is hard work for everyone.
      American author and journalist Gene Fowler said, "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." This is why procrastination is a hallmark of writers. Knowing what we are compelled to do, we will spend hours on our hands and knees cleaning grout between bathroom tiles with a toothpick or crawling around in the basement looking for termites with a mini mag lite and a flyswatter. My procrastination takes the form of a growing obsession with narrow boats and English canals.

Narrow Boaters and Their Blogs
     Somewhere in my Internet forays I come across a link to a boater's web site.  The site is a touchstone--a critical clue to a new field of knowledge for me. The boater's name is Maffi and his blog header and profile offer simple instructions: "This blog has no more importance than the writing on a toilet wall...I am old enough to know better but seldom do. View my profile page only if you let others view yours."  On the far right Maffi asks viewers to consider the words of the great American Patriot Benjamin Franklin: "If you value peace over freedom, you will lose them both." I am hooked.
     Maffi's blog conveys his opinions and thoughts about a wide variety of things, from chimney pots to human nature; the function or non-function of certain locks and bridges on the canal system, British Waterways bunglings, boaters in distress, the beauty of the Oxford canal, and the importance of receiving a full measure pint of beer for one's money, in the local pub.

Maffi's boat  Milly M © Mortimer Bones
 His crusty, curmudgeonly insights reduce me to belly laughs. I concur with his barbed wit and canny ability to uncover human absurdities. Over time I come to respect and enjoy Maffi's slyly astute commentary on the human condition without apology; I witness the kindhearted person who steps in to help boaters in trouble, and who cares intensely about a wide range of issues he makes an effort  to address rather than ignore. Monsieur Maffi is based on the Oxford canal where he lives aboard his boat the Milly M. He attends courses at Oxford University and works for a hire boat company.
     These are all things I discover over the course of a year reading his blog. In the beginning though, it is the bright green and yellow color of Maffi's web page that keeps me anchored there.  He has links to nearly every other boater's blog in existence, divided into those he has met and those whom he has yet to meet.
     As I click on web links, hopping from page to page, I find myself at British Waterways/Waterscape which provides basic information on how to purchase a narrow boat, insurance, moorings, etc. One may purchase a boat but it will not be released unless the owner has obtained a marina mooring or declared one's self as a continuous cruiser. The second option appeals greatly to me.
     I also find Canal World, and NABO (National Association of Boat Owners), where I am confounded by the statement that approximately 16,000 people are retired and living on England's canals! 
Narrow boats at Bugsworth/Wikipedia
     Pure happiness fills my heart! I have discovered an alternative culture underlying the status quo; it is filled with people seeking a way out of the rat race on their own terms--an escape from the dominant paradigm--at a top speed of four miles an hour! After spending several years battling cancer, recovering from multiple surgeries, and losing a year to the gray fog of depression, I have found something better than Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth, the Hermetic's elixir of life, or a lifetime prescription for Prozac; I have discovered a way of living which seems like the sanest option since I left Alaska behind and let go of the notion of homesteading alone in the wilderness. (This probably seems like a lunatic idea to most folks but since I was born in the Alaskan Territories and my parents were homesteaders, it is not as far fetched as it sounds). 
     Joy settles in my bones as I realize my main goal in life now is to immigrate to England, buy a narrow boat and continuously cruise the cut as a single hander while I write books and glory in a lifestyle that will remove me from the rat race, allow me to use the skills and self reliance obtained growing up in Alaska, and maintain my stubborn independence.
    In a fever I find I have dozens of tabs open to boat blogs and it is like the book in the movie The Neverending Story. I am lost in cyber-space and I cannot remember where I started from or how to find my way back to the beginning until I recall the vivid green color of Maffi's web page.
    Over a period of days I make a list of the boater's blogs I have visited which offer me comprehensive information presented in an easy to understand manner and whose author shows some stylistic skill at writing. In addition to Maffii, I narrow my choices down to Sue & Vic's Retirement With No Problem; Mo & V's NB Balmaha; NarrowBoat Bones and Andrew Denny's NB Granny Buttons. 
     Sue and Vic along with their dogs Lucy and Meg, are continuous cruisers with many years of practical experience living aboard a NB with a wealth of solid knowledge on canal boat living. Their blog has links to picture albums, fellow narrow boat bloggers, where to buy diesel, setting up satellite TV, and a page about Tesco's grocery deliveries directly to the boat!  

     Sue's pictures offer interesting details for someone like myself who has never been to England, set foot on a narrow boat, or traveled the cut. Her eye for photographic composition is quite fine.
     Retired live-aboards, Sue and Vic share their personal impressions and basic useful information with straightforward detail and lively wit. I post a comment for the first time ever on a blog, asking about single handing as a woman. Sue's answer cheers me as she reassures me it is possible. In the months to come her kindness will lift my spirits repeatedly as I sit in Pullman longing to be on a canal in England.
      Continuous cruisers Mo and V aboard  NB Balmaha share descriptions of their travels with a gentle tongue in cheek humor and very good writing which draws me back repeatedly to find out where they are and how they are doing. I finally post to their blog for the first time when they mention visiting a local library to check out books. Public libraries rank up there with fire, hot water, and the wheel in my estimation of truly great inventions. 
     Mo responds to my post with an email reassuring me it is possible to live aboard, cruise the cut, and patronize village libraries along the way. Thus begins a friendship between us filled with fine humor and insights on the world in general. Mo and V have traveled the earth on giant ocean going carriers, and their experiences make for fascinating true tales. (After many months of writing back and forth, I think enough of Mo's writing skills to ask if he will provide honest feedback on the rough draft of my book. He did, he does, and his viewpoint is invaluable as I Iurch along toward the finish.)
     Mortimer Bones' blog captures my heart in a totally different way. A PhD at Oxford University where she studies the brain, she has a scientist's keen eye for observation coupled with the sensitivities of a lyrical poet.
     Bones lives on her boat and writes a monthly column for Canal Boat magazine sharing her experiences as a  DIY boater. Her web site offers detailed pictures and postings on her boat renovation.  Bones' pictures are some of the most beautiful I've ever come across. 
     Mother to a narrow dog named Boots, her self deprecating humor is a gentle poke reminding her readers not to take themselves too seriously. I am in awe of the intimate way she uncovers the surface of every day things and finds the hidden beauty underneath.
Interior of NB Granny Buttons
     Andrew Denny's blog is the unabridged version of anything and everything related to canal boats--wide and narrow; canals, canal side development and living; marinas, politics affecting waterways and narrow boaters, and historical facts of interest dealing  with the same. Andrew is not living aboard when I initially pick up his blog, but he does get out on his boat whenever possible and he has many years of experience single handing on the cut.
  The only thing missing from my blog picks is the viewpoint and experience of someone who is currently continuously cruising the cut as a single handed boater and who writes about it. Everyone else whose blog I follow is either part of a retired couple, land based, or living on a dedicated mooring somewhere along the canals. A search of boaters web sites from Sue and Vic's blog turns up a single bloke living aboard his boat and continuously cruising since 2005.  His blog is titled, Boats and Cruising "Valerie."