Out with the Old & in with the New

So it's become apparent that we need a bigger boat, bigger meaning more headroom down below as with 2 adults & 2 teenage girls it was a tad squashy in the E-boat. 

Upgrading was going to cost us a bit more than our E-boat had cost us & so we decided to sell our beloved V-dub T4 to help.  I loved my camper but I was scared to use her as an everyday car in case she got damaged, the kids didn't enjoy going anywhere in her cos the back seat (which also doubled up as a rock n roll bed) was set too far back & so they couldn't see out of the windows when travelling.  We'd not been camping with her as not long after buying her we bought the E-boat so any opportunity we had we'd be sailing, so we knew we'd never go camping now or at least not enough to warrant keeping the T4.  We took a few photos & listed her for sale & she sold pretty much straight away.  We also listed our little racing machine & within a couple of days she'd also gone.  

The search was on & we found a Gibsea 90 in south Wales & a Jeanneau Tonic lying on Windermere, (Windermere is where we would be taking our new boat so the Jeanneau was looking promising already without even looking at her).  Both boats needed some TLC but that didn't worry me as it was all just internal like new headlining & new upholstery & a good clean of everywhere else.  After being quoted 3k by a haulier to have the Gibsea brought up to the lake from South Wales we ended up going for the Jeanneau Tonic.  

Introducing Our New to us Boat

She hadn't been used for well over a year as sadly the owner had passed away & so his wife was selling her.  The kids couldn't contain their excitement of just how roomy she was in comparison to our little E-boat.  Now this boat isn't that much bigger really, she's 23.11ft so almost 24ft, so she's about 2ft longer, but that wasn't it, we could all stand up in this boat & walk around in her (well apart from Chris but he still could stand up, it just meant he had to tilt his head to one side).  She had so much more space though, a separate heads (bathroom) Yup, a bathroom on a boat, how fancy we thought, she also had a kitchen area with a 2 burner stove, a fridge & a sink, a chart plotters table & tons of storage.  So we bought our 'new to us boat' & started the stripping out & replacing the headlining & having new upholstery made.  We had the kids scrubbing the fenders (which they didn't moan about one bit).  

Isn't she nice!! 

Not quite a flat deck to run around on but tons of space to move around in the cabin below.

There they are, set to working on scrubbing the fenders while we did other jobs.

Look at their happy little faces, they're thrilled to be helping really. 

Earn Ya Keep

We'd been up into Windermere to the hardware store, there's no B&Q for miles so if you've forgot a particular tool ya better hope & pray they have one at the hardware store.  We popped into Homeground Coffee & Kitchen for a cup of tea & when leaving they gave us a bag of their homemade scones to take with us, (how kind, & they were delicious too), there's Chris & Heidi with their scones on deck in the sun. 

Chris doing some jobs.


The headlining had seen better days & stripping it was a dusty & messy job, I had bits of fibre glass in my knees & butt for weeks after but it was well worth it as she looked a million times better once done. 


We used van headlining, its fantastic stuff, it not only looks good but it's warm too, not cold like vinyl & it stretches so pretty good for getting around awkward spaces that's shaped. The headlining is quite simple to use it comes with spray glue which can be tricky but if your careful then you can accomplish a really good professional look.  The headlining comes in a variety of colours, we chose a light grey.

We wanted to keep the colours light enough to give a sense of spaciousness so chose a nice grey for the upholstery too, We thought sticking with one colour would be best & a nice contrast against the wood.   We changed most of the ceiling lights to LED which also brightened it up a lot. 

The boat looks clean & fresh now, a huge improvement & we were excited to show the kids & start using the boat now.  

That's the chart plotting table, we didn't even have a table let alone a separate chart plotters table in the old boat.

This is the bathroom, we felt very posh, this was pure luxury for us, it certainly beats the bucket we had in the old boat & with a sink too & a tap, yup we felt proper posh having a real bathroom.

We have a cooler box & a plumbed in sink in the kitchen area.  The cooler box is really handy.  We take a short walk up to the little Tesco in the village & stock up for the day ahead. 

This is the aft double berth where the girls sleep, they have a little port hole to see what's happening behind.


We'd bought a double kayak & took that over to the lake & if not sailing, we'd be kayaking, the kids loved it so it wasn't long after we drove down to York to buy another that a guy had advertised on Gumtree, this meant all 4 of us could kayak together & it meant I wasn't worried about letting the girls off on their own as we'd be with them in case anything happened.  There's a lot more boats on Windermere than there is on Derwent Water, so crossing just a mile over to the west side on a kayak can sometimes be tricky when the ferries & the speed boats are flying about.  






It's a bit of a squeeze to fit everything into one car for a weekend, there's the tender (dinghy) the engine for the tender, petrol, paddleboard, shoes, clothes, bedding & stuff, we always have stuff, I have no idea where half our 'Stuff' comes from but we manage to have lots of it, we don't use most of it but we take it with us just in case. 

We had been bringing 2 cars, which is crazy I know, but we couldn't manage to fit it all in the one car.  We had our names down for a Dinghy storage space but they said it could be next year til we got one.  So we decided to buy a bigger car.  We bought VW Touareg & managed to fit everything in.  That very weekend, Matt our favourite lake warden informed us he'd managed to get us a space in the dinghy store, which meant we didn't have to carry our dinghy to & from the lake each time & pump it up, we can leave her inflated at the lake.  Happy days, shame it wasn't a week earlier but happy days all the same.  We'll introduce you to Matt in a later post I'm sure, he's the friendliest lake warden, a real salt of the earth guy  & a great help to us.

There's the first kayak we bought the girls, it's great.  Its been well looked after & just great fun for them to play about on.  It was hard to find as due to covid & all the previous lockdowns, the manufacturers were out of stock & so if one came up for sale anywhere they were snapped up pretty much instantly.  

Never Laugh at Superstitions 

Our boat was all clean inside & out & all that needed doing was the new name.  When we bought our boat it was named 'Donny Boy' but we didn't really like that name & so after careful consideration we thought we'd call it 'Ginny', she's a Tonic after all so Gin & Tonic (Ginny) maybe we should have just called the dinghy Ginny as we were in for some trouble.  

I'd ordered the new name from an online vinyl lettering company & it arrived so we were eager to get her renamed.  I had heard it's very bad luck to rename a boat but thought hmmmmm really? what can go wrong?  I'd also read that if you really want to change the name of a boat then there's a ceremony you must go through as you have to have the permission of the sea Gods first, well really, this all sounds like a load of daft superstitious rubbish to me & I'm not going to look like a fool standing on the deck in the middle of the lake calling for Poseidon, Triton & Neptune to give me permission to rename a little 23'11ft boat (which is not on the sea, its on a lake).  Yup well that was possibly the wrong way to think because just seconds after sticking the last letter on her transom & pulling away from the jetty at Ferry Nab in the middle of summer on a beautiful day when everyone & their dog & their dog's auntie was out & sat at Ferry Nab enjoying the sun watching us when................................"Chris, why we heading for that very expensive yacht", we'd lost control of our boat, we were just spinning in the marina heading for yachts that cost a hell of a lot more than ours did, in fact some of these yachts cost what we paid for our house.  Now by this time we have a crowd gathered who are waving more people over to watch, of all the places for this to happen.  Each time we'd have a near miss with a very expensive boat I'd be pushing us off with the boat hook (thank God we had a boat hook, we now have 5, just in case). After what seemed like an age a nice friendly guy from one of the other boats we'd very nearly bumped shouted from the jetty & I threw him a rope, he pulled us in & tied us to one of the berth holders jetties (he was out sailing so we could use his jetty for now until he retuned).  A few other boat owners came over to see what could be the problem. We had plenty power from the engine but it just wouldn't turn in any direction, so there was a problem with the prop we concluded.  Our mooring is about ten minutes away from Ferry Nab & we're stuck & the boat who's jetty we're now on has returned & sat waiting for us to move, so thankfully the lake wardens came to the rescue with their boat & towed us back to our mooring.  The engine went into Maiden Marine to be looked at & it turned out the bearings in the prop had collapsed, its a good job it was there & not in the middle of the lake, & I guess it was a bit of entertainment for the crowds sat watching.  

A lesson learnt, never think that you can rename a boat no matter what size it is or what water its on, it could be a rubber dinghy on a pond, if you want to change its name then you need permission from the sea Gods, never laugh & think its poppycock.  

A Week Sailing, Paddle Boarding, Swimming, Fishing & Exploring The Lake

Where we have our mooring is like being stood at the side of the M6, we're right on the edge of the entrance to Marina Village & during summer it's busy, yachts aren't so bad when passing & some motor cruisers pass slowly but the Mastercraft boats are just crazy, they fly by & the wake they leave behind is like being on a rough sea, you certainly can't drink a cup of tea when these boats are passing.  

We've met quite a few lovely people on the lake & one couple are Cheryl & Alan, (you'll meet them later on) they have a motor cruiser & a cute little dog called Milo.  They took us over to the west side where their mooring is & we stayed on an unused mooring there for a few days, it was like being on another lake, so quiet & peaceful, the girls could paddleboard without the risk of being thrown off & they could swim, we could drink a cup of tea without wearing it, it was fab.   

Fell Foot is at the bottom of Windermere & that building there in the photo below that looks a bit like a castle is a cafe/restaurant owned by the National Trust.  We drove down in the car & tried to park but they were full, thankfully they were cos they wanted to charge us a small fortune to park & use the cafe.  So the next day we sailed down & parked the boat on their jetty (for free) then used their cafe & loos (for free).  The lake runs into the river Leven & to Newby Bridge, so we got into our dinghy we'd been towing behind our boat & motored down the river passed all the paddleboarders, kayakers & a motor cruiser who was trying desperately to get down to his berth without wiping a swimmer or paddleboarder out (these people just wouldn't get out of his way).  We arrived at The Swan, a beautiful hotel (a bit too fancy for us) but we stopped, tied the dinghy up & sat in the sun with a nice ice cold drink then motored back again, through the crowds in the water & back to our boat. Sailing back up from Fell Foot, that was a great sail that day, I didn't get nervous at all when the boat heeled, must have been the Gin & Tonic I'd had at the Swan. 

I love sunrise on the lake, it's so quiet & the lake is like glass on sunny days.  That's Neil's old boat there on the right, we learnt to sail on that Beneteau, it's moored right next to us.  He has a nice shiny new Beneteau now the lucky duck.  

West Side

We took a dinghy ride over to the West side of the lake & had a picnic on the shore, the water was particularly warm that week, we'd had some great weather for weeks & the water temp was warm enough to swim so the girls were off.  

There's our dinghy, we need a name for her/him, it currently is nameless, I guess after the whole spinning around heading for super expensive yachts on the big boat I'm kinda scared to name this one even though its not got a name I feel I would need to do some sort of naming ceremony (just to be on the safe side).  This dinghy is quite a bit bigger than our first dinghy we had originally, we can fit comfortably on this one & carry our bags too with plenty space for more people.

There's a car ferry on the lake, now this isn't a huge ferry but it does the job, it maybe fits 20 cars or so, it's sat on 2 thick metal ropes that pull it across the lake.  There's a ferry just like it on the Isle of Wight at East Cowes but they call it the floating bridge.  This ferry on Windermere is out of service when its windy & if you want to get to the West side you have to drive all the way round.  The lake is 10.5 miles long so its much easier to just nip over by ferry.  
Hawkshead is just a few miles away from the other side of Windermere & it's a beautiful little village.  That's where we were off to here in the photo above.  

An Evening Sail

A nice evening sail up to Ambleside for tea.  We'd hoped to stop for something to eat at The Watersedge Inn, unfortunately I think a few had decided the same & there was no space on the jetty for us so it was back to Bowness for a BBQ.  It was such a lovely night with just a nice gentle breeze so it was a lovely sail, even though we didn't get to stop off at Ambleside for tea.


My friend Louise came over for the day with her daughter Mae & kindly brought my eldest daughter Jess with her.  It was a great day, red hot again.  We went for a sail up the lake & then played about on the kayaks.

It's not all Sunshine & Smiles

We woke up to rain & so quickly erected the boom tent, it was still warm just miserable.  We sat out on deck with our cup of tea in the hope it would pass but this was in for the rest of the day & the weather forecast for the following couple of days didn't look too promising either so we decided to head home.

That picture below was taken another time whilst we were in a mad rush to get the dinghy back to land in fork lightening.  We had been sailing down the south of the lake & noticed the sky was black down there & rapidly heading up towards us.  We took our sails down & motored up to our mooring, that is the quickest I've seen our kids ever move, I think they were terrified of the lightening & the thought of having the next task of sailing round to where the car was parked in fork lightening in a little dinghy.  We managed to get round to the car just as the heavens opened & boy did they open, I've never seen rain like it.  The kids jumped into the car, we chucked all the bags in & now had the job of deflating the dinghy to pack up & stick in the boot.  It rained so heavy that it was painful when it hit your skin.  Chris & I jumped into the car drenched but out of it.  It was so heavy that the road out of Bowness looked like a river, it was Biblical.  I couldn't make out where the middle of the road or the curbs to the paths were it was that bad.  Thankfully by the time I got to the motorway the rain had eased off & I could see the roads again.  We look back on that night & laugh now but we certainly weren't laughing at the time, but hey, it's character building I keep telling the kids. 

Losing Mum

Nothing can prepare you for losing a parent & although my beautiful Mum had been very poorly for the last year, I just thought she'd be here with us forever. Each day is quite a struggle, I miss seeing her face & her warm smile, hearing her soft voice, hugging her & talking to her about anything & everything. 

You think you have family forever, or at least you never think of losing them. I'm quite lucky as I have so many fantastic memories of Mum that I can relive in my mind & smile through the tears feeling a sense of warmth & comfort, but it's still very raw & heart-breaking that she's not here with us. Just typing this & talking about her in past tense is difficult as when I'm talking about her I still talk about her in present tense as I just can't quite bring myself to talk about her like she's gone yet, perhaps that sounds slightly crazy to you or maybe you too can relate & get exactly what I mean.

My Mum really was a one off & there won't be a day that goes by when I don't think of her & ache for her.

It's difficult to accept that she's gone, We weren't able to visit her in hospital due to covid restrictions which just made things much worse for Dad & I, knowing that she was alone is the worst & hardest to accept.  We spoke on the phone & by text but if only we'd been able to see her face to face & hold her hand, hug her & kiss her cheek.  That was the hardest & still hurts.  

She must be around Dad because there's been a few strange things happen at home, I hope she is.  Dad talks to her daily, I know she'll be listening to him. He's a different person now, I suppose losing someone after 60yrs is like losing half of yourself, I feel his pain & I see it in his eyes every day, he tries his hardest to mask it but I see it in his strained smile.

When I was a kid we had a camper van that we holidayed in every year & most weekends during the warmer months.  Mum & Dad's friends also had campers & we'd camp by lochs up in bonny Scotland.  It was just simple living, no fancy campsites with shower blocks & evening entertainment, our entertainment was sitting around the campfire singing & watching the shooting stars at night, making rope swings & catching fish through the day.  We holidayed all over Scotland & sometimes Wales & Devon & Cornwall. I felt super lucky & privileged & like we were great explorers on big adventures.  If only I could turn back the clock & do it all over again.

I've made a promise to Mum & myself that I will continue to make the best adventures for Dad & to try my best to make him truly smile again.  Life will never be the same but we can hopefully one day learn to accept & live a new way knowing Mum is with us always, smiling & cheering us on in any adventures we decide to take on & each time we see a beautiful rainbow we will know she is there.

I Love you Mum, to the brightest star & back again xxx 

Sails & Rainbows

 We used the excuse we hadn't been to check on the boat for a number of weeks & took Dad to give us a hand.  It's about a 2 & 1/2hr drive from where we live to the lake.  The weather was a mix of sun & showers & we saw about 8 rainbows whilst driving along the A69 which gave us a great feeling of warmth & like Mum was there with us on the road, watching over us all.  We arrived to the sun shining allowing us to quickly get the dinghy & zip around to where 'Ginny' is moored before another shower of rain which we could see coming in across the lake. Once all aboard we motored around to Ferry Nab, ten minutes later the sun came back out & the most beautiful full rainbow glowed above the Marina (Mum was definitely with us that day). 

Rainbow over the Marina

That was definitely a sign & I think it was a great comfort to Dad.

Dad used to have boats years ago, not sailing boats, his were motor boats but he does have a love for boats, so this was good for Dad to get out & have a shot of sailing.  There he is at the helm, looking quite the skipper there.  We came the following week too & took Dad again, in fact we've been back quite a bit,  only day tripping though as it's a bit chilly there just now & our boat has only 4 berths.

That's the gorgeous view from our mooring, you just can't get sick of that view.  This is sunset.

It didn't rain again that day & we had a nice little sail up to the Windermere Jetty Museum, where we moored up onto their jetty & had coffee & scones.