All By Water

~ One man, one boat ~All by Water

The story

With thanks to County Channel TV

My Story

Everywhere somebody has lost, or is losing, a loved one through one of the horrible Cancer diseases.

Love, care and support are freely given. Then comes a wretched frustration where one can do no more and becomes desperate for help. Love alone is not enough. When that help is there, to provide some relief, some comfort and maybe dignity --- it is priceless. However, there is always a cost and this is often covered by the many donating to the organisations providing that help.

Just before she died with cancer, Karen Grayston asked for something to be done for the Hospice. This appeal is dedicated to her.

To donate just text ABWA97 £(amount) to 70070 or go to

Arnold Awarded for Nautical Endeavours

On Sat 1st March @ Shropshire Sailing Club Dinner Dance and Prize Giving they made Arnold an Honorary Life Commodore and also awarded him his own "Mere Whisper Trophy" for sailing achievement (non racing).

Arnold Grayston accepts awards a Shropshire Sailing Club

  • 17 March 2014 22:17:05

The Core All By Water Team

The team

From Left to Right:

Karen Ashton, +Justin Grayston , +Arnold Grayston , Peter Knight, Chris Knight, Brian Ashton, Jan Edmonson

  • 04 March 2014 21:27:52

Day 23 - The Completion

Arnold arrives home
After what could end up being nearer 700 miles rather than 500, Arnold has arrived back in Shrewsbury completing the circumnavigation of Wales. Arnold, with a multitude of emotions motored under Welsh Bridge and disembarked at Frankwell Quay to a group of well wishers and Press. Arnold says he is glad to be home and is looking forward to things getting back to normal again, and has already started thinking about all the things he has to square away.

We don’t have many photos to share with you, but we will be adding some here. This isn’t the very end for the project, we aren’t quite done yet, but we will let you know the plans if and when we cement them.

Keep an eye out for All By Water on BBC Midlands Today tomorrow, as one of their reporters and crew came down to film his arrival back at Welsh Bridge.

Picture courtesy Geoff Ward

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  • 16 June 2013 22:25:07

Day 22 (1 day to go) back to the start

Karen Grayston, still loved, still missed.

Karen Grayston, still loved, still missed.

It has been just over 3 weeks since Arnold left Shrewsbury on the start of his circumnavigation, but that wasn’t the start of the journey. Today, as he makes his way back to Shrewsbury to complete the “loop”, we are going to take things back to why he is on this journey in the first place.

Yesterday, would have been Arnold’s wife, Karen’s birthday, and while he was busy negotiating the Morda, it wouldn’t have been far from his mind. Anyone, who was close to her, still misses her.

Sadly, this isn’t a unique situation, and the reality of life is that we all die. According to MacMillan Cancer Support 1 in 3 of us will get cancer at some time in our lives. Cancer isn’t the only nasty disease out there either and it is likely that a lot of us are going to need and want good quality respite care when the time comes, but it is something that we really don’t think about.

The care that Karen received was second to none at Severn Hospice. It can’t really be put into words how hard that time was for Arnold and those close to Karen, but it is without doubt that without the hospice, it would have been harder still.

The hospice isn’t part of the NHS, most aren’t. Two thirds of all its income comes from public donations. Quite simply without fundraising activities like All By Water, the hospice wouldn’t function.

Please, give what you can and donate now at or if you’d rather donate via a traditional method, please send a donation to Severn Hospice – Shrewsbury, Bicton Heath, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY3 8HS - please mention All By Water with your donation.

From all of us who have helped with All By Water, from the volunteers clearing the canals and rivers, those acting as support for Arnold, the people who have worked on the website and press, and Arnold himself, a huge thank you to those who have already been so generous and donated.

Tomorrow Arnold should complete his circumnavigation of Wales, but for Severn Hospice the work of caring and raising funds will continue.

We hope to see some of you at Welsh Bridge tomorrow.


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  • 15 June 2013 21:14:05

Day 21 (2 days to go)

Today saw All By Water transit from the canal system back into the Shropshire river system, where it all began 3 weeks ago. This, along with the River Morda, itself not much more than a brook, presented the last major obstacle in Arnold’s way.

The first task was to take everything out, remove the engine and take off the canopy. When the boat was stripped. The volunteers, largely from Shropshire Sailing Club, helped Arnold with the challenge of getting the boat into and through the narrow river.

We are please to report that all went well, if not a little wet. A huge thanks has to go to the volunteers from SCC who have spent the past month or so, researching and clearing blockages out from the Morda. There was still a lot of fending off, squeezing and pushing done, but nothing insurmountable.

Up and over

Up and over

then under

and under....

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  • 14 June 2013 23:35:45

Day 20 (3 days to go?)

Arnold departed Ellesmere and arrived at Frankton Lock right on time. It took some time to make it through the Lock with a lot of traffic going the other way. While he was there, Sue from the Shropshire Star popped down to interview him. Then as the skies brightened up, he entered the Montgomery canal and headed towards Maesbury. Moored up at near the very end of the working canal, he is ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the end of the canal journey and transfer into the Morda. The boat will be made as light as possible and canopy take of so the boat is as easy to handle as possible. It will be put back together once in the Morda and out of the worse of the undergrowth.

We can predict with some certainty, of Arnolds return time and date. On Sunday 16th June at 15:00 he will return and pass through Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury, completing the circumnavigation. It would be great to see as many of you as possible down there and please spread the word.

Sue from the Shropshire Star comes down to interview Arnold
Sue from the Shropshire Star comes down to interview Arnold, and brings some much needed Tea

The Morda

The Morda being cleared earlier last month.

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  • 13 June 2013 23:12:02

Day 19

After a well deserved sleep in, Arnold readied for another day heading along the canals and towards home. By lunchtime he had arrived at Grindley Brook Locks and was joined by Peter Knight, who assisted with the step locks. Arnold got a clear run through and went all the way up without having to wait for boats to come down the locks. It took just 20 minutes to get through. Then it was on toward Whixhall and the Moses, then past Colemere and arrived near Ellesmere marina yesterday evening, where he was met by Chris and Peter Knight and a welcome portion of chips.

Tomorrow, Frankton Junction lock and onto the Montgomery Canal, and the last stop before entering the Morda.

  Grindley Brook Locks Grindley Brook Locks   Moored for the night Moored at Ellesmere  

Meanwhile, the final section of the Morda is cleared in readiness.

Clearing the Morda

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  • 13 June 2013 06:02:30

Day 18

Mike Carter helped Arnold today with the locks and aided progress all the way to back to Shropshire. It is hard to believe how quickly he has got here. There is still a fair way to go across the north of the county, but it really is great progress. He is currently at Willey Moor Locks just to the north of Whitchurch. We could be on for a return to Shrewsbury this weekend.

Canal lock

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  • 12 June 2013 00:04:04

Day 17

So today was the day when Arnold, and quite a few other people got to find out if you can still get a boat from the sea into the canals at Chester.

After waking and making himself a cup of tea at the water ski centre, Peter (current support volunteer) and Arnold readied the boat. Using the centre’s slipway, they lowered the boat back into the Dee. Arnold started the short 6 mile or so journey to the canal entrance.

Arriving at or near high tide, Arnold turned towards the entrance ready to maneuver into position to go over the sill that separates canal and river. The height reading was about 5 inches of water over the sill. The first attempt he didn’t manage to get over, so for attempt 2 he gave it a lot more power, with a small bump he was over and into the debris that has collected between the canal and the sill.

Just ahead of him were the sea lock gates, which had been opened already. Picking his way slowly through the detritus he approached and entered the lock. The gates were slowly shut behind, closing together with a satisfying creek and thud. And that was the end of the sea leg. No more tidal waters, and the start of the journey back to Shrewsbury.

Water levels adjusted, the exit gates were opened and Arnold was in the canal. What happened next though was a surprise. It was indicated that he should proceed to the next lock. When he got there those gates too were operational. It appears the people at JP Marine/Taylors Boatyard had worked on getting those locks functional. Arnold travelled through and into the canal system heading out of Chester and south, towards home.

It is hard to really put into words the achievements by all today and over the past few months to enable this to happen. After all, these locks haven’t been used in about 4 years. Particular mention must go to the IWA and the Canal & River Trust as well as JP Marine. In particular, Joe Murphy and Mike Carter. Mike helped Arnold with the locks right out of Chester.

We dedicate today’s post to all of you (and sorry if we haven’t mentioned you) who helped make this happen.

Arnold sounds a lot more relaxed now that the sea leg is over and physically he should be able to get some rest before the Morda. Currently he is moored up at Bates Mill Bridge, Tarporley near Beeston.

Please remember why so much effort has gone into making this happen; to raise funds for Severn Hospice. Please, if you haven't already, please give what you can at

Some of the volunteers

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  • 10 June 2013 23:22:46

Day 16

Arnold left Conwy in the morning sunshine and headed back out to sea. Conditions were ideal as he left the estuary and headed north towards the Great Orme. However, as he rounded the Great Orme and began his track east, he was faced with yet another easterly wind that was slightly stronger than predicted. Heading straight into the wind and waves once more, Arnold found the resolve to continue through it. As he progress he let himself drift closer to the shore. A slightly longer route, but you are out of the main currents and get some shelter from the land mass.

Thankfully the closer he got to the Dee estuary the better conditions got as the the mainland gave some shelter from the wind and the waves had less distance to build up. He turned into the Dee and was soon flying down the estuary at 16 knots.

He was met at the Water Ski Centre at Connah’s Quay, who have shown a lot of support and have provided him with a secure place to sleep tonight. They have a slip way and have pulled him out of the water so he can sleep without worrying about wind and the 2 spring tides that will happen while he is there. They have also given him access to their facilities.

Connah’s Quay is just inside the Canalised section of the river Dee, just before the river enters the estuary. Tomorrow morning will be the first in some time where the weather and in particular wind won’t be one of the key factors. He will leave Connah’s Quay and head his way towards Chester. Then, the river breaks from its straight course and does a loop around to the right. On the left there is a small outflow from the canal system. Where the canal system exits into the Dee there is a fixed sill, which the water flows over and into the river. On spring high tides, the river goes over the sill and floods back towards the old canal sea lock. Hopefully there will be about 8 inches of water above the sill tomorrow at 14:20, which should be enough for All By Water to get over. Then its to the sea lock. No boat has entered from the sea into the canal system here in 4 years. The engineers have worked hard to free up the silt behind the lock gates to allow them to open enough for All By Water to enter the lock. Once in, the doors will be closed behind and the water levels adjusted so he can leave the sea lock via the sluices. Then he is in the canal system and on his final, and homeward leg of his journey.

Inside the boat for the evening.

Tucked up inside All By Water with the sea section over.


The sill at Chester with 2.8 meter tide

This shot, is of the sill between the canal and river with a 2.8 meter tide. You can see here, that this tide isn't quite enough. Tide for tomorrows attempt will be at around 3.15 m

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  • 09 June 2013 22:41:34

Day 15

Day 15 was spent in the Conwy sunshine. Arnold is very exhausted with his legs and back taking a lot of the impact from the bumpy seas. However he did manage to get some rest, and also take a trip on a boat that was moored near to All By Water.

The weather this weekend is good and the plan is to make the last sea leg on Sunday morning with the intention to stop at the Deeside Water Ski Centre overnight a short journey to the Chester sea lock up the river.

Home for the night

Home for the night

  • 09 June 2013 11:12:35

Day 14

Its 3am and Arnold wakes on the small RIB All By Water, which is on a mooring gently bobbing up and down in Treaggur Bay, Anglesey. There isn’t a lot of room, especially with the canopy up. It takes a long time to prepare the boat ready for passage making. At 4.50 am, he leaves his mooring and heads out headed for Conwy. As he went around South Stack and heads northeast the sea state got worse and the going harder. It got worse still after Lynas point, and in his own words “a real fight after Moelfre until the the final approach to Conwy. The sea was brutal. I had to manipulate the situation and be brutal back.”


There is no shelter along the coast with the wind direction coming from the east. The only way was on to Conwy. After 43 long  miles, Arnold arrived at Conwy Marina at 9.20

A rest day tomorrow while the wind blows, and all eyes turn to the weekend weather.

  All By Water in Conwy Secured in Conwy Marina

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  • 07 June 2013 08:50:30

Day 13

Another hard day with the wind and sea state. The aim was to make Holyhead, but unfortunately the conditions became unsafe and Arnold had to seek shelter. He found it in Treaggur Bay, just around the corner from Holyhead. It is the last bay he could shelter from the northeasterly winds. He stopped there for the night, with the plan to get some sleep and head out early in the morning to make use of the calmer conditions. He plans to leave at 6am, with the aim now to reach Conwy by mid morning before the winds increase too much.

Once in Conwy, the next stop is the Dee and onto Chester. There isn’t really many places he can stop on the north  Wales coast. The winds on Friday are set to peak so, it is likely not to be safe to travel on Friday. Therefore, the attempt to get through the sea lock in Chester will be moved to Monday. This gives the opportunity to make a safe passage, probably early on Sunday, to the Dee and stop near Chester ready to enter the canal system on Monday.

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  • 06 June 2013 20:39:30

Day 12

Arnold left Aberystwyth this morning and headed on a northwesterly track towards Bardsey Island. The weather was good, but to avoid the worst of the swell created by the northerly winds, he crept into the bay and gently followed the coast up rather than continuing straight.

After a short lunch break, he headed past Bardsey and set a course for Holyhead. As he headed out, Anglesey could be seen as a bump on the horizon. The northerly wind was creating a choppy sea and the going was harder, but still manageable. Then about a third of the way from Bardsey to Holyhead the wind strengthened. A consistent force four. He decided that it was still doable and kept course for Holyhead. Then very quickly the wind strengthened to a force 5 and veered a little, so the wind was now occasionally coming from almost the northwest. The sea quickly built and the boat was now getting hammered and thrown about. There was no use continuing towards Holyhead. He had to run for the cover and get out of the open water. Reaching some calmer more shelter waters, a very relieved Arnold took a moment to catch breath and work out what to do next.

Out to sea you could still see white horses forming on the waves, so heading out there was a non-starter. He chose to head up the coast to Caernarfon. It was still slow going, only managing about 5-6 knots, but eventually this evening he arrived at the Marina in Caernarfon.

Time to adapt the plans. Tomorrow, Arnold will attempt to source food and fuel in Caernarfon , meaning that he doesn’t have to go into Holyhead if conditions are good. If not, he will go into Holyhead and rest up. Assuming the weather is behaving, his target will change to Conwy, and then the following day head to the Dee estuary ready for entry into the canals on Friday.

  Arriving in Aberystwyth Arriving late in the day at Aberystwyth yesterday


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  • 04 June 2013 23:41:52

Route - South Stack, Anglesey

On today's passage, this will be one of the main navigation hazards along with Bardsey Island.

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  • 04 June 2013 07:48:45

Day 11

10 hours, 103 nautical miles and it isn’t Milford Haven, or even Fishgaurd he arrives at, but Aberystwyth. An epic day, again.

The harbour master at Tenby assisted the refuelling process by using his vehicle to bring the fuel that Karen and Brian had already organised straight to the boat. He also donated £20 to the cause! This meant there wasn’t any wasted time and Arnold could head off in good time.

Too small to be safely picked up by radar, All By Water was escorted through the firing ranges. This meant that for an hour, he was travelling at max cruising speed in the wake of the launch vessels. This meant he covered a lot of ground early on. The stoppers a Jack Sound caused little concern other than a little splashing. Then it was on to Ramsey Sound and The Bitches. Sticking to the inshore side of the channel to avoid the main rocks, Arnold put on the power to help control the boat in the swirling waters and currents. Even at neap tides, the boat clocked just under 22 knots (25.3 mph) across the ground!

From there on, it was on to St Davids Head and around the corner. The conditions were near perfect so Arnold was approaching Fishgaurd much earlier than he thought he would, so he decided that he’d push on in the warm sunshine. There was no way he'd make it to Holyhead in daylight so he had to change plans a little. He decided that his old stomping ground of Aberystwyth would be a good mid point to head to, where there were well resourced facilities in the marina. As he made his way across the bay the wind did pick up a little and the sea got a little livelier. For a short time he considered the possibility of heading for the Cardigan area. The the thought of a warm shower helped strengthen the resolve and he kept his straight course for Aber.

In the late evening glow of sunset he arrived in Aber and was greeted by the well travelled Karen and Brian along with some chips straight from the chippy.

Tomorrow, the target is now Holyhead to make the best of the weather. There is no doubt that Arnold is catching up on the lost time in Penarth. After 2 very long and punishing days, even if he arrives in good time, he will rest up on Anglesey for the afternoon evening ready for the final push on up to Chester.

  Refuelling in Tenby Above: The Harbour Master bring fuel striaght to All By Water on the shore at Tenby. Below: Arriving in Aberystwyth

Arriving in Aberystwyth

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  • 03 June 2013 23:12:17

News Update

We have had some amazing news. The engineers at the Chester sea lock have managed to clear enough silt to open the gates to allow All By Water to travel from the River Dee into the canal system. This means the planned route can go ahead. 

Thank you to all the people who have worked so hard to to help make this happen.

  • 03 June 2013 20:58:08

The Route - The Bitches

Rocks, rip tides and white water. Enough said. Nicely captured on Google Maps too.


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  • 02 June 2013 22:49:36

Day 10

Would you believe it, he has finally left Penarth! After getting the final weather forecast from the coast guard, Arnold decided that although things had only marginally improved, he needed to move west or miss the benefits of the high pressure system completely.

After leaving port, conditions were pretty good. His target was the Swansea area, hopefully The Mumbles. As he approached the Barry area where he turned back last time, the sea was rough but not quite as bad, and Arnold chose to push on. By late afternoon The Mumbles was in sight and the conditions were now almost perfect.

Progress had been better than expected, so he wanted to check the tides and have a rest, as he was now considering continuing on further. He came into The Mumbles where the support team were there to hand him a flask of hot water. Unfortunately, actually getting to the support crew on the shore was anything but straightforward. He had to beach on a very stoney shore and actually got stuck and couldn’t get back off land and into water. Some willing volunteers joined in the effort to get the boat free and after moving stones and a lot of pushing All By Water was afloat and free to continue her journey.

This had taken up time, and Arnold had his sights on covering the next bay to get to Tenby. As he headed out conditions were changing once again. As he pushed across the bay, the wind switched to South Westerly and the sea livened up. The going was tiring ,with the boat having to push its way over the waves and made the approach of Tenby slower than planned. Eventually, as the light was falling, he arrived in Tenby exhausted. Now in neap tides, entrance to Tenby harbour itself can only be made around high water, which is around 1am. So, he has borrowed a mooring and is currently trying to prepare for sleep bobbing around out in the water just off the sands.

Tomorrow, he may attempt to get some fuel while he can. Perhaps beach on the sands while Karen and Brian (the vital nomadic support crew) re-fill one of his two 25 litre fuel tanks. This will depend on access, but may be better than waiting on the tide to access the harbour.

The target tomorrow is Milford Haven. He has to go through the firing range, which tomorrow is active, so he may get delayed there. As ever the weather will determine a lot of things, but he may even attempt to get further in readiness for the passage to Fishguard, via Skomer sound and The Bitches off Ramsey.

Arriving at The Mumbles

Arriving at The Mumbles

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  • 02 June 2013 22:35:00

The Route - Nash Point, St Govan's Head and Jack Sound

This whole South Wales coast has tidal races, and from Nash Point's race you then have St. Govan's Head. These can often look like stretches of white water out at sea. The next waypoint to keep an eye on tides is Jacks Sound. You can see from this image that is is only a small space between The Isle of Skomer and mainland, and you can imagine what would happen when the tide pushes water from the North in St. Brides Bay through the sound into The Celtic Sea.

Jacks Sound

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  • 02 June 2013 22:14:39

Day 9

Still Cardiff Bay has a 13ft RIB in it along with one very frustrated Arnold. The sea state is still too rough to risk a departure today, and there are doubts about tomorrow too. If there is a silver lining it is that, for the moment at least, it looks like an improving picture. With a high pressure system slowly nudging in from the south west there is a good weather window opening up.

The ideal condition for achieving a good cruising speed is a sea state of calm or smooth. Currently it is moderate moving to slight. However it is more complex than just what the weather is now in Penarth. The conditions around the corner of St Davids and across Cardigan Bay for early next week are looking promising, but for Arnold to make use of this, he needs to actually reach Cardigan Bay.

This all adds to the pressure to leave Penarth and start heading west as early possible. A possible solution would to be to try and break the south coast of Wales into smaller chunks, but the problem with that is that are very few stopping places. Porthcawl would be a potential early(ish) stop, but currently the harbour is shut for renovation. That leaves Swansea or The Mumbles the most likely target.

The current plan is to call the coastguard in the morning to get the latest weather info and make a call on whether to try and at least make some progress west or wait for the calmer seas on Monday.

Thanks go to the Penarth News who have been following the events. Their photographer took some great shots. The one below shows how tiny the boat is in this active shipping route. You can see their articles here:

In the Bristol Channel
All By Water heads out from Penarth unaware of what seas lay ahead.

  • 01 June 2013 22:39:09

Day 8

Day 8 was a day of mixed fortunes. Arnold awoke to blue skies and sunshine. He had to wait for the tide so he could exit Cardiff Bay. He headed out into calm waters. The target was Swansea, so a lot of miles to cover. As he headed out into the Bristol Channel the wind started picking up. By the time he was approaching Barry, he was facing force 5 head winds and an increasing size of wave. In rough conditions, you have to slow right down, especially with a head wind. The boat ends up bouncing around and going too fast could cause a flip of the boat. After some time, Arnold realized that his average speed had slowed so much the target of Swansea was not going to be achievable. Checking the charts there wasn't a lot of shelter on the coast, so he made the tough decision to return to the safety of Penarth.

Tomorrow’s wind is predicted to be stronger, so he doesn’t plan to do another attempt until Sunday.

Leaving Penarth

Leaving Penarth in glorious sunshine, at last.

  • 31 May 2013 22:32:50

Day 7

Another day in Penarth as Arnold waits for the winds to drop. It is looking like he is all set for departing tomorrow heading for Swansea. All eyes are firmly on the winds, and whether Arnold will be able to get 3 days on the move in a row or not. Jury is out at the moment. 

In other news, we have had a report from the guys in Chester that they managed to open the gates on the lock a small amount today. Obviously that doesn't mean All By Water will fit through though. They have been manually raking out the silt from behind the gates. If they managed to get it so the gates can open the 1.8m to allow the boat through it would be a truely epic acheivemnt. 

We thank all the people who have been working so hard in Chester to help.

Penarth Harbour

The entrance/exit of Penarth Harbour

  • 30 May 2013 22:15:19

Day 6

Bad weather has kept Arnold in Penarth today. Rain and strong winds in the Bristol Channel meant it was not safe to make the passage west. It now looks like Friday will be the next break in the weather.

Arnold is pretty exhausted. His legs particularly are very sore, from all the time on the cramped boat. He has however managed to take everything out of the boat and remove the 3 bucketfuls of water from inside of it. The boat is too bow heavy and it simply has too much in it. He is doing an audit and seeing what if anything he can ditch at the marina in Penarth.

In further news, we have had confirmation that the Locks at Chester have been attempted to be opened, but unfortunately the gates are too silted up. They simply won’t open. This means there is no way in from the Dee onto the canals at Chester. We are trying to think up cunning solutions but so far it does look like Chester isn’t going to work. That leaves going on to the Mersey, then the Manchester Ship Canal joining the Shropshire Union via Ellesmere Port. This will lengthen the journey somewhat and currently we just don’t know if Arnold will have the strength to do it. A lot will depend on the weather (if only we could get some more summer please...) and how the sea leg goes.

Drying out

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  • 29 May 2013 23:27:31

Day 5

We really don't have a lot of information other than a very brief text message, saying that he had a good run from Lydney today with no significant problems, other than the rain and the temperature. He has safely made it to Penarth in Cardiff Bay and is finding somewhere to dry himself and kit out. Oh and warm up. 

Pushing west tomorrow if weather picture stays the same.

Arnold planning his route back in Shropshire

Photo: Arnold planning the route earlier in the year. Courtesy Geoff Ward

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  • 28 May 2013 22:09:10

County Channel TV video 3

With thanks to County Channel TV

  • 28 May 2013 21:53:31

Day 4

Anyone who has taken even a brief look at Lydney Harbour will see that, without causing offence, harbour is being quite generous. It actually is the surviving exit/entrance sea locks for the Lyd, and the Pidcocks Canal that was largely used for shipping coal. The canal basin itself is now in disrepair. There isn’t a lot at the harbour at all.

Arnold has spent the day trying to recover. Yesterday took a lot out of him and mentally he is now quite drained. Physically he is tired and cold. The temperature has dropped and now the rain has arrived. You can see in the picture below the canopy in place for overnight (actually taken on the first night). This is his home until he returns to Shrewsbury.

The weather is currently looking wet, but with lighter winds. Lydney gives a good staging start point for tackling "The Shoots" just after slack water as the tide heads back out to sea. If all stays the same, tomorrow afternoon, Arnold should arrive in Penarth.

Canopy set up at Hampton Lode

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  • 27 May 2013 21:05:14

Day 3

Another early start was made to make the most of the tide. First challenge today was the Maisemore Weir. Apparently that went ok, but signalled the start of a very challenging day. The tide was coming in, and as it was a spring tide it was very noticeable. Arnold had the outward river flow water meeting the seawater head on, and as the Severn had been in flood last weekend, it also meant there was debris everywhere.


Once over the weir, the little boat was taken straight into the current and rushed into the mud bank. In Arnold's words, "All the concern over the Shrewsbury weir and Jackfield rapids earlier this week seemed ridiculous when you now saw what was in front of me!"

Arnold had to carefully pick his way through the debris and the currents. With powerful eddies and stoppers (where the current pushes up the water like an immovable wave) progress was slow. Often he would have to point the boat upstream and go down backwards, using the engine to counteract nature’s forces.

However, progress was still being made and he knew that to make the target of Penarth he would have to push on. The tide eventually turned and stopped fighting the river. The hope was this would now work in Arnold’s favour and carry him out of the river, but all this did was turn the already churning river into fast white water (ok brown water) rapids. The wind was from the south west, straight up the river. The combination of that wind going against the strong spring tide meant that there were yet more large, steep standing waves. Everything was soaked, and Arnold was exhausted, and he hadn’t even made it to the estuary. He had to admit defeat and acknowledge Penarth was not going to happen. He radioed the coast guard to say he was turning back with the aim of stopping in Lydney Harbour that he had passed earlier.

To avoid wasting fuel tracking against the strong tide again, Arnold decided to head to the edge of the river and beach on the mud bank and sit out the tide. He had some food; and slept.

When the tide turned, it lifted All By Water off the mud bank and started to take it back up stream towards Lydney Harbour.  At the very last opportunity, before the locks stopped operating for the night, he managed to get in through the lock gates and into the safety of the Harbour.

If the Southwesterly wind strengthens over the next day or so as predicted, Arnold may sit tight for a day to recover while he stocks up on fuel and energy, ready to face the estuary and its tides again.

Day 3 Progress


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  • 27 May 2013 10:26:03

Day 2

It was a cold night and a bit of a late start getting away. At least the weather today was at least 10 degrees warmer.

At Stourport, Arnold was joined by his support crew for this leg, Brian and Karen Ashton, ready to help swap the small Suzuki 2.5 hp engine out for the Suzuki 20. This proved problematic. The engine got on ok, but sorting the electrics took longer than desired. In addition, one of the wires to the 12v power output has a bad connection. Eventually, Garmin Plotter was powered up and a small light tested. Not sure how well it is going to work to recharge the phone that should be reporting his location. We’ll have to see.

With the big engine on, the boat purred its way south, and at the end of Day 2 is now at the last lock on the Severn, Upper Lode. (See map for details)  

One thing that Arnold has noticed so far is that the boat is far too bow (front) heavy. In a bid to even weight out and keep things dry, a lot of storage is located forward. The weight of which has been underestimated. There is special section to hold the fuel tanks that can hold 50 litres for the sea leg. The boat performs best, and indeed is designed to run, nose slightly up. At the moment it isn’t clear what can be moved or repositioned to solve this, but it would be good to do the sea leg in a well balanced craft.

An early start is planned for tomorrow, and Arnold reports he is going to go for a big push and aim to get to Penarth, Wales. This would mean the route south on the Severn lasting just 3 days. We are approaching spring tides (that's big tides to those that don’t do the sea) at the Severn Estuary, just when The Shoots are at their worst. It isn’t recommended to go through on springs because of the tide speed, however the plan is to get the exit tide and essentially be dragged out the Severn with a 9 knot speed advantage.

Below: Passing Buildwas Powerstation on Day 1. Photo courtesy of John Sullivan

Passing Buildwas Power station

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  • 26 May 2013 10:36:48

Day 1

After departing Shrewbury's Welsh Bridge, Arnold successfully cleared the weir and began his trip south. We are please to report that the first day seemed to go quite well. The best hope target of Hampton Loade has been reached. 

Jackfield rapids had some large stoppers, and some water was taken on board, but nothing serious, and then the run was good. There were a few occasions where rowing was required because of shallows, mostly around the south of Bridgenorth. 

Arnold however, is exhausted. Let's see how a night on 13ft RIB full of equipment helps rest the tired body. 

Thanks for all the support from the press, friends and family today, it is much appreciated.

Currently the GPS tracking doesn't appear to be working, and ran out of battery before his track had been logged. We are going to see how day 2 goes while we work on a work around.

Amateur footage courtesy of Gavin Grayston...more coming soon!


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  • 25 May 2013 23:14:06

It is time to go

All By Water powered by Suzuko

It is confirmed. River levels have dropped to normal levels, and Arnold is happy to confirm he is good to go. 

See him off if you can @ Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury. Gather 9.45am ready for a 10am departure.

Thanks to Peter at for loan of safety equipment

  • 25 May 2013 23:13:20

Launch postponed until Friday 24th May

The rains of last week has caused river levels to rise. Although they are now falling, various agencies are saying it is still too dangerous to navigate. The Shrewsbury weir for one is still quite violent.

Pending on water levels continuing to fall the new departure date will now be Friday 24th May at the same times 9.45am arrive, 10am depart under Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury

  • 20 May 2013 13:23:50

The Route - The Shoots

​As Arnold approaches the second Severn Crossing he will have to go through 'The Shoots'. This is a deep water channel, that is the only navigable section at low water. 


The tides in the Severn estuary are the highest in Europe and are only surpassed in height by the tides of the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick. As the tides come around the Sothern Ireland they get funneled by the Welsh coast, Cornwall and Devon. This causes a tidal surge. If weather conditions, in particular wind direction against the tide with sufficient strength, you can get very high and steep standing waves. Even with out that you can get 9 knots of tide through the shoots. You don't really want to be going against that!


Second severn crossing

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  • 18 May 2013 20:09:52

The Route - Llanthony weir

It would probably be better to avoid the Gloucester loop and go over Maisemore weir, but if that isn't possible, the longer route past Gloucester will lead to this weir before the 2 river channels rejoin.

Again you can see here the weir and the old lock just to the North in the trees an impressive looking lock house.


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  • 18 May 2013 00:12:43

The Route - Maisemore weir

This is at the start of the Gloucester loop where the river is diverted to service Gloucester Port.

You can see here the weir and the old lock and lock house next to it that used to be active when the river had more commercial traffic on it.


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  • 18 May 2013 00:09:51

The Route - Upper Lode, Tewkesbury

The last lock on the river. Once through the lock the river becomes tidal. It's now a passage down to the estuary.

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  • 17 May 2013 23:50:48

The Route - Stourport Lock

From Jackfied Rapids the river continues winding south. A mix of deep channels and shallows. Water levels will play a big part in how and what type of a challenge the river will face.

Eventually Arnold will arrive at Stourport Lock. This is the first lock on the Severn. From here the river is considered navigable by small craft.

Stourport Lock

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  • 17 May 2013 23:32:27

The Route - Jackfield rapids

Once safely over the weir in Shrewsbury, the Severn winds its way south and east out of Shrewsbury, through Atcham and off towards Colebrookdale and the Ironbridge Gorge. At the downstream end of which lies Jackfield Rapids.

As you can see from some of these images, water levels will be very much key here. Too little and I think Arnold will be worrying about the rocks and the hull, to much and I think worried generally will cover it. If the river is in full white water rage mode it may not be possible to control the boat adequately with the 2.5hp engine.

View Map

  • 17 May 2013 23:31:22

The Route - Shrewsbury Weir

So Arnold makes it under Welsh Bridge and heads downstream, passed the Park and Dingle and on towards English bridge. At English bridge the water can be shallow, but in May there should be pleanty of water. It is just a short pootle under the train station bridge to the weir.

Shrewsbury weir is one of the largest on the trip. Its is wide and straight. Water levels are going to be key here too. If it is summer levels, then it will be a trickle and it will be a stand on the sill or side of the weir and lower boat down, and then get back in. If the water levels are high, it turns into a churning noise of white water. Then, it may just be best to head straight at it with a bit of power and get through it.

The shots below was taken last October at moderate water levels.

Shrewsbury Weir - October 2012

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  • 17 May 2013 23:30:34

Volunteers scout the Morda Part 2

Volunteers from Shropshire Sailing Club returned to the Morda for a second pass at clearing a path for All By Water. There were some significant blockages, but most have been cleared now. Except for the one tree near the confluence with the Vyrnwy, but that's now in hand too!

Volunteers in canoes clear the small river

Volunteers wade into river to clear large blockage for All By Water

  • 16 May 2013 22:51:41

River Trials Complete

Last trials on the are river done. The Suzuki 2.5 hp engine had plenty of go after its break in period.  Despite finding no satisfactory solutions for working it as in a shallow drive, just over 20 hours running only used about 6 litres of petrol.  The Garmin was at last working on the water - thanks go to Manbat Ltd, of Shrewsbury, for donating a new 12 v battery that worked.

The Garmin Plotter

  • 16 May 2013 12:56:40

All By Water departs 21st May

There is still a lot to do, and a lot of fund raising ideas we just haven't had time to implement, but we are pleased to announce that Arnold will be leaving from Shrewsbury on the Tuesday 21st May. Gathering at Frankwell Quay at around 9.45am for a departure under Welsh Bridge at 10am.

So 1 week to go! 

Welsh Bridge 10am Tuesday 21st May

  • 14 May 2013 20:54:21

Volunteers scout the Morda

With 2 canoes (and hopefully a warm flask of tea or two) some very kind volunteers navigated the Morda to see what state it is in. There has been a lot of bad weather over the past few months and this has lead to alot of debris blocking passage. There were a lot more fallen branches down in and across the river. Where possible they cut and lifted to clear the debris. A substantal part is now clear and the plan is to complete the remainder including a large tree that currently lies from bank to bank before Arnold and All By Water need to come through.

Thanks to for the loan of a canoe!

  • 14 May 2013 07:40:23

Thank you Newtown


The boat attracted attention on display at Morrisons in Newtown, mid Wales.  The RIB and Suzuki engines were discussed.  When talking about the planned route many were aghast that such a little boat may go around the Welsh coastline.  Best comment was “Why not just go fishing”. Lots of donations were made and that is what it is all about.  Thank you to Morrisons and the people who supported and helped on the day.

  • 29 April 2013 21:20:13

All By Water - Sea Trials - County TV

Thanks to County Channel TV for all their support and assistance.


  • 26 April 2013 21:56:48

Shake Rattle and Roll

A problem with all the shaking and vibration. Screws have worked loose and been lost from the frame fittings for the canopy.  Replacing and tightening them has been done.  The solution has been to wrap them with PVC tape.

Shake it loose.

  • 21 April 2013 18:04:12

Sea Trials Debrief

Sea trials included a “Wow” factor. 

The new DF20A lean burn outboard engine on loan from Suzuki GB and the Ribeye aluminium RIB had their initial break-in and sea trials out of Pwllheli Marina, North Wales.  With the superb support from Harbour Marine Engineering and the opportunity to experience winds from 0 to 25 knots meant very successful trials.

Much was learnt.  

On a calm sea the fast little boat was absolutely fantastic, very comfortably cruising at 13 - 15 knots.  Going into waves produced by tide or winds over 12 knots was slow and hard work.

Muscat - the support vessel

The down side of the sea trials, the support vessel 'Muscat', pictured above, hit a rock.


  • 11 April 2013 14:32:17

Sea Trials underway

All at see

With the new Suzuki DF20A now fitted, "All by water" begins the sea trials. 

One of the first things that stood out was the power to weight ratio. Low speed manouvering and throttle control took a little getting used to, move that throttle and the boat moves. Really moves.

In the calm weather over the weekend the boat comfortably cruised at 15 - 16 knots. Early indications also seem to validate the "Lean burn" labelling on the Suzuki engine.

We'll do a more complete round up once boat and crew are all back home and everyone debriefed. In the meantime, here are some shots courtesy of Geoff Ward from County Channel TV, of some of the action. You'll note how the front cover reduces visibility and also that the sea section of the trip is going to be nothing other than physical!

Sea trials

Sea trials

Sea trials

Sea Trials - Arnold

  • 09 April 2013 22:19:03

Welcome to the new website

Testing the new Suzuki 20

We are busy trying to squeeze everything in right now and we will be adding more pages and features to the site in the next 4 or 5 weeks, ready for Arnold's departure in late May.

We will be using this as our main update hub for news from now on, so please bookmark and check back regularly. Don't forget to spread the word and share the posts and most importantly please donate whatever you can if you haven't already done so.

Thank you for your support.

  • 09 April 2013 20:08:36