Wednesday 31 December 2008

Last trip report of the year day 5

Last night was cold, there was ice on the gunwale at 4 PM and when we took the dog out last thing the canal was completely frozen over.  This morning the ice was about 10 mm thick when we took the dog for a walk about 10 AM. We could hear the ice "singing" and as we walked along the towing path sure enough we met a boat coming towards us, it must have been a 1/4 mile away when we heard the ice by the boat.  We were very pleased that N.B. Rick Oshay had cut a path for us. We walked back to the boat and continued for about 3/4 mile to the winding hole where we turned and then followed Rick Oshay's path back to Foxton Locks. Unfortunately for us he had turned off up the lock. N.B. Claxon and Matilda Rose were filling their water tanks at the junction and very kindly invited us to pass them before the also made their way towards Leicester, needles to say we were the first boat to travel that section today and ended up breaking the ice all the way to Debdale Wharf. We turned into the marina and made our way slowly round to then where Dave's paint shop is, I'm not sure if we should be moored here or not, but the Office is closed for the next couple of days and if we had moored outside, with temperatures as they are we may not get in on Friday, so we will sit here until someone comes and shouts at us.

So it looks as if our travels are not only over for 2008 but also for the first couple of months of 2009 as well. Watch this space.


You will find our latest position at

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Last trip of the year day 4

We set off at 10 am to a bright sunny morning, it felt quite mild compared with late but there was very thin ice on parts of the cut. We had about 7 miles to go to the Foxton flight and we only met a couple of boats on the way. Its good to see that North Kilworth Wharf has been taken over and is now supplying boaters needs once more.  At the top of the locks we stopped for lunch and then headed to the top lock which was in our favour. Diana walked down the flight to see the lock keeper and returned saying two boats were coming up the bottom half and there was no locky. by now another boat had drawn up behind us and we set off  down the top half to pass the up hill boats in the centre pound. Just as we approached half way the lock keeper appeared and told us to pull over in the centre pound and let the other boats passed. We said yes, I didn't add it was the only thing we could do. As the second boat passed I told the locky that there was a boat waiting at the top, checking the time he said " he will be lucky, last boat in is at 1445 and its now 1420 hrs." I don't know if the other boat made it but at 1445 the locky was seeing us out and putting the padlock on the bottom gate to stop anyone else coming up. Once through the lock we turned right towards Market Harborough and do battle with the new swing bridge, it would have been easier if the Canaltime boats were not moored to the bollards so Diana could have got off and on easily instead she had to step of the very bow onto the entrance to the bridge and then back on the stern on the off side.  On the 14 day moorings we passed n.b. Caxton  and  n.b. Matilda Rose, got a quick wave as we passed. We carried on towards Market Harborough for a couple of miles before mooring for the night at 4 PM.

For our latest location http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route

Monday 29 December 2008


Today was not so bright but not quite so cold with no ice on the roof. We set off at ten past nine heading for the Watford flight. I stuck the nose into the bottom lock while Diana went to find the lock keeper, there wasn't one, but there were three boats coming down, one in the staircase, one just entering the second from bottom lock and one behind them. I filled the bottom lock and opened the top gates ready for the single hander at the next lock and then backed Harnser out of the way. Diana waved to the next boat that we were coming up and once the single hander had left the bottom lock we started to ascend, We had to wait above the second lock for the last boat to clear the staircase before we could go any further. If BW are not going to have a lock keep on duty why do they insist on having opening hours?

Once clear of the locks we found the going on the summit pound quite slow due to the bottom being to close to the top, and we are not as deep as several of the boats we met today. It seemed they had organised a Christmas get together at the end of the Welford Arm with 40 boats attending and now some of them are heading towards Stoke Bruerne for New Years eve. Lucky for us they were well spaced out. We had heard that there was a new marina being build at Yelvertoft but we didn't see any sign of it. The day seemed to get cooler as the afternoon progressed and we finally stopped for the night about a mile and a half before Welford Junction  at three o'clock.


For our latest location http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route

Sunday 28 December 2008

Last trip of the year day 2

We woke to a sunny but cool morning, The boat had a layer of ice on the roof but there was no ice on the canal. We pushed off at 10 AM heading towards Braunston.  BW have really done bridge 100 proud, not only have they printed 100 on a laminated piece of A4 paper, they have then mounted them on 6 foot long round posts and driven one in each side of the bridge on the off side. NB Lucy now has a couple of notices on the side telling people that it is a restoration project and please keep off,  All the top cloths have gone, I don't know if  these were removed by the new owner or if their removal prompted the notices.    Just through Braunston Turn we saw NB Hadar moored up, chimneys smoking well. A couple of blasts on the horn soon brought Jo and Keith out to say hello and exchange Christmas and New Year greetings. We carried on to Braunston Bottom Lock where a boat had just gone up before us. As Diana turned the lock I got talking to Phil at Bottom Lock chandlery who has built a small Venetian Gondola that now stand beside his workshop. As we locked up John P came along for a chat and then returned to his boat, only to reappear with bike and windlass to help us up the flight. This did actually slow us down a bit as we had to stop at The Admiral Nelson for a swift one, as they were doing Sunday lunch we also tried the Gloucester Old Spot roast pork. Moored outside the Nelson was NB Debdale but there was no one onboard, so I expect they were in the Nelson as well.

After a good  Sunday Lunch and admiring some of the landlords art work, photographs on canvas. We continued our journey up the Braunston flight, while we had been eating a couple of boats came down so now the locks were with us and John helped us right to the top.  Braunston tunnel was very clear and we could see from end to end and it was quite a bit warmer in there. We turned left onto the Leicester Arm and a short way along we came to the Narrowboat trusts pair of boats, Brighton and Nuneaton moored breasted up opposite 3 BW boats moored , breasted up on the offside bank, I'm glad it was still light, if it had been 5 PM we probably wouldn't have seen the BW flats. We passed a few boats mooring up for the day and continued on just past Weltonfield Marina where we had planned to moor. Just as we were mooring Peter Thompson on Colonel followed by NB Bream, not sure if it was Steve came the other way and passed very slowly so as not to drag us back into the middle of the cut as we waited to step ashore.

For our latest location http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route

Saturday 27 December 2008

Last trip of the year day 1

We arrived at the boat a little after 2 PM after a rather slow drive from Suffolk. At 3 o'clock we were at Napton top lock emptying the car onto the boat. One boat had just come up the flight but unfortunately for us, they must have met a boat in that pound, as from here on all the locks were against us with several of the bottom offside gates open. Just after 4 PM we were in the bottom pound and passing NB Ten Bob Note who was facing up the flight.  BW now have a notice at the bottom lock instructing people how to operate the locks, its a bit rough and ready stuck on what looks like a "road works" board, but with so many hire bases near by I suppose it makes sense.  We thought of mooring for the night by the Folly and there was a space behind the Ownerships NB Orchard, which to our surprise had friends and fellow Ipswich IWA/Gipping Trust members Lewis and Mitzi onboard. By now we had decided to carry on to The Bridge, Napton, but when we arrived the moorings were all full so we carried on to the next bridge and moored for the night at 5 PM in the dark.

For our latest location http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route

Friday 19 December 2008

We are heading home

Yesterday evening we took the Christmas presents to my daughter and family. The only work I carried out apart from fitting a new battery was to put a new foot on the gang plank for when it stands on the freshly painted roof and remove the brass plaques from the inside of the engine room door ready to fit new linings after Christmas. Basically in 5 days we did about 2 hours work.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

I've got man flu

We arrived on the boat just after lunch on Monday; the plan was to do lots of work. Diana was half way through the flu and I am a few days behind her so we both feel more than one degree under. The temperature on the boat was just 4.5 C. with a humidly of 96% when we arrived. First job was to get the Dickinson fired up and then the range in the back cabin, which was not over cooperative. By bedtime the boat had warmed nicely and all the bedding in the boatman’s cabin was well aired before I let the fire die out for the night.
One of the jobs on the list was to fit a new domestic battery, last time we came to the boat the voltage was low, which is unusual as I always charge as much as possible before leaving the boat. We have a 24-volt system provided by 4X6 volt 200 amp batteries and when I removed the cover to the battery box one looked very suspect with dampness around the filler cap, sure enough it was the one with the low voltage. Tuesday I felt fit enough to change it, needless to say it wasn’t the easiest one in the bank to get out. While I was head down in the engine room with the side doors open for light "Epiphany" came by heading south and we exchanged a quick hello as they continued on there way and I continued struggling. Needless to say the new battery is about 1 cm longer than the old one so I had to adjust (saw a bit off) the spacer at the end of the battery box. Hopfully if things improve a bit I will do some more work before we go home at the weekend.

Monday 27 October 2008

Working on Harnser

Date -26/10/08Day - Sunday We drove over to the boat today to spend a few days doing jobs that need doing before Christmas, The main one being relining the lounge galley doors.When we arrived I switched the power on and the domestic voltage only showed 22.7 Volts so it looks like we have a cell gone short circuit. I ran the engine to check they weren't just flat, I always leave them fully charged. The voltage was up to 27 volts in minutes and the current not excessive. Once I stopped the engine it wasn't long before they were down to 23 V again and by this morning were about 22.5V so I will try to get a new battery on the way home via Bishops Stortford.Monday I stripped the old door linings off, the "GripFill" had made a first class job of sticking the ply to the steel but the plywood had delaminate from the bottom. I made new liners for the starboard side from PVC boarding that they use for house facia boards. I found that this can be worked very well using a router. The board is 10mm thick and I am mounting it on 9 mm battens glued to the steel door. Once these were made up I had to treat the inside of the steel with "rust killer" The door on the port side was in much better condition and harder to remove.Tomorrow I will paint the inside of the steel and then glue in the liners.
Also on the list to-do are new fixing bolts for the hatch runners, new wind horns, the sun has made the old ones disintegrate, re-tap all the holes for fixings that I removed to treat the localised rusting. and anything else that comes up.--

Thursday 25 September 2008

The BCNS Explorer Cruise

Wednesday 13 /08/08

We attended the briefing last night where we were told which group would be in, when we would be leaving and who would be leading. We are in group 2 and were due to leave at 8am.
The alarm was set, dog walked and at 7-30am just as it started to rain we winded and made our way to the entrance to the Oozells Street Loop for about ten to eight, but every one had gone so we set off alone. We didn't do the Oozells loop as we did that yesterday and went straight to the Icknield Port loop and the Soho Loop, past Winson Green Prison. As we exited the Soho loop we could see two of the others ahead. There was a choice of route to get to the Wolverhampton level and we decided to turn sharp right on ourselves and go up the Spon Lane locks, here we found a boat waiting to go up ahead of us and as they opened the bottom gates we could see large amounts of water coming in under the top gate, just as they got in BW arrived to scrape the cill, they didn't bother to draw the paddles to fill the lock the leaking top gates let it in fast enough. BW couldn't find any obstruction and needed to investigate further so we turned round and continued on the Birmingham Level to Factory Locks at Tipton where we caught up with the two boats we had seen earlier, they said that the others had left quite early as they had not heard them go passed. BW assisted us up the Factory locks, as they just happened to be there to adjust water levels. Once clear of the locks it was through Coseley Tunnel and then right down the Bradley Arm, we only got as far as the first bend when everything stopped with blanket weed, poly and fishing line round the prop stopped us, I almost had it clear when the boat that had gone via Spon Lane arrived and gave it a try, he got just as far as us before we hauled him back to the bridge so he could clear his prop as well. We had just backed out onto the main line when a boat came sailing out of the arm, he had been right to the end and had no problem at all. We carried on in the continuing rain to the basin at the top of the Wolverhampton flight where the rest were already winded ready for the morning and moored up for the night.

Thursday 14/08/08

Last night it was agreed to start at our own times, so after chatting with the boat opposite we decided to push off at 8 am together. So at 8 this morning we backed up through the bridge and winded in the BW basin before heading off together to the Wryley and Essington Canal, often refereed to as the Curly whirly. There were still 4 boats to leave after we went; the rest had set off at 6am. The travelling was quite good but it wasn't long before we caught up with 2 boats who had their fair share of weed hatch visits, one of them did draw 3 feet, as we ticked along behind them a couple of the others caught us up. We passed the boats ahead on one of their many visits down the hatch, so we were now front boat of the late starters. The weather was kind to us and so was the rubbish and I didn't need to do a visit down the hatch until after we moored for the night at the end of the Cannock Extension. Clover, the old coal boat manage to pick up a sleeping bag and spent over an hour getting it off so it was just as well they started early. A couple of the boats went down the Extension, but we didn't bother having done it last time we were this way.

Friday 15/08/08

As today was only to be a short day we decided to go down the Cannock Extension, we thought we would be alone but most of the other boats went down as well, it takes between an hour and a half and two hours to get to the end and back but we wided just short of the end. As we left the arm we turned left and headed for Brownhills where we stopped for water and Diana went across the road to Tesco to stock up on food, if the weather holds we will have a BBQ tonight. Once watered and stocked up we continued on to Catshill Junction where we turned left onto the Angelsey Branch past Ogley Junction where the Litchfield canal used to come in and hopefully will again one day. We went right to the end of the Angelsey Branch and turned before mooring for the night on the old Angelsey Wharf.

Saturday 16/08/08

The working boats set off at 7am and we followed at about 8 am. We had a much better run than some of the boats. One of them managed to get a "Sport for Life" banner round his prop that took nearly an hour to remove with a Stanley knife and the ex working boat collected a load of wire round his prop. When we arrived at Rushall locks at about 12 the first two boats to arrive had already moored above the first lock in the only vacant mooring so we carried on down below the second lock breasting with the same boat as last night.

Sunday 17 /08/08

Last night we had fish and chips in the Longwood Boat Club clubhouse with an interesting talk about the history of RN engines by Brian Jarret. During the night we had very heavy rain but it had cleared up by this morning. We were woken early by some of the first boats leaving at about 6 am. We were booked out at 8-50 am but pushed off in a gap at about quarter to. We had a good run down the Rushall flight but boats started to bunch up at the bottom of the Ryders Green flight. It turned out that the first boats up found part of the flight dry and spent an hour letting water down to give enough depth to get up. Once the first boats reached the top and moored up they started helping the other boats up.. We reached the top and backed into the Ridge Acre Arm commonly known as the Chemical Arm at 3 pm. and after helping other boats to moor did some work on the top lock. The last boats arrived a little after 5-30pm. Both groups are together now so there are over 30 boats moored up here now blocking not only the arm but the main line as well.

Monday 18/08/08

As there were 5 boats moored on the outside of us last night we were a bit late getting away. We continued on the Wednesbury Old Canal to the New Main Line where we turned left towards Birmingham until we reached Smethwich Locks, to access the locks you have to turn through about 330 deg. I just put the boat across the cut and the wind did the rest. Once up the locks we turned hard left on to the Engine Arm, we have never been up here before, It is mainly residential moorings but there is a facilities block with very clean showers, toilets. pumpout etc at the end as well as a 48 hr mooring. The only thing missing is a water point, but there is a very long hose reel in the facilities block that will reach from the last residential water point to the visitor moorings. After watering up, we winded and made our way back to the Old Main Line where we turned left and carried on to Oldbury Junction where again we turned left on to the Titford Canal, up the Oldbury Flight of locks commonly known as "Crow" to moor with about 35 other boats just above the BCNS meeting rooms at the old pump house. The weather has took a turn for the worse but the BBQ organised by the BCNS was cooked in a tent and we ate it in the clubhouse.

Tuesday 19/08/08

This morning the boat next to us was setting off at 7 am so we decided we would get up and help the others down the flight so from 7 30 until 9 30 am we were locking other boats down before returning to Harnser to set off our selves. Once back on the Old main Line we turned left until we came to Brades Junction where we turned right down the flight to reach the New Main Line, then it was left to the next junction and left again, going under the Old Main Line to go through Netherton Tunnel. Just after exiting the tunnel we reversed down the Old Dudley No2 Canal for about 100 yards and moored for the night. As the day has progressed more boats arrived and a couple of marquees were erected on the far side of the canal to host to nights Black Country meal and real ale bar.

Wednesday 20 /08/08

Today was the 150 anniversary of the opening of Netherton Tunnel and to mark the occasion the Mayors from each end of the tunnel would come through the tunnel by boat cutting a ribbon at each end. Local TV and radio were there and the dignitaries finally arrived at about 1-30, following them in the electric trip boat were slightly lesser dignitaries like the IWA National Chairman and IWA President, Local IWA Branch Officers and BCNS Officers. When the Joey reached the mouth of the tunnel it was towed by horse for the final couple of hundred yards. Not far behind that was "President" the steam powered narrowboat and several historic local tugs. We had lunch in the local pub, The Dry Dock which has an old wooden boat as a bar. They serve local real ale and good freshly cooked food. The Sausage and Mash is made with sausages that are only available at the pub as they are made specifically for them.
After lunch all the dignitaries had departed on the bus back to the other end of the tunnel and we helped to take the 3 marquees down just as it started to rain. Once we had said our goodbyes we set of in the rain which just got heavier, We cruised for a couple of hours down the Dudley No1 Canal stopping for the night just passed the Merryhill shopping complex, there are good moorings in the complex but Diana spotted the sign that said the bars were open until 3am. so we moved on a bit. We were now alone and would continue the rest of our holiday bumping into people we had spent time with over the past few days.

Photos of the trip can be seen at