Tuesday 27 January 2009

A short visit to Debdale

Not a trip by boat but we visited Debdale today to see how David and Russell are getting on with Harnser. We left Suffolk in bright,warm sunshine after last nights mist are gone, but half way along the A14 the mist returned and the temperature dropped to below 3 deg.C and when we arrived at Debdale the marina was covered in a thin sheet of ice.

Inside the nice warm paint dock we found David and his son putting the first gloss coat on the roof, the main panels on the side are finished as are the handrails. Both look very smart but I do wonder how I will get on with a shiny boat. After talking to Dave it was off to Gumley for dinner at the Bell. Last time we visited for lunch there were only 4 of us eating, today it was packed and people were waiting for tables.

Sunday 11 January 2009

The Final Chapter

We looked out on Thursday morning and there was water on top of the ice but the ice appeared to be just as thick and consequently there was no sign of Dave. As the day progressed the ice continued to thaw and mid afternoon, as we were very low on water I decided to do a bit of gentle ice breaking, moving quite slowly out into the centre of the marina basin and then towards the far end cutting a couple of channels through the ice. Derwent6 took a photo of us as we approached them which you can see on their Blog here.  Some of the moorers on that side of the basin started to get agitated that I may damage their boats so I moored up again and went round to explained that I was going slowly and not pushing ice across against their boat, but before I could say anything the chap moored on the end of the row came home from work, started his engine and said "Well I'm just off for a pump out" with that he selected reverse and powered out backwards through the ice. Not a word was said and a couple of people there left the scene. He found it quite easy getting through to where I had cut the channel but after that he was going forward and then coming back and ramming it as hard as he could. I walked round to the service dock to see if we could have a pump out as well and as the answer was yes we cast off again and turned in the now broken ice to head towards the service dock, meeting the other boat on the way. Before we had completed our pump out it was getting quite dark and I had removed all the external lights ready for our repaint, so once I had paid the bill, only a tenner we slid back to our mooring under the cover of darkness. As we had also taken on water we were both able to have a show before heading to the pub at Gumley for a very good meal. On the way I phoned Dave and told him the condition of the ice and arranged to see him the next morning.

Friday morning and the boat was a bit smelly, I put it down to the smoke from the chimneys of the other boats in the marina but it turned out to be our stove so I shut it down and set to giving it a clean out. About 10 AM Dave and Russell brought the boat they had been working on out of the paint dock and returned it to its moorings and then walked over to see us about 11 AM just after I came  out of the shower having "done" the stove. We slipped the moorings and headed into the paint dock which was well packed with the ice we pushed ahead of us.

Once in the dock we unloaded the boat and then went through the details of what we wanted in the way of colours and sign writing before heading off to the freezing fog on the A14.

We are now boatless until around Valentines Day.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Life in a marina 7 Jan

We have been stuck here in Debdale Marina since Sunday afternoon when we broke ice from Black Horse Bridge on the Market Harborough Arm all the way back through the marina. One boat followed us in later in the afternoon down the channel we had made and moored down the finger moorings opposite us.

We have met several people here in the marina who all seem very friendly and lots of other dogs. It is now Wednesday afternoon and there has been very little thaw since we crept back on Sunday. Late Tuesday afternoon the marina moved one of their boats from opposite us to the workshop, it was slow going with the boat reversing out from the finger pontoon and two men breaking ice over the stern with poles. Once they were able to turn things got a lot easier for them but from starting the operation to getting into the workshop must have take over an hour in total and it was dark before they had finished. Some of the pieces of ice that slid on top of the other ice must be at least 25 mm thick so its any ones guess how thick the ice is between us and the paint dock, nothing has been that way since Saturday so it is very debatable if they will be able to get the boat out of the paint dock today. While we have been here the night time temperatures have been as low as -8 c, last night when we went to bed it was -6 c but this climbed overnight and was only -0.3 at 7 AM this morning. Just after lunch Dave knocked on the boat and said there is no chance of getting in today as the ice in front of the paint dock is to thick, however since then we have had a steady but slow thaw, the ice is all very wet and if its not to cold tonight we may make it tomorrow.

Sunday 4 January 2009

Black Horse bridge -Debdale Wharf

Last night we ate at The Black Horse, it was OK but I wouldn't go down the arm especially to eat there. As we walked back to the boat there was still no ice on the cut. How things changed overnight. We had a very late start following a walk round the village of Foxton. As we returned to the boat the Canal Time moored behind us was about to set off so I let him go ahead to do the ice breaking, I found him against the bank just round the next bend so we were now out in front. The ice wasn't too bad down the Market Harborough Arm but was quite a bit thicker on the main Leicester Line. It was quite strange as we would come to places where it was a good 15 mm thick and then clear water, I kept to the off side where the trees had stopped the ice getting as thick, but a lot of the way it was open bank and the ice uniform across the cut. A family of swans were pleased to see us as it meant they had a channel to swim down. We turned back into Debdale Marina where the ice was completely unbroken and as we had to pass a couple of GRP boats moored in the narrow section I broke the ice ahead using the long shaft not wanting to risk sending an ice flow into their hulls. We are now safely moored in the marina for the nigh with a few snow flurries. While we have been away NB Alice Mary with Stowmarket Navigation painted on her side has come into the marina, The Stowmarket Navigation is one of our local waterways in Suffolk presently under restoration.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Market Harborough to take on water

About half ten this morning I walked round to the Marina office and introduced myself, its the first time the office has been open since we arrived. Just as I was walking back to the boat NB Balmaha turned into the marina, they had cut a fine channel all the way from Black Horse Bridge at Foxton right into Debdale Marina. On the strength of this we decided to go cruising and reversed through the ice and out of the marina. We stopped at Foxton and again tried to fill with water but none of the taps were operational still, even the one in the entrance to the basin at the bottom of the incline plane was dry. We decided that we would take a run down to Market Harborough and fill there. On the way we spotted another BW waste of money, a sign saying the speed limit is 6.43 KPH.  We pulled in against the services block in the basin only to find our hose pipe was frozen solid, we always drain it after use but a few dregs must have formed an ice plug, so it was into the oven with it to thaw while we dumped the rubbish etc. We were considering doing a pump out but the power lamp  on the panel was out and the office is only open now and again so we may try again Monday. We took on enough water for the weekend as I didn't want to hang about to long and get caught returning in the dark. On the way back we saw saw NB Caxton's Kingfisher sitting on a branch, I have never seen such a tame one before, it made no attempt to move as we slid past.  We were planning to head back to the marina for the night as we don't want to get caught in the ice at this stage of our plans, however as we continued on along the arm towards Foxton there was a good covering of cloud so it shouldn't be any colder tonight than it was last night so we stopped at Black Horse Bridge  just after 4 PM with a view to  eating at the Black Horse Pub or The Shoulder of Mutton that has its own Chinese restaurant.

Thursday 1 January 2009

A short 2009 sortie

The plan was to stay here in Debdale Marina until 2 January when we would move to the paint dock. David the painter came to see us this morning to tell us that the boat in the dock at the moment wont be leaving until Wednesday, so we will be kicking our heels for a few more days before going home. On the strength of this information we decided to leave the marina and go to "The Locks" at Foxton for lunch and fill up with water. We managed to moor against the frontage of The locks pub and went in for a meal. Not much sign of a recession there, the place was heaving, and as one table emptied it was quickly turned and reoccupied. By about 1-30 they were informing people that there was a bit of a delay on the food because they were so busy. After eating and drinking we walked across to the shop at "Bridge 61" and bought a few items. It was then time to fill with water, but the taps were all dry, they were working yesterday because we saw Matilda Rose and Caxton filling up. A Canal Time boat was filling his tank from the tap on the wall of the lock cottage but the flow was so slow it took him for ever, and we found that we would need to be right in the mouth of the lock for our hose to reach so we gave it a miss, We will nip down to Market Harborough Saturday if we are not iced in and do it then. At this point we decided to chug back to the marina for the night and are now tucked up where we were last night waiting to see if it freezes again.