Tuesday 21 September 2010

Monday 20 Sept 2010 Napton

Our first task this morning was assisting Jannock and Enseabee up the flight, on route we tried to assist a boat following by drawing a bottom as we left, but we watched them walk forward, wind down the near side paddle, cross the lock and draw the offside one, so they were doing more winding than they would have if we did nothing. Nearing the top of the flight we caught up with Pilgrim and Levic so I moved on and gave them a hand.
Whilst walking back down I spotted that the boat that had followed us had left an offside top gate open and also an offside paddle up. We were later to discover that they had in fact left three offside top paddles up.
We returned to Harnser and started to make our own way up the flight. Just as we left the first lock a chap walked up with a windlass so I offered to wait for them, but they said they had a second boat with them so we carried on. Looking back at the second lock I could see they were alone and the lady walked up and explained the other boat had changed there minds and they would be very grateful if we waited, which of course we were more than happy to do and it turned out they were very good partners to lock with.
At Calcutt locks there was a queue of 4 boats waiting to go up, but we were only doing two of the locks before stopping to fill with diesel and empty the holding tank which required me to turn round between operations.  This completed it was off up to Napton with very little traffic about, however we met boats inmost pounds which eased our passage.
We had a rather unfortunate incident two locks before the top. As Diana approached the top lock an approaching boat stopped above the lock moorings, the lock had about 2 feet of water in it so Diana raised the paddles to open the gates to let me in. I suspect the other boat thought she turned the lock in his face and as I entered the lock he put his windlass on the top paddle and took the slack up, I though I know what you are going to do but I was wrong. Diana closed one gate and as she stepped across he whizzed the paddle up with the other gate still wide open. I shouted ah him to drop the paddle until the gate was closed which he did and Diana had the sense to keep away from the gate that slammed shut, the then wound the paddle up again. As we left the lock I just thanked him for his help.
We stopped below the top lock to unload the boat into the car as Magic can't cross the gates now and then returned to our mooring before driving home.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Friday 17 Sept 2010 Blue Lias

We were ready for the off at 9 30 am just as Josephine was coming up the pound, but our joy was quickly dashed bay a hire boat following them. The hire boat did offer to hold back and let me go, but we were in no hurry and declined the offer, however they did tell me there was a single following. I followed them to Welsh Road lock and after they had gone, turned the lock, went in and waited for the following boat. Ten minutes later there was still no sign of it so we assumed they must also be waiting for a second boat to join them and went up alone.
At Bascote we could see Josephine and the hire boat in the staircase, but they had left the top gate open of the lock bellow so we rightly guessed that there was a boat coming down. When the downhill boat arrived he asked if we minded waiting 5 minutes for the single boat following him, which was no problem to us. and the locks would still be with us.
The pound above Bascote was well down and we passed Josephine who had just managed to moor below the Two Boats, it had taken them all that time to find somewhere to get in, the level was probably 10" down and things didn't improve above the next two locks. We arrived at the Blue Lias for the CIBC (Cutweb Internet Boat Club) annual rally about mid day, there wereDSCF4835 already boats moored 2 abreast for most of the pub frontage. Those that were there indicated that we should nose in at the back of the line on the 3' of hard edging available which we did, but due to the levels we could only get within about 18" at the front and because of the way the bank drops away the stern was a good twelve foot out but almost in line with the channel. As the afternoon progressed I slowly tightened our moorings drawing us in.
By the early evening the level had risen sufficiently for us to come along side at the front giving easy access for the dog (and us).
DSCF4833 In the course of the afternoon more boats arrived and by the end of the day there were 15 of us moored 3 deep along the front of the pub. Some of us have put bunting up to brighten things up, we have also had members join us by car returning home at night and 3 lots camping for the weekend.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Thursday 16 Sept 2010 Above Wood Lock

We had some very heavy rain last night and quite low cloud but by this morning things had cleared out. A hire boat Harry came by and waited for a second boat in the top Cape lock so we thought we would wait a bit before setting off, mistake. The boat Harry waited for stopped at the water point, Harry still waited and then they backed up onto the moorings and tied up, so Harry went down alone, he was just entering the bottom lock as we were dropping down the top one. We turned the bottom lock and just as we entered we spotted someone drawing the top lock paddles so we waited. It was Josephine who had overnighted in the Saltisford arm.We then shared all the locks up to the top of Fosse where they moored for the night. As I approached the bridge by Tesco I was completely on the wrong line and unable to see through the bridge hole, I put my bows inline with the hole and put the power on to bring the back round, it was then that I saw another bow entering the other side of the bridge. I hit reverse which stopped us, but as the back was already heading over to the left it just continued. I was almost sorted out when the other boat backed up so I continued through the bridge, thanked the chap for backing up only to get reprimanded for going to fast round the bends. I had indicated to Josephine to hold back and told the oncoming boat he was waiting but by now he had no time for me, so he pulled his boat into the side and waited for Jennifer who was waiting on the other side of the bridge. Eventually Josephine stuck her nose round and crept through. After Jennifer moored up we continued up one more lock alone and moored for the night at around 2 pm. This gives us a bit of a chance to charge the batteries in the morning before we arrive at The Blue Lias for the weekend.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Wednesday 15 Sept Cape Locks Warwick

We set off at quarter to ten to a fine but blustery and cool morning. The first stop was for water and then Bascote Staircase locks, we expected these to be ready for us as we had just met two boats midway between the locks and the water point, but it was not to be. When we arrived we could see several paddles up, we then spotted the BW man who was letting water down to fill the next two pounds, but he didn't keep us waiting long and once cleat of the three locks we met a boat coming the other way and it continued like this for most of the day. We caught up with a boat who was about to enter the bottom of the Fosse 3. They had just had a domestic and weren't to talkative but they only did the one lock with us and then pulled over, so we continued on alone.
We stopped to eat lunch (unusual for us) in Leamington Spa before continuing on to Tesco to buy more dog food and some other odds and ends.
Once stores were replenished it was off up the Cape locks, we had to turn the first but as we left to head up to the second a boat came down and carefully closed the gates behind them, at first we thought it was a hire boat, but no it was privately owned, they were quite happy to go into the lock we had left open for them and the locks are probably less than 150 yard apart. As we passed the Cape moorings I noted that there were quite a few spaces so we continued to the Saltisford Arm and winded at Budbrooke Junction returning to the Cape moorings to tie up for the night at 5 30 pm. The day had been mostly dry with a bit of drizzle mid afternoon.
As we wee sitting eating dinner there was a tap on the front doors, I looked round to see Mrs. Duck on the front deck tapping on the door, when she got no response she wandered off down the gunwale and tried the clear side hatch for attention.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Tuesday 14 September 2010 Long Itchington

It was quite a windy night,but this morning it had moderated to blustery and quite warm. About half ten there was a boat waiting to go down the locks but Di had just taken the dog for a wander while I got ready to push off. We expected the boat at the locks to be long gone before we were ready but it turned out he was delayed by two slow boats coming up the flight so we were able to share the flight after all. We carried on down towards the Stockton flight passing a very slow boat on the way. As we arrived at the top of the Stockton flight there was a boat just setting the top lock so we slid in along side them, the boat we had been sharing with followed us down with the boat that we had both overtaken who had a crew of 4 onboard, so they were soon catching us up, we met a couple of pairs of boats coming up the flight so things ran quite smoothly. The boat we shared with stopped for water at the bottom of the flight and we continued on into Shop Lock where we waited for one of the boats behind to catch up, we knew one was stopping at The Blue Lias, but no one showed up and when two boats arrived to come up the lock we went down alone. In the pound below we stopped for a chat with Guy on Virgo, I don't know how long we were there but the boat we shared the Stockton flight with dropped down alone and we continued on together.
We stopped outside the Two Boats for Diana to nip to the shop for a couple of things for tea, but it was a wasted walk and she returned empty handed, by DSCF4818now it had started to rain so we decided to wait until it stopped, the light rain grew heavier until it was pelting down, it finally stopped a little after 5 pm. we thought we may as well stop here for the night and see what the food is like in The Two Boats .

Monday 13 September 2010

Monday 13 Sept 2010 Calcutt Locks

We returned to Harnser this afternoon and set off at about ten past three. There was a continuous stream of boats coming up the flight which made life easy for us. There were a few spits of rain as we neared the bottom lock but nothing much. Quite a few of the visitor moorings were free by The Folly as there were by The Bridge Inn.
Moored by the bridge we again saw our old boat Water Witch and again exchanged a few words, They were hoping to eat at The Bridge, but as it was Monday the place was shut, so there option was to walk to The Kings Head along the main road.
We continued on to Wigrams Turn where we took a sharp left north along the Grand Union canal and moored for the night just before the three Calcutt locks at quarter to six.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Saturday 11 Sept 2010 Napton

The meal in The Boathouse at Braunston, formally known as The Mill House was quite acceptable, typical chain pub but OK and two main courses, two sweets and two pints of Pedigree came out just under £25 as the cheapest main course is free. The only off putting thing was to have the Christmas Tree flashing away behind us. Is this the first decorated tree of the season?

This morning we woke early,like 5 am. to the sound of a Bolinder engine starting and then the ex working boat that had arrived in the dark and moored outside The Boathouse departed just as it was starting to get light, he slit past without a ripple just the uneven beat of his engine breaking the silence.
We finally left Braunston at about mid day after first filling with water and then winding in the Marina entrance, we then chugged round to Midland Chandlers who were having a 20% off day . So we are now facing north on the North Oxford and we want to go south on the South Oxford, not a real problem, just back up passed the junction and then off where we want to go. However just then a boat comes into the waterpoint opposite, another boat comes from the Braunston direction backwards to also use the water point. A second boat comes from Braunston, the boat who was at the waterpoint only dumps his rubbish and pushes off, I set off backwards and a boat comes down the South Oxford to turn round in the junction,so there are now 3 of us going backwards, 1 going forwards and 1 stopped in the midst of the mêlée.
We soon all get our selves sorted and we are Napton bound following the boat we thought was stopping for water.
The sunken boat is still causing an obstruction on the Puddle Bank with a tug across the end of it and a mud hopper on the outside complete with orange mesh. We met boats in nearly all of the Napton flight so left all the gates except one open and had them all opened for us except 3 which were with us, a good run in the sunshine arriving back at our moorings at 3 pm.

Friday 10 September 2010

Friday 10 Sept 2010

A pleasant evening last night on next doors boat chatting until about 11 pm. and then off to bed. I woke to the rain during the night which sounded quite heavy but had packed up by this morning. Our friends were off at 8 30 this morning but we didn't make a move until 10 30 am. We only planned to go as far as Braunston so it was just a slow chug meeting lots of boats on the way. DSCF4800  
The Barby marina is coming on at quite a rate and we could see a lot of progress has been made in the last 3 weeks. They have even planted hedging and sown grass which to me seems a bit premature with all the heavy plant moving about the site. They are still advertising that it will be open in Autumn 2010 but even with the present rate of progress I doubt it. There is still a lot to do on site let alone the leak testing and breaking into the canal. I don't know if its on the BW stoppage list yet.
At Braunston Turn we turned left on to the Grand Union canal heading south. We only plan to go into the centre to turn and fill with water etc. before heading south (the opposite direction) up the Oxford canal tomorrow. Braunston looked pretty full but just past the junction we pulled along a boater we know who told us he was about to leave so we nipped into his space, since then several boats have departed and others arrived.
We were sitting in the boat having just finished our lunch when there was a knock on the boat. It turned out to be a couple who live in the next village to us, boat wise our paths have crossed several times but we have never actually met each other before.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Thursday 9 Sept 2010 top of Hillmorton Locks

Taking the dog for a walk this morning I think I saw a pair of Ravens. I heard the call first which alerted me and looked up to see a large black bird land in the top of one of the electricity pylons, this was joined a few minutes later by a second bird. The spent a few minutes together on the pylon before flying off. I had been told that Ravens have been spotted in the area and the call is a bit deeper than rooks, so I am fairly sure I am right.
We set off at quarter to eleven, just after a couple of boats had passed us so it looks as if it will be a slow run into Braunston as the one ahead doesn't slow down as much as I do passed moored boats and doesn't go as fast on open water. We saw this boat out on the South Oxford last trip where the hires thought it was sinking, obviously they were wrong.The canal is quite busy again and we have met several boats, mostly on the straight. The hire boat waved me passed as we went under the M6 and we had a clear run from there until we arrived at Lime Tree marina. Here we spotted old friends on their boat and stopped for a chat, I bet we had not been there for more than 15 minutes when the hire boat came passed. We again followed the hire boat to Hillmorton locks where we locked up side by side. At  about 4 pm we moored for the night just at the top of the locks and out friends are breasted on the outside of us as all the moorings are full as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Wednesday Sept 8 2010 Sutton Stop

Last night we ate at Weatherspoons and what can I say, 2 steakDSCF4783 meals, 2 deserts, a bottle of red wine and change out of a twenty pound note. The moor in the basin was very good with no disturbance over night.
This morning we were off to the Transport Museum, followed by the Cathedral and then up the old Cathedral tower, this was followed by a wander round the Guild Hall. Two were free and two cost us to get in. It was the two Cathedral visits that we had to pay for.

We left the basin just after 4 pm. By then several boats had gone and others arrived so we left the only vacancy for any late comers. There were a surprising number of fishermen along the arm as we returned in bright sunshine. The old power station is now flats and units but a lot of the old industry along the line is now just heaps of brick rubble and open land. We passed through Sutton Stop and moored for the night at the end of all the moorings almost on the bend, by now it was 6 30 pm and still sunny.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Tuesday 7 Sept 2010 Coventry Basin

Yesterday evening it was raining when we arrived and was raining even harder when we went to bed. When I woke at about 3 this morning , the wind had died right away and the sky had cleared with the stars peeping out.

This morning we woke to sunshine and after a walk into the village we set off at 10 am. Most of the boats between us and the BW yard had departed by then and one or two ex-working boats had been by including the historic pleaser Narrowboats Elisabeth.
The weather was fine for most of the day and we met lots of boats coming towards us including Monarch towing a butty on cross straps who we met on a bend with a large weeping willow which made it very difficult to see them.
We topped up with water at Hawkesbury Junction before heading off down to Coventry Basin, well into the city centre. DSCF4781 Two boats passed just as we were about to leave the water point who also headed to the city and just ahead of them a boat came out from the Oxford canal who also went that way, so now there were 4 of us heading for the end.  We moored in the Basin at about 4 pm to find the place almost full including 2 boats from our moorings. There is room for just one more boat now and that will require another one moving along.

Once moored we went for a short walk round the area finding the Transport Museum and Weatherspoon public house.

Monday 6 September 2010

Monday 6 Sept 2010 Hartshill

We pushed off at quarter to ten and made our way to the Glascote Locks, there was a boat going up ahead of us and several coming down, the first was powered by a single Bolinder engine. The down coming boats gave us an easy run. From here we continued to the Atherstone Flight.There was a boat going up the first lock but he indicated there was a boat coming down. We turned the next lock but after that we met boats all the way to the top. Once clear of the flight it was not long before it started to rain so we planned to stop by the Hartshill services but as we approached bridge 33 we could see it looked pretty full so we pulled over and moored just prior to the bridge.
In the course of the day we have met several ex working boats and a fully loaded pair that are returning from the Shackerstone working boat festival down the Ashby canal.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Sunday 5 Sept 2010 Fazeley Junction

A slow start this morning as Diana walked into Fradley to post a letter and I tackled a few more rust patches on the roof, only 5 this time. I am scraping off the blistered/cracked paint and then sanding away the rust, I am then treating it with Kurust and when its dry covering it with an primer/undercoat. There are about 30 white patches on the roof now.

We finally left at 10-30 to a slightly dull but warm morning, unfortunately it soon changed to rain,quite steady at times. We decided to stop at The Tame Otter at Hopwas for Sunday lunch. We were taken aback by the number of moored boats that we passed before we reached the village, we expected the centre of the village packed but not this length. We moored two bridges south of the pub and walked back, by now the rain had cleared up. The pub car park was packed and although there were several vacant tables in the pub, we were told that there was a 45 minute wait for food and the only roast available was beef and turkey with the lamb being sold out and another joint in the oven. In the end our wait was much less than half an hour. The Tame Otter is in the same group as The Fox and Anchor that we visited a few days ago, the Vintage Inn Group.

After lunch we continued on our journey to Fradley meeting friends from out local IWA branch on there new boat just outside the town, so that necessitated a short stop for a nose round. At Fradley Junction we turned right up the Birmingham and Fazeley canal to visit Fazeley Mill Marina to fill up with diesel, taking on 100 lts. at 64 p/lt. We then returned back to the junction to moor for the night at 6 pm.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Saturday 4 Sept 2010 Fradley

We set off on a slightly chilly day at 10 am after doing a weed hatch visit, I thought there was a little something there which turned out to be a load of fabric, it could have been an umbrella or a kite as it was multi coloured pieces joined together.
As we needed water we decided to top up at Great Haywood Junction and as I stuck my nose out of the junction started to turn left, as I emerged I saw there were three boats at the water point so I spun round to top up later in the journey, at that moment both boats simultaneously switched of the water taps so I backed up and waited, little did I know what would unfold over the next 20 minutes.
The boat nearest the junction who was waiting for water had already run his hose out so I backed up and waited for the one at the other end to leave which he did a few minuets later, in the mean time the other boat who had taken water took the hose out of the tank and let go their front rope. We tied up and started filling from the other tap. At this point the chap who's wife had just filled up and dropped off the rope came back with the porta potty and then nothing. The waiting boat had undone his ropes and was holding his boat ready to pull it back to the water point. At this point nothing was happening on the boat that had just filled up, the crew disappeared inside and nothing. Then the chap came out and dipped the water tank, the water had been running out of the filler when we arrived, then he replaced the filler and started playing with the Porta Potty, this was followed by him disappearing back inside. A short time later he was back with his hose, then he unplugged the hose of the chap waiting and plugged his hose in again taking the end into the boat, 5 minutes later he was out again, by now another boat had arrived and was waiting. Said chap just stood there, doing and saying nothing, he then coiled his hose again. The chap waiting asked him how much longer he was going to be, to which the reply he received was "I've got all day I am not in a hurry". By now our tank was just about full and it had been 20 minuets since we arrived and the chap not in a hurry had filled his tank, The chap waiting pointed out that he didn't have all day and the chap thought it better that he left which for some one not in a hurry he did with some speed passed the moored boats just through the bridge. I found the whole episode almost unbelievable, how the other boater kept his cool I don't know.
We pushed off and were surprised not to find a queue at Colwich lock with no one waiting to come up, but two boats behind us. Then we met a whole row of boats coming towards us, we carried on through Rugeley stopping for a quick chat with Chertsey and Minnow at Kings Bromley Wharf, just through bridge 54 there is a new set of finger mooring for about 10 boats. Once we reached Wood End Lock we were following a boat but also meeting boat so the delay was very short for Fradley Junction.
We turned hard right into the Coventry Canal where we saw our old boat Water Witch moored for the night,so we breasted up to her and stopped for coffee and a chart, we hadn't seen them for over a year, then it was off to find somewhere to moor, after about 500 yards I went over something and the rudder went very stiff , at first I thought it had jumped out of the cup but then got a bit easier, we carried on to just through bridge 90 where we moored and I had a poke around with the cabin shaft, I could feel something between the skeg and the rudder but couldn't move it so I tried via the weed hatch, a combination of vigorous rudder moving and poking with the shaft eventually got rid of it, it felt like wood as I poked it but the main thing is, its gone!

Friday 3 September 2010

Friday 3 September 2010 Tixall Wide

We set off this morning about quarter to ten,it was quite a bit cooler than of late, there was not much about until we reached Galley where a boat had just gone down the locks and another was about to come up. I slipped up slightly by stopping in the section just above the lock which made it a bit difficult for the boat coming out as I was slightly wider than the layby.
Just as I was leaving the lock a hire boat started his engine and was putting the boat in gear, luckily for me his crew was still holding his front rope so he couldn't push out. In the mean time the boat waiting to come up were all with their boat, no one came up to the lock at all to lend a hand with the gates or show their faces. Diana walked on to the next lock and the hire boat followed me. From here we met boats in most pound that eased us on our way and we didn't see the hire boat again until after we were moored up.
As we were exiting Park Gate lock the boat that had been moored on the lock moorings pulled away and we ended up following him for a couple of locks until he built up bit of a lead due to boat timings and the locks being in his favour. We passed him moored up, drinking wine just across from the railway line, I think I would have found somewhere quieter to stop.
At Deptmore Lock we suddenly started meeting boats again and we must have met 10 between here and Tixall Wide. We tried to moor to the first section of piling after Tixall Lock but could not get within 5' of the bank due to the mud so continued on to just before the wide section an came in behind the other moored boat at 6 pm in bright sunshine without a breath of wind.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Thursday 2 September 2010 Cross Green

Another bright sunny day and we were on the move just before 10 am. When we arrived at the bottom of Bratch locks there was one boat in the flight and one waiting. Diana walked up to speak to the lock keeper and came back to tell me to follow the boat ahead up the flight. Not only was there a lock keeper on duty but also a volunteer assistant so things were running quite smoothly.The boat that arrived just before we went in was not so lucky as they were told to wait for three boats to come down.
A had bit of a chat with the lock keeper about the flight when he came down to check out licence details.I seems that at one time they could have been a stair case and that the size of the chambers is very poorly balanced with the top one about 10 foot, the second only 8 and the bottom a whopping 13 foot so there is no where near enough water coming down the flight to maintain the chamber levels which is why side ponds were built between the chambers.
One of the effects of doing 3 up and 3 down was that there were now three boats travelling up the canal quite close together so the chances of meeting boats in the pounds to give one up and one down become less and although we met several boats we had to turn every lock we came to, the boat ahead of us had to turn most of them and the front one had them all in his favour.
As we passed Oxley Marina a motorised butty was about to draw away, it was half of an ex hotel pair and was motorised before it was sold on, is fitted with a hydraulic drive driving a propeller in the Ellm  (rudder).
DSCF4734 We moored for the night on the 48 hour moorings just beyond the Fox and Anchor pub at 5 pm. Just after we had made Harnser secure the motorised Butty moored just ahead of us so we were able to talk hydraulics.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Wednesday 1 Sept 2010 Wombourne

DSCF4710 Even though the barometer is falling and my weather station has black clouds we still woke to a bright sunny morning and set off backwards at quarter to ten,we only backed up to the junction where we turned up the 4 Stourton locks on the Stourbridge Canal. Just above the bottom lock there is what looks like an entrance to quite a large basin with boats moored in it. I had not realised it was there until last night when I was updating the Google map to show our position  ( http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route )
DSCF4723 We followed the canal up to Wordsley Junction on the way we passed a group of children complete with swimming dog who were having a great time swinging out across the canal on a rope,I was a bit concerned as I approached them but they were no problem and stopped swinging before I arrived, all that wanted me to do was bip the horn and I happily obliged.
where we turned right and carried on to the end of the Town Arm.  We had planned to come here last night to moor but were advised against it. The basin is surrounded by a fence topped with razor wire that does not  give great confidence in the safety of the area. In side the basin are all long term DSCF4721moorings and no visitor moorings at all,at the very end of the basin is the Trusts headquarters and a winding hole where we turned a little after mid day to retrace our steps to Stourton junction. We later found out from an acquaintance who had been moored there last night that if you enquire at the trusts headquarters if there is a space then they are very happy for you to stay.
We were back at Stourton Junction about twenty past two and again turned sharp right to carry on up the Staffs and Worcester canal. We met boats at most of the locks until  we reached Greensforge Lock which was not only against us but had the top gates open, Right in the middle of the lock landing was an elderly fisherman with two elderly ladies all sitting on their canvas folding chairs all over the towing path. He didn't look too impressed when I tied up right in front of him so he couldn't drowned his maggot. Just as we cleared the lock a hire boat pulled away just ahead of us so the rest of the afternoon was spent turning locks, to give them their due, they did empty one lock for us as they left which was very welcome. We followed them up the Botterham Staircase locks and as it was now 6 pm decided to call it a day.