Friday 13 June 2014

Napton (home) Friday 13 June 2014

Early start for us, 8-30 and we were away. CaRT finished work at Elkingtons lock yesterday afternoon and the waterway was open again. Cropredy lock was with us, but a single hander nipped out ahead of us above the lock. There was a couple walking up the towing path, he had two large bags of wine bottles for his home made wine, the only problem was his boat was at Claydon bottom, so I told him to put them on the front deck and we would see him there, our reward two bottles of home made cider.

The boat that has been sunk below Elkingtons has been raised again and is sitting high in the water.DSCF6030

We met 2 CaRT work boats bring all their gear back down to Cropredy so they can carry on with the piling on Monday.

The Claydon flight was quite good going meeting boats at most locks so the single hander didn’t delay us much after all, but without him all the locks would have been ours.

This is a sight you don’t see every day, well at least I don’t.DSCF6031

We met quite a few boats between Claydon and Fenny Compton, then it went quiet for a but until we came to a bridge hole where its mandatory to meet one. As we approached Marston Doles there was a bit more traffic about.

The coach has gone from opposite Marston Doles top lock and has been replaced with a few more cars. I don’t recognise any of them.DSCF6036 DSCF6035 DSCF6034

We moored opposite our old moorings and I went to see if the car would start after 10 week, result, first shot and it was away. we then set to unloading the boat and topping the water tank up, I did just manage to jump ashore at the tap on our moorings but the bum was over 6ft out.

Once that was all sorted I reversed back to the arm and headed for our slot, unfortunately it had shrink by a few feet since we had been away so the boat behind was adjusted a bit to let us in.

Little after 5 pm and we were sorted, not a bad days boating, all I have to do now is take the alternator off to go home with us in the morning.map napton

Thursday 12 June 2014

Cropredy Thursday 12 June 2014

Not the most successful of days, for a couple of weeks I have had a squeal from the domestic alternator when I first load it. I could avoid it by speeding the engine very gradually but decided I really should sort it, so this morning I changed the belt, not a big job but a bit of crawling about. Ran it up for a test and seemed fine, Diana went and did a bit of shopping in the market and we set off at 11 am. All seemed fine as we slowly made our way along the rows of moored boats and passed Spiceball Park. Once clear of the boats I came up to cruising speed and the squeal was worse than ever. I pulled over just above Hardwick lock and slackened the belt off, Squeak gone but the alternator is not turning, so I tensioned it slightly, not easy as its quite hot now, but it seemed better. We let the following boat pass as although they were behind us at the lock they had now exited, for some reason the day hire boat that was between us and the lock moorings decided to untie their stern rope and drift across the cut, retrieving it just as nb. Gabriel got close to them.DSCF6024

We followed Gabriel to Burton Lock and helped them up, as they left on a low pound a boat approached from upstream, so I left Diana with it and disconnected the Adverc alternator controller to reduce the amount of work the alternator was doing and all seemed fine again. Looking out I could see Diana opening the gate but no boat coming out, they had decided to moor just above the lock in a low pound, when the lock gates were ready open for them and we would have gone up when they came down, Effort required by them almost zero. As we passed them they were trying to get off the bottom but with the two of them pushing couldn’t it so I gave them a tow off and they headed for the lock.

We found out later that a boat had gone up last night and left all the top gates open, unfortunately Bourton bottom gates leak like a sieve where as Slat Mill seal so the pound below fell by a couple of foot overnight. As we approached Cropredy CaRT are carryingDSCF6027 out piling just before we got to Mill Bridge, I must admit its not the straightest run of piling I have ever seen, but if it stops the bank going well so be it.  We could see as we came along the low pound how what normally looks to be a good edge is actually just a series of bridges made by the cement/sand bags holding theDSCF6026 towing path up. Below the water level there are just large chasms waiting to  collapse.

I had reconnected the Adverc while waiting for Slat Mill Lock to fill, but we had only been cruising for a couple of hours and half that time was at a lower charge rate so I have had to sit with the engine running for an hour. There was no point in us continuing to cruise as Ekingtons lock is closed for maintenance today.

We moored for the night on the 14 day moorings between the two lots of long term moorings in Cropredy.  Map Cropredy Today’s Map

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Banbury Wednesday 11 June 2014

We were away slightly earlier from our rural mooring this morningDSCF5995 at ten to ten, just after leaving a hire boat came up behind us so that was good timing.

The chap at the canal side cottage at Somerton has his tent up in the garden again, its there every summer.DSCF5996

The brick work on the old lift bridge on Somerton Common is getting very bad now, maybe it should be taken down before it falls down.DSCF5998

We tried to stop at Aynho Wharf for diesel, I was just pulling into a space in front of a boat taking water when a hire boat coming the other way went straight across my bows, so we waited towpath side. After half an hour I went round to the wharf to see if they would fill me up while I lay alongside the other boat, but by now they were nearly full, they had already been there half an hour when we arrived. The boatyard instructed us to tell the hire boater they would have to wait until we had filled with diesel, I explained to them it would only take 3 minutes so they were reasonably happy. 10 minutes later and the first boat was full of water and left, we moved over, the chap was ready to fill us with diesel, 3 minutes later we had 180lt at 84p/lt and while I went to pay Diana took the boat down the cut out of the way. By now a second boat had arrived for diesel, but as they were shorter he could reach their filling point while the hire boat filled with water.

The second boat to take diesel caught up with us at Aynho Weir Lock so we waited for them to share, as they were not large or young we also waited above Nell Bridge to help them with the heavy bottom gate. The sunken cruiser is still against the CaRT Yard.DSCF6002On the towpath side just before the lift bridge is a CaRT working flat full of hedge cuttings, why do some people feel these are receptacles for their rubbish, some of my licence fee will now be used disposing of it.DSCF6003

Summer is well on us now and the Linseed is just coming into flower, these fields will be a blue sheen very shortly.DSCF6004

We were planning to moor between bridges 170 and 171 where the work looks as if its almost finished on the offside with earth banks being graded and drainage pipes laid, but instead weDSCF6009 continued on into Banbury to moor outside the Castle Mills Shopping Centre as Diana wanted to do a bit of shopping . While we were here two men in a swan came along with a collecting tin, they had started in Stoke on the 1 June and plan to be in Oxford on the 14 of June to raise cash for Pilgrims Hospice  http://swansongforsue.com/ so we walked down and lifted the bridge for them as well as put money in the tin.DSCF6014

Our route for todaymap banbury

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Heyford common Area Tuesday 10 June 2014

Last night we were moored almost over a culvert, there was a van and pump in the field beside it and hoses running under the canal, the culverts was damp but no water in it. This morning there was a second van several men, the pump had been disconnected and the culvert was again full of water, is this a good sign or a bad one?

We started at our normal 10 am and just through Shipton bridge passed a hire boat who were getting ready to set off. We had to wait for a boat coming down in Shipton Weir lock and by the time he was ready to leave the hire boat had caught up so we invited them to share the lock.

There was very little flow on the River Cherwell and we were getting along well. we had been warned by the boater coming down that there was a lot of dust as it sounds as if they are taking the old cement works down, the only thing visible is the chimney and a pile of crushed concrete. DSCF5986 I wonder how much longer this will be standing.
There was a boat moored below Bakers Lock and it was covered in white dust, the amount we collected while doing the lock was quite surprising. Leaving the lock a boat arrived at the top so that was another we could leave for someone else to close.

It was a bit congested through passed The Rock of Gibraltar pub at Enslow with 2 CaRT boats moored between the two bridges and then boats moored both sides of the cut by the pub, with one coming the other way just to add to the fun.

As you can see bridge 215 is now in rather a bad way, will this be the next stoppage on the South Oxford, I would imagine that the missing part of that wall is in the bottom of the cut, how long before the rest follows.DSCF5987


We  carried on through Heyford and found only 1 boat moored on the 14 day moorings by the station, I expected it to be full, but there were several round the bend from there with 2 boats moored on the offside just to make it interesting. One of them has been there as long as I can remember. The lift bridge now carries an advertisement for The Bell, I wonder if CaRT get any benefit from this.DSCF5992

Pushing on North we met very few boats and there were loads of places to moor. I don’t know if its as a result of some new policy of CaRT or whether the contractors have just mown to the edge in some places where there is piling but we saw several nicely mown spots big enough for just one or two boats  to overnight. Whoever is responsible I for one find it very welcome. DSCF5994As you can see we moored well back so not to impinge on the privacy of our neighbours. The only reason we chose this spot as the railway is the other side of the hill from here.

map heyford common Today’s Journey

Monday 9 June 2014

Thrupp Monday 9 June 2014

We left Abingdon at 10 am and headed up to the lock, straight in but we had to wait for a cruiser which meant we were almost up against the top gate. We had planned to take water above the lock but there were two very large cruisers breasted up and they had only just started filling the near side one so we pushed on. The river was much slacker now and we easily made 3.5 mph with the engine just pootling along. Above the lock in the weir stream was the boat we saw on the visitor moorings on our way down several weeks ago.DSCF5957 We met 5 rowing boats coming down the river towards us, the first was a nice wooden one which I failed to get a photo of, but here are the others.DSCF5960 Later we met two Swiss boats, but they were more interested in the location of the nearest pub.DSCF5970

On the way to the second lock we passed the Loch Ness Monster crossing the Thames. It was a bit frightening.DSCF5959

One of the largest locks that we have passed through is Sandford Lock. this is 170ft long and 21’ 9” wide, but the cruiser that was following us, passed us in the lock and moored directly in front of us. One of the things about this lock is that it is a bottom filler and the water comes up through the floor of the lock to fill it, not through holes in the top gates like most of them. DSCF5964This means you don’t get pulled back and forth with the water flow. You can see the water coming up and the cruiser in front of us.

Passing the Oxford By Pass the Oxford council seam to have sorted out rubbish collection along the towing path, mind you it didn’t look to stable on the uneven ground.DSCF5971 I don’t know the significance of this statue of a bulls head at Iffley Lock but the head sticking out of the wall just caught my eye and someone polishes the ring in his noseDSCF5972

After leaving the lock we carried on through Oxford where no attempt has been made to raise the sunken cruiser at Osney lockDSCF5975 

A little further and we would be leaving the Thames for the Oxford Canal at the river Isis, no chance of cutting the corner with this still there. The EA have even put a mooring line onto it.DSCF5976

There is talk of restoring the old Isis railway swing bridge, when this was in use you had to contact BR (British Rail) to have it swung open so you could pass through. I do wonder if its actually beyond restoration as a lot of the structure has gone.DSCF5980 DSCF5977

The trains now pass on a slightly higher bridge in the background, I still need to remove the exhaust to get under but I don’t have to wait for Rail track.DSCF5981 We were almost back onto the Oxford canal, just Isis lock to pass through and British waterways kindly installed a landing stage below the lock, the only problem is that it sticks out 11 feet and if you are moored along it any boats coming down the lock cant get out, like today. So we had to hold at the end of the platform to give them room to exit the lock and turn right towards the Thames, something not taken into account in the design.DSCF5982

Once on the Oxford Canal we had a good run meeting boats at most locks, or they were already empty for us. In Thrupp we passed a boat with a rather smart tiller pin, I have never seen one like it before.DSCF5985 We continued on through the lift bridge and moored for the night near Shipton Church at the end of the long term moorings.

map thrupp Today’s Route

Sunday 8 June 2014

Abingdon Sunday 8 June 2014

Last night we had an exceptional view of the International Space Station crossing the sky. The point we were moored the river was almost on the trajectory of the ISS so we could see it almost all the way across the sky. It will be visible again tonight a couple of minutes past 11 pm. the exact time is dependant on where you are viewing from. Full details on http://www.heavens-above.com/

We set off this morning in bright sun at 9-30. At the first lock I told the lockkeeper there was a cruiser following so we waited a few minutes for them to arrive. One thing I spotted as we were leaving the lock was this water point actually lock side. DSCF5945  I let the cruiser leave first as they would be faster than us and at the next lock which was unmanned they were just leaving as we arrived, this time we shared with a larger larger steel cruiser. Needles to say at Culham Lock they were both just ahead of us and we had to wait while they locked up. We met a surprising number of boats between Culham and Clifton Lock so we were hopeful they had all left Abingdon as we knew that is where the cruisers were heading for. When we arrived all the moorings below the bridge were full so we carried on upstream to find loads of space beside the park and also opposite on the 5 day moorings,

map Abingdon Today’s Route

Saturday 7 June 2014

Dorchester Saturday 7 June 2014

Last night was warm and we went to bed with the back slide open. We woke to sunshine and decided to close the slide, good move as by 8 am it was raining, followed by a thunder storm and real rain. 10-30 am  and we thought we better make a move, wet weather gear on and off we went. The board on Goring Lock said self service but when we walked up the locky was just locking two boats in. he had been called to Cleeve lock to reset it and had just returned.By now the rain had just about stopped, as we left the lock L'Orage was about to enter. DSCF5932You can see how still the water was following the rain.  Looking back at the lock the cloud formation in the Thames Valley below the lock was quite clear. DSCF5933 A few of the youngsters at the sailing club were out getting some tuition in the very light winds.DSCF5934 We passed another old boat, this one not quite so glamorous sitting in a boat shed so she is under cover and floating, it probably belonged to the Thames Conservancy at some time of one of the river contractors. DSCF5937Made of wood with iron edgings to protect her, maybe she is still working, no reason why she shouldn’t be.

We encounter quite a few rowers who were much more thoughtful to other river users than the ones yesterday evening,DSCF5938

I didn’t tell you about them, The river was running quite fast in Goring just below the lock where the weir discharges and a coxed 8 came up the river and stopped just before the lock cut, where they turned at 90° to the river and had a rest after their exertions against the flow completely oblivious to boats trying toDSCF5928 leave the lock. The small boat coming down had to go round their stern with the flow pushing him on to the moored boats. When they did set off downstream they just drifted down with their training boat talking to them, again oblivious to the large hire boat trying not to run them down whilst maintaining steerage.

There were quite a few boats moored at Wallingford  just throughDSCF5939 the bridge. I am not sure if they are free during the day or if they hit you for cash as soon as you stop, as we didn’t plan to stop it didn’t effect us.

This work boat only got beached last winter, but already it looks as if its been here for years, I do wonder if its worth the money to refloat it.DSCF5944

Our destination for the night was the mouth of the River Thame a short way below Days Lock at Dorchester. Several boats moor against the bank along here but it bit of a clamber off a Narrowboat, however there is some very nice wood piling just at Narrowboat deck height around the entrance to the River Thame under the foot bridge and luckily this was free, so I backed in under the bridge just like last time with the bow just poking into the Thames.

map dorchester Today’s Route