Friday 27 October 2017

Home Moorings Friday 27 October 2017

First the good news, we have escaped, now the nitty gritty.

Since living inside a shed we have had to rely on the alarm clock as when you wake up you don't have a clue what time it is, it could be 3 am or 12 mid day. It always looks the same. However the alarm clock which my mum and dad bought us when they came for a cruise, gave up the ghost so its been down to the mobile phone to wake us. When I went out this morning this is what greeted me, fog. DSCF9680

The boat going down the locks assured me it would burn off and be a bright sunny day, and it did.

When we put Harnser on the dock I took a photo from the head of the dock, today I took another one.DSCF9685

About 11 am the chap that blacked us yesterday came to fill the lock. Unfortunately yet another boat had tried to turn the bottom lock with both top and bottom paddles up and ended up hard aground in the bottom pound, he then started to refill the pound from the next lock with still half a paddle up at the bottom lock. When his boat finally floated he wandered down leaving a paddle up on the lock above, at this point I put him straight. Anyway to the point. There now was not enough water to fill the dock and float us off, so the chap had to walk up to Kings Lock and let 30 minutes worth of water down while I topped up the first pound where the dry dock is. When he returned he drew the stop planks in the mouth of the dock, all the time Diana was letting water down through the top lock.DSCF9687

Once the lock was full we hauled Harnser out or the dock by hand and when she was clear I started the engine and proceeded up the bottom lock backward to Middlewich Narrowboats yard to pump out the black tank before finally setting off home. We dropped through the three locks and moored just through bridge 172 for lunch. The autumn colours looked nice in the bright sun, no fog.DSCF9692

After lunch we carried on down through Big Lock, as we approached a boat was about to leave, he was sat dead centre of the lock but insisted on picking his crew up in the lock who didn't bother to drop ether paddle when they left. Once through the lock Diana left me to take the car back to the moorings. As she walked up the flight the boat who we met at Big Lock was in the bottom lock, with guess what, ALL the paddles up so it was lucky Diana walked back that way.

I carried on alone to our moorings while Diana took the car. Last weekend the Broken Cross Boat Club had a work party at Bramble Cuttings and installed this wooden retaining wall behind the new moorings they installed over the summer months.DSCF9695

Diana had parked the car by bridge 179 and walked back to meet me, on the way she got a photograph of these Rea that now live alongside the canal.IMG_0525 She then carried on by car to the Marina and walked back to meet me opposite the new Oakwood Marina where work is still continuing both with piling and erecting a building.DSCF9698

After picking Diana up we continued to our berth in the Marina.

As we only planned to come to the boat for a week and we have now been onboard for 12 days food stocks were getting low so we decided to eat at The Bulls Head this evening in Davenham. Its a very popular pub serving very nice food, its the second time we have been and I don't expect it will be the last.

Today’s Journeymap 75 Locks, 5.4 miles in 3 hours

This tripIMG_0233

Thursday 26 October 2017

Our Time in Middlewich

Well as we are sitting in the dry dock here in Middlewich I thought I would jot a few things down.

The dry dock its self is quite spacious at about 5' 6" at the mouth and 4'6" at the far end, its probably about 14' wide and over 70' long. there is a walkway which is around 4' wide down each side and at the end. The whole lot is covered by a corrugated shed.DSCF9644

I understand that it wasn't build as a dry dock, but as a salt loading shed, this would account for the entrance being via stop planks in a concrete wall across the mouth.DSCF9642

Looking at old maps the lock layout at Middlewich was completely different when built, with the canal following the present line from Big Lock and the bottom two Middlewich lock but then continuing straight and swinging back in just before the bridge that is just above Middlewich Narrowboats

 g map  old mal

We came onto the dock on Thursday mooring and on Friday the hull was pressure washed, his was with a petrol powered portable pressure washer.DSCF9660 Now from above you get an idea of the size of the building, the front facing the canal is open and there is a vent in the roof about 2' by 4', its actually a missing roof sheet.DSCF9659 Even with this amount of ventilation and area, within two hours our onboard CO alarm was sounding, so the CO was mixed fairly evenly with the air, it didn't all go to the top of the building or disperse out of the door with loads of ventilation, it filled the boat which was almost dead centre in all directions of the building. So don't assume if you have a CO leak in your boat its going to go to the top.

The hull shows signs of pitting over most of the sides, it was fairly obvious the area protected by the anodes, we have 6 on each side , one at the bow and stern and two down the length of the sides near the bottom. I would suggest that they fully protect about 4' around them, you can even see it from this photo of the base plate, the anode is in line with the stocks.DSCF9650

On the Saturday the first coat of black went on and was left until Monday.

While the blacking was being done we walked into town to visit the Mexon street market, but due to storm Brian it had to be closed down, we then noticed a notice saying the church was open so we went in for a look. They received a lot of lottery funding for the church as it was in quite a bad way with a leaking roof and damaged stone work. As part of the funding they had to produce a heritage trail in the church and they have done a first class job of it, the best information I have ever seen in a Church or even Cathedral.
I wasn't sitting idle, for some time the rear slide has had a tight spot when opening or closing it, the temperature made it worse or better, which ever way you look at it, so that was removed and fixed. Both the front and back slide as well as the front locker lid were getting quite rusty so they were all removed, ground off using a flapper wheel in a mini grinder, treated with a rust stabilised and repainted. Not very well I might add, but they are not all rusty and will do until the boat is painted again. Also the tunnel bands were treated for rust and repainted.

I also dressed the propeller up a bit taking off some of the dings around the edge, I did wonder if a blade may have been slightly bent, but measuring from a fixed point it all looks good.DSCF9670

Monday and we have another coat of black on, I have done some more painting to the hatches and we had a wonder round parts of the town, calling in for tea and cake in Maggie Finn's tea Rooms This evening I heard the sound of paddles so looked out to see a chap drawing both top and bottom paddle on middle lock, I wandered down for a look and the bottom pond was almost dry, little fish flapping on the mud and a 3 foot ell swimming down the narrow central channel. His boat was in the bottom lock hoping to come up but there was no water ahead of him. Being a kind soul I offered to go to the top and let water down. Once the water was flowing I walked back down only to find they now had all 4 paddles up on the bottom lock because they decided to back out and wait until the morning.

Tuesday mooring and we walked up to the yard where we discovered that the chap who blacked us yesterday would be down to put a third coat on shortly and sure enough he was, only he could only do the back have as the front end was suffering from condensation due to the warm humid atmosphere today. Unfortunately it stayed like that all day.
We made a pilgrimage to Aldi, the other end of town and on our return fond that the Dickinson stove had gone out, I was expecting this as the diesel day tank (actually a 6 day tank) was empty. It normally fills automatically when the engine runs, but the last time that ran was for a short time last Thursday morning. When I fitted out Harnser I originally installed a small electric lift pump to top the tank up, this came on automatically every time the engine was started and ran on a timer, however this was not in use now, so it was a case of hot wiring the pump to top the tank up. I was expecting problems lighting the stove due to air locks in the anti vibration coils but that didn't happen and it fired up straight way. I wonder what tomorrow will have in store for us.

Wednesday boat wise nothing happened other than I refitted the hatches I had painted.
We spent the day at Iron Bridge Gorge and on the way back to Middlewich heard that the M6 had a lorry broken down in the road works, so we left at junction 14 but that added over 30 minutes to our journey.

Thursday and Greg came down and put the third and final coat of black on the boat, we in turn DSCF9675walked up the locks and paid the bill, ouch.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Middlewich Dry Dock Thursday 19 October 2017

Last night we wandered down to The Narrowboat for dinner, Its the first time I have had a stake in a long time, It was a very lean rump with hardly a trace of fat.
The moorings at Middlewich Narrowboats were quite quiet so we had a good night.

This morning we wandered up to the office about half eight to see what was happening, when we walked back to the boat last night the chap was still grinding on the boat and about quarter to ten a knock on the boat said they were ready for us, so we followed the boat ahead down through the top lock and then turned very sharp right in the top pound to ender the dry dock.DSCF9634 I had been instructed that as soon as the bows entered to stop and kill the engine as they would man handle it in from there. A drop more water was required from above the flight to lift us over the stock.DSCF9636 Once in we were centred using 3 ropes and the stop planks put across the dock entrance. While this was going on the flight was closed as using the locks would effect the levels. Once all stop planks were in the drain was opened to commence emptying the lock.DSCF9638 It wasn't many seconds before we were bottomed out, as the water level dropped a waterproof sheet was pushed down on the outside of the planks and the pressure of water leaking through the gaps in the planks.DSCF9642

It must have taken an hour for the dock to drain completely and as I sit writing this at lunchtime it is pouring with rain, at least it sounds like pouring with it hitting the corrugated roof.

One thing was very fortunate when we came into dry dock, the sliding door on the toilet was wide open, now we have dried out we cant move it, just think if it had been shut.

There is quite a water level problem in the flight outside, nothing seems to be coming down from above, so now the pound on the bend, outside the dry dock is over a foot down and the last boat to come up had problems getting out of the middle lock over the cill.DSCF9641

Latest update, so far work has not started, we were expecting to be pressure washed this afternoon, but that has not happened. Ever since we came into the dock it has been pouring down with rain

I am not sure how long we will be in here for, but posts will start again when we leave.

Today's Journeymap 6 tenth of a mile, 1 lock in 17 minutes.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Middlewich Wednesday 18 October 2017

Last night was much quieter moored here at Sykes Pit moorings. There was hardly any wind this morning and a very heavy dew soaking everything. Last time we came this way someone had laid a plastic mesh on the ground in the grass, now you can hardly see it unless you stand right over a bit in the longer grass like can be seen at the botom of this post.

We pushed off at 10 am. fairly closely behind another boat, we were waiting for a good gap but it didn't happen, with a steady flow in both directions. When we caught up with him at Minshull lock he said he had a lot of problems in one of the bridge holes, still he moved the silt for us.

Diana had another apple scrumping session, well there were on the towpath side of the hedge and will just rot away if left, just like all the ones in the garden.DSCF9623

We were blessed with a Kingfisher, who we followed for about a mile, as he stopped for a bit until we caught up and then flew on. I took lots of photos but unfortunately the auto focus didn't always chose the bird to focus on. but here are a couple, please click them to enlarge them.

DSCF9610 DSCF9620
A little further on it was a buzzard sitting in a tree that I spotted, looking straight at us showing its chest. DSCF9627

We could see where the top had blown out of a large willow tree just before we reached bridge 30, another boater told us that it landed on a moored boat. There is a plastic cruiser moored on the offside just by the tree but luckily it missed that.
Just the other side of the bridge a dead tree stump supports so lovely looking bracket fungi.DSCF9628

Wardle lock was with us well it had leaked off by about 6" so that was soon sorted, by the time Diana was in the lock Martin Fuller in his gorgeous little tug Cutter was below waiting to come up. Martin boats single handed but I would challenge most couples to try to keep up to him, its poetry in motion. DSCF9631

Once back in the Trent and Mersey canal we turned left down to Middlewich Narrowboats where we are now, ready to go on dry dock in the morning. We are both still suffering with colds so I am glad that someone else is doing the hard work for us.

Today's Journey

map 5 7¾ miles, 3 Locks in 3½ hours.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Cholmoneston Tuesday 17 October 2017

Well it was a bit bumpy last night but what a different day to today, yesterday it was tee shirt weather, today the wind felt cold even with a fleece on. Even though the gales subsided overnight today was still breeze.

Yesterday our plans were dashed for our visit to the dry dock, this morning I thought that maybe the new ones were as well/. The Canal and Rivers Trust issue email stoppage notices to let boaters know where there is an emergency closure of the canal, I received one this morning saying a tree had blocked the canal by bridge 30, that is between us and the dry dock. However this afternoon I received an update saying it was now clear.

We pushed off at about our normal 10 am and it wasn't long before we spotted windfall apples right beside the towpath probably due to last nights gales, so I pulled in while Diana went scrumping.DSCF9591

We met a few boats one being an old wooden converted working boat which was on a straight run, this was followed by a hire boat at a bridge on a bend, luckily Diana was sitting at the bows and saw it first so I was able to stop in good time and pull over. We carried on to the visitor moorings just above Cholmondeston Lock where we stopped for lunch. It felt a bit warmer after lunch and we carried on to Barbridge Junction where we turned round to retrace our steps. The junction is also the limit for navigation for boats that have a Bridgewater Canal licence, to travel any further they have to buy a Canal and Rivers Trust licence. In return boats like ours with a CRT licence can pass through the Bridgewater canal join the CRT waters the other side.DSCF9592

When we returned we were pleased to find that Cholmondeston Lock was full and ready for us. We planned to spend the night at the visitor moorings between Cholmondeston and Minshull Lock where volunteers have recently "restored" the lengthman's hut. I a not sure what they plan to do with it now with its large double glazed windowDSCF9499

Today's Journey map 410¾ Miles, 3 locks in 4½ hours

Monday 16 October 2017

Middlewich Branch Monday 16 October 2017

Well after a bit of rain first thing its turned into quite a pleasant day, the wind didn't really pickup until about half three and its been so warm.

I started the engine to charge the batteries just before breakfast and we set off just after 10 am. it was only a couple of hundred yards to the water point, while the tank was filling Diana went and picked the car up from the layby and reparked near The Big Lock pub. Looking out of the front door the sun was just visible as an orange sphere in an overcast sky.DSCF9586

Diana returned to the boat just as the tank was full and also just as an up coming boat opened the bottom gate of Big Lock, so we joined them in the lock, only to moor again by the kiddies playground well away from trees. That was the plan for today.
map 2THe Plan for today

But plans change, we were booked to go into the dry dock at 9am tomorrow morning, just 2 locks ahead of us.

We decided to walk up to Middlewich Boats and make sure all was OK and there were no hold up's. Fine said the lady, I will find out what time he is planning on coming out and give you a ring. Back on the boat the phone rings, the chap in the dock has a problem, can he stay until Thursday, we would still get our time but a bit latter. After a short discussion we agreed that we could manage it and rang her back before we sat down for lunch and discuss our new plans, three options, turn round and go to Dutton Lock, up or is that down the Trent and Mersey to Wheelock, or Barbridge Junction also what to do with the car.

We settled on Barbridge Junction and left the car at Middlewich Narrowboats. Diana again moved the car and I set off with the boat planning to wait just below the Middlewich Locks, but as I came round the corner I could see the lock emptying and a boat coming out,, so that was that one sorted, I just started working the lock when Diana arrived. As we left the top lock the Volockie was coming back on duty, still there were at least two behind us for him to play with.

Sharp right to Wardle Lock, with the wind freshening the turn was easy, there was a boat in the lock almost at the top and then we were on our way. This lock fills much slower than it did in Maureen's day with a very short pull on the paddles. We gave John and Gillian a wave as we passed and told them we hope to see them Friday at The Big Lock.

The wind didn't really pick up until we reached Stanthorne Lock, the lock its self is quite sheltered, as we passed the last lot of 48 hour moorings just beyond Norman's Bridge there was a space at the end just long enough for us. I had to pull back to get into it, but as soon as I stopped reversing we were committed with the bows just flying across in the wind. I don't think we could leave now even if we wanted to. As for the weather, well its still bright sunshine and the wind is still blowing and the pressure dropping.

Today's Journey map 32¼ miles, 6 locks in 2½ hours

Sunday 15 October 2017

Middlewich Sunday 15 October 2017

Well we are back on the boat, we got held up in the traffic a bit as the M6 was closed between Junctions 18 and 17 going south, We were going north but everyone wanted to slow down for a look, when I turned off at junction 18 there were still no cars in sight behind me in the nearside lane. It was then a very slow run to the outskirts of Middlewich as all the M6 south traffic was heading through the town, as soon as we turned towards Northwich it was fine.

I set off on Harnser at quarter past four alone, Diana was taking the car to Middlewich to meet me there. Work on the new Oakwood Marina is pushing on, the piling is complete and the first building up to window level.DSCF9581

As you can see the first residents have moved in.DSCF9580

I saw 2 Kingfishers on my journey, the one in the photo is sitting on the bank at water level, the second was about a foot higher on a branch but I was not quick enough to catch them both.DSCF9582

I met several boats on the journey but as the sun got lower if t started to get a bit cooler, even so it was such a nice afternoon its hard to believe what we are suppose to get tomorrow.

Diana parked the car quite close to the Council recycling centre and walked back to meet me by Croxton Flash we then carried on to moor on the new mooring rings below Big Lock just passed the winding hole where we have moored for the night.

Today's Journey Map 14¾ Miles in 1½ hours.