Saturday, 29 June 2013

Cruising, Diving, Appointments, Relaxing

Tuesday 25th June to Friday 28th June 2013

The fine weather continued for at least another day; we had decided to go back to the marina today, but there was no rush to get back there.

Andy from nb Magic wandered past, so we had a good chat with him – he is looking a lot better than the last time we had spoken, which is a good 9 months ago and thankfully he is enjoying life at the moment – long may it continue – such a very nice guy.

We left the mooring latish in the morning and the dreaded shuddering appeared – we had thought that this had been fixed – it is not as bad but not good enough, so Chris will have a bit more work to do on the engine about this.

Cruising back was lovely, warm and bright – there were only a couple of boats that we passed along – one boat coming towards us was nb Columbo, so a hearty hello to Phil and Barb, whom we hadn’t seen since our return from the north.

Back into the marina and the obligatory pumpout – we are stopping our use of Blue in favour of Deodoriser and this will take a few pumpouts to remove the formaldehyde from the Blue and allow the enzymes to take over.

All achieved and back to the mooring – reversing in without any problems – moored up ok and back home – in time for Diane to get the tennis going and set in for the afternoon.

Wednesday was another day to get some more work done – this time the two sets of back doors were the target – sand back and varnish with 2 coats – all achieved and nothing else of any importance for the day.

Thursday was preparation day – in this case it was getting everything ready for the weekend; we are off for a few days away down south – doctors appointments and to see Maggie and Paddy as well.

We got another good deal from Enterprise for the hire – it really doesn’t feel unusual to be in the car – certainly not as unusual as it once was when we were first on the boat.

Banjo was dropped off at the kennels and said goodbye to him.

Friday we were up very early – Diane had a 9:10 doctors appointment in Watford, so we left Aston at 5:30 and enjoyed a drive down the A51 and A5 before joining the maelstrom of the M1 at J14.

We were down there by 8:15; out of the doctors and then off to see how Paddy was going after his operation.

We spent a good 4 hours there and they are both doing well – Paddy is improving day-by-day.

We had to leave for Diane’s second appointment – we must be getting older – our day was dictated by doctors and seeing them.

We knew that Elaine and Paul (nb Caxton) were heading down this way and Diane messaged to Elaine about their location – the end result was that we were able to drive the short distance (in car terms) up to Abbots Langley and catch up with them for a few drinks at the Kings Head – we have so missed both of them so naturally it was good to see them again – and hear about the adventures of Sammy and Bombo.

Back to the hotel and we were both pretty well tired after a long day – with the early start. A chance to recuperate with a good’s nights sleep and be ready for the weekend.

So glad to have 4 days in a row off work as well.

3 miles

Totals: 1851 Miles, 1382 Locks, 60 Tunnels, 29 Lift Bridges, 139 Swing Bridges

Monday, 24 June 2013

What's happened to the boat - it's not where we left it!!

Sunday 23rd June to Monday 24th June 2013

Windy, occasional rain, coldish – not a great day to go cruising – so we didn’t.

We had wanted to venture just down to Sandon – Diane had something on her mind to do with a Sunday roast at The Dog and Doublet – sorry dear, it was not to be.

We did however manage to see how the conditions affected the boat trying to reverse into position as we watched Jo and her acquired crew on nb Gentle Presence attempt the tricky manoeuvre – 2nd time lucky and well done I say.

There was another reason for wanting to cruise – we still needed to check on the engine after the work done on realigning the shaft – we still were not sure if it would or wouldn't shudder under load.

But we had to wait – Diane assured me that the weather was due to be better on Monday and even better on Tuesday – OK we waited.

Monday morning arrived and the wind had subsided quite a lot – no rain either – so it was decision made.

We headed out of the marina – we knew it was only for one night and back tomorrow, but it felt good to be moving – 2 weeks was a bit long at this time of the year. The shuddering had not disppeared, but not as bad as previously - a little bit fixed and a bit unfixed.

A little over 2 miles and we winded so that the other side of the  boat could be washed, cut and polished (by the good lady wife – got to keep her working hard).

I didn’t take it easy – I resumed work from where I had left off earlier.

We had to moor up on pins and the ground was a bit soft but firm – a procession of boats passing by – not going fast, but could have been slower, gradually worked away and one of the pins came loose and out – it was re-established in a firmer place and we put a third pin for the centre line as a precaution.

Diane had decided that the afternoon tea at The Dog and Doublet would be our treat for the hard work and so it was lovely to sit in comfy chairs and not concern oneself with what was happening elsewhere – perhaps we should have though!!

For anyone who knows the little walk from the lock to The D&D, it can be a bit tricky – no path in places and cars from both directions carefully avoiding pedestrians – but we made it there and back.

I didn’t mention it to Diane but as we were walking back I could see the boat and it appeared to be out of position.

As we made the bridge we could see why – it was on the other side of the canal amongst the reeds.

Through a farm field and over the barbed wire fence, through the nettles and overgrown undergrowth (does that sound right) – I got close to the boat but 2 metres is not something that I was capable of leaping in a single bound from standing - at least not without my cape and undies on the outside.

Diane flagged down a boat coming out of the lock and the man on the back – new owners of nb Muriel Alice landed her onto Ferndale with ease. Like the experienced boaty that she has become – she hauled in the ropes and earthless pins, started the engine and directed it back to the towpath side where I was now waiting.

Relatively quickly she was moored up again (Ferndale not Diane) and everything in order. We used a length of rope already attached to the canal side and also the concrete blocks to make sure it wouldn’t move again with ease.

Let me say that this was not a case of someone passing by and being mischevious, it was more our own fault of not making sure enough of the pins being securely in place; but in the end all is well; no husbands were harmed in the movement of the boat; and the dog was safe and sound.

2 miles

Totals: 1848 Miles, 1382 Locks, 60 Tunnels, 29 Lift Bridges, 139 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sure I’d love to talk to you, but can’t you bloody well wait a bit

Thursday 20th June to Saturday 22nd June 2013

Not a great deal has happened since finishing the blessed windows – thankfully – I think that it has coincided with the discovery that there was coverage of the tennis at Eastbourne.

She did manage another trip to the supermarket – this time it was Aldi’s turn to share in the spending – but it was carefully planned to avoid clashing with the tennis.

Meanwhile I did get some work done.

We have been working out times and dates for my flights back to Australia in November – which entailed getting some ideas from Trailfinders in Birmingham – they have come up with a package, including an internal flight, which is cheaper than we can find on the net.

We don’t mind travelling on the trains and as the trainline runs alongside the canal into Birmingham – even better – so it was a chance for a bit of a day out.

It is now the case that whenever the sun comes out or even if it is just a bright day (with clouds) we look at the list of things that we have to do for the boat and get stuck into it – Saturday it was the turn to take everything off the roof and give it a really good clean – that was Diane’s job – she enjoys mucking around with soapy water.

I was left inside to take care of putting the last of the curtains back after they had been washed and also to put up a new blind in the kitchen – all completed and a bit more of the clutter removed.

Halfway through all of this there was a sudden noise from the roof – Diane – and I rushed outside – the plank and broom head had been blown into the water from the pontoon – fortunately the plank floated – not so for the broom head.

So my thoughts were all about getting the plank out if the water, whilst a bloke off a boat which was in for a few days thought that I might be more interested in hearing about his theories on how I should store that power cable from the electricity outlet to the boat – sure I would like to know all about that, but I am more occupied with retrieving the stuff in the water before it disappeared – couldn’t he see that? – not on your life and kept going on – thought that our power usage would be high because the cable was coiled a bit too much – it was pleasing to say to him that we were in fact using less power than ever before.

Sadly, I couldn’t even blame it on him being a Pom – he sounded suspiciously like a Kiwi.

Gladly, he finally moved along – was it something is said (or didn’t say) or was it me just ignoring him after a while.

I don’t mind talking to anyone, but there is a time to consider which is more important.

At any rate, the plank was rescued; Diane was able to finish washing the roof; and she then set about cutting and polishing the side of the boat to an almost mirror finish.

The rain later in the day confirmed the effort put in as all of the water beaded lovely and the shine remained.

No travel

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Windows Done !!

Monday 17th June to Wednesday 19th June 2013

Woo hoo! Finally finished all of the windows and now hoping that they do not leak with the rain that is heading our way.

With a great deal of motivation (read as nagging) from Diane they are all done and I can cross that job off the list – she has even said I can have a short rest from boat work – I think it amounted to a few hours of peace.

What’s the next job?  I haven’t been advised (read as told) yet.

Some more good news yesterday – Chris Jones our engineer came by to have a closer look at the engine and try to determine the problem causing the intermittent shuddering – he is pretty sure that it can be put down to an out of alignment shaft, which has now been re-aligned – fortunately the coupling did/does take up a fair amount of misalignment without causing any problems, but with it now being made right it should not give us any problems – he also replaced one of the mountings which had taken a lot of the strain.

So now all we have to do is go out cruising to test the engine – but with the next four days looking wetter rather than dry and sunny, there is not much chance of that happening.

We did venture into Stafford on Monday to get a few things – managed to get most of what we wanted and noticed a few changes around the town – it did seem such a long while since we had been there.

We will continue to enjoy the last remnants of sunshine today before it goes for a while.

Today Diane had the need to spend some money at the supermarket in Stone, so rather than walking into town she hitched ride with Joyce and Ray on nb Jemma who were going out for a few weeks – they were heading northwards, so Diane said she would set the locks for them and asked if she could travel with them – no problems.

Coming home, she had walked just a short distance when Jo (nb Gentle Presence) stopped to pick her up and bring her back – so there didn’t appear to be a lot of exercise in that trip into Stone and then back again.

No travel

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Give me work or give me....more work!!

Thursday 13th June to Sunday 16th June 2013

As of close of play this evening the boat is a lot closer to all of the work being finished – we have now completed the windows on the starboard side with the two portholes out and back into place in the one day.

Two windows out..

...a little surface rust..

...inside it looked pretty good...

...and the finished article

The inside staining and varnishing of the bulkheads in the lounge and kitchen are completed as well as the new exposed areas after the kitchen renovations from last December.

Stain going on the bulkhead..

..and a little on the t-shirt as well

not sanding the splnters off the toilet seat - this is the inside
part of the port hole
We have been able to get this all done by working equally hard on it all – not sure that it could have been done any other way – no grumbles and no arguments and still managed to get some other paying work done; a walk into Stone on Saturday; time out for coffees on the deck and generally having a good time getting it all done.

So now we only have to change sides of the pontoon tomorrow so that we can commence on the port side windows and the front and back doors.

The weather has been pretty good this last few days and today has been a bright and sunny day – just as well as we needed the heat to dry the paintwork before putting the windows back in – I think that we have this process down pat now and looking forward to the work for the next week.

in the midst of all of the work we had Fred...

...and Ginger...

...and the kidnets come by for lunch

We also have Chris Jones the engine mechanic back again to take the gear box away to check on the driveplate and hopefully find an intermittent shuddering problem.

Fingers crossed for that and for the weather to continue as it has been.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Back early but things to be done

Saturday 8th June to Wednesday 12th June 2013

Despite the frantic travelling that we had achieved to get to Stoke, there was a change of plan (again) and now it was decided that rather than stop off in Barlaston on Sunday we would make our way down to Stone and back into the marina by Sunday.

I couldn’t disagree with the sentiment of getting back – we were both a little tired and eager to get back – especially in view of the mounting list of work that we wanted to get done and staying out any longer seemed to be just of no value at all.

I think we had forgotten just how far in terms of the number of miles and the number of locks that it really is from Festival Park back to Stone and it took a little longer than we would have first thought.

good grafitti is always appreciated
We headed off early on Saturday and expected to miss a lot of boat traffic by doing so – certainly we missed the hire boats as they were in changeover mode, but come Trentham Lock and there was a bit a queue, but no real delay.

The scene below Trentham lock - these CaRT work vessels
didn't make it easier - reducing the width to a single boat
Down through Meaford Locks and we were wondering if nb Valentine would be backed moored down the bottom after her paint job – he she was and very splendid se looked indeed – and a bonus Phil and Lynn were aboard, so we stopped for tea and a chat.

Smile Lynn !

Phil was ready
They were both well and we regaled with some of the early season adventures – they were going through their final preparations for heading off in about a week.

Plans were made to have dinner that night so we would catch them later, as we headed down the last 3 locks and final mile into Stone.

We didn’t know at all that the Stone Festival was on this weekend and so we were unsure about moorings, but in luck we were – one of the 24hr moorings above Star Lock was vacant until we took it.

Timing can be everything and once again just as we moored up the street parade was starting – a gentle paced walk to the lock as the parade was about to pass – so we caught this one.

The kids were great and there was plenty of work put in by parents and staff (of the many schools and kinders) to make it a wonderful procession.

A spy in the sky getting a bird's eye view and filming at the
same time

Busy by the lock and for The Star Inn as well
... and the main street wasn't short of pepole either

We decided to try the restaurant Thai Lanna in Stone for dinner – Diane had been eyeing it for over a year and wondered what it might be like – reports prior to our cruising had given it the thumbs up and we were not disappointed – we were a bit lucky again, being able to grab the last table despite not having a booking (for a Saturday night).

After a bit of shopping on Sunday morning we prepared to make the journey of the last mile (and a bit) and final two locks.

You can imagine our “thankfulness” at being able to be advised on how to do it all, by the crew of a hire boat when Diane went forward to offer help if needed.

The hire boat came down through Yard Lock and moored at the bollards – I had readied our boat to move over once they had gone through; a boat was coming up through Star Lock so there was a bit of holding back by the hire boat crew.

Diane in the meantime had gone forward to see how it was all going; by which time the boat coming up was on its way out of the lock and one of the women from the hire boat was getting ready for her boat to go down – when she remarked to Diane

“we were here first you know”

“yes I know that – I came down in to help if needed” came Diane’s reply

“where did you come from – I didn’t see you come through the last lock?”

“we were moored up on the other side – see the boat there – we are ready to move”

“oh! OK then; what are you going to do if there isn’t a boat coming up?”

“what do you mean?” enquired Diane

“ Oh, you can waste water – you will have to wait for a boat coming up to fill the lock”

Diane politely pointed out that there was an awful lot of water flowing over the bywash that could easily fill the lock rather than being wasted bypassing it.

“oh you can’t waste water, you will have to wait for a boat to come up”

“Look I came down here to see if any help was required and to wait for you to go through – once you had pulled away from the bollards my husband will move our boat over to there – waiting our turn; we do liveaboard and we have been cruising for a little while now and we are aware of the etiquette, which includes offering assistance when required or needed – and quite frankly I have had enough of you – you can do the lock by yourself” and she promptly returned back to Ferndale

Always nice to know that there are people who know how to graciously accept help – shame that this woman wasn’t one of them.

Back home !
We wondered how long they would be prepared to wait at an empty lock for a boat coming up so that they would be able to proceed – it seems they weren’t prepared to wait – by Aston Lock they had gone through without a boat coming the other way.

Once back in the marina – fully pumped out and dieseled up we headed back to our mooring – a boat was occupying our regular spot, but we spoke to Alex and we chose the end position as an interim solution – the boat in question had come in with some sort of family emergency.

No time was wasted after we this and relatively quickly we had the first window out that needed resealing; then set about cleaning it up and doing as much as we could without causing a fuss – it being a Sunday, and very sunny, there were a throng of people around and we needed to use the sander to get rid of the surface rust that was around the opening – so we waited until about 5:30 before starting – the cafĂ©/restaurant was due to close at 5pm.

The deck was full with everyone enjoying the sunshine
and the good food

The first window out  and the two frames separated ready
for more work on them

The window opening - showing the surface rust
It took virtually no time to sand back to metal, prime it and we also managed a first coat of topcoat as well, which had time to tack –off before we covered it with plastic for the night – it had been a wonderful day (weather-wise) that continued to after 9pm.

The following day – Monday – we whipped out two more windows and readied ourselves to put the first one back in – it was always going to be the start of the next part of the learning curve and of course it didn’t go too well – a bit of a mess ensued which needed to be sorted out and cleaned up; worked continued on the other two windows which were able to be sanded, primed, topcoated twice and with a revised plan of attack we got both of them back in by the evening – now that was simple – why hadn’t we done it like that to begin with.

Tuesday and Wednesday were both forecast to be wet so that meant that window number 1 remained out – we did manage to varnish the frame whilst it was out – a new overall plan for when we attack the other side of the boat.

Time was not wasted and Diane did a lot of sanding inside the boat on the bulkheads that had been created last December for the new kitchen layout; also removing a bit of weathering from moisture damage over winter and we are now ready to stain and varnish almost all of the wood requiring this inside; put the first window back in; finish off the insulated wallpapering; varnish the window frames of the two windows already resealed and to relay the bathroom floor.

Lucky for me that I have a day off work.

11 miles, 15 locks

Totals: 1846 Miles, 1382 Locks, 60 Tunnels, 29 Lift Bridges, 139 Swing Bridges

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Time to relax a bit (for some!)

Friday 7th June 2013

Today was the first chance to resume to some degree of normality and not have to go rushing off cruising.

Diane was comfortable in bed with her coffee and magazines and phone to read all of the blogs; I was comfortable at the table getting on with work; the dog was comfortable on the bed snoring away -  as he does.

A latish breakfast and after a bit more work we ventured up to the shopping area at Festival Park to pick up a few things from the supermarket – we seem to always have more in the bags than is on the list – how does that happen?

The Toby Carvery beckoned us after the first set of the men’s first semi-final in the French Open and we felt quite relaxed when we returned.

The cratch cover was raised and Diane was able to fully enjoy the sunshine whilst still being able to watch the tennis; cider in hand; she was in heaven.

Meanwhile the chores of the engine bay awaited and as I had neglected the usual routine last week it was a necessity to be done – a little water in there which was quickly removed; oil levels OK; water OK; batteries just needing a little top up.

After that it was a little more work, a little tennis and suddenly the day was almost gone – it really is quite easy to see the hours vanish before you even realise it – what a life this boating carry on is – certainly a lovely day to enjoy it as well !

No travel today

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Wrong Shoes

Tuesday 4th June to Thursday 6th June 2013

Whenever we journey northwards from Stone or we are coming southwards towards Stone there is an unwritten rule on Ferndale – by orders of the Skipper –

“Thou shalt stop at Barlaston for Sunday lunch”

Without missing a beat the schedule is always backtracked from Sunday at Barlaston to where we happen to be and the intervening days divided up into chunks of travel to meet the end result.

And so it passed this past few days – we were moored outside the Trafford Centre a few days ago – at least it seems like it was only a few days ago – and the notepad is out, the canal planner is out – by Tuesday we need to be at such and such a place; and similar for Wednesday and Thursday and the rest.

no more side trips my lovely - we are not going down onto
the Weaver

amazingly there was not a single boat moored on the 24hr
moorings up at Anderton and only one on the 48hr ones

Lifeboat pod in the marina yard at Northwich - I think Diane
just took the photo to include the guy on the right

keep to the right lest you meet the same fate !
So more in keeping with the grand traditions of the hire boater who is quickly moving around the nominated area to be covered in their allotted time, so we too are moving with the same hours during the day – early starts and early to mid afternoon finishes – some breaks in between; and some work on the move.

And now here we are in Stoke having travelled 80 lock-miles in the last few days – but by golly we are on schedule – the captain says so.

approaching the area of the breach at Dutton

There was no let up in the efficiency of the operation either – we have been engaging the washing machine whilst on the move; kettle into action almost constantly; and now the latest is that with 40 minutes to see through a tunnel and her indoors not especially in love with being outside, it was a great opportunity to be inside and take a bath – at least there was plenty of hot water and we could fill once out at the south portal.

inside Harecastle tunnel...

this is the 9th time through but the first photos we have taken
very pleased to see this as we filled up with water - out of the tunnel

Now we can relax just a bit – only 6 miles and 6 locks to go – and then we can make it back to base after Sunday – after the roast lunch.

Despite the miles and locks, it has been a bit of fun – working through them all and looking forward to the end of the travelling day – back into a routine going through them all.

some lovely person has (or people have) crocheted hearts...

... and flowers and put them on the lock gates along the Cheshire Locks

We are at the stage where we share the workload and this too is divided up by the management on the single basis –

She does the locks that are close together and I do the ones that are much further apart – there is some centralised theory of the conservation of lock-mile momentum – all I know is that my legs are tired by the end of it.

as you can see these two locks are close together - so it was my
turn to steer and Diane's turn to do the locks

Anyway, late in our journey today came another of her classic comments –

Diane had control of the tiller and I was lounging around on the back deck keeping out of her way.

I must give the precursor to all of this by our experiences on the Lancaster canal last month – she was terrified of all of those cruisers – not so much that they would hit us but from what she could do to them with 17 tonnes of steel hitting fibreglass – but back to today – along the nice straight from the Harecastle down to the lake there is a bit of a dog-leg and we were a bit away from it when around the corner appears a cruiser – there is immediate consternation about it and I said to her that she could handle it OK – it was a wide enough stretch of canal – the reply was that she had the "wrong shoes" to take on the responsibility of not hitting it.

Now I am concerned that the shoe industry is missing a tremendous opportunity with the huge need for cruiser-tackling footwear.  Even if we were to find it, I would not be certain that it will be in her size or the right colour to go with the rest of the outfit – what a crises!!

44 miles, 36 locks, 4 tunnels

Totals: 1835 Miles, 1367 Locks, 60 Tunnels, 29 Lift Bridges, 139 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Covering Old Ground with a Twist

Sunday 2nd June to Monday 3rd June 2013

It was all smooth cruising and with the weather bright and sunny, it was perfect.

To think that this was the fourth time already this year that we had covered this canal – in fact the fourth time in just 2 months.

We did not have any locks to contend with on the Bridgewater and the only stop that we had planned would be at Bridgewater Marina for diesel and the obligatory pumpout – it was needed.

We have been to this marina on three separate occasions now and each and every time Peter, the guy who runs the place (and as we found out – owns the marina), has been so very accommodating. Very nice place and so very friendly – please stop here for whatever you need when you are passing.

I caught up with Peter and his wife on Duchess and their dog Scamp – the time before last when we were here, we had a problem with our heater and Peter was able to help us out with some fuses.

Approaching the swing aqueduct I suddenly noticed that the bridge had swung around and we could proceed no further – Paul (nb Caxton) had described the sight best of this colossus of a bridge that moves – the sheer weight of water in the trough was immense.

So we moored up on the left side behind a cruiser and we watched and waited and waited – eventually a dredger approached, went through and disappeared – no movement on the bridge. In that time the road bridge had swung open and then closed – normal services had resumed.

thar' she goes - you can just see the superstructure behind the bridge

first through after the bridge reopened

Then the road bridge opened again another smaller ship sailed through. Job done, the road bridge closed and traffic flowed again; then the slower process of closing the aqueduct – it was a sight to see. Check that off the list of things achieved.

On our way again, but only as far as the Trafford Centre where we moored up and headed to ASDA for the list of things that were apparently needed – and then there was also the list of things that suddenly jumped out at us as we strolled along each of the aisles.

I was consigned to returning the purchases back to the boat – 3 bags full (sounds like a nursery rhyme) and the backpack.

Diane on the other hand decided to have a traipse around the rest of the complex – whilst I did some work back on board.

We had read on another blog that someone had overnighted here without any problems and it looked peaceful enough; and no housing around so we gave it a try – it was so so quiet indeed and no trouble whatsoever.

We woke to another resplendent day – the sun was out in full today and we headed off again fairly early – this time I was in the boat working to the full – it was again just cruising and Diane was in full control with her trusty side-kick Banjo (what use he would have been I do not know).

When I did appear out of the hatch to make sure it was all going well it was for an order of coffee or to take the dog for a walk – so better that I went back inside.

Our intention was to make for Dunham Town – actually the Little Bollington Aqueduct – and to have a look at Dunham Massey (the National Trust property).

We moored up mid-morning and made our way to the property, arriving just before opening time.

We found these two moored up here as well

Our National Trust cards are starting to pay for themselves – free entry.

We took a short introductory tour through the property and after that it was free range throughout the gardens and of course back through the house.

It never ceases to amaze me the extent of the accumulation of wealth into the hands of so few people in the past – not quite as bad today, but bad enough.

Diane had had a terrific idea earlier in the day and we enacted it upon return from Dunham Massey – so we cruised to Lymm and moored up there – just a few miles further but we really do like it here and gave us a chance to reacquaint ourselves with this very lovely town (too big to be a village) and so we did.

22 miles

Totals: 1791 Miles, 1331 Locks, 56 Tunnels, 29 Lift Bridges, 139 Swing Bridges