Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Llangollen & Shropshire Union (26-31 Oct 2018)

Engine hours start: 421.2 end: 435.9 = 14.7 hours

Miles:16 Locks:18  Lock miles:34

Solo trip for Andrew for October half-term. Came to boat after staff development day.

Spent day in Nantwich on Saturday (27th) and stayed in basin to watch fireworks from the Spooktacular.

Bright sunny start on Sunday 28th October. Quite cold with ice on the roof. Clocks went back last night. Aiming for Wrenbury today.

Set off around 09:00. Arrived at Hurleston to find a queue of 3 boats ahead to go up the flight. Luckily with so many other boats I got lots of help with the locks and didn't have to climb a single lock ladder. Was even able to follow a boat through the first lift bridge at Wrenbury.

Only downside was getting very cold through lack of exercise! Moored up by 15:20. Fire and kettle on.

Monday 29th October
After a trouble-free trip to Wrenbury, the planned cruise then went awry...

After buying a bag of Excel from Wrenbury Wharf, set off about 10:00 and got through the main Wrenbury lift bridge without issues. However, then noticed that the alternator light was on and the rev counter was dead. Revving the engine had no effect.

Stopped as quickly as possible since one reason for alternator not working is a broken belt which would also stop the water cooling pump working. Belt was OK and no sign of loose connections but still nothing on rev counter. Battery volt meters both showed 12.5V which should have been over 14V if the alternator was working.

Rang RCR at 10:13 then settled down to wait. Had not lit fire earlier  as was due to be cruising so got that lit.

Engineer (Jake) arrived around 13:15 and soon confirmed that the alternator was dead. He didn't have a suitable replacement in the van so took ours back to base in Stafford. Unlikely to be back with replacement today.

Quiet afternoon. Went to Cotton Arms for a few pints before returning to boat for pizza & salad.

Tuesday 30th October
Phone call from RCR confirming that the engineer would be at boat later so went to shop for milk, baguette an scones. Also got a bag each of kindling and logs from Wrenbury Wharf. RCR office had promised further call with engineer ETA but this didn't happen. Engineer arrived about 13:30 just as I was about to ring to chase.

Refitting the alternator was straight-forward and all now seems OK. Reviewed cruising plans. Not enough time to reach Whitchurch comfortably and there are no winding holes after Thomason's Bridge. The Wrenbury Frith lift bridge had been lowered but I noticed it was now raised so took the opportunity to go down to Thomasons winding hole and turn the boat ready for the return trip.

Considered another trip down to Cotton Arms but it started raining so stayed on board and had a nice tea of baguette, cheese, salad and jam. Text from daughter saying projected completion on her house purchase is 9th Nov! Watched Ricky Gervaise DVD Ghost Town. Very good. Some echos of Groundhog Day: redemption through good works and Sixth Sense: I see dead people. Rather overfilled the stove and only made it under the duvet about 2am!

Weds 31st October
Set off arounf 09:15. Reasonably trouble-free passage through the two lift bridges; as much as single-handing through lift bridges ever is... 

Boat seems rather reluctant to enage forward gear. Need to check gear box ATF fluid level. Also lubricate gear lever cable. 

Through Baddiley 3 locks and Swanley 2 locks without issues. Some traffic in both directions so got some help with some of the locks. Considered mooring overnight before Hurleston flight but decide to push on. Very good decision as there were 4 lockies on duty so was able to stay onboard and have all the locks worked for me!

Back to base at 14:15. Fire and kettle on. Want to make a template of the bottom step drainage hole to plan the gutter arrangement that I want to make to avoid rainwater going into the engine bilge as currently happens.

Thursday 1st Nov
Packed and home in the morning.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

IWA Lock Wind - (Friday 10 - Sunday 12/8/2018) - Hurleston Junction

No miles or locks in our own boat

But plenty of walking and lock working!

We worked the locks from 9-6ish on Friday and Saturday and 9-1 on Sunday.

Overall we helped about 100 boats through the locks and sold most of the stock of cake, jam etc. So a successful weekend!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Summer trip on Shropshire Union (Thursday 9/8/2018) - Bunbury to Hurleston (via Nantwich)

Engine hours start: 414.9 end: ?? = ?? hour

Miles:7 Locks:0  Lock miles: 7

Carried out the revised plan. Returned to our home mooring in the Nantwich Basin. Emptied the bins and then took the car round to Morrisons to stock up for the weekend.

The weekend event is the Annual Lock Wind organised by our branch (Shrewsbury District and North Wales) of the Inland Waterways Association. We help boaters through the Hurleston lock flight and encourage donations. There is also a stall with cake, chutney, jam, second-hand books etc. for sale.

Needed BBQ food for the evening social plus supplies for the rest of the weekend since there are no shops nearby.

As we passed through Hurleston towards Nantwich, Alan Platt was already there with his boat Coriolan. 

The restocking trip went very smoothly and we arrived back at Hurleston in time to nab a good mooring midway along the rings.

Andrew was applying the third and final coat of gloss when our IWA Branch Secretary came to ask how long we were staying... The new beard was obviously an effective disguise!

We had a little rest in the boat before people gathered for the evening BBQ. A very enjoyable evening with plenty of nice food, drink and good company.

Off to bed ready for the exertions of the weekend.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Summer trip on Shropshire Union (Wednesday 8/8/2018) - Christleton to Bunbury

Engine hours start: 409.3 end: 414.9 = 5.6 hour

Miles:10 Locks:6  Lock miles: 16

Another fairly prompt start at 09:40. Heading for spot between Bunbury and Calveley that we had previously identified as a good spot for painting (which Andrew ended up not using for the main roof job...).

Trouble-free cruise with usual tickover past Golden Nook. Paired up with another boat through the various locks.

Moored up around 15:15 at the target spot. Applied second coat of gloss to handrails.

Walked into Bunbury to the Dysart Arms for a very nice dinner and beer.

After dinner, we started off towards the Coop in the village where we were planning to stock up with food etc for the IWA Lock Wind weekend at Hurleston Junction. However seeing how tricky it was likely to be to negotiate the narrow roads with no footpath with a load of shopping, we changed out plans. New plan is to return to our moorings at Nantwich Basin. There we can empty the rubbish and use the car for a supermarket trip before returning to Hurleston.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Summer trip on Shropshire Union (Tuesday 7/8/2018) - Stoak (Bridges 138-139) to Christleton

Engine hours start: 403.3 end: 409.3 = 6 hours

Miles:8 Locks:7  Lock miles: 15

Having been on pins above bridge 138, we notice that there is Armco below it - useful to note as the Bunbury Arms in Stoak is well worth a return visit.

Lots of gongoozlers at the Tower flight in Chester!

Masking visible on the starboard handrails

Moored in Chester at 12:30 for a quick hour of charity shops. Attempted scientific comparison of Greggs and Pound Bakery fell apart when exactly comparable products proved to be unavailable: but Pound Bakery is cheaper, it is noted.

By now the hot start to the day has faded with clouds and a cool breeze. Lifted slightly on reaching our top mooring at the Cheshire Cat for the first coat of red gloss: but by sunset the breeze was cooling again. We have become far too used to mid 20s Celsius!

Omelette and salad for supper, early night.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Summer trip on Shropshire Union (Monday 6/8/2018) - Stoak (Bridges 138-139)

Engine hours start: 402.3 end: 403.3 = 1 hour

Miles:0 Locks:0  Lock miles: 0

Ran engine for 1 hour to charge batteries.

Alison drafted in to clean off the Fertan. Then team work to apply the masking. A fair breeze up the canal so two pairs of hands definitely beneficial to avoid newspaper taking flight. Applied undercoat to handrails. Just 3 coats of gloss to go...

Waited out the heat of the day then went to the Bunbury Arms in Stoak. Excellent pub, beer and meal.

Glorious sunset.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Summer trip on Shropshire Union (Sunday 5/8/2018) - Ellesmere Port to Stoak (Bridges 138-139)

Engine hours start: 400.4 end: 402.3 = 1.9 hour

Miles:2.5 Locks:0  Lock miles: 2.5

Third and final coat of gloss on handrails first thing. Then went round the museum - still interesting despite rescue of old boats into storage before they rot away. Some sort of dispute involving the council and Peel Holdings means most of the lower basin is not accessible. Sort it out folks! 

Mind Like Water top right

Walked a mile or so to find Aldi - then a quick lunch and away. Ran engine for half an hour before setting off so we could get the fridge back on.

However only got through the first bridge when it became obvious that we had to stop as little propulsion. Checked weed hatch and prop seemed clear but still problems when we set off again. Large burst of reverse seemed to dislodge a large chunk of wood that must have been underneath and rolling into the prop whenever we selected forward gear...

Moored down the cut a couple of miles where, once the first heat of the day had passed, Andrew started work (heroically...) on preparing the remaining third of the port-side handrail and all of the starboard side. Scraped and Fertanned.

Reward was BBQ and chocolate mousse!