Saturday, 29 October 2016

October half term trip and New mooring (Fri 28 / Sat 29 Oct 2016)

Trouble free cruise to winding hole and headed back towards Nantwich.

Stopped near Barbridge Inn for lunch. Usual issues with smoke alarm when cooking bacon despite having opened both side windows and front and back doors!

On arriving at Nantwich Canal Centre (NCC), had been planning to turn in end basin and return to mooring. However there was a lot of activity at the end so tried to spin directly into mooring which I accomplished without issue which was pleasing. While tying up, the general manager turned up to check that I had found the correct place. Quite a different approach to larger marinas where the management wouldn't know if you were there or not!

After tying up, walked to Swanley Bridge to collect the car. Last time for the foreseeable future that we will need to make the trek!

Quite a queue on the road from Acton to NCC. Interesting to now that if planning to arrive mid-to-late Friday afternoons... Found a spot in the end compound to park.

Later walked the short (!) distance into town for a mini pub crawl which involved a pint in the White Horse (?), a couple in the Castle and a final one in the Black Lion. Then got a kebab before heading back to the boat which was still warm by the time I got back. So nice to be able to walk the short distance along the towpath from the end of Welsh Row to Bridge 92 which leads across to the NCC.

Saturday was largely spent installing a new LED reading light by the front bed. Took quite a while to work out how to power it. Eventually disconnected the car type socket which was hidden in the port side front locker and used the feed to power the new light. Quite nice but light seems to flicker intermittently. Need to try and work out why or just live with it. Did wonder if the fridge might be causing it but Alison also reported flickering the following weekend and she did not have the fridge turned on. Maybe the battery charger? Need to try disconnecting the shore line and test it.

Had a bonus on the Saturday evening as the Nantwich Spooktacula was on at the showground across the road. Rather annoying music from about 5pm but later got to see the fireworks for free. Very spectacular. Even had some sparks falling in the basin towards the end.

Back home in good time on Sunday morning arriving not long after 9am.

Excellent trip all round and very pleased with the new mooring.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

October half term trip and New mooring (Thurs 27 Oct 2016)

Spent most of the day at the boat. Very productive morning spent on various maintenance jobs.

While looking for grease to fill the stern gland tube, found drill powered pump and hoses! Very useful in emptying the drinking water from the cabin bilges. Would have taken months using the oil extractor but got it done in a short time just using the oil extractor for the last dregs. Big relief!

Then used the manual bailing pump to move water from under the engine to the main engine bilge where the bilge pump could pump it overboard. Then changed the oil-absorbent bilge pillows which were looking rather mucky and cleaned the top of the bilge pump switch.

Filled stern tube with grease. Need to get some more.

Swept out the back deck guttering and washed the deck boards with canal water.

Checked the water tank inlet. The water tank doesn't line up with the hole in the front deck. Maybe it has shifted or simply never lined up? Will need to empty it to try shifting it. Would need much movement but won't budge at present with 300 litres of water in it!

Next checked out the non-working horn. Turns out the negative terminal had become detached. Now works fine.

Spent some time tracing and photographing electrical wiring. Partly in preparation for boat wiring course booked for late November. Partly to decide how to wire new LED reading light by front bed head.

Interesting to see that the charging points near the fridge are actually connected to the water pump circuit. Obviously the engineer who fitted them just after we bought the boat simply picked a pait of wires at random from the 4 pairs that run past that point...

After a busy morning, went to check out the Badger Inn at Church Minshull. Interesting footpath just past Bridge 13 leads through woods to within a couple of hundred metres of the pub. Had a nice pint and packet of crisps. Didn't stay for lunch as there was a 20 minute wait for a table. 

Returned to boat for lunch of ciabatta and brie followed by fruit. Read for a bit then siesta. 

Considered a yomp to Middlewich for Thursday live music at the Narrowboat but didn't fancy 2 hour walk back in the dark. Continued reading till dinner time. Steak and ratatouille (lovely) and more reading.

Last night there were only two boats on the whole mooring but full now with one behind me even having to put in pins.

Tomorrow plan to cruise to winding hole and return to Nantwich. May even go to the Nantwich Canal Centre on Friday rather than Saturday.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

October half term trip and New mooring (Weds 26 Oct 2016)

Engine start 13:30
Engine off 18:00 241.2 end

Left Colwyn Bay just after 09:00. Checked to see if Stermat open. It was, despite Google saying they opened at 10:00. Picked up a bag of Globrite and some logs.

First task today was to check out a potential new mooring at the Nantwich Canal Centre. I (Andrew) spotted a board advertising availability on previous visit to boat during the long trek into Nantwich from Swanley Bridge Marina. The novelty of the 45 minute walk along a fairly busy country road has definitely worn off, especially as winter approaches again.

Both of us had spoken to the Nantwich Canal Centre by phone during the week. The price seems OK, there are more facilities and, key point, only 10 minutes walk to Nantwich Town Centre.

Arrived at the Nantwich Canal Centre around 10:40 and had a look at the mooring. Looks fine. We will probably need a longer hose to reach the tap but the electric is much closer. Will probably need a shorter lead as current one would be massive overkill!

After reading through all the pages of T&Cs, handed over the fee which covers us till end August 2017.

Next stop Aldi to pick up some groceries then off to Swanley Bridge to unload the car and have lunch. Perused the Nicholson guide over lunch and decide to take a trip up the Middlewich branch to find the nice mooring near Church Minshull spotted back in June on the way to the FAB Festival.

Had a bit of a disaster when preparing for the trip. Water filling cap was very difficult to remove and the inlet pipe actually rotated. Eventually got the top off but the tank seemed to take ages to fill... Eventually turned off the tap and investigated.

Basically the other end of the inlet pipe had come unscrewed from the tank itself so a significant amount of water had gone into the bilges under the floor. I suspect that something similar had happened previously and that is why the bilges had lots of clear water in them when we bought the boat!

So now got to remove all that water again... At least I now know that the bilge front to back and left to right is all joined. Water was first visible through the bottom of the bathroom cupboard but soon became visible under the step. May try enlarging the hole under the step to see if it is possible to use the manual bilge pump to pump the water from the cabin bilge into the engine compartment where the electric pump can then remove it...

Left Swanley Bridge around 13:30 and got to the foot of the Hurleston flight around 15:00. There was a volunteer lockkeeper on duty which made the locks a little easier.

Unfortunately there was quite a long queue (5 boats) for the Cholmondeston Lock which put the mockers on the planned 17:00 stop time.

Eventually reached the target mooring between bridges 12 and 13 about 18:00. Moored to rings (though one actual ring missing). Guiness and pig snacks! Emailed pictures of the new berth in Nantwich to Alison. Plan to check out the Badger in Church Minshull tomorrow.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Changes to plumbing

A while ago, I started wondering why our water pump was connected the way it was...

The water entered from the water tank top-right and went through 2 x 90 degree joints before entering the pump bottom-left. On exiting the pump, it then went through another 2 x 90 degree joints and an isolation valve before heading off up the boat to the sinks and shower. I couldn't understand why the pump was not rotated through 180 degrees to allow the water to go straight in and out.

I had also become aware of a thing called an accumulator which would act as a buffer and allow water to be drawn from the taps without immediately triggering the pump. We did not seem to have one... Also having the pump at the bottom of the locker meant that stuff tended to get dumped on top which did not seem like a good idea in case we ever wanted to get at it quickly!

I posted a query on the Narrowboat Users group on Facebook and got some helpful comments confirming that there did not seem to be any good reason for the multiple 90 degree joints and that an accumulator probably would be a good idea.

So I got measuring and planning and ended up with a much better set-up (even if I do say so myself!).

I fixed the water pump, the new accumulator and a new isolation valve to a new base which I mounted near the top of the locker. By cutting the locker lid into two pieces, This gave better access to the water pump and more storage underneath. I also included an electrical isolation switch to allow us to turn off the pump quickly if necessary without running to the other end of the boat and also a small water filter to catch any bits in the water.

All in all, well pleased with the result.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Moving to Middlewich for the Folk & Boat Festival (Sunday 12/6/2016)

No movement today.

As hoped, mooring is nice and quiet. Up at usual time. Breakfast of muesli. While boiling kettle for breakfast, the gas ran out. Luckily water had already got hot enough. Will change it on Friday when we come back for the Festival.

Tried to investigate washer on kitchen sink tap but couldn't budge it! Would be reasonably easy to replace the whole tap fitting as quite accessible. Subsequently wondered if the washer fitting is actually left-handed thread?

Will go home via Go Outdoors as trainers have split sole.

Straightforward walk to find car. Footpath from Bridge 28 leads to cul-de-sac and then onwards towards Kings Lock in one direction and towards town centre and market field in the other. Great placement!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Moving to Middlewich for the Folk & Boat Festival (Saturday 11/6/2016)

Aqueduct Marina to Midlewich

Engine hours reading 195.2 start (08:55) 200.3 end. Miles:7 Locks:5

Awake around 07:00 as usual. Bright but overcast start. Breakfast, cleaned shower tray and had a wash.

Set off 08:55. Cloud thickened gradually and there were a few spots of rain.

About 10:10 heavy rain started. Since boots still sodden from yesterday and did not want another drenching, moored up at first stretch of piling between bridges 21 & 22.

Navigation note: There are some very nice 48 hour moorings between bridges 12 & 13. Rings and a lovely view.

Trouble-free cruise to Stanthorne lock. Short queue for the lock but manned by masses of SUMBA volunteers so little effort required.

Trickled through to Middlewich. Moorings seem unrestricted up to Bridge 28 then 48 hours.

Wardle Lock also manned and being painted by SUMBA ready for next weekend. They reckon that the moorings above Kings Lock are actually 48 hours despite there being no signage... No good for leaving boat for next weekend...

Went up through Kings Lock, winded and moored opposite the convenience store. Bacon and mushroom roll for lunch accomplished without setting off the smoke alarm! 

Then walked back up the Wardle Arm to check situation above Bridge 28. Seems like a nice quiet location to returned to boat and came back down Kings Lock and up Wardle Lock (still manned by SUMBA).

Did a very neat reverse park into a spot about 1 boat up from Bridge 28.

After mooring, walked back to Kings Lock for a pint. Accidentally bought cider... Got some FAB Festival programmes which look very nice. I got usual acknowledgement at the back which, this year, actually mentions the website. 

Then wandered along to the Narrowboat for another pint (Wadworth Optimism) which turned into several when it started raining heavily again.

Eventually stopped enough to walk back to boat via Kings Lock Chippy! Quiet evening reading.          

Friday, 10 June 2016

Moving to Middlewich for the Folk & Boat Festival (Friday 10/6/2016)

Swanley Bridge Marina -> Aqueduct Marina

Engine hours reading 191.5 start (12:30) 195.2 end (16:10). Miles:6 Locks:6

Traveled to Swanley bridge on Thursday night. Up early on Friday to get shower as the main showers were being retiled so only two disabled ones available.

Breakfasted and off to Middlewich by car around 08:00.

Stopped at Morrisons for a few bits and pieces (muesli, bacon & saucisson) then parked car on St Anne's Avenue. Checked out state of moorings near Kings Lock. A few available. Waited for bus at Long Lane South which arrived on time at 09:08.

Straightforward journey to Crewe Bus Station which is not in a great state of repair... Short wait before bus to Nantwich so quick stroll round Crewe town centre (which we had never been able to find before!). Got a coffee from Costa.

Got 84 bus which I thought would go all the way to St Mary's church in Acton but actually terminated at Nantwich. Decided to walk back to marina rather than waiting for the next bus. The bus did not overtake me until I go to the showground near Acton so little time lost and go some exercise! Weather very muggy with rain expected later.

Back to marina about 12:00. Had lunch then filled water tank and got ready to set off. Chatted with neighbour about the festival.

Away at 12:30. Made usual random exit from berth. Never seem to manage to do it the same way twice!

Straightforward journey to Hurleston locks. Emptied toilet there as more convenient than marina. 

As I started down the flight, there were rumblings of thunder which turned into torrential downpour by 2nd lock down! Boat ahead obviously crewed by fair-weather boaters as they stopped in the pound betwen 2 & 3.

I, being made of sterner stuff, overtook and reached the bottom of the flight by about 14:00. Absolutely drenched... Coat is clearly not waterproof anymore. Even Gortex boots failed due to wearing shorts. Rain simply ran down my legs and filled the boots! Once you realise that you are not going to stay dry and just relax it's not so bad...

Pottered through Barbridge. Could have had a choice of moorings outside of Barbridge Inn but bravely carried on. Right turn onto Middlewich Arm and ticked over past the moored boats.

Through Cholmondeston lock with some help from oncoming boat then carried on to Minshull lock which I worked alone. Decided to pull the boat out of the lock to avoid climbing 11ft down the ladder.  Managed to cunningly flip the centre line under the foot bridge and up the other side!

Carried on just past Aqueduct Marina and moored around 16:10 at picnic area. Very peaceful with a nice rustic view.

Was going to write this sat at a picnic table with a beer and pig snacks (pork scratchings) but rain started again so sat inside enjoying the sound of rain on the roof. Pizza & Matrix DVD planned for the evening and then onwards to Middlewich in the morning.  


Monday, 2 May 2016

May Day Bank Holiday trip to Whitchurch (Monday 2/5/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 191.4hr Miles:11 Locks:15

Up early to tidy boat for arrival of crew. Alison arrived around 09:15. Coffee before setting off.

Trouble-free trip back to home base. Weather mix of warm sunny intervals between showers; sometimes heavy. Progress a good deal quicker with crew!

Paused at Wrenbury around 13:00 for a swift pint at the Dusty Miller followed by BLT sandwiches back on board.

Done with engines by 17:00. Cup of tea before loading car and driving back to Wrenbury to collect Alison's car. Went via Marbury to see if Swan is actually open or not. Mixed evidence on the internet. Does seem to be open.

Travelled back home in convoy.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

May Day Bank Holiday trip to Whitchurch (Sunday 1/5/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 184.9hr Miles:0 Locks:0

Quiet day. Lie-in till 9ish.

Walked into Whitchurch late morning. It was shut! (Apart from Lidl, Tesco and Poundstretcher). Found very convenient car-park for when crew arrives tomorrow for return journey (Meadow Croft).

Got a few bits in Lidl including Kingsman DVD.

Rained on and off all day so stayed inside reading. Dinner of pizza, wine and chocolate while watching Kingsman. Excellent film!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

May Day Bank Holiday trip to Whitchurch (Saturday 30/4/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 184.9hr Miles:7.5 Locks:10 Liftbridges: 2

Bright start to the day. Boat went by early. Next not till 07:45. Andrew up just after 07:00 as usual. Set off 08:10.

Through the manual Wrenbury Church Lift Bridge and the electric Wrenbury Lift Bridge without major problem. Miscalculated the flow on the Llangollen Canal while doing the manual lift bridge and boat drifted back under the bridge as I was about to lower it. Certain amount of swearing, pulling and re-tying soon sorted the problem. 

The electric bridge no longer has the loud sirens which were annoying the neighbours. Now a disembodied voice repeatedly says "Stand clear of the hatched area".

Through Marbury Lock then coffee stop 10:10 just below Quoisley Lock.

Through Quoisley, Willeymoor and Povey's Locks without incident.

Heavy hailstorm while negotiating the lower locks at Grindley Brook. As in the middle of the flight, just had to shelter under Tilley hat and carry on manfully! Slowed things down as ground got quite slippery and did not risk step across lower lock gates.

Luckily there was a lockkeeper working on the Grindley Brook staircase which made life a lot easier. Needed to let down some extra water as got a bit grounded in the middle lock of the staircase.

Arrived at the Whitchurch Arm by 13:55. Winded in basin and moored up facing the right way for the return journey.

Quiet afternoon / evening as rain came in again... 

Friday, 29 April 2016

May Day Bank Holiday trip to Whitchurch (Friday 29/4/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 179.1hr Miles:3.5 Locks:5

Andrew solo trip to Whitchurch. Got to Swanley Bridge Marina around 15:30 after stop at Tesco for supplies. Filled water tank and emptied ash-can. Had hoped that would not be needing fire by this point in the year but still cold and windy...

Out of marina about 16:20. Through Swanley Locks and Baddiley Locks solo without problems. Amazing how quickly working locks solo gets you into canal mode. Work just disappears! Cold with a little light rain.

Nice quiet mooring near Bridge 18 (Starkey's Bridge). Beer and chicken wings for dinner. Read "Still Alice" - remarkable book!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Glow plugs sorted

The engine had been getting difficult to start, turning over for ages before firing, despite a full 30 seconds on the pre-amp setting. Lots of white smoke emitted until it did eventually start running and settle down.
Arranged for Nantwich Canal Centre's engineer to come and have a look. Initial telephone discussion did suggest that one or both glow plugs were either not working or carboned up.
Turned out that both glow plugs were dead...  Unfortunately, because the plugs fit to the engine with an adapter, they are a different type which needed to be procured overnight.
They duly arrived and were fitted. Note: the plug needs to be fitted to the adapter first and then the adapter to the engine...
Once in place and after just 20 seconds pre-warm, the engine started immediately with no white smoke.  Amazing difference!
Sets us up nicely for trips out over the summer!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Easter trip to Chester (Wednesday 30/3/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 176.0hr Miles:3 Locks:4

Trouble-free solo journey for Andrew from Barbridge to Swanley Bridge Marina.

Engine was quite reluctant to start. Glow plugs don't seem to be doing much. Will need to get them looked at...

Bit of a queue for Hurleston Locks. There were two boats each with 3 crew behind but Andrew still had to work most of the locks single-handed... 

Emptied the cassette at the services block then back to marina for lunch. 

Tidied up e.g. rubbish and ash-can then home via Nantwich Canal Centre to arrange work on glow plugs.

Gave two German hitch-hikers a lift from A41 / A55 junction to Prestatyn. They had started at London in the morning so made good progress. Aiming to hike the North Wales Coast Path.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Easter trip to Chester (Tuesday 29/3/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 173.0hr Miles:16.5 Locks:1 x 3 lock staircase + 9 normal + 1 x 2 lock staircase.

Long day. Set off around 09:30.

Paired up with one boat for the Northgate Staircase. Some trouble with gates due to large amount of water coming down. Also one paddle left open a crack preventing a level. The other boat stopped at Waitrose as they had been "living on ship's stores". We carried on.

Paired up with an ex-Ownerships boat "Chisbury"(?) for the locks leading out of Chester. They pulled over somewhere near Beeston. We carried on...

Wind and rain got quite persistent during the afternoon to put it mildly. The long line (over a mile) of linear moorings at Golden Nook Farm particularly tedious in those conditions...

We had to rescue a boat who had got themselves a bit confused in Bunbury Staircase. Andrew knew there was a problem when the boat which had been rising up in the lower lock suddenly started going down again!

A few polite but firm suggestions from both of us soon sorted them out. In gratitude / embarrassment, they then pulled over to help us up the staircase and then go ahead of them to Barbridge.

Arrived at Barbridge tired, cold and wet! But were able to find a decent mooring opposite the pub. Great benefit of a shorter boat!

Took Alison's bag over to her car ready for her return journey. Then into pub for a well earned dinner. Both went for the burgers which were excellent.

Andrew returned to boat via the main road and bridge 101 to avoid the worst of the muddy towpath. Raining again... Discovered that, with the new magnetic aerial mount, it is possible to fix the wifi aerial to the side of the boat without going outside!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Easter trip to Chester (Easter Monday 28/3/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 163.9hr Miles:0 Locks:0
Stayed put in Chester today. Wandered around the shops: very quiet first thing. Had a useful scout round the charity shops looking for missing books from the various series that Andrew is trying to read in order. Definitely a higher class of charity shop in Chester!

Had lunch at one of the two Wetherspoons pub - The Square Bottle.

Alison got a nice jacket and tote bag from Primark and Andrew a socket set from Argos. Each to their own!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter trip to Chester (Easter day 27/3/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 163.9hr Miles:9 Locks:5 + 1 3 lock staircase

Clocks went forward last night. On our way by 09:45. Warm sunshine breaking through shower clouds - one or two catching us. Andrew saw a jay on towpath.

Mixed weather: sunshine and squally showers. Plenty of traffic in the other direction meant all locks bar the first were set for us.

Top Mooring opposite Telford Warehouse pub!
Arrived at 14:30 at Tower Wharf and moored opposite the Telford Wharf pub. Top mooring!
Cruise notes: Aldi offside no mooring - Bridge Inn opposite has a couple of bollards. Beyond, no mooring until after Waitrose: rings outside a half mile of pubs and restaurants.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter trip to Chester (Saturday 26/3/2016)

Engine reading at end of day: 155.9hr Miles:5 Locks:5
Alison arrived 15:15, set off straight-away. Straightforward cruise despite foul weather and strong winds.

Had the canal pretty much to ourselves. Bunbury staircase locks set for us! All others not...

Arrived at Shady Oak around sunset 18:30. New management have spruced up the interior. Sizeable helpings of standard pub grub - not full menu, obviously keeping a tight grip on wastage!

Towpath very slippery after the day's rain. Skipper slipped and twisted ankle, crew very sorry about charging ahead...

Friday, 25 March 2016

Easter trip to Chester (Good Friday 25/3/2016)

With Easter long weekend approaching, we drew up a cunning plan to pop up to Chester. Alison had singing commitments till Saturday early afternoon while Andrew was free from Thursday evening after a staff development day.
So Andrew travelled to the boat on the Thursday and then on Good Friday moved round to Barbridge. Very easy trip due to plenty of boats coming up the Hurleston Locks. There was also a lock-keeper working so Andrew was able to stay on the boat down the whole flight.
Set out from Swanley Bridge Marina about 10:15 after emptying the toilet and ash-can and filling the water tank.
Moored up opposite the Olde Barbridge Inn around noon.
Went for a long walk in the afternoon. Set off around 13:45 and got back about 18:15 after checking out Bunbury Locks and then the village itself. Had a pint in the Dysart Arms near the church. Also found the Nags Head in the village. This confusingly has a sign outside saying Horse and Groom...
Staggered back to the Old Barbridge Inn feeling knackered but virtuous. Pint and some pork scratchings before retiring to boat for a quiet evening. Earned a lie-in tomorrow!