Thursday, 30 April 2009

Richard the third was on our boat.... ?

When we were recently on the Ashby (photo blog to follow) we moored for the night on the battlefield moorings which are to be recommended.

Just below the moorings is a stone to mark the place Richard the third fell during the Battle of Bosworth against Henry Tudor. As we came back to our boat after a late evening walk we visited the stone and 'paid our respects'.

Earlier in the day I had tried and failed to get our wind up radio to work - giving up assuming the battery was FUBAR'd

So at precisely 5.30 in the morning it came to life at full volume with white noise...... scared the bejesus out of me and Rachel, turned it off and then it would not restart......we recon Dick came aboard to give us a scare, damn Plantagenet kings I say.

Do you believe in ghosts...?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Dredging update

How nice it was to get back to our Hunts lock mooring and glide onto the armco without any incident, engine thrashing and a big slick of muddy canal water for the wildlife to contend with - our moorings had been dredged.
Phoebe had done her stuff with the help of a couple of BW workers. I just hope the nice clean canal bottom and the deeper water attract a few more fish to my mooring.....


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Bloggers recently met on the cut

It is good to be able to add Andy from Khayamanzi to my bloggers met on the cut. I also met Ralph Freeman from Grey Nomad who sadly does not blog anymore - I used to enjoy reading his blog as he had a good perspective on living on the cut. I still have one of his photos in my lounge taken of Grey Nomad on a frosty Trent and Mersey early in the morning with smoke gently rising against a red sunrise - a fantastic photo.

Annoyingly I did not have my camera ready on either occasion so I have no photo's to display. Note to myself have camera with me at all times..... and when I do have a SD card with it !

Monday, 27 April 2009

Top tip - poo tank

While aboard last week our tank started to fill up after we had had the expensive (£20) pump out at Swan Line at Fradley.

When we were with Ownerships there was the ownerships toilet pyramid - you might be able to imagine what I am referring to ?
I inspected and identified a good thick layer of deposit in the tank. Previously with ownerships we stirred the tank with a likely stick from the hedgerow. This has its limitations and risks, little bend and opportunity to snap and leave a pump blocker in place.
I used me noodle and took off the very bendy last section of my whip (like a fishing pole but shorter - ideal for the canals)
The top section was quite long and plenty bendy enough top get at the stuff well stirred. The Streethay machine was working very hard as could be seen by the hose pulsating as it did its thing.......

This will now become the default action prior to any future pump outs. You can buy the whip for as little as a fiver from many tackle shops - get a few pole winders (floats with the hook weights and line already set up) and after a good clean the whip can be used for its intended purpose (just remember to buy a fishing license)


Thursday, 23 April 2009

It pays to check

Going back a few days - to last Tuesday after the bank holiday we were aboard cleaning and I was in the engine hole checking bits. Last winter RCR had done a service and checked the alternator and advised I had a new fan belt - I had one 'in stock' and it was fitted.

I checked it last Tuesday ad it did not feel tight enough for me so I adjusted it. The green light that is the advarc battery monitoring system had been intermittently flashing and RCR previously had said it was an indication the advarc was not working correctly - he disconnected it and a few days later the starter battery was flat ! I reconnected it and the starter recovered but the green light did its thing again. After tightening the fan belt the green light stopped flashing - only to be on at low revs at start up - as to be expected. So my checks paid off. The belt was slipping and the alernatir not charging - now the batteries get upto charge quicker as well - a result.

I also checked the engine mounts and the hoses as last year we had a breakdown when a hose wore through after rubbing on the engine, so people make sure you get involved with your engine - its the life of the boat !

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Battlefield moorings

It does not get a lot better than Tuesdays cruising. Perfect warm weather, few boats and a fantastic canal. We had a lazy start 9.45 and ambled up to the battlefield moorings (thanks to Andy's dad for the reccommendation - shouted over when we met briefly at Fradlet last week )on just before bridge 36. We arrived at just after 2 and ate slept and them walked. Going around the battlefield site at 5 was great as we were the only couple there.

We did a couple of geocaches trying out Geoscout on my phone - now I know how it works I would recommend it as it downloads the caches local to your position so you can geocache on the fly so to speak. This and my version of Memory map software means I'm well covered for walking and caching

The moorings are to be recommended as they are offside and very quite at night. I fished into the darkness with the bird singing slowly quietening down to nothing to be replaced by hooting owls - perfect end to the day.

We watched a DVD on the 19.99 sainburys DVD player I brought for the trip - no more messing about hooking laptops up to the tv.

As we are cruising every day we are ending the day with 100% on the battery monitor - using about 30 % each night for lights pumps and tv/freeview or DVD box. Now the alternator it working efficiently we get about 10% per hour into the batteries - all good to know !

Monday on the Ashby

Monday saw us ready for a longer day.

We got off to a good start being first on the Atherstone flight. These really are a nice flight of locks going through some lovely countryside and even when going through Atherstone itself still are very pleasant.

There was a hire boat with a willing crew behind us who were very helpful closing our lock gates as we left. We did the flight in two and a quarter hours - and moored up and went shopping in Atherstone at 11.15.

We rewarded our hard work with fish and chips before setting off for destination Ashby canal.

The first part of the afternoons cruise was great in fantastic weather just the one cloud in the sky – literally. The canal is very windey here as it goes around the quarries and spoil heaps between Atherstone and Nuneaton. Arriving in Nuneaton is the opposite to Atherstone – not bad but they have not embraced the canal at all. Before long we were swinging onto new waters for us – the Ashby and straight away we could see how pretty is is. The early cutting is very similar to the Shroppie

We moored up on a recommended mooring from a boater I spoke to at the top of the Atherstone flight – Twinkle, nice boat name - he was headed for Wales. Very rural and unusual in that I could get a good signal on my 3 dongle – now there a first ! However I was too tired to blog properly so I just dropped down a few notes to be published later (Today being Wednesday)

No pics today as on my reliable vodaphone gprs connection - 3 failes again it really is very poor.

Monday, 20 April 2009

On holiday and the kids are back at school

One of the few benefits of getting old is that your kids get old(er) with you. So our first holiday this year is being taken outside of the kids school holidays which is smashing.We eventually moved off the Fradley visitor moorings Saturday afternoon after a justified overstay (since Tuesday) and there were still three boats there that were there before we got there. All in all we were off our moorings for 18 days. I'm not sure if it was the fact we were a local moored boat that the yard knew was off its moorings because of the dredging that meant we did not get a notice. I fear the notices are not given out very often based on some of the other boats we noted were overstaying.

Anyhow we are off.........

We cruised down to just before Hopwas after leaving Fradley at 2. I only realised after moving off that Grey Nomad and Ralf Freeman was our neighbour, last time our paths crossed was 18 months ago when I helped him lock up junction lock while we were on our way to a four counties ring trip.

Having planned for a trip to the Ashby it was still the half term and we expected the canal to be busy so the first couple of days were to be slow .....

We moored up just after Hopwas wood bridge which took us three hours, we don't cruise quickly !

Next hop was to just below the Atherstone flight as we thought it would be busy - it turned out not to be the case but we still planned bigger hop on Monday. We moored up just before Atherstone bottom lock. We opted for the liveaboards strategy which was to move early and moor early - I have to say I like this way of cruising. We moored up at just after 2pm having left at 9ish and had a very lazy Sunday afternoon.

The pic is from my camera phone as guess who left the SD cards at home !

Rachel entering the first of the two Glascote locks.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

York and proud of it

Not quite the name of the boater who came past on Monday while we were moored up on the Fradley visitor moorings, but I'm sure you get the idea.

He got the tit of the day award from me as he came past at what seemed like normal cruising speed. I was trying to top up my batteries at the time so you might imagine I popped up to look to see who had made the job a tad harder.

Anyhow by the time I had got out of the engine hole he was right up against the top gate on Keepers lock with his crew gesturing for him to back up as they could not open the top gate - even if they could as the lock was nothing like near full. There was plenty of white water from his prop plus some frantic pushing off the poor boat moored up on the non towpath side.

Quality entertainment.

I have no idea what he was thinking....... I doubt he was doing any thinking and that was his problem................

O dear two boater moans in a week. Positive blogs on the way - promise


Best laid plans

The grand plan was to move Waterlily up to Great Heywood in preparation for next weeks cruise to Froghall basin on the Caldon. As we were not on our mooring the necessary cleaning equipment was to be carted over to where Waterlily was moored for a spring clean. On waking Monday morning I had collected a nice cold which had flared up other conditions meaning I felt off it. So we reviewed options and decided a trip to the Ashby would be nice (about 60 locks less as well)

This meant we could have a more leisurely couple of days......

First day was with a good couple of hours fruitless fishing and reverse gongoozling. There were many more visitors to Fradley on Bank holiday Monday than boats. There were quite a few boats but nothing like the queues I have seen in the past.

Tuesday was a clean and fettle day. I'll blog about me fettle later, but the boat has had its spring clean and feels so much better for it. The day was completed with a pump out, diesel, gas and water - so all ready for my eldest to take advantage of our pre planning by being on board for a couple of days prior to our departure at the weekend.

£20 quid for a pump out at Swan Line was the low point of the weekend - anyone else been charged this for a pump out recently??

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Contented with your boat....?

I recently blogged about looking around other boats at Mercia Marina The image of the Aqua Marine boat stayed with me until I got back on Waterlily. I realised how lucky we were to have such a nice comfortable boat.

We brought Waterlily because the layout and the right mix of equipment was aboard. Nothing too technical or complicated but enough to get me warm, dry, clean, rested and fed. I don't think in this life there are many other things you should really want.

When I re-evaluated what we had I realised how contented I was with Waterlily. Just made me wonder how happy others were with their boats? If not what would you change? I know Bruce on Sanity is changing the whole boat. I suppose until it is your home you do not fully appreciate the areas of limitation.

The only thing I would change if I could and I can't is to have a longer bow area to allow us both to sit out in, but then I'm being greedy as there is always the bank side to enjoy.


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The only way is up..... favourite canal the Trent and Mersey. I know there are others but I like the T&M as it gives me so much enjoyment now and also fond memories of my dad when we used to go fishing together between Stenson and Swakestone. When he was younger him and my mum would ride their tandem to Shardlow from Derby and fish, even in winter. My mum tells me stories of them breaking the ice on the canal so he could fish.

This is my Dad with my eldest son Tom and our last dog Cindy. He died a bit after this was taken - my lad is now 21 !

I just know he would have loved being on my boat. Beer and fishing and a few roll ups would have been just perfect. I do think of him a lot when I am aboard.

The only way is up was to suggest where we will be heading over the next few weeks. Not sure how why or where but we want to get to the basin at Froghall at the end of the Caldon. We have got to get gas, pump out, diesel, water, spring clean, coal (if we need it) plus get my lad and his young lady on Waterlily for a few days, they just want so moored up quality time. Who knows he may get the urge to start cruising?

One point - I hope I did not offend all private boaters - I know the vast vast majority enjoy the canals and treat them with respect as well as other users of the cut - its just a small minority..... Now I am starting to get to be the person I feared most - the canal guy who moans about other boaters.............


Monday, 6 April 2009

Ignorant private boaters

That's be the boater who drained the pound between Junction and Keepers at Fradley on Friday night.

We went over to Waterlily to check on the progress of the dredging (slow - see Chris's comment) and stayed over.

We took Leia for a good walk to see how the dredging was going - good but slow) enjoyed a lovely meal and a few beers and then fell asleep while watching the TV. When I woke I stood up and then stumbled..... not the beer, but the boat was listing quite badly. Torch out showed the mud on the far side and the plastic cruisers were sitting on it. The pound must have been 18" to 2 foot down. I took Leia and a torch and found the berk who came through in fading light had left the paddles up on a leaky Keepers lock - result many boats straining their ropes. Thing was he had moored in the pound as well !! Just lazy - he could have walked back after mooring up and dropped the paddles.

Anyhow I nipped back to Waterlily and got a windlass and dropped them - I thought of flushing water into the pound but thought the pub goers might have thought me strange so I left the pound to recover which by morning it had.

I have no doubt private boaters leave more gates open, paddles up and speed past moored boats than the hire boats.

We had to leave on Saturday morning but I still got a lovely walk to Woodend lock in with Leia.

Sunday we relived our youth and met a group of like minded bike owners and did a 250 mile tour of the Cotswolds. We past Bancroft Basin (a large building site by all accounts) on route as well as going under the aqueduct at Wooten Waven (SP) so there was a little canal interaction

This weekend will be a spring clean of Waterlily i n preparation for a week on board after Easter. No more school holiday cruising for us - hurrah

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


Some while ago I asked BW questions about dredging the moorings Waterlily is on. Sometimes getting on and off our moorings is 'fun' as it is very shallow and we get a silt bar build up - all no doubt due to being at the bottom of a very busy flight at Fradley.

At the time BW said Easter next year - I took this with a pinch of salt - but true to their word there was a sign on the locked gate to our moorings asking us to contact a number to get an update on the proposed works. Last week I got a text from BW saying they were to start on the 1st April and if I wanted Waterlily moorings dredged then to move my boat 'onside' before the 1st.

So last night after work I went up and moved Waterlily to the Fradley visitor moorings - being on the pins at Hunts lock would have possibly meant being pulled out as some boaters don't always go by on tickover !

So this morning I woke up to a fine sunrise as I walked Leia to Woodend lock and back. It was nice to have my breakfast on board and commute from the cut.

Just be interesting to see how long it takes BW to complete the job - but to date - Well done BW