Thursday, 27 April 2017

Annual Report

Here are the figures for this year.  546 miles in the year isn't too bad; the number of locks, at 257 is surprisingly low.  I put this down to the fact that we spent quite a bit of our big trip in September on the Trent, where there are miles and miles between locks; some years we've done more locks than that in our big trip on its own.  74 nights on board is pretty good.

On to the waterways travelled this year:

  • Ashby Canal
  • Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (detatched portion)
  • Coventry Canal
  • Cranfleet Cut
  • Erewash Canal
  • Fosdyke Navigation
  • Grand Union Canal Leicester Section
  • Grand Union Canal Mainline
  • North Oxford Canal
  • Nottingham-Beeston Canal
  • River Soar
  • River Trent
  • Trent and Mersey Canal

Monday, 24 April 2017


A quick trip to Blisworth today for a boat test -- in, frankly, less than idwal weather. The forecast had been fine until yesterday when things changed a bit. As we tried tomposition the boat in front of the mill for photos, I could see a boat heading towards us through the bridge. When it was a fair way off, I recognised it as Waiouru; just time for a quick hello to Tom and Jan as they passed. After that it was a run up to the junction and back.

Once the boat test was over I drove down to our marina to check that Briar Rose was ok. My route too me over Blisworth tunnel with its telltale vent chimneys.

Briar Rose was fine. I was delighted to discover that the batteries were on 100 per cent. Last time we left the boat, I left the shoreline off, so we've been relying on the solar panel.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Hartland on test

The May edition of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test of the Brayzel boat, Hartland.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Reedley Marina

Another fairly early start, as today's boat test was the furthest north we've been for one. I drove to Towcester and parked the car, and Andy the photographer picked me up at 7am. The weather most of the way was fairly murky, but once we were into Lancashire we could see the edge of the cloud out to the west. We got to Reedley Marina at around 10.30 and as the weather was still very cloudy and dark we did all the internal shots and note-taking. The winding hole was 45 minutes away, so at about 12.30 we decided to set out, in the hopes that by the time we turned we sky would have cleared a bit. This strategy worked pretty well, as conditions improved the whole way, and by the time we were back at the marina it was turning into a nice afternoon. We reckon the photos will also be sunny enough.
The Leeds and Liverpool canal is completely new to me, and the small stretch we did today has a lot going for it. There are views of the hills, old mills, and mile posts telling you how far you are from both Leeds and Liverpool.
It was around 3pm by the time we left, and past 6pm by the time I was back at the boat -- so a pretty long day.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Monday work

An even earlier start this morning, as I needed to catch the 0500 train from Wolverton to London. There was a frost, and I had to scrape the car windscreen. I was back at the boat by half-four this afternoon, and it had clearly been sunny because the batteries were up to a hundred per cent thanks to the solar panel. Not quite such an early start tomorrow, but it will be a day with a long journey in it.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sunday work

An early drive to work this morning -- and a bit later Adrian headed home.  I've come back to the boat, as I have a boat test later in the week, so this is really just here to log a night on board.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Birthday Weekend: Day 2

We had a very nice evening last night. Somewhat to our surprise, Nigel turned up; Matthew was feeling so ill that only his mum would do, so Catherine stayed at home. The three of us chatted about boats, trains, garden birds, and a whole load of other things. The food at the Walnut Tree was, as usual, excellent.

This morning was blustery and chilly again. We set off at about 8.30, travelled slowly down to the tunnel, and went through without seeing another boat. At Stoke Bruerne we spotted Waiouru moored up, and Tom looked out for a brief chat. A boat had just come up the top lock and one was going down, so we joined him. It was a single hander. Once the boats had started descending, I went and knocked on Kathryn's door. She emerged with a couple of her famous cheese scones, still warm from the oven. We had only the briefest of chats today, but we both enjoyed a scone as we went down the flight. By now, Tom had arrived armed with a windlass, and kindly helped us all the way down. It meant the single hander was able to stay on his boat, which he was very grateful for. Here's Tom, working.

Progress seemed a bit slow, as we had a boat going down in front of us, and two hire boats in front of them. These were mob handed, yet very inefficient -- lots of running about, but very little gate or paddle action at times. We also started meeting boats coming up, which included a lock of three small boats. With us, the boat in front, and the three, one pound ended up with six boats in it.

Despite it seeming slow going, we actually made very good time down the locks. And as we were helping our single hander, and the boat in front, we all felt we'd done good deeds en route. It was about eleven o'clock by the time we reached the bottom, so we moored up and put the kettle on. Tom joined us for tea as a reward for his hard word (unless it's his Jan reading this, in which case he was working hard the whole time!)

Once Tom had headed back up the flight it was almost lunchtime, so we decided to stay put and have lunch. We set off again just before 1pm, in sunshine but more strong winds. There were lots of boats on the move, many of them from the Lionhearts moorings in Milton Keynes. The turn into the marine was difficult because of the strength of the wind, but at least it was blowing straight down the pontoons. That makes it a lot easier to spin round and reverse into our berth. Adrian said it was one of the best entries he'd seen.

Once the boat was secure we drove up to Heyford Fields to collect the other car. Since then we've washed the pontoon side of the boat (it was filthy from the hull having been pressure washed -- I gave the other side a quick wash down yesterday), we've filled the water tank, and we've taken everything off the well deck and given that a good clean too. In spite of a forecast for heavy thunder showers, we've had only about five rain drops. Tomorrow, I'm got an early shift at work, while Adrian will go home.

8 miles, 7 locks. (13 miles, 7 locks)