Monday 23 March 2015

Out of the water

Today was the day Briar Rose was coming out of the water for blacking, so first thing I packed the car with all the stuff that was going home.  Then it was a matter of getting from the mooring outside the marina, to the slipway inside.  The first bit of reversing went well, but once I was opposite the entrance to the marina, the wind pushed me over to the far side, and I had quite a job getting away again.

One of the things we liked about Heyford Fields was their method of getting boats in and out of the water.  It's much gentler than a crane.  The boat was positioned in the centre of the slipway, while a cradle was reversed underneath.

Once everything is in position, hydraulic rams lift the stern up a bit.

When the tractor drives up the slope. the boat follows, pretty much on a level.

Having run through the list of jobs we want done while the boat is there, I went for a sneak preview of the boat Boating Leisure Services are building for the Crick Boat Show.  They won last year, and will have another very strong entry this year.

Before I left, the pressure washing of the hull had started.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Blacking Cruise: Day 2

We both slept very well, and woke to a much brighter day.  We had a relaxed start, and by the time we were ready to set off, anglers had set up all around us.  There were boats just leaving the first lock, which meant the top one was also in our favour.

We had a quick chat with Kathryn at the top lock before she dashed off to a meeting.  Further along towards the tunnel, the tow path is being re-done.

Blisworth tunnel was pretty wet.  We passed one boat as we went through.  The other side, the sun was still shining, making the best of the Northants countryside.

We moored up just short of Bugbrooke for lunch, then carried on through the village to Heyford Fields marina, where we're having the blacking done.  We moored up on the outside of the marina, then we drove in Adrian's car back to Thrupp Wharf, where he dropped me off.  He's now gone to London for work, while I drove back to Heyford Fields, stopping for a bit of extra shopping on the way -- all the things we've realised over the past two days that need topping up.

It's been really quite warm in the sun this afternoon, and I've been outside chatting to our temporary neighbours, and James from the boat yard.  Tomorrow, I'm hoping to see Briar Rose come out the water.

8 miles, 2 locks.  (13 miles, 7 locks)

Saturday 21 March 2015

Blacking cruise: Day 1

Adrian came up to the boat yesterday afternoon, arriving about 6.30 having done shopping on the way.  I came up after work, arriving about 11.30.  Adrian had found the boat surprisingly warm -- and had done the little bit of dewinterising necessary, and got the fire going.

Over the winter, a lot of work has been done on the Navigation Inn next to the marina, but there's still a lot to do.

This morning, we started by doing a car shuffle, taking one to tomorrow's destination.  We got the boat ready to cruise -- but when we turned the key, even with a lot of pre-heating and a some throttle, we couldn't get the engine to start.  There was an ominous clicking noise among all the others, and we feared for the starter motor.  After a number of attempts, and looking under the engine boards, Adrian phoned RCR.  We put the kettle on and killed time until an engineer arrived at almost 2pm.  He turned the key and listened a couple of times, then nodded sagely.  He prodded the stop button a few times, then tried again -- and the engine burst into life.  He said pressing the stop button like that would have freed the stop solenoid, and that it's always worth a try.  WW wondered whether he couldn't have suggested that on the phone, but we'll know to give it a go if it happens again.

So we set off at 2pm, in cold and breezy conditions.  There were lambs in the fields at Yardley Gobion.

The canal was much busier than we'd expected.  We passed eight boats coming the other way, between the marina and the locks at Stoke Bruerne.  They were pumping water into the canal from the Rover Tove below the locks.

A boat was coming out of the bottom lock as we approached.  We swapped with another boat at the next lock.  Adrian worked the bottom two, and then I did the next three.  We'd decided that the long pound would be a good place to stop, and by the time we got there it was 4.45pm and we were both pretty cold.  There was plenty of space, so we picked a spot on a straight section.  Another boat has arrived from the north, too.

Tomorrow is meant to be sunnier and less windy, which will be a plus.

5 miles, 5 locks.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Ventnor Farm

A quick dash up to Ventnor Farm Marina on the Grand Union in Warwickshire today, for a boat test.  It was actually sunnier than it looks in the photo, although hazy at the same time.  And windy, which made getting in and out of the marina a little tricky.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Destiny on test

The April edition of Canal Boat is in the shops and includes my review of Destiny.  This one is a bit different from normal, as it's a used boat.  The idea was to find something of around £50,000 that someone might spend some of their pension on for a retirement afloat.