Wednesday, 20 May 2015

At Crick, poor internet

We've made it and the rest of the gang have mostly turned up too. But the phone signals are worse than ever this year. There used to be an EE signal here, but not anymore. So no blog for a while, I'm afraid. I'll be back as soon as I can!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Good planning

Having clocked that the weather was going to start out not too bad and then deteriorate as the day went on, we devised a cunning plan and put it into effect. This involved getting up at six and dressing whilst drinking the first thing tea, then boating round to the Stop House water point to fill the tank and dump rubbish. We ate breakfast whilst there, then carried on to the foot of the locks, arriving just after seven.

There being no sign of any following boat, we decided to carry on up the flight on our own, Sheila steering and your correspondent twirling the windlass. The first two locks were with us. I duly drew the nearside ground paddle first, which in theory should pin the boat against that lock wall. Instead, the bow drifted slowly across until it nudged the offside wall and stayed there until I'd drawn the full paddle, when it drifted back.

We reckon that if the water level is a bit low, the flow from the culvert doesn't pass under the boat and reflect off the opposite wall as it should, instead pushing the bow across.

No matter, it wasn't a big deal. More problematic was the very low state of the pound between 2 and 3, the Nelson Pound named for the Admiral Nelson pub by lock 3. Sheila managed to persuade Sanity Again to get along it, though she said it was like boating through treacle. Once mostly in the lock, I hauled on the centreline to complete the entry. We crossed with another boat between 3 and 4 and were joined by the lockie who was sorting out the levels by running water down from above.

On we went, meeting another boat above 4, who were told to wait until the levels were right. A volockie was in control at the top lock, so altogether an interesting transit of the flight.

Sheila carried on steering as I started the washing machine, pre-loaded yesterday. I didn't quite finish adding hot water before we got to the tunnel mouth, but took over steering just after we entered. We crossed with a couple of boats inside, neither of them in the dog leg for once, and emerged just over thirty minutes later. It was raining a bit, but soon stopped.

We had an uneventful run to the junction, thinking of carrying on a bit as the machine hadn't quite finished rinsing, but the wind was rising and the clouds threatening, so when we saw a space on the towpath just beyond the visitor moorings, we hopped onto it. It's been chucking it down on and off ever since and I've had to light the fire.

Cala with Peter and Gill on board have been past this afternoon; we should see them tomorrow when we get to Crick. I've also had a phone call from Peter Mason, who plans to arrive with hired van and marquee on Thursday morning. I should be able to blog as usual tomorrow, but after that it may be a bit hit and miss, depending on work and social commitments.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Staying put in the rain

This is going to be a short one, as I'm feeling quite dozy, can't think why. We did the right thing by not moving today as it fairly chucked it down most of the morning. We did get some jobs done, loading the washing machine ready to run tomorrow and the like, but otherwise took it pretty easy.

Just after half twelve we had a text from John and Nev to say that they were in the pub, so we got all togged up and walked round there. It was a good meal and a good old session, not finishing until gone three. The Boathouse has had its good times and less good but it seems to be doing well at the moment.

It looks like the weather will be better earlier tomorrow, so a very prompt start is indicated in the hope of doing most of the boating before it gets too windy.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Balmy Day at Braunston

What a lovely day, the kind that rewards you for living on a boat, as you're guaranteed to be aboard when it comes. The sun has shone, mostly, we've had some pleasant exercise and then done a bit of boat cleaning this afternoon to give us that shiny halo feeling. Admittedly, the guy on the boat in front spent a lot of the morning running a Honda suitcase genny (neeeeeeeeeeeeeee........) so as to power the wet and dry vac he was using to clean his bilges out and presumably other bits of his boat, too.

But we didn't want to sit out in the well deck anyway just then, as the drying rack was occupying much of it. Instead we walked up the hill, bought bread, new potatoes and a lettuce in the shop and came back via Nibbits Lane to Butchers Bridge and so along the towpath to the boat.

The genny had been put away by lunchtime so it didn't disturb my post-prandial ponder. Well rested, we set to and cleaned the front of the boat, washing down the bulkheads, the foredeck and the well deck and polishing the main bulkhead with the Bullet carnauba spray. It's OK, but nothing like as good as using Craftmaster Carnauba. It just doesn't get a good depth of wax on to the surface.

There have been loads of walkers and boaters going past so there's been the odd occasion for a chat as well.

Tonight, grilled chicken fillets, tabouli and green salad. It's going to rain tomorrow, a lot, so we'll stay put and rendezvous with John and Nev, probably in the Boathouse pub which is having one of its better times at the moment, we're told.

We'll work up the flight first thing Tuesday; it's scheduled to get very windy later in the day, so we'll see if we can get to Norton Junction and get tied before it gets too bad. Then on Wednesday we'll finish the trip by working up Watford, through Crick Tunnel and on to the towpath by Crick marina.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

It's Saturday

So this must be Braunston...

Things actually went well to plan today; we had a moderately relaxed start and were boating just on half seven. It took forty minutes to get up the flight, all the locks being with us and no sign of another boat moving. Once through them all, Sheila decided to steer for a while (her foot is really a lot better) and I went to get the washload under way.

The only thing was, the water wasn't yet hot enough, so I started the Hurricane running to move things on a bit and did look out duty for half an hour. Once the heating had finished, I got the washing machine running and then divided my time between chatting to Sheila at the back and looking out at the front. I took over steering after a while and we plodded merrily on through the rolling fields to the hub of the southern system.

We arrived just as the wash programme finished. A boat was leaving our favourite mooring, just through Bridge 89, and we managed to squeeze the seventy foot of Sanity Again into the space. Braunston is a bit busier than it was this time last year, but not heaving. We had time to walk up to the village and buy meat (the butcher recognises us every year) and some salad stuff from the village shop.

After lunch we took a walk to Midland Chandlers the scenic way, along the towpath to the second road bridge. We found Hadar tied on the 48 hour moorings and had a good old natter with Jo and Keith. We've not seen them for a long while for the very good reason that they are only just back out boating after spending a year tied on the Saltisford Arm. Keith had a very close call with the guy with the big scythe 15 months ago but is well fit now.

Finally tearing ourselves away, we finished our walk and got two replacement buffers for the door catches on the stern doors. I only needed one, but buying two increases the chances that the first one won't follow its predecessors into the cut.

Since then, we've had a quiet time on board. We'll stay put tomorrow and then carry on up the flight and through the tunnel on Monday. Unless the weather looks as if it will be better on Tuesday, in which case we'll stay an extra day. Or not. It depends.


Friday, 15 May 2015

A short day

As planned, we had a fairly relaxed start and then went shopping to Tesco. The remainder of the shopping opportunities here are severely curtailed for the moment, as most of the retail park opposite is under redevelopment as Elliot's Field. Only the Halfords is left, but is due to be joined by Marks and Sparks, Debenhams and a variety of other clothes shops.

We got most of what we wanted and carried it all back to the boat in our daysacks as usual. Having stowed it, we got ready to set off; Martin came back for a further chat and planned to pull Ice Breaker back to use the space we were vacating.

It's a short half hour from Brownsover to Clifton Cruisers. They were in turn-round mode for their hire fleet, but cheerfully did us a pump out whilst Sanity Again was breasted up oustide one of the hire boats. It's an adequate rather than outstanding pump out; a powerful pump but no rinsing undertaken, so the outcome was much as we achieve at Mercia. It cost £15.

Another short run brought us to the foot of Hillmorton, where we've tied on the new Armco before the final bend, as usual.

This afternoon saw us take a walk up the flight. The towpath side bottom lock is still stopped for repairs, so only one side of the usually double flight is available. On the way back we had a towpath natter with the crew of The Cat's Whiskers, fellow Mercia moorers and soon to be fellow lodge owners, having bought plot 5 in front of Walnut.

It will be another half seven start tomorrow, it being about three hours from here to Braunston, where we should arrive around half ten, the optimum time for finding a mooring when the cut is as busy as it is this week. I just hope that the weather continues to be as pleasant as it has been today.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

A little bit of boating

As we weren't planning to go anywhere today, we took our time getting up and eating breakfast. The weather had not yet turned unpleasant, however, and Sheila pointed out that by moving to Brownsover today we could shop first thing tomorrow. If we stayed at Newbold, we'd have to wait until later before moving in order to stand a chance of finding somewhere to tie, it being only about half to three quarters of an hour from one place to the other.

After a bit of discussion, I agreed with her and we set off just after nine. It was indeed just half an hour to Brownsover, during which time the sky clouded over and it grew cooler. There was plenty of space when we arrived and we were able to find a couple of good loops of line to tie to through the rather awkward concrete pile and iron rail washwall.

As we buttoned up the boat again, the rain did indeed start, so we've been inside pretty well ever since. It's been a day for pottering about with various jobs. I've decided that my anxieties about the batteries were ill-founded as they were charging perfectly normally today; I left the engine running for a bit after we'd stopped, since there wasn't a lot of sun.

When I apologised to Sheila for being so neurotic, she kindly said that after forty plus years, she's quite used to it...

After lunch we heard a toot from a boat horn and, looking out, saw Martin on Ice Breaker passing. He's tied just beyond us and came in for a cup of tea and a discussion about some Braidbar stuff. He won't be at Crick this year, though we will have the pleasure of his company at the Owners' Weekend, where he is a tower of strength in getting things rigged up.

We've had the stove on most of the day, a great comfort when it's so cold and damp out there. No matter, the forecast is for dry weather tomorrow. It's a 24 hour Tesco here (though almost all of the Retail Park on the other side of the road has disappeared and is now a building site) so we'll get up early, shop and go on to Clifton Cruisers for a pump out when they open at nine.

After that, we'll move on to the foot of Hillmorton for the night.