Wednesday, 7 June 2017

End of the line

Anyone looking out of the window this week mught just have noticed the odd gale and torrential rain.  We certainly noticed it as we were trying to get up the 12 locks of the Bosely flight.  With the forecast as it is, it seemed a good idea to get into our marina today as it looks like the only respite from strong winds.  You might think that a fifteen ton boat would shrug off a little breeze.  Nope, she sails sideways with ease, normally just when you don't want it, like when coming alongside and you jump ashore with the one centre line in your hand trying to pull her in.  In top of that becasue of our layout the boat needs to come into her berth stern first.  Anyone who has driven one of these things knows that steering them backwards is hit and miss at best.  Our last boat had a bow thruster which simplifies things greatly.  Jacaranda doesn't have one.  So it was with a little trepidation because it was still quite windy that I took her into the marina this afternoon.  My incredibly cunning plan was to turn across the wind, upwind of the berth and let the breeze set her down so that I could simply reverse in at the last moment.  You can always rely on the wind to catch you out.  Normally its a gust just when you don't need/want it.  This time it simply said 'sod it mate you're on your own' and died completely.  Still with a bit of throttle, rudder and prayer we made it in.  So, we will be sorting things out for the next few days and back home at the weekend sometime.  Next exciting adventure will probably be in August for a week or two.

All snug in the marina.  Actually my reversing in was pretty good so of course no one saw us do it.  Why is it only when you cock things up that you have an audience???

Sunday, 4 June 2017


Well 'Heartbreak Hill' actually.  Its the name given to the section of the Trent and Mersey between Middlewich and Kidsgrove.  In fact its nothing of  the sort and one of my favorite bits of canal (although there are 41 locks to navigate).  The locks are unusual as they are twin set ups with two narrow locks side by side.  Most are still functional although in a couple of places one has fallen into disrepair.  It means the flow of traffic is very smooth.  However, more importantly the gates are light in operation, the paddles easy to operate and they fill very quickly but without lots of turbulence.  Why can't all locks be like these??  The countryside is also very pretty and we were blessed with decent weather.  The only problem now is that because we weren't able to go down the Anderton lift and onto the River Weaver we are ten days achead of schedule.  As I write we have just come onto the Macclesfield canal and should be at our marina on Thursday.  We're not too fussed as the weather is forecast to be pretty average for the next week.  So we'll probably head home at the weekend as long as I can prise the keys to my car from the grip of my daughter in law who has been using it for the last two months.  Although we are early, we will still have been on board for over ten weeks and its time I got to grips with a golf club again.  Sunday lunch was the Rising Sun in Scholar Green.  A 8.5 was awarded - someone needs to come oop north and teach these foreigners how cook roast spuds.
So an exciting week ahead and who knows maybe that IRA sympathising, spendthrift, Marxist, Worzle Gummidge won't get the keys to number 10!

The locks are all quite deep

But its like going up in a lift

Women drivers (I'd better say no more)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Not quite such a cunning plan after all

Yesterday we had to do 'navigation'. In other words we had to turn right off the Bridgewater and on to the Trent and Mersey canal.  Not quite as easy as it sounds as there wasn't the usual signpost but we managed to get it right (I am an RYA Yachmaster (Ocean) after all).  Maybe the sign was in the Preston Brook tunnel which is the first thing you come across on this canal.  Its quite nice to be back on a narrow canal, ie one which can only take narrow boats because of the size of the locks and bridge holes.  Mind you, each bridge is on a bend and each bend is hidden by an overhanging tree so it can get quite amusing as there always seems to be boat coming the other way just at these points.
We spent last night at the 'the breach'  a refurbished part of the canal which is on an embankment and which collapsed a few years back and dumped a squillion gallons of canal water into the neighbouring famers field.  Its all fine now and they've even put in mooring rings which makes a nice change as on the last two canals we needed to bang in sticks nearly everywhere we went.
Anyway, as I said in previous posts, our intention was to go down the famous Anderton boat lift onto the River Weaver for a few days.  There's a beer festival on at the bottom of the lift and we were warned that the place was absolutely full.  As usual it was all b****ks and there was plenty of space.  the only problem is that as its a bank holiday weekend and there's the beer festival, the lift is booked solid until Tuesday and we are on a 48 hour mooring.   So next time perhaps.  It means we will probably arrive at Macclesfield early although there are a few options we can consider - of course this will mean making a 'decision' at some time, something I strenuously try to avoid doing.

From the top it doesn't look all that exciting

But from below its really quite spectaclear

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Escape to the country

So with all the conspiracy theories about the owners of the Bridgewater canal not sticking to the times promised to re open their canal, we were really looking forward to what we would find when we got there.  Would it really be open?  Would there be hundreds of boats all waiting for the starting gun??  Would there be riots??? Er - it was open and we were the only boat in sight.  OK there was a large barge blocking the way which the workmen immediately moved for us but to call it all an anti-climax would not be an exaggeration.
So off down the Bridgewater for a long day, as you really need to get past the big, sweaty town of Manchester before mooring up.  Seven hours late we found an idylic spot near the National Trust estate of Dunham Massey.  Today we've moved on to the pretty little town of Lymm and tomorrow we're aiming to get to the top of the Trent and Mersey canal at Preston Brook.  After that, we hope to get to Anderton for Saturday where the famous boat lift is lurking and maybe take a trip down it onto the river Weaver.  There are no stoppages in the way now (fingers crossed) so should be in our marina on the Macclesfield as planned towards the end of June.
The rearward view of the new bridge supports, the building of which caused the canal to be shut for three months.  Note all the other boats in sight!!!

Crossing the rather larger Manchester Ship canal

The view from the stern on an absolutely stunning evening.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Bridgewater Grand Prix

Despite the weather doing its best to spoil our plans we managed to get the boat blacked and back into the water a day ahead of schedule.  It was particularly good  as when on the hard, the boat sits level but in the water she slopes down towards the stern. The net result was that the shower wouldn't drain properly and half the doors kept coming open.  Still a good chuck up to the marina who did an excellent job at short notice.  We've now moved down the canal and are in the little village of Parbold for the weekend along with quite a few other boats who are all heading in the same direction and who all want to go through the Bridgewater canal when it is due to open.  When we were talking about this we thought it might be a good idea to hang back a few days to let the rush die down.  However, every boat we have spoken to seems to have had the same idea.  It wouldn't surprise me that no one goes through when it actually opens and the rush is several days later.
A reasonable Sunday lunch in the Windmill pub but it seems that, although they are good at Yorkshire puds up here, they are not so good at roast potatoes so only an 8 was scored. We were hoping for more because we stopped here on the way up and Lindsay my daughter and her fiance joined us for the night and we had a really excellent supper there.
So fingers, toes and everything else crossed that the canal opens as advertised. Then hopefully a dash through to the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Anderton Boat Lift which is on our narrow boat bucket list.

The start of the Grand Prix with many boats moored and all heading in the same direction.  We are still miles away from the stoppage and its only going to get busier.

As we came through a swing bridge the skipper of the boat coming the other way said that there were lots of Kingfishers on the next section and there was one in this tree.  I've even bought a camera with a special high speed bird feature just so I can get a photo of one of the elusive little sods.  So here is a photo of a Kingfisher hiding in a tree.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

High and dry

One of the problems of being in Liverpwewl was that the water was clear and I could see the underwater sides of the boat and realised that it really needed repainting.  Now, its normally quite a pain to book the boat in to get it 'blacked' and there is only one marina that can do it between here and the stoppage on the Bridgewater canal.  So it was with some surprise that when I rang them, not only were they able to fit us in but we are the only boat they have out of the water.  It may be that as no boats can get up here at the moment that demand is low.  So good luck for us, the only problem is that they have no cover for the boats and so rain becomes an issue and of course we are now at the end of the long dry period and rain is forecast on and off for the next week.  Although we can live on the boat whilst its out of the water we've managed to scrounge a bed for the weekend at our kids/grankids place.  All good fun - including our 4 year old grandaughter's birthday party tomorrow (should be fun......).   Hopefully back in the water at the end of the week and then the Bridgewater might be open and we can be on our way again.

A skanky bottom.  

So with not a lot to do we spent a day at Southport.  The pier is so long we needed a train to get back from the end.  Its an interesting place but don't think we'll go back.  I have a happy week ahead touching up all the paint that I can't normally get at while the yard is painting the hull.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The good, the bad and the peculiar.

So here we are in Liverpwewl (seems that's how it should be pronounced) and its actually pretty damned good.  We are in a large basin in the old dock area with free electricity and waste disposal and  in the heart of the city with bars, restuarants and shopping right by us.  There's even a steam fair going on on the dock which will keep the grandkids entertained tomorrow when they descend on us. Mind you, the trip in was eventful.  For some weird reason only 6 boats are allowed in and out daily and we all had to meet up before the first swing bridge 9 miles out.  There are two of these and they are operated by the River Trust staff.  A little further on is a pedestrian swing bridge and just past it a disused railway bridge.  As we approached it, there was a young kid of about 14 standing on it and as we got closer, he and his little scrofulous chums, who were hiding, started throwing stones at us.  No damage done but if they try it on the way out I will have my camera at the ready.  Apparently you are no longer allowed to stop and beat the S**t out of the little buggers these days. 
When we arrived, I thought I'd better just check the propeller and found half a ton of plastic wrapped around it.  I thought it was vibrating just a bit.
Although we have free shore power I'm using it sparingly as I don't have a galvanic isolator (it stops boats acting like batteries to each other).  The water in this basin is salty and its the first time I've actually seen bubbles fizzing off a sacrifical anode.
The real oddity here is that there is room for 56 boats and currently there are only 15 berthed.  With a policy of 6 in and out a day it will never be full.  Sometimes I wonder what the Canal and River Trust management are smoking because they are really missing a trick.  Still not our problem and its a fantastic place.  Someone has spent some serious money on the city since I was last here in 1999.  People may say we've just come out of a major recession - I don't think anyone has told Liverpool that.
Off on Monday back to the quiet life and as we will be going back down a canal we now know, we will be able to plan our stops in a more informed way - not the least by having seen the vast number of canalside pubs on this stretch.  We, like about 1000 other boaters, want to get through the next canal, the Bridgewater that joins up the system around Manchester but as it's shut until 24 May we are going to have to go really slowly for the next few weeks.

Jacaranda snuggled into an almost empty basin, mind you the size of the swans is enough to put anyone off!
The first of probably many cream teas. Mind you, the landlord of the Globe Inn at Fowey would not be happy but it is Liverpool and so its not surprising that these softy northerners don't really know how to make proper clotted cream or decent scones.  And just to prove it really is Liverpwewl - that's the Liver building in the backgound with the two large 'Liver Ducks' on the top.
A busy dock in  busy city.

I thought the prop was vibrating a bit.