Wednesday, July 13, 2016

More expense as we head up the Oxford.

It’s right what they say about boats – a hole in the water you throw money into! Or the acronym BOAT stands for Bring Out Another Tenner (or twenty, or thirty… or thousand!).

Our batteries had been going slowly downhill since last winter. Three of them are 2½ years old, but one I replaced only last autumn. They are standard flooded lead acid, so that’s not bad considering they are in continuous use and rarely get hooked up to a “proper” charger. But I knew we’d need new ones before winter. So I had a cunning plan…

We left our Sunday night mooring at around half-ten on Monday, timing it nicely so Drinkwater’s Lift Bridge was kept open by the crew of a boat coming the other way.

Ta, chuck!

With only a short day ahead of us we weren’t in any rush, but were helped by a chap walking the towpath opening the bottom gates on both Kidlington Green and Roundham Locks.

The old boatyard at King’s Bridge, which has been in a steadily worsening state of decay for several years, has now disappeared. The area has been cleared – for development?

Leaving Kidlington Green Lock

Did you know that there are more bridges over the Oxford Canal than any other in England?
There are 243 numbered bridges over the navigation, and then some that are not numbered as well as some that have a suffix a, b, etc.
The Leeds and Liverpool comes in second place, with Office Lock Bridge, just above Granary Wharf in Leeds, as Bridge 226. And third place is the Trent and Mersey, running the L&L close but just missing out with Preston Brook Tunnel known as Bridge 214.
The Grand Union, in it’s entirety, would boast considerably more, But as it’s made of of several canals, built at different times by different companies, the bridge numbering isn’t consecutive from Birmingham to London. The old Grand Junction Canal runs from Bridge 1, Butchers Bridge, in Braunston, to Bridge 210, crossing the tidal creek just below Thames Locks.
With modern additions, though, the highest bridge number does not now indicate the most crossing points.

We pulled in just before Thrupp, alongside the Jolly Boatman carpark.
This was part 1 of the cunning plan. Parts 2 –4 involved checking with the pub that it was OK for vans to deliver to us here – check. Then ordering a Tesco delivery and arranging for Alpha Batteries to ship to us here, by next day courier. Double check.

Tescoman came soon after 9; he should have been a little earlier but went to the Boat Inn instead of the Jolly Boatman…

That done I stripped out the old batteries, discovering that the base of the compartment had given way under the weight. Quite a bit of disassembly was required to refit it, but by lunchtime we were waiting, with just one battery on for the fridge and water pump. I also reconfigured the fixing strips in the base that stop the batteries from moving around.
I’d ordered 4 100Ah AGM batteries, to replace the four 110Ah FLA ones. The loss of 40Ah isn’t going to bother us, the difference in cost for that 10Ah per battery is considerable, £20 each. And with a deal on I got the 4 for £320. I’ve gone down the AGM route ‘cos they’re supposed to last longer. I’ll let you know…

The reduction in capacity results in a reduction in size, too. With moving things around in the battery bay I’m able to keep the 6 month old lead acid in there too. It won’t be linked to the AGMs, they’ll look after the domestic side of things. But I may link it to the starter, through a split-charge relay. I can then dedicate it to the Webasto heater. Maybe.

So today we pushed on again, through Thrupp and Aubrey’s Lift Bridge on the awkward turn.

Thrupp on a sunny morning

Mags pulled through the bridge and waited just beyond while I went and disposed of the rubbish. There was quite a bit, those batteries were extremely well packed!
There was no point in trying to power the boat around the corner against the breeze, so I walked the fore end round until we were facing the right direction, and jumped back on.

After the bridge.
There were two boats on the services, so we couldn’t get on there.

We had another, manually operated, lift bridge to deal with before arriving at the shallow Shipton Weir Lock, our first of the day.IMG_0797
The curious lozenge shaped chamber is to allow considerably more water downhill than a conventionally sized one would. This water is needed to supply the locks downhill, other wise the Thrupp pound would run dry as boats passed through the 7½ foot Roundham Lock.

Just under a mile of the River Cherwell gave me a chance to open the engine up a bit before dropping back down to tickover to pass the rows of moored boats above Baker’s Lock, passing through Enslow.

Baker’s Lock

Does water always go down the plughole in an anti-clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere?

Whirlpool caused by an open ground paddle at Baker’s Lock

Apparently, the Coriolis Effect, which makes cloud masses rotate clockwise south of the equator and AC to the north is just too weak to affect small bodies of water like the kitchen sink. But how about a canal, eh? I’m going to keep watch in the future…

Enslow Bridge

Above Pigeon Lock is the eccentric Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden.20160713_115451
A little odd, but typically English!

Even the hens have posh accommodation!

A heavily wooded section, following the Cherwell on the west side, ends above Northbrook Lock.
We had to wait a couple of minutes for a boat to come down.

Bosky bit…

Northmoor Lock

At 9’3” deep, Dashwood Lock is the deepest so far. We caught up with a boat so had to empty it before we could enter.

Coming up Dashwood.

There was a small cruiser moored on the end of the piling above the lock landing, but still plenty of room for us. This is where we’ll spend the night. It’s pleasantly quiet after two nights close to the Banbury Road!

Locks 5, miles 6¾

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