Thursday, August 31, 2006

Friday 25th August to Thursday 31st August 2006
Mooring nothing to write home about, but at least we had access to shore power for most of the stay, and water and effluent disposal was available.
Actually, we spent little time on the boat as Dad had lent us his car for the duration. This allowed us to get out and about a lot more than we could have done otherwise.
On Sunday we went back to Redhill Marina near the Trent junction (a lot quicker by car, but nothing like as enjoyable) for a "Boat Show". A bit of a washout, but had a chat to a chap who makes cratch covers.
Took Nyree, Luke and Megan, and Dad and Ann on a short cruise up to Birstall and back on Tuesday, before the kids had to go back to school. Both Megan and Luke showed a natural gift on the tiller, although Luke could have done with being 18" taller! Pity the weather was showery, though.

Took advantage of Dad’s hospitality again, and borrowed his garage to make redesigned steps for the steerer, to allow standing inside the rear doors. Brother Andy then made me a 10" extension for my tiller bar so the reach is just right. This is fitted by tiller pin, so can be removed if desired.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday 24th August
Early rain delayed our start, so we finally got off at about 11:00. Uneventful run through the remaining 5 locks to Old Junction Boatyard, where we will be staying the next 7 days. Still more memories crowding back, shooting the weir at Sileby and tangling with irate landowners on the many loops of the old river while out in canoes.

Disused railway bridge, Mountsorrel

Mountsorrel Lock

Sileby Mill

River Wreake Junction (Melton Mowbray Navigation)

So we got here finally, although on a couple of occasions I had my doubts. We had to push a little harder than planned, so are looking forward to a few days off.

Moored up and switched off at 15:00.

6 miles, 5 locks.

The reason the updates on the journal are a bit patchy is that I am frequently having problems getting a reliable signal for my office card. I’ll have to look into some sort of antenna or signal booster.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday 23rd August 2006
Left at 09:40, weather grey but brightening. Forecast is for rain all day, which turned out to be occasional showers, so not so bad.
Through Derwent Mouth Lock, and out onto the Trent – wide open spaces!!

We have "done" all of the Trent & Mersey Canal, 93½ miles and 73 locks.

Shared the Sawley Lock, then turned right onto the Soar.
I had forgotten how attractive this lower stretch is. The contrast between the T&M and the river is great, with the canal frequently crossed by bridges and with buildings and wharves alongside. The river has far fewer crossings, and feels far more remote and "wild".

Normanton on Soar Church

Scarey emergency flood moorings!

Went up through Ratcliffe, Kegworth, Zouch, Bishop Meadow and Loughborough Locks, all broad of course on this navigation, and Kegworth being nearly 13 feet deep. These take a lot longer to pass than the narrow locks on the T&M we’d been used to.
All these names bring back memories of my canoeing days on this waterway.
Stopped for the night just South of Loughborough at Millers Bridge.

13 miles, 1 lock on the T&M, 1 on the Trent, 5 on the Soar.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tuesday 22nd August 2006

Tuesday 22nd August
A fine morning for a change led to a fine warm day. We were lucky enough to team up with Doug and Shirley on NB Selina Rose, so we ran easily through the 5 broad locks, including Shardlow.
Stopped just above Derwent Mouth Lock (No 1) for the night, at about 15:00.
Shardlow still shows signs of it’s extensive canal heritage, with warehouses and basins much in evidence. As the start of the canal which effectively links the Trent in the East to the Mersey in the West, it’s importance during the commercial use of the waterway cannot be underestimated. Even now, it is a very popular stopping point, shown by the number of boats moored, and the development of a brand new marina on the East side of the town.

We just have Derwent Mouth Lock tomorrow morning, then we are off artificial "cuts" and onto river navigations, apart from short sections of the Soar which have been straightened.

11½ miles, 5 locks.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday 21st August 2006
A night of heavy showers was followed by a miserable, drizzly morning. The quiet mooring we had chosen between Common and Bagnell Locks turned out to be busier than expected, we had the company of 4 other boats by 21:00!
Set off at about 09:15, with the weather steadily improving.
Between Alrewas and Wychnor there is a very pretty section where the river Trent joins the canal for a short period.
Went through Burton on Trent (resisted stopping to have a look around Marston’s Brewery, next time maybe) and finished the day at Willington. Good mooring, and good shopping.

Now the locks are getting further apart, we are able to make better time.
Between Dallow Lock in Burton and Willington there is a lock free section of 4½ miles!
They must have run out of bricks when they built Bridge 36!

But tomorrow we start on the broad locks of the Eastern end of the Trent and Mersey, which will probably slow us down. Luckily the gradient is far less steep now, so the locks are further apart, however some of them are pretty deep.

12¾ miles, 7 locks.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday 20th August 2006
Came across a long queue at Woodend lock, took 1½ hours. Bruno made several more friends, and would have been making pups if he hadn’t been hauled off!
Saw a splendid narrow beam Dutch Barge coming up. Had to explain to Margaret that they are beyond our budget.

Down to Fradley Junction past the Swan Inn, and filled up with water, and emptied the loo and rubbish.

Carried on through Common lock then stopped for the night. Spoke to another chap with one of those Kirstan dishes, am CERTAINLY going to get one.
Sunny evening, so I painted the flue collar and cap with heat proof enamel. Then it threw it down before the paint dried. That’s life, I suppose.

5¼ miles, 7 locks

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday August 19th 2006
Early start to make up for time lost yesterday, moved off at 08:10 and had a good run down to and through Hoo Mill lock. Pleasant rural countryside, then getting busy with moored boats as we approached Great Haywood.

Dropped off the rubbish at the junction, then had to queue for Haywood lock (¾ hr) and Colwich lock (1¼ hr). Gave Bruno a chance to make some more friends, though.

When we opened Colwich lock gates to leave the chamber, there was a boat trying to get in before we got out! Turned out that his gearbox cable had snapped so he couldn’t engage reverse gear to stop. Anyway, got him roped in to the quay and pressed on to Rugeley.
As we entered the town a local church started ringing it’s bells. I don’t think it was for us, though we found that Bruno liked them. He spent a good 10 minutes "singing" along! He often howls in tune with emergency vehicle sirens, but this was the first time he accompanied church bells!
We stopped at bridge 66 and topped up the stores from Morrisons, only 5 minutes from the canal, but it felt a lot longer carrying all that shopping.
Finished the day at Handsacre at about 18:30, our longest day yet.

Saw some giant rhubarb near Little Haywood…

13½ miles, 5 locks.

PS. Came across Clive on NB Blue Moon again. He was the chap who gave us a tow the previous day. Noticed he was using a Kirstan mini satellite dish and asked him how it performed. He said he’d been out for 3 months, and only failed to pick up a signal once, because of buildings. I’d bought a 12 volt digibox and a cheap dish, and hadn’t been able to set it up once! Something else for the shopping list, I guess.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday August 18th
Woke up to heavy showers and thunderstorms, so decided to stay put for a while. Spent some time cataloguing pictures and watching boats going past with umbrellas over the steerers.
Set off about 12:50 with a plan to get past Great Haywood, but after abot 40 minutes heard a rubbing noise under the counter which rapidly developed into a squeak.
Disengaged the drive and the sound went away so lifted the weed hatch access and was met with a cloud of smoke. The stern gland had tightened and got so hot it melted the nylon grease tube!
So there we are drifting in the middle of the canal, engine OK but unable to go into drive. Started poling to the bank in order to at least get tied up, when a kind gentleman called Clive on NB Blue Moon turned up and offered us a tow down to the next lock, where there was road access. Snapped his hand off!
Mike and Kevin from the yard arrived after being held up on the M6 by a load of vegetable oil spilled on the carriageway. They stripped and repacked the stern gland, pumped it full of grease and it seemed to be OK. Will monitor over the next few days.
No locks, 2 miles.
No pictures today, never got round to getting the camera out!
So I’ll explain the origin of the boat’s name. Seyella is an elven (elvish?) goddess, of Time and Destiny (see It was chosen because it seemed appropriate, there are no other "Seyellas" on the BW database, and it fits nicely in the name panel!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday August 17th
09:40 start in dull but dry weather. Easy run to Meaford and through the first 4. Then to Stone and worked through top 2.
Going down….. Stone lock 29.

Passed some beautifully restored working boats as we entered the town.

Stopped for water and fuel at Stone Boat Building. 87 litres of diesel put in, more than I expected, but we have been using the heating early morning and late evening. Popped in to the chandlery for a few odds and sods.
Locked through 28 and 27 in a heavy shower, so we pulled up just past bridge 93 and had a look at Stone’s excellent shopping.
Set off again in bright sunshine, stopped for the night after Aston lock, between bridges 89 and 88.
Wide views of the Trent valley from the lock.

6 miles, 5 locks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday August 16th
Another dull start, what happened to the summer?
Headed off about 09:20 and worked our way down through Stoke locks. Note the "down", we passed the summit at Harecastle and are now going downhill.
Pleased to see a lot of regeneration going on along the canalside; the run through Stoke is rather more attractive than we remember from several years ago.

Had to stop to go to the bank in the middle of Stoke – dicing with death crossing a major junction improvement scheme near lock 36.

Weather improving steadily through the day, moored up near the Wedgewood factory at Bridge 104.

Just the Meaford and Stone flights tomorrow, then most of the hard work is out of the way.
8 miles, 6 locks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday August 15th
Set off from Church Lawton about 09:15 and topped up at Red Bull to dilute the Wheelock water.
Passed Hardings Wood junction with the Macclesfield Canal leaving on the right.

Arrived at Harecastle Tunnel around 13:00 and had a 45 min wait.

Out of the south portal about 14:30.

Moored up near Middleport North of Stoke, next to Westport Lake. Good mooring, pleasant area.

Unlike Monday, there seemed to be little Northerly traffic, so we had empty each lock as we came to it.

4 miles, 6 locks, 2926 yds of tunnel.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday August 14 2006
Wish we hadn’t filled up at Wheelock, water is heavily chlorinated and almost undrinkable.
Easy day, moved off about 10:00, under the M6 and stopped for lunch and shopping including bottled water at Rode Heath (PO and stores near Bridge 139).
Passed a pair selling coal, fuel etc, wish I’d got the names.

Through Lawton and Church locks,

Moored at Church Lawton at 17:00

3¾ miles, 11 locks

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday August 13 2006
Caught up with some housework, pleased to say the vacuum cleaner works well off the invertor, but really drains the batteries!
Intending to stay another night, but there seems to be a concrete shelf sticking out from the bank below water level, and we scrape it everytime a boat goes past. Can’t get the fenders low enough to protect the hull, so we moved on.

Just a note about the boat specifications, for those who are interested.
The shell is 57’ long, of traditional design, and built by Jonathon Wilson in Sheffield.
I’ve already mentioned she was fitted out by Orchard Marina, just outside Northwich.
Propulsion is from a 42 HP Isuzu, driving the prop through a PRM 150 gearbox.
Electrical power is from 2x80 Amp alternators feeding to a Studer 1.8 KVA Sinewave invertor/charger, with a Sterling battery regulator to get the best out of the 4x110 AH Lead/Acid domestic batteries. We have an Aarrow solid fuel stove (which will get lit soon if the weather doesn’t improve!), and Eberspacher diesel fired central heating. Gas is used only for the cooker.

Anyway, we left about 14:30, and went through Wheelock and Malkins Bank Locks, with a stop for water, loo emptying and rubbish disposal at Wheelock.

Fed the ducks as we went along….

Had a bit of an argument with the top gate of Lock 62, which resulted in 3 broken glasses, 2 chipped mugs, and damage to Margarets pride. Must put a catch on the glass cabinet! Still, the bow fender is the right shape now.
Stopped for night near bridge 148 at 18:30.

4 miles, 10 locks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday 12th August 2006
Left Brambles Cutting about 09:30 heading for Middlewich. Going through the 5 locks gave us a chance to re-learn skills not practised for several years.

A bit chaotic around Kings Lock Basin where the Wardle Canal heads off westward to the Shroppie, with boats going in all directions!
Pulled in after Kings Lock to have a look around the chandlery, do a bit of shopping, and get fish and chips for lunch. Still as good as we remember!

Left and passed Rumps Lock and the Booth Lane 3. Pulled in for the night between Bridges 161 and 160.
Weather fine, dry but breezy, warm when the sun comes out.
8 Miles, 9 Locks.

I should explain, we are heading for the Midlands, specifically the Syston area on the Soar. My family comes from here, and my parents, 1 brother and 1 sister are still in the area. My other sister lives in New Zealand, and got married in July in Fiji, to a New Zealander. As none of our lot were able to go, we are having a reception anyway, on the 27th August. Any excuse for a party! Kay (sister) and Nyree (sister in law) are organising it, so it should certainly be different!
We’re going to look for a marina berth, and stop for maybe a week.

Friday, August 11, 2006

11 August 2006
It’s been a while since I set up this Blog, and a fair bit has happened in that time. First, we had a buyer for the house, no chain, cash available. So we went looking for a boat. We spent a week or so knocking about in Lancashire and Cheshire, and having looked at several "floating sheds", we were getting a little disillusioned when we came across a small boatbuilder in Northwich who had an almost completed fitout based on a Jonathon Wilson shell. They were prepared to do some minor modifications for us, and could have the boat ready in early August.
Then the house sale fell through. Just as we had agreed a price for the boat. Massive disappointment.
But within 48 hours, we had received another offer, and had agreed a price.
On the back of this, we finalised the deal for the boat and paid a deposit.
Skip forward now 8 (very eventful) weeks.
My notice at work completes 4th August, we’ve sold all the furniture, several cars, and had a garage sale to clear most of the rest. Margaret’s daughter in law, Christine, is going to car-boot the rest, with the proceeds going to PDSA.
We’ve been living in our touring caravan for 3 weeks, since the house sale went through. This is due to be collected on the 5th, and we take over the boat on the same day.
As boatbuilders seem to work to a different calender to the rest of us ordinary mortals – you’ve guessed it - the boat wasn’t ready.
We had no curtains, no hot water, no gas, and no 230 volt electricity. But we like a challenge, and by Tuesday 8th we were ready for a test run. We took the boat down the canal for a couple of miles, and she handled like a dream. We paid the balance and had 2 or 3 bottles of wine with Mike and Charmaine (from Orchard) to seal the deal.

Fuelled and Watered and ready to go!

We intended to move off in the morning, heading up to Preston Brook and back as a shakedown cruise, but were delayed by a faulty oven. The lads at the yard had it swapped pretty quickly, though, so we moved off and spent our first night near the Anderton lift.

Look out kids, Learner Driver!!

Wincham Wharf

Mooring at Marbury

I checked the fluid levels in the morning, and was surprised to see some oil in the containment below the engine, and the level ½ way between the H and L marks.
Anyway, I thought we’d press on, and went past the lift, through Barnton, Saltersford and Preston Brook tunnels, and spent (quite) a few quid in Midland Chandlers.

Anderton Lift from the T & M

Preston Brook Tunnel - 1239 Yards

Set off back to Northwich with the intention of reaching Orchard Marina by 5 PM, but after going through Saltersford tunnel the engine oil pressure had dropped to 20 PSI, and the pressure warning light/buzzer came on as I dropped the revs to moor up.
Switched off and called Mike, who sent Kevin out that evening. Problem diagnosed as a broken connector for the oil pressure gauge, replaced, oil topped up and run down to the boatyard for about midday on Friday. The lads checked for any further leaks, cleaned out the containment area, and we set off South at about 3 o’clock.
We stopped for the night near Brambles Cutting at around 5 o’clock. And so starts the "maiden voyage" to the Midlands.