Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Some useful advise for working Double Locks with one boat

Quite often when we are out cruising and working double locks many crews we meet at the locks tell us they hate them because they throw their boat around inside the lock.

We have developed our own system that works well for us but our good freinds Del and Al on Derwent6 recently published their method for handling a double lock that works really well.  I'm sure they won't mind me sharing their method and the link to their blog page that describes this method and I hope this will help others too:-

First open the ground paddle HALF WAY on the side that the boat is closest too.

Then open the gate paddle halfway on the opposite side to the boat and let the boat settle.

Then its back across the lock and wind the ground paddle up fully on the boat side.

Then across the lock again and open up fully the ground paddle which is opposite the boat side.

Then while your on that side open fully the gate paddle.

Now when the lock is over half full or covering the flow from the open gate paddle, then open the other gate paddle..

The boat should stay on the side that you opened the first ground paddle all the way till you open the gate to leave the lock..

If the boat leaves the lock slowly and you close the gate slowly the other gate should remain closed.

In the case of locks that only consist of ground paddles or just gate paddles (like those on the Shroppie near Chester) we open both half way until the cill is covered then open them fully.  

Saturday, 9 November 2019

A famous visitor but blink and you'll miss it

While I was filling with water yesterday morning, local boater Garry, on nbChugabug and who runs a Vlog (Chugabug) told me that the Flying Dutchman loco would be passing by the marina soon.  Of course I had to see this so armed with camera I, and many others, set up for the photo oppotunity on the bridge that allows access to the marina.

Train Spotters and boaters eagerly await the arrival of the Flying Dutchman

The name Flying Dutchman is actually the name of a passenger service from London Paddington to St Davids Exeter and this was named after The Flying Dutchman, a famous racehorse, which had won both the Derby and St. Leger in 1849. The racehorse was in turn named after the famous Dutch Admiral Tromp.  The name was later given to the loco used on that service.

The locomotive was built in Doncaster becoming the first locomotive of the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). It left the works on 24 February 1923 with number 1472. It was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class – the most powerful locomotives used by the LNER at that time.

By 1924, when it was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in London, the loco had been renumbered 4472 – and had been given the name ‘Flying Scotsman’ after the London to Edinburgh rail service which started daily at 10am in 1862.

The British Empire Exhibition made Flying Scotsman famous, and it went on to feature in many more publicity events for the LNER. In 1928, it was given a new type of tender with a corridor, which meant that a new crew could take over without stopping the train. This allowed it to haul the first ever non-stop London to Edinburgh service on 1 May, reducing the journey time to eight hours.

In 1934, Flying Scotsman was clocked at 100mph on a special test run – officially the first locomotive in the UK to have reached that speed.

Sure enough, an hour later, the famous locomotive appeared, although only visible for a few seconds as it was running at speed.

And here are a few photos of it

Appearing from behind the bridge

The Flying Dutchman approaches our bridge in a cloud of steam

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Day 8 Weaver Cruise - Homeward bound

Well, yet another apology for not finishing the Weaver cruise posts sooner so here goes....

Last time I posted we were moored above Cholmoneston Lock near Venetian marina.  It was grey and cloudy as we left with a bitter Northerly breeze blowing.  To allow us to warm up it was decided we would stop at the Cheese Factory for breakfast at Calverley.  We like eating there and its good value.

Preparing to get underway

After a super full English and pot of tea we were suitabely warmed up so next stop was the services at Calverley for water and to empty the cassette.  Word must have gone along the cut that the Nantwich services are closed for maintenance as the Calverely services were very busy.  We were lucky to get alongside just as one boat left.  Even as we moored up more boats came along and waited their turn.

Very busy at the Calverley services with boats queuing for their turn.

 Having completed the jobs needed at the services we next moved on to Bunbury locks.  Here too there was a queue but we did not have to wait long.  We locked Mal and Eric down first then we locked down with another boat that had turned up in the mean time.

Waiting our turn to descend the Bunbury locks

Meanwhile we had thought Smudge was on the mend but in fact he took a turn for the worse.  He was slow to get out of bed in the mornings and would not eat until lunchtime.  He just walked a few feet when walked, did what he need to, then returned to AmyJo and slept.

On Friday we took him to the vet and she took some blood for tests.  After examining him she thought he might have Addison's desease but the tests would confirm this.

Addison's disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn't produce enough of certain hormones. In Addison's disease, your adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, produce too little cortisol and, often, too little aldosterone.  Some sympthoms include (although in humans there are more):

Poor appetite
Excessive thirst 
Cool to touch

All of which Smudge seemed to be exhibiting

A very poorly Smudge is allow to sit in my chair by the fire.

That evening after making sure Smudge was settled we took ourselves off to the Shady Oak for their Halloween  party.  We had a ball and the costumes were fantastic. We stumbled back to AmyJo in the early hours.

Landlord Pete as Alfie Solomon in Peaky Blinders

Marie, Yvonne and Kas behind the bar

Graham as a dead convict

Eric the Nife

On Sunday morning Smudge was late rising preferring to lay in bed long after we got up.  He never asked to go out so I lead him out but he just lay in the grass by the boat in the rain.  Clearly he was very unwell. I carried him back in and let him sleep on the armchair.  By now I was really getting very worried.  Fortunately in the afternoon the vet rang with good news, Smudge's blood test came back OK and no signs of anything amiss, ruling out Addisons.  That was a big relief.

The vet then suggested he had a gut problem and suggested a course of Amsoprazole antacid.  I quipped I am on Lansoprazole but she agreed he could have 10mg twice a day of that.  

The vets diagnosis must have been correct for after 3 days on the Lansoprazole Smudge is once again his old self and eating well.  He's running around on walks and has his appetite back.  He has even started to want to play. You can imagine our relief. It really upsets me to see him suffer so much I confess I was close to tears for him.  I guess I'm a big kid at heart.

Anywho, thats our season wrapped up for another year.  We're back at Tattenhall marina for a month then we'll see how it goes.  Depending on the weather we may go back out and resume our life out on the cut for our first full winter.  This is to get ready for when Chris retires in two years time.

This year we travelled 380 miles over 300 hours.  We locked through 292 locks.  Canals we travelled on include:

Shroppshire union
Trent and Mersey
Staffordshire and Worecestershire
B.C.N main Line

Friday, 1 November 2019

Day 7 Weaver Cruise - Middlewich to Cholmoneston Lock visitor moorings.

We had a bit of a lay in this morning, even Smudge who is now back to his old self remained under the covers content to keep warm and sleep.

Another bright sunny morning greeted as we got underway at 10:30am.  As normal AmyJo lead the way passing Spey a historical working boat.  I have helmed her sister boat Towy several years ago.  Several of these boats were built and named after British rivers.

Just past Spey moored up on a garden mooring
Leaving the moorings in Middlewich the view is marvelous and could almost make a picture postcard.  This photo suggests a warm summers evening, in fact its bitter cold when I took this.

Picdture postcard scene
 Leaving Middlewich behind we passed over the site of last year's breach.  A major engineering works taking several months restored the canal.  Apart from the fresh looking concrete banks one would not know a major breach occured here now.

Site of the breach now becomeing well estsblished with forna.
After passing Aqueduct marina we were passed by a hire boat called Olivia Ginger.  We know this boat well.  She's getting on in age now as it was the very first boat we hired back in 2000.  Nineteen years on its good to see she is still going strong.  We have plenty of happy memories cruising aboard her.

Our first boat hire

This is Chris and Joanne on Olivia Ginger back in 2000  The dog was our last one called Pepsi, sadly no longer with us

With the sun now dissapearing in the hasy cloud the temperature was beginnning to drop so we decided to moor above Cholmondeston lock for the night.

Total distance:8.39 miles Elapsed time:4h8m50s Locks:2 Bridges:28
Average speed:2.02 mph (2.50 lock/mph)

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Day 6 Weaver Cruise - back to Middlewich

I forgot to post this yesterday. While at Anderton walking the dog I came across a van who's owner clearly has a great sense of humour.  I reckon his passenger has been waiting quite a while for them to return.

Halloween passenger.

Anyway back to today.

We were woken at 7am by a loud nose like metal scraping on metal.  I looked out but could see nothing wrong.  No sight of a boat having passed and Lucille was laying quietly alongside not moving an inch.  We still have no idea what the cause of the noise was but nothing seems to have been damaged, nor paint freshly scraped off.

A beautiful Autumn morning

Despite a harsh frost the morning was bathed in glorious sunshine, though it felt quite cold.  A loud bang was heard as someone was hunting in the woods nearby.  Further shots sounded much closer so I got the binoculars out but could not see the shooter.

I know someone will ask about the wisdom of mooring with those railway rails so close to the boat.  In fact they were a good foot away from the cabin side and no chance of them catching AmyJo's paintwork, though I admit I had to be very careful when mooring up.

Looking for the shooter nearby

 We got underway and cruised in the bright sunshine.  The sun is lower this time of year and a times we found it difficult to see where we were going as we cruise with the sun in front of us.  No problem, we just slowed down until we rounded a bend.

The rest of the journey went without any problems, we passed the flashes and the 3 marinas, Woodlands, Park Farm, and Orchard.

Entering the Flash.  Not as big as Tixall  Wide but just as much fun to cross.

After bridge 189 we crossed Croxton Aqueduct, the river below now much less flooded than when we passed here a few days ago.  The reduced level revealed a lot of mud and scoured away banks.

Water levels returning to normal, but the banks have suffered

After a short stop for water at Big Lock we then started the climb through the Middlewich locks.  Eric stopped for water below Andersen boats yard while we worked the locks.  After each lock we reset them for Eric but a boat sneaked past him with four men on board as he was about to get underway.  They must have though their luck was in with us above them resetting the locks.  Chris returned to them and asked if they would be good enough to reset the locks as they went as Eric was now approaching the bottom lock.  When Chris walked back down the locks to help Eric while I moored up she found the four guys had ignored her request so let them know her displeasure.  They, embarrassed, did not look at me when they passed me above the top lock!

Middlewich locks
 I mentioned the other day about the crocheted squares we had seen, one at Marbury Country Park and one at Middlewich.  The one here at Middlewich is pinned to the now derelict cafe above the locks.

The old cafe and crocheted square in the right hand window

Looks like a lot of work goes into these so why leave them?

At Wardle lock we found three boats waiting to ascend and one coming down.  The skipper of the latter proundly announced he was only winding so don't close the gates.  No chance!  The skipper of one of the boats waiting at the head of the queue told him firmly he would have to take his turn in the queue like everyone else who had been waiting.  The former was not happy but when the other skippers were also saying the same he had no choice but wait his turn.  We stayed out of it happy to wait our turn.

The skipper then tried it on when, eventually it was Eric's turn for the lock.  Eric had to wait the otherside of the bridge 'ole and came forward as AmyJo went into the lock.  The winding (or should that be winging?) skipper started to have a go at Eric for jumping the queue until Eric told him he'd been waiting as long as the rest of us the other side of the bridge 'ole. He then stomped of mumbling under his breath.  To be honest we would have just let him go up, would have been a lot less fuss!

We found some free moorings above the lock and went for a food shop in town.  When we got back we got a chippy tea from the local chip shop and settled down watching tele for the night.

Total distance:2.64 miles Elapsed time:3h42m58s Locks:7 Bridges:13
Average speed:0.71 mph (2.59 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Day 5 Weaver Cruise - Anderton to Bramble cuttings

When I got up at 8am this morning and threw back the blinds I could barely see across the cut due to a heavy fog.   Fortunately by the time Smudge and I got back from his walk the fog was beginning to lift.

The fog was thicker than this photo shows

 We had agreed to go to the Anderton lift centre and have breakfast when it opened at 9:30am. By the time breakfast was over the fog had almost completely cleared.  By the time we walked down to the river it had completely lifted.

Chris's headache had nearly gone so she was out with her camera.  She took loads of photos today so we'll make up for yesterday.

The River Weaver had quite a substantial flow on it making it impossible to navigate.  The force of the flow could be seen on the visitor berth.  The water had completely scoured the tarmac off leaving the hardcore filler exposed and making the jetty unusable.

Looking towards the visitor moorings and the damage to the mooring.

The damage was all along the mooring stage

 Looking back the Anterton lift looked impressive against the bright blue sky.  Chris had been talking to one of the staff and was told that the river had risen to such an extent the casions were completely submerged.  The problem now was that the high level could have affected the electronic safety devices so engineers would now need to inspect everything before the lift could be re-opened.

The lift in bright sunshine

In the photo below one can see the casions, according to the staff member the river had dropped 3 feet over night so you can imagine just how high it had risen

With the level still dropping safety inspections will have to be done once normal levels return.

Mud was deposited everywhere that was submerged.

One for the album

Lift manager on the left inspects the damage and declared the lift will remain closed for now.
 Tour over we returned to the boats.  We winded AmyJo first and passed Eric getting under way.  For our non boater readers, winding (pronounced win ding) means to turn the boat round 180degrees.  Its termed winding as the horse drawn boats would use the wind to  help turn the boats round.  We then waited for Eric to wind and we set off on our return journey.

Eric gets Lucille underway as we pass

Waiting for Eric
  As we cruised through Marbury Country Park the autumn colours were full on.  The leaves on ther ground seemed a bright copper against the green and yellow backdrop of the trees.  While I don't like this time of year I can't ignore the fact the colours of the trees and bushes are stunning in the Autumn sun.

Beautiful colours in the County park.

Even Smudge just sat and took it all in.  He had his coat on as it was quite cold and he started to shiver

Chris spotted this crocheted patch on the barbed wire fence.  We have been seing these since we left Barbridge, any idea who or why they have been left there?

Mystery Crocheted patch, one of several we have seen.

 We passed the Lion Salt museum, busy with boats on the moorings.  One day we'll have to go in and have a look round.

The Lion salt Museum.

All though it was cold it felt great to cruise in the sun.  Fewer boats are on the move now so we pretty much had the cut to ourselves.  Those boats we did pass were near the marinas so we assumed they were headed home from the weekend cruise.

At Winchham Wharf we spotted and familiar boat.  It was Callan Llan our mooring neighbours boat at Tattenhall last winter, sadly she is now up for sale.  She'll make someone a great boat as Dave spent a lot of money replacing windows with double glazed units, repainting outside, and a lot of work done inside.

Callan Llan now up for sale

plenty of wide beams here.

 At the TATA salt refinery they are attempting to make the unsightly pipe bridges look nicer.  This one has the pipes hidden behind a metal screen and images in rusty metal clipped to the screen.  It actually makes an ugly sight look really good.

Inovative design to hide unsightly pipes

The salt works dominate the skyline here and at times the noise is almost unbareable.

 In contrast, at Orchard marina, looks quite pretty and whilst passing we thought we saw AmyJo moored up, you can see her on the left side of the arch.

Orchard marina entrance and is that AmyJo moored in there?
 On closer inspection we could see its another boat looking idential to AmyJo,  Large windows near the stern and grey gunwales being the only visible differances.

Sure looks like AmyJo
 Ten minutes further are two new marinas, Park Farm and Oakwood.  These are filling up fast and Oakwood in particular seems to have double the number of boats in it since the last time we passed here back in June when we were transfering boats for a broker.

Oakwood Marina looking busy

 This region of the canal there are a series of sunken flashes, one of which includes the canal.  Here, British Waterways off loaded numerous redundant work boats by sinking them in large numbers reminicent of sinking the German fleet at Scapa Flow.  Nowadays many have been recovered for restoration.  These flashes are now havens for wildlife though not much was seen today save a couple of large signets, getting their winter plumage, approaching the boat hopeful of some food being thrown their way.

One of the flashes, once a narrowboat graveyard.
 After weaving through some twists, turns and narrow sections of the canal we reached our destination for the night, Bramble cuttings, at about 3:30pm.  Two boats were already moored there but there was just enough room for me to moor AmyJo between them.  We breasted Lucille alongside AmyJo so Eric could also moor up there as well.  We then sat in the sun having a bottle Becks and a bag of crisps as it was such a nice afternoon.  I love Bramble Cuttings, its such an idilic spot and we're lucky to get a space here.

The amigos enjoying a beer and afternoon sunshine

Total distance:8.02 miles Elapsed time:0h1m46s Locks:0 Bridges:29
3:75 hours