Monday, 20 April 2020

Lock Down Continues and a Major Malfunction

Hello all.
 Hope you are all keeping safe and avoiding the virus?  We have so far but then, not cruising, we're spending the majority of our time inside AmyJo.  We'd love to sit out on the tow path but where we are the walkers and runners abound, far to busy to sit out.  Instead we sit in the cratch and people watch with a drink or three.

We have not posted before now as whilst watching Netflix last week we lost all internet signal.  We use a Huawei MiFi router hooked up to our two external antenna and this had stopped working.  When I inspected it it felt quite hot.  On removing a cover I was met with this.



The Lithium Iron battery was badly swollen and clearly on the point of bursting open.  Not quite sure why this has happened but the router has been in service for at least 3 years so we can't complain. We have also been experiencing slow internet speeds and intermittent outages and this would appear to be the reason.  

A search on Amazon and a similar more updated version was found and ordered.  We installed it when it arrived and now have good signal and as a bonus this model is two times faster than the old model and can run 10 hours without a charge.  Better still the antenna connections are much more secure and as a result we now have a full 4G signal.

Our new HUAWEI E5785Lh MiFi Router

Seems people are now beginning to observe the lock down as when walking Smudge the towpath has long spells devoid of people though weekends and evenings its still very busy

A rare moment devoid of people.  Thats AmyJo in the distance

Clearly they are getting bored in this canal-side house
I guess like a lot of liveaboards I've used the good weather to get some painting done.  The back doors and hatch had loads of chips out of the paintwork and the hooks that hold the doors open had put large gashes into the back cabin wall so I dealt with all these.

Back hatch runner support is wearing paint on its edges

As does here

and here

Gouges caused by the door hooks 

Top of the swan neck also needs attention
Two days later....

I added anti knock pads that now protect the paint as the hooks drop

Fresh paint for the hatch runner support

and door tops
The swan neck is still getting coats of paint so is still work in progress but I'm pleased with the results.

Next job to tackle was our water tank gauge.  Ever since AmyJo was launched this has never given a reliable reading.  It showed full when the tank was full but then the level indicated dropped away to zero for almost no reason.  We always knew showers and two wash loads plus day to day washing and toilet flushes the tank would last a week but the gauge would show almost empty with a day or two.

With time to spare I ordered a new one planning to fit the display forward in the saloon nearer to the sensor figuring that the 50 foot plus run of cable between the two could be causing a drop in signal and hence the false reading.  We have two other gauges for waste and fuel but as the sensors are closer to the displays at the rear of AmyJo they seem to be accurate and bear out my reasoning.

Top Gauge is the water gauge and we have half a tank at the time of the photo

The new one arrived and I installed it without too much of a problem, in fact its was dead easy to do as the new sensor had the same size pipe fitting so it was a case of just removing the original and inserting the new.

The new sensor look identical to the old one which I've kept for a backup
The new gauge is now mounted in the wall just to the left of the front door so now we don't have to run to the back of the boat to check the level.

The new display can  be seen from anywhere in the saloon or galley
After filling up with water and calibrating the sensor to show a full reading we hoped that would be it.  We were wrong!

Within an hour the level, despite not using any water had dropped to 50%.  How could this be?  I spent ages looking for leaks and found none but when Chris filled the kettle the penny dropped.  There was no leak! This type of gauge relies on head of water pressure to register.  The more water in the tank, the more pressure and so the higher the reading.  

What is happening is the sensor is fitted between the pump and the tank and as a result the pressure at the sensor was gradually dropping.  As soon as Chris ran the tap and shut it off the pressure restored and the reading rose to show the correct level.

We also noticed as we both walked down towards the back of the boat the level indicated also rose.  Clearly as we walk through AmyJo we affect her trim (angle from back to front) [no puns about our weight please!], this in turn is making the water shift slightly toward the front or back of the tank lowering or raising the level sightly at the sensor end which is at the rear of the tank.  Now we know we can re calibrate the sensor next time we fill the tank.

Another bit of news we are moving with the times and starting regular YouTube vlogs (video Logs) for a trial period.  You can access these by clicking on the YouTube logo at the top of the blog.  Hope you enjoy them and if so do subscribe then click the notification bell and you will be notified when we post a new video.  Don't worry we'll still be keeping this blog going so if you have limited data allowance and can't watch the videos you'll not miss anything.

Oh I nearly forgot.  Did you work out what message I sent using AmyJo's horn in the last post video?  It was my attempt at Morse code for "Thank You NHS".

Well thats it for now.  We're still observing the no cruising rule but my, this weather is making it so hard not to.  We resist as its for the best.  I just say to myself

Stay in and win
Go out and die out
Simples

Take care and stay safe everyone.




Saturday, 4 April 2020

Lock down week Two - Spit and Polish

Hello all,
Hope you are all keeping well and managing to stay sane in this topsy tervy world we find ourselves in.

This week I finished giving AmyJo her spring polish though now only the Starboard (right) cabin side is left to do.


After applying the cleaner the differance is noticable, just needs waxing after this


Now the outside is done as far as I can, I turned my attention inside.  We have several chromium light fittings and vents on the ceilings.  These were in bad need of a polish, so over the next two days, each one was taken down and given some attention.


The first of 30 light fittings getting a polish

Before and after.  We didn't realise how bad they had got!


On Thursday evening at 8pm we joined the nation to show our thanks for the NHS.  I used AmyJo's horn to send a message.  Can you guess what it is?



I'll give you a clue, its my attempt at morse code.  I'll reveal all in my next post for those who can't work it out.

The young lady you can see in the boat ahead is none other than Emma of vlog "Narrowboat Girl" fame.  Like many of us Emma and her mum are sitting out the lockdown and just trying to stay safe and well.

Vlogs are becoming very popular these days and so we're thinking of giving it a try.  Would love to hear your views on this.  There are several vloggers out there so would I just be copying them or would you like to see life on AmyJo in video as well? 


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Staying Put for Lock Down


Who would have thought?  Only last week Chris and I were planning our Easter Cruise with freinds.  We had planned to go onto the River Weaver via the Andreton lift but the lift is closed for maintenance so we changed our plan and was going to head up the Llangollen.

Now, after Boris's lock down announcement, CRT have told us unnecessary cruising was to be discouraged and that the 14 day mooring rule was being suspended until 14th April when it will be reviewed.  That scuppered our plan completely so we are moored up and staying put.  

For the non boaters.  The maximum we can stop anywhere on the canals is 14 days, less on recognised visitor moorings.  Any longer is deemed residential and that is not allowed on the canal except in designated places.  Failure to comply could mean, in absolutely worst case, having your boat impounded and removed for scrap, or at best a telling off and made to move.

Lock down day 1
The weather has been so good that I have managed to give AmyJo a good clean and polish where she can be reached.  My only concern was the sheer number of walkers, dog walkers and cyclists that are passing by, its worst than the first day of the sales at Harrods! 

Empty moorings behind us

And only one boat up ahead

The level of intelegence that some people have beggers belief.  Many do not observe social distancing and clearly are not aware of the risk they are putting themselve in.  OK they might be making the one outing for excersise that is allowed but I very much doubt they all are.  Even the vunerable elderly are out in numbers as if nothing was wrong.

A rare moment when the towpath is clear

but it does not stay this way for long
On Monday Chris went to work for the last time.  The school, now closed, is only open for 18 children of key workers, and only one child is in the infants where Chris works.  Chris is now likely to be off work until September when hopefully the virus crisis has passed.

Today, Thursday,  Chris joined me for Smudges lunchtime walk.  She joins us to get out of the boat for a while.  Walking past the pub car park we could not believe our eyes.  On the grass bank behind the railings you can see in the picture below, a young family of three, mum, dad and toddler, were actually picnicing in the sun!  Dad climbing over the railings several times to retreive his dog just where people had previously leant for a rest.  

You can just see the family to the right of the tree trunk
I would have spoken to them but a young man approached them before me.  Although we could not hear the conversation it was clear from his body language he was giving them a good telling off.  The young man and family left shortly after.

Smudge enjoying his walk

Lovely views in the sunshine

 We have been enjoying our walks in the sunshine as have mny others.  Its so nice to not get wet, muddy and cold.  The days ave been quite warm and so we really enjoyed being out.  

Thanks to the good weather we have been able to get the rotary line out for Chris to hang out the washing.  Its so much better when they get a good airing outside.

Washing blowing in the light breeze

Seems a few people are still treating this as a holiday, this family came paddling past us this afternoon, clearly thinking they are imune to the virus because they are on the canal.




So thats it for now.  We're both OK so far and are trying to keep to the guidelines.  At the moment we have all we need though our first shopping trip will have to be done tomorrow.  Unlike many we cannot hoard as we simply don't have room to store it.  We need bread and milk plus some food for Smudge.  I also have a prescription to collect.

Poor Smudge cannot unterstand why we do not stay outside more  in the sun like we used to and has now started to look longingly through the window bless him.  He will not leave my side, follows at my heels as I walk through the boat, clearly knows something is not right with the world and is anxious.  I re-assure him as much as I can and spend alot more time with him and hope he will come to understand.

Why can't we go out dad?

Sorry its not been an upbeat post but theres not much we can do for now.  Stay well everyone and hope you and your families get through this worrying time.  We will beat this virus, never has humankind been better placed to find a cure as it is right now.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Bump, Lump and Mud

Having stayed at the Shady Oak for 14 days it was time to move.  The evening before, we called into the house for the post, to see the girls, and to collect some more coal.  We left AmyJo in the dark and set off via the village of Huxley.  As we came to the village there was an almighty bang and the car lurched.  We had hit a pothole.  One of many around these parts but one we were not aware of.

Next morning we returned to the spot to record it so we could claim.  We were stunned by the size of it.  Below is a photo of it with Chris's foot in it.  Whats not clear from the photo is its at least 5 inches deep where her foot is.




checking the tyre we found a carbunkle bulge and damage to the rim.  I used the council web app to report the pothole location and had the tyre replaced.  I am now claiming for a new tyre.  Whats more annoying is the tyre was only replaced 4 months ago and that was also due to a pothole.


the buldge in the tyre and damage to the rim is evident in this photo


We later left the Shady Oak and called into Tattenhall marina for a couple of nights.  On Tuesday Smudge was booked to have a groom and claws clipped and Wednesday the tyre was to be replaced.

Whilst there I spotted a new peice of equipment down by the workshop.  A straddle carrier has been purchased and this will now be used instead of the low trailer.  It will be instesting to see this in action when AmyJo comes out for her blacking!


Having got Smudge groomed and tyre changed, we left the marina yesterday (Thursday) and headed for our fav mooring at Waverton.  On the way I spoted a boat has become a celebrity on the BBC.  On closer inspection it turned out to be Rob Cumming's Naughty Lass.




For those that don't know, Rob has been producing Vlogs or video logs on youtube for some time and they are really interesting, telling how it really is living afloat and not the sun and roses Tim and Pru portray.  His vids are well worth a look :-


Rob was approached by the BBC last year and a 6 part series of his journey was broadcast.  He is in the area as he is due to produce a second series though this is now on hold due to the virus.

As its still not too warm Smudge wore his coat as his trim has removed a lot of fir
One of the problems cruising in the winter is the state of the towpaths along the cut.  Here on the Shroppy is no exception.  Mud is everywhere and in this case quite deep.  It makes morring up and walking Smudge really difficult.

This is one of the better spots


We are heading towards Chester as from Waverton on the towpath is tarmaced so the mud is not a problem.  Its a real problem with Smudge cleaning his paws and bathing him when he gets covered so leaving the muddy towpath behind will be good.


passing the long line of moorings at Golden Nook

We found boats moored at Waverton so we carried on and found our usual mooring free at the Cheshire cat pub.

Hope everyone is OK and we pray you manage to get through the coming months.  We can get through this so please do look after yourselves and those who can't.


Total distance:4.68 miles Elapsed time:2h12m31s Locks:0 Bridges:8
Average speed:2.12 mph (2.12 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Out and About and All that Gas

Having got through the trauma of loosing Mum and Dad and the weather finally abating we decided it is time to leave the marina for this season.  

Yesterday, Monday, was the first real break from the strong winds and rain.  It was a perfect winter's sunny day with only a little wind.  Our destination for the day was Chas Harden Boats by Iron lock.  

Our oven thermostat appears to have stopped working as the oven temperature was a constant 300C despite what ever setting we called for.  Chas, being Gas registered, agreed to replace it with one we had got from the manufacturer.

Before leaving we treated AmyJo to new stern fenders as the original had finally started to collapse and was not really protecting the rudder.  This time, however, I decided to go for a tipcat and button with the hope this would be more robust and protect the rudder better.  So far it seems to do the job well.  I've still to remove the excess chain but for not this will have to do.



New Tipcat and Button fenders
The cruise to Chas Hardens is not far, about a 2 hours cruise.  Depite the cold temperature the sun had some warmth in it for once and with the light wind it felt quite warm.  As always we revelled in being out on the cut again.  You just cannot beat the feeling of elation as you turn onto the cut after a spell in a marina.  Yesterday was no exception.

This morning (Tuesday), Chas came to the boat and we soon had the oven out.  Fortunately Fernwood had the forsight to fit armoured flexible cable from the gas pipe to the oven so it was a simple matter of pulling the oven forward, disconnecting the gas pipe and electric cable then lift out onto a table to work on it.

Replacing the thermostat, howerver, was not as simple.  As you can see Chas had to almost completely dissasemble the oven to get it out but after 2 hours he got the job done.

Chas completely stripping down the oven to get the stat control out

Back off the brown stain in the lagging is where the stat probe enters the oven

Finally the thermostat is removed

The replacemet thermostat and temperature control ready to be installed

So now tonight we'll see how we get on when we cook dinner.  Thank you Chas you've done a great job!

After early rainfall the wind has returned but the sun is now out making yet another lovely day.  Just as well as another cratch cover zip has gone and will not do up.  As we are not far from Nick's Canvas and cover workshop, Nick is now replaceing the two Portside (left hand) zips for me.  This means all zips on the cover have been replaced.  To be fair they get a lot of use as we enter and leave AmyJo several times a day via the front.

Whilst this is being done I've put up a temporary tarpoline.  It is not perfect or pretty but does the job keeping everything dry while the cover is away.


The temporary tarp

So now we're out of the marina for the season hopefully will have something to post about.  We are formulating our summer cruise later but we have a re run of the Anderton lift cruise planned shortly to look forward to, hopefully with better luck and we can get up and down the lift this time.

Oh and I almost forgot.  The new double glazed port holes have now all been fitted and are a great sucess.  There is a noticeable improvement in warmth inside AmyJo and condensation is almost non existant even when its really cold outside


Total distance:3.50 miles Elapsed time:1h54m15s Locks:1 Bridges:6
Average speed:1.84 mph (2.36 lock/mph)

Friday, 31 January 2020

Christmas and New Year was on hold

Sorry for the lack of posts, the blog was put on hold for a family disaster over the Christmas Holiday.  Its been an emotional roller Coaster this Christmas and New year so much so they were cancelled as far as we were concerned.

Before I explain may I wish everyone a belated Happy Christmas and a prosperouse and healthy New Year

At the beginning of December Mum had a fall and broke her hip so was in hospital.   Dad was on his way to visit her on 19th December and had a massive heart attack on the way to the hospital and could not be revived.

Mum was told after her operation and then went down hill rapidly passing away on 28th December from both grief and other medical problems.

We had the funeral on 27th January.  They had been together 64 years and were rarely apart so it was fitting they were laid to rest together.

Not a good start to the year but hopefully we'll soon be able to get back out on the cut.  I'd post more on our plans in another post.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

A Happy Launch day

It still seems like yesterday to Chris and I when AmyJo's build was completed but, yesterday, it was 6 years to the day AmyJo was launched.  The culmination of four years planning and joy at her build that on the 30th November 2013, on a bright sunny but bitter cold day, she was lowered into the canal at Crick Marina for the first time.

Since that day we have cruised 2300miles in her, traversed some 1333 locks and gone through countless bridges.  We still concider ourselves novices but we're getting there.

Now complete, AmyJo leaves Fernwood's factory for the first time.
Being lowered onto Tuckey's lorry

Off to Crick

Up she goes

Must admit we were biting our nails at this point

Gently does it

and in she goes.  A proud lump in the throat moment

6 years on today we left the marina after staying there for a month.

  All the portholes are now replaced and liners re-installed.  So far they seem to be working out fine.  Condensation is minimal and limited to the frame round the glass.  The main frame is dry and glass has remained clear.  Inside we feel the heat is retained better but its still cold in the mornings but them it was -4C this morning so no surprise there.

 We were getting itchy feet and feel much happier out on the cut, so whilst the weather is still pretty good despite the cold we left the marina andmoored on one of our fav moorings at Waverton for a while.  Just like 6 years ago yesterday and today have been bright and sunny but bitter cold!  The sense of adventure is still there too :-)


We simply adore the sunsets like this one today on clear days at this time of year

Total distance:3.68 miles Elapsed time:1h55m1s Locks:0 Bridges:7
Average speed:1.92 mph (1.92 lock/mph)

Thursday, 21 November 2019

And Today Through The New Round Window

The last few Weeks we have taken the opportunity to stay in the marina and this has given me time to get a couple of jobs done.  One simple and the other a bit more major and time consuming.

The first job on my list only took an hour and that was to fit two long fenders at the bow to protect AmyJo a bit more in the locks and when mooring up.  This protected area of hull can sometimes catch the armco or concrete bank scraping off the blacking.  We hope these fenders will avoid that in future.

Long fenders protect the hull when mooring and also when in locks

The next job has taken several days so far and is still on going.   When AmyJo was being built we always wanted double glazed portholes  Trouble was the only available ones were the top hopper type like these


We were not keen on them and felt they would not look right so had to settle for single glazed ones like these that are fitted


Over the 6 years we have had AmyJo they have served us well but always steamed up and dripped with condensation.  My makeshift secondary glazing helped a lot but we were never really happy with them.

Whilst at the Crick boat show this year we found a company called Caldwells who manufacture some very nice and robust portholes that are double glazed, not only that they had an added feature of a thermal break between the inside frame and outside so this would help to reduce condensation further.  We were that impressed with them we ordered a set for AmyJo.  We took delivery last month.

Taking advantage of some dry weather for the last few days, I have been carefully removing the original portholes and installing the new double glazed units.  The difference is amazing even though so far only the Starboard (right) side portholes have been replaced.  So far the boat feels a bit warmer but we have not seen any condensation at all!

So first job was to remove the Aluminium liners.  This prooved relatively easy as they were held in place by silicon mastic.

Liner remooved showing the mastic used to hold it in place

Liner removed the fixing clips are revealed.

The remaining mastic was carefully scraped of with a sharp scraper.  Next the fixing clip screws had to be untightened.  These were most stubbon as many had the head slots rounded of.  Most unscrewed OK but those rounded off had to have the screw drilled out which took ages and several broken drill bits.  So far 40% of the eight clips per porthole had to be removed this way.

With the clips removed it then took two of us all our strength to carefully tease the porthole away from the hull.  The Stikaflex mastic used was holding them in quite firmly but after a lot of effort pulling and wriggling we managed to pull them off with no damage to the paintwork except for small chips on two of the portholes.

I then carefully cleaned off the remaining mastic from the cabin side with a scraper and cleaned the area with Sikaflex remover to leave a clean surface

The new porthole was then installed using fresh Stikaflex mastic and clips.

New frame glued in and fresh clips fixed into place

I now have all the portholes replaced on the Starboard side and will start on the port side tomorrow.


End result outside

And inside though the liner is yet to be fixed permanently

The glass area is slightly smaller as these new windows have their own metal frame unlike the originals, small price to pay for better thermal quallity.

Showing the opening window which can then be removed if required

You may be wondering why the new portholes do not look as shiny as the old ones.  This is because they cannot be anodised to give the glossy shine as it destroys the thermal break.  Instead we had them powder coated a silver colour though in the photos it looks grey.

The original portholes

The new ones in place.
  
It will tske a bit of getting used to the new portholes but we are very pleased with the result.  Now to do the other side before the rains return.