Wednesday 25 September 2013

AmyJo is starting to come to life

Hi all
Chris and I have just got back from Fernwoods and our second viewing of AmyJo's build.  To say we are over the moon with the fit out so far is an understatement!

In Keeping with Fernwoods superb workmanship AmyJo's interior is starting to take shape and looks amazing.  Chris and I just stood for a while taking in what we were seeing like two excited school kids on holiday.

Outside the paintwork on the cabin roof and cabin sides is pretty much finished.  The roof anti slip panels look great with the smooth lines radiating from them where the mushroom vents will sit.

Looking aft from the bows

Looking forward

The side panelling detail looks just as we imagined and gives life to AmyJo's hull, can't wait for the artwork to put the icing on the cake. Oh and we chose cream for the pin strip in the end.

Side door and panel detail port side

Starboard side door and panel detail

The overall view

Starboard side looking forweard

There is still a mass of joinery to go on board but much of it is made up and is waiting it first treatment. 

Gaint jigsaw puzzle

and there's more

The rudder stock paintwork, whilst simple, looks great in the same colours as AmyJo's cabin sides and panels

I just could not resist trying it out for size

Fernwood's Chris is starting to install some of the many fittings required in the engine room though there is still lots to do in there.  Even we do not know how this will look as we have given Fernwoods a free hand in there

Big Chris in a natty line of designer hi vis jacket
The rear toilet bulkheads are in place and the laminate from the wet room is repeated here

 The wet room ceiling is in place as are most of the laminate panels and the lighting plinths are also installed

Into the Day room and the settee/bed carcass is being fabricated whilst the side door inner window frame and panels are in place

The longer section slides out to make the bed

Next is the Galley and already the carcasses for the units are in place.  We've worked out there will be double the amount of worktop space in AmyJo's galley than there is at home. Not all the units are in yet but we could get a good feel for the space.
One of two Houdini hatches

Finally we come to the saloon and here we are so pleased with the result so far.  Its a bigger space than we thought we would have and we are so in love with it.  The TV cabinet is still to be made but we will have plenty of storage space and can easily lay a lilo down there as an adhoc bedroom if we have more guests on board.

Hifi cabinet on the left and hobbit on the right with coal drawer under

The chettee (as we call it cos its not a chair nor a settee) is given a trial run,
think Chris will be comfy on that when its finished

So that's the latest update so far.  I'll be returning on 10th October and at the rate the boys are going AmyJo will be much further on her fit out.  Oh and I hope to have some more news in a few weeks but lets just say it looks like we're going to be spending Christmas on AmyJo but not at Tattenhall Marina.

Friday 20 September 2013

Sneek Peak

Hi all,
Just received some photos of AmyJo from Andy at Fernwoods and we are visiting them on Wednesday so more photos will follow but in the mean time here is one to wet the appetite

Cabin almost complete
The work on her interior is coming along nicely and is starting to look great.  I'll not put up photos just yet until we've been to see her but needless to say Fernwoods are certainly working their magic on her for sure.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Tiller pin Manufacturer

Hi all
Anyone know where I can get a tiller pin made?  I have the ornament just need the pin inserting in it.  I'd do it myself but metal work was never my forte, now if it was wood.....

Sunday 15 September 2013

Four and a Pigeon

Last night we had the good fortune to pay a visit on Adam and Adrian aboard Briar Rose who had stopped off at Chester on their big trip having completed their passage along the Manchester shipping canal the other day.  They  made Chris and I very welcome and we chatted away the evening but was surprised how the time had passed.  We had talked about all things boaty and our plans for AmyJo.  As it was getting late we said our goodbyes and, as they were moving on today, Chris can I volunteered our services to help lock them through the Chester staircase locks.

Just remembered a photo of Adam before we left.
So hence the title of this post.  Its the answer to Chris's comment, how many people does it take to lock Briar Rose up Chester staircase locks.  The answer was 4 people and a pigeon.

The bottom of the staircase view is marred by the railway bridge

This morning Chris and I were up early and arrived at the locks to find the bottom and top chambers full but the middle one empty.  Adam text us to say he was on his way so Chris and I emptied the lower chamber in readiness after checking no boats were coming or waiting to come down.  We had bought the windlasses we purchased for AmyJo so have now christened them on the very locks that started us of on our adventure to own a narrowboat (The Beginning)

Right on que Adrian arrived with Briar Rose as we opened the gates
Whilst starting to work the lock another gentleman who's name we did not get, offered his assistance as the bottom gates were a trifle hard going to move and Chris was struggling a bit with her one.  He then helped us with the others.  If you are that gentleman reading this we did not get chance to thank you so, sir we were grateful for your help.  Thank you.

Chris chats to Adrian and a council worker gongoozles
So that was where four people came in to the story, not including Adrian in Briar Rose as he was helming her, but Chris, Adam, the unknown gentleman and myself working the locks

But where does the pigeon come in to the story I hear you ask?  Well here it is

The pigeon of our story
When Chris and I arrived it was sitting on the top gate of the lower chamber but as we emptied out the water it flew down to the lower gates.  There, it proceeded to keep a wary eye on us and sat still whilst the chamber filled and we opened the gate.  Then, when the gate was fully opened and without a noise, it flew back to the upper gates and sat waiting patiently.  We were astounded when we opened these gates once more it sat still until the gate was fully opened and then it set off for the next gates.  It would seem our pigeon enjoys joy riding on the lock gates!

With out much ado Briar Rose reach the upper level and we bade the boys farewell promising to meet up again at Crick next year.

As we started home this sculpture caught my attention.  Chris and I have been to the locks several times but I don't recall seeing it before though from the look of it it must have been there for some time.  I wonder how many boaters lock through without realising it is in plain view to them?
Putting a dead tree trunk to good use as a stack of cups and plates.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Canal boats on the River Dee cont.

Hi all,
I reported the other day about the possibility of navigating the Dee branch Locks and onto the River Dee.

I've been researching this and emailed the Chester council on the subject and it looks like such a possible passage is unlikely for some time.  I did receive this internal email back from the council forwarded on to me.

Subject: Re: FW: River Dee cruise by Narrowboat

Good afternoon,
I think that sadly this will not be possible, Ian is correct in so far as the Dee branch lock were removed about 5 years ago and C&RT do not seem to have any plans to repair them, it might be worth the boater speaking to the C&RT waterway manager at Northwich.
Should the lock gates be re fitted then it would be possible but with great care, narrow boats have often been stuck on the weir when the tide does not quite act as predicted, also an inexperienced crew could easily panic in the fast moving water.
I would be happy to advise should this become a possibility.
I hope this helps.

I have omitted address etc from this email to protect the senders rights etc. I will certainly be contacting the Manager of the Northwich C&RT for more information.

After a bit more research I came across a Chester
Heritage trust (Click here) vision for the waterways report. It paints a not so pretty picture of the state of the Dee Branch as the Tuesday Club blog did. The report shows photos of the current state of the locks, which are in a sorry state to say the least and in describes the poor condition of them. Very depressing.

Interestingly the report quotes "A canal boat on the Dee – brought by road this simple fact underlines how Chester is failing to make the most of its fascinating waterway system" and I have to say I agree with the statement.

All this said there is still a glimmer of hope, the locks may some day be restored to their former glory. The local IWA volunteers have a working party on 21st September to tidy up the area around the locks and some dredging may take place whilst the dredger is working in the Tower wharf area. I have offered to help so will post some photos of the day.

In addition, working together, the council, IWA and C&RT are looking at ways to raise funds to restore the locks back into working order and a paper has been put together with a proposal, nothing new as it has been proposed before, but now its more likely to be looked at with the resurgence in water sports and activities in general. Whether this actually comes to fruition will remain to be seen.

At the moment is is just possible, on a high tide, to traverse the bottom lock stop planks onto the river but such passage should not be undertaken lightly at present.

So for now Chester is loosing out on a huge potential to rejuvenate the town's visits by joining up its unique waterways together, the lower tidal Dee, the upper non tidal Dee and the Shropshire Canal running through the town. Shame on you Chester Council and C&RT.

Thursday 5 September 2013

The secret door of Chester's Weir on the river Dee

Hi All
Our regular readers may know Chris and I are frequent dinghy sailors on the river Dee at Chester.  For some time now we have often been jokingly asked if we are going to bring AmyJo onto the river.  

At first I laughed at the quip and was sceptical but the more I thought about it I did start to wonder if it was actually possible after all I have seen a narrow boat moored on the jetty at the Groves upstream of the weir.  My thinking was as follows :-

We would have to wait for a high spring tide as this is the one time the tidal section rises high enough and back flows over the weir making passage possible for shallow draft craft.

We could lock down onto the tidal part of the River Dee from the Dee branch locks near Chester basin.  

then pass over the weir and moor at the Groves before travelling upstream to Farndon.  We would then retrace our steps back to Chester Basin.

It turns out this is not as far fetched as it seems and that it might actually be possible if the lock gates are restored to use as they are unusable at present.  However it would not be taken lightly and would require quite some planning and rely on the fact all the equipment worked and timing perfect.

Narrow boat crossing the weir at Chester
This trip was mentioned in a comment on Waiouru's website by one of Tom's readers after he posted about the Dee Branch locks. (click here) and it would seem the trip has actually been made.  Tom's reader posted this link that I found fascinating and has fired my imagination to perhaps try one day.  It makes interesting reading and alludes to a little known aspect of Chester's weir that I doubt many know about.

This has prompted me to do a little more research into the possibility and I'l report what I find out if anyone is interested.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Birthday Meal and canal fix

Yesterday was Chris's birthday but as I was out most of the day I made it up to her and treated her to a meal out.  Chris did not want anything fancy so we settled on the Old Trooper at Christleton just down the road from us.
The Old Trooper.  The canal runs just behind the fence and the building
The old Trooper backs onto the canal on the outskirts of Chester and after the meal we wanted to have our canal fix and have a walk along the tow path.  We knew Tom and Jan on Waiouru were nearby so had arranged to meet them after our meal.  We have been reading their blog pretty much since it began and had followed their experiences both good and bad so it was a real pleasure for us to meet up with them at last.

We spent a lovely few hours chatting about boat things and Tom gave us some very useful information on the best places to buy diesel that we are most grateful for.  Before we knew it it was getting late so not wanting to out stay our welcome we bade them farewell and promised to meet up again another time.

Thank you Tom and Jan for allowing us aboard Waiouru. She is a lovely boat and we enjoyed chatting with you immensely. 

Was a tad dark when we left so apologies for the quality of the photo.