Friday 24 January 2014

AmyJo now in Hard Back

I read a while ago about Doug and James  of nb Chance posting about their blog in print again (click).  We thought it was a brilliant idea so we decided to have ago with our blog.

Most of last year's posts were mostly concerned with AmyJo's build and so we thought it would be a nice memento for us to see it all in print.   Doug and James used an on line company called Blog2print (click) and were very happy with the results so we thought we would give them a try.

Our book arrived a few days ago and we too are really pleased with the result

So now we have a lovely hard backed printed record of AmyJo's build from when her base plates were laid on 12th November 2012 to her launch on 30th November 2013.  

On a differant matter

Many of you will know boaters Jo and Keith Lodge of working boat Hadar (click) and will have read Keith is quite poorly in hospital and has been for a few weeks.  Jo has been a pillar of strength for Keith and has been coping well with looking after everything on Hadar and visiting Keith at the same time.  Both Chris and I met them when they came to Chester and are a lovely couple and Keith was really helpful giving us plenty of advise when AmyJo's build was about to start.  

We have been following Jo's updates on Keith's progress and send them our prayers.  We would like wish Keith a speedy recovery and hope he makes a full recovery.

Monday 20 January 2014

Essex for a special Birthday

Hi all,
We were not out on AmyJo this weekend as we had a date in Essex with Chris's mum Mary, as Sunday was her 85th birthday.  We set off Friday night and stayed at Chris's brother Alan's house.

On Saturday we visited my parents and took them out to lunch but forgot my camera so did not get any photos but on Sunday I did remember it,  We took Mary out for a meal and she enjoyed the attention.

Chris's mum Mary (in middle) opens a special calendar made just for her with
help from Jenny, her sister-in-law
Chris had managed to get a customisable calender that one could insert a 4X6 inch photo in each month.  She had added photo's of family members on the month of their birthdays where she could.  Chris had also marked on the calender everyone's birthdays.  With Mary's memory not being what it should this will really help her.

After a lovely meal we took Mary back to the home and spent some more time with her there

Mary with Chris's brother Alan and his wife Katherine

And with Chris, Joanne and yours truly
The weekend went so quick and it was soon time to head home.  Fernwoods called on Thursday to say they had fitted our blinds in AmyJo's galley so on the return trip home we stopped off at AmyJo to take a look.  

Later at Watford Gap services it felt strange as only the weekend before we had past the services on the cut in AmyJo yet there we were barely 100 yards away from the cut but on our way home via car.

For those who asked at home here is a video of us in Crick tunnel to give you a feel for what its like

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Chris Took Charge at Watford Locks and a Brush With Ice

The cough has had the better of me over the last few days and kept me awake at night so not sleeping I've just dozed in the armchair and done nowt, and hence why this promised post is late.

Neither Chris nor I slept at all well at Braunston Saturday night. Not because of problems with AmyJo (there were none) or because of where we were, for our location was as still and as quite as could be. If someone dropped a pin in the marina I'm sure we would have heard it for the utter hush the night gave us on the cut. Except that is during the night I developed a racking cough that kept us both awake (and I'm sure everyone nearby) though Chris was awake for another reason, I'll explain later.

By 7am I had had enough and got up to make a cupper and raddle the fire back to life so as to warm the boat. The view outside was amazing with a sharp frost covering everywhere.

The frost made the muddy tow path walk-able without getting covered in mud.
After Chris got up we breakfasted and got under way at 9am. First task was to wind AmyJo which we did in the marina entrance as there was plenty of room to manoeuvre.  For those at home the term winding (pronounced win ding and not wine ding) is to turn the boat through 180 degrees so as to face the way you came from.  This can only be done in "winding" holes as they are called or cut outs along the side of canal which make it wide enough to take the length of your boat.

 When we reached Braunston locks they were all set against us but while working the first lock a gentleman walking his dog (a boater too) and to whom we are indebted kindly offered to go ahead and set the next locks in our favour.

As we reached the next lock he returned to let us know a coal boat was waiting for us in the next lock. We then worked the remaining locks with the coal boat and while at it bought a bag of coal off him. We thanked the coal boat owner (Bryan) for waiting for us when at the top lock and let him go on ahead.

We got through Braunston tunnel without any other boats appearing and at the other side we start to notice broken ice where Bryan’s boat had gone though. This continued to Norton Junction where he carried on to Bucky while we turned left onto the Leicester branch heading back to Crick. It was here we encountered more ice.  We did begin to wonder if it was wise to continue but as it was thin we kept going.

Approaching Norton Junction, Buckby is straight on but we needed to turn left
The Junction itself is 41.25 from Leicester.
The old Toll office.
There used to be two toll clerks, and boats for the Leicester were
gauged in the swing bridge while those on the main were gauged at the
adjoining main line bridge
 The toll office was to become the retirement home of Mr and Mrs Major Fielding of the Salvation Army. They were in charge of the boat Salvo, a floating classroom, until it was lifted from the water.

Starting our turn
It was so tight it was almost like winding.  I guess 70ft boats must find it tricky.
Bridge No.l. The original cast iron swing bridge (installed as an
economy in lieu of the brick bridge first intended) was damaged
beyond repair when a hire boat collided with it in 1973. A wooden
footbridge has now been substituted
Fortunately the ice was thin and gave easily without any damage to the blacking

The ice continued for a few miles but by the time we got to the Watford locks there was none to be seen.

It was at the Locks I then found out what had kept Chris awake that night. She really wanted to take AmyJo through the locks herself and had been really worried about it all night as she has not had any chance to manoeuvre AmyJo up to now. I did my best to re-assured her she would be fine and so she made her mind up, took charge and insisted in taking AmyJo up the flight which, with help and advise from Phil, the lock keeper of the day, she did, only glancing lightly of one wall on the way up. Now I’m sure she was a boat woman in her past life cos she’s a much better helm than me (don’t tell her though). After the first three locks she was totally at ease handling AmyJo without any problem at all.  It was clear the money spent on the helmsman's course was paying off.

Smiling with relief Chris enters the lock perfectly
Phil told me we had shattered his goal of zero boats in the locks as we were the first boat he had seen all day.  We did not have the heart to tell him another was following us.

To be honest I'm really quite please Chris wants to, and feels she can, helm AmyJo. In our sailing life it is most important for a crew member to be able to handle the dinghy in case the man overboard was the helm.  This, through practise I might add, is something Chris can now do with her eyes closed when under sail. I feel much better knowing if anything happened to me Chris could deal with AmyJo if and when the need arose.

After Watford locks we had an uneventful passage through a very wet Crick Tunnel and then we arrived back at the Marina mid afternoon. 

 We got onto our mooring, washed AmyJo down, packed up and prepared her for cold weather, just in case as we're not sure just when we'll get out on her again. 

So a lovely, if cold, weekend is over and we're now counting down the days until we can get back on board.  Strange really, we're getting to the point now where we would rather be on AmyJo than at home...wonder why :-)

Sunday 12 January 2014

Break out to Braunston and a chance bloggers meeting

As the weather has finally abated for a couple of days Chris and I took the opportunity to get out of Crick on AmyJo for the weekend and headed to Braunston.

Yesterday dawned cold but with a cloudless sky and surprise, the sun even had some warmth in it though the air was was still cold. We topped up AmyJo’s water tank ( without tripping the electrics this time) and backed out of the mooring then left the marina in windless conditions. We always wondered when people say “its so good to be on the move” and now we know why, as we moved through the countryside it did indeed feel good.

We soon encountered our first landmark as we entered Crick tunnel and managed to travel the whole length without meeting another boat. As this was our first tunnel we were quite relieved at that

At 1,528 yards (1397m) long. one can only just see the
portal and the other end of the tunnel


It took 20 minutes to get there and an impromptu shower awaited
Now we were out into the country with only ourselves for company, so peaceful. While Chris made a brew she could still enjoy the views through the round window



We had a lovely run to the Watford locks where a very helpful lady lock volunteer helped us down the staircase section Looking at the photos the only thing that gives away the fact its not summer is there are no leaves on the trees. We worked our way down the locks in perfect conditions, such a lovely day to go a crewzin.










Having earned her Lock wheeler stripes, Chris prepares the next paddles
She even managed to drink her tea whilst lock wheeling
We next managed to negotiate the tight right turn at Norton junction without hitch and made good time to Braunston Tunnel, slightly longer than Crick tunnel at 2042 yards again we got through without a boat coming the other way but could just see another boat ahead going our way which we eventually shared Braunston locks with, going in side by side into each lock in turn.  Having two people working the locks we got down them pretty fast until the last lock.

Lovely front door of the lock keeper’s cottage, would love that at home.


Our lock partners Judith and Steve on Bright Water. Steve and I stared longingly at the Admiral Nelson and nearly decided to have a pint but the day was wearing on and we needed to find a mooring. before it got dark


At the bottom lock, as we entered, were two boats each with a crew of four waiting to come up.  Not one of them came to help work the lock so this left Chris to do it herself while Judith dealt with the paddles of the previous lock.  They all  just stood and watched throughout.  Needless to say we did not hurry and I even stopped just at the lock entrance to pick Chris up.

Ladies doing dinner came to mind.

Finally we reached Braunston and slowed through the moorings as there were boats everywhere.  Steve managed to get a mooring just the other side of the first marina entrance and we were lucky to get onto the last mooring just before the famous marina bridge entrance.



A glorious evening sky as the light starts to fade.

Our mooring for the night

Once we got the mooring ropes sorted we decided to lock up AmyJo and go for a stroll along the cut and after walking through the next bridge ‘ole we were pleasantly surprised to come across nb Muleless (click) tied up with Della and Garry on board. We have been following their blog for some time and had commented on each others blogs several times so we knocked to say hello and were invited aboard.


Muleless is a lovely boat and we spent a pleasant few hours swapping our build experiences and how each others boats performed. Della and Gary made us most welcome but having not had much too eat all day we did not over stay our welcome and after a glass of wine, headed back to AmyJo in the dark with torch in hand to cook dinner.

We stayed at Braunston for the night and today we winded and headed back to the marina as that dreaded work beckoned us for Monday.

On Tuesday I'll post about our return trip and how Chris too
k charge at the Watford flight.

Monday 6 January 2014

Its Official - Man Flu does exsist!

Just read about Paul, AKA The Many Ferry (click), who is showing early symptoms of Man Flue.  Having  barely survived a bout of this some time ago he has all my sympathy. 

There has been much debate whether this affliction actually exists at all but fellow sufferers like Paul and I can vouch that indeed it does.  In fact Paul has discovered, through one of his readers, that much research has taken place and a website is now available offering much need advice for sufferers.  Its also full of advise on how to help when a partner suffers the illness. 

It can be found here

Thanks for sharing this Paul and hope you survive  get better soon.