Monday 30 June 2014

The penny drops!

They always say a good night's sleep solves many a problem.

I pondered our water loss problem last night and spoke with Andy Munro at Fernwoods this morning. During our conversation the penny suddenly dropped. Our loss had been occuring since launch.

After AmyJo was launched, and up until Crick boat show we had been getting water in the engine bay and loosing pressure on the heating system. Chris from Fernwoods came aboard and found a couple of leaks on the hose joints around the calorifier and tightened them up. To be fair to Fernwoods the leaks would not have been visible at commissioning time nor may have been present at that time, nor were they easily seen.

Thinking on it now that would account for most of the water loss. Over the 6 months since launch water would have drained via the leaks so slowly as to be un noticable. Even when I checked the level appeared to be OK without realising it was actually getting lower each time. We only visit AmyJo at every other weekend. We just assumed the water in the bilge was rain water, after all we've had a lot of heavy downpours over the last few months Now its clear it was not the case. 

Finally on Saturday the level must have dropped below a point where it could not sustain engine temperature and hence the alarm.

You may recall I posted about the rolled up news paper being good for soaking up water? Clearly that and what I got out over the last few months was actually coolant water. Over time I reckon must have removed a good amount though each time it would have only seemed small quantities. The yellow tinge I put down to rust was actually antifreeze. Sometimes I can be really so dense!

I've learnt to check levels much more closely from now on. Lesson learnt and slapped wrist for me!  Such are the joys of being a newbie boat owner.  Clearly I have much to learn yet!

Sunday 29 June 2014

The royal visit is a great success!

Having had a great nights sleep I was up at 7:30am and was surprised at how bright it was.  I made myself a cup of Tea and sat in my favourite spot, the cratch, that was warming nicely in the sun and clear blue sky.  Such a glorious morning and all was well with our little world.

Later with sounds of life emerging down below, I made Chris a coffee and some toast for both of us that we enjoyed in the warm sun having rolled up the cratch cover.

We then sat watching the world pass us by until 11am when we moved AmyJo across the cut outside the Moorings pub ready to receive the inspection party that duly arrived 15 minutes later.

The original plan was to lunch first but as it was early we decided to cruise first then eat.  Our friends Derek and Vicky had bought Mary up from Essex for us and so with the help of Derek we lifted Mary, seated on her throne, carefully on board successfully using nothing more complex than an Ikea folding chair and it worked a charm.

Fortunately Mary is slight so my back did not suffer
Gently does it and a pause for Derek to get a secure footing
and touch down safe and sound with Mary loving every minute.
All settled and ready for the off

With everyone safely aboard we left the girls to the cratch whilst Derek and I cast off and assumed rear guard at the blunt end.  After a gentle cruise of 30 minutes to Cracks Hill we winded and then Chris thought it would be nice to carry on to Watford locks and wind just before them.  She forgot about Crick boat wash so the cratch covers came back down as we entered the tunnel.  I kept a very close eye on the engine temperature.

I had told Derek he would need a coat and offered one of mine but he looked at me incredulously.  After the first soaking the coat was on quicker than a jack rabbit down a hole.  He loved every minute of the trip through the tunnel and marvelled at the workmanship of the navies, savouring the return trip.  Meantime the ladies up front were having a whale of a time as we we at the back.  Tea was then served.

The rear guard clearly enjoying themselves
Upon our return to the Mooring pub landing, the inspection took place and Mary toured inside no mean feat for her with just one leg but, again the multi purpose Ikea chair came up trumps, and doubled as a zimmer frame so Mary could get along the boat.  For 11quid each those chairs have been a dammed good buy.

Bit of a breather before the return to the cratch.

I can report AmyJo passed her inspection with flying colours!  So having helped Mary ashore using the Ikea lifting method we enjoyed the cuisine in the Moorings.  I must say the staff were most understanding about Mary's disability and looked after us really well ensuring Mary was seated where we could get her in with the wheelchair.

After lunch it was sadly time for them to depart and for us to put AmyJo back on her mooring.  Derek really wanted to help so Chris took Mary and Vicky by car back to the marina whilst Derek and I cruised AmyJo round the short trip to the berth.

Derek stands lookout as we enter the marina

It was clear all had a great time and Mary loved every minute of her day out.  It was so nice for Chris and her mum to have some time together but it must have been very tiring for poor Mary.  I bet she slept on the way home!

I just realised that was our last weekend cruise from Crick marina.  Next weekend we're in Essex to see my parents then the following weekend we start the big trip home to Tattenhall. Can't wait, but I have to say we'll be sorry to leave Crick.  Everyone has made us very welcome and we're so glad we have had the opportunity to stay there and make some  great friends.  Hopefully we can get back and visit one day.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Water, water everywhere..... but not a lot in the engine!

Hi all,
We're back on AmyJo again preparing for the royal visit tomorrow (mother-in-law's inspection).  Today should have been straight forward run.  We checked with the Mooorings Pub that it was still OK to use their disabled facilities and mooring for tomorrow then upped sticks at 10am and moved AmyJo onto the fuelling point for a much needed pump out.

All was well until we started to leave the marina when the engine buzzer alarm sounded and the high temperature light came on just as we got to the marina entrance.  We managed to quickly moor up and found the temperature gauge reading 200c!  This did not look good at all.

We let the engine cool whilst having brew and consulted the engine maintenance guide.  I realised only two things could be the problem.  Either low coolant water level or a failed water pump.  Being the optimist I ruled the latter out and sure enough when I opened the filler cap the header tank was bone dry.  8 pints of water later we ran the engine for 5 minutes and checked again.  4 more pints later and again we ran the engine and all settled down with the temperature holding at the usual 140C.

Whilst all this was going on AmyJo had recruited another crew member who was happy to keep a look out for us

This young duck kept a good look out for us
She sat there throughout whilst we sorted the engine and only left once we started to get ready to leave.  Now we're a bit non plus'd as to where all the cooling water has gone.  I checked the hoses and they are all dry, I checked the engine bay bilge and the inner bilge and they too ae dry.  I then checked the oil and there is no indication of water in that, so I simply have no idea where 12 pints of water could have gone.

We cruised down to Watford locks and winded and then returned only meeting one boat on the return trip in the Crick boat wash (tunnel) all the while keeping a close eye on the temperature guage.  We are now moored opposite the Moorings pub ready to receive our inspection party tomorrow.  AmyJo has been tidied and hovered through so hopefully she'll pass muster.  Before moving off 'llI re-check the water level again.

Not many photos today as there has been more water falling from the sky than in our engine.

Once moored Chris and I had a dry run (scuse the pun) with a chair and believe we have now worked out a good way to transfer Mary aboard.  As you can see from the photo above the bank drops on the right and we figure if we can moor with the cratch at this point getting Mary aboard should work fairly easy.   We'll see how it goes tomorrow, photos and all.   We'll lunch in the pub then when they all arrive with Mary then, once aboard, the plan is to cruise up to Cracks hill winding hole or even bridge 28 winding hole depending how the inspection party cope and if the weather improves, then return to disembark.

Friday 20 June 2014


I would quite like to comply with the request, any other like minded boaters like to join me?  It does state ALL vessels so I guess that includes narrowboats too.

Just in case 17:00 UTC is 18:00 UK time or 6pm for those that did not work it out.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

More Time lapse Trials

Hi all,
I recently mentioned I was going to purchase a GoPro camera for our time lapse videos as I was not happy with the quality of the images of our original one.  I managed to get one and had a chance to try it out.

It does have a handy iphone app that together with the wireless functionality on the camera enables one to connect to control the GoPro from the phone as well as see what its recording (the camera itself does not have a view finder).

On our trip to Whilton marina I set the GoPro up on AmyJo's cratch window and ran it whilst cruising.  I must say the video quality is far superior however, the battery life on the GoPro is poor to say the least, only lasting just under two hours. 

That said I did manage to run the camera between the Marina and Watford Locks.  The time lapse interval was set at 1 second intervals and looks much smoother than the old camera's best of 3 seconds.  Here is the un-edited version.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Evening excitement and a well known neighbour

Hi all,
Chris and I settled down for the evening and had a lovely ploughman's salad with skrummy pickle.  This was washed down with a can of Speckled egg (as Chris once called it. Speckled Hen of course).

Shortly after we became aware of a roar of water that steadily grew in volume.  AmyJo suddenly surged forward and was held on taught mooring lines.  Investigation revealed a torrent of water cascading over the bottom lock.

Of course we have seen this before but of concern was the fact the flow was steadily increasing and further, was even beginning to run down the steps either side. The boat in the lock looked like it was caught on the gate and was in trouble.  Clearly something was wrong.

Myself and a nice young lady in the boat behind us rushed up to the lock to offer help only to find the crew calmly sitting down below having a cup of tea, blissfully unaware of the danger they were facing.  Worse still the boat was only held in place by the centre line.  God only knows what would have happen had it parted.

It was clear someone had left a paddle open further up the flight so we went to the next lock where two boats going up were struggling to open the top gate due to the flow.  I spotted one of the lower gates had been left open on the next lock up so I politely asked the crew if they had shut the paddles when they came through (just to eliminate that with out walking up) and one of the women of the crew scowled and snapped at me " of course, we did our bit properly! There is an elderly couple going up ahead of us, its them not us".  With an attitude like that we left them to it prompt.   At that point we also found out someone had gone on ahead to locate the open paddles.   With the help of a young lad I closed the open gate which stemmed the flow long enough while the lock filled  for the boats below to settle and leave the locks before the flow returned.

On my way back the young lady that had come along with me looked strangely familiar though I could not think why until I returned to AmyJo and, when I looked at the boat behind, her name dawned on me.

The young lady was none other than Mortimer Bones.  When she returned I introduced myself properly and we chatted about the event for a while until the flow over the gate subsided.  Clearly the paddles had been shut or, the upper pound emptied.

After that excitement today's cruise home was uneventful though some of the gardens looked lovely like this one,  oh to have one's own moorings at the bottom of one's garden

New in at Norton Junction, shut, really must sort our timing out.

Approaching Norton Junction from the Buckby locks

Ascending Watford Locks
 As we started to ascend the Watford staircase a very young gent helped Chris all the way up, refusing to let his mum and dad assist him.  Got to say this young man knew what he was doing so I'm guessing this is a regular weekend treat for him.  A volunteer lockie in the making perhaps? We did not get his name but if you or mum and dad are reading this many thanks to you.

Our young lockie, helped us all the way up the staircase
After our usual free boat wash in a boat free Crick tunnel, we got back to base camp around 3.30ish.  After a good chat with Barbara and Andy, our mooring neighbours who were painting their boat, we packed up and reluctantly headed home.

Our next trip will need some logistical planning as Chris's disabled mum will be aboard.  AmyJo is not exactly disabled friendly so we're working out how we can get Mary aboard as she only has one leg and gets about with a frame or wheel chair.  Its not easy but Chris and Mary are determined to give it a go.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Crick to Whilton Marina

Hi all,
Its our turn to be on Amyjo this weekend so we decided to go to new waters before we turn for home in a few weeks time.

We arrived last night about 8.30am and enjoyed the warm if humid evening.  There was not a breath of wind and the marina surprisingly quiet

We watered and got underway at 9am which is not bad for us.  Turning left out of the marina we cruised through the familiar wet Crick tunnel out into a dull cloudy sky.  A few splatters of rain appeared but not enough to get us wet.

Another surprise was there was only one boat ahead of us to go down the Watford locks so we only waited a short while.  The couple ahead of us were clearly new boaters as neither had a clue what to do.  With the help of the lockie and Chris they soon got the hang of it and were on their way.

Norton junction towards Buckby
As we approached Norton junctíon another boat came through from Braunston.  "Hooray" we said, lock buddies for the Buckby locks.

We teamed up with the crew of nb Meander and with their 3 ladies and Chris we made good time going down. Whilst we two men worked the boats the ladies had a good old chin wag and worked well together as the gates were hard going.
nb Meander leads the way to the next lock

Chris and sue from nb Meander set off for the next lock

Sadly not enough time for an ice cream in this lovely lock shop

Waiting our turn at Buckby lock 10

A nice entrance to the lock looking astern

The lock wheelers hard at it while nb Mander and AmyJo wait on

Eventually we got through the last lock and stopped on line opposite Whilton Marina by 2.30pm and moored up on a really nice spot with good internet signal

Buckby bottom lock and our mooring for the night

Nice spot opposite Whilton marina
We rarely get to see a good side view of AmyJo so here is one.

Tomorrow we'll wind in the marina entrance and then retrace our wake.  In the meantime though we are enjoying some down time sitting in the cratch. Whilst I type Chris is busy with the latest chapter of her book.  Such a hard life this is.

Monday 9 June 2014

Google Towpath View

I was using Google maps to look at AmyJo's route to Tattenhall just now and spotted that street view was now available for the tow path along Braunston to just past Braunston turn and who should I spot?

Fellow bloggers Andy And Sue's boat Festina Lente (click).

Wednesday 4 June 2014

36 year

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday, 3rd June.  I've been married to Chris for 36 years.  She is is my rock, strength and life.

Thank you for a wonderful marriage my dear and long may it last!