Sunday 25 January 2015

Not a boaty post but a milestone in any case

Our lack of posts is down to the fact that sitting in a marina all the time does not give interesting reading.  Topped up the water again,  Lit the fire again.  Went to the pub again.  Move to the pump out and topped up with diesel and so on.....all the mundane chores of life in a marina,  Spring and summer can't come soon enough.

Excitement of the week.....We took AmyJo off the mooring yesterday and moved all of 65ft.  Yes that is AmyJo's length and all we did was to turn her the other way round and put her back on the mooring.  Reckon that must count as the shortest cruise we have had ever. Oh the temptation to head for the marina entrance and keep going, but we overcame.    

All this just to sweep the log burner flue hat was on the offside of the mooring.  I wanted it nearest to the jetty so I would not go swimming at the same time.  As AmyJo's flue is dead straight it was a simple matter of extracting the baffle plates from the fire and brushing them out side, and then inserting the flue brush a few times pulling it up and down the flue.

All went according to plan and the fire was soon put back together.  With blackened wrists and hands I was quite pleased with myself on a job well done, until that is, I turned round to be met by a stony faced Chris brandishing a cloth with obvious deposits of soot on it.  She had wiped down the galley worktop and was surprised to see the soot on the cloth and was not amused.  It would seem the sweeping of the flue had somehow let the soot back into the cabin despite ensuring the doors on the fire were closed.  I guess emptying the ash tray afterwards had allowed the soot to permeate through the boat as far as the bathroom leaving a very fine film on surfaces.  As punishment I spent the rest of the day washing everything down to remove it.  Note to self.  Next time take more precautions to cover up! Mind you at least AmyJo got an early spring clean so there has to be an upside is there not?

Chris's mood lifted, however, when the post arrived and in it was a letter from  our mortgage company.  I hate letters from them as the statements always leave me depressed knowing all our hard earned cash is going to them.  Not this time though.  Attached to the letter was also a nice fat cheque.  Our main endowment had matured with sufficient money to pay of our mortgage.  An added bonus it also left us with a nice lump sum of money left over.  This will be used to have the house drive re-laid as the current one is in very poor state.    Sure does feels good to be mortgage free at last!  Think we're going to have a good year this year.

Friday 2 January 2015

2014 in summary.

What a year 2014 has been for Chris and myself.  AmyJo is now a year old and has brought us many happy memories in that time. 

She still gives us much joy and now we seem to have moved onboard permanently she heralds a new phase in our lives that we are both enjoying immensely.  We simply cannot imagine life without AmyJo now as she has become an integral part of our lives.

So what did we get up too last year?

Our first longish Cruise in 2014 took us to Braunston and back in January with the weather cold but bright.  Freezing weather and thin ice gave us a taster of winter life aboard.  The stunning morning frost made us enjoy the life even more and cemented our desire to become liveaboards.  On the return Chris took charge and helmed AmyJo through Watford Locks for the first time with great success.

Morning frost at Braunston Marina
Chris dwarfed in her first lock at the helm of AmyJo
Our next big cruise took us further a field at Easter and in 6 days we cruised to the Saltisford arm where we met up with convalescing Keith and his good wife Jo on Hadar.  2014 has not been a good year for Keith as his health was not at its best.  When we met them he was making a slow but steady recovery.

We spent a day with them catching up as we had met them at Elesmere Port and Chester the previous year.  They have become valued friends and we often keep in touch via the blogs now days.  Keith is still not 100% but he  has improved as time goes on with the odd set back.  We can't wait to meet them again for a chin wag.

By a chance (scuse the pun) read of nb Chance's blog I found Doug and James had managed to get their blog pages in print.  We could not resist and so we now have a complete year of AmyJo's build from our blog posts immortalized in hard back.

As time when on we started to settle into the routine of commuting to Crick marina at weekends and settled into life getting used to all the vagaries of life aboard.  Chris reveled in trying out her new travel iron/hair dryer which proved a great success.

As we were staying in Crick Marina it would have been remiss of us not to attend the show in May to give Fernwood's our support.  We showed many prospective customers around AmyJo and we know they got at least two orders with our help.  Of course we had the usual show weather with a sudden heavy burst of hailstones literally thrown in.

In June we had a royal visit from a very special lady, Mary, Chris's mum came for the day with friend Derek and Vicky.  Disabled with one leg Mary was helped aboard and shown around AmyJo followed by a cruise and lunch in the Moorings.  A lovely sunny day brought more happy memories.
Mary helped onboard using the Ikea Chair lifting method
Best friend Derek relishes his first ever trip on a narrow boat during
Mary's visit.
Later in the month after sorting out a coolant leak that set off alarms we took ourselves off for another cruise this time to Whilton Marina.  Whilst moored there we had the good fortune to meet Mortimer Bones who we consider a celebrity in boating circlesBones, as she likes to be known, writes a column for the canal boat magazine and cruises in her free time.  On this trip Chris managed to get in some more helm time too

Mortimer Bone's boat of the same name

Chris enjoying her time at the helm
July was the month of our big adventure of the year, our trip home to Tattenhall Marina.  With mixed feelings we left our berth in Crick.  Sad to leave new found friends Barbara and Andy of nb Outlaw's dream behind, apprehensive of what lie ahead and excited to finally being able to spend more time on AmyJo.

Our trip could not have been better timed and we enjoyed three weeks of the best weather of the year.  Gloriously warm sunny days lay ahead

Waters new but which way, Coventry of course Chris.

Our fav mooring of the trip in All Oaks wood

Water Explorer allowed us to plot progress on the cruise
 At Hawksbury junction we ran into (but not literally) more boating celebrities in the form of John and Fiona Slee in their boat Epiphany.  Canal boat magazine readers will be familiar with Fiona's coumn of their travels around the country.  John and Fiona have cruised pretty much all of the network now.  Unfortunately no free moorings meant we could not stop for a chat with them.

John and Fiona round the junction at we enter it.
During the cruise we got to know AmyJo and how she handles.  We found that her design was working well for us, so much so within the first week we felt completely at home in her.  She swims really well and once you get to know her ways is a doddle to handle in tight situations.  In fact it was asked if AmyJo was remote controlled once by a boater who had witnessed one of my better manouvers.

Fradley Junction and the iconic Swan Pub bathed in sun
Along the way we stopped in some lovely places like this one at Gnosall

and navigated some narrow stretches like this one called the Grub Street cutting

The weather was fantastic giving us the opportunity to explorer Market Drayton on market day.  Here we lunched in a converted cinema and then soaked up more sun wandering around the market stalls.

Next was our marathon locking day through a very busy Audlum due to an historic boat rally.  We locked down 20 locks in total in 30C temperatures and were grateful many locks were sheltered by the trees.

We made better time than we thought we would so with another week in hand we cruised up into our home town of Chester and braved the deep Northgate locks to spend a great night in the basin being visited by many friends.

Northgate top lock

Finally after 3 weeks of constant cruising AmyJo brought us home to Tattenhall marina where we have been ever since.

AmyJo's current mooring in the marina.
 We stayed at home in the house for just 4 days and hated it.  We missed life aboard AmyJo so much we left the house in the good hands of our eldest daughter Amy to look after it and moved back onto AmyJo.  We now only go home for the post and occasional visits, spending as much time as we can on AmyJo.  She is now considered our home.

Over the months we have made many new friends at the marina starting whilst attending a massive hog roast laid on by the marina.  Below are pictures of us with some of our pontoon neighbours.

Recently we had our last cruise of the year up the Llangollen canal for a week.  Sadly we only had time to get as far as Whitchurch but vowed to return this year to cruise the full length probably in April so watch out for our posts on that cruise.

Wrenbury Mill and lift bridge
Now winter has arrived we are finding new experiences living aboard and have made a few refinements to help keep us warm like my home made secondary glazing that keeps condensation at bay and helps keep AmyJo warm and snug.  An added bonus we found is it also help to eliminate external noise as well not that there is much where we are.

One of our home made glazing units that also acts as a porthole bung

So that was 2014, here is hoping 2015 is equally as good if not better.  We've lived on AmyJo for six months now so I thought I'd let you all know how that has been for us in another post sometime.   

Until then we hope you have a great year and all your dreams come to fruition.  Have good health and peace.  Do comment from time to time if you feel the urge as we really do love to hear from you.