Wednesday 24 June 2015

Shipping Inspection

I mentioned in a earlier post we are looking to cruise the River Weaver in later in the year but I would like to do a round robin using the Manchester Shipping canal if at all possible. 

The information guide provided by Peel ports lists several items the "ship" should have

Manchester Ship Canal Act 1960
Articles to be carried by a PLEASURE CRAFT whilst in Harbour
1. An adequate anchor and cable

2. At least two warps each being not less than fifty feet (15m) in length and of sufficient strength.

3. Such navigation lights and equipment for signalling by sound as will enable the pleasure craft to

comply with the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea and with the

Company’s Bye-laws.

4. At least two fire extinguishers of a suitable type approved by the Ministry for Transport and

maintained in accordance with the Ministry recommendations.

5. Sufficient life saving apparatus for as many passengers and crew as the pleasure craft is

designed to carry.

6. An admiralty chart or other chart approved by the Company for the Harbour and adjacent waters.

7. A copy of the Company’s Bye-Laws for the time being in force.

8. A current tidal Almanac.

The Pleasure Craft must be in the charge of a person over 21 years of age, who has such experience of

navigation as will enable him/her to navigate in the Harbour with reasonable competence.

We now have all the above items though Almanacs and Admiralty charts are not necessary we have them just in case. We thought we might have a blocker with the age limit though, but as I'm just 21 years of age with 37 years experience I guess that counts as acceptable. 

All vessels on the canal have to be inspected by Peel Ports recognised surveyors for "sea worthiness".  Whilst we will not actually be going outside the canal into coastal waters the requirement still has to be met.

Yesterday I phoned a Mr Taylor at Middlewich and have booked AmyJo's inspection for 11th July.  Mr Taylor has a house on the canal near Wardle lock and has kindly offered for us to moor AmyJo there whilst he carries out the inspection.  We readily accepted his offer as we get to have another cruise. in AmyJo. 

Talking to Mr Taylor this inspection is not really as bad as is sounds.  He would be happy as long has items 1, 2, 4 and 5 are met.  We do not have a mast head light but in his words "You are not allowed to cruise the canal at night so nav lights are not going to be much use in daylight are they, in fact on a narrow boat they are just for display really"  I could always turn on the Francis lamp, they would definitely see that.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Middlewich festival

Today Chris and I took ourselves over by car to the Middlewich festival.  The weather threatened rain but we only had a light shower and then for the rest of the day it remained dry but cloudy though mild

We were lucky to nab a parking space close to the bridge where most of the boats were moored.  We walked along the tow path and we were just in time to see Ilford being roped down the locks.  We last met her at Audlum as we descended the locks back in July as we cruised AmyJo up to Tattenhall from Crick.

Ilford being roped into the lock whist her tow waited at the bottom gate

Ilford leaves the lock with her tow

As one would expect there were many boat stalls selling their wares but I simply had to support this cause and help drink the bar dry.  Though my one pint hardly made a dint in their supplies I suspect.

The owner of this boat must have a really steady hand and patience of Jobe.  These were not paintings but art cut from old LP records.  Such fine cuts by hand using just a fret saw must have taken hours to compete just one record.  The detailing was simply amazing.

Further along we spied Andy and the Jam Butty.  A fascinating little butty made from the rear of butty Montgomery and 15ft of a 1911 BCN day boat bows.  Andy and Helen had her restored at Stretton wharf and now use her to sell lovely home made jams.  Andy, AKA Captain Ahab, has a blog that tells of their Journeys with Jam Butty (here)

Andy aka Captain Ahab and the Jam Butty

A good while ago I came across a blog (here) called the Pen Maker's Boat.   They were (and still are) selling beautiful hand made pens made from various hard woods.  I ordered two from them, one in Ash and one in Oak, to match AmyJo's interior and have been delighted with them.  They are lovely to write with, are really comfortable to hold, and today we were able to let James and Debbie know how pleased with them we are as they too were at the festival.

James and Debbie and their Pen Maker's Boat

Just a small fraction of the many Boats taking part in the festival
 Chris was temped by the next boat, the Boarder Cheese Carrying Company (Click).  We quite like mature cheddars and so after being offered a taste of some of their wonderful cheeses we came away with a bag full. 

A little further along and the next boat needed no introduction.  Many boaters will know of Barry and Sandra (AreandAre) from one of the seminars at Crick this year.  They have been running their beer making kit business for a while now and business has been going well for them.  We stopped for a chat with Barry but we could not get to talk to Sandra as she was so busy with her face painting.  Barry seemed to be doing a brisk trade and we too relieved him of a home made beer kit during a quit spell in trading.

I think Barry was trying to protect his stock as I approach?
Not that I could carry that lot :-)  Nor drink it all come to think of it.
 Back home this evening aboard AmyJo we had another vist from our local swans and their family of five Signets.  Dad has taken to tapping on the jetty with his beak to let us know they are here.  I think he knows Chris cannot resist giving the littluns some food.  Tonight they had floating duck food we bought at the festival for a treat as we know not to give bread.  They are growing so fast and appear to be doing well.

Dad swan tapping to get our attention whilst mum and signets wait behind.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Weekend in Chester and Single Handing for a day.

The 3rd of June is a big day for us as in 1978 Chris and I celebrated our marriage to each other. Last week was our anniversary so to celebrate we cruised AmyJo to Eggbridge on a warm sunny Friday evening. After a peaceful night we then carried on into Chester. Surprisingly for the weekend we only saw one other boat on the move all the way through the locks.
Moored up at Eggbridge in Waverton
By Cow lane Bridge only three boats were moored up so we pulled in behind. As we were comming alongside a hire boat in front pulled off so to conserve mooring space we roped AmyJo forward into their spot. This left only two other boats, most unusual for a warm weekend in the city.

We bought one of those T-peace gadgets that lock onto the swan neck and allow the use of a rotary washing line when we were at Crick.  As a good breeze was blowing Chris decided to wash the bedding and try out the washing line to see if it worked.  It caused much interest and good comments from passers by but one problem we found was that Chris has to kneel on  the back hatch in order to reach the line.

Bit of a climb for Chris but the washing dried quickly in the breeze so a success

After phoning round we managed to book a table at Chez Jules, Amy's favourite restaurant in town. Their web site is here. If you like French cuisine then Chez Jules will not disappoint. Its a bit of a walk from the canal on the other side of the Cathedral in Northgate Street but worth the walk. After a fab meal and excellent service we could see why its Amy's favourite restaurant!

Sunday dawned bright but with a good breeze that was still a little on the cool side.  Sunday mornings are always dinghy sail racing at our sailing club on the river Dee here in Chester.  We regularly sail with them and often see people on the far bank or meadows side of the river watching the racing on the water.  We decided it would be nice to walk through the meadows and watch for ourselves for a change. From the canal one walks to Grosvenor Park and follows the signs for the Iron bridge or the Groves (the one bridge that features in most photos of the river Dee in Chester).  Walk over the bridge and turn left.  Follow the path and you arrive at the meadows,  a lovely large open expanse of green land that abounds with wildlife.  A path follows the contour of the river and the sailing club will be on the opposite bank.  A conveniently placed bench (In memory of a long standing sailor of the club who sadly died of cancer a few years back) is available here to rest whilst watching the sailing antics.

The much photographed Chester Groves and Chester Boats pleasure cruise boats.  The wide beam behind acts as offices
for Chester Boats Company and is a fixed mooring allowing electricity and telephone line etc.

Walking across the iron Bridge, something we have only done twice in the 15 years we have lived here

The meadows with the sailing club in the background
Some of the dinghy fleet.  Those with blue sails are Enterprise dinghy's like the one we sail.
Our Amy and crew Andy in her Lazy E dinghy.  A larger version of our Enterprise. When windy he crew hike out
on a wire to balance the boat.  A rare sight on the river due to space.
 We sat in the warm sunshine for a while then cadged a lift via the club's rescue boat to cross to the clubhouse for a cup of tea. We then walked the short distance to the little ferry that plies across the river between Sandy Lane and the Meadows and walked back into town. After a late lunch outside the Moorings restaurant by the groves we called into Tesco's for some shopping and returned to AmyJo. 

On our way back the canoeing Chester opposite the Groves was busy indeed with youngsters enjoying the water

Lunch at the Moorings restaurant at the Groves
Chris needed to be back for work on Monday but as it was so nice she suggested we make for Eggbridge in Waverton for the night and she could get a lift from a work colleague from there. This would leave me free to cruise AmyJo home on Monday and give us another night out on the cut.

We winded AmyJo at Cow Lane bridge much to the delight of the Lockkeeper's customers out front of the pub and a large group of tourists on the bridge who all clicked away with cameras.  I'm relieved to say AmyJo winded perfectly for me this time round.  On arrival at Eggbridge moorings, that were surprisingly still empty, Chris made us her version of afternoon tea with sandwiches scones, jam, clotted cream and cakes.  I confess we did, however, substitute the pot of tea for a bottle of Vino colapso instead.

Afternoon Tea and wine

Monday morning we were up with the sparrows and Chris reluctantly departed for work. I remained and prepared AmyJo for cruising. This took an age as I ended up talking for some time with several passing dog walkers that took an interest in AmyJo. They asked the usual questions, do you live aboard as so on. One commented that AmyJo was a much nicer boat than some that moored there. I believe in the past some really run down boats had over stayed there and had caused problems by all accounts.

At 10am I managed to up pins and get under way. By now the wind had dropped and the sun had some warmth to it. All in all the cruise was thoroughly pleasant though I will admit it did not feel right without Chris aboard ( but don't tell her that). It was not long before I realised I should have made myself a cuppa before getting under way. No problem, I pulled in and ran aground on the shallows by the bank. With AmyJo aground I made myself a drink and backed off the shallows and got under way again

This guy passed me as some rate and returned going back the other way some time later.  Made me tired watching him!
I made Tattenhall by mid day but as it was so nice I just carried on for another hour, winding at the Shady Oak pub just below Wharton Lock and then pulled onto the pub moorings. I stayed long enough for a pint and some lunch then slowly cruised back to Tattenhall. After fuelling up I reversed AmyJo back onto her moorings. I was quite pleased with myself to be honest. This was the longest run I had done on my own and even got AmyJo onto her mooring by myself. I know there were no locks or bridges but I felt it was not bad for a first time single handing all day.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Finding the dot in the sky and an unplanned stop over in Liverpool.

Our mooring Neighbours Paul and Sheila together with Jacky on the other side of us have been moored in Salthouse Dock in Liverpool for the last 12 days to see the 3 Queens celebrate 175 years of Cunard. We could not cruise with them due to work but arranged to meet up on Saturday. We caught the 11am train leaving our car in the station car park and in no time we found ourselves sat out in the dock jetty in the warm sunshine with a glass of wine together with Sheila, Paul, Joe and Dave.

These Classics were available to ride in for a £20 donation

Albert Dock and a lovely cabin cruiser
Some of the moorings in Salthouse lock
The three boats on left are nb Ducks Deluxe just in shot, nb Abbey Rose and nb Third and Final.
Not love locks but  locks none the less engraved with dates and the event - 3 queens visit Liverpool
It was decided we would eat out in the evening and then have a drink elsewhere. We had a super Chinese banquet in the Mayflower restaurant and then we decamped to the well known Flannagan's bar for a great evening drinking and dancing. We enjoyed ourselves so much we were asked to stay over so, as we had already missed the last train home, we stayed on nb Ducks Deluxe for the night or should I say a few hours as it was 3:30am before we got to bed!  Jacky was elsewhere so we had the boat to ourselves.

Left to right Dave, Steve. Dave, Joe, Brian, Chris, Paul and Sheila in the Mayflower Cihnese restaurant
Dave polishing Joe's head in Flanagan's bar

Chris makes Joe's crack up with laugter

Having a great time though they don't look it in this picture

The first of many more
Sunday was yet another sunny day so to recover from the previous night we all sat outside catching up and chatting to passers by. At tea time Sheila rustled up a super meal for us then, as Paul needed to be back for work next morning, he ran us back to the car park to pick up our car. We eventually got back to AmyJo at 9pm. All in all a fantastic day/weekend out. Our thanks to Sheila and the group for providing us with a wonderful weekend with lovely memories of a great time had by all.

Chris and yours truly enjoying the sunshine

Could have stayed there all week
When AmyJo was in her planning and build phase we both decided we would not have Satellite TV but use Freeview in built in the TV instead. The thought process was that we would be too busy cruising and exploring to be watching TV. A decision we recently regreted, I did though allow for sat TV to be fitted later by havng a Maxview Arial box installed in the cratch.

The Maxview Arial box in the cratch with the two satellite cables connected
Now we're living aboard and mostly marina bound due to work commitments we have found that we miss the recording function of our Sky box at the bungalow necessitating a once a week trip back to catch up on our favourite programs at the house.  Whilst we're working this is not too much of an issue, however, when we're continually cruising this clearly will not work.

Whilst at Crick we looked at the portable Freesat system with a freesat+ box that Was being sold by Martyn Hicks on his stall.  This would enable us to record programs.  On Monday Martyn came to the boat and installed it all for us and showed me the best way to find the dot in the sky.  It was a good job we went with the maxview box as it made fitting the Freesat a simple task.

Freesat dish on the roof

Today a thought occurred to me, and after checking with Martyn I discovered that we can actually use our Sky box with the dish we now have so have swapped the Sky box at home with the FreeSat box we bought. This means we'll not have to commute back to catch up on our TV programs but can watch them on board when days are grotty like the last couple of days have been. Happy daze :-)

I set to and added another shelf in the cabinet to hold the Sky box and voila.....

New shelf allows the Sky box to tuck in nicely