Thursday 30 March 2017

Easter Cruise Day 1 Tattenhall to Barbridge

Today we said a fond farewell to Tattenhall Marina for the summer as we are now staying out until October.  We will still be staying fairly local to Chester as Chris still has to work and does not want to retire just yet.

Smudge and I will cruise AmyJo when needed and Chris will commute to where ever we tie up.  We're not leaving the marina for good and plan to return for the winter.  I'm also getting better at single handing too.

Today, however,  Chris has two weeks off at the end of the term so we're making our now annual trip up the Llangollen.  We do so like this canal and it will also be our first long cruise with Smudge.

Our first lock of the trip, Wharton's lock No. 35 near the Shady Oak

Smudge not at all phased by the locks he prefers to chew sticks while mum does all the work

Waiting for mum at the lock beam.  He's not too sure about crossing yet.
 We were Billy no mates going through the next locks passing only two boats all day heading for Chester.  Despite the slight drizzle it felt so good to be out and about again.

Chris and the boss set off to work the next lock
 Between Tattenhall and Barbridge there are Wharton lock, Beaston Iron lock, Beaston Stone lock, Tilstone lock and Burnury staircase locks to pass through.  All double locks but with correct use of the paddles quite gentle to get through.

Tilstone lock with its round toll house
 Bunbury staircase was almost in our favour, just the top chamber needing to be filled whilst I motored into the lower chamber.  The place was deserted and no sign of the Anglo Welsh staff at all.  All their boats were there on the wharf and even the shop/office was closed.  There was no sign of tow path walkers either with or without dogs.  Felt quite peaceful in fact.

A boat did arrive eventually above as the top chamber was almost full and we crossed paths as we transitioned into the next chamber with brief hello's exchanged.  Sadly no famous Bunbury shuffle today.

Bunbury locks are a delight to pass through.  I always look forward to going through them.
After 5 hours of cruising we made Barbridge to find it busy with moored boats.  We found a slot on the towpath side and deployed our anti Shroppie shelf devices for the first time which proved a success.

You can just see AmyJo at the right of frame.
The anti shelf devices are in fact plastic wheel barrow wheels that were sold very cheaply in Aldi some time back.  They work 100% and keep the boat out far enough to miss the shelf but not too far as to make getting on and off a problem.  When not in use we tie them to the stern seat posts and hang them over the transom.

Our new anti Shroppie shelf devices deployed
As I type this at 8:20pm we have discovered why the moorings are so busy.  It appears an Elvis Presley tribute singer is performing in the Barbridge Inn tonight.  To be fair he is darn good too so we're quite happy to sit with the side doors open getting free entertainment! "Thang you vury much uhu"

Tomorrow we turn right at Hurleston and onto the Golly.

Total distance:8.19 miles Elapsed time:5h22m54s 
Locks:6 Bridges:15 Average speed:1.52 mph (2.64 lock/mph) 

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Engine Service and Spring Clean

It was time for AmyJo to have her engine serviced.  The Beta 50 has now done 800 hours but being a year ago it was last serviced we rang Chris Jones and booked him to do the service.  I'll be doing them from now on as the warranty will be up next year.

I took the opportunity to have a little cruise and a week online I so slipped the mooring on Monday morning and stopped at Waverton Eggbridge mooring.  Though designated for C&RT workboats we knew one would not be requiring the moorings so we were OK to stay.

On Tuesday I prepped AmyJo for the engine service.  Our back cabin engine cover is on several levels so serves as steps and steering platform.  The iron framework supporting the covers is easily unbolted into a series of blocks and removed giving ample space to work round the engine.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning the engine bay.

Covers removed the engine is easily accessible
 Chris arrived first thing on Wednesday and gave the Beta a thorough check over, replacing oils in engine and gearbox.  Changed all the filters and check belts and mountings.  All was well so afterwards I replaced the Cheshire Cat pub and spent the next few days there.

Able seaman Smudge stands guard at his favourite spot whilst we fill with water
I returned AmyJo to her mooring on Saturday with the weather improving all the while.  It was warming and the sun was making an appearance.  This trend has remained right up to today. 

I reversed AmyJo onto her mooring and commenced to wash and scrub the winter grime off her.  The last couple of days I've had the polish out and she's starting to look her shiny self again.  I do so hate it when she's dirty.  Tomorrow I'll turn her round and clean the port side.

All clean and shiny though the gunwales need a coat of paint soon.
Meanwhile young Smudge has been enjoying the warmth outdoors and has been out on the jetty most days and also on our neighbour's boat with her dog Albert, a Dalmatian.  The two are now best pals and love to be together.  At nine years old Albert is looked apon by Smudge as his mentor and so what ever Albert does Smudge copies.  They do so enjoy each others company and Albert has a spring in his step when he is with Smudge.

Smudge is now fully grown into a lovely boat dog.  Here he is looking out for Albert.
We getting AmyJo ship shape for our first cruise up the Llangollen in a few weeks time.  Can't wait.