Sunday 1 December 2019

A Happy Launch day

It still seems like yesterday to Chris and I when AmyJo's build was completed but, yesterday, it was 6 years to the day AmyJo was launched.  The culmination of four years planning and joy at her build that on the 30th November 2013, on a bright sunny but bitter cold day, she was lowered into the canal at Crick Marina for the first time.

Since that day we have cruised 2300miles in her, traversed some 1333 locks and gone through countless bridges.  We still concider ourselves novices but we're getting there.

Now complete, AmyJo leaves Fernwood's factory for the first time.
Being lowered onto Tuckey's lorry

Off to Crick

Up she goes

Must admit we were biting our nails at this point

Gently does it

and in she goes.  A proud lump in the throat moment

6 years on today we left the marina after staying there for a month.

  All the portholes are now replaced and liners re-installed.  So far they seem to be working out fine.  Condensation is minimal and limited to the frame round the glass.  The main frame is dry and glass has remained clear.  Inside we feel the heat is retained better but its still cold in the mornings but them it was -4C this morning so no surprise there.

 We were getting itchy feet and feel much happier out on the cut, so whilst the weather is still pretty good despite the cold we left the marina andmoored on one of our fav moorings at Waverton for a while.  Just like 6 years ago yesterday and today have been bright and sunny but bitter cold!  The sense of adventure is still there too :-)

We simply adore the sunsets like this one today on clear days at this time of year

Total distance:3.68 miles Elapsed time:1h55m1s Locks:0 Bridges:7
Average speed:1.92 mph (1.92 lock/mph)

Thursday 21 November 2019

And Today Through The New Round Window

The last few Weeks we have taken the opportunity to stay in the marina and this has given me time to get a couple of jobs done.  One simple and the other a bit more major and time consuming.

The first job on my list only took an hour and that was to fit two long fenders at the bow to protect AmyJo a bit more in the locks and when mooring up.  This protected area of hull can sometimes catch the armco or concrete bank scraping off the blacking.  We hope these fenders will avoid that in future.

Long fenders protect the hull when mooring and also when in locks

The next job has taken several days so far and is still on going.   When AmyJo was being built we always wanted double glazed portholes  Trouble was the only available ones were the top hopper type like these

We were not keen on them and felt they would not look right so had to settle for single glazed ones like these that are fitted

Over the 6 years we have had AmyJo they have served us well but always steamed up and dripped with condensation.  My makeshift secondary glazing helped a lot but we were never really happy with them.

Whilst at the Crick boat show this year we found a company called Caldwells who manufacture some very nice and robust portholes that are double glazed, not only that they had an added feature of a thermal break between the inside frame and outside so this would help to reduce condensation further.  We were that impressed with them we ordered a set for AmyJo.  We took delivery last month.

Taking advantage of some dry weather for the last few days, I have been carefully removing the original portholes and installing the new double glazed units.  The difference is amazing even though so far only the Starboard (right) side portholes have been replaced.  So far the boat feels a bit warmer but we have not seen any condensation at all!

So first job was to remove the Aluminium liners.  This prooved relatively easy as they were held in place by silicon mastic.

Liner remooved showing the mastic used to hold it in place

Liner removed the fixing clips are revealed.

The remaining mastic was carefully scraped of with a sharp scraper.  Next the fixing clip screws had to be untightened.  These were most stubbon as many had the head slots rounded of.  Most unscrewed OK but those rounded off had to have the screw drilled out which took ages and several broken drill bits.  So far 40% of the eight clips per porthole had to be removed this way.

With the clips removed it then took two of us all our strength to carefully tease the porthole away from the hull.  The Stikaflex mastic used was holding them in quite firmly but after a lot of effort pulling and wriggling we managed to pull them off with no damage to the paintwork except for small chips on two of the portholes.

I then carefully cleaned off the remaining mastic from the cabin side with a scraper and cleaned the area with Sikaflex remover to leave a clean surface

The new porthole was then installed using fresh Stikaflex mastic and clips.

New frame glued in and fresh clips fixed into place

I now have all the portholes replaced on the Starboard side and will start on the port side tomorrow.

End result outside

And inside though the liner is yet to be fixed permanently

The glass area is slightly smaller as these new windows have their own metal frame unlike the originals, small price to pay for better thermal quallity.

Showing the opening window which can then be removed if required

You may be wondering why the new portholes do not look as shiny as the old ones.  This is because they cannot be anodised to give the glossy shine as it destroys the thermal break.  Instead we had them powder coated a silver colour though in the photos it looks grey.

The original portholes

The new ones in place.
It will tske a bit of getting used to the new portholes but we are very pleased with the result.  Now to do the other side before the rains return.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Some useful advise for working Double Locks with one boat

Quite often when we are out cruising and working double locks many crews we meet at the locks tell us they hate them because they throw their boat around inside the lock.

We have developed our own system that works well for us but our good freinds Del and Al on Derwent6 recently published their method for handling a double lock that works really well.  I'm sure they won't mind me sharing their method and the link to their blog page that describes this method and I hope this will help others too:-

First open the ground paddle HALF WAY on the side that the boat is closest too.

Then open the gate paddle halfway on the opposite side to the boat and let the boat settle.

Then its back across the lock and wind the ground paddle up fully on the boat side.

Then across the lock again and open up fully the ground paddle which is opposite the boat side.

Then while your on that side open fully the gate paddle.

Now when the lock is over half full or covering the flow from the open gate paddle, then open the other gate paddle..

The boat should stay on the side that you opened the first ground paddle all the way till you open the gate to leave the lock..

If the boat leaves the lock slowly and you close the gate slowly the other gate should remain closed.

In the case of locks that only consist of ground paddles or just gate paddles (like those on the Shroppie near Chester) we open both half way until the cill is covered then open them fully.  

Saturday 9 November 2019

A famous visitor but blink and you'll miss it

While I was filling with water yesterday morning, local boater Garry, on nbChugabug and who runs a Vlog (Chugabug) told me that the Flying Dutchman loco would be passing by the marina soon.  Of course I had to see this so armed with camera I, and many others, set up for the photo oppotunity on the bridge that allows access to the marina.

Train Spotters and boaters eagerly await the arrival of the Flying Dutchman

The name Flying Dutchman is actually the name of a passenger service from London Paddington to St Davids Exeter and this was named after The Flying Dutchman, a famous racehorse, which had won both the Derby and St. Leger in 1849. The racehorse was in turn named after the famous Dutch Admiral Tromp.  The name was later given to the loco used on that service.

The locomotive was built in Doncaster becoming the first locomotive of the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). It left the works on 24 February 1923 with number 1472. It was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class – the most powerful locomotives used by the LNER at that time.

By 1924, when it was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in London, the loco had been renumbered 4472 – and had been given the name ‘Flying Scotsman’ after the London to Edinburgh rail service which started daily at 10am in 1862.

The British Empire Exhibition made Flying Scotsman famous, and it went on to feature in many more publicity events for the LNER. In 1928, it was given a new type of tender with a corridor, which meant that a new crew could take over without stopping the train. This allowed it to haul the first ever non-stop London to Edinburgh service on 1 May, reducing the journey time to eight hours.

In 1934, Flying Scotsman was clocked at 100mph on a special test run – officially the first locomotive in the UK to have reached that speed.

Sure enough, an hour later, the famous locomotive appeared, although only visible for a few seconds as it was running at speed.

And here are a few photos of it

Appearing from behind the bridge

The Flying Dutchman approaches our bridge in a cloud of steam

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Day 8 Weaver Cruise - Homeward bound

Well, yet another apology for not finishing the Weaver cruise posts sooner so here goes....

Last time I posted we were moored above Cholmoneston Lock near Venetian marina.  It was grey and cloudy as we left with a bitter Northerly breeze blowing.  To allow us to warm up it was decided we would stop at the Cheese Factory for breakfast at Calverley.  We like eating there and its good value.

Preparing to get underway

After a super full English and pot of tea we were suitabely warmed up so next stop was the services at Calverley for water and to empty the cassette.  Word must have gone along the cut that the Nantwich services are closed for maintenance as the Calverely services were very busy.  We were lucky to get alongside just as one boat left.  Even as we moored up more boats came along and waited their turn.

Very busy at the Calverley services with boats queuing for their turn.

 Having completed the jobs needed at the services we next moved on to Bunbury locks.  Here too there was a queue but we did not have to wait long.  We locked Mal and Eric down first then we locked down with another boat that had turned up in the mean time.

Waiting our turn to descend the Bunbury locks

Meanwhile we had thought Smudge was on the mend but in fact he took a turn for the worse.  He was slow to get out of bed in the mornings and would not eat until lunchtime.  He just walked a few feet when walked, did what he need to, then returned to AmyJo and slept.

On Friday we took him to the vet and she took some blood for tests.  After examining him she thought he might have Addison's desease but the tests would confirm this.

Addison's disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn't produce enough of certain hormones. In Addison's disease, your adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, produce too little cortisol and, often, too little aldosterone.  Some sympthoms include (although in humans there are more):

Poor appetite
Excessive thirst 
Cool to touch

All of which Smudge seemed to be exhibiting

A very poorly Smudge is allow to sit in my chair by the fire.

That evening after making sure Smudge was settled we took ourselves off to the Shady Oak for their Halloween  party.  We had a ball and the costumes were fantastic. We stumbled back to AmyJo in the early hours.

Landlord Pete as Alfie Solomon in Peaky Blinders

Marie, Yvonne and Kas behind the bar

Graham as a dead convict

Eric the Nife

On Sunday morning Smudge was late rising preferring to lay in bed long after we got up.  He never asked to go out so I lead him out but he just lay in the grass by the boat in the rain.  Clearly he was very unwell. I carried him back in and let him sleep on the armchair.  By now I was really getting very worried.  Fortunately in the afternoon the vet rang with good news, Smudge's blood test came back OK and no signs of anything amiss, ruling out Addisons.  That was a big relief.

The vet then suggested he had a gut problem and suggested a course of Amsoprazole antacid.  I quipped I am on Lansoprazole but she agreed he could have 10mg twice a day of that.  

The vets diagnosis must have been correct for after 3 days on the Lansoprazole Smudge is once again his old self and eating well.  He's running around on walks and has his appetite back.  He has even started to want to play. You can imagine our relief. It really upsets me to see him suffer so much I confess I was close to tears for him.  I guess I'm a big kid at heart.

Anywho, thats our season wrapped up for another year.  We're back at Tattenhall marina for a month then we'll see how it goes.  Depending on the weather we may go back out and resume our life out on the cut for our first full winter.  This is to get ready for when Chris retires in two years time.

This year we travelled 380 miles over 300 hours.  We locked through 292 locks.  Canals we travelled on include:

Shroppshire union
Trent and Mersey
Staffordshire and Worecestershire
B.C.N main Line

Friday 1 November 2019

Day 7 Weaver Cruise - Middlewich to Cholmoneston Lock visitor moorings.

We had a bit of a lay in this morning, even Smudge who is now back to his old self remained under the covers content to keep warm and sleep.

Another bright sunny morning greeted as we got underway at 10:30am.  As normal AmyJo lead the way passing Spey a historical working boat.  I have helmed her sister boat Towy several years ago.  Several of these boats were built and named after British rivers.

Just past Spey moored up on a garden mooring
Leaving the moorings in Middlewich the view is marvelous and could almost make a picture postcard.  This photo suggests a warm summers evening, in fact its bitter cold when I took this.

Picdture postcard scene
 Leaving Middlewich behind we passed over the site of last year's breach.  A major engineering works taking several months restored the canal.  Apart from the fresh looking concrete banks one would not know a major breach occured here now.

Site of the breach now becomeing well estsblished with forna.
After passing Aqueduct marina we were passed by a hire boat called Olivia Ginger.  We know this boat well.  She's getting on in age now as it was the very first boat we hired back in 2000.  Nineteen years on its good to see she is still going strong.  We have plenty of happy memories cruising aboard her.

Our first boat hire

This is Chris and Joanne on Olivia Ginger back in 2000  The dog was our last one called Pepsi, sadly no longer with us

With the sun now dissapearing in the hasy cloud the temperature was beginnning to drop so we decided to moor above Cholmondeston lock for the night.

Total distance:8.39 miles Elapsed time:4h8m50s Locks:2 Bridges:28
Average speed:2.02 mph (2.50 lock/mph)

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Day 6 Weaver Cruise - back to Middlewich

I forgot to post this yesterday. While at Anderton walking the dog I came across a van who's owner clearly has a great sense of humour.  I reckon his passenger has been waiting quite a while for them to return.

Halloween passenger.

Anyway back to today.

We were woken at 7am by a loud nose like metal scraping on metal.  I looked out but could see nothing wrong.  No sight of a boat having passed and Lucille was laying quietly alongside not moving an inch.  We still have no idea what the cause of the noise was but nothing seems to have been damaged, nor paint freshly scraped off.

A beautiful Autumn morning

Despite a harsh frost the morning was bathed in glorious sunshine, though it felt quite cold.  A loud bang was heard as someone was hunting in the woods nearby.  Further shots sounded much closer so I got the binoculars out but could not see the shooter.

I know someone will ask about the wisdom of mooring with those railway rails so close to the boat.  In fact they were a good foot away from the cabin side and no chance of them catching AmyJo's paintwork, though I admit I had to be very careful when mooring up.

Looking for the shooter nearby

 We got underway and cruised in the bright sunshine.  The sun is lower this time of year and a times we found it difficult to see where we were going as we cruise with the sun in front of us.  No problem, we just slowed down until we rounded a bend.

The rest of the journey went without any problems, we passed the flashes and the 3 marinas, Woodlands, Park Farm, and Orchard.

Entering the Flash.  Not as big as Tixall  Wide but just as much fun to cross.

After bridge 189 we crossed Croxton Aqueduct, the river below now much less flooded than when we passed here a few days ago.  The reduced level revealed a lot of mud and scoured away banks.

Water levels returning to normal, but the banks have suffered

After a short stop for water at Big Lock we then started the climb through the Middlewich locks.  Eric stopped for water below Andersen boats yard while we worked the locks.  After each lock we reset them for Eric but a boat sneaked past him with four men on board as he was about to get underway.  They must have though their luck was in with us above them resetting the locks.  Chris returned to them and asked if they would be good enough to reset the locks as they went as Eric was now approaching the bottom lock.  When Chris walked back down the locks to help Eric while I moored up she found the four guys had ignored her request so let them know her displeasure.  They, embarrassed, did not look at me when they passed me above the top lock!

Middlewich locks
 I mentioned the other day about the crocheted squares we had seen, one at Marbury Country Park and one at Middlewich.  The one here at Middlewich is pinned to the now derelict cafe above the locks.

The old cafe and crocheted square in the right hand window

Looks like a lot of work goes into these so why leave them?

At Wardle lock we found three boats waiting to ascend and one coming down.  The skipper of the latter proundly announced he was only winding so don't close the gates.  No chance!  The skipper of one of the boats waiting at the head of the queue told him firmly he would have to take his turn in the queue like everyone else who had been waiting.  The former was not happy but when the other skippers were also saying the same he had no choice but wait his turn.  We stayed out of it happy to wait our turn.

The skipper then tried it on when, eventually it was Eric's turn for the lock.  Eric had to wait the otherside of the bridge 'ole and came forward as AmyJo went into the lock.  The winding (or should that be winging?) skipper started to have a go at Eric for jumping the queue until Eric told him he'd been waiting as long as the rest of us the other side of the bridge 'ole. He then stomped of mumbling under his breath.  To be honest we would have just let him go up, would have been a lot less fuss!

We found some free moorings above the lock and went for a food shop in town.  When we got back we got a chippy tea from the local chip shop and settled down watching tele for the night.

Total distance:2.64 miles Elapsed time:3h42m58s Locks:7 Bridges:13
Average speed:0.71 mph (2.59 lock/mph)