Sunday 27 December 2020

Thursday 3 December 2020

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Free from Lockdown

Once again I have neglected the blog so more apologies are in order.  

We sat out the locked down for a further few weeks but then, gradually, the lock down lifted and we were able to move once more.

Chris, being furloughed now got the call saying she could return to work but we had a week in hand so, with restrictions lifted, we cruised to Nantwich for a few days

Moored at Nantwich aqueduct

On our return we stopped at Waverton for a week whilst Chris Jones did our annual full service on AmyJo's engine for us.  I can do general servicing on the engine but once a year I do like to have Chris check it over as he spots things I miss, like worn brushes on one of the alternators.

Chris checking the fuel filter

AmyJo's Bata 50 engine

Whilst the weather had settled and quite hot we also shut down our log burner for the summer as swept the flue which was surprisingly clean considering it had been in use for several months.

Not bad for a few months use

We were then joined by fellow boater and You tuber Captain Gray Phillips of Chugabug vlogs 

Gary on Chugabug

Gary joined us for a cruise first to Chester, and then, on new waters for Gary, to Ellesmere port.

Chester at night looking towards Cow lane bridge

Looking back at the Steam mill.
Having cruised to last leg to Ellesmere Port before we thought it would be very weedy and overgrown but were pleasantly surprised.  Clearly a low has been done to make the route much better, in fact, it is now a lovely route to cruise.  Many who come to Chester and miss this section are loosing out on a lovely cruise.

Pretty section of canal heading to Ellesemere port
 It was a shame the Museum was closed due to the Covid virus but we still enjoyed our stay there for  ne night before returning to Chester
Canal Museum and dusk

Enjoying the sun before the weather turned

Whilst there it appears we had a visit, unknown to us, by the local constabulary that caused a stir when it appeared on Facebook.  friends asking what we had done.   In fact it turned out it was our friend who is a community Police officer playing a prank on us.

Police protection at the port
 We then cruised back to our favorite pub the Shady Oak for its reopening on the 4th July.  It was so good to see Peter and Yvonne again and many boaters arrived to show their support, all socially distanced of course!


Monday 20 April 2020

Lock Down Continues and a Major Malfunction

Hello all.
 Hope you are all keeping safe and avoiding the virus?  We have so far but then, not cruising, we're spending the majority of our time inside AmyJo.  We'd love to sit out on the tow path but where we are the walkers and runners abound, far to busy to sit out.  Instead we sit in the cratch and people watch with a drink or three.

We have not posted before now as whilst watching Netflix last week we lost all internet signal.  We use a Huawei MiFi router hooked up to our two external antenna and this had stopped working.  When I inspected it it felt quite hot.  On removing a cover I was met with this.

The Lithium Iron battery was badly swollen and clearly on the point of bursting open.  Not quite sure why this has happened but the router has been in service for at least 3 years so we can't complain. We have also been experiencing slow internet speeds and intermittent outages and this would appear to be the reason.  

A search on Amazon and a similar more updated version was found and ordered.  We installed it when it arrived and now have good signal and as a bonus this model is two times faster than the old model and can run 10 hours without a charge.  Better still the antenna connections are much more secure and as a result we now have a full 4G signal.

Our new HUAWEI E5785Lh MiFi Router

Seems people are now beginning to observe the lock down as when walking Smudge the towpath has long spells devoid of people though weekends and evenings its still very busy

A rare moment devoid of people.  Thats AmyJo in the distance

Clearly they are getting bored in this canal-side house
I guess like a lot of liveaboards I've used the good weather to get some painting done.  The back doors and hatch had loads of chips out of the paintwork and the hooks that hold the doors open had put large gashes into the back cabin wall so I dealt with all these.

Back hatch runner support is wearing paint on its edges

As does here

and here

Gouges caused by the door hooks 

Top of the swan neck also needs attention
Two days later....

I added anti knock pads that now protect the paint as the hooks drop

Fresh paint for the hatch runner support

and door tops
The swan neck is still getting coats of paint so is still work in progress but I'm pleased with the results.

Next job to tackle was our water tank gauge.  Ever since AmyJo was launched this has never given a reliable reading.  It showed full when the tank was full but then the level indicated dropped away to zero for almost no reason.  We always knew showers and two wash loads plus day to day washing and toilet flushes the tank would last a week but the gauge would show almost empty with a day or two.

With time to spare I ordered a new one planning to fit the display forward in the saloon nearer to the sensor figuring that the 50 foot plus run of cable between the two could be causing a drop in signal and hence the false reading.  We have two other gauges for waste and fuel but as the sensors are closer to the displays at the rear of AmyJo they seem to be accurate and bear out my reasoning.

Top Gauge is the water gauge and we have half a tank at the time of the photo

The new one arrived and I installed it without too much of a problem, in fact its was dead easy to do as the new sensor had the same size pipe fitting so it was a case of just removing the original and inserting the new.

The new sensor look identical to the old one which I've kept for a backup
The new gauge is now mounted in the wall just to the left of the front door so now we don't have to run to the back of the boat to check the level.

The new display can  be seen from anywhere in the saloon or galley
After filling up with water and calibrating the sensor to show a full reading we hoped that would be it.  We were wrong!

Within an hour the level, despite not using any water had dropped to 50%.  How could this be?  I spent ages looking for leaks and found none but when Chris filled the kettle the penny dropped.  There was no leak! This type of gauge relies on head of water pressure to register.  The more water in the tank, the more pressure and so the higher the reading.  

What is happening is the sensor is fitted between the pump and the tank and as a result the pressure at the sensor was gradually dropping.  As soon as Chris ran the tap and shut it off the pressure restored and the reading rose to show the correct level.

We also noticed as we both walked down towards the back of the boat the level indicated also rose.  Clearly as we walk through AmyJo we affect her trim (angle from back to front) [no puns about our weight please!], this in turn is making the water shift slightly toward the front or back of the tank lowering or raising the level sightly at the sensor end which is at the rear of the tank.  Now we know we can re calibrate the sensor next time we fill the tank.

Another bit of news we are moving with the times and starting regular YouTube vlogs (video Logs) for a trial period.  You can access these by clicking on the YouTube logo at the top of the blog.  Hope you enjoy them and if so do subscribe then click the notification bell and you will be notified when we post a new video.  Don't worry we'll still be keeping this blog going so if you have limited data allowance and can't watch the videos you'll not miss anything.

Oh I nearly forgot.  Did you work out what message I sent using AmyJo's horn in the last post video?  It was my attempt at Morse code for "Thank You NHS".

Well thats it for now.  We're still observing the no cruising rule but my, this weather is making it so hard not to.  We resist as its for the best.  I just say to myself

Stay in and win
Go out and die out

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Saturday 4 April 2020

Lock down week Two - Spit and Polish

Hello all,
Hope you are all keeping well and managing to stay sane in this topsy tervy world we find ourselves in.

This week I finished giving AmyJo her spring polish though now only the Starboard (right) cabin side is left to do.

After applying the cleaner the differance is noticable, just needs waxing after this

Now the outside is done as far as I can, I turned my attention inside.  We have several chromium light fittings and vents on the ceilings.  These were in bad need of a polish, so over the next two days, each one was taken down and given some attention.

The first of 30 light fittings getting a polish

Before and after.  We didn't realise how bad they had got!

On Thursday evening at 8pm we joined the nation to show our thanks for the NHS.  I used AmyJo's horn to send a message.  Can you guess what it is?

I'll give you a clue, its my attempt at morse code.  I'll reveal all in my next post for those who can't work it out.

The young lady you can see in the boat ahead is none other than Emma of vlog "Narrowboat Girl" fame.  Like many of us Emma and her mum are sitting out the lockdown and just trying to stay safe and well.

Vlogs are becoming very popular these days and so we're thinking of giving it a try.  Would love to hear your views on this.  There are several vloggers out there so would I just be copying them or would you like to see life on AmyJo in video as well? 

Thursday 26 March 2020

Staying Put for Lock Down

Who would have thought?  Only last week Chris and I were planning our Easter Cruise with freinds.  We had planned to go onto the River Weaver via the Andreton lift but the lift is closed for maintenance so we changed our plan and was going to head up the Llangollen.

Now, after Boris's lock down announcement, CRT have told us unnecessary cruising was to be discouraged and that the 14 day mooring rule was being suspended until 14th April when it will be reviewed.  That scuppered our plan completely so we are moored up and staying put.  

For the non boaters.  The maximum we can stop anywhere on the canals is 14 days, less on recognised visitor moorings.  Any longer is deemed residential and that is not allowed on the canal except in designated places.  Failure to comply could mean, in absolutely worst case, having your boat impounded and removed for scrap, or at best a telling off and made to move.

Lock down day 1
The weather has been so good that I have managed to give AmyJo a good clean and polish where she can be reached.  My only concern was the sheer number of walkers, dog walkers and cyclists that are passing by, its worst than the first day of the sales at Harrods! 

Empty moorings behind us

And only one boat up ahead

The level of intelegence that some people have beggers belief.  Many do not observe social distancing and clearly are not aware of the risk they are putting themselve in.  OK they might be making the one outing for excersise that is allowed but I very much doubt they all are.  Even the vunerable elderly are out in numbers as if nothing was wrong.

A rare moment when the towpath is clear

but it does not stay this way for long
On Monday Chris went to work for the last time.  The school, now closed, is only open for 18 children of key workers, and only one child is in the infants where Chris works.  Chris is now likely to be off work until September when hopefully the virus crisis has passed.

Today, Thursday,  Chris joined me for Smudges lunchtime walk.  She joins us to get out of the boat for a while.  Walking past the pub car park we could not believe our eyes.  On the grass bank behind the railings you can see in the picture below, a young family of three, mum, dad and toddler, were actually picnicing in the sun!  Dad climbing over the railings several times to retreive his dog just where people had previously leant for a rest.  

You can just see the family to the right of the tree trunk
I would have spoken to them but a young man approached them before me.  Although we could not hear the conversation it was clear from his body language he was giving them a good telling off.  The young man and family left shortly after.

Smudge enjoying his walk

Lovely views in the sunshine

 We have been enjoying our walks in the sunshine as have mny others.  Its so nice to not get wet, muddy and cold.  The days ave been quite warm and so we really enjoyed being out.  

Thanks to the good weather we have been able to get the rotary line out for Chris to hang out the washing.  Its so much better when they get a good airing outside.

Washing blowing in the light breeze

Seems a few people are still treating this as a holiday, this family came paddling past us this afternoon, clearly thinking they are imune to the virus because they are on the canal.

So thats it for now.  We're both OK so far and are trying to keep to the guidelines.  At the moment we have all we need though our first shopping trip will have to be done tomorrow.  Unlike many we cannot hoard as we simply don't have room to store it.  We need bread and milk plus some food for Smudge.  I also have a prescription to collect.

Poor Smudge cannot unterstand why we do not stay outside more  in the sun like we used to and has now started to look longingly through the window bless him.  He will not leave my side, follows at my heels as I walk through the boat, clearly knows something is not right with the world and is anxious.  I re-assure him as much as I can and spend alot more time with him and hope he will come to understand.

Why can't we go out dad?

Sorry its not been an upbeat post but theres not much we can do for now.  Stay well everyone and hope you and your families get through this worrying time.  We will beat this virus, never has humankind been better placed to find a cure as it is right now.

Friday 20 March 2020

Bump, Lump and Mud

Having stayed at the Shady Oak for 14 days it was time to move.  The evening before, we called into the house for the post, to see the girls, and to collect some more coal.  We left AmyJo in the dark and set off via the village of Huxley.  As we came to the village there was an almighty bang and the car lurched.  We had hit a pothole.  One of many around these parts but one we were not aware of.

Next morning we returned to the spot to record it so we could claim.  We were stunned by the size of it.  Below is a photo of it with Chris's foot in it.  Whats not clear from the photo is its at least 5 inches deep where her foot is.

checking the tyre we found a carbunkle bulge and damage to the rim.  I used the council web app to report the pothole location and had the tyre replaced.  I am now claiming for a new tyre.  Whats more annoying is the tyre was only replaced 4 months ago and that was also due to a pothole.

the buldge in the tyre and damage to the rim is evident in this photo

We later left the Shady Oak and called into Tattenhall marina for a couple of nights.  On Tuesday Smudge was booked to have a groom and claws clipped and Wednesday the tyre was to be replaced.

Whilst there I spotted a new peice of equipment down by the workshop.  A straddle carrier has been purchased and this will now be used instead of the low trailer.  It will be instesting to see this in action when AmyJo comes out for her blacking!

Having got Smudge groomed and tyre changed, we left the marina yesterday (Thursday) and headed for our fav mooring at Waverton.  On the way I spoted a boat has become a celebrity on the BBC.  On closer inspection it turned out to be Rob Cumming's Naughty Lass.

For those that don't know, Rob has been producing Vlogs or video logs on youtube for some time and they are really interesting, telling how it really is living afloat and not the sun and roses Tim and Pru portray.  His vids are well worth a look :-

Rob was approached by the BBC last year and a 6 part series of his journey was broadcast.  He is in the area as he is due to produce a second series though this is now on hold due to the virus.

As its still not too warm Smudge wore his coat as his trim has removed a lot of fir
One of the problems cruising in the winter is the state of the towpaths along the cut.  Here on the Shroppy is no exception.  Mud is everywhere and in this case quite deep.  It makes morring up and walking Smudge really difficult.

This is one of the better spots

We are heading towards Chester as from Waverton on the towpath is tarmaced so the mud is not a problem.  Its a real problem with Smudge cleaning his paws and bathing him when he gets covered so leaving the muddy towpath behind will be good.

passing the long line of moorings at Golden Nook

We found boats moored at Waverton so we carried on and found our usual mooring free at the Cheshire cat pub.

Hope everyone is OK and we pray you manage to get through the coming months.  We can get through this so please do look after yourselves and those who can't.

Total distance:4.68 miles Elapsed time:2h12m31s Locks:0 Bridges:8
Average speed:2.12 mph (2.12 lock/mph)