Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Canal “activity level” report

.... the media and social media, what are to we make of it. I for one have lost faith in the media, even my beloved BBC. They are seeking out the negatives far too often, the BBC imho has dropped a level or two to try and catch the headlines.... well I guess this Blog is a form of social media but reporting as I see it.

My headlines.... IT’S  QUIET ON THE CUT ....typed in a shouty format. Ok the weather has changed from windy to wet all day but thankfully no wind. And it’s relatively quiet boat wise on the cut so far. When we do meet people they are respectful in distance terms. One thing that is very evident is the joy we see on boaters and walkers ... many smiles and lots of friendly chatting.

Makes me wonder why we had to book the tunnel, under normal circumstances we would have made an early start tomorrow and got to the tunnel just after lunch and gone thru, but we had to err on the safe side so booked Thursday morning. But be warned C&RT are playing hard ball on this, I got chatting to a fella at Star lock and he came through the tunnel yesterday and  booked in on the morning of passage (by phone) When he approached there was a boat reversing as they had been refused entry as they had not booked  and no doubt didn’t fancy a night at the northern portal.

Related to the chat with the fella he was at Star lock at 1 ish today Tuesday and had picked up the boat at Bunbry in Saturday, he was with his partner and their 10 month old.... so respect to them for that. I’m expecting to see him again around Audlum next Monday as he has to have the boat back Tuesday

There were no boats at the town end of the Stone moorings but a very nice M&S food shop there with cafe ( open)

The development behind Stone cruising is coming on and looks like an interesting build. 

We chugged on through the rain past the normally busy Plume of Feathers moorings ( one boat there shopping ) to the nearly empty Wedgewood visitor moorings.

At Sandon lock we met Stanley and his/ her crew who said were occasional blog readers, so if you do pop by I hope you made the progress you were aiming for and maybe if you are going the long way round we may see you on the other side ( of the four counties ring ).

Tomorrow more rain and the Stoke locks.... I wonder if Rob the lock will be about ? 

Monday, 6 July 2020

Poor bridges, boating in cricket pads and a tree down

...... and we cruise on. I’m seriously doubting our ambition to do the four counties in what will be 10 days. Set off at 8.45 am and moored up at 5 pm. Ok we did stop for water waste and shopping at Great Haywood. I would say a 2 hour stop so just over 6 hours today which is the daily total to do the trip. Our decision day is tomorrow when we will be at the Wedgewood visitor moorings. We can wind there any further progress sees us on towards the Stoke locks.

I have had to book a timed passage for the Harecastle tunnel.... slightly annoyingly it’s 11am so we can’t really moor at the portal entrance as we’ll be in the way of the 8-11am’ers so it’ll mean a Westport lake stop, moored there once before not massively keen but it’ll have to do.

This morning we set off just as a large crane was arriving to do its craning in at Teddesley.... how the poor bridges manage such weight is a testament to their long long ago construction.

Then I spotted this fella .... I suspect he was painting his boat and protecting his knees but who has space on a boat or cricked pads ! 

The wind has been with us all day turning North Westerly, thankfully apart for a few spots of rain the day kept dry, but it did promise - this sky was near Stafford boat club.

On the last leg to Salt I was hailed and advised there was a tree down ahead, we got past but looking at it quite a bit of the tree is being held up and if the lot comes down there is a boat that may cop it... I think I’ll report this one to C&RT.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Against my better judgement ...and some cruising

The alarm did not go off this morning because Rachel beat it to its job and woke me with a cup of tea rather than a chiming phone - always better.

This was 6.45 am and by the time I had lubed up the engine and fed myself with some porridge laced with tinned Raspberries and banana (not tinned !) it was 7.55am before we were on our way. But my it was blowing a hoolie and I nearly moored straight back up. The benefit of Percy over Waterlily is she is much much heavier and also much lower  (more tug style) so catches less wind. I cruised on a little against my inclination for lazyness and safety and it proved the right decision.

We were lucky not meeting any boats in the narrows or on the horrid turn off the Shroppie with the wind against us (Rachel) as well as an angle of the exit from one canal to the other.

I have been accused by Rachel of being a bit of a saddo when it comes to canal stuff. I recognise a lot of boats and on approaching this one it looked a lot like Pendle the boat of Emma and her mum who is the youngest and keenest vlogger I follow.

More boats moving today but no anything more than a normal cruising season. Interestingly there seems less hire boats still but I guess they are out there. Now just as we turned onto the Staffs and Worcester we met a boat that turned out to be an Anglo Welsh boat.... I have to assume it had been hired from Great Haywood Yesterday afternoon. Looking at CanalPlanAC it advises..

This is a trip of 20 miles, 3¾ furlongs and 12 locks from Great Haywood Basin to Autherley Junction travelling southwest on theStaffordshire and Worcestershire Canal (Main Line: Autherley to Great Haywood).
This will take 10 hours and 35 minutes which is 1 day, 3 hours and 35 minutes at 7 hours per day
So They must have cruised into the dark yesterday and up at first light today to be there for 9am.... I presume a four counties in a week boater. We also met a Stone hire boat at Penkridge, again no small distance in less than 24 hours.

As for us, after saying six hours was a long day yesterday we did seven and a half day today... Even the wind did not put us off and we kept on for a 15 miles and nine lock day !

We are at where our first boat was made  (I presume) at Teddersley boat yard, Comet was a Teddersley plastic top.

This gives us options, we were originally going for an out and back trip but I seem to have a phobia of using the same route twice (hard on a canal I know)  so the distance we have made in two days gives us an option for the four counties at about 6 hours a day.... we can still turn around in a day or so or as we were discussing drop Percy into Aquaduct marina or Overwater marina  if we get delayed or tired of the 6 hour days. For now it is a great novelty to be out cruising again.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

There are a few phrases you don’t want to hear when living on a boat

“Should that water be there?”
“We’ve run out of .....”
“ Batteries are goosed”

Or one for the start of our stay on board ..

“ You did put a cassette in the loo didn’t you ?”

Well that was me in the dog house but at least my lovely lady being a nurse was practiced in the clean up. I left to get supplies while the clean up took place being the gentleman I am.

Well the C&RT sleeping on your boat police did not kick the door in so my interpretation must have been correct. We woke from our post 12pm slumbers to a grey windy and sometimes missling morning. I set to topping the water up and prepping the donk and we slipped the mooring at 10 am with no destination set in stone.

The expected surge of boats never happened, we met a day boat in Grub Street who predictably went so far to the off side they grounded  - all part of the fun (for them) they declined the advice to reverse off in favour of gunning it like a car forward and got more stuck, we left them playing with the barge pole.

There as the weather got a little warmer and the rain departed we had a pleasant cruise. Option one for mooring was just before High Onn but there was a single boat where I would have moored so we cruised on.

I think we maybe passed about a dozen private boats and two hire boats just as we came to Chillington fancy bridge I guess out from Autherly junction.

We called it a day just after bridge 8, a stop we’ve made many times as for us it’s the best spot before it starts to get more Wolverhamptony 

It’ll be an early start tomorrow as I’d like to get through the Pendleford narrows before the Gailey hirers come through but if they do there are passing places.

Gailey and places onwards will be the target tomorrow. Being Sunday it may well be busier which in some ways will be nice. 

One thing very noticeable is how happy and friendly all the people are out and about. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

Might be a long day....

I’m if nothing else a person who likes a rule.  Ok I break a few speed limits on the bikes but in general I’m a law abiding member of society.

We’ve kept away from the boat when we were told no essential travel and when we were allowed to visit the boat for day trips only we did just that.

So from the 4th of July the canals are open to all including us leisure boaters who can now stay overnight and as a follow up from my last but one post I’m now getting a little excited. This was helped by Rachel giving the boat a good clean the other day while I spent the time doing the same in the engine room and back cabin ( cleaning and maintenance)

So the title ....and my interpretation. We can’t stay overnight until the 4th July, so if we stay awake until just past midnight on the 3rd  then we will obviously be aboard and sleeping from the 4th July, just got to keep awake until after 12....then we can sleep like babies in the knowledge we are at last aboard our lovely (clean) boat and set ready to head out and stay out for a few days.... At last

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Unconscious bias

I’ve been caught out more than once using phrases or terminology that show an unconscious bias. So now if I spot it it helps train my mind but also gives me the option of offering a correction. 

Such happened today when I received an email from C&RT 
Update on 02/07/2020:

“The Watford Flight will now be manned 7 days a week, opening at 10:00 with the last boat in at 14:15.

I emailed back and suggested staffed might be a better 2020 word .... am I being too PC? 

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

I should be more excited

Come the 4th July as you will know it's the English canals independence day. From that day I can stay on my boat and travel all the system..... well the system that is open. I subscribe to email alerts to all the system and I'm quite concerned by the number of stoppages being advised right now.

I guess it's the knowledge come the 4th it's going to go from nothing to full on summer season overnight.... no doubt that'll also add to the stoppages as locks ad structures get used much more from a relative standing start?

We'll be out there, going south on the Shroppie I think, minimising on locks and getting a feel for how busy it actually is. We can always just moor up and watch the boats go by. 

It may also be the fact I know I've got to give the boat a decent 'spring clean' before we can enjoy it. It's all small scale stuff in the great scheme of things so I should just STFU as the internet says and get out there and blog about the beauty of the south Shroppie and the Staffs and Worcester canals.

Watch this space ....