Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Twirling on the canal

.... some call it winding, some turning, today I call is a twirl as the weather was so nice !

Part of my justifications for moving my mooring was the prevalence of winding holes close to my mooring. Not too close of course as its nice to have a little bimble and twirl to essentially keep the water pump from 'welding' the impeller to the brass body as was I suspect the case in my overheating.

Where I moor there is a winding hole about 50 yards to the north.

So far I've not winded here as it has boats in it - I understand winding it with the permission of the owners of the canopy company.

On Thursday 11th  I went a bit further up and winded 40 minutes away (2 miles) just past Knighton woods. Nothing on the canal until just after I winded then another boat came along. I am a get off the back and pull it round type of fella if needed, apologies for the purists but it seems the most efficient way ? We stopped at Knighton woods on the rings and took a walk in the woods- lots of evidence of Pheasant rearing in there with the blue feeding containers?

The last time we were pointing north we took Percy to Tyrley and winded before the locks. This is just over 6 miles and takes us a good two and a half to three hours as there are quite a few moored boats ! We have walked into Market Drayton before from here which is a nice walk.

Now back at out home mooring pointing south to wind we go to the Grub street cutting winding hole just past the boats moored where the old Rolls Royce is - you'll know it if ever travelling through. This is another 45 minute there and 45 minute back option - just right for a little pootle. The winding hole is well protected so usually a no nonsense twirl.

For when we are feeling a little braver it's a wind at Norbury, Depending on the time of year and day of the week harder as loads of boats moored there in the winter but no audience, in the summer less boats more traffic and lots of watchers....we have so far avoided it. It's about three and a half miles and an hour and a half. 

The day out and day back cruise I did the other week is to High Onn wharf and is just over eight miles and about three and a half hours. A lovely cruise for a full day or as I did a cheeky overnight  

Finally in the local area the Wheaton Aston winding hole gets you out for a good engine stretch....twenty two and a half miles about 9 hours  - lovely countryside again, very rural up to Wheaton Aston and you can get the cheapest fuel on the system here. 

So as you can see lots of little trip with options for twirling. The real bonus is a few of the winding holes are remote and sheltered so makes for stress free winding.

As I am now pointing south I feel a High Onn trip to ease the new head gasket into full use.... !!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

The first cut is the deepest

Cheesy.... but a note to self that I was over at the boat last week to give the grass its first cut of the season. A gratuitous shot or two of the work done and the loan bike I rode over there on. Still great to get vehicles so close to the boat, especially as I heard recently that boaters cars had been broken into at Fradley.

I was able to use the Bosch mower with my now trusty Honda genny. They paired up well together to get the job done. The profile of the mooring also helps make this a much easier job than before this means i can dispose of the petrol mower I had  (still have) for the Fradley mooring. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Exorcising the demons

I am a reflective sort of person. Luckily I have time to be so, that helps. It can also hinder ones progress in life if not controlled.. let me explain.

I moved Percy in the autumn of 2018 from Fradley to Shebdon as we were moving from our C&RT mooring we had held for over 10 years to a new adventure on the Shroppie. Due to me being retired (bliss) and Rachel still working it was a single handed cruise over 4 longish days.

I blogged about it and called it my heaven and hell cruise... well worth a read. I don't really have to as it is engrained in my head.... but click me for the full story and lovely pictures. 

Now this cruise literally lifted and dented my love and enthusiasm  for Percy and the canals in one four day period. We loved Fradley but wanted a change, it was on reflection absolutely the right thing to do and I thank my neighbour for the heads up on the mooring, the vacancy and help in moving around when we got there....

The denting was more deeply engrained than I think I expected. The head gasket on Percy has always weeped a little and this is more a feature of the listeroid version than the original CS2  - the original CS2 was lower powered but has two extra head studs that helps even the 'squish' on the head gasket. My version is bored out so does not have the extra studs as they would be too close to the cylinder walls  - I guess. Anyway I digress, as my cruise progressed the temp gauge rose higher and higher. I was on a self imposed timescale so limped on resulting in the engine overheating just less than a mile short of my destination. I had limped Percy to this point with slow speed and frequent stops. Many many times I'd leave my tiller post to dash into the engine room and check pipes and pumps to see it I could identify the problem. It was very frustrating and an anxious time as I was on my own and trying to strike the balance between progress/timescales and possible engine damage.

I read around the Listeroid pages on the internet and confirmed my initial thoughts that the  old cast iron lumps were very robust however there was an issue and it significantly impaired my joy of the cruise.

Ultimately I limped home and over a period over several weeks diagnosed an impeller problem and also has the head gasket replaced alongside a couple of slightly worn valve guides and tested and cleaned the injectors - boy do I know a lot about my engine now !!

So I needed to prove to myself Percy was set fair for another 20 years or so of ownership (hopefully) and what has happened was clear and the joy of the canals needed to be re-injected into my system with a solo cruise over some of the path I had my 'Hell on'.

Last week I took Percy out and reversed just a bit of the route where I had my most anxious moments. The last day saw me cruise from just north of Wheaton Aston back to Shebdon, this mini two day cruise took me nearly as far as Wheaton Aston and back.

On the way out past bridge 44

My nemesis corner coming up. It's where I had to moor out into the canal (Shroppie shelf) for a couple of hours to let the engine cool down

 The iconic double arch Shroppie bridge. On the way back on the hell cruise I can't even remember going under it so was my fixation on the engine !

Past the beautiful properties in Gnosall and into the Cowley tunnel. 

My window view of the mooring past Cowley  - I marked in in my Nicklesons as a future mooring spot - perfect. 

Next day it was off to the winding hole for the return joyous trip 

 Some dismiss the Shroppie for its long straights and many moored boats - I like both

 The weather was glorious a proper warm spring day.

A real quintessential farm and buildings adjacent to the canal 

Norbury looking ready for 'the season' 

This one was not put off by me buy I did pass on proper tick-over 

So all in all a perfect antidote to the stress and anxiety of the last cruise this way. 

As was to be expected Percy's engine performed flawlessly as did the new batteries and the rewiring I undertook over the winter. Fridge on, telly on - I even charged my Macbook (albeit with the engine on going back).

Still a few jobs to do but in the main happy and can't wait to get out more !!

Friday, 5 April 2019

How to recover your horse from the canal

I sometimes forget the tow path was for towing boats with horses. I have a favourite walk from my cottage down into the valley, over the river Churnet, across the railway lines and then over the canal... A lovely secluded walk  - I did a full walk blog here  - click me 

I have passed this feature many times now and not given it a second thought  - other than it seemed to be a nice place for the fish fry to hide in away from the predators.

Looking at photo 2 above you can see the 'steps' and ramp to aid a climb out which I have to presume was for the horse should it fall in. So therein lies my question - if there is one here - in a remote part of a lovely rural canal, why do I not see more of them on say the Shroppie or the S&W - or do I happily cruise on by no seeing what is obvious as I have done many times walking past this feature.

It also begs the question how did the boaters get their horses out of the canal (assuming they did occasionally fall in) where no such feature was present?

Friday, 29 March 2019

Oil change and another hundred on the hour counter

Nothing to really say about that other than for my records it was done 27th March with the engine counter on 596 hours. It was due and so far as I can find I changed it last May 17 so about ready. Frustratingly I do not seem to have recorded the exact date and engine hours - I expect about 450 based on hitting 400 in January 17.

One think for sure unless we cruise the hours will not go up much as the charging will be done via Genny from now on. Better to run a 50cc petrol engine that sips fuel rather than the 3000cc diesel lump that while frugal still uses more fuel and dirty fuel at that - but don't get me started on that one.

Friday, 22 March 2019

The sweet smell of Cannabis - but what is it.

In the last few weeks of pottering on the mooring I have had the ever present sweet smell of Cannabis in my nostrils. Now I have been known to inhale every now and again, purely for medicinal use of course  - it is supposed to be good for Fibromyalgia after all.

On a related point I sat on a jury and heard a case regarding supply and conspiracy to supply a large volume of Cannabis and the defence of one of the accused was she was not aware it was being 'processed' in her house ! It is quite a unique smell - she did get found guilty as did others, as the foreman of the jury I was the one to give the pronouncement.  How do I reconcile the two as an occasional medicinal user and someone who sent someone down for supplying the likes.... well I think it should be re classified as in my opinion it is no worse than alcohol and tobacco.

Anyhow I traced the smell to this plant - it is not a Cannabis plant for sure but it does have a very similar smell. I have no idea what it is so any suggestions please?

Thursday, 21 March 2019

The force of nature

The saying goes March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and so it is with storms racing across the Atlantic to batter our shores.

Of course it is how it should be. I see the storms as the viruses (I had to check that was correct as I wanted to type Viri)

"The verdict is: “The English plural of virus is viruses, not viri.” Merriam-Webster agrees, as does TheFreeDictionary. Wiktionary offers the following usage notes: The plural is often believed to be viri or even virii, but neither is correct Latin and both are neologistic folk etymology.9 Oct 2010"

 Natures way of clearing the old to allow for the new growth.

Anyhow I digress,  was out on one of my favourite walks into the valley and along the canal. To do this I have to cross the river Churnet and normally it is a gentle meandering river of no great consequence. Yesterday 14th March it was swollen and angry and charging through the valley trying is hardest to unseat the brave saplings and more mature trees normally perched high above its watercourse.

When I was working on the boat earlier this week the slapping of waves onto the side of the hull made it feel like I was on the sea. 

Nature and weather in particular inspire me but also helps me reset my place in this universe.