Friday, 31 May 2013

The Royal Military canal

Not via boat but by Motorbike. Info here on the canal 

There is a road that runs by it that is perfect for a motorbike  I was lucky to be down there for a few days meeting up with fellow bikes (28) for a annual get together. It was Wales last year and Ireland the year before.

The only downside it is always the late May bank Holiday so we do not do Crick.

It was a great weekend with some good rides, including the Royal Military Canal, the New Forest (beautiful) Beachy Head and Royal Tunbridge Wells.

To get a flavour of the bikes and the event one of the riders took some video

My Honda Pan European 1300 - middle bike with Rachel standing behind it.

We visited Sammy Millers motorcycle museum. When I am too old for a modern bike I will have a 1962 triumph 500 so we can grow even older together ! Might even get it on the boat !

There was even some wine drinking by pillions!!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Back in black at Fradley

... thankfully the bank account is also but it took a hit when we paid for Percy's blacking and anodes (not fitted) money refunded, fender purchased not fitted.

We did a three car shuffle on Wednesday last in order to have cars in the right places for people helping me move Percy back from Norbury in three days not the seven we took to get out there.

We delayed the pick up until the afternoon and Percy was in the arm back fenderless and no new fender fitted. I brought the boat onto the service wharf with some challenge due to the number of boats in the basin...

We then set to fitting the new front fender, the young lad tasked with doing it stepped back seemingly thankful to be shown how to attach his first fender. I do need to insert a couple of weak links or cut the chain part way through to help if it ever gets caught on a lock gate or the like.

So off we went destination Brewood, getting to the Bridge Inn at 8.40pm after a quick lock up. I have to say the service was very friendly and the steak the best  I have had for a long time.

It was a pleasant evening cruise. The next day after some forecast overnight rain we set off to Penkridge, another great cruise in lovely weather. Another good meal was consumed at the Boat Inn on the bridge by the lower visitor moorings.

Friday was a better day than forecast and we took the boat back to Great Haywood to drop off one crew members Mick who then drove to Scotland. He was replaced with another Tony and we ventured forth to the Clifford arms...

By now the beer and red meat totals consumed were racking up but we did not falter and had another great evening eating and catching up.

Saturday morning was a cruise I have done many times before ... between 5 and 6 hours back to Fradley moorings from Great Haywood. It was a really bitter cold morning and I was awake before 7,.... on less than 6 hours due to beer and cards on the boat after the pub ! My guests we still asleep so I swapped over the cassette and it had become full overnight !! After my ablutions I passed time by getting the oil can to the engine along with grease onto the rocker greaser caps. I then checked the oil and gave the engine a wipe down.

Still my guests slept on so I entertained myself looking through the books we keep on board in the back cabin.

We set off about 9.15 with a biting and persistent wind at our backs thankfully. We could tell how nasty it was by the looks and hats on the boats that approached us. Still the canal felt very quiet for mid May. An uneventful and gradually improving cruise back saw us arrive coats off and in sunshine back at the moorings at 2.45, five and a half hours is a good time. We had a straight run through the Fradley locks, the two volunteers being very friendly and capable on Middle and Junction locks advised much of the traffic was Burton bound, no doubt on the way up the Erewash. (this was in draft for a week or so)

A few bits of blacking will need touching up and the boat needs a good clean but all in all a good cruise. Just got to cut the grass on the mooring this week !

I celebrated on Sunday  by meeting a mate on and taking the bikes to Sutton Cheney Wharf for a coffee and to watch the boats go by !!

Approaching Tixell lock, always easier with a couple of large blokes to do the locking for you.... we did take it in turns.

Leia with her new best mate Mick

Smiles... lots of them when you are on the canals... and no beer or red wine involved in this shot. Friday was a great cruising day.

Mick gone replaced by Tony... notice the extra jumper John is wearing..... even with the wind in our rear (!) it was cold.

Your Alfie came to collect his dad with mum Nicky 

I went up to the mooring on the following Wednesday (last week) to cut the grass... this was the first cut, I did two as the grass was so high. No doubt will have to do the same this weekend.

It is motorbike stuff taking over a the moment... I will blog about that soon. But I will be back on board this weekend testing out the new mattress with memory foam topper, can't wait !!

Painting hopefully as the foredeck needs a good seeing to as we were bringing in flakes of paint as it got worn away. It is a nice easy place to paint, just hope we get warmth and no wind !

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Fuel consumption

More for me than general interest.

I last filled up Percy on the 30th December NB Callisto was the supplier. I had commented that to the point I had cruised for 28 hours. The engine hours counter is now on 49 hours plus 37 not on the counter.... Total 86 hours of engine running. If I take off the 28 hours I had cruised before the last fill up that gives me 54 hours and I have just added in 50 litres at Turners. So getting very close to a litre an hour.

A fair bit of those engine hours have been non moving battery charging while on the mooring. Interesting that once the alternator has been excited it makes no difference to the charging rate by increasing the revs,  ( one benefit of the Smartgauge giving voltage information at different engine speeds) so we have been charging the batteries tick over whereas on Waterlily I ran the engine at about 1500 rpm to get maximum voltage into the battery. We used about 1.1 litres an hour on Waterlily.

So all in all the Lister is quite efficient in its fuel use for gain delivered.....

Note I composed this post before the return trip from Norbury

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Over to you Norbury...

We woke to a cold Saturday and the need to return home for parental care reasons, many phone calls had been made and received over the weeks holiday.

As we had passed Norbury the evening before and it was 'full' in the basin plus it was turn around day and we had arrived a day early (we are due in the dry dock Sunday to Wednesday) I popped in to see David who asked us to moor on the 48 hour mooring outside the pub. Thankfully this was now free so we had to cruise on to the winding hold in Grub street.

Just as we were preparing to leave a day boat full of young men came passed, plenty of laughing and drinking, possibly a stag do.. the photo is not great as my super camera picked the ariel as its focus but they seemed to be rocking the boat while walking the roof !!

I was glad to leave them to go off on their adventure while I winded (badly)

We had good reason to think of Sue of NB Retirement with no problem as I used our Shroppie wheels for the first time Friday night....

Excuse the lash up as they were done in a hurry... PPPPPP (proper planning prevents pi$$ poor performance and all that !!) 

We (me and a couple of friends) are due back to Norbury in the morning to collect Percy and bring him back to Fradley for the weekend. Lets hope I am reporting good things about the job done, I have no reason to doubt Norbury, they have been very helpful and responsive to date.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

10 boat log jam.... literally

So after our day of rest on Thursday we set off from Brewood with destination Shebdon, rough timings  would be an hour to Wheaton Aston services then 2 hours to Shebdon... just short of Norbury. Well we were untying when a boat appeared so I waited until he passed, nice fella, who was ticking over passed the visitor boats then the boats on the wharf at Brewood. We passed a familiar boat at Stretton and said hello to Jim,

Our lead boat stopped just short of Wheaton Aston Lock and two boats pulled out in front, they were a respectable distance so no complaints, just meant we were instantly into a three boat queue at the lock, still not a problem. Our one hour time to Wheaton Aston had turned into an hour and forty minutes.

There was a lot of activity at the lock as well as the services. The towpath telegraph told of two trees down further up the cut... we took our time to water up and empty the cassettes (I am liking the cassette options especially after watching boats queue at Norbury to wait and pay to be pumped out) I even had time to clean the roof and side of the boat that had got messy under the trees at Brewood. By the time we set off the canal was so quiet, I took the opportunity to stop at Turners to put in 50 litres (53 hours on the clock for future reference), nice fella at the garage. Then plodding on until we got to the log jam.... first sight of the 10 boat queue just after bridge 28.

The helpful boater in front took my centre line as it was blowing hard from the left....and the shelf was making getting close in hard work.

I spoke to the boater at the head of the line and he said he had been there since 12.30....about the time we arrived at Wheaton Aston services.

You can see the large multi trunked tree that had come doen on the right hand side  of the photo below.

It was about 3.45pm by the time the boats started to move off, in the rain, so we put the kettle on and stayed dry !

Then it was three instances of my poor judgement (tiredness?) that frustrated! We needed milk so I decided to stop at Gnosall, it was a 50/50 call should we stop or cruise on and make do till Norbury wharf was open in the morning, I stopped and as I stepped off realised the boat was still in low drive forward.... panic, Rachel was inside and the boat was moving on to hit a moored boat in front, so it was man v's boat and thankfully I won, not without a lot of effort on my part stopping the forward momentum and getting the boat into the side. All of course watched by a boat coming up behind !!

Then my next bad judgement call.... not checking the map which resulted in a good long walk (in the rain for part) to a garage to eventually get milk. The canal runs through Gnosall Heath which is a good walk from Gnosall itself. Milk on board, next bad decision was to expect there to be  moorings at Norbury. All week we have had no issue with moorings but arriving at Norbury we were disappointed to arrive in pouring rain and solid moorings (well no moorings but plenty of space between a few boats, enough for another 100 feet of moorings if everyone had been sharing rings).

We cruised on through the long lines of boats, passing the boat that had passed us when we stopped for milk !! We moored after the permit moorings on the wrong side on Norbury for us.

We also had a whistle coming from the engine, that before I could identify Rachel had shut down the engine, she said this cured it !! How pleased I was with that decision!!

I thought the whistle was coming from the alternator... I will have to do some background reading.

Anyhow, a whisky a hot bath and food plus a group hug, sorted us out and we finished out penultimate day of holiday/blacking cruise. At least it meant we had to cruise on the next day and wind in Grub street cutting a real favourite.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Chugging through the Narrows

I took this the other day just before Autherley junction, no apologies I just enjoy listening to the engine.

We have spent the day in Brewood just resting up and sitting out the high winds and rain, however as I type this at 11am it is sunny but very windy with quite a few boats on the move.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

..and the four counties cruisers cruise on

We have just lit the fire. We are between bridges 13 and 14 and Brewood. It's blowing hard outside and the rain is in there somewhere ! You can tell those on the week long four counties cruise as they are still passing by when all other sensible people are moored up. Bit hard on them as I am sure we have all done it but it really is blowing hard and as we all know canal boats are a lot harder to handle in such strong wind.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

69p can save you ££'s

Today saw us wake to a lot cooler day. The rain had passed overnight and the day has slowly got better. I had deliberately cruised close to Coven last night  as we were due to drop off my mum and Ross at the Fox & Anchor. We had a tick over cruise to the pub this morning and all went to plan with lunch taken and passengers disembarked.

We then cruised onto the Shroppie and are now moored up at Brewood in the cutting between 13 and 14. We have been watching the weather forecast and will sit tight in this cutting only needing about 4 hours more to get to Norbury for Sunday morning.

So to the title.... we are still learning about Percy and its engine, Percy does not have a tachometer to gauge speed and engine working by so we work on turns of the speed wheel. Progress is all relative, as was the case this mornings cruise with us having an blissful tickover cruise, but  normal cruising and to plan progress we work on 3mph. While cruising today I downloaded a 69p gps speed app for my Iphone and had it running while (unscientifically based on canal depth) we ran the engine at 3 turns of the speed wheel and 4 turns .... one whole turn gave us abut 0.4mph more speed over time up to about 3.7mph , still a good engine note and sound but 25% less and we were still making a nice 3.3 mph. So unless we hit a nice deep water straight it will be three turns and a truly relaxing engine and exhaust note and a lot less diesel used.

One other thing is Percy makes little wash, quite a bit of bow water movement but no great wash.

Some pics from the last 24 hours...

This was the view from our cosy bed hole 6am ish the other morning.

It's small but so are we so it works when we have visitors on board

We stopped here but then moved to be out of the wind.

Lilly checking out the boat storage.....

Not sure what this is being built. It was underway when we came this way last year.

This was our pub pit stop. Can't get much closer, helped by a very quiet canal.

I have a video of this little bit of canal just before cut end.... I'll get it uploaded sometime soon.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Well it was three thanks to John and Louise

We are on our blacking outward bound cruise. Unlike Bruce and Sheila who took three weeks we are due for 6 days out and three days back, such are the limitations of the still working boaters. On Sunday when we set off it was fine and sunny and has been since. We were held up to the point of missing our first destination by a boater who pulled out in front of us at Kings Bromley and went zig zagging all the way to Rugeley at tickover, so bad we assumed it was  drink related. No real issue we ended up mooring just after Brindleys aqueduct, they are not bad moorings and as good as bridge 69.

Monday I nearly missed John and Loiuse on Blue Moon we exchanged a few words.... with John suggesting 6 boats queuing at Colwick lock after my last post..... this enabled us to drop to tickover for the long approach that resulted in just three boats in the queue. It stil took us over an hour as a boat coming down had sent a lock wheeling crew who held the lock for ages while their boat eventually arrived !!

We moored up Monday night just above Deepmore lock after having spend a nice few hours walking around Shrugborough. The canal from Tixell (very busy) to Deepmore is really quite undervalued and a favourite stretch for us. This morning we set of for a mid day arrival to Penkridge to enable us to get Ross off the boat and for a pub lunch, Ross has limited mobility. This worked well and we set off again for a late afternoon/evening cruise  mooring up just a mile or so from the Fox and Anchor at Cross Green  where we will drop off my mum who is being collected by my brother in law Bill.

Then we may well just hole up and wait until the forecast bad weather to pass before hopping up to Norbury over Friday/Saturday.