Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Miles and Miles

Andrea's been totting up the log for Dove and we had quite a shock, since the 23rd of April this is where we have been.
Huddlesford - 3 hrs 10 miles 0 locks ( engine test)
Huddlesford - 3 hrs 10 miles 0 locks ( L&H Walk)
Hoo Mill - 13 hrs 26 miles 12 locks
Erewash - 40 hrs 84 miles 66 locks
Rickmansworth - 164.5 hrs 350.5 miles 317 locks
Braunston - 70 hrs 156 miles 98 locks
Titford - 32 hrs 60 miles 94 locks
Walsall - 44 hrs 79 miles 73 locks
So that's a total of 369.5 hrs, 775.5 miles and 660 locks, no wonder the engine's ready for a coyt-a-lukin-at.
Anyway that's it for now, next trip out for Dove will be Shackerstone in September, time for some maintenance now I think.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

More adventures

Just lately this blog is more like the adventures of TinTin rather than the restoration of Dove. We will get back to some serious restoration later this year when some funds appear in the bank, but for now, we may as well be out and about ploughing our way through the mud and the weed.
The latest outing took us to Walsall for an art thing at the New Gallery in the town arm. As the BCN Challenge was cancelled this year, we thought we'd do just a bit by going to Walsall via the Tame Valley and back via Wolverhampton. We set off just after dinner on Thursday and gently plodded our way down the Conventry canal then on to the Birmingham and Fazeley. A quick note here for those who didn't know, from Wittington to Fazeley the bridges are named and not numbered. This is because the Coventry Canal Co. had a few problems and the Birmingham and Fazeley had to bail them out, so this stretch of the canal is actually the Birmingham and Fazeley. Look out for the stone marker near Wittington Bridge. We arrived at the Dog and Doublet at about tea time and got not further due to low water, so we got as near to the bank as posible stayed the night. By 6:00 in the morning the levels were up and everything looked ok so we cranked up the motor and just as we did the boat behind started up and set off before us, mmm. By the time we got going they were out of sight but for some unkown reason we were left with a broken paddle on the next lock up and every pound empty! Generally levels were down all the way to Minworth but after that everything was fine. As we past under the gloom of the Gravely Hill Interchange, that's its' posh name, I was expecting allsorts of horrors but, nothing, just a bit slow going through the narrows, quite supprising. By the time we got to Perry Barr Locks it was my shift on the tiller and Andrea was locking. As I entered the bottom lock we tried the automatic gate closing system, this is where the gully from the top paddle runs to the front of the lock as normal then under ground to the middle of the lock and then on to the back of the bottom gate. So the first gully stops the boat, middle holds it and the last shuts the gate. However, due to lack of use it didn't work that well, so back to shutting gates by hand. At lock three our progress was halted, Andrea informed me that every pound was well down and she was off to run some water down. I tried to get across the first pound but no chance a bit too much rubbish in there. Entering the next lock was like going into the Amazon rain forest, there were trees growing out of the walls. Nearly at the top and a BW person appeared asking if there was a problem and if we were ok as a boat had gone up not 20 minuets ago with no trouble, sounds familliar this! At the top, looks like plenty of water and plenty of rubish, plastic bags, tyres and lumps of wood. We've now got quite a few miles of level water with an unlevel bottom, it was hard work all the way on the Tame Valley, with the mud and the weed and of course the occasional metalic object. On arrival at Tame Valley Juction the fishermen weren't that pleased to see us and on making the turn we saw why, the stuff that came up from the bottom and the smell! we left a glimering silvery black sludge. Now on the Walsall canal, if you want a word to describe it, you'll have to make one up but for now, pure crap will have to do. Basically, it's a long garden pond complete with flowering Water Lillies and pond weed on a grand scale. The motor is wound right up and we're doing half a mile an hour! Every bridge hole is a nightmare, with kids spitting and throwing cans. It's impossible to get a run at them to ride over the crap, at Lea Brook bridge we finish up bow hauling with help of some kids, they're not all bad here. The final crunch came at Spinks Bridge, we ran into a pile of bricks. After two hours of proding about with the shaft, we had chain blocks pulling from steelwork, we recruited five blokes as they passed, who we can't thank enough. I finished up climbing in and move the bricks with my feet the best I could, only find concrete blocks under the bricks. The only thing left to do was to rope the boat back then all of us pull like hell forward. We got to the concrete and started rocking side to side and after a while, it climbed over and we're free, what a relief. It's now going dark and we've got another 6 bridges before the town arm. As it happends we did'nt get stuck again but it was a hard slog right into the arm. We came to stop in the basin and didn't bother to tie up there was no need, the weed held us. In the morning we woke to find us in the same place so I started the motor and turned the boat round and reversed to wharf side, this took about 20 minuets but it didn't half clear some weed. After a while Paul and Laurence arrived to sort out Barnet, they couldn't belive we did what we did, as it turn out , the area we travelled through last night is very risky.
Saturday saw quite a bit of interest from the local shoppers, obviously not a regular thing, seeing boats in the basin. Saturday night we waited for the attention of the teenage drinkers but they were all well behaved and there was no bother at all. We popped round to a nice little pub in the town, the Red Lion, however, we did notice as the night went on, the couples were girl/girl or boy/boy so probably not the place for two over 50 fuddy duddies. Sunday morning 9:00 not a sole about so we set off up the Walsall locks, what a difference, lock beams all painted, grass cut and plenty of water. At the top it's a bit weedy in places but better than the bottom. As we progressed things got better and better and by the time we got to Birchills Junction things were great. Turning left onto the Wyrley and Essington canal and to our supprise, deep water, no weed and every bridge hole cleaned out. We motored on through various scenery some better than others but all interesting. Fishermen nodding back to you, kids waving, no graffiti, is this Wednesfield or have we ended up on some other planet. We're soon at Horsleyfields Junction and turning right onto familiar territory. Its all plane sailing from here.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Braunston and back the long way

I know this is a bit after the event but we've been just a little busy of late and time seems to have scooted on without us.
Anyway, the trip to the Braunston annual get together for ex-working boats and this year, boats still earning a living such as, Roach, Archimedes, and Ayr.
We set of late, as usual, this been due to work commitments. It was Wednesday night 6:00 when we finally got away. We decided to try and catch up with one or two boats that had passed Fradley earlier, so that meant motoring on into the night, which on a clear summer night is really good.
While ascending the Glascote Locks, someone in the Flats adjacent took exception to us going through the locks at about 10:00. Well, tough s h 1 t, go and live somewhere else. probably a good job I'm deaf and didn't hear it all, otherwise there could have been a debate on canal history. Not being put off any, we pressed on and passed the Samual Barlow about midnight and to our surprise quite few a boats were all tied up in the wharf. So, sneaked passed (sneaked...that's a joke) and decided to tie up at the bottom of Atherstone Locks at 1:45am.
The following morning, 6:00 we're off up the locks and it's not long before we're meeting other boats, must all be early risers too. After a bit of a bumpy ride at the top of Atherstone and through Rugby we arrived at Braunston around 8:00pm and went directly to the beer tent.
Friday morning we pushed open the back cabin doors to see everybody doing their brasses and mopping the cabin tops. Not wanting to be out dazzled I thought I better get some cleaning done.
I got out our new big tin of Brasso, took of the lid and promptly spilt a quarter of it on the cabin top, (insert various swear words here) after a frantic mopping up session and dowsing everything that was brass, I finally got a shine on the brassy bits and the not so brassy bits.
I didn't bother taking any photos, you've seen plenty before I'm sure so I did a bit of video instead.... the music you can hear is our wind up gramophone playing Glen Miller's "Who's Sorry now". I did quite a few to different tunes and put one or two on Youtube for a laugh.
We weren't planning to do the procession this year due to the total chaos of previous years, however, having the new engine and the Cratch up we thought we'd go and show off. As we set off some friends shouted out to hitch a lift, these were customers of mine from years ago (Sea Otter days) I built their boat called "Marrionette" It's still going strong and they still love it, one of my few successes. After the long drag Mike and Marrion treat us to a couple of pints in the beer tent. While at Braunston we met up with Martin and Sam off Kestral and Vienna so they could measure up for Dove's new cloths. They are just starting up in business so we thought we'd give them a chance, keep it on the cut and all that.
About 3ish we made a move and set off up the Braunston locks with the plan to go the Leicester way home. We stayed over night at Norton junction along with John and Jenny Jackson and a couple of other coal boat people we know by sight but not to talk to.
The following morning, up bright and early, and off to Watford. Dove's never been up this end before and it's a long time since we've been up this way too, so we've forgot most of it. Had really slow start up watford, three boats coming down first, seamed to take ages. The lock keeper just said "looks like you know what you're doing, I'll leave you to it." We got to the top no problems and motored on to Foxton. Not much to say on here really, it's, err, green, just endless green.
We did have one little episode, when we caught up with a boat who wasn't that comfortable with us up his rear and I think he was looking for the Welford arm, because he made a hand signal to turn right. But, went into a winding hole, then emergency stop. We just went on by and left him to it.
On arriving at the top of Foxton the lock keeper waved us straight in and left us to it Saying "ya know what to do, don't ya." I think everybody does now days "red before white and you'll be alright" as Mike and Christel used to say. At the bottom we were met by a very loud group of beer slerpers, Lucy Tucker and her Mum & Dad, Dave Ray and Sue Cawson, they'd been in the Bridge 61 all afternoon and were quite a few pints in front of us. We tied up against Dave's boat "Ant" and joined them for a few more. Dave was having a spot of bother with his motor, a Gardner 5LW, it turned out to be lift pump problems. We tried alsorts to get it going but failed, so after Lucy made a group chilly with everything we had between us, we all went back to the Bridge 61. to make a plan to get Dave home.

Desending the Foxton flight

Next day we awoke to Dave clattering and banging about still trying to get going, but it was no go. He finally had to phone for help and buy a new lift pump so we left them to it and we went for a walk around the plane and looked in the museum. At about dinner time we set off towards Leicester, yet more green stuff, we just plodded on putting the world to rights and wondering where to tie up for the night. Ho! and I lost my Neil windlass in Kibworth lock, dam! blast! after an extensive search, no luck, it's gone for ever. We had to press on as we needed some provisions, so Andrea said she'd like to get to South Wigston as there was a shop close by to bridge 92. It didn't look to be a good place to stop the night, in fact we couldn't even get in the edge. So Andrea got off in the bridge hole and I waited there while she nipped to the shops. After about 30 minuets I was getting a little concerned, so I thought I'd phone her, as I waited for an answer I could hear her phone ringing, in the boat! Not knowing what to do for the best I climbed up the bridge, taking the back rail line with me to see if I could see her or the shops. I finished up stood in the middle of a busy road holding a piece of rope, this must have looked very perculiar to passers by. I did ask one lady where the shops were, she replied, " just up that path and on the right" so where's Andrea? It's been an hour now and I'm getting ready to phone the police and she comes trundling down the road loaded down with shopping. Andrea didn't know about the Path and had walked for miles round the road. We now carried on a while and tied up at the top of Dunns lock with a couple of other boats.
In the morining we attacked Leicester and everything is going well until North Lock. We came out of the lock and sat firmly on a pile of breeze blocks in the shallow water. We pulled it, tugged it, rocked it and flushed it, stuck solid. I noticed the water level was falling more and more. After consulting the map, it was a pound with no river feed like all the others, so boats in front at the next lock were using all the water. After a while the plan was, Andrea would drop a Lock full and I would pull on the line at the same time and hope that at some point one of us could get back on the boat. Thankfully the plan worked and we were on our way, after the next lock we're back in deeper water and we're scooting along nicely. At Barrow Deep lock and it is deep! we exit to a brand new lock landing. Due to the design of the lock I had to the landing to collect Andrea, to my amazement I was bouncing over rubble, I came to rest in a hollow, I couldn't go forward or backwards, not even sideways. A chap came across from the moorings on the other side to give us a push but, there was no way out. So, we were back to the flushing plan, Andrea went to fill the lock then let it go as me and the helping hand pulled on a line. We just scraped out and I made a jump for the boat, Andrea caught up and got on at the next bridge. We were trying to get to Zouch for the night and thinking nothing else could go wrong. Then we got to Bishops Meadow Lock! As we're going down I'm thinking this is a bit short, as the bow is on the bottom gate and I'm not far from the top gate. At the bottom we found you can't open the gate, not even with all the fenders up. We discovered the only way out is to open the opposite gate then slide across. So, how did they go on with a working pair. They must have gone down single. We got to Zouch that night, quite early too. had tea on the bank and wandered round to the pub for a drink or two.
Next day we're off down the Soar the flood locks were open, so we're straight through no problems. Next is the juntion with the Trent, the wind is blowing a touch, so I wind up the motor and we're off round, what a piece of cake, wind the motor up to full chat and it's off . Arriving at Sawley Lock we caught a boat up and went in together, well neally together, I don't think he wanted us to scrach his boat. We then made our way to Shardlow and spent night with The Trouts. We've done the BCN Challenge, now we've done the Leicester Challenge.