About Me

My photo
After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 4

Losing My Boat?

Saturday 12th May.

Having moored beneath a tree at Uxbridge, the cabin top was covered in bird shit from birds roosting in the tree. It had rained in the night, so the top was wet and an ideal opportunity to clean it off. Would you believe that it took an hour at least – this stuff is so persistent to removal, I reckon if it was bottled it would rival Gorilla Glue.

I said my goodbyes to Mike and Leslie and photographs were taken. I also gave him the VHF channel list and my PLA yearbook, because he intends getting a VHF handheld when he cruises the tideway later. We will keep in touch.

Blog published and there were some very complimentary comments from friends about my last post. I am just waiting for Chris to arrive by train, so will move up towards the bridge, which is nearer to the train station, but unknowingly I was wasting my time, because I texted him at 09.45, but without reply. I moved on through Batchworth Lock and phoned him at 10.20, only to discover that he was still at home. He eventually turned up on the towpath near Common Moor Lock at 12.00! Whenever I arrange to meet up with Chris, he is hours late – always. He redeemed himself by working thirteen locks for me. Not long after he arrived it started to rain and rain continuously until we got to Apsley, when it finally eased off. Although Chris had seen the weather forecast, he did not bring any waterproofs, so I lent him my Craghoppers waterproof, which ended up soaked, but kept him dry. In the meantime, I had my reliable Driza-Bone Ozzie waterproof, in which I looked like Ned Kelly, but without the horse.

After Chris had left to get the train, I lit the fire and had a good dry out and warm up. I was so tired that I could not eat any meal, despite there being a Rogan Josh in the fridge and the remains of a sea food salad.

Sunday 13th May

For me it was a day of rest and time for a long overdue oil change. I was on a 24hr mooring outside Sainsbury’s, so was obliged to move across to the towpath when a space appeared. It would also be a good idea to find a launderette, as the smalls were mounting up by this time and I did not relish the thought of hand washing that lot. The washing is not the problem, it is the wringing out that has to be done after the wash and two rinses.

After writing up the blog, I decided to pay a visit to the modern Fuller’s pub, called The Paper Mill. I bought a pint and was reading the newspaper, when I spotted Arthur at the bar. We had previously worked a few locks together and I thought he might like a chat, as he was waiting for a Sunday roast. I explained where I was moored and so we agreed to accompany each other up the locks the following day. Needless to say that I never got the oil change done after being in the pub for so long.

Monday 14th May

Arthur waited for me at Apsley Top Lock and we soon got into a routine of working the locks together, but it was a really hot day and when I suggested a pint in The Three Horsehoes at Winkwell, he said, “I was thinking about that myself.” We continued through another six locks, when I suggested mooring at Berko by the footbridge and sure enough there was room for two boats. Shortly after organising the fenders and lines the fuel boat Hyperion appeared and I hailed him down to fill my diesel tank and I had a brief chat with Phil, who I fuelled up from last year. He asked me how I enjoyed Cannie Cavalcade, as I still had the name in the window, so of course I had to show off the Westminster Cup.

Not only do I have to change the oil now, but the alternator is squeaking more and more, and the rev counter does not work whilst it is sqeeling. Although I changed the regulator last year, it did not make any difference, so this time I will change the drive belt and see what happens.

Arthur and Tina.

I later walked back to ask Arthur if he fancied a pint at The Riser aka The Rising Sun. He was talking to a woman on a cruiser moored astern of him as she was painting, so out of common courtesy I asked her if she fancied a visit to the pub with us. This turned out to be my big mistake. First of all she asked how much half a pint of beer was, as although I found out later that she was working in Watford, she professed to have little money. Then she talked incessantly all the way to The Riser and through two hours inside the pub and all the way back to the boats. Despite her having a degree in IT, she did not realise that wi-fi was available in a lot of pubs for the price of a drink, which I thought to be very strange. She said that she was on a mobile contract and got a set amount of data in the price, as most people are. But money can still be saved if you download data over free wi-fi. I was very doubtful about the degree after that. I had a chance to apologise to Arthur in the pub, when she took a toilet break. Needless to say both Arthur and myself paid for the drinks and she bought nothing. Whatever she was on (and I don’t mean the drink), I vowed to avoid it at all costs.

Tuesday 15th May

I walked up the locks before breakfast and saw that Hyperion was moving off, so got back to Arthur and suggested that we move up and onto that mooring. Although he was willing to go through the locks with me, he wanted to get to Cowroast water point to wash off his cabin top and get an undercoat on. At the moment it was going to be too hot for painting. So we parted company for a while, but if all goes well we will meet up again tomorrow,

Despite this being a so called ‘day of rest’, I tackled the oil and filter change in the afternoon, as well as changing the belt on the squeeling alternator. Having tightened the belts several times in the past, I knew exactly what spanners I needed without dragging the whole collection back to the stern. Even then, I had to remove the port alternator belt to enable the starboard one to be removed and replaced. After sweating down the engine ’ole for about two hours, I started her up and the squeeling had completely disappeared and the rev counter worked again after a short delay. Whilst down there, I removed the voltage regulator to inspect the brushes, but they were hardly worn as was to be expected, as the regulator had been replaced last year to try and resolve the exact same problem.

It was beer o’clock shortly after all this activity, so I paid a well deserved visit to The Crystal Palace, having only been there once in my boating history. Not nearly so popular as The Riser, there were just a few customers and I think some of them were commuters from the nearby rail station. Only two beers on tap, whereas The Riser had six. Food was normally served, but there were no menus, only a few meals scribbled on a blackboard. Not really a very impressive pub.

Wednesay 16th May

It was time to move on again, so headed for Cowroast to catch up with Arthur. Shopping was done in the very convenient Waitrose just above the Lock 53 and I then moved on to a mooring close by and below Gas Lock 2 to find the launderette. This was also very conveniently close to the cut, with Pizza Express across the road for coffee.

Now with the inside of the boat littered with drying clothes, I set off through the two Gas Two Locks, Bushes, Northchurch, Dudswell and finally Cowroast, but no sign of Arthur, so he must have moved on. I filled the water tank and moored up by the last boat on the visitor moorings.

I committed a cardinal sin at Northchurch Lock by losing the boat. What happened was this; I could see that the lock was empty through the gap in the lower gates, so stopped the boat just short of the bottom gates. Because there are no rings or bollards at that point, I left the centre line straight out and up the incline to the lock. The lock was not quite empty, so I had to draw a gate paddle, which let out a very small amount of water, but that was enough to move Stronghold to the other side of the cut beneath the bridge. By the time I spotted my mistake the gate was open and the centre line was in the water, so out of contact with me. By the time I thought about the situation, the boat was also drifting back, but if I could close the gate and get to the other side of the lock, I might just be able to reach onto the bow and catch the bow line – I got there just in time, but as I crossed back over the gates with the bow line, it came adrift from the tee stud. I then had to lower the line with both hands holding the ends over the tee stud and continue pulling the boat to the nearside – and all is well that ends well, but it was a close call

I could see for about half a mile ahead from these moorings and a little later spotted a working pair approaching, but not until they got close did I identify Nuneaton with Brighton in tow. Kirk was walking the towpath and I gave him the last remaining water can that I had decorated over two winters, to replace the damaged one that had been squashed between a tree and the boat chimney on the River Weaver.

Kirk took a couple of photographs before walking on towards the lock at 19.30. His intention was to get the pair to Berko that night, which I thought was a bit over ambitious and meant boating in the dark with no navigation lights. I heard that they eventually stopped at Northchurch.

Howard on Nuneaton  towing Brighton with Helen steering at Cowroast.

Known as ‘wide beam alley’, the Grand Union has many of them moored up, but very few on the move. One thing that contributes to that is that at least two locks had restrictions placed on them by out of order gates on locks, which meant that wide beams could not pass. If you come across a wide beam going in the direction, you are very rarely able to pass by, unless the steerer waves you on.

p.s. If you are wondering why it has been so long since the last blog was published, it is because Blogger would not let me publish or even save my work, so it is a good job I wrote all the text in MS Word beforehand and saved it there as normal. The final analysis is that I rebooted the PC, which then did the trick.

No comments: