Thursday, 22 December 2011

Up and down

Went up to Great Haywood yesterday to complete jobs for the winter, especially aimed at preventing problems with damp. Turned off the fridge, opened all possible cupboards and drawers, opened the spaces under the dinette and stood the cushions vertically. Brought away the duvets and some spare bedding. Checked the spar supporting the tonneau cover. Left the new coal scuttle.

Paid for the winterising done by Engineering, and saw workshop people, Dave and Jenny and the marina staff to wish them a happy Christmas. Steve wasn't there.

Were able to complete everything Wednesday afternoon. Stayed overnight at Rugeley Travelodge – basic, functional, much cheaper than Premier Inn. Curry for two at the Ash Tree – happy environment, good value, food a bit slapdash, puddings were good. Breakfast at the Colliers Arms next to Premier Inn – very filling, but the bacon had probably been cooked some time before.

Easy journey home on a bright mid-winter's day.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Clearing out

Yesterday Jon Sharp talked me through what they would do to winterise the boat. Seemed straightforward and fairly obvious obvious, except for what they will do with the calorifier. Agreed that Jenny will let me know when they're going to do it so that, if possible, I can see what they do. Jon said there should be no need to do anything to the toilet.

Today fixed the tonneau and its support. Checked the level in two of the leisure batteries. It seemed fine, but I need to understand what the extra (7th) cap is about.

About £25 left on the meter. The heater is set for frost-protection. Weather forecast is for a lot of wind and some rain, but no snow yet. Friday night looks as though it could drop below zero for the first time.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Getting near to winter

Pump out. It was full, and winterisation demands it anyway.

Bought 25kg of Taybrite (£12) from the marina. Seems a reasonable price even against B&Q's special offer. It's also supposed to be completely smokeless. Calorific value seems about equal to the B&Q stuff.

Engineering to come over and see about winterisation.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bathroom jobs

Used Milliput on the shower tray. Fixed the lock on the bathroom door. Bought screws from Central Fasteners in Hixon to mount the smoke/CO alarm. Wanted 2, bought 200! Nº8 half-inch countersunk could be a generally useful screw on the 9mm panels.

For the first time, noticed strips of condensation this evening down the panels above the gunwhale, presumably where it contacts the supports to the side of the boat.

Toilet repair generally (one-way valve) seems to be effective so far.

Monday, 7 November 2011

One-way valve

Keith got one of the AW engineers to fix the toilet valve (£20).

Firing up the engine I followed the manual's instructions to turn the key to the "On" position for a minute before turning it to heat. But after 30 seconds the alternator warning sound stopped, all the voltage readings went horribly low, and the engine turned but didn't fire anyway.  Gave it a break and then did it normally, switching straight to heat for 10 seconds. Fired up fine.

Note to self – don't forget to turn the inverter on before disconnecting the landline, if you want the breadmaker to run!

1 mile (to AW and back). 0.5 hours engine time.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Stuff arrives

Picked up the Milliput from college. The stainless steel screws arrived in the post.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Ordered stainless steel screws (grade A2/304, Nº6, 25mm, self-tapping) from

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Clearing up

Cleared out the front left locker of lots of stuff, mostly old paint / varnish bits.  Filled up the water tank, but had to borrow an adaptor as some ratbag had stolen the one on our tap.

Non-return valve for the toilet arrived. Checked out Central Fasteners in Hixon for stainless steel screws. They have a box of 3/4 inch Nº 6 (about £2.60 for 100), but not the inch ones needed.

Journey home uneventful.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Pump out & Gas

Pump out light came on, so we took Erin Mae to the service jetty during a brief lull in the wind. This will make work on the toilet easier when the non-return valve arrives. Replaced a gas cylinder. Ordered some Milliput for the shower tray. Checked out Mike Baker in Rugeley for Yacht Varnish.

Dropped in on Mike and Mo for a cuppa.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Wildwood Christian Fellowship

Found WCF on the internet. Met Robin & Linda and had a good natter after the service. Hollybush, Salt for lunch, and then did the grouting in the shower later on. The Norcross worked well.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Got the tiles back on the shower wall, with a fair bit of grinding of the small ones below to give enough space. Dropped one onto the shower tray, which left a bit of a dinge.

Friday, 28 October 2011


As arranged, took Erin Mae round to Anglo Welsh. Keith changed the thermostat (£20) and gave the cooling system a check and a nod of approval. Looked at the toilet and its manual, and together we decided on replacing the non-return valve, which I ordered from Lee Sanitation.

Carried on down to Tixall Wide for lunch, where a friendly swan came up under the hatch.  Engine temperature was normal, albeit this was a short run.

2 miles, about 2 hours engine, what with the testing.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Grout, aerial, mattress

Yesterday got the Norcross grout from Staffordshire Tile and Stone Cº in Milford, though he normally just deals with the trade. Also chatted with an aerial guy, who said there shouldn't be a problem with BBC programmes, unless it was the omni-directional aerial messing with the mux, and confusing the tuner.

Having advised a 7.30 p.m. delivery on Wednesday, the mattress firm first postponed that to 11 p.m., and then said it would be Thursday between 9 and 12. At 12.20 they showed up. The mattress itself looked fine, but the 6" strip was only 5'3" long – a foot short. So I paid for the mattress but not the strip. Angela rang today as we travelled home to say that a strip of the right size would be delivered next week – Wednesday or Thursday matches our travel plans reasonably well.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tixall Bridge to Great Haywood

Quiet night. Started late. Canal depth much better than previous stretch. Met a Dutch couple at Tixall lock, and South Africans Brian & Celia next to our mooring for a week at the marina. GH by coffee time.

Asked Steve Pemberton about the suspected overheating of the engine. He volunteered to come at look at it in his own time.

Walked into GH to pick up book from the post office. Checked out the washing gadget again with plain water – seemed to work well.

2 miles, 1 lock, about 1.5 hours engine time.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Penkridge to Tixall Bridge

7.30 start to avoid traffic as we reversed down Filance Lock, through Princefield Bridge to the Penkridge winding hole. Thought we'd run out of water, though it was actually an accidental flick of the water pump switch. Also, the poo-tank warning light came on. Last time, that meant it needed to be emptied pretty well immediately, so we called in to see whether a boatyard would give us water if we paid for a pump-out. Teddesley Boat Company above Midland Chandlers wanted £20 for the pump-out, so we moved on – we weren't that desperate. Stafford Boat Club did it for £12, though we had to wait nearly two hours while he did other stuff and had his lunch. Put the Blue in myself later on.

Parts of the Staffs & Worcs was very shallow, which made any speed impossible, and we got stuck when we pulled over to let a faster boat past. Very windy in the afternoon.

Engine still seems to be overheating – nealy 95 for quite a while.

Did a roast in the oven, which seems to underccok. Probably needs to be a mark or two higher than what it says.

Moored just through Tixall Bridge.

9 miles, 6 locks, 1 aqueduct, about 7 hours engine time

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Wildwood to Penkridge

Pleasant cruise after a lazy start, with the breadmaker going, though very shallow in lots of places. Stopped off at Midland Chandlers but they were closed for Sunday. Passed five very trad barges, returning from a rally. Advised not to moor where Nicholson's says to moor, so came up further, just above Filance Lock. Went for a walk into Penkridge.

Engine seemd to be overheating slightly, getting up to 90º. Oil pressure and Voltage readings seem normal. Weed hatch checked clear. Coolant could do with a little topping up, perhaps, but did not seem particularly low.

5 miles, 6 locks, about 5 hours engine time.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Great Haywood to Wildwood

Filled up with diesel – asked Steve about the ratio in the light of what we have been doing and expect to do, and he suggested 40/60. So it was 129.81 litres, @ £133.17.

Got held up by an AW boat at the GH junction, and was embarrassed by the wind when we stopped for lunch at Tixall Wide. After that we were into new territory as we continued down the S & W. Got delayed behind an AW boat going extremely slowly and not letting anyone by. Probably inexperience and possibly something round their propellor.

Tied up around 6 p.m. after Bridge 96, just past the Staffs Boat Club at Wildwood.

6 miles, 1 lock, 1 aqueduct, about 4 hours engine time.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Hot lazy Friday

Got up late on Thursday evening and were going to cruise today, but in the event we spent too long in Stafford in the morning and then it was too hot for much. Bought a pillow, a bucket and a squeegee from Tesco, and some kitchen scales from Asda. Arranged with Amazon to send the freeview minibox back as it won't tune BBC 1, 2 and News. Very impressed with the speedy positive response from Amazon's Customer Services. Tried out the boat washing gadget – mixed success. Filled up the water tank.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Meaford to Great Haywood

A long but straightforward trip, with the exception of coming on Aston lock unexpectedly and having to back up to join the queue behind Sanity Again. At lunch did some work on the database for Matt and Ian.

Got back to Great Haywood in time to see Jon about the starter battery. He says the one he fitted was a new 110 Ah, so we paid for it: £90.

Noted that some of the bridges would have been too low for a chimney, so we need a complete solution when we replace it.

10.5 miles, 8 locks, about 7 hours engine time.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Milton to Meaford

Set off just after 8.30, because of physio on Tuesday. Long day, a lot of it in the rain. Margaret did a lot of steering once we reached the Trent & Mersey, and also between linked locks when I was walking with the windlass. Good progress through Stoke, because the locks were mostly set in our favour.

Tied up close to the winding hole between Meaford and Stone, at the same spot we stayed on the way up.

12 miles, 13 locks, 1 lift bridge, 8 hours engine time.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Denford to Milton

Started quite early to get up to the junction with the Leek branch before anyone else. Met Alan (?) of the BCF coming down the flight.

Made it down the Stockton Brook flight alone, and Margaret took Erin Mae through Long Butts lift bridge while I worked it. Accompanied a single-hander through Norton Green Lift Bridge.

Fished a football out of the canal for a family in Milton, and then tied up opposite their house for the night. Ran the engine for a while to ensure the batteries were really full.

5.5 miles, 9 locks, 2 lift bridges, about 7 hours of engine time.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Froghall and back

Trouble with the batteries holding their charge overnight. By the morning they don't have enough to power the inverter, so the gas hob doesn't work. This meant starting early from Consall Forge, with breakfast on the way, which had us down to Froghall in no time. Walked to the basin and the tea rooms at the station (only open on train days at this point – i.e. weekends). Back to Consall Forge, giving a lift to Pete, Viv and Rebecca on the way, and stopping off at the pottery.

Lunch at Consall Forge, then up to Denford and tied up at the Hollybush for the night.

8 miles, 6 locks, about 6 hours engine time.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cheddleton to Consall Forge

Got under way after lunch following an abortive visit to the flint mill. Canal still shallow – went aground briefly. Travelling very slowly, partly because of the shallowness, partly because we weren't in a hurry and partly because we needed to maximise the time charging the batteries. Met Graham and Pauline (NB Shy Girl) again at the second lock as they came back up. Margaret getting to steer into the locks.

Low voltage by the time we set out meant the inverter tripped out with a "low battery" warning. After some time running the engine, it still hadn't reset, and needed to be turned off and on again. That meant we could get the Intellichef making more soup.

Came under an open lift bridge, so left it that way. Joined the River Churnet at Oakmeadowford Lock. Moored up just above the weir at Consall Forge, opposite the lime kiln. Went to say hello to the Black Lion and returned there for pudding in the evening. Free WiFi.

3 miles, 4 locks, about 2.5 hours engine time.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Endon Bank to Leek

Rainy morning and very little traffic on the Caldon. Breakfast first then set out with Margaret taking the opportunity to practice at the tiller. Generally went very slow because of the shallowness and narrowness of the canal. Turned right at the junction to take the Leek branch. Went aground between bridges 1 and 2, and titled well over to the right – seemed to be caught about half-way along the length of the boat, and work with the tiller just made her pivot. Used the long pole and heavy use of reverse.

Our first tunnel at Leek, 130 yards. The light worked well. I hadn't pulled up the fenders, and the front right sprang up at one point and landed in the cratch. At least we didn't lose it. Winded at Leek just after the bridge and backed up the cut 30 yards towards the terminus. Very muddy bank, so we used the plank for the first time.

Had lunch and then the rain stopped, so we walked into town. The centre is quite interesting with a lot of independent traders, but in general the town couldn't seem to make up its mind whether or not it was trying to renew itself. Too much looked a bit ugly and run down.

Stopped at Morrison's on the way back to the boat and tried to gauge how much we could carry between us, especially as we had already bought in town some other stuff including a galvanised bucket for fire ash.

3.5 miles, 0 locks, 1 tunnel, about 2 hours engine time.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Milton to Endon Bank

8 a.m. start in bright sunshine, and through Engine lock, in company with NB Dash. Stopped before the Long Butts lift bridge for breakfast, and started another loaf in the breadmaker. Then the three-men-in-a-boat we'd met the previous day at Etruria came along so we followed them through the lift-bridge and up the five locks at Stockton Brook.

Stopped for lunch by the Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club just after Bridge 27A, and got the washing machine going for the first time. Not sure that the detergent capsules are going to work at 30º – this one left some gunge in the machine.

Stopped at the BW station at Park Lane Bridge for water, and decided to stay the night on the visitor moorings there (SJ 933534). Good BW facilities, though the water tap required some taming. Walked back to bridge 28 and into Endon to the Spar shop for a few items.

About 3.5 miles, 6 locks, 1 lift bridge, about 4.5 hours engine time.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Etruria and up the Caldon

7 a.m. start because we needed to get to Stoke for a pump-out. Trentham lock was difficult, not only because we lost the new windlass. Worked up the Stoke locks and entered the Black Prince yard at Etruria for a pump-out – then discovered that we could have stayed on the canal service wharf for it. Filled up the water tank and bought a spare windlass and anti-vandalism key.

Lunch on the wharf, then up the Caldon. Patches of rain. Lost the chimney at bridge 9. Good beef stew in the Intellichef.
Moored overnight at Milton, SJ 9022550308.

10 miles, 9 locks, about 8 hours engine time.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Burlaston and Wedgwood

Early start with breakfast on the hoof, because the weather first thing was great in spite of the forecast. Still ended up trailing another boat through the four locks of the Meaford flight. Matt rang when we stopped for coffee, with info about the database changes. O2 and 3 signals both breaking up a bit. Moored just before Oldroad Bridge (104), and went to visit the Wedgwood works. Ended up having lunch there and paying to go round the exhibition, craft demonstrations and museum. Very interesting, if not the best. Shortly after returning to the boat around 5 the promised rain arrived, so we hunkered down. I completed the database work and watched the final ODI via Demand5. No worthwhile TV signal.

3 miles, 4 locks, 3 hours engine time.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Time in Stone

Morning exploring and shopping in Stone. Late lunch. Up one lock to water point. Long hose was leaking all over, so bought a new hose at the chandlers, plus an extra windlass and BW key.

Matt rang about database stuff, so I did some work. Then up the final lock and moored just before the winding hole on the northern limits of Stone. With the weather unpredictable, this postponed till the morning the decision whether to carry on or turn round.

1 mile, 2 locks, about 1 hour of engine.


John said that they had investigated and blown through the tank, etc. Paid £65 for the work. However, it looks as though there is still some reflux that will need further investigation.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Starter motor would not turn over. Instead breaker Q16 trips out. Jon says this has happened since he's known the boat (3 years). He concluded it is the electronics responding to a very low voltage in the battery (around 7 volts). He loaned us a battery and everything so far seems good. Question for Aqualine (or the circuit diagrams) is whether the inverter/charger charges the starter battery as well as the leisure batteries, or if it needs a charge from the alternator.

Great Haywood to Stone.  9 miles, 5 locks, ~5 hours engine time.

Hot water from engine was good. Bread maker worked well. Got the Murso going in the evening with considerable help from firelighters. Taybrite is pretty damp.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Tixall Wide again

Pump-out at Great Haywood.

Gentle trip to Tixall Wide and back.  1 hour, 2 miles.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tixall Wide with the Garlands

As expected, got a pump out: £15 for the marina to do it (and provide the 'blue') while I looked on and learnt.

First trip out since Margaret's operation. Went to Tixall Wide to see Roger and Mirjana and try out their melodeons. Managed to keep the travelling to the sunny periods. 2 miles; 1 hour.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Washing Machine Guarantee

Tonight I activated the 5 year parts guarantee on the Candy washing machine. Had to be done within 30 days. I took the purchase date as the delivery date on 3rd May, 2011. Engineering said it had run fine, and as yet we have not had occasion to use it. We got the documentation when we came up on 14 / 15 May.

Waste tank warning light

This evening the warning light for the waste tank came on for the first time. Hard to tell whether this is a reasonable time or not – we haven't spent that many days / nights on board.

Steve said that everything with the new owners of the marina seems to be working fine. Their financial / mooring year runs to the end of December so, if we are to stay or move to Saul, we'll extend the mooring period for 3 months and then book another year. That will give us our free lift out of the water.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Calorifier and Washing Machine fitted

Jon rang to say they had fitted the calorifier and washing machine, and done a repair to the leak on the central heating header tank. Identified a problem with the shower mixer tap, and will replace that.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Anniversary Thursday

Day of chilling out and relaxing after all the effort of doing very little on the Erin Mae. Returned a call from Kitchen Science to check about the delivery date for the washing machine – they assured me they would be in touch to arrange a day once they had the machine at their depot. Ordered a cover for the new duvet, together with a sheet and some pillow cases.

And booked a table at the Wok'n'Spice for an anniversary meal, to be shared with Simon when he's finished recording for the day.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Weathered Wednesday

In the event, the weather wasn't too bad, but it still felt the right time to be going home. Managed to clear up without getting wet. I left a plastic bowl to catch a drip from the blanked off port in the underside of the expansion / pressure central heating tank. That's been getting bad since we've run the heating. Hopefully it will get sorted out when they install the calorifier.

Mgt managed to get out at the cratch, so I could sort out the tonneau a while before we left. As we were locking up, Steve and Sue on Pitch came in next door, down from Ripon, so we chatted for a while.

Home via Penkridge to see whether the chandlery had replacement bulbs, but drew a blank. Great bakery in Penkridge, with what we bought eaten in the grounds of Rodbaston College, with coffee and cappucino cake to follow in their tearoom. Then on to the M6 – when will we learn? Probably only about 20 minutes lost in the jam down to J8. Thereafter a straightforward journey, partly wet. Stopped at Warwick services, where I bought a hat, and at Abingdon for a cuppa, courtesy of the Tesco superstore which also provided some meat for tea. Home just before 6.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Turbulent Tuesday

Much more comfortable night – thumped down the edge of the bed and then stayed away from it. Again slept in longer than Mgt. We're getting used to the overhead cupboard.

The day was still too windy and occasionally wet to think about taking a trip out. Told Engineering we'd ordered the washing machine. Inspected the leaky window to see how it was constructed and make a guess about how to deal with it. But this only amounted to removing the neoprene sealing strip and half a dozen screws from underneath. Couldn't remove the frame – the sealant seemed to be well set. However, it looked as though the 19 mm butyl strip we'd seen would be the right dimensions.

Bought sandwiches from the Spar for lunch, and then drove over to Midland Chandlers at Penkridge. Bought a roll of the butyl strip, and an extending boathook, in spite of the warnings following my query on the JustCanals forum. Nice to have a browse round a chandlery. Then we returned to GH via Stafford to get some stuff from Boots, and something for tea from the Coop.

Since Wednesday's forecast was wet, we decided we would clear up and get away home in the morning.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Mixed Monday

Not a comfortable night. Possible the 6" section of the mattress was sticking up slightly. I felt rolled towards the centre. The size of the single duvet did not help - I definitely need something longer to be snug. We also need a better solution to the how the sheets fit. Always conscious of the cupboard overhead, on which Mgt bumped her head in the morning. Outside the night was really cold. Mgt got up for her tablets at 7 and 8, whereupon I went back to sleep till 9.30.

Went to see Engineering about the calorifier - really useful chat with Jenny and Jon. They had received an offer on calorifiers from Midland Chandlers. Jon also was feeling bad about the process leading to the current situation, and will try to do the replacement for a really good price, especially with doing the washing machine at the same time. Rang New&Used, who reported the factory had said they were now using 11 gallon calorifiers from Midland Chandlers, code HC-049. Checked it out but decided to go for the SureCal 55 litre, HC-064. John came to check they could get it in.

Quite a bit of rain about midday, but we decided to stay for at least one more night, in spite of having no water on board. Sandwiches from the Spar for lunch, and a lasagne for the evening. Decided to get the fridge going.

Bought 24 hours of WiFi access and ordered the washing machine from Kitchen Science.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunny Sunday

Hot sunny day. Left Bransgore after coffee. Decided to stop at Cherwell Valley for lunch, as Mgt needed some tablets, and found the Fox and Hounds at Ardley just off the roundabout. Sunday roast – welcome though not the best food. Over to Cherwell Valley for coffee and some M&S provisions.

Went via the A446 and A38 to Lichfield – avoided the M6 Toll and not all that much slower. Got to GH late afternoon. Margaret's knee had done pretty well, though she thought two stops might have served better than one.

Put up the curtains, and put away all the kitchen gear we'd brought up. Mgt sat in the sunshine on a folding chair on the cruiser deack, with her leg up on one of the footstools. Saw ducks, a heron and a couple of hot air balloons against the evening sky.

Tea/supper was soup from home and M&S sandwiches.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


News from Engineering that when they pressurised the system they found a split in the calorifier. Jenny said it must have happened between the survey and Jon finding the water filter split but there was no way of knowing at the time because of the freeze. Doubt whether I have any comeback at this distance. Have to check with Ellie.

Manual says the calorifier is 13 gallons. Chandlers don't seem to have that size. 55 litres = 12 gallons. Contacted Aqualine who will let me know which make to go for, and whether to go up or down in size if that needs to change.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Water works

Spoke with Ellie about getting Engineering to complete the work from the sale (shower pump, calorifier leak, sink filter) and getting a response to my email about the leaky window and a quote for fitting the washing machine. Email from Jenny to confirm they would get back to me about all this.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

On board and locking up

Friday 18th March: arrived about 10 p.m., and spent the first night on board. Freezing outside, so thermostats about 3 overnight. New duvets were warm, but only just long enough. Have to think about a king-size double after all. The memory foam topper has expanded to some extent, but has not evened out where it had been folded. Need to take it home to see what it will do in the warmth of the house. Got the loo working with water from a bucket, until the water system is on.

Saturday 19th March: Great Haywood Marina to Sandon Lock and back. 10 miles, 6 locks, 5 hours engine.

Showered in the marina block. Breakfast at F&B in Stafford. Bought sandwiches for lunch from the Coop on the Weston Road, and £5 for the electricity meter (Total £10.43). Saw Ellie in the marina sales office, and agreed I would ring during the week to arrange for her to speak with Engineering about jobs already paid for by the Joiners.

Left the marina around 11 a.m. without even touching the sides of the entrance. But had to reverse furiously to not hit the far bank! Turned right towards Stone, and worked our first lock at Hoo Mill, with some friendly advice from NB Goosander. Lunch on a quiet stretch north of Weston. Turned at the winding hole just above Sandon Lock. Return journey without a stop except when waiting for the locks. Mgt did her share at the helm both up and down, and kept Erin Mae positioned while I was working lock gates. I made a bad job of getting back into the marina entrance. Main issues: mooring effectively when you've misjudged your first approach, or under difficult conditions. Did some serious scraping at one or two points.

Displayed the licence. Cleaned the bathroom and the bedroom floor / cupboards. Got the TV working (BBC1 on channel 44 in time to see Ireland stop England getting a grand slam).

Left at 8 p.m. and got home some time after 11.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Saturday, 12 March 2011

First Cruise

Great Haywood marina to Tixall Wide and back. 2 miles, 0 locks, 3 bridges, 1 hour cruising.

Left Bransgore at 0815 in sunshine. Brief stop on the M40 (Starbucks filter is better than Costa Americano). Got to GH at around 1220. Unloaded equipment: bedding and memory foam topper, crockery and kitchen tools. Decided to have lunch and then have our first cruise. So we bought a couple of mooring hooks, fired up the engine about 1330, and cruised from the marina to Tixall Wide. Lots of moored craft around the junction of the T&M and the S&W, but not much movement on the water. Moored at the Wide for coffee and cake, accompanied by mallard, coot, great crested grebe and Canada geese. For about half an hour we were the only ones there, then some other boats began to tie up. Started back at 1515 as the promised drizzle began to arrive. About 30 minutes each way. Moored bows in this time. Steering was fine, but there seemed to be an unevenness not associated with the engine itself, so I'll need to check that there is nothing caught round the screw before we go out again.

Found the master gas stopcock, so got out the new kettle and made a cuppa. Jobs on the boat: emery papered the end of the swan neck, and used silicone lubricant on the tiller bar. They went together a treat. Re-fixed the metal strip to the front seat cover, but that is rotten along the edge and ought to be replaced. Piles of interior cleaning – we had the Dyson. Got out the memory foam topper, which will need time to uncompress itself. Left the newly cleaned curtains, but brought the duvets home again. Measured the space for the washing machine – the Candy will fit, but the Zanussi would be too tight back to front.

Journey home, in the rain, without stopping - just under 3 hours.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Between visits

We've been making lists of needed equipment. On Saturday we ordered two duvets and a memory foam topper online, then went to Southampton, checked out John Lewis and M&S, but ended up buying various bits of kitchen / dining stuff from Ikea. Ordered a coolie hat, BWB sanitary key and handcuff key from Midland Chandlers.

Yesterday I spoke with Jenny about getting John to look at the leaking window. No word yet on what it might need. Today we bought some bed linen from Sainsbury's, and the order from Midland arrived.

Weather predictions for Saturday by BBC and Accuweather are highly variable, but it will certainly be worth going up. We'd like to do a first cruise if possible, down to Tixall Wide, but I'd like to have a boathook on board before we do. Main thing will be a complete inventory of equipment on board.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Water ways

Sent the licence application (Canals and Rivers) to BW on Wednesday (23rd), in good time to get the early payment discount.

On Saturday went to Great Haywood, leaving about 11.15. With only a quick comfort break we arrived just after 2.30. Not a bad day – just a bit of rain and spray on the roads, and a single short sleety shower while we were there. Main job was to get the tonneau cover support rigged properly, with some old fencing posts I had taken. Managed to make something of an improvement on the previous model, but it's still a bit jerry-rigged.

Electricity meter still has £6.83 on it. Fitted the new telescopic section to the aerial. This gave us enough reception to see a bit of the rugby internationals, but it was still very grainy – not sure whether it's the location or the aerial. There is definitely water dripping into the enclosed space behind the TV/audio units from the window above.

Went over to say 'Hi' to Bruce in Sanity Again, as his blog indicates they'll be leaving on their travels soon, and to thank him in person for clearing water from the tonneau. Journey home was dry and efficient: 6.15 – 9.30.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Safety Certificate

Yesterday spoke with Steve about the spar supporting the tonneau cover. He kindly said he'd ask Dave to take a look and see what he could do.

Today engineering suggested boat safety inspector Derek Luker, and arranged for him to do the inspection this afternoon. Spoke with him tonight on the phone, and he was very complimentary about the quality of the boat.  He and the engineering boys attached some anchor chain and D-links to secure the gas bottles. The boat passed and he will send the certificate tomorrow.

Also finally received the insurance documents from GJW Direct.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sagging tonneau cover

Bruce in Sanity left a comment to say that the tonneau cover had had a pool of water in it, with all the rain. He and Sheila had kindly removed the water but advised that the supporting strut really needed to be sorted out if the cover was not to stretch further.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

First visitors

Brief visit on Saturday, accompanied by Sarah and Rachael, on our way to Doncaster for a practical training week preparation weekend. Nice to have our first visitors on board, even if only for a picnic lunch.

Took the telescopic aerial section, but forgot the tools to get the old broken bit off.

Ellie heard me telling Steve and Dave about the Chinese hat, and said she could order one. Dave volunteered to go and measure the flue terminal to make sure we get the right size. However, no word from Ellie by Thursday. I also asked Dave if he could do me a favour by checking inside the gas locker to see where the securing chains ought to fit.

Weather foul for most of the travel, but a very useful weekend in Doncaster.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

No Hat

Jenny emailed to say there had been no Chinese hat when the lads fitted the new flue terminal. So, wherever it went, we need to replace it. Since I've lost my voice over the last two days, I emailed Jenny rather than ring her to ask for advice about acquiring one.

Today we received the Maxview telescopic aerial section.

Currently strong gales and very wet weather promised for Saturday when we travel to Doncaster. So we might need to revise our plans for going via GH.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Received the invoice for the 250 hour service. No details as to what was done – Jenny's last email said to look in the engine service manual to see what would be included. She mentioned just "fuel filters (sic - is there one in the line to the Webasto?) and gearbox".

Emailed Jenny to say we'd happily send the cheque, but indicated that the service going ahead was a bit of a surprise. Asked her to get the Chinese hat back on the flue if the guys still have it, since we didn't see it on board.

Found the Gazelle aerial on the Maxview site, and ordered a replacement telescopic bit for it.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Maintenance visit

Saturday 29th January, up and down. Left home at 8, so with the usual stop at Cherwell Valley got to GH shortly before midday. Temperature around 0º, some ice on the water. Wind not strong. Sun came out in the afternoon.

Steve told us the boat had been serviced during the week. When I said we'd asked Engineering for a quote but hadn't actually told them to go ahead, he volunteered to come over and see. He was right – fuel filter was new and the oil was clean. Air filter had apparently been brushed but not replaced. Steve commented favourably on the general condition of the engine compartment, confirmed the identity of the gearbox as a PRM150, and pointed out various items. He then came inside and (a) with some effort removed the front of the audio unit to reveal the two mains sockets; (b) inspected the window seal that we think is leaking. Advised us to get a proper glazier who knows about narrowboats and caravans to check/service it, and later provided a phone number: Hills Glass, 01782 565675.

Flue terminal now in place, but no cover.  The TV turned on, but wasn't getting a usable signal, even though the signal amplifier and the roof aerial both had their lights on. Roof aerial looks as though a part may be broken. Audio unit managed to tune several FM stations, though with a fair bit of noise.

Checked the kitchen drainer unit and plate rack for size: OK
£8.50 still on the electricity meter, so that's about 75p – £1 used in a fortnight for keeping the batteries conditioned.
No obvious chains for the propane bottle, so couldn't fix them.
Cleared mats and unnecessary ropes from the roof.

Check the aerial on Cimarron to see how it compares with ours.
Sand the oak panel holding the audio unit so it slides in and out easily.
Check another Aqualine for propane bottle fixings.
Get Engineering to replace the Chinese hat on the flue.

Journey home – avoiding the toll road and taking the A38 down to Sutton Coldfield to join the M6 was only a mile longer, but much more convoluted, with poor signposting. Diesel at Sainsbury's in SC was 3p/litre cheaper even than the Shell garage in Lichfield. Didn't stop after SC, so got home around 8.30.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Ellie reported from Derek - says the TV unit has a power switch to the left of the unit. Wasn't obvious on Saturday, so we'll have to check again. Failing that, ask the engineering boys to have a look.

Jobs to do:
Clear as much as possible from the roof to avoid having damp areas where water could affect the paint.
Make an inventory of equipment.
Chain up the gas bottles.
Check the cooker and hob.
Need to ask Jenny what the service they've quoted for entails.

Monday, 17 January 2011

On board at last

Left at 9.15 Saturday morning, got to Great Haywood around 1 after a mostly dry journey, and booked in at Common Farm Motel, just up the A51 from the village. At the marina we saw Steve for the jetty details and made arrangements for Sunday. Then – at last – on board!

Switched the domestic battery isolator to "not-isolated" and tried to start the central heating. Diesel unit appeared to fire up, but turned off after a short while. Checked under the engine cover, identified fuel lines, but there was no sign of a fuel switch turned off in the line to the Webasto. Switched the starter battery isolator to "not-isolated" and tried again. Diesel unit fired up and kept going. But there were no sounds indicating something working this time which had not been working before. So, more likely to be initial difficulties with the fuel after months of not being used. Radiators warmed up nicely.

Then lunch, bits and bobs, chilling, checking systems and measurements. Abortive attempt to get a heater and a kettle in Stafford. Evening meal at the Clifford Arms.

Sunday – breakfast in Stafford, then to the marina by 10.15. Steve and Dave helped to get the boat to the service jetty, in spite of the wind. Waste tank was empty. Filled up with diesel. Dipstick at start: 31cm; 50 litres to 41 cm; 137 litres to full at 57 cm. Then Dave took the boat down to the permanent mooring. About £4 left on the meter. Put in another £5. Diesel heater working fine.

First visit to the farm shop, but bought lunch from the Spar. Still couldn't get the TV and audio system working – no sign of power to them. Took down the curtains. Turned off the systems, isolated the batteries, left the Victron on "Charger only" – showing "Float". Left around 5 and got home around 9.30, after a meal at Didcot services.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Back in the water

Erin Mae is now in the water, on A jetty. Jenny said the mains lead is plugged in so the batteries will be charging. Presumably the marina itself will bill me for that. Flue terminal to be fitted today. Water filter not going on yet, to avoid problems with any further freezing. On Jenny's second call she reported John as saying that we could run both the engine and the diesel heater, though to note that they had not done so. Engine service would be £180 - which seems a bit steep in the light of the receipts I got for the service in 2009.

Weather at Great Haywood: wet. However, temperatures have been relatively mild and the weekend forecast is not looking as rainy as it has been.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Blacking completed

Jenny said today that the blacking of the hull has been completed, and that the replacement of the flue terminal is going ahead. However, it will be at least a week before Erin Mae will go into the water.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Hungerford hunkered down

Decided to go see the Kennet & Avon at Hungerford on Friday. A grey day and still quite a lot of ice. Walked a bit of the towpath and came across the first swing bridge we'd seen, where a track crosses the canal. Met a couple who’ve had their first boat for just a few weeks, enthusing about the friendliness of the people they’d encountered in that time. P.m. we cut across country to Pewsey wharf, with a lot more boats, but not much sign of life – everything is very locked down. N.b. Muriel was there, but not the Aqualine Madison whose blog we’d seen. Home via Amesbury and Old Sarum.