Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An update from Saturday’s events


It would appear from communications that we have had from another Cutweb member who travelled down the Buckby flight on Sunday, the day after we went down, that the two gents supposedly delivering the boat in Braunston were doing no such thing.

We wondered at the time how their knowledge of working locks could be so bad if they had brought the boat down from Leeds. It turns out that our fellow club member was sat outside the pub at Buckby top when they arrived and sat next to him. They informed him that it was their boat, had no licence, BSS or insurance and they were after someone to give them a tow down the flight due to the engine and gearbox being dodgy. They admitted to him that the boat delivery ruse was made up as a cover while they travelled.

After they caught him up going down the flight on Sunday he rightly refused to share locks with them due to their lack of insurance. Had we known on Saturday we would not have done so either.

Be careful out there!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

No locks today ……

Sunday 28th September

… only bridges. If yesterday was all about hassles with locks, today was about meeting boats in blind bridges. No sooner had I undone the mooring ropes than the first boat appeared rapidly through the A5 bridge. From then on it seemed we met approaching boats at every bridge that could not be seen through, sometimes several boats following each other quite closely. At Flore Lane bridge we had just narrowly avoided a head on collision with a boat that seemingly appeared from no where when a second then appeared as well. When I pointed out to the hirer that it was best to leave a bit of a gap when following another boat through a bridge he explained the the first boat had pulled out smartly in front of him the other side of the bridge – that might explain the speed then.IMG_0839

IMG_0836 Today Brenda has been taking pictures of the nice paintwork  on a couple of working boats and even got one of the owners to throw in a pose. We decided to moor up and have lunch and then I went and fetched the car from Hillmorton whilst Brenda cleaned and tidied before we headed home. The weather has been good this weekend, not as warm and sunny as predicted but not cold or windy either.


It was OK until Braunston

Saturday 27th September

We set off from Hillmorton at 11:10 and had a good clear run into Braunston, meeting Mike, Krystina, the dogs and ferrets on Draco, about to MuddyBullocks2 go fetch Success, en-route. We stopped briefly for a water fill and pumpout at the sani-station before making our way to the bottom lock. As we arrived, a single hander had just opened a gate and so we joined him in the lock. He complained that the ten strong crew of fit males on the hireboat in front had failed to wait for him and had ascended the lock solo. He was only passing up into the first pound as he wanted to be close to the Admirable Nelson and the second pound was well down with the top being far too close to the bottom. It turned out that the whole flight was like this, we know not why.

We shared the second and third locks with a pair of gents delivering a boat from Leeds to Cambridge. The boat was quite old and it’s gearbox worked on the ‘one armed bandit’ principle – you waggled the stick about to see what you could get. How they’d made it this far we do not know. Once through the third lock and opposite the Nelson they decided to moor alongside the hireboat with the 10 fit young men on board and join them rather than continue up the flight. A mooring rope was thrown across the roof of the hireboat dislodging a zillion empty bottles and cans from the roof. As we were ascending the third lock, the gent who’d stopped two pounds down waved his pint at Brenda and said “you want one of these love” She responded that she didn’t want to get arrested for drunk-in-charge. He replied “that’s the benefit of being a live-aboard. If it’s your home they can’t do you for drunk driving” He also thought it applied if you owned your own boat. Worrying if it is a shared belief – explain that to a magistrate.

We continued up the next couple of locks solo and were slowly catching up a single boat ahead. The water levels were between 12 and 24 inches down in each pound until the summit which made transiting between locks very difficult, It’s at times like this that I’m glad we have a shallow draught boat.. As we ascended the penultimate lock in the flight we spotted that the other solo boat was waiting for us in the empty top lock. At least something worked out well.

On through Braunston tunnel where Brenda steered most of the way through, only handing over to me as we approached passing the first of three boats heading the other way. Sod’s law dictated that we met him in one of the bends within the tunnel and removed a bit more paint from the top of the cabin side at the front. When we arrived at Buckby top we were fifth in the queueIMG_0835 as there had been a three hour stoppage after a boat had lifted a top gate out of it’s seating. I went down the flight, on the bike,  to identify what was happening and  spotted a single boat at the head of the queue which would mean all of the pairs would split up. So, with no-one else wishing to descend, we passed down through the first lock solo and then shared the rest of the flight with nb Silkwood. The gates and paddles on this flight have not got any easier and I ended up helping the lady from Silkwood with her half of the lock as well when there were no ascending crew about to assist.

Out of the bottom lack and it was rapidly getting dark but I had no intention of mooring up alongside the M1 so we continued on to Landing Spinney where we moored in the dark adjacent to the A5 road bridge.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Late crop fruit harvested

Tuesday 23rd September

Misty Graham was up and at ‘em at snoozle o’clock again, I put my head out just as Son 1 phoned; a quick stop-over in Manchester to sort out a passport. We were able to have a quick chat but not able to give him the answers he needed as we had no internet connection on board – and I was completely unable to top-up my Three account successfully due to the Visa Secure system failing to work when I tried to use my card. Never mind, all was eventually sorted by the time he got to the passport office in Liverpool.

The time advantage that Graham created by starting early was spent harvesting fruit from the offside of the canal. Blackberries were found in the cutting above Brinklow and the same Plum tree at Clifton still had some serviceable plums left on it’s branches. As we passedLostTortoise Armada Marine at Brinklow wharf Graham spotted the diesel was a very good price (£1.02p per litre 60/40) and so we stopped there to add 150 litres to Jannock’s tank.

On down through Rugby where CaRT contractors are edging and dredging opposite Willow Wren’s yard; little boats all over the place with two tugs returning having just taken a dumb barge full of mud down to the road. At the road bridge we met a HillMortonstrange little craft sprouting wires everywhere and manned by blokes wearing what looked like deep sea divers suits. They were EA folk who were stunning all the fish and counting the species. They told Graham that they had very few Zander when he enquired.

We were moored up by 4pm, ready for a car shuffle and home. Another successful Cutweb rally , thanks guys. And as for the Pork rolls and roast beef at the Samuel Barlow  .  .  .  .  .  .  I have never seen so many doggie bags being asked for after a meal. The food was too good to leave on the plate, and far too much for many of us to finish. We were so pleased that we had not ordered a dessert to follow Sunday lunch. Mind you, that looked so good we also wish we’d had room for some as well. We drank Bonkers Conkers as well as playing it, we played Boule, we treasure hunted (and we won) we quizzed (and we didn’t win) we ate cake, we enjoyed Cutweb company and the rally had a new company of auctioneers – Floggit, Loggit and Droppit! We hope to do it all again next year.


Monday, September 22, 2014

And so the run home begins

Monday 22nd September

I was up and at-em at 07:30 helping nb Just Heaven extract themselves from the raft to head South.PooleyHall Nb Earnest (yes, that one) had left at 6:45 and we set off behind at 08:00 after I had used our car to give Glen’s camper van a jump start.  The run to Polesworth was very atmospheric with the low sun lighting up the mist rising from the canal. Brenda surfaced at about 9am bringing me a much needed refill of tea. As we  approached Grendon I managed to get some breakfast ready for the run up Atherstone flight. The first 6 locks were either in our favour or someone was leaving as we approached and so we had a smooth run up to the bypass bridge. We stopped there to visit Aldi as we needed some bread and milk. What we came back with was a rechargeable vacuum cleaner, a waterproof jacket and a new blade for my circular saw at AtherstoneFlighthome. Very expensive bread and milk then.

The run up the remaining 5 locks of the flight was equally easy with every lock being vacated as we approached. We have never had a run up Atherstone like this before. On through Hartshill, Nuneaton and Bedsworth where we stopped and tied up alongside nb Grace for SparklyTree a chat with Christine and Terry. They fed us tea and cake as well as returning an empty beer bottle in exchange for a couple of full ones. After a couple hours I decided we had better set off so I paid a visit down the weed hatch and removed a large sheet of black plastic from around the prop before we left.

As we turned onto the Oxford canal we found the lock empty with the gate open so I steered straight in, it’s definitely been our day today. I walked ahead as Brenda brought Jannock along the moorings and i found a gap that was just the right length. Brenda got annoyed because as ByeByeRigdens she was bringing Jannock nicely into this gap, the bloke on the boat in front obviously thought she was going to hit his boat and damage the paintwork so he pushed Jannock away which really messed up the manoeuvre. He then hung around until he was happy with my knots and mooring ropes before scuttling off back into his boat. The next boat along complemented me on the skill used to get Jannock into such a short gap so I was a gentleman and gave the credit to Brenda who had steered her in.

Faggots for supper  ( yum!)  followed by an evening doing nothing as I was absolutely shattered.


Friday, September 19, 2014

And so to the 2014 Cutweb rally.

Friday 19th September

Whilst we were walking to the Indigo Lounge last night Brenda got into conversation with an old lady walking along the towpath. She lives in the flats by the canal and walks every day. She told Brenda how she remembered when she was young and her father worked in the coal pit, the nice FMC boatmen would give her a lift IMG_0773up to the pit to meet him when he finished his shift (only with mums’ permission though). A lady with a very interesting past.

We left Polesworth for the short run to Alvecote where we found nb Just Heaven already in the layby. First job was to get Steve to turn her around so thatIMG_0777 she was stern in to the bank and then Brenda expertly manoeuvred Jannock back in alongside him.

When Brian and Diana arrived on Harnser, we persuaded them to collect nb Black Pig, which was moored on the 48 hour moorings opposite, and bring it into the raft as well.IMG_0787

From there on the day continued with general organisational duties and getting more boats into the raft. In the evening we had an informal meal and drinking session in the bar having moved all the tables to form one long one.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Willing helpers down Atherstone

Thursday 18th September

We arrived at the boat at about 11am and offloaded our stuff from the car. As I approached Jannock I heard a ‘plop’ in the water near the rear tyre fender and was in time to observe some ripples in the water. We use floating wheels to keep Jannock off of the bank and provide protection against passing boats that are going too fast as they absorb some of the too-ing and fro-ing that is generated on the ropes. There was clear evidence that during our stay at Hartshead the rear tyre had been a feeding base for a water vole or rat. It had a smooth layer of mud with loads of droppings scattered on the upper surface. Once loaded, I loosed off and noticed a furry creature swimming about in the reeds opposite the towpath but was unable to clearly identify what species.

We cruised along towards Atherstone and tried to grab a sandwich for lunch before the activity started. At the top lock we met Brian and Diana (nb Harnser) who had moored their boat at the bottom of the flight and kindly volunteered to help work us down. They said they need the excercise. I wasn’t fussy what excuse they need, it was great to have their help and the flight was cleared quite quickly with no major issues.

Once out the bottom we stopped at Grendon services to fill up with water and then continued on to Polesworth where we moored for the night beside the sports field and tennis courts. I returned to Hartshead, on the DiBlasi, and then moved the car on to Alvecote marina where we are having the Cutweb Rally this weekend. I then returned to the boat and the four of us went out to the Indigo Lounge for a meal. They do a nice Sunday to Thursday deal of four courses for £9.95p and very good it was too. Another advantage is that this establishment is at the rear of the Fosters Yard hotel so the beer selection is what they have on in the bar.

It’s international Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow so that should provide us with some amusement whilst we are setting up for the rally.


Sorry – no pictures as the camera remained packed for the journey today.