Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun and games at Buckby

Thursday 22nd September

We arrived at Braunston dry dock to find Tim re-fitting Jannock’s front fender Jannock in the drydock prior to letting the water back in to re-float her. He had nothing untoward to report about her hull condition except that the front and rear anodes (fitted 2000) will need replacing when she’s next blacked. We left the dock and made our way to the next lock where a single boat had just ascended. I called to the steerer to try and determine whether anything was coming down and got a ‘Yes’ as the answer. OK, so he now knows we are following him, I wonder if he’ll wait. The answer was no, they continued up through Nelson lock solo. Meanwhile, while we waited for the northbound boat to descend through the lock, another two boats joined us waiting to go up and so we ended up sharing the rest of the flight with an ABC hireboat. However, at the next lock the single boat had decided to wait until they saw two boats coming up together at which point they carried on regardless so we never got chance to offer to share so that the ABC boat could return to it’s original partner. One of their crew did not want to pass through the tunnel, she had walked over the top when they came the other way but Brenda persuaded her to stay aboard the boat. It stopped before the tunnel to let her off but she decided to remain on board and was proud that she had overcome her anxiety.

We arrived at Buckby top lock and Peter the lockie asked us to wait until another boat arrived. Eventually the same ABC crew arrived and so we shared this flight with them as well. At lock 9 their oil warning light and buzzer came on and so they wanted to stop. Knowing that there is better access at the bottom of the flight we breasted up with them and Brenda brought them down through locks 9, 10 and 11 whilst they phoned Gayton marina for advice. By lock 12 the ABC engineer had asked the crew to do some checks on their engine and then declared that the oil pressure switch was faulty and that they could continue using the engine. We separated the boats again and continued the flight independently.

All the time we were descending Buckby flight we were accompanied by a nice old couple who were walking along the towpath alongside us. She was keen to see what was happening and how the water was let our through the paddles and he was carefully explaining everything to her as they went. By lock 13 (bottom lock) I had found out that he had been the Buckby lock keeper for thirty-odd years and had lived in the cottage at the bottom lock. He told me how the blacksmiths Norton Junction forge that used to be behind the building, accessed through the low arch, was where the Buckby windlass was made and that he had been presented with the last one ever made there. I asked if he still possessed it but he said he had given it away years ago. He also told me how when the cottage right beside the lock was sold by BW, they included all the grass right up to the lock edge in the sale. Consequently, when he went to cut it a few days after the new owner had moved in, he was told off because it was not BW property anymore.

Once through the locks and onto the long pound we had lunch on the move and then found a suitable fourteen day mooring to leave Jannock on as I will be away learning how to do sign writing this weekend.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brenda’s Monday rantette.

Monday 19th September

Whilst we were waiting above Braunston bottom lock, I assisted crews at the lock to pass the time. A new hirer appeared and his boat entered the empty lock soon afterwards. I held back from shutting the other bottom gate as another boat was approaching. “That’s nice” he said ”it’s pleasant courtesy to share a lock I suppose”  I explained that it was not courtesy but the current rules and pointed to the BW notice on the balance beam that stated that boats should wait, for up to 1 hour, for another sharer to come along before starting the flight. He read it and said it couldn’t apply to hire boats as they had paid for their holiday and would not want to waste it hanging around. Once the bottom gates were closed he went off to open the top paddles regardless of any steerers readiness. Apple bobbing sprang into my mind so as we chatted I slipped in that it was a courtesy to check that both steerers are ready before adding water to a lock. “Why?” was the response so I then explained the dangers involved and that people can get hurt.  “Oh no” he said very gently “we don’t want to hear about things like that. We are on holiday. You are just joking …… “ I assured him that I was not and explained last year’s fatality at Cropredy. He really didn’t listen any more. It was only after they had gone into the second lock, pretty well sideways, that G and I heard  that we had only just missed another boater being taken off by Air Ambulance after falling off her boat that very morning and their boat was tied up outside UCCs office at the end of the lock landing. I bet Mr Newby takes more care about his choice of lunch sandwich than his crews safety! We should all take care to support our Air Ambulances charities.


Cutweb Rally 2011

Friday 16th September

En-route to Jannock we stopped at Lee Sanitation and collected the ‘manual pump-out repair kit’ that I had reserved for collection earlier in the week. After loading all our stuff aboard Jannock I set Brenda off towards the top of Stockton flight and I drove the car to park it in the little car-park opposite the Boat Inn. I then walked to the top lock and had it ready when Jannock arrived. This is the first time we’ve approached the rally at Blue Lias down the flight without a horde of helpers that have walked up from the bottom to assist. We completed the flight in 1 hour and 15 minutes which we thought was good. On exiting the bottom lock we found eight boats already in attendance and we winded in the arm and moored alongside Lord Toulouse, third out from the bank. Having assessed the mooring situation we decided to shuffle a few boats around and then moor Jannock in the ‘buffer-zone’ (the mooring right outside the Blue Lias terrace immediately in front of the bridge) which made more space available for the fifteen boats expected. The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent catching up with people we hadn’t seen for about a year and me collecting everybody's money to pay for the rally.

Saturday 17th September

A lazy start was followed by an overhaul session with our self pump-out equipment to replace the perished bellows and prepare it for our return journey through Braunston on Monday. The weather was threatening to rain in the afternoon when it was planned to have a boules tournament on the lawn so I opened up the Blue Lias function room and set up Brenda’s Wii so that we had an indoor alternative. This turned out to be an excellent insurance policy as the Beeky Boules competition passed without any of the threatened rain interfering with proceedings. Tea and cake on the lawn, that followed, was moved into the function room due to the rain clouds finally arriving and an impromptu Wii ten pin bowling competition started.

Our evening entertainment was provided by Life an Times who sang the songs from their production Where the working boats went. During the intermission a poor attempt was made at devouring the Ploughman’s buffet which saw quite a few French sticks being returned to the kitchens un-eaten. The evening was rounded off with Cutweb Infinity Raffle.

Sunday 18th September

The booking in time for items to be included in the morning auction was 10.00 and so no laying in bed this morning. I had obtained some un-labelled Vale VPA beer in presentation boxes of 3 bottles and had made up new labels identifying it as Bowthruster, Cutweb Pale Ale. These seemed to sell well in the auction with one pack reaching a whopping £10. Unfortunately for the purchaser, he wasn’t there so he’ll have a pleasant surprise when he gets the bill ;^)

After the auction a roast beef sunday lunch was served to all who required it with Sunday afternoon being Free Time. I took the opportunity to take my car to UCC at Braunston bottom lock as that was where we would be heading on Monday in order for Jannock to be placed in the dry-dock to be blacked. I returned on the Di Blasi in time for tea ready for the evening quiz which was organised by Brenda and myself as we were part of last years winning team.

Monday 19th September

There were six Cutweb boats wanting to ascend the Stockton flight at about 8am on Monday morning and we were first off the blocks partnering nb Uncle Mort. We breasted Jannock against U.M. once in the bottom lock and let Andrew use the power of his Lister JP3 to move boat boats while Brenda, Sheila and I did the locking with Barney supervising. Luckily the first 4 locks were set for us with bottom gates opened by crew members from the other boats behind and so we completed the flight in 45 minutes. On then to Calcutt locks where we met a pair of boats leaving each lock as we were ready to enter and so we passed up that flight quite smoothly as well. Thanks to the crew of Hampshire Rose and all the other boats through the year that have called out to say they enjoy Jannock’s blog and the website content. We’re tempted to say “get a life” but that would be rude and also a complete antithesis of how pleased we are that our (Brenda’s) rantings brighten someone's day.

A Wigrams we turned left towards Braunston and started the slow slog across the level pound meeting lots of on-coming craft and eventually becoming pig-in-the-middle of a procession of eight boats until we reached Braunston turn where most of the ones in front of us turned left towards Rugby. We stopped at the Braunston sani-station again and this time I managed a complete pump-out due to not having a perished pump. Brenda made a snack dinner which was rapidly eaten as we made our way towards the bottom lock. We ascended this lock and then pulled over to moor up whilst awaiting the previous user of the dry dock to leave so that we could reverse in. We then loaded all our stuff into the car and left for home.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn Soddit Cruise – Day 2

Sunday 11th September

We decided last night that I would get up early and set off as a strong wind was forecast for later in the day and I wanted to wind in Braunston before it got too strong. Consequently I was up and away at 7:30 whilst Brian and Ian had a more leisurely start. There was sunshine, blue skies and little wind as we made our way down into Braunston. We passed Virgo, setting up the self pump-outmoored up just before the A45 bridge, which was sporting an enormous HF aerial attached to the rear of the boat. Guy appeared at the front doors complaining about us being up and on the move whilst he was just getting up.

At the Braunston sani-station I set up the self pump-out equipment only to find that the pump had sprung a leak as one of the diaphragms had perished. So I put it all away again and we then winded in the marina entrance to set off toward Wigrams turn and the Grand Union towards Stockton.

Once we had crossed the puddlebanks (and P1010369noticed that the old BW house at the turn is up for auction) we found that most of the offside trees and hedges between Wolfhampcote and Flecknoe have been removed and so the strong wind blew across the canal and took Jannock with it making steering very difficult. Luckily there were not so many boats about  today so we didn’t keep having to wait at bridgeholes.  At Wigrams  we turned under the bridge and arrived at Calcut locks just as nb The Angels Share caught us up  so we shared the flight with them. They were a newly delivered boat that was having it’s first long trip down to Stratford-on-Avon and back. Once through the locks we moored up for lunch and more fishing so I went and fetched the car from Brinklow using the Di Blasi.

At the end of the weekend, Ian had caught all the fish (eight in total), Brian won at Soddit  and I negotiated a deal for some special Cutweb beer to be sold at the charity auction next weekend. Result!



Autumn Soddit Cruise – Day 1

Saturday 10th September

Last night we arrived at Jannock having visited the excellent fish and chip shop in Brinklow. Newbold tunnel They were definitely the best I have had since I visited Busy Lizzies in Skipton during 1995. We then loaded our provisions etc. aboard, cracked open the beer and the Soddit began and continued on till well past our bedtimes ;^)

Saturday morning dawned bright and far too early so we breakfasted and then departed almost immediately. This was un-usual because neither Ian or Brian set up their fishing rods prior to us setting off – they usually have a breakfast session before the off. Are they losing interest? During transit of the Newbold tunnel, Rule Britannia was played at full volume much to the amusement of a Black Prince hireboat that we passed mid tunnel. The family that were walking through using the towpath were not so amused though. We stopped near bridge 58 to fill with water whilst Brian nipped across to Tescos. Once on the move again we immediately passed Linda aboard nb The Busker and Sarah-May on nb Shelley-Anne. I called hello but Sarah-May only appeared as we had moved farther away and so a brief shouted greeting occurred. They are both en-route to the Cutweb rally next weekend as we are.

We stopped for lunch before Hillmorton locks and the fishists (well Ian) even managed to catch a few roach although he Here come the swans seemed to lose a lot of hooks in the trees opposite our mooring in the process. No queueing through the locks so a quick ascent was made using a lock  recently vacated by a northbound boat each time. All the time the wind was gradually increasing to I was glad to clear the locks and get up some speed again to fight theP1010348 side wind.

On the Barby straight we passed Draco and Success moored up. I spoke with Mike as we passed but did not stop as I had just got past a very slow and unpredictable boat that had been ahead of us and I didn’t want him to pass me again. We finally moored up for the night in the shelter of a large hedge just past Willoughby Wharf. Ian cooked the dinner and then another evening of Soddit commenced finally giving up at about 12:30. There was a big full moon which kept it quit light all night.