Friday, March 27, 2015

Rub a dub dub

A couple of weeks ago I noticed the cratch and pram covers were looking decidedly unclean. At the time I used canal water to remove the obvious fowl stuff with a scrubbing brush.  With rain forecast for the afternoon I decided cleaning both the covers before lunch might be a smart move.  That way the rain would rinse them off.

I’d only just started scrubbing when I realised the foam was turning green.  For a moment I though the green was from the canal water but immediately I remembered the bucket of water had been drawn from the tank.  Copious scrubbing resulted in a significant amount of green foaming sludge slowly running down the sides of the canvas.  Once the covers were rinsed off they started to quickly dry.  What a change in colour!  We are back to having burgundy coloured covers. 

Both covers will have to be cleaned again using the Fabsil we purchased last year.  Apparently it will also waterproof them.  Another pre-summer task completed.

Jan had a chat with a local who was walking past the boat.  The walker said “Do you know where Waiouru is?”   Jan confirmed she did and the lady then said “I was born there!” Waiouru is a small place but it has a very high birth rate.  No…. TV reception is good!  Almost the entire population consists of soldiers and their dependants.  There are no retirees and no cemetery. But they do have a very busy maternity hospital.  Having met someone in the UK who was born in Waiouru became even more of a coincidence when the lady mentioned she too lived on a boat.  Small world!

Well we have just had our excitement for the week.  There we were quietly sitting in the boat when there was a loud knocking on the cabin.  Thinking we had visitors I went to the back  only to discover no one outside.  Friday night and some of the local youths are having fun!  Small things amuse small minds!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The absolute last of it……

As forecast, we awoke to rain which continued all morning until finally stopping at 1pm. 
Yesterday I masked up the final part of the bilge and managed to spray a coat of primer onto it.  This is the first time I’ve painted the area around the stern gland since the engine was installed.  Actually the area is visibly inaccessible to me so all the cleaning was done by feel and photography.  My technique was to point the camera into the area and blindly take photos.  This enabled me to eventually clean the entire area.  The dripless stern gland was then wrapped in old rags before I applied the grey primer using the aerosol can.

Second coat

All done by guesswork intelligent logic.
It was impossible for me to see how effective the application had been so I again reverted to the camera trick.
I can’t bend much further than that.  Well the truth is the relaxed abdomen muscles are creating an obstacle along with the extremely tight hamstrings.
The dripless stern gland means the only water in the bilge is from condensation.  Despite that, this part of the bilge does get dirty.  Hopefully it is now good for another two years.  I’d forgotten how powerful the fumes from using an aerosol in a confined space can be.  I suspect I’ve destroyed more than a few lung and brain cells.  Good job I have Jan to do the thinking!
In the afternoon we wandered through the adjacent Willowtree Park before arriving at a nearby Tesco where we bought some essential supplies.  I then invited Jan for a coffee in the supermarket cafe.  Fortunately Jan had bought her purse.  On the way back to Waiouru I realised why we have a good internet signal.
Most of the passing canal traffic is coming out of London.  Probably those boaters with CRT winter moorings who are required to vacate them by the end of the month.  The terms and conditions for our mooring at Little Venice state we must immediately advise them if we break down and can’t move.  It goes on to state they will arrange a tow (at our expense).  Today these boats passed.
Perhaps the owner of the red boat was moored in Little Venice?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Good News

Before we commenced cruising this morning we were very pleased to receive confirmation our booking request for Little Venice had been approved .  Sarah ( sent us an email confirming we had a mooring for 6 nights commencing Thursday 2 April.  Rembrandt Gardens are managing the moorings in Little Venice on behalf of CRT.  The prerequisites for the booking included:

  • Boat Name
  • Index Number
  • BSS & Insurance details
  • Postal Address
  • Telephone Number

The above is required for a CRT license check. 

Now we have conformed dates it will be possible to finalise our cruising plans prior to taking the mooring.  The first task was to reverse back to the water point and top up the tank.  Further reversing allowed us to turn Into the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal and start heading east.  Just beyond the junction are a line of boats on CRT offside long term moorings. An interesting Tjalk was among them.

A clog type bow, flat bottom, with mast that folds down and side keel boards.  Designed to operate in shallow coastal waters.

Paul B.  The 7 Day moorings immediately before Uxbridge Road Bridge (20) still have a CRT sign but there are no mooring rings or bollards against the concrete edge.  Nor is there room to drive in a pin.  That makes it almost impossible to moor there! 

Around the bend we came upon a kind gentleman feeding his stale bread to the swans.  Well perhaps not so kind as he threw the plastic bread bag into the canal as he departed.  Actually the canal here was full of plastic bread bags.

We cruised on up to Willowtree Marina for a pump out. The facilities are outside the marina on the cut which makes access easy.  It was an exceptionally good pump out.  Probably the best we have had to date.  I mentioned the amount of rubbish in the canal and the staff member told me that on occasions there is so much rubbish in the water it almost looks like you could walk across the canal.  He was a local boater and a mine of information which we readily tapped into. 

There are eight days to fill before reaching Little Venice and that’s only 3.5 hours away.  Consequentially we decided to moor against the park just east of the marina.

Jan took a few photos of the local area whilst I disappeared into the engine compartment to get a first coat of primer around the stern tube.  Thank heaven for aerosol paint!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bulls Bridge Junction

Jan awoke this morning to the smell of hot bitumen.  Probably not surprising as there is a large bitumen factory opposite and a tarmac plant beyond the canal junction.  Yesterday I would have said the only endearing things about Bulls Bridge Junction are the water point and secure 24 hour mooring beside the large Tesco.  However last night we had a knock on the boat from a fellow boater who had something around his propeller which he couldn’t remove.  He wanted to breast up against us. We readily agreed to assist a boater in difficulty.  Then we were advised a boat further along the moorings had been broken into the previous night.  Small change and alcohol taken so I assume it was children.

One thing is readily apparent; the locals are not proud of their suburb.  Its been some time since we last passed through an area with so much litter.  The area around Tesco is clean but the adjacent land looks like a rubbish tip.  One example follows.

This is by no means the worst of what can be seen.  I’m reminded of the container recycling laws in South Australia where all plastic and metal drink containers carry a 5c (I think it’s now 10c) refund.  The result of this is that almost all drink containers are returned to recycling centres. 

Another observation is the ethnic background of the local residents.  We appear to be moored near Bollywood! Smile

The skyline also gives an indication.

There is both a dry and wet dock at Bulls Bridge Junction with adjacent moorings.  A number of these mooring are occupied by houseboats. 

With bridges either side of the moorings I can’t see the double storey houseboats ever moving.  But I do wonder how the hulls are blacked?

The last boat maintenance task task for the day was to clean and paint the port side of the engine bay.  After that I walked several miles to the nearest Halfords and purchased aerosol cans of primer and white paint to finish off the inaccessible (to an old man like me) area around the stern tube.

Another annual task completed!

Monday, March 23, 2015


It wasn’t a long cruise, just down to Bulls Bridge Junction at Hayes.  The canal provides a linear green belt through what would once have been a heavy industrial area but is now a mixture of industry and residential.

Colham Bridge is rather interesting.  It has been strengthened by bolting a tubular arch on either side.

The arch is taking some of the load and transferring it to the bridge abutments.  The abutments have also been strengthened by fitting square steel plates.

Set back from the canal is The Brickmakers Pub.  A reminder of the areas industrial past!

What a shame we don’t have a solid fuel stove.  The trees beyond Stockley Road Bridge have received a severe haircut and there’s now plenty of available firewood.

There’s a large batching and concrete plant on the south side of the canal.  The name on the building was Hanson which reminded us that during our travels we have seen a number of trains hauling hopper wagons with Hanson on the side.

I had assumed the mooring in the photo was obsolete but Jan suggested CRT might us it to collect aggregate for towpath maintenance.

The south bank then became residential with a series of large and modern apartment buildings.

And then it reverts back to industrial with a large Nestle factory.  Unfortunately, unlike the Marlows Factory on the Peak Forest Canal, there were no mouth watering smells in the air.  It can’t be their chocolate factory!

We arrived at Bulls Bridge Junction after a slow two hour cruise.  There is a water point and 24 hour moorings here.

The blue boat in the middle of the photo is moored on the water point and it appears to be vacant.  The boat moored to its left is a CRT working boat.  It has been on the 24 hour moorings for at least 3 days.

The boat’s name is The Lee Mean Clean Machine.

In the afternoon I managed to wash, dry and polish the starboard side.  Only the roof left to do!

But we have run out of polish…… Bloody good timing!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Clean and Bake

It was another fine spring day which enabled us to commence some of the exterior 2015 maintenance tasks.  The greatest task was washing and then polishing the towpath side of Waiouru.  Tomorrow; weather permitting; the starboard side will receive the same treatment after cruising to Bulls Bridge Junction.  After all that exercise I forgot to take a photo!  Jan has been busy baking in the galley.  The last of the apples picked from the tree beside Stockton Top Lock have been used in an apple shortcake.  The cherries in the cherry cake came from Aldi along with the eggs in the bacon and egg pie <yum>!

Later I had the urge to carry on cleaning and painting the remainder of the bilge.  Fortunately I was able to sit down and consume a cold beer until the urge passed.

There was a night photo opportunity In Yiewsley as the fair was in town.  Unfortunately it didn’t last as long as I wanted because the camera battery went flat!

More practice required!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Coal Tax Obelisk and Bridge Zero

Adam (nb Briar Rose) left a comment on one of the three posts published on Thursday (more on that later) mentioning the interesting features at the junction end of the Slough Arm.  Yes, we had taken photographs.

He mentioned the coal tax obelisk which we had seen on the towpath side of the arm not far from the junction.

I had to do some research on these markers.  They are also known as Coal Tax Posts and were made from either stone or cast iron.  Their purpose was to define the boundary around London where a duty was imposed on coal entering the city.  London had imposed a tax on coal since medieval times.  After the Great Fire of London in 1666 the government increased the tax to pay for major rebuilding works.  The tax was rather unpopular but remained in various forms until 1890 when it was ended.  The above marker is located beside the canal and also what appears to be an abandoned railway bridge over the canal so I’m not sure whether it marked the boundary for canal or rail traffic. 

The next interesting feature is the first bridge on the arm after the junction.  It’s a footbridge and has the unusual feature of being marked Bridge number 0.

I assume this bridge is a later addition, hence the number 0.

Adam also mentioned the canal aqueducts at the Cowley Peachey end of the arm. These allow the Rivers Fray and Colne to pass under the canal.  One cannot but help notice the difference in the clarity of the river water when compared to the canal.

When I first started looking at the map around this area I noticed the expanses of water beside the Grand Union Canal.  I had assumed these were water reservoirs providing London with a guaranteed source of water.  I now realise they are the last visible signs of the gravel and clay pits dug to supply London with it’s building materials. 

Oh, the reason for three blog posts on Thursday.  We received advice from Australia that my mother had been hospitalized (AGAIN) and things didn’t look too good.  Consequentially I made a quick trip to Perth, Western Australia.  Before leaving I wrote 9 posts using Live Writer and configured them to be published whilst I was away.  Mum decided not to depart (tough old bird)….. I’m back on board…… we’re still poor!  Smile

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Nerd Post

The Network Media Tank (NMT) has been mentioned in an earlier post.  It’s our little black box that is the equivalent of a DVD recorder.  However, instead of recording to a DVD is records and plays back from an internal computer hard drive.  As our collection of recordings got larger we’ve had to upgrade the size of the hard drive until we reached 2TB.

After moving onto Waiouru I converted the NMT to run on 12V.  This; in combination with the conversion of the TV to work on 12V; has eliminated the need to use the Inverter.

We’ve continued to record TV programs and consequentially ran out of free space on the hard drive. The resolve this two 2TB hard drives have been externally connected to the NMT making the large internal hard drive obsolete.  Except an internal storage drive is required for recording purposes.  It seems a waste to use a massive 2TB hard drive just to record the odd TV program.  Furthermore, the hard drive generates heat which has to be dissipated by a small internal fan.  The fan uses electricity and is starting to get noisy.

Today I conducted a small experiment.  The first task was to open up the NMT and check whether the docking port (the connector plugs) for the existing large 3.5” internal hard drive were the same as a smaller 2.5” internal hard drive.  You can see the large internal hard drive in the photo below.  It’s the silver thing with the white label.  The second red arrow points to the small fan.

After removing the large hard drive I tested whether the surplus smaller 2.5” hard drive plugs were compatible with the sockets in the NMT.  They were!  However the 2.5” driver is obviously smaller.

I need to make the smaller drive sit firmly in the cradle previously occupied by the larger drive.  What I have done is to take a short length of single sided window masking tape and cut it down the middle along its length.  These two pieces of tape were then placed on top of each other on the underside of the smaller drive holding it in place in the cradle.

The NMT was reassembled after cleaning the fan.  Everything is working and the new 2.5” hard drive will record and play back.  The new drive has 12.5% of the capacity of the original 2TB hard drive.  We don’t need that much recording capacity and the drive also produces heat which means the fan is required.

I have plans for a further enhancement.  You may recall the modifications to the notebook computer about 9 months ago.  As part of the modifications the 32GB mSATA SSD stick was removed and replaced with a larger capacity stick.  32GB of storage is about all we need in the NMT.  The stick is very small and being solid state with no moving parts, generates very little heat.  If I can replace the smaller hard drive with the 32GB stick then it will eliminate the need for the fan and reduce the power consumed by the NMT.  How small is the 32GB stick.

It’s rather small when compared to the internal hard drives.  I think this is going to work.

Walk around Cowley Peachey Junction

Yesterday was sunny and warm whilst today had a frosty start which changed to windy and grey.  Despite the condition time was made for a walk around the local area.  Packet Boat Marina had a couple of foreign boats.

A bach is NZ slang for a small holiday home.  Usually slightly more than a shed but less than a house.

These Aussies are well settled with lighting. a door mat, portico and twin concrete gargoyles.

We had just finished reading about a community clean-up of the Slough Arm so I wasn’t all that surprised to see the following boat moored close to the junction.

Apparently the arm has also been dredged for the first time in many years.  The water in the arm looks like it has the same colour and consistency as the gravy we had with yesterday’s roast.  Paul Balmer (nb Waterway Routes) left a comment advising the only thing at the end of the arm is a winding hole.  It’s a 2 hour cruise so we’ll probably take his advice and do a return trip in a single day.  Another waterway to tick off on our bucket list!  Smile

The Slough Arm is 5 miles long and runs in an east-west direction.  The red arrow points to a concrete pillbox which leads me to assume that like the Kennet & Avon Canal, the Slough Arm was fortified as an obstacle during WW2.

It’s possible to walk through waste land to the south of the canal and re-join the Grand Union slightly south of Cowley Peachey Junction in a residential area.

The small white tupperware boat has the best mooring on the straight being positioned outside the entrance to Tesco.  It’s also a short walk to the Yiewsley pub and shops.

There is a sign in the far side window.  It’s written on a very faded looking piece of white paper with yellow edging.  The red ink has faded to a pale pink and is almost illegible.  It stated

broken down waiting

for a mechanic

I didn’t have my glasses so can’t confirm it.  But I think there was a 3rd, more faded line, “arriving from outer Mongolia” Winking smileAt least the boat isn’t depriving someone of a mooring.

There’s a small basin back where Packet Boat Lane crosses the Grand Union.  I assume it used to serve local industry in a previous life. 

From the basin looking back through the bridge hole to the Grand Union

It would be possible to wind (turn) a boat by entering the bridge hole.  But after looking at the Waterway Routes canal map I realised there are better winding holes nearby.