Monday, July 21, 2014

Short cruise and odd jobs

The car was returned to Enterprise this morning.  I stopped on the way to add 5L of petrol to the tank to get it back to the level when we collected it (quarter full). It was almost quarter full so I didn’t think it would take much to reach the mark.  After leaving the petrol station the damned gauge didn’t budge  So I found a Tesco and added another 5L.  It still didn’t move and in a moment of frustration I added yet another 5L.  No movement from the needle so I told myself “Stuff it… the car can go back like this!”  Just before I reached the Enterprise depot the needle quivered and then jumped to three quarter full.  To say I was annoyed would be an understatement.  Enterprise kindly gave me a 15% discount voucher for our next hire!

I called into the Morrisons supermarket in Nantwich on the way back to Waiouru.  They didn’t have any custard doughnuts so I substituted them for a hot cooked chicken!  Jan will understand!

It was a brisk walk back to the boat with a hot chicken burning my back.  Jan attended to all those small chores inside Waiouru whilst I checked everything in the engine bay and stowed the new oil.  I also took the opportunity to check the two fuel pre-filters.  The first had a small amount of “gunk”suspended in the diesel whilst the second was clean.  I’ll keep an eye on the diesel just in case we are developing the dreaded “fuel bug”.

It was a slow cruise up to Barbridge Junction.  Along the way we noticed a couple of boats that were in exactly the same spot when we passed here in the 3rd quarter of last year. 

I think they might have grown roots

We stopped at Barbridge Junction to top up the water tank (it was already three quarters full).  The water pressure was slow and it took 30 minutes to fill.  Then we motored on to the 48 hour moorings above Cholmondeston Lock.  To our surprise they were empty.  It was at these moorings where I first met Eric, Elsie and Ben the Dog from nb Bendigedig back in 2011. It was also the same location where I managed to RV with Anne and her family when they were cruising on a hire boat.

The boats have been going past all afternoon.  Some slow and some fast.  There’s no common factor to identify those going fast except for Jan calling out to the fast boats “Thank you!” I suspect the sarcasm is lost.

What’re you look’n at!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Down South

Jan would like to thank everyone for their kind comments.  She is rapidly on the mend as a result of my physiotherapy regime which involves the continued completion of routine tasks.  The vitamin supplements (doughnuts) are also proving to be of value.  Jan should be back to full lock duties in a few days.  Meantime I’ve informed her to take her time and work the paddle mechanism slowly. 

Today has involved a three hour drive each way down to Staines upon Thames to see a very old and dear friend of the family.  On our behalf Hilda kindly accepts what little snail mail we have been unable to convert to email.  It’s been nine months since our last visit and a visit was long overdue.

 Jan & Hilda

We took Hilda to lunch inviting her to choose the location. She selected the White Swan Pub on the Thames in Staines upon Thames.

A nice pub with 100 metres of mooring in front.  Jan asked if boats could use them and was informed that was acceptable provided the pub was used for meals or drinks.  On the opposite bank is the local “Slug & Lettuce”.  It appears to also have moorings.

We’ve made tentative plans for Hilda to join us here for a day cruise when we take Waiouru south.

Whilst in Staines upon Thames we took the opportunity to visit the nearby Halfords store.  In a fortnight the engine in Waiouru will be due for a 250 hour service.  We already have a replacement oil filter so all that’s missing is the replacement oil.  I used Morris oil for the last service and have some left over.  The engine takes approximately 7 litres and a container holds 5 litres.  The end result is you need to buy two 5L containers and end up with 2-3L spare.  After reading the Beta manual it simply states to use a multi-grade SAE 15W/40 CF oil.  But it’s also a good idea not to “mix” new oils.  The plan was to buy three 5L containers of the required standard oil from Halfords.  This will give us 15L of oil which is enough for the next two services.  The gearbox oil also needs to be changed and I’ll us the remaining Morris oil for that task.  The good news was Halfords had the oil discounted by 20%.

The above photos were taken using the “problematic” Samsung S4 i9505 phone.  I tried to get a Vodafone signal in Staines upon Thames and managed to get one bar when I switched it to 2G.  Frankly I think Staines is a sufficient size for a better signal.

Jan decided to have a play with her new camera on the way home.  She did mention it was difficult taking photos when the car was going faster than ‘tick over’.  It’s been 10 months since I was last behind the wheel and cruising speed on the road is certainly different.  As we went through Birmingham Jan tried to get a photo of “Spaghetti Junction”.

It’s beyond the steering wheel and down.  Actually we could only identify the location by the adjacent large electrical distribution farm.

The car goes back to Enterprise tomorrow morning.  The following might be of interest to boaters who hire from Enterprise.  Usually we hire on a weekend to take advantage of their cheaper rate.  It also means you can return the car on a Monday morning as they aren’t open on Sunday.

If we booked a car for Sat and Sun (2 days) the daily rate was £24.31 or a total of £48.62.

However if we book for three days (Fri-Sun) the daily rate is £16.45 or a total of £49.35.

So we obtained an additional day for 73p.

The car we selected was one of their smallest and of course one of the cheapest.  We ended up being given a Vauxhall Corsa 1.2L  I’m not used to small engine cars.  If I was being uncharitable I’d say it couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.  Or as Aussies say…. Only milk and juice come in two litres!    At 1.2L it felt like we had a sewing machine under the bonnet.  But then UK distances aren’t vast and space is at a premium.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Tumble

Jan took a tumble yesterday evening when she stepped backwards onto uneven ground.  She gracefully fell out of sight with her new camera in one hand and purse in the other.  I scurried around the other side to find her like an inverted turtle.  With my bad back it was quite a struggle to get her upright.  All she was concerned about was the damned camera; whereas I was worried about her!  She has injured her left wrist and has cuts on her right arm  It appears to be a sprain rather than a fracture but still creates quite a problem.  Cleaning the toilet can be delayed but I really wanted the self pump-out done today.  Obviously it will have an impact on the meals.  I’m prepared to make some of my ‘one pot’ Weetbix stew but for some reason Jan has refused to countenance the idea. She sent me off to Sainsbury’s to shop for a cooked chicken.  I assumed it was for dinner tonight.  Unfortunately Sainsbury’s didn’t have any but I managed to substitute it for custard doughnuts.  Jan doesn’t see the logic in this decision.  The major problem is the locks on Monday.  I suspect she’s going to struggle doing them with one hand.  Plenty of morale support will be required.

Our 48 hours were up so we moved on.  Both of us noticed some of the boats had been on the moorings when we arrived. We headed off between showers stopping at Nantwich Canal Centre for a pump out.  The attendant made the comment that we must have a large tank because it’s usually empty by now.  I mumbled something and then changed the subject.  It was another very good pump out and Waiouru’s stern is now a couple of inches higher.   We then moved forward to the CRT water point which turned out to be a very slow filler.  We should have remembered this from last time.  Actually it took so long that there was time to wash down the side of the boat.  I took pity on Jan with her wrist and did it all myself.

Now moored just north of Nantwich enjoying the pleasure of being bashed against the “Shroppie Shelf” by boaters in a hurry.  It’s only for one night!

Nantwich

Looking back

PS.  Jan managed to cook a light dinner and I think the doughnuts were a hit!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Snap

Well the Samsung saga continues.  At least it is keeping my mind active!

Today we received an email from Anisa Ishaq at Samsung UK.  It was exactly the same message “In regards to your query, as informed previously, you would be required to contact Samsung in Saudi Arabia to have the device repaired”  It’s rather obvious they are not interested in helping me with a Samsung product that was purchased outside the UK.  I’ve sent an email to Samsung Saudi Arabia describing the problem and asking them to arrange support in the UK.  A reply was received this afternoon asking me to phone them to discuss the problem.  You can guess what happens next……. “Please send us the phone!”

This morning we visited Crewe and the phone worked.  My guess is the damned phone will work in most major centres.  I suspect it has a weak internal aerial (weaker than our other Samsung phones).  Never mind, I’m retired and have plenty of time to annoy the hell out of Samsung.

The plan for today was to purchase a digital camera for Jan.  Something small and light but with a good zoom function as she wants to take quick photos whilst we cruise.  After some research she had selected a Panasonic Lumix TZ40.  Well initially it was going to be the TZ35 which was GBP20 cheaper but then I realised it didn’t have wifi. 

I then remembered Paul the Croc had blogged about a camera they had purchased and were very happy with.  So I suggested to Jan she should check the make and model of the camera Paul & Elaine had bought.  She thinks it’s the same camera!  Bloody Aussies ahead of us…. Bet they paid more!

We purchased the camera from PC World because it was on special.  The sales assistant did a good job, but couldn’t convince us to buy an SD storage card or case.  We already have a spare 16GB (Cl10) card.  Jan is going to look in the 99p and Poundland shops for a case.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Problems with Samsung

To date the mobile support we have received from Samsung UK has been woeful.

Both Jan and I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone which I purchased when recently working in Saudi Arabia.  My model is an i9505 (4G) whilst Jan’s is an i9500 (3G).  Both phones are fitted with Vodafone SIM cards.

The problem

The 4G phone frequently has no network coverage.  You might immediately assume it’s the Vodafone network.  But it’s not!

If both phones are placed beside each other outside the boat Jan’s gets network coverage and mine doesn’t.

My phone has no network coverage whilst Jan’s has coverage

The SIM cards in the phones were exchanged and it made no difference to my phone.  I then inserted the Three Mobile SIM into my phone.  Still no coverage.

The next step was to take the back off the phone and connect it to the powerful external aerial on the roof.

Aerial plugged into the internal socket on the phone

The phone promptly achieved full network coverage.

I believe there is a problem (perhaps design problem) with the i9505 integral antenna.  So I wrote to Samsung UK explaining the problem and asking for advice. 

Amin replied

“Unfortunately you have contacted the UK based team and as such are unable to offer warranty information nor support for this particular device”. 

He informed me I must contact Samsung Saudi Arabia.

So I wrote back “The phone worked in Saudi Arabia.  Unfortunately it doesn't get any network coverage where I am in England unless I plug it into an external aerial.  It appears to work in major centres such as Birmingham and London.

Leaving aside the warranty issue. How can I get the phone checked and (if necessary) repaired in the UK?”

Today I received a reply from Maneesha.

“In regards to your email we are unable to offer you any repair information for the UK as you will need to have your device repaired in Saudi Arabia.

I have provided you the Global Support link where you can contact Samsung Saudi Arabia for more information.”

Obviously Amin and Maneesha are working to the standard script and haven’t yet realised what a tenacious bastard I can be!

I wrote back

“My contract in Saudi Arabia is finished and I have returned permanently to the UK.
If I want my phone repaired in the UK (I accept it's not under UK warranty) where do I take/send it in the UK?”

I’m now waiting for Samsung UK to repeat their standard answer of insisting on the phone being returned to Saudi Arabia for repair.  What I particularly want to do is expose the BIG SAMSUNG LIE!  Samsung Region Lock their phones.  They claim this is to tailor and enhance the local purchasers experience.  Whereas the vast majority of us believe it’s to prevent cheap parallel (grey) imports entering the market.  Samsung’s marketing strategy is to price their phones on what they believe the market will pay.  This means the buyer in the UK will pay more for the same phone than a buyer in a 3rd world country.  To prevent the importation of phones from cheaper markets Samsung firstly Region lock the phone.  This means the phone must be used for at least 10 minutes in the country/market of origin to unlock it.  Obviously this requires the security tape on the packaging to be broken.  If a phone is taken to another Region Samsung will not support it.  Even though it’s exactly the same phone. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steam Train

It must be our stomachs!  We have yet to find a fish & chip outlet we enjoy.  Both of us gave up trying to eat the meal from the Audlem “Chippy”.  The food contained too much fat for our delicate stomachs.  Digesting all that fat saw Jan punching out zzzzzzzz’s by mid evening whilst I flaked in my chair like a lizard in the sun.

This morning I was half woken by a local steam train passing through Audlem.  I knew it had pulled out of the station because I heard the distinct sound of a steam whistle.  My confused and drowsy mind went into overload attempting to recall the location of the Audlem railway station?  It wasn’t until later that the alert partner in this relationship mentioned she had taken several photos of steam boat “President” and butty “Kildare” as they went past.

Jan has been doing a sterling job with her cheap digital Samsung camera, but we’ve decided on an upgrade.  Something with a more powerful zoom lens.

After sleeping on it overnight Jan went back to Audlem Mill and bought the cross stitch pattern she had been fondling caressing the previous day.  We did a quick trip to the Co-op for bread and Jan’s weekly magazines before moving down to the water point outside the “Shroppie Fly”.  Whilst I took off with the camera, Jan went to the pub to looked at the menu.  I returned to find her weeping over our choice of last night’s dinner.  Apparently the Shroppie Fly would have been a much better option! Sad smile

nb Silver Fern was moored in the pound between locks 14 and 15.  Another kiwi connection?

It was only a short cruise to the excellent SUCS moorings at Coole Pilate.  The big decision for the day was whether to BBQ for lunch or dinner.  In the end we made the correct decision opting for lunch.

There’s now only enough Rugby steak and Braunston sausages in the freezer for one more meal. Sad smile 

We acquired a lunch companion when someone’s friendly golden laborador arrived volunteering to eat any fat or gristle from the Scottish Highland steak.

In the afternoon Jan got up close and personal with the shower whilst I rubbed down the stern deck and starboard side of the cockpit, before applying another topcoat.  The damned local insects then decided to suicide on my wet paint.  After I’d finished we had a couple of spells of lightly rained.  My wet paint…….. Why me lord?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oink oink….. Audlem

Forgot to mention we passed nb Sokai as we left Market Drayton.  She was moored at Talbot Wharf where it appears she might be waiting for repainting?

At Audlem top lock Jan stopped to chat with some friendly locals, although it might have been suggested they were relatives of mine. 

We stopped for the day on the 48 hour moorings below lock 2.  Whilst it had been a relatively short day the rationale for the decision was:

  • Few trees, therefore more chance of getting a FreeSat TV signal
  • Up high, therefore more chance of getting a FreeView TV signal (covering all the bases)
  • Carrying on meant completing another 10 locks
  • Arriving at Audlem in mid/late afternoon might mean no vacant mooring.

In the evening Jan carried on knitting whilst watching the heads roll on TV and I went for a walk down the flight to check on the mooring situation at Audlem.  It was 7.30pm and the flight was quiet.

Looking back up

Looking down

The earlier decision not to go down the flight proved to be sound as there were no vacant 48 hour moorings.  I particularly noted the boats facing up the flight intending to remember them in the morning.

On the walk back up the flight I came upon a solo boater coming down.  He was doing everything correctly (eg, lowering paddles and shutting all the gates) so I asked him if he had a spare windlass and would he like some assistance.  I then helped him down to lock 12 and mentioned there were some vacant spots on the 5 Day moorings around the corner.

We were the first boat away in the morning around 8.30 arriving at lock 3 just as the second boat of the day coming up the flight exited the lock (good timing).  We then crossed with boats coming up the flight at most of the locks.  There was a sight problem at Lock 8 where two hire boats from below had both managed to arrive in the pound.  Then a third hireboat crew from below turned the lock and also came up.  We managed to jiggle around the “crush” and continue down to Audlem grabbing a mooring near the Shroppie Fly (pub) at 11.30am.  That was our cruising for the day. 

We went off to the local butcher for more of their delicious sausages (black pudding & apple, pork, leek & stilton) before calling into the Co-op for a fresh baguette. 

By 1.30pm all the moorings on the towpath side were full and there was a steady stream of boats going past in each direction.  How we remember our hiring days frantically looking for a mooring at the end of the day and grumbling sightly about those boaters not working to a schedule! Smile

After lunch I rubbed down the rear deck ready for the first of two topcoats. It’s now received one coat of primer and two of undercoat.  The sun came out which resulted in the decision to apply the first of two top coats.  I was a third of the way applying the topcoat when the boater behind us must have noticed me doing some maintenance and decided to sand the rust patches on his stern paintwork.  No I don’t understand either!  Why would he create airborne particles having seen me painting?  Oh well, another topcoat is required anyway.  My paintwork still has brushstrokes in it so I somehow need to convince Jan she would make a much better painter. Smile

Jan went off to have a look through the handicraft and souvenir shop adjacent to the Shroppie Fly.  She returned empty handed much to the relief of the moths in her purse.  Actually she has bulimic moths in her purse!

The lady in the shop gave Jan a flyer for “The Village Chippy” along with a promising recommendation.  So we know what is for dinner tonight!

Blog reader Pat has left a comment asking about the TV media setup on Waiouru.  I’ll have to take some photos to assist in the explanation.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Market Drayton

Jan was up before the sparrows this morning leaving me to blissfully examine the inside of my eyelids.  Eventually she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm and came bouncing into the bedroom to alert me to the arrival of dawn!

Yesterday we walked to the Morrisons supermarket in Market Drayton taking with us the ubiquitous old lady’s shopping trolley (well we had to get all the beer back to Waiouru).  Jan wandered around the aisles filling the trolley with bored hubby in tow.  In the fruit and veg area she asked “Do you fancy some kiwifruit and chocolate chip muffins?”  It’s a rare day when I’ll turn down food!  I guess the kiwifruit was on special.  What with the beer, large bag of charcoal and canned goods the trolley was looking decidedly bandy legged and had a squeak.  I don’t think she is much longer for this world!

We quietly departed the mooring doing tickover when a lovely lady appeared at her side hatch to tell me she is a blog reader.  Hurrah…..  That’s four confirmed readers!  I was tempted to tell her to “Get a Life!”  But she was too nice for that.  Anyway, thanks for making the effort! 

The plan came together when we reached the water point to find it empty.  Unfortunately the water pressure at Market Drayton suffers the same problem as me and despite us being three quarters full it still took 40 minutes to top up the tanks.  Jan actually managed to get a load of washing done whilst we waited.

The cruise to Adderley Locks was done at tickover.  A combination of long lines of moored boats and a slow boater ahead.  It wasn’t an issue for us as weren’t working to a timetable.  Doing the five locks at Adderley took very little time because there were more boats rising than descending.  We continued on to Audlem Locks doing the first two before stopping on the 48 hour moorings. The Smartgauge was showing the batteries at 100%. 

I needed to spend part of the afternoon working on the rear deck paintwork.  The plastic matting has protected the deck except the “feet” on the underside of the matting have marked the paintwork.  Well the matting wasn’t bought to protect the paint but rather to protect us from slipping on a frost covered deck.

I’ve just finished reading Peter Berry’s most recent blog post about boat maintenance and insurance <link here>.  His observations are a replication of our own.  I certainly would not allow any work to be done on Waiouru without being present throughout.  That’s obviously easier for us to achieve as “live-aboard” boaters.  We have also read the “fine print” on our boat insurance policy and it was quite a revelation to realize what’s excluded

Sunday, July 13, 2014

More on Airbnb

Readers you may recall our recent trip to Paris and that we booked the apartment through the airbnb website.  It was all rather painless and the apartment was great.  Where it started to get difficult was the request by airbnb to leave feedback on on our experience.  We were prepared to do this, however airbnb wanted ID verification by providing a copy of a passport, drivers licence or government ID card.  We’re not prepared to provide this information just to give feedback.  Moreover they didn’t want this information to make the booking or take the money!

To compound the problem the airbnb website doesn’t have a ‘contact us’ or a ‘help’ link on the main page as the website automatically defaults to the verification page demanding ID.

After several automatic reminders we received a “Final Reminder” to complete the process and earn $20 voucher.  We ignored the final email.  A week later we received an email from a human (I think) asking whether were were having problems with our account.

Hello Tom,

My name is ********* and I'm a member of the Airbnb Trust and Safety team. For security reasons, we are proactively requiring additional verification information. This precautionary measure is necessary to keep your account active. In order to ensure that your future experiences with Airbnb go as smoothly as possible, kindly ask that you use the following link to complete verification, and then send a reply to this email to confirm you have done so:

So I replied

Dear ********,
I would like to leave positive feedback regarding our recent holiday.  However I am not prepared to provide airbnb with copies of the requested documents just to leave feedback.  I note it was quite acceptable to book and pay for our accommodation without this information.

And ******** wrote back

Dear Tom,

Thanks for your reply! I apologize for confusion or concern this process may have caused.

We believe that providing the right environment allows you to make safe, informed decisions so we have instituted a number of tools for users to build their reputation and verify the information on their profile. Profiles can include up to twenty photos (and even a video profile), verified phone numbers and email addresses, and authentic reviews from other users.
By also connecting your Facebook and/or Linkedin account, we are able to reference indicators that will allow us to verify your identity. This is used solely for verification purposes and we will never post to your timeline without your approval or share this information with anyone.
Please note that our verification process is a mandatory step in order to utilize your Airbnb account. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any additional questions. 

I bet they would like this information.  I’ve made many internet hotel bookings in my time and never had to provide this type of information.  How many companies can I think of who have stated they will protect your personal data and then have to subsequently apologise because their security was breached and the data stolen.  I don’t want my identity stolen and frankly I’m getting tired of receiving emails from Nigerian princes!

So I wrote to **********

Dear *********
When I attempt to access my account it defaults to the verification page where my options are
"Take a photo or use your computer's webcam to upload a picture of your official ID, such as a driver's license or passport."
I don't see any other options?

And today I received the following reply

Dear Tom,

Thanks for your reply! Completing offline verification by uploading a photo of a current government issued ID is required, which is why your account automatically takes you to this page.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let us know!

So we’re back to requiring a photo and current government issued ID documentation.

I don’t have any further questions or concerns, our mutual positions are clear.  This is where airbnb and I part company!

Having a father with a masters degree in computer science and a son in internet marketing has made me very aware how your personal data is collected and used.  There’s no such think as a free lunch.  Google, Facebook, etc, etc don’t give you a free program.  They harvest and sell your data to make money.  Despite Facebook’s persistent efforts I refuse to give them anything but the bare minimum of personal data, and some of that is inaccurate.  For example my marital status is unknown and I was born “somewhere” in 1901.  Probably why my Facebook page shows Ad’s to buy viagra, hearing loss products, incontinent pads and meet nubile young women.  Smile

Saturday, July 12, 2014

That Porthole

Readers this post is about my effort to rectify a problem with the galley porthole.  It all started with our first boat builder (if you can call him a builder).  He managed to locate the port galley porthole in the wrong place.  As a consequence we ended with a hole on the partition between the galley and the back bedroom.  His solution was to make the cabin bed 5ft 6ins long.  Obviously this was going to seriously restrict the height of any would-be guests. The hole had to be relocated.  Well that’s not quite correct.  We had to have a new hole cut in the side and the disc then welded into the old hole.  In doing this a slight distortion was created in the cabin wall.  As a consequence of this the new porthole required additional weatherproof foam tape to make a water tight seal.  After doing this there was a significant amount of tape protruding from around the aluminium porthole frame.  You can see it in the following photo.
Jan here… Plus his knobbly knees
The window has been like this for two winters and one summer.  I deliberately haven’t touched it because I wanted to see if there would be any movement (expansion/contraction) in the foam tape.  You can also see in the above photo that I have already removed the pvc beading tape which covers the screw heads.  I was actually rather surprised at the amount of water retained behind the tape.  It was immediately apparent that the screw holes need to be water tight to prevent water from getting behind the porthole frame.
After carefully removing all the stainless steel wood screws the porthole was prised from the cabin wall and laid flat.  A razor knife was then used to carefully cut the excess window tape from around the external circumference of the frame.
Examining the hole revealed there was a gap between the timber porthole liner, the aluminium porthole frame and the timber framing around the hole.  I knew there was a water tight seal between the porthole frame and the cabin side so any sign of dampness in this area is due to condensation.  It forms on the cold internal side of the porthole frame and then migrates down between the aluminium frame and the timber porthole liner.  This is what’s staining the timber liner.
We can’t eliminate the condensation because it’s coming from us, the calor gas and the cooking.
You can see the gap (bottom arrow) and the face of the timber porthole liner (top arrow).  I don’t know how others have attempted to eliminate this problem but my solution was to mask the outer edge of the timber porthole liner (blue tape) and then apply a heavy bead of silicone to fill the gaps and create a waterproof membrane on the face of all the exposed timber.


Once I had plenty of silicon around the frame I used my index finger to spread it evenly, remembering not to pick my nose afterwards!  Too much silicone wasn’t a concern because any surplus would either be squeezed out internally onto the blue tape and create a seal or it would be squeezed out behind the face of the aluminium porthole frame.  Just to make sure there was a good external seal I applied another bead of silicone onto the inside of the aluminium frame before reinserting the frame into the hole.
This is where the problem occurred.  I had very carefully placed the 10 stainless steel wood screws in my trouser pocket.  It was when I went to retrieve them that I discovered the “plop..plop” sound I had been hearing was the screws falling through the hole in my pocket and into the canalReaders, harsh words were said!  Did you know a magnet can’t retrieve stainless steel.  Fortunately I had a few spare screws.  The screws were reinserted in sequence diagonally opposite each other to ensure the porthole went in evenly.  However the screws weren’t tightened.  Actually I loosened each one in turn and applied a dollop of silicone to the screw shaft. The screws were then fully tightened.  Hopefully the silicone will seal between the head of the screw and the hole.
Finally the pvc beading tape was fitted back into the groove to cover the screw heads.
I then wiped of any excess silicone from around the outside of the porthole with a cloth soaked in white spirits.  The blue masking tape will remain in place until tomorrow to allow the silicone on the inside of the frame to set.  I should then be able to remove the tape and any surplus silicone using a razor knife.
Now I must decide whether to give the remaining portholes the same treatment.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The quackers!

We were attempting to finish breakfast around 7.15 when Jan’s friends from the previous evening started tapping on the side of the boat.  Her big mistake was in opening the side hatch.  This seemed to be the signal for every quacker in the village to race for the open hatch.

I don’t mind her talking to the ducks.  I’m prepared to clean the subsequent “droppings” off the cabin roof.  But readers, why does she have to feed them my cream crackers.  I like my crackers with a slice of camembert cheese and some of that delicious Wildside Tomato and Ginger Chutney from Wandering Bark.  By all means discuss promiscuity with that brown duck that has four brown ducklings and one white (you did see it in the top left of the photo) but don’t give them my crackers!

It was good to finally get a good internet signal at Gosnall Heath.  I’ve been writing the last few posts and then leaving the system running until we hit a spot where they can automatically depart.  This morning we managed a Skype call back to Sydney.

It was a short cruise to Norbury Wharf.  I wandered over to the chandlery with a list of three items whilst the water tank filled.  The moths in the wallet breathed a sigh of relief as I wandered back with it still in my back pocket.  I required the following:

  • 4.5 metres of 4mm twin cable (red & black)
  • a small (very) pot of Universal gloss varnish
  • two catches/latches for the stern cockpit doors.

Jan, being more determined, then went to the wharf shop and managed to buy a painted miniature boaters teapot.

A long line of linear moorings on the other side of Norbury and at the end we couldn’t help noticing this unusual craft. Almost a floating shoebox!

Of course we managed to take the obligatory photo.  Much like you are required to take a photo when passing Armitage Shanks.

Last time we passed this way there was a distance piece of high ground on the skyline.  Today we managed to take a photo.

At this point I’ve stopped writing this post to do some research by examining the electronic UK OSM Topo map.  I think the high feature is ‘The Werkin’.  At 407 metres it’s not very high, but on the Shropshire plain it stands out as the only significant feature.  Apparently it’s very popular with walkers and has a beacon on the summit.  The original beacon was erected during WW2 before falling into disrepair.  The current tower is The Wrekin transmitting station.  The tower had a new beacon fitted in 2000 as part of the Millennium celebrations.

I then unsuccessfully tried getting “artistic” with one of the stone bridges.

With our luck we meet three oncoming boats in the narrow Woodseaves Cutting and were too busy taking evasive action for a photo.  It was in this cutting last year that we saw a male in pink undies running the very muddy towpath.

Our luck changed when we reached the top of Tyrley Locks.  All but one was in our favour.  Actually they were all in our favour except the crew waiting below the bottom lock turned it in our face.

Tyrley Top Lock Cottages.  There’s a plaque on the wall.

Working in cooperation with the boat crews coming up meant we almost flew down the flight of five locks.  The antics of the crew coming up at the bottom lock had us puzzled.  They turned it against us wasting a lock full of water to come up.  Then Jan discovered they didn’t want to come up the flight but intended to wind (turn) in the pound between the bottom and second locks.

Why come up through the first lock when there is a winding point before the bottom lock? 

We’re now moored for the weekend with the ‘dot in the sky’.  A couple of days being static might enable us to catch up with some of the increasing list of outstanding preventative maintenance and housekeeping tasks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Staffordshire

Thank you to Adam who pointed out we are in Staffordshire rather than Shropshire.  It’s nice to know where you are!

We left Brewood at 9.00am cruising north towards Wheaton Ashton.  There is a long line of linear moorings on the offside leaving Brewood which culminates in a static caravan park by bridge 15 (Eskew Bridge).

Whilst it appeared to be well laid out I just can’t see myself trading a small ‘box’ in the city for a ‘box’ in the country!  But then it must appeal to a percentage of the population.  I actually walked passed the park yesterday evening and noticed they sell Calor Gas.  However you’d probably need a sack trolley because the depot is on the far side of the park. 

The following interesting looking cottage was on the far side.

It’s almost as if the vegetation is claiming it back.  Some TLC is also required! 

We passed very slowly over Streton Aqueduct to take photos of the busy A5 which passes underneath the canal.

There are some very shaded areas along this part of the canal which were a welcome relief from the heat. <suffer those of you in Oz or NZ>.  The biggest problem was attempting to take a good photo whilst on the move.

The sole lock of the day was immediately prior to Wheaton Ashton.  Jan went forward to assist the boat ahead and the lady on board reciprocated by raising a top gate paddle as she left to re-join her husband.

A hireboat then arrived behind us and the lady came forward to check the lock.  To Jan’s amusement she didn’t bring a windlass.  Eventually the penny dropped and she returned with a windlass helping Jan with the bottom gates.  We moored on the water point just beyond the lock to fill the tank and whilst it was filling I went back to help the hireboat through the lock.  Tank filled and we moved a short distance to Turners Garage (as you do) to take advantage of the cheap diesel.  We topped up all three tanks and Jan went off to pay.  The attendant wanted an address.  We don’t have an address except for Waiouru.  Officialdom requires an address…….  Jan did think of 10 Downing Street but in the end used our winter mooring address.  It turned out we were rather fortunate with our timing as four other boats arrived seeking fuel whilst we were controlling the bowser nozzle.  Must be time for a lotto ticket purchase!  Three boats passed us going in the opposite direction immediately after we moved off the fuel point.  Each of the steerers told us there was a boat loose at the end just beyond the next bridge. Why hadn’t one of them stopped to secure it? By the time we reached the boat it was right across the canal. We resecured the boat with the assistance of a hireboat crew coming in the opposite direction.

More shady canal followed.  It was a glorious day!

Jan remembered this lovely canal-side property from our last trip down the shroppie.  Unfortunately it’s outside our price range….. unless that lotto ticket proves to be a winner!

We found a vacant mooring in Gosnall Heath just beyond the Bridge Inn pub.  Actually it’s a good mooring with a gap in the trees allowing both sunlight and a TV signal to reach the boat.

The Bridge Inn

In the afternoon I did my Harry Houdini trick and went down the weed hatch to rescue Mr Tesco’s plastic bags which would otherwise have drowned.  We also acquired some light cordage and fishing line.  When Waiouru makes a light ticking sound it’s a sign that Waiouru has accumulated some additional items at the stern.

As all the diesel tanks were full it seemed an opportune time to recalibrate the tank gauges.  This normally has to be done once or twice every year.  Jan is one the lookout for some fresh farm eggs.  Preferably still warm and clucking!  She also cooked the sausages from the butcher at Brewood.  Very tasty!