Tuesday, 3 May 2016


Nothing happened yesterday, hence no post!  Today started with some manoeuvring at Dukingfield Junction.  We needed to have the toilet tank pumped out at Portland Basin Marina which is located in a short arm off  the Peak Forest Canal.  Reaching it involved some reversing and turning.  The stern was a couple of inches higher after the tank contents had been removed.  We then retraced our steps before heading up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal (HNC).  The Asda Tunnel is obviously new and runs directly under the car park.  I couldn’t identify if the date was 1988 or 89.


This part of the canal has the remnants' of its industrial past along with the ‘backdoor’ to light commercial premises.

P1020628-1The scenery stayed this way until we reached Stalybridge.  The aqueduct over the River Tame seemed to be very narrow, but then that might have been due to the lack of a safety rail on the offside.

P1020629-1The river and canal will be in proximity until we reach Standedge Tunnel.  Stalybridge is an attractive looking town with good moorings.  There Is an Aldi and Tesco supermarket nearby. 

P1020630-1Tesco shoppers must have difficulty in finding a trolley because I ran over most of them in the boat above Lock 6.  You could hear the baseplate grinding and squeaking as the boat slowly squashed the trolleys into the silt.

Paul (of The Manly Ferry) had mentioned the pub at Stalybridge.  I guess he didn’t mean The Mill Pond adjacent to the canal; unless he was responsible for drinking all the profits? Smile

P1020633-1Our cupboards and pantry are stocked so there was no requirement to stop.  On the NE outskirts of Stalybridge was a boatyard, but it didn’t appear to be offering any services to passing boaters.  Then I had a closer look at the sign and realised why.


The vinyl really could do with a scrub.  But then who am I to comment as the same applies to the inside of our pram and cratch covers.

From this point onwards the vista became rural and far more pleasant.

P1020636-1 We had problems in the three pounds between Lock’s 8 to 11.  The water level wasn’t low because the bywashes were all running.  However the bottom of the canal is very close to the top meaning we gingerly slithered along doing tickover.  Even the lock landings were shallow and at one point out son had to disembark from the bow.

Things go slightly better after Lock 11 and we made better time to Mossley.  First impressions were very positive with rows of terraced houses made of stone and a church spire in the distance.

P1020637-1P1020639-1P1020642-1The canal edges were very shallow so we pressed on to the NE side of Mossley where our map showed moorings.  Four boats were already moored and I did wonder whether they were occupying the only four spots where you can get against the bank.  We tried each vacant mooring and failed to get against the edge.  Eventually we settled for the best of a bad bunch.

P1020643-1Not many boats on the move so hopefully we won’t grind against the rubble all night.  It’s only for one night! 

Sunday, 1 May 2016


For several years I have been gradually moving to a position espoused by my father over a decade ago.  He was most concerned about the security of his online information whilst at the time I didn’t see it as an issue.  That has slowly changed and today I’m more careful about the type of personal information I divulge.  It’s Google and Facebook that are my major concern and after recently watching a documentary called “Terms & Conditions” I realised just how insidiously they have been changing the “rules” and collecting data.  Several years ago it was possible to delete or alter personal data in Facebook and I’m now pleased I took the opportunity at that time to remove all unnecessary data and enter rubbish for the rest.  For example, I entered my birth year as 1901 and my marital status as single.  My Facebook advertisements now include viagra, funeral directors and online dating.  After watching the documentary I am now aware Facebook deletes nothing.  The user may think they have deleted the data but Facebook simply hides it.  Facebook and Google are also using photo facial recognition software.  Several years ago I stopped posting photos of myself, family and friends.  I do wonder how many grandmothers realise the potential consequences of posting photos of their grandchildren along with their activities and ‘likes’.

Google is doing something similar.  Moreover they want users to combine all their Google activity into one account (eg, Google search, Blogger, Gmail, Picasa, etc).   By doing this Google is able to follow your online activity and collect data on you.  Of course both them sell this data (no such thing as a free lunch).

I’ve decided to ‘de-link’ my Google activity and use alternative products wherever possible.  The most common web browsers are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera.  The latter uses it’s own servers and only has 2% of the market.  I’ve changed to Opera.  My selection for a search engine is DuckDuckGo.  It claims to be the only search engine not to track your activity.  Perhaps I’m being paranoid… but I’m comfortable with the idea of being safe rather than sorry.

Back to canal related matters.

We were woken at 4am this morning by a noisy group of young females passing on the towpath.  It sounded like they had been imbibing in a few (or more) sherbets.  More groups of youths later in the morning throwing stones at the wildlife.  This probably isn’t the best location to moor.

In the afternoon we went for a short walk up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.  I wanted to see the route of the towpath at Asda Tunnel.  There’s no towpath through the tunnel and the Waterway Routes map shows it going over the top.  The big Asda supermarket and car park are located directly above the canal.

asdaLeft arrow is our mooring and right arrow is Asda.  The red line shows the towpath alternative route which runs directly through the Asda car park.  I took a photo at the far end.

P1020623-1We walked approximately 4km of the towpath to Stalybridge.  There was nothing of interest.  It’s just a grotty length of urban canal.  I did notice all the locks were empty and the lower gates open.Looks like we will be half raising a paddle at most of the locks!

The route back was through suburbia and I got a surprise when we turned down one narrow suburban road to see a huge mobile crane blocking the street. 


Unlike Australia; I didn’t think It was being used to install a swimming pool. Smile When we got closer I realised it was being used to install pre-tensioned concrete beams for a replacement road bridge over the railway.

P1020625-1A boat appeared to be making the turn onto the Peak Forest Canal back at Dukingfield Junction.  But then the boat seemed to go all over the place eventually breasting up against one of the working boats moored beside the Portland Museum.

P1020626-1The boat has gone now so they must have sorted out their issue.  

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Goodbye Manchester

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday.  It was a very long day with us finishing cruising at 8.30pm.

The weather in the morning was a mixture of strong gusts, rain, hail and snow.  Despite this our youngest and I ventured out to Argos in the Arndale Centre to collect a item he had purchased online.  My umbrella decided to invert itself during one heavy gust but the two of us managed to reverse the ribs without any damage occurring. 

Once back at the boat we dried ourselves out whilst checking the weather forecast.  This indicated the afternoon would be mostly dry with the following day reverting to rain.  Consequentially we decided to cruise up the Ashton Canal to Dukinfield Junction in the afternoon.  We have an additional crew member which enabled me to work the locks and allow Jan to stay inside Waiouru where she can recover from her bout of bronchitis.

It’s two years since we last cruised up the Ashton Canal and it’s condition has deteriorated in that time.  I calculate the cruise took an additional three hours which was a combination of obstacles/silt and the poor condition of many of the locks.  Most of the locks were in our favour with one or both bottom gates already open.  It quickly became apparent this wasn’t due to a boater leaving them open coming down.  They wouldn’t stay shut when closed.  In the end I resorted to getting Waiouru into the lock and then half opening one top paddle.  I then shut the lower gates which allowed the water pressure to keep them shut.


Goodbye Manchester

We lost the top of the stove flue on a low bridge at Cambrian Street.  I did fish for it with the boat pole recovering two other flues and a steel pole.  No luck finding our flue.  It’s made of stainless steel so a magnet wouldn’t have been any use; even if we had one!  The cowling on the flue was already dented so we were always going to need a replacement.

P1020616-1 Fun and gates at Beswick Top Lock.  There was a large sheet of thick plywood wedged across the mouth of the open bottom gates and the lock was empty.  I decided to open both top paddles and that freed it, flushing it away from the lock approach.

There were problems with the handcuff locks on most of the paddles.  The exterior diameter of the shaft on one of our handcuff keys was too big to fit the hole on some of the locks.  Our second key has a smaller diameter shaft which would fit the locks our first keys had problems with but then it wouldn’t fit others.  As a consequence I was constantly juggling keys.  Most of the paddles had a hydraulic mechanism and several were obviously low on oil because I had to rapidly wind like hell for ages to get the paddle to raise and lower.

The boat went aground on several occasions but we managed to wriggle it free.  I walked up to Clayton Top Lock to find a dozen youths loitering around the full lock.  They were taking it in turns to run and jump across the lock.  I put on my friendly face and unlocked the lower paddles with the handcuff key before commencing to empty the lock.  That’s when I noticed the very large tractor type tyre lurking in the lock.  It was obvious the tyre was going to be a hazard if I left it in the lock.  The bottom paddles were closed and I refilled the lock before opening the top gate.  The tyre was too large and heavy for me to drag out of the lock with my boat pole so I pushed it out of the lock through the top gate.

P1020618-1The lock was then emptied and I worked Waiouru up. I needed to get the tyre away from the top gates and turned to get the boat pole only to find it was missing.  I eventually cajoled the youths into returning the pole.  One of them left the lock returning several minutes later with the pole.  He then requested a ride on the boat to which I agreed. 

You get an idea of their socio-economic environment when you get asked questions

Youth 1  “Are you from Australia?”

Answer “Yes”

Youth 2 to Youth 1  “Where’s Australia?”

Youth 1  “The other side of the world”

Youth 1 (airing his knowledge to his peers) “What city do you live in?”

Answer “Sydney”  (only because it happens to be the biggest and most well known city)

Youth 1 “Where’s that?”

Youth 3 “Where are you going?”

Answer “Huddersfield”

Youth 3 “Where’s that?”

Answer “A little further up the canal”

You get the picture.

At 7.30pm we completed the last of the 18 locks and stopped for water at Fairfield Junction.  The area didn’t look that salubrious and despite the late hour we continued on to Dukinfield Junction finding a mooring just before the entrance to the Peak Forest Canal.  Along the way we passed yet another sunken fibreglass cruiser.


Fairfield Junction with Waiouru on the water point.


But at least it didn’t rain!

The boat that was moored two behind us at Manchester is again moored behind us.  They came up the canal in the heavy rain the day before us and the lady wasn’t pleased with the condition of the canal. 

I’d actually prefer the weather here to remain poor in the hope it will keep most of the bored local youths at home in front of their Play Stations.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Thoughts of Spain

Something happened today which reminded me of the young Australian backpacker exploring Spain during his European OE.  He had reached a smallish rural town and seen the town attractions along with attending a local bullfight.  Eventually he found accommodation in one of the town’s small hostel’s before heading out for a late evening meal.  He came upon a small cafe/restaurant with a vacant table in one corner.  With almost no knowledge of Spanish he randomly pointed to one item on the menu.  The waiter duly returned with his selected dish which consisted of a selection of boiled and roast vegetables along with two large meatballs covered in a dark sauce.  He was pleasantly surprised to discover his selected meal was both tasty and filling.

He spent the following day exploring the local countryside on a hired bike returning to his hostel on dusk.  Because he had enjoyed the previous dinner he returned to the same small restaurant and pointed to the same dish on the menu.  The waiter delivered his meal and it was exactly the same except he noticed was the meatballs were considerably smaller.  He wondered if he had offended the staff or given too small a tip the previous evening.  Nevertheless it was a very tasty meal.  When the waiter returned to take his empty plate he asked the young Aussie in very poor English if the meal had been satisfactory?   The young Aussie confirmed it had been good but mentioned the meatballs were smaller.  The waiter paused and then in broken English explained “Ah senor; the bull…… sometimes he wins!” 

Now my reason for mentioning this is because the following is on tonight’s dinner menu.


No…. I’m not singing with the sopranos and the bull didn’t donate them!

Our youngest has returned from a day trip to Scotland with some Haggis for us to try Smile

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A mixed day

Today’s weather has been very unpredictable.  If you look the the following two photos taken from the side hatch early this morning you will notice the blue sky and bright sunlight.


We completed a few small jobs; including booking our passage through Standedge Tunnel on 6 May; before going out for a better look at our surroundings.  NB Burnt Oak (Braidbar No158) is moored behind us.  Her fit out was completed last December and the owner told us he had a miserable winter on the Macclesfield Canal waiting for spring.  Note the dirty brass…. he has now been reported to the owners club and disciplinary action is pending! Smile


Note the cloudy sky.

There are just enough mooring rings here for three boats and we have the centre spot.  It appears to be a ‘safe’ mooring, although the high volume of pedestrian traffic does make it slightly noisy.

I had planned to moor in the basin on the right a couple of hundred yards further up the canal.  This is where NB Firefly NZ moored when we were last this way in 2014.


Entrance to the basin is just beyond the bridge to the right


I reversed into the basin only to discover it’s too shallow.  This meant I then had to reverse back down the canal to our current mooring.

Today we’ve had bright sunshine, rain, hail, snow and more sunshine.  Not that we’re complaining after such a mild winter.

The area around here is a warren of former canal arms suggesting it was once a hive of industry.  In 2014 this canal side property was undergoing renovation.  Now it’s completed and looks rather good.


Note the remains of a former arm immediately in front of it.

Just beyond the lock and to the left is pedestrian access to New Islington Marina.  The OSM seems to indicate there is boat access to the marina from both the Rochdale and Ashton Canals.  However this isn’t correct as the water access is divided by Old Mill Street.


Old Mill Street at the end of the arm.

This area is Ancoats and until the late 18th century it was mostly rural on the eastern outskirts of Manchester.  The transformation of the area began in 1775 when much of the land was sold off for development.  Within a decade the area was a grid pattern of densely packed factories and terraced houses for the workers. 

The Ashton Canal opened in 1796 pre-dating the Rochdale by 8 years.  The arrival of the canals attracted large scale development to the area and the construction of numerous canal arms.  Many factories were built along the banks.  The arm in the above photo served as a coal wharf and also supplied water to the adjacent cotton mills.  it was expanded in 1820 to service a new dye and glass works.

By 1851 Ancoats had a population of 53,737.  Sanitation was very poor and overcrowding common.  In many cases entire families lived on one room of tiny multi storey terraced houses. 

All the worker housing and most of the factories were demolished in the 20th century.  I did notice one former factory had been converted to apartments.  It’s rather interesting that the developer retained some character by keeping the chimney.

IMG_9716-1 New Islington Marina has had a bit of a mixed reputation.  The area had been frequented by “yobs” and last time we passed through there were two sunk and burned out boats.  However I think that is going to change.  The area surrounding the marina is currently undergoing major redevelopment as a modern residential area.


It wouldn’t surprise me that in 5-10 years time instead of residential boaters complaining about the unsavoury locals, the ‘new’ locals will be complain about the unsavoury looking boats spoiling their picturesque vista. Smile

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Rochdale Nine

The weather forecast for today was rather grim, but despite that we decideed to move.  At Waters Meeting we turned right instead of left and cruised the short distance to Stretford Marine Services where we winded (turned) Waiouru and took on 182 litres of diesel. Only 50 litres into the engine tank in the stern with the rest going into the bow tank for the stove.  We didn’t fill the engine tank as I want to keep the stern as high as possible when we go over the Huddersfield.  We’ll also do a pump out immediately prior to entering the Huddersfield.

It was then a case of cruising into Manchester and commencing our ascent of the Rochdale flight of nine locks.  I managed to wangle the locking job today leaving our son to do the steering.


Dukes Lock at the bottom


The recent renovations to the Dukes Lock pub appear to have been completed.  It was my lucky day as one of the grey haired elderly locals assisted me with the locking duties.


Canadian illegal immigrants squatting beside the canal.


The predicted poor weather put in an appearance and it started to snow at the third lock.  However it wasn’t all bad news as we also met a Black Prince hire boat coming down the flight.  That meant all but one lock was now empty and in our favour.  The buildings around the flight are a mixture of urban regeneration and “grotty”.



We reached Chorlton Street Lock adjacent to Canal Street.  This is definitely a “grotty” lock.  Our first trip up the flight was in 2005 and Jan was doing lock duty on that occasion.  A male leaned over the fence and looked down at Jan working the lock before exclaiming “Ooooh…. you’ve got a big one!”  Followed by “Push harder!”  Jan replied “Would you like to come down and give a demonstration?”


Two CRT employees were working above the lock and called out a warning to avoid the “undesirables” at the next lock.  Piccadilly Lock is almost subterranean and people have been living ‘rough’ on the off-side beside the lock.  Today it was deserted, however there was a strong urinal smell.  The top gates were also a bugger to open.


We turned right at Ducie Street Junction and moored just before Store Street Aqueduct.  Shortly thereafter a near new Braidbar boat arrived from the opposite direction taking the last vacant mooring.  It then started to snow once again.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Leigh to the Trafford Centre

It was a relatively late start this morning with a stop at the Leigh water point to top up the tank.  We didn’t start any serious cruising until after 10am and reached The Trafford Centre by 12.30.  With no locks or swing bridges it was an easy day.

Just west of Worsley I noticed a working boat coming from the opposite end of the straight.  It had a bright blue and red colour scheme which suggested it had to be Jo & Keith on Hadar.  I guessed they wouldn’t be able to identify us in the distance, which gave me time to warn the rest of the crew.  Our photographer managed to record the event.


I think Jo might have recognised us Smile


A lovely couple and it’s great to see them back happily cruising.  We hope they enjoy Liverpool as much as we did.

Worsley is an attractive spot on the canal so our photo opportunity was repeated.



I still believe this is the most unusual “man shed” I’ve ever seen!

We moored outside the Trafford Centre and then I walked to B&Q to buy a length of 3x2.  We’re planning to go over the Huddersfield and if my memory is correct we will need a handspike to work the lock paddles on the far side.  The handspike replaces the usual windlass and can be purchased for approximately £10.  My plan is to make one.  Well I couldn’t buy a 1.2 metre length of 3x2 but for £2 I managed to buy a 2.4 metre length.


Back at Waiouru I had Jan extract my Aldi 3 way saw from deep storage and cut the length in half.  We now have a spare handspike.  This involved a little blood, sweat and tears.  My sweat and Jan managed to cut herself on the saw blade.  To both our surprise her blood wasn’t blue.