Monday, September 30, 2013

To Braunston and beyond

We’re working to a timetable as Daniel & Joyce have to catch the Eurostar back to Belgium on Tuesday evening and we plan to have them depart Waiouru at Rugby. Despite being jetlagged they managed to stay sufficiently alert to work Waiouru from Leamington Spa to just beyond Bascote Locks before we stopped for the night.

This morning we departed at 9.30am and quickly reached Stockton Locks.  We were able to pair up with another boat owned by a South African couple who spend their summers on the canals and winters in Cape Town.  Having two crews allowed us to fly up the eight locks.  There were four boats going down including a working boat.

Daniel has steered a narrowboat on one of our hire holidays but it’s a first time for Joyce and she was reluctant to take the tiller.

Are we going left or right here?

“OK…. we’re going left!”

Daniel took Waiouru through most of today’s locks and did rather well despite because his mother had her heart in her mouth. Smile

Along the way we passed a boat with an obvious NZ name.

Tui is the name of a native NZ bird.  It’s also a brand of rather nice NZ beer!

We topped up the water tank above Calcutt Locks and then headed to Napton Junction turning left to Braunston.  There was no time to dally as we had a late (very) lunch planned at The Boathouse.  Chas & Anne (nb Moore2Life) were in the process of mooring as we went through Foxhangers but regrettably there was no time to stop.  Perhaps next time!

We managed to find a mooring in Braunston just beyond the junction water point on the towpath side.

It was a very late lunch in The Boathouse before returning to Waiouru via Midland Chandlers where Jan purchased the October edition of Canal Boat and I bought a couple of non slip pads for the rear steps.  We wanted to get an hour north of Braunston before mooring for the night.

Daniel had some work to complete (remotely via the internet) whilst joyce and I went foraging for blackberries (successfully).  Daniel then joined us for a walk along the towpath.

The was a rather attractive canal view from the local farmer’s brick arch bridge.

Hummmmm… The jetlag must be wearing off! Winking smile

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Old Compose

This next paragraph is for any reader who uses Google GMail.  If you don’t use GMail then please go to the second paragraph.  I became rather annoyed when Google recently changed the GMail interface where instead of the email writing screen being full they changed it into a smaller box.  I couldn’t see the need for the change and actually hated the smaller box.  However I’ve now discovered “Old Compose”, a plug-in for Google Chrome or Firefox.  Old Compose converts GMail back to full screen when drafting emails.  My frustration has gone!

We were getting ready to move off the 24 hour moorings beside Tesco when Jan heard the unique sound of an old working boat engine.  The boat slowly passed us (how unusual that is these days) and moored behind.

I expect many followers of boaters blogs will recognise the boat, but here is another clue.

Go it yet?

Yes, it was Jo & Keith who were making their way towards Warwick and had stopped for a Tesco shop.  We last saw them before the Foxton Locks back in May.  There was time for a coffee and a brief chat before they went shopping and we started cruising.  Along the way we passed a former Reading Marine hire boat.

Obviously it hasn’t had anything done to the paintwork since it was sold!

We stopped at the moorings near Leamington Spa railway station to collect the baby of the family and his girlfriend, Joyce.  They have to head back to Belgium on Tuesday so the plan was to cover as much ground as possible today in an effort to get to Rugby by midday Tuesday.  After a brief introduction to locks they were sent off wheel-locking.  Despite being jetlagged from their trip back from the USA they did rather well, and even managed a smile!

Joyce looks happy!

Daniel looks like he wants a cuddle!  Or maybe he’s tired and looking for some support?

All for now as we’re entertaining guests! Smile

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tesco Mooring

It was another late start and a short cruise.  However we were woken early by the movement of two private boats passing at speed.  By their appearance we think they were probably ‘bridge hoppers’ moving to another nearby mooring before heading off to work.

There was a water tap immediately before Cape Top Lock so our plan was to top up the tank.  It was another of those new stainless steel stands and I again had problems unlocking it.  The problem was the CRT padlock.  Our CRT key would turn in the lock but the padlock wouldn’t unlock.  Eventually a local boater walked by and noticed my problem.  He managed to open it by giving the padlock a fierce tug which shook the stand.  Somehow I don’t think these stands are going to last.

We dropped down through both Cape Locks and cruised around to the 24 hour moorings adjacent to Tesco.  They are on the opposite side to the towpath and appear to be very quiet.  There’s only room for two boats on the mooring!

I happened to notice there was a second smaller archway in the Charles Street Bridge.  It might have been a towpath tunnel but it’s on the opposite side.  Perhaps there is an easement for a buried pipeline?

Kate Boats looked like they had most of their boats in the yard but that shouldn’t be surprising because Saturday is usually change-over day.  A number of their boats passed us later in the day!

Now here is a boat that should be able to get around all of the system.  I wonder what the bathroom looks like?  The owner was very friendly and was prepared to pose for the photo until I informed him I was more interested in his boat. Smile

There was a small brick cottage on the offside which looks like it has been expanded on at least two occasions.

I’ve been noticing that along the Grand Union there are dredging measurements embossed into the concrete lip on the canal wall. There might have been funds for this 80b years ago but I can’t see it being done in today’s environment.

The canal crosses the River Avon on an aqueduct just east of our current mooring.

The Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust is working towards extending the existing navigable canal from Stratford on Avon to Warwick where it would join the Grand Union Canal.  One assumes this would provide an alternative route for boats cruising the River Avon, or going to Stratford on Avon from the south.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Washing machine location error

We spent the morning finishing the small maintenance tasks on Waiouru.  I managed to complete the touch-up painting on the cabin handrail and then decided to check the filter on the Candy washer/dryer after Jan had finish the last (4th) load of laundry.  That’s when I realised I’d probably made an error when locating the Candy in the back cabin.

This called lying down on the job!  Smile

The problem is the filter is located on the front bottom left corner of the washing machine.  When you removed the filter plug about 500ml of waste water is released.

There is almost no room under the machine to capture the released water.  I had to resort to mopping  up the water with a sponge and chamois.  It’s a problem with the location.  The Candy should be about 4-6 inches off the floor which would enable a container to be placed under the filter plug to capture the water.  The area underneath the machine could be used for storage.  Pity I never realised there would be an issue when it was first fitted.

Being on 240V shore power for 40 hours has enabled us to get the domestic battery bank to ‘float’.  Each time it reached the ‘float’ stage I would turn the charger off and then back on.  The Victron automatically reverts to ‘Bulk’ when it’s turned on which forces a higher current into the batteries.  Usually the bulk charge starts at 160-170 amps.  But all the charger could initially get the batteries to take was 9 amps.  As it’s a 900Ah bank that’s around 1%.  So the batteries must be at 100%.

We slipped away from our mooring on the Saltiford Arm at 11.30am leaving Lady Esther to take our place against the wharf.  I suspect it’s likely we’ll see Angie & Dave sometime in the next couple of days.

Lady Esther is 2nd to last

It wasn’t a long cruise.  Actually just around the corner to the 48 hour moorings below the Cape Top Lock.  Later in the afternoon I walked back up the Hatton Flight to the top lock for a few photos.

Cafe at the top lock

Halfway down with the church steeple in the background

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rest day…. Well almost!

After a review last night we decided it might be nice to spend a second night on shore power.  This morning Jan asked at the office and was given approval.  She immediately did another two loads of washing before asking for the clothesline to be erected on the stern.

The weather was slightly overcast but with no sign of rain we decided to go for a walk around Warwick town centre.  It’s a pleasant small town.  The route took us past the Collegiate Church of St Mary to the town square where the former Market Hall has been converted into a museum

The original hall was built around 1670 and the arches on all four sides were open. In the 19th century rails were placed over the arches and the lower area held the local “stocks” where offenders were placed on public display (Ah for the good old days!)

The other interesting building near the town square is this Tudor style structure.  Another of those old buildings that doesn’t appear to have a straight vertical or horizontal line!

Most of the banks are located on High Street.  Jan didn’t want to give or take… just check how much she had!  However she did point out this interesting doorway.

No.. it’s not N°10.  The interesting feature is the wrought iron boot scraper by the step.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one on NZ or Oz and it’s probably still in use removing snow and ice from footwear during winter.

Further down High Street is the West Gate built by Thomas Beauchamp 12th Earl of Warwick, in the latter half of the 14th Century.  Above the gate is the ancient Chantry Chapel of St James.

Adjacent to the gate is the Lord Leycester Hospital and Master's Garden.  Now these buildings give the impression of being old!

Interesting carving on the gable facia boards.

These buildings were constructed in the 14th century under a license granted to the Catholic Church by Richard II.  They were saved from the clutches of Henry VIII by their Master, Thomas Oken, who had it transferred to the Burgesses of Warwick.

They were converted into a hospital when in 1571, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leycester acquired the buildings and founded, under charter from Queen Elizabeth I, a Hospital for aged or disabled soldiers and their wives.

We didn’t tour the hospital but did visit the small tearooms in a lower floor of the east wing.

Apparently the buildings now house five residents (ex servicemen) much like an Alms House.

We hadn’t been back at Waiouru very long when another boat arrived looking for a visitor mooring.  The Saltisford Trust staff had mentioned in the morning they were expecting another visitor and we had indicated we’d be happy to have them breast-up with us.

It was a pleasant surprise to see our fellow visitors were Angie & Dave (nb Lady Esther).  Angie is the clever lady who manages to crochet mooring pin covers from Sainsbury’s plastic shopping bags.

In the late afternoon there was time for a boaters chat (toilets not discussed) before the temperature dropped driving us back inside Waiouru.  Jan then put on a 3rd load of washing, because we are such a grubby couple!  Not to be left out, I vacuumed the floor.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to normal

Jan was once again up early whilst I played possum and examined the inside of my eyelids until after 8.00am.  She eventually woke me with a hot cuppa and biscuit by placing her cold hands on my toasty warm torso!

It had rained during the night and Jan said we couldn’t pick the blackberries while they were wet so I picked some of the sloes growing beside our mooring.  We left the mooring around 9.00am but not before Jan was able to take a photo of the misty bridge hole.

Just around the bend were two sunken and dilapidated wooden narrowboats.  We couldn’t see anything that might indicate they are a restoration project in waiting.

It didn’t take long to reach Shrewley Tunnel.  I must have been focussed on the entrance because it wasn’t until I looked at the photo this evening that I realised there was a separate towpath tunnel on the right.

At 430 yards it’s not the longest tunnel we have been though but it was the wettest to date!  Probably due to the recent rain.  

The top of the Hatton Flight was reached around 10.00am.  We waited 40 minutes to see if another boat appeared to share the double locks and filled the water tank during that period.  It looked as If we would have to do the 21 locks as far as the Saltisford Arm on our own.  It was going to be a hard day because all the locks were against us!  The flight is also known as the “Stairway to Heaven” and as were were going down we must be getting back to normal.

We had just entered the third lock down and I had gone to setup the 4th lock when a lady appeared from the top lock asking Jan if we would wait for them and share the locks.  Both of us readily agreed and I reset the 2nd lock to make it quicker for them to join us.  Even better; a boat coming up the flight appeared in the 6th lock.  We would now have a locking partner and the locks would be set for us! Smile

Our locking partners were Bev and Andrea on nb Whisper.

The grounds around the flight are very well maintained and obviously popular with both the locals and visitors.

We had our share of “Gongoozlers” watching as we slowly made our way down the flight.

I managed to find the time to take a photo in each direction at the halfway point.

Back up

Going down

There was also an interesting lockside cottage at the midway point

It was about here Jan and Andrea met “Mrs Grumpy” working their boat up the flight.  She turned the lock in our face and then justified it by saying that as they had done half the flight they had priority?  She then told Jan to raise a paddle in their lock because they only had one windlass between two boats.  If I had heard them I would have offered to sell our 3rd windlass! Smile

We said farewell to Bev & Andrea at Hatton Bottom Lock.  They were going on to moor somewhere near Kate Boats whilst we planned to go down the Saltisford Arm and see if there was a vacant visitor mooring.

Whisper approaches the bottom lock

We were in luck and managed to get a mooring in the Arm immediately outside the Trust office.  Jan paid for shore power which is the first time we’ve been on mains power since October last year.

Immediately behind us is nb Adamant which looks to be steam powered

Our overnight mooring is approximately halfway down the Arm.  All the other boats appear to be on permanent moorings with some of them being residential.

After our long cruise today the batteries were fully charged.  However the shore power is managing to trickle charge about 1.5 amps into the bank.  Jan has also put on two loads of washing and also run a drying cycle.

Tomorrow morning we’ll have a quick walk around Warwick before moving back onto one of the 48 hour moorings outside the Arm.