Friday, 31 March 2017

On to Stoke Bruerne

There was Jan quietly standing at the open side hatch feeding bread to her fowl friends when a passing boater mentioned he hadn’t had breakfast and was hungry. Jan politely asked if he would also like a stale crust?  The offer was refused!

Yesterday evening I went for a local walk passing by The Wharf where a few patrons were enjoying the warm early evening weather in the beer garden. 

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I was slightly surprised to see “Pockets” moored opposite the garden.  We last saw her out of the water near Hillmorton Wharf and before that, at Newbold.

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It was a slightly late departure for us today (10am).  The plan was to reach Stoke Bruerne for the weekend.  Tomorrow’s forecast is rain and we would prefer to not be cruising in it.  Both of us were looking at the CRT services mooring at Gayton Junction and almost missed nb Jubilee moored opposite.

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We had nearly passed by before Jan (from Jubilee) appeared at the stern.  She called out but with my hearing I couldn’t decipher the context.  No sign of Halfie so I guess he was hiding from the antipodeans inside the cabin. Smile  I did read the complaint about the cold beer at Stoke Bruerne in his latest blog post.   That’s good news……I hate warm, flat beer!

The imposing former Blisworth Mill is located just before the tunnel. The mill was constructed in 1879 replacing an earlier mill severely damaged by fire.  The mill was sold in 1920 to the Northampton Co-op but this venture subsequently failed and the mill was then purchased by the Grand Union Canal Company for use as a warehouse.  During WW2 it was used to store hundreds of tonnes of tinned food.  In 2000 the building was converted into residential accommodation.

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Blisworth Tunnel is 2812 metres long and very wet inside.

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We met three oncoming boats inside.  The first was going very fast and the third was almost stationary.  Both of us noticed the new mooring rings being installed at the southern end

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After a late lunch I masked up the rain damaged paintwork on the portside at the stern.  This is the section of new paint that was still wet when it rained last autumn.  I then rubbed it down and started to repaint the area.  Halfway through Jan popped her head out the back hatch to inform me she thought it might rain! <grrrrrrr>  Hopefully it will hold off until a skin forms on the wet paint.

PS…. Just been and checked the paint.  I think I’m going to get away with it!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Short Cruise

It was a short cruise today.  We left Weedon Bec after 9.30 and were moored outside Heyford Fields Marina by noon.  There was a stop at Stowe Hill for water.  Just to top up the tank.

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Is this the only green water point on the network?

There was a second stop at Bridge 32 to fill the diesel cans (domestic 71ppl). When I suggested to the attendant that business must have declined with the recent warm weather he told me it died at the end of the second week in January.

We found a good mooring at the end of a line of boats outside Heyford Fields Marina.

IMG_1523IMG_1522I spent some of the afternoon applying a second coat of black paint to the bow scroll work and the stern.  It appears my fear that the rain would cause the paint to”bloom” was unfounded.

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Hopefully the brush marks will flatten out over the next few days.

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I need to make a decision about the remaining black paintwork on the bow.  It’s not chipped or marked but the paint looks slightly dull.  I might be able to improve the surface using a cutting compound and some polish rather than sanding and repainting.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

@#$%^&!!!!!

I painted the black stern deck and the fancy metal scrollwork on the bow yesterday afternoon.

IMG_1507The original paint had rubbed away where the bow mooring rope passes over them.  The area had already received a coat of primer and undercoat.

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My painting is still poor with brush marks showing. Jan tells me I don’t have gentle hands.  I guess after 47 years she should know!  But what particularly annoyed me was it started to rain around 6pm. No doubt that means more paint work that will need to be rubbed back and redone <grrrrr>

Steve left a comment and information regarding the mast I noticed whilst we were moored at Long Buckby Wharf.  It’s the Daventry Radio Mast.  The Wikipedia history behind the mast led me to an indirect link to Arnold Mosley and Hitler.

Then Mike Todd left a comment and link about the road being constructed just north of Weedon Bec.  It’s a bypass designed to take traffic around the local villages of Weedon Bec and Flore.  The map from the media article is below.

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It’s certainly needed because the A45 from Flore to Weedon Bec was choked with heavy vehicles from the M1.  This next canal map screen dump shows the approximate location where it will cross the Grand Union Canal.

bridgeOur main reason for stopping at Weedon Bec was to visit the former Ordnance Depot which was constructed during the Napoleonic War.  You can see it on the Waterway Routes canal map above.

I had seen some thing on TV about the depot but hadn’t realised it was at Weedon Bec.  We’ve passed this way twice before missing it on both occasions.  This time I was determined to take a short walk and see what I could find.

An Act of Parliament was passed in1803 for the establishment of a Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon.  Initially 50 acres were acquired but this was subsequently increased to 150 acres.  At this time Blisworth Tunnel hadn’t been completed but there was canal access from north.  The government knew that Napoleon had plans to invade and Weedon Bec was chosen as the location because it was inland making it harder to attacked. 

The Act of Parliament for the Grand Junction Canal allowed the government to use the canal for military purposes free of charge. The depot is to the west of the Grand Union Canal had it’s own spur.  Eight large brick storehouses were built in a rectangular piece of land.  The canal entered the site through a gate house with a portcullis.

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There is a similar gatehouse at the opposite end of the canal which leads to the gunpowder magazines.

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Duplicate gatehouse at the far end.  The upper floors were used to store small arms and the lower floor artillery pieces.

The entire depot was enclosed by a high brick wall.

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The canal spur from the Grand Union to the gatehouse has been filled in and redeveloped as residential housing.  However a link to it can be seen in the name of the street that follows the canal alignment (Navigation Way).

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Former canal spur

Barracks for cavalry and infantry were constructed outside the depot north wall.  These were demolished in the 1960’s but their former presence can be determined by the names of the roads in what is now a residential subdivision.   Fusilier Way, Cavalry Field, Lancers Way, etc.

Weedon Bec used to have three other well constructed military buildings used to house the storekeeper and other senior depot officials.  Local rumour has it that this is where King George III was to be taken in the event Napoleon invaded. These buildings were demolished in the 1970’s.

The army moved relinquished the depot in 1965 and it was sold by the government in the 1980’s.  It’s now a small commercial centre.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Weedon Bec

we had an early lunch yesterday as Jan needed to be standing on the towpath at midday waiting for her Tesco delivery which was scheduled between 12 and 1pm.  At 12:10 the delivery arrived. How come she doesn’t have to wait for hours in the cold?

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A very friendly driver who didn’t know the road existed and who had never delivered to a boat.

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Taking advantage of the fine weather, I went for a local evening stroll heading back towards Braunston before completing a circuit to the south.

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Norton Junction

I had previously noticed the transmitter mast on the horizon to the SW.  It can’t be a TV transmitter because none of the local antenna point that way.

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NB Albert, a Braidbar Boat moored behind us for the night.  Paintwork was polished but the brass was dirty…… duly reported!Smile

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We disposed of the rubbish and filled the water tank before heading down the Buckby Flight.  We frightened a stag on the offside as we exited the top lock.

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Ben and Kelly have moved from below Lock 9 since we passed by this way in 2015.  I wonder where they went? 

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The pig farm was abandoned!

Paul Balmer, is this a winding hole between Locks 12 & 13?

IMG_1504There was a slight surprise when we discovered the sneaky Penmakers moored opposite Wilton Marine.   How did they manage to pass us?

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Debbie popped out to say Hi and tell us of their immediate cruising plans.

From this point to Weedon Bec numerous boats are moored along the cut. Some are rather interesting or perhaps more correctly described as unusual.

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I’m not sure I’d want to steer looking over the top of that generator.

P1030847The “shipping container” widebeam. Must be plenty of room inside but navigating the bridges must be interesting.

The local village entity was seated in exactly the same position as before.

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Some things have changed.  It appears a major road is being constructed from the east and is heading directly for the canal.  One assumes bridge abutments will start to appear shortly.

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There were plenty of vacant moorings at Weedon Bec so we stopped and had a late lunch.  In the afternoon I sanded and repainted the stern cants. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

The engine compartment got deeper

With no suitable masking tape I decided to work on the engine compartment and give it the annual major clean.  All the items stored on the baseplate were removed, along with the mats.  Then I removed the bilge pump, but not before taking a photo of the wiring connections.

It was about this time that I realised either the engine compartment had got deeper or my legs shorter!   Moreover the compartment appeared to be narrower making it quite a wriggle and squeeze to get in!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was far less surface rust this time.  Most of it was dirty.

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Wiped out with a cloth

The first area to be prepared,cleaned and repainted was the area under the domestic battery bank and around the prop shaft.  I got into it with a wire brush and Fertan followed by spray primer and top coat.  It’s just too far for me to reach with a paintbrush.

The bilge pump was removed and the spiders chased out of it.  The Vetus dripless stern tube means Waiouru has a dry bilge.  The only water we get in the engine compartment is from condensation. This gets absorbed using a rolled up newspaper which is stood vertically.  So the bilge pump is still new (well unused!)

With the pump out I was able to clean the bilge and give it a fresh coat of paint.

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There was just enough paint left in the tin to get a coat on the starboard baseplate.  The portside will have to wait until I walk into B&Q Northampton for the masking tape.

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I’ll re-install the bilge pump tomorrow whilst Jan waits for Mr Tesco.

Oh, and here is a photo of the repainted bow thruster locker lid.

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Not perfect, but I think I might be getting better at this painting business!  Have I mentioned I hate painting. Smile

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Long Buckby

The bread supply on board was running low and after looking at the map a walk to the Co-op In Long Buckby seemed the obvious solution (well to me. Jan being more sensible placed an online order for a Tesco delivery to the boat).  I knew I’d previously walked this area but didn’t remember Long Buckby village.  The younger person on board with the excellent memory remembered the Co-op and the Costcutter!

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Twenty minutes into the walk and it started coming back to me when I crossed the West Coast Main Line and the M1 Motorway.

P1030832It must only be a couple of weeks since we took the rental car down this same route!  Leaving the noise and bustle of the road and rail traffic behind I wandered along the footpath through spring crops.  It’s lovely countryside around here.

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Having said that, I could do with a few more hills to exercise the relaxed muscle below my chest.  The Co-op was attractively positioned behind a thatch roof covered carriageway and I almost missed it.

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P1030835Long Bucky Village . 

I opted to return using a different route which took me back over the fields and into Buckby Wharf.

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Waiouru is out there……. somewhere!

I was wandering along when I heard the noise of a low flying piston engine aircraft overhead but I couldn’t see it because I was looking directly into the sun.  Eventually it moved out of the sun enabling me to see its silhouette.  A WW2 fighter with “pointly” ends to the wings.  I think it was a Spitfire.  The obvious thing to do was grab the camera from the backpack and take a photo.  

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Hummm….. Must have been painted blue!

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At Long Buckby Wharf the three main modes of transport converge and run parallel for several kilometres. The M1 and rail line go over the road into the village whilst the canal goes under.

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Oh…. I bought too much bread.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Don’t buy this

Two weeks ago I rubbed down a rust spot on the bow thruster locker in the cratch.  The entire area had been repainted last autumn but I made the mistake of leaving a damp cloth on the locker over winter and that appears to be the cause.  I had applied primer and undercoat to the spot and today the plan was to repaint the entire locker top along with a panel in the semi-trad area.  Yesterday I rubbed back and applied red undercoat to the bow and stern mooring anchor points.  If the weather was good, today was to be a painting day. 

The repainting of the bow thruster locker lid and cockpit went well.  My problem occurred when I attempted to apply the masking tape to the red handrail at the stern on the port side.  This was the section that had ‘bloomed’ when the rain got on it last autumn.  I intended to rub the handrail back and repaint it whilst I was repainting the dollies.  I had purchased some expensive masking tape in Rugby and went to apply it today.  The damned stuff wouldn’t stay adhered to the paint.  I’d align it and press it into place before moving on to the next section only to look back to see it falling off.     My recommendation is Don’t buy this brand!

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I’m now going to have to walk to B&Q or Wickes in Northampton for tape.  Needless to say the handrail didn’t get painted.  However the anchor points have turned out OK.  But they now highlight the need to repaint the bow and stern decks.

P1030841Knowing that tomorrow was going to be busy, we had an early Sunday lunch at The New Inn.  Both of us thought our meal was tasty and filling. 

In the afternoon I attempted to walk off some of the lunch going down the towpath towards Wilton Marina.   Last time we passed this way a long and large trench was being dug from the canal back up the hill.  Today all that can be seen is the white pole with the red top on the canal bank.

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A shinny boat was moored below the top lock.

P1030840No doubt another member of the Braidbar Owners Club!  Smile