Monday, 16 April 2012

That sinking feeling and some cartesian humour.

Yesterday (Sunday, Titannic day) I met up up with the good ship plastic bucket and we sailed back up to Harlow where she is bing moored over summer. Didn't have any trouble fitting in the locks together as they are about 88ft long, so we had plenty of space.
Those familiar with the Lee and Stort will know of the rubbish barges which are moored up here and there. There is one at Roydon on the Stort near to the road bridge. Unfortunately, its not what you would call seaworthy (or canal worthy for that matter), for despite it being almost empty of rubbish, the deck is almost at water level. I suspect that the only thing from keeping it visible to passers by is the fact that the river is quite shallow. A local wit has stuck a three sheets of paper to it saying "I sink, therefore I am". Culture isn't dead!!

I sink...therefore I am

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Engine servicing and other stuff

A couple of weeks ago I changed the oil in the engine and the gearbox oil. First time I've changed the gearbox oil. I'll probably start changing it every time I change the engine oil. For some time the throttle control has been extremely stiff when putting the boat into gear. An investigation foulnd that the gear chnage cable was as near to being totally siezed as possible without snapping. Put a new cable on and now it's just as it should be.
The cats are increasingly proficient at bringing little gifts onto the boats - mice, vowels, shrews, even a robin once. What is slightly worrying is that sometimes the gifts are still alive...
Yesterday(Friday)I slipped our mooring and sailed down to Stanstead Abbotts on the River Lee Navigation single handed. First time I've sailed totally single handed (ie with no one else on the boat). A few minor hiccups (wet rope anyone?), but generally things went OK and the old tub is still afloat. I'll be going back tomorrow - oops today now - accompanying a plastic thing which is mooring at the marina over the summer. In theory we should both be able to fit in the lock (the plastic thing is only 23feet, and the locks on the Stort are about 85 feet). Of course a nervous plastic boat owner may want to avoid sharing with a 16 tonne lump of metal.
Today (oops yesterday now - Saturday) I took a walk up to Stanstead Lock. The lock is unusual in a couple of ways; first is that it has a bridge over the actual lock chamber.
Stanstead Lock. Lee Navigation
The bridge can be swung clear when going through the lock. As the bridge is at one end of the lock, there is the temptation if on a shorter boat (ie 60ish feet or less) not to swing the bridge open. This is not a good idea, especially when going up. The top gates have gate paddles (which is the second thing which makes it unusual - there are only 2 locks on the Lee with gate paddles) which allow water into the chamber at an alarming rate. Having the pointy bit of your boat too near to the top gates is something definitely to be avoided! Always open the bridge and stay towards the back of the lock!

Monday, 9 January 2012

The year ahead.

2012 is going to be a little unusual. In the summer the Olympics will take over London. As a result there are going to be some closures on the waterways around Stratford. For just over 2 months we won't be able to get off the Lee and Stort navigations and onto the canal system proper without venturing onto the tidal Thames. Although there are rumours of transit "windows", the even more than normally stressed moorings in London will mean that getting through London and onto the Grand Union will be difficult. As a result we have decide that come licence renewal time, we shall be getting a "Rivers only" licence, saving us in excess of £430=00.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

It's been a while...

...far too long in fact. A combination of not having internet access on the boat until the summer, Blogger being banned on my workplace network, other commitments (work - curse of the drinking classes!), and my outstanding skills of procrastination have meant that I haven't raised my head above the parapet for 10 months. One of my New Year resolutions is to start posting here on a more regular basis. To start with I'll give a precis of what's been happening boaty wise over the last 10 months.

My last post had us waiting for the arrival of WW at Islington tunnel, from where we would take it to our mooring on the River Stort Navigation on the Essex/Herts border. Well, I met up with the boat mover as planned on Sat 5th March and bade him farewell. The Witch was more or less as I remembered her, the only scars of the trip up from Newbury being one fewer radio aeriels and a shattered bathroom window, which appears to have happened between Paddington and Islington.

I laminated the shattered window with Sellotape and covered it with a black bag. We then set sail and on Monday 7th March we arrived at Harlow, having overnighted at Hackney Wick and Waltham Town on the way. We tied the boat up, chatted with some of my soon to be boaty neighbours in the marina and then went back to SWMBO's flat in London. A week later I actually took up residence on the boat, and I'm glad to say that that is how you find me now...settled in and still officially boaty. The marina where I'm moored is really lovely. Only about 40 boats of which about 10 are residential, and the people here are really friendly and helpful. Anyway, guess I should give you a quick run down of some of the things we've been up to on the boat since March...

Easter 2011: cruised back into London as far as Islington and then back to Harlow, picking up some family and friends on the way.

July 2011: went to the Ware Festival. Managed to truly ground the bow on a submerged tree trunk in front of the festival towpath barbecue...v. embarassing!

Late July - Late August 2011: took a five week round trip cruise up to Cropredy for the music festival: Stort - Lee - Regent's - GU Paddington - GU - South Oxford. 2 weeks to get there. Spent a week in Cropredy and then 2 weeks back. Takes about 2 hours each way in the car! A great time and SWMBO and I managed not to kill each other (although there were a few close moments!).

October 2011: GMT barbecue on the lockside at Latton Lock with marina neighbours.

December 2011: Post Christmas 2 day cruise along the Stort.

Repairs and boaty purchases:

Shattered bathroom window - replaced
Hot water Pressure Release Valve - failed and replaced
Multifuel stove back boiler automatic pressure valve - failed and replaced
Central heating circulation pump - failed and replaced
Alternator - failed and replaced
Morse control - failed and replaced
Leisure batteries replaced

New ropes - bow, stern and long centre
New 12v/240v refigerator
Mooring chains
New stern fender
Galvanic isolator installed
Engine serviced
Lots of coal
Dongle for boaty internet access
LED cabin lights
Improved security on stern doors
2 kittens - Bobina and Twig

I'll post some pictures soon.

So there we are! Like i said, I aim to be less of a stranger from now on.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 4 March 2011

PAW 2011 - Week 9. February 26th 2011 - March 4th 2011

It's Friday night and WW is somewhere on the GU, hopefully near Little Venice. Tomorrow I'll be picking her up somewhere on the Islington stretch.
Here's this week's PAW, taken at the last place we saw her, just below Ham Lock on the K&A. It's been a long wait since we put in the offer at the beginning of November last year, but tomorrow we will finally be in full possession, not reliant on anyone else when we want to move her.

Canon 20d; 24/2.8

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Catching up

So as I said last week, we were meant to spend Tuesday to Saturday of last week on the Witch cruising the K&A around Newbury. Delays in completion of work on the boat however, meant we lost a couple of days. I've decided that I want to be as positive as possible about our experiences on the boat; as a result I shall only mention names of companies if our experience of them is good. Needless to say I won't be mentioning the name of the marine engineers where we had the work done on Water Witch, as we found their approach to things rather unprofessional. I know things go at a slower pace on the cut, but this particular company seem to take that ethos a little too far; and I know for a fact that we are not their only customers who are of that opinion. Needless to say, we won't be rushing back for any work to be carried out on WW (for one thing it's a good week's sail away!!)

So eventually we got away from the marina on Thursday afternoon and took the boat westwards. Things went a bit slower than I had planned - making the turn out of the marina was rather interesting (!) and we stopped for coal and diesel; we ended up mooring just below Benham Lock.

Here she is at Benham. That's Noel our galley slave friend on the front:

Galley Slave

Note the traditional bag of coal on the roof!

On Friday we moved on westwards. By this time we knew that Dunmill Lock was closed and the last winding hole would be at Kintbury, where we arrived at about 1400(z). We moored up and went for an excellent lunch at the Dundas Arms. I had liver - yum yum!

Back at the mooring we picked up some timber which had been left on the towpath. Will need a years seasoning under cover, but eventually it will keep us warm. Probably got enough for a week or so. In the evening SWMBO went to see a pantomime (don't ask!); she only managed to endure about half of it and then met us to go for a swift half.

Here's the front of the boat at Kintbury. Note the the lack of plank!

At Kintbury

Saturday was rainy and we thought about staying at Kintbury for the day. However, on the Sunday Richard the boat mover was due to pick up the boat to bring it up to London. Picking it up from Kintbury would probably add the best part of a day to the journey which meant we would be very pushed to get the boat up to our mooring. So we pushed off, turned at the winding hole and headed back east. Weather was changable, but not catastrophic. A long day and we eventually moored up just below Ham Lock. Was very tired at the end and had some rather scary moments...note to self: when tired, go to sleep.

Here we are on Sunday morning. The picture really doesn't show how slippery the towpath was. Later in the day solid rain set in and it got v. muddy and slidey.


On Sunday Noel and I walked back to Greenham to pick up his motor and meet Richard the boat mover, who had brought a whole bootful of stuff with him. As we went along the towpath to the Witch, laden down with Richard's stuff and trying not to fall over, I kind of wished we had stopped and tied up back at Greenham!

Gave Richard the tour of the boat and then left it to him...