Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Some Long Cruising Days

It's been a busy time!

After a tearful farewell to our family, grandchildren and grandparents included we headed back to the boat and launched immediately, it was time to 'put the foot down'. We had to be in Banbury by Sunday 10 Jun, we had seven days...easy! I had planned a more leisurely route back in Australia, with all our stopovers, that went out the window! This meant several long days, we did three or four in a row, I slept like a log each night with enough time to have dinner and then almost straight into bed.
A few pics of what we saw along the way...

Looking back as we climb the Atherstone Flight on the Coventry Canal

Our mooring on the Oxford Canal just past Ansty.
Quite a bit of work going on beside the canal at Rugby, looks like road work or it could be rail but we didn't have time to stop and find out as we sped past one of our usual stops at a breakneck 4mph.

Our best run came as we tossed up whether to climb the Napton Locks or tie up for the night, what a great run! We cruised into Lock 8, the first lock on the Napton Flight, which was already set for us, and it was the same right through to Lock 13 where we decided to call it a day. There was noone using the flight at all, admittedly it was 7pm when we started.

Napton on the Hill

The buffalo are still happily grazing near Lock 12.

Next day, a stopover at Fenny Compton to pickup bread, which was really Rachael holding the boat while I ran into the Pub/General Store, a fuel stop at the marina around the corner and on to Cropedy for the night which left us with a shortish cruise into Banbury on the Friday morning. A ring ahead as we came into Banbury and our friend Kevin from NB Dunslavin was there to spot a mooring for us which turned out to be in front of the shopping centre. A bit of a break after some heavy cruising before our friends from Australia arrive.

Monday, 4 June 2018

A Slow Start for 2018

It's been a slow start to this cruising season but we are finally out of the marina and on to the cut. We have spent quite a time in Scotland with family followed by having some work done on Serafina.

We planned to do some upgrades to Serafina last season, it's taken up until now to pin down a carpenter to do those upgrades we had planned, at a reasonable price. After taking two hours to cook a cake last year a new cooker was the first thing on the list.

The galley with the old cooker
The new cooker with pot drawer under, first shot mid project and finally the completed product. I must admit I didn't completely understand the installation procedure after talking with the engineer at the marina when he said to me to put it in and he would come over and check it and get it certified. I don't think there will be a next time, but if there is, I'll just get a gas certified plumber to install the cooker and then he can certify his own work and it will be finished instead of having too many people involved. Getting things organised at a marina can be a slow process!

We didn't have any drawers in the kitchen now we have two. We reduced the size of one of the cupboards to gain a cutlery drawer.

The side hatch door linings were replaced. When we bought Serafina the old linings were in poor shape and couldn't be restored. The roof hatch linings over the side doors were replaced too, I still have to install some crank bolts so it can be locked from the inside.

We found it difficult to replace the bathroom cabinet without completely renovating the whole bathroom so the fix Rachael came up with was to replace the cabinet top and tiles.

The old cabinet

The finished product
With the work to Serafina done we are heading off to Oxford with some of our family aboard for a few days, we will meet friends from Australia along the way who will join us for a few days as well. Let's hope we get all the timings right, since their using trains a railway station is critical!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Final Post for the 2017 Season

After another short stay in Middlewich we headed off to our final destination for this season. The trip was quite uneventful but I did notice along the way that CRT are starting their winter maintenance program already. Another thing you notice towards the end of the season is the signs going up for designated winter moorings.

We are currently preparing Serafina for her winter stay in our chosen marina for this year. The washing machine has been going flat out so we carry as many clean clothes with us as possible, we still have a couple of weeks holiday on the way home to Australia. There is plenty of general cleaning to do and not to mention there's still some painting to do.

Sunday (yesterday) I washed the boat from top to bottom and now have half of one side left to polish. It's a shame that I will only see her polished for a few days and then when we return I will have to do it all over again prior to leaving the marina. I hired a car today from Enterprise, they picked us up this morning and it will make the final few days that little bit easier to get around and get a few things done.

We  did discuss some possible cruising destinations with our friends Kevin and Carole while we were moored together which we will firm up over the (UK) winter. So preparations are already underway for the 2018 cruising season. First up in 2018 we plan to give Serafina a refit with work to be done on the galley, side hatches and bathroom.

No photos for this post but our soccer ball count advanced by two to finish at 43, a surprising result! I thought the total we be in the three figures but I have noticed that the canals we have cruised this year seem to cleaner than previous years.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Back in Middlewich and Nantwich

Middlewich seems to be the centre of our universe at the moment as we headed off down 'Heartbreak Hill' for an overnight mooring in Rode Heath, a small village with a nice pub, The Broughton Arms. On the way we passed by this farm where the calves had just been released from the barn to their mothers in an outside pen, the din from them all trying to find each other sounded chaotic.

And the view from the side of the canal as we made our way back down the 11 locks to Rhode Heath, I'm guessing for the third time this season.

A 9:30am start next morning as we headed off from Rhode Heath once again and straight to the first of 14 locks for the day. We planned to get to Wheelock today, another small village. An overcast day with some light showers but we managed to dodge the worst of it, as we were mooring up the rain really came down heavily. With the rain finishing off a longish day, I hit the shower. Showers on the boat after cruising are much better than first thing in the morning, the water is scorching hot!

We scored a lot of rain overnight so we didn't move off the boat until next morning where we got going early, cruising the 300 metres to the Services where we filled with water and dumped our rubbish. The water point at Wheelock was nice and fast and we were off reasonably quickly, trying to make Middlewich around midday for lunch with friends. Today, Saturday, we had another eight lock day ahead of us.

You know you are getting close to Middlewich when you pass British Salt. So much salt!

And of course The Kings Lock pub is right in Middlewich at, you guessed it, Kings Lock.

I rang our friends as we locked down into the junction with the Middlewich Arm and Kevin was straight up to help us through the last three Middlewich Locks, we moored just above Big Lock, so called because it is large enough to take broad beam boats. Apparently the plan was to be able to have broad beam boats move from the Mersey River (coast) inland as far as Middlewich however, all the tunnels can only take narrowboats. It was lunch at The Big Lock pub overlooking the canal and a long chat and then again over the next few days before the ladies decided they would like a larger shopping centre, we headed off up the Middlewich Arm to Nantwich.

We see this boat often as we head out of Middlewich, it's a historic boat, the hull built in 1860's and was horse drawn up until 1928 when it was converted.

I wouldn't recommend the kids using this slide into the canal, I've seen some of the things that float in there and get thrown in too.

It's a two day trip to Nantwich for us stopping overnight near Venetian Marina along the way. Rachael and I stopped off at Aquaduct Marina just before mooring and spent an hour touring through Knight's Boats, a brand new boat would be nice but!

Here we are following our friends up one of the locks along the way, the girls working the locks together, getting ready to let the water go. Practicing for next year's cruising perhaps?

It was a couple of nights stay in Nantwich and with everyone contented, shopping bags stowed we headed off to the winding hole to turn and go back the way we had come. Not my favourite sort of day, we had waited for the rain to subside but half way to the winding hole down came another shower. Fortunately, we were nearly at Barbridge when the rain came down again, a little short of our original destination but at 12:30pm it was a good time to moor and grab lunch at The Old Barbridge Inn.

It was also the best place to watch the rain, enjoying a nice hot lunch and a drink or two, we decide to stay at Barbridge for the night and head off in the morning.

Today (Sunday) we said farewell for the second time to our friends after stopping short of our destination the day before, they continued further on along the Shropshire Union Canal (SUC) towards Chester and we turned right at the junction to head down the SUC Middlewich Arm. There was a queue at the first lock, we were number four to use the lock and several boats coming up the lock as well. This continued for all three locks today as we followed the same boats. This is lock number two for the day with the old lock keeper's cottage beside it now converted into a residence as most are.

We followed a hire boat with six older (50 or thereabouts) ladies on board and plenty of booze on board too. It was entertaining to watch as they made their way back to the Middlewich hire base, running aground on several occasions and hitting the side of the canal so hard I thought the boat was going to run up on to the tow path. It kept our day interesting! For what should have been a three hour trip it turned into a long day, more like five hours with all the queuing. However, we managed to dodge the rain all day and moor up just in time for a heavy downpour that has lasted over an hour so far.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Finishing the Four Counties then up the 'Macc'

We've been moving around rather quickly just recently, well for a narrow boat anyway! Just trying to get a few things sorted before we head back to Australia for summer. Most boaters have the winter to get things done on the boat, we tried that once from long distance with poor results.

We headed off from our overnight mooring in Rode Heath before continuing on up the dozen locks and cruising on to the Harecastle Tunnel (2926 yards). No waiting today, the Tunnel Keeper took our details and did the usual checks and we were straight into the tunnel as I was still putting my waterproof jacket on. It can get rather wet inside the tunnel! A forty minute (or thereabouts) cruise through the tunnel we finished our day mooring at Westport Lake. It's the first time we have moored here but we have been for coffee and cake on several occasions, it's a lovely area with lots of birds.

Not the only boat on the mooring, there were half a dozen others with us eventually but it has been a strange cruising season, these moorings would normally be full quite early in the afternoon, especially in August. And the view across the lawn...

Overnight at Westport and then a stopover at Stoke Boats ten minutes along the canal, for a quote for some joinery work before cruising on to Stoke on Trent moorings, this is the end of the Four Counties Ring for us in Staffordshire. A longer stopover in Stoke gave us a chance to get a few more quotes for joinery as well as getting a chance to fix those niggling jobs, our mooring was only five minutes walk from the retail park. We made it a five day stopover to get all the bits and pieces done so we slipped down to the Services for water at the start of the Cauldon Canal before winding (turning) just before the staircase lock and going back on to the same mooring we had left in front of the Toby Carvery. While we were on the mooring we managed to slip into Toby Carvery for breakfast with friends who dropped in for a visit on their way to Fradley.

Everything sorted for now we headed off back through the Harecastle Tunnel, this time on our way to the Macclesfield Canal to visit friends Dave and Gwen on NB Harebell. Rachael snapped a couple of pictures as we headed out of Stoke on the Trent and Mersey Canal. There are several abandoned old warehouses as we moved along the canal.

The last shot is of Middleport Pottery, built in 1888 and still operating as a pottery, there's a nice cafe with moorings just out of this shot. We finished our day on the Macclesfield Canal at the Scholar Green moorings. A short cruise on from our overnight moorings were the rolling green lawns of Ramsdell Hall built in the 18th century.

The 'Macc' mile posts look a lot like gravestones, this one giving us the distance to Marple which is at the terminus of the Macclesfield Canal.

There were no locks to do as we took it easy with a nice two hour cruise to our overnight mooring in Congleton before we take on the only lock flight on the 'Macc', Bosley Locks, a 12 lock flight.

Bosley locks takes our boat up 113 feet (34 metres) in just a mile. These locks had a unique water saving system once in use now the Bosley Reservoir does the job. The ponds next to each lock use to take half a lock full of water the other half would go to the pound below the lock.

Heading along the embankment on our way into Macclesfield.

Dredging opposite the Macclesfield Pontoon Visitor Moorings. There's plenty of dredging required right along the canal!

On our way out of Bolington after a lunch break at the Waterside Cafe, one of the residents of the old mill (in shot).

An interested on looker, herons don't usually hang around as you pass.

Still with some work to do we met our friends Dave and Gwen at the moorings at Higher Poynton. After a long chat we had dinner together before heading down to the Boar's Head Pub for a drink. It was only a flying visit and by ten o'clock the next morning we turned around and headed back down the way we had come.

The view from the moorings at the bottom of Bosley Locks.

On one of the permanent mooring sites along the way.

One of the views from our moorings as we head back down the 'Macc'

The tow path changes sides of the canal on several occasions and each time there is one of these bridges with a large sweeping path to accommodate the horses towing the boats in earlier times.

It was such a beautiful day when we left Higher Poynton that we just kept on cruising arriving in Congleton around 7pm, a long day but a lovely cruise. From Congleton it was only a short cruise and one stop lock to the Hardings' Wood Junction and back on to the Trent and Mersey where we started to lock down the hill from Kidsgrove almost straight away. This time we are heading back to Middlewich

We have only added one to our soccerball count, the total now 41.