We were set up with an access ramp and shore power and were set for the evening. While we were on shore power I talk the opportunity to try and get a few lost amps back from the batteries. Since installing the new batteries the battery management system tells me we have lost around 60 Ah. By switching the battery charger off and on a few times during the evening I managed to fool it into charging down to -45Ahr.
At 8:30am were could hear some banging on the stern, they were starting to remove the rudder so the tiller could be removed. Unfortunately Liverpool Boats require dry docking to do this job, many boats can be done in the water thus avoiding the extra costs of the using the dry dock. It only took half an hour and the rudder, shaft and swan neck had been removed, the shaft and swan neck are one piece.
The rudder shaft was repaired, it had been bent back and also twisted approx. 20° from centre. And while Serafina was apart the swan neck was being re-shaped so it sits further back on the stern of the boat. Below is the finished result, previously the centre part was almost vertical and encroaching right over the stern deck. Now all it needs is a splash of paint!
|Swan neck re-shaped|
Since it was so early we decided to head off from Stone locking up the hill, two more Stone locks and then the four Meaford Locks, all had to be emptied before we could enter which slowed us down just a little. We arrived at Barlaston around 4:30pm to find it rather busy with around a dozen boats moored there, still plenty of room for us though.
A late start on Wednesday with only an hours cruising and one lock to do. We were meeting our cruising partners from last year, Kevin and Carole form NB Dunslavin in Hem Heath for lunch at the Toby Carvery Pub. Just as they arrived at 1pm so did the tree contractors who wanted to cut down a dead tree next to where we were moored. So, I put Kevin straight to work and we hauled Serafina out of tree felling range and re-tied her. When we arrived back later in the afternoon for afternoon tea the tree was a pile of small branches and 50cm logs.
A fine sunny morning greeted us on Thursday after Wednesday afternoon degenerated into a rain storm around 5pm. A late start again since there was no long cruising to do...or so we thought! We came to the bottom Stoke lock and stopped behind an empty boat. Rachael went up to see what was happening and found the owner helping another boat, she was traveling with, through the lock. Nothing strange about that! Then the first boat moored at the top of the lock and came and helped her through the lock while other boats continued coming down. I overhear a conversation between one boater coming down and a boater from the moored boat, "why aren't you going on to the next lock?", she says "we want to help her through the lock". Boater coming down says "there are plenty of people here to help", the answer was "no". When they left there were three boats above the lock. The next lock had been emptied and re-filled several times while the boat stayed on the lock landing. When we arrived at the next lock, behind the same boat, the same process started again. This time I had my say but they couldn't see that they were slowing all the boats behind them, at least she told the front boat to go on to the next lock. I expected to go through this lock and get around to the next and it would be almost ready to empty and go in. No! The first boat had gone around the corner and simply waited at the next lock landing for the second boat because when I went around I again moored behind the same boat, went up to the the lock and the front boat was still coming up the lock. This happened through all five Stoke Locks, what normally takes us an hour and half at worst took over three hours! These boats were heading for Birmingham so I'm sure there will be plenty of conflict to come if they repeat this performance!
We did have time at the Stoke Top Lock to chat to the CRT volunteers who told us that this lock at over 12ft deep was the deepest on the system. It wasn't until the sides of the lock were increased by a couple of feet. The photo shows the previous level of the sides on the right.
We cruised out of the lock and on to the Stoke moorings directly in front of us, we had left Stoke in mid-May. We now have nearly two weeks to finish off some painting and prepare the boat for winter.