Thursday 30 August 2018

Engine Bay painted... back on wet water and a final Wine-Wednesday...

So - On Friday morning, the bloke who owns/runs the boatyard came up to me and said "we'll get you back in the water this afternoon so you're not trapped for the bank holiday weekend" - to which I explained I planned on painting the engine bay out on Saturday whilst it's out of the water... assuming a week's dry dock would be just that - ie, 7 days.  It turned out HIS week (even though they work weekends) is Monday to Friday...  which didn't sit well if I'm honest - it's one thing paying a lot more for THEM to black it than us DIYing it, but by only being out for 48 hours after it's been blacked didn't seem long for it to cure.  He then went on to say we COULD stay in another couple of days if we wished but it'd be an extra 50 quid a day....  it was already VERY expensive so I declined - stating that given it was already costing  us about 80 quid an hour for "actual work done"  so we'd come out when he wanted.   In the end, it turned into Sunday morning about 11 (in the pouring rain) for no extra cost.

I'd ran out of excuses time, so if I were to get 2 coats of white paint on the engine bay, I'd have to pull my finger out and get on with it.

It's not until I'd taken everything out of there, I realized HOW much stuff gets stored - at least we could just leave it on the roof of the boat rather than have to put it somewhere else ... given the dry dock is in a locked compound.

I had planned on using white Hammerite smooth but when I called into screw fix to get a big tin, they only had BLACK in the size required ... instead, I got Johnsons Trade stuff which as far as I can tell is the same anyway... and a few quid cheaper.

Once the space was cleared out, it was clear to see how much surface rust had appeared - so armed with a wire brush, hoover and tin of rust-killer I dislocated every joint in my body climbed in and got to work.  I'm currently at least 2 stone too fat to be in such places and even though Andy is a good 2 stone lighter than I, he refused on the grounds of it being a 'dark blue' job.  Ergo, MUGGINS had to do it....

I left the rust killer to do it's thing (if in fact it does anything at all other than turn black) and then before bed, began the first coat.

Of course me being a stupid ginger  being me, I'd ended up painting bits I'd later need to stand on to reach other bits... to say it is a pants job is an understatement. In hindsight, I'd have been better off paying THEM to paint the engine hole and doing the blacking myself.  Hey ho.  I know now!

Whilst I was doing it, rather than BLACKING down the weedhatch, I decided to "WHITE" it instead - the logic being anything that helps reflect some light down to the prop will be helpful when it comes to de-fouling it next time... time will tell whether that was a good idea or not.

Once that was done, I turned my attention to the fenders front and rear...  re-fitting them, I painted the chains with black Hammerite and although we HAD planned on buying a new tipcat for the front to replace the 'squished' button, I had a money- saving  brainwave and turned it the other way around... it looks a bit odd but once it's been up against a couple of lock gates, it will normalize I'm sure... and more importantly, it'll defer the cost to the next financial year.

On Saturday morning, I applied the second coat to the engine bay and then dug out (by accident I admit - having spotted it in a plastic box on the roof) a new LED front light to replace the halogen one.  Once I'd started fitting it, I remembered WHY I'd not already done it... it was a bit of a pain as securing it to the solar panel bracket (still NOT cut down ahem) meant it required some kind of spacing washer set up to enable it to tilt both up and down.  

After much rutting around a box of "useful things that Andy' simply can't get his head around" I cobbled together some plastic spacers  - no idea WHERE I'd gotten them from but I have to admit to feeling smug that I'd had the hoarding instinct fore-sight to think they might come in useful ONE DAY.   

Sunday morning arrived and despite being ready about 7.30 am to go back in, it wasn't until about 11 the chap came and began filling the dock.  The power and vibrations felt through the boat as the water rushed in was a bit un nerving...  I had visions as the level rose of the supports falling over and the boat crashing down. 

The rain was pouring down and again I drew the short straw - Andy taking the car to the first lock and me chugging in the miserable rain.  

It's good to be bobbing about again - AND good to be able to have the fire on.

Now we're back on the home mooring for a few days, we're doing jobs and have signed up for a 3 month gym membership - given our trip to Wolverhampton has been thwarted, we may as well get some of the blubber off in preparation for next year.  

We've had a couple of visits and will be t-total for a while, whilst (bad English sorry) we get fit - However, last night was our final Wine-Wednesday with Sallie... she's got a new job up in North Yorkshire so she and Lee (the husband) are moving.  He couldn't make it  but Sheree deputized well.... although I'm sure Lee wouldn't  have been sexually harassing the new barman in the same way as Sheree was! - although you never know these days... ;-) 

I took this photo relatively early on... ahem...  we have no idea how much we got through but it WAS, ONE last blast.  On the plus side, it WAS quite early when we left (I got an Uber receipt through on my phone for the girls' taxi home) at 21.02... I DO like Uber... it's good to know you can put someone in a taxi and KNOW they've gotten home ok.  

 It was quite an emotional end to the evening - We shall miss meeting up with our pals but KNOW the move will be a good one for them and we'll try and catch up with them as often as our joint schedules allow.  Sallie is one of those people who puts her heart and soul into whatever she does - the new place she's going to is very lucky to have her... her old place is going to have one hell of a hole to fill - I believe it's called Karma !

Speaking (writing) of new jobs, Sallie isn't the only one moving on to pastures new - Sheree is also moving on.  She is at least staying in the same town so hopefully we'll be able to catch up with her too.

Meanwhile - THIS morning, we're on the visitor moorings (having taken the boat to the pub last night) and when the mist clears (in our heads not outside) we'll fill up with water, turn and head back to the mooring in time for an early afternoon gym session ... well I say GYM session - today it might just consist of a gentle swim, splodge in the spas and chat with some other members - who knows, perhaps we'll take a few fliers with us.

Until next time...

Friday 24 August 2018

Dry dock...

We've been incarcerated in our levitating prison now for just over 4 days... it sucks.  The boat feels awful up in the air... it sort of vibrates without moving if you follow.  It's a really weird feeling.  Thing is, we are both still walking around on the boat AS IF IT IS moving as normal - the result being we keep falling over and bashing into things... weird.

ON the plus side, the batteries are enjoying being plugged into shoreline

We arrived at the boatyard about 10 on Monday morning as instructed...  there was already a boat in the dock so we had to wait until about 1.30 before he came out and we could go in.  BY golly it was a tight ( 90 degree) turn with grps in the way to get in - VERY proudly negotiated without touching another boat...  NO way will coming out in reverse go so well!

Not much happened on the boat until about half 5, when the starboard side was scraped and jet washed....

The following day, port was done as well.

The blacking began on Tuesday with a coat being applied over the course of about 2 hours - the chap doing it was friendly enough and even declined a beer or cup of tea (rather pleased about the former as it menat I could drink it).... 

 The second coat was applied on Wednesday afternoon and I've also taken the opportuity to touch up the paint work again... THUS far,  I've not gotten around to cutting the solar panel brackets - I HAVE however got some white "rust resistant" paint to tackle the engine bay  - wish me luck.

Until next time...

Monday 20 August 2018

Back to Base, Teenagers and 'blood -boiling' lockies...

You'll remember that i don't LIKE to moan ?  -  hmmmm... well, I challenge Anyone who encounters the younger lockie on Newley locks NOT to let him under their skin.

I'll elucidate.

KNOWING we had to arrive in at the top of Newley Locks by 10am for the 2 hour down window, we left Apperley bridge bright and early and teamed up with another boat to share swing bridges etc.  Upon arrival (9.30) the OLD (sorry about the use of that word but its easier to differentiate between the GOOD one and the hostile/passive-aggressive.opinionated,know-it-all cretin younger one) proper lockie, came up and said he'd get us down asap.  There was a young chap behind us in his little grp sailing thingy that our travelling companions had given a tow to the locks - poor young lad had rather naively moored his boat between the two flights and gone off to a scout camp... only to come back to find (or not I suppose) his outboard motor and leisure batteries gone.  The police had just been to see him and had the other boat not given him a tow, we'd have done so

he was told that he'd have to wait until the end of the locking down period for another boat to turn up rather than wasting water letting him down on his own... he was relaxed about this though and he got a book out and began reading.

Once we began our decent, the nice lockie went on ahead to prep the next locks whilst the younger one stayed to help out.  Well I say help, he's clearly wasted on the canal network - what with his higher intelligence and superb interpersonal (not) skills, he should be working either as a brain surgeon or international mediator.!   I  HOPE you're picking up the sarcasm here -  Trouble was, that it was Andy's day to play skipper and my turn on the towpath...  now, having been trapped at the top of Bingley for 24 hours cause "rules is rules" - when faced with THIS chap, it was always going to be confrontational journey.  Now OK, I might have commented on how frustrating it's been this summer what with all the emergency stoppages just about everywhere we've tried to travel...however, his reply should have been at worst, slightly apologetic, perhaps even agreeing... instead, Mr.  hostile/passive-aggressive.opinionated,know-it-all cretin younger lockie, decided to launch into a rant at me about how boaters waste water!!! Unfortunately, having got a phone FULL of photos of broken paddles, leaking gates and badly maintained lock gates, I was not overly enamored at being blamed for wasting water by USING our boat for navigational purposes, whilst paying nearly twice a leisure license AND having to jump through extra hoops for the privilege.   

When faced with idiots like him confrontational folks, my preferred course of action is to walk away before I say anything TOO offence.  I tried this but he then adopted a new approach to wind me up by talking loudly at the chap on the boat to try and get his message across to me through a 3rd party.

By the time we'd gotten to the bottom of the flights I was boiling angry and Andy very graciously agreed to swap roles for the remainder of the day to prevent further abrasion.

Luckily, the couple on the other boat were really good natured - and we enjoyed the rest of our journey in the Granary Wharf... that was until they got a bit of metal and rope jammed in their prop near the pontoons and then became grounded because the water levels were low.  Ginger to the rescue and after about an hours buggering around, we managed to free them and get the boat floating again... a short while later, the lady (I didn't get her name but she was brilliantly funny) knocked on the boat roof with a little bottle of gin as a thank you - not required but appreciated non the less.

We spent a couple of days in Leeds  - taking the river taxi down to Clarence Dock with the kids in a shopping trip -
You can see the excitement was nearly too much for them!

Whilst the kids have been with us, we've been teaching them basic life skills... such as washing up, tidying up their own clothes and making their beds daily - it's been quite a challenge.  Another thing we had to address was shower length.  Now I DO remember being a teenager - having just discovered my own 'home-entertainment section' and the resultant time it used to take for me to have a shower - OBVIOUSLY the supply of hot water on the boat does not really facilitate this kind of  behavior - ergo, we had to have an awkward chat about shower duration.  

I tried to do it tactfully, but apparently (and I take issue with this) I'm NOT the most tactful of people!  Anyway - I think I got the message across and touch wood, we never ran out of water.

UNLIKE Coke!  We couldn't believe HOW much coke *other carbonated soft drinks are available* they get through each day - at least 2*2 litre bottles - sometimes 3 and whilst we HAD stocked up before their arrival (by getting a couple of bottles each time we went out in Skipton) we soon ran out.  This led to another "life lesson" -  we went shopping and bought a couple of days worth and made THEM carry it back to the boat whilst we frittered our shopping bags on less important stuff such as fruit and veg etc.  There was a bit of moaning about having to carry it SO far back to the boat but oddly enough, they soon switched to diluted orange juice... for fear of having to repeat their mule impression.

We got back to base on Friday morning and I nipped home to pick up stove spares I'd ordred the other month - namely a new rear liner and replacement glass door.  The liner had cracked and whilst I know it was safe to use, wanted a new one.  Same for the door - whlst not cracked yet, it WAS scratched quite badly by some ginger idiot who took a stainless steel scouring thing to it last year over enthusiastic cleaning.

Once fitted, I gave the whole thing a bit of tlc and even swept the chimney too.  Roll on winter as we're ready for you now.

BEFORE then however, we've a few short trips to fit in - the first being a birthday chug.  

We decorated the boat with poundland tat appropriate bunting and set sail up the Calder

and Hebble to Mirfield... we HAD planned on it being a Leeds weekend but thanks to Lock 1 now being closed until further notice, we had to knock that idea on the head.  No matter, our guests had fun and even got to tolerate enjoy Rummikub.

When we got back to base last night, everyone was in an exuberant mood - (yes even me) AND Brynn  was more than happy to join in too!

He carried it off well don't you think?

Today - we're heading into Dry dock for a week to have the bottom blacked... whilst we're out of the water, we're going to do chores - including cutting down the solar panel brackets so we'll fit through Standedge tunnel OK... it's not like I can ever be bothered to tilt them anyway so I'm going to make them static.  

Until next time...

Monday 13 August 2018

More Closures but we're on our way back to Wakefield ....

I try very hard NOT to be a moaner and ranter... VERY hard  - ok so I don't always succeed but since living on a boat, my mindset is generally quite upbeat and positive... as a result of the people we meet on a daily basis... be them boaters or dog walkers - Cyclists and fishermen are excluded from this "positive group" - ESPECIALLY those who think ringing their bell (the cyclists not the fishermen) gives them right of way!

Anyway - We've been holed up in Skipton for about a week - basically awaiting the arrival of Andy's Nephews who have come to stay for  a holiday with us.  We HAD planned for them to catch the last leg of the return from Manchester on the Rochdale but those of you paying attention will remember they closed that on us due to miss-management/gates leaking lack of dredging the water shortage.

As it happens, we've enjoyed being in Skipton - it's a lovely place to be stuck... plenty to do and see and even a few rain showers .... one day even being cold enough for me to light the fire again!

We've had fliers on the side of the boat for people to collect (not that we can really DO much in the way of short trips for the foreseeable ) but at least it might get some more interest in Next years trips - writing of which, we've now got 4 "new" bookings in the diary for 2019 and 2/3 that we've moved from this Autumns thwarted trip to Wolverhampton.

On Saturday, Andy's sister and husband turned up (fresh from a week in Wales with her parents) and once we'd had lunch, they went home and we began one of those treasure hunts/quizes around the town with the kids.  BEING old school, we printed them out and followed clues.  NOT very well I might add as a combination of the town being heaving AND our teenage orienteering  missing out vital bits of information when reading the clues out - ergo it too a long time and we went around in circles a bit of it.  Still, it was a good way of having a structured wander around the area and into places we might otherwise not have visited.  If you look closely this dog on the Springs branch is having a lay in the stream... quite happy to cool off from the heat.

We would've have liked to spend another couple of days in the town with the kids but on checking my CRT emails, I spotted that they are planning now to close another section of the canal - from the top of Bingley 5 rise right to Lock 1 where Granary Wharf meets the river Aire in the centre of Leeds.

I also spotted that BEFORE this is due to happen (on Friday 17th) the hours of operation of Bingley had been reduced to 10-12 down and 1-3 up...  

With this in mind, we left Skipton on Saturday night and traveled as far as Silsden before the rain wore us down - ironic that we're having to make a dash to get off the canal before it closes when it's raining cats and dogs!

Hey ho.  After a reasonable night in Silsden, we departed about 7.30 with a view to arriving at Biingley for the allotted opening hours.

HOWEVER, what the website DIDN'T say was that "someone at CRT" had decreed only 4 lockings down and 3 lockings up per day - ergo, when we got there ON TIME we were already TOO late as yesterdays arrivals had filled the slots in the queue ahead of us.  I got a bit of a sulk on and Tweeted CRT that perhaps they ought to put the FULL story on the website - especially as hirers were turning up losing a whole day of their already expensive holiday going no where.  

Anyway - as mooring space was at a premium for the waiting boats, we invited a Pennine cruiser to breast up against us for the night - knowing at least we'd be first in the queue.  I won't lie - I was NOT good humored about having to kill 24 hours and STILL use just as much water to acheive our transit goal - there being no valid reason in my mind, why CRT couldnt' have run water down from the CLOSED pounds above Gargrave - I mean what use is it having water up there when there are no boats? - they might just as well empty the buggers and give the boats down stream a chance of moving and mooring.

So - this morning (Monday 13th) we finally descended the 5 and 3 with the hire boat in the photo.  We've ended up doing more than we'd normally do in a bid to get off the L & L asap - especially given that when we arrived at Dobson's lock we had an hour delay whilst more of that expanding foam grouting was being done - we already knew about that though and it gave us chance to do a couple of loads of washing, all have showers and leave with a full tank.  

Tomorrow, we have to get up before god bright and early to get to Newlay locks which are now ALSO on restrictions... 10-12 down and 1-3 up... there better not be a queue there or my twitter finger will go onto overdrive.

Until next time...

Monday 6 August 2018

Leeds to Skipton, Resin injections (to lock walls) and grafters

We left Leeds bright and early - the plan being to get through the (allegedly) trouble hot-spots before the yobbos bored youth of today, got out of bed.

We miscalculated how long the water tank would take to fill and as such ended a little behind our planned schedule.  No matter though as the cruise was nice enough as usual and although the water was a little down, nothing worse than we've come to expect.

The clarity of it though WAS really good - SO clear we could see the bottom and loads of fish as we chugged along.

A thoroughly lovely trip and despite planning to stop at Rodley for the night, there just wasn't space so we continue on as far as Apperley Bridge.... which was by contrast a ghost town.  THAT's the trouble with the grape vine - WHEN CRT announce they are closing a section of canal - (in the case of the Leeds and Liverpool it's from lock 30 Gargrave to Wigan bottom lock) SOME folk assume they have to get off the canal altogether and make a dash for alternate waters...  They are missing out on spending time on a lovely canal as a result.

Of course, it makes no odds to us - having dragged our arse sttruggled with the Rochdale the other week, the L & L a few inches down is no big deal.  We spent a night outside the marina and caught up with Rob there - he and his wife are still working hard and the coffee shop is keeping them VERY busy.    Expecting a quiet night, we had a brief panic attack when 2 scout boats turned up and tried to moor opposite... LUCKILY after a few minutes faffing around they had a change of mind and continued onwards.

Next day, we went up Dobsons Locks and planning on filling with water, sods law meant we'd meet another boat coming the other way that had beaten us to the water point...  the water point with the SLOWEST tap in know England btw.  We had a chat with them (a Hire boat) and they were enjoying their trip despite the difficulty in finding places deep enough to get in and moor up for the night.  The further we went the more hire boats we encountered... obvious of course that with at least 3 hire companies we know about (Pennine, Silsden and Snaygils) nearly all their traffic HAD to come this way.  It's east to see by the way the hirers handle the boats, which companies give the better instructions  AND look after their boats... some of the Silsdens ones look totally battered to say the least.

Dobsons lock is due for some grouting work to reduce the leaks through the chamber walls in the next few weeks. I read about it on the CRT notices page...  Passage through will still be possible (it's a good job cause we need to come back this way) but there will be delays.

The water here is still crystal clear and chugging along looking down at the fish was a pleasure.

Further along, when we got to Field 3 locks, we encountered a delay whilst contractors carried out the same repair as planned for Dobsons - I'd obviouls NOT spotted that on the notices page lol.  There was already 1 boat in the top lock waiting... 1 in the bottom and Us on the lock landing.  It took about half an hour for things to get moving and during this time a group of kids turned up to play around in the lock. 

For kids, they were quite organised... bringing towels and changes of clothes with them.  They just don't see the dangers we adults do.  

Whilst I don't like kids per say, I go onto auto-pilot danger patrol and went for a chat with them .  The water clarity by the time we'd gotten to these locks had deteriorated and unlike the previous locks, it looked really filthy.  I suggested they would be safer at Dobsons locks - given that there really is NO point in telling them NOT to do it... kids will be kids and will do it anyway.  At least at Dobsons locks, there are houses not far away so that if one of them gets hurt, help would be to hand.  They weren't rude but replied they used to play there but the people in the houses kept chasing them away - I dunno what the answer is - if they were MY kids, (and ignored what I'd said) I'd STILL  rather they did stupid things where help is to hand than in the middle of nowhere.

As we ascended the final chamber, we could see the work the contractors we doing.  Basically, they are drilling big holes in to the lock wall, screwing in metal nipple type things and then injecting expanding foam - similar to the boat insulation.  This in turn expands and supposedly fills any gaps.  Apparently, it's Good for 20 years!  - I'm not convinced  as the "structure" of the foam appears honeycomb to me but time will tell I suppose.

Next stop was Saltaire - we'd hoped to tie up for the night just before the "no over night moorings" bit but there were too many boats already there (pointing the opposite way) - just as we decided to carry on a bit farther, I was hailed by a chap on the tow path... turned out, he recognized me from an internet chat room... what were the odds of that?  After a brief catch up, we continued and ended the day just before the aqueduct in the woods.  The towpath there is very busy so Andy was in his element people watching.  As the evening progressed, a CRT chap (cycling home from work) stopped and asked if we planned to go up Bingley the next day - turned out it was John who'd helped us up and down the flights a few times this year.  HE suggested there we pair up with the boat behind as there were 2 boats ahead of us.  What he didn't know was that a couple of the boats coming DOWN in the morning, planned to turn around and head straight back up!

The plan was to get to Bingley about 11am - in preparation for the afternoons' "up" session that was scheduled to begin at 1pm.  Alas, a couple of boats appeared from behind and queue jumped early doors so we decided it best to pull pins and get in the queue before we ended any further back .

By the time I took a photo, 4 boats had already began their ascent and we paired up with Rupert and Rachel who were having a holiday on their friends boat.  They were 60 ft long and getting the gates closed behind them proved a challenge.  Note that Andy and I had changed roles... the plan being that as I need to lose 2 stone, I need to do more lock work... I don't know how that will hep though as from what I've seen, it's just lots of nattering to passers by! 😉

We stopped for the night in Keithley and then completed the journey into Skipton the following morning - luckily for us we were able to moor right opposite Pennine cruisers.  Whilst it's can be a Little bit noisy until the bar closes, it's actually probably the nicest mooring in the town with very little footfall passing by the boat at night but with the bonus of being able to watch everyone else.  Including the comings and goings of the day boats.  

Pennine have 6 day boats, 2 trip boats, a chandlers and a bar and EVERYONE working there we observed is a grafter.  Including the boss man.  It's clear he leads by example and gets stuck in... in a good natured and encouraging way.  

We spent a few days in Skipton and before we left, had a pumpout.  It still annoys me that CRT self pumpout cards cost MORE than paying for someone else to do it at a boat yard does! Go figure.

We've headed off towards Gargrave now - we know we can't go up the locks but will turn and enjoy the boat free section below.  At least that was the plan... we keep getting clonked into the side as day boats go by.  It's not the end of the world.  

We took a walk up to Gargrave yesterday and it does seem strange there being no boats in the pound...

The gates have been Ashed up to reduce water leaking through - it's working as there is plenty of water up there... just seems a shame some of it is leaking over a by-wash straight back into the river a bit further down near lock 30.

Here's a panoramic view of last night's mooring... 

I think we'll stay another night and do some jobs today as it's cooler and cloudy.

Until next time...