Wednesday 30 October 2019

GOOD luck for a change...

Righty ho... 'bless me father for I have sinned - it's been WAY too long since my last confession post'

Here we are then... a fair bit of time has elapsed but things HAVE actually gone well and Karma has finally restored the balance somewhat!

To bring you up to speed,  you last found me 'sulking' when I bent the Skeg in Gargrave locks...  undeterred, the guest (a solo lady traveler) and I carried on to our final destination which was Nelson.  I was pretty much single-handing all the way as due to the size and strength (or lack of I suppose) it meant she was unable to do much crew work - no matter... I just got back into the routine (after aforementioned skeg incident) of taking things slower and being more methodical ... it IS perfectly dooable (swing bridges a side on a windy day) and is STILL the best (non) job you could ever wish for.

The journey was really autumnal and we encountered some lovely early morning mists up on the "curly Wurlies"...

I'm still struggling with portion control (I can really only cook for 3 or 4 people ) - (3 being a meal for 4 split 3 ways) lol...

It appears overseas guests generally don't eat 'toad in the hole' - well that's "abroad's" loss I say lol 

We made good progress "up and over" the top and because of the break in the weather, I was even able to do a bit of touching up port side before we began our descent of Barrowford Locks into Nelson.

SOON to be scraped off again but if you don't keep on top of it, the boat just looks messy ALL the time (rather than just most of it).

On arrival at Nelson (which was to be the final guest changeover point) we were lucky enough to get moored for our final night on the secure (ish) mooring behind Morrisons - secure but noisy as it turned out the local "yoof" gather in the car park in their cars to play bloody awful boom boom music and take drugs socialise!

After a loud night, we said our farewells and I continued on to Reedley Marina where I'd booked in for 2 nights (given the alternator wasn't back and I had the usual 5 loads of washing and drying to do - being plugged into shoreline was a better plan than putting such a strain on the starter alternator and using the genny to top up etc)... 

The only mooring available was the online one near the diesel point ... it WAS blooming expensive though - they charged me £48 for 2 nights stay - treating it as 3 days because it was technically 2 nights and 2 hours... grrr  AND I needed to pay another 10 quid for electric (which I won't have used up)...  - just felt a bit tight of them but hey ho... it's a business I suppose.

As visitor moorings go it was ok - just a bit annoying that the residents tended to gather on the benches outside the boat and smoke... it's their home I suppose so I just has to suck it up and make the best of it - They WERE a really nice and friendly bunch which distracted me from the ash tray smell wafting into the boat lol.  I did notice Lady Teal (the proper posh hotel boat) was already tied up for the winter there - I did keep a look out for the owners to say hello but they were no where to be seen... perhaps next time.

My final guests of the season arrived at the boat earlier than planned which was good and once we'd dismantled a wheel chair to make it fit in the rear locker, it meant we could set off and work our way up through Barrowford locks before nightfall - spending our first night together moored in the same place I'd just touched up the paint work a few days before... alas, it was TOO chilly to do the starboard side so that remains scruffy looking lol.

The weather was much kinder than of late as we made our way through Foulridge Tunnel and on to Greenberfield locks .

Once over the top you tend to meet up with hire boaters and we shared Bank Newton locks with a smashing and capable couple on a Silsden boat - (generally Silsden boaters are a bit ... well, not so capable if you follow but this pair were ace).  WE made very good progress with them and decided to get down to Gargrave pound whilst the weather was nice.

Having spent a quiet night in Gargrave, next morning we were up and off early as I'd alerted Pennine cruises we'd be at their boat yard by 2pm in the hope they would be able to sort out the skeg - truth be known, I'd gotten used to it by now but realised it would not be "healthy" for the rudder cup so it DID still need doing.

we stopped off briefly in Skipton for lunch and then chugged down (and past in order to turn around near the Rendezvous Hotel) - ahem, the water there is shallower than it looks and I got stuck for about half an hour as a result of trying NOT to snag the TV ariel in the trees - school boy repeated error ...  not the end of the world just a lot of poling and swearing.

Once back at the boat yard, we pulled in and waited for them to remove a boat from the lift to let us on.  I must say the whole operation could not have been more swiftly (and efficiently) done ... perhaps more importantly, all with a smile and genuine willingness to "help".

The boat lift was quite interesting to watch and Ian (the boss man/owner) took charge - in no time, Ellis was floating in mid air and the bent skeg in view - not a big bend... about an inch but an inch that made a difference 

The solution was to use a bit of scaffold pol wedged under the rudder cup/skeg and then gently lower the boat down on the lift to bend it straight again...  a skillful but quick resolution.

They even cut the crud off the prop that I'd been ignoring for a couple of days while it was there...

When the boat was safely back in the water I went to discuss payment with Ian - assuming I'd go into the shop and pay whatever he wanted... you could have knocked me down with a feather when he just held out his hand to shake mine and said "no charge... you've had a rough year .. chin up" - Me being quite an emotional sort began to fill up with tears...  genuinely shocked by the kindness shown - in fact, I'm filling up again now as I write this.  He ALSO presented me with a home-made new tiller pin to replace the missing "Tilly"...  Truly grateful and humbled, we reversed out and were back in town within an hour.

Calling in at the shop to top up with diesel and buy some more coal, I enquired whether he had a favorite tipple... one of the lads said that he likes a bottle of Caol Isla (spelling might be wrong) but that I'd not be able to get it in Skipton...  well he was wrong cause within an hour I'd found the Whiskey/Gin posh shop and returned with a bottle to express my gratitude for sorting me out... not so much the work but the KINDNESS shown if you follow...  Kindness going a long way with me... more so since my mum died I suppose.

ANYWAY - That's now done and  now we had 2 nights free in Skipton.    

NEXT on the list (which had to wait until Friday) was getting a train back to 'Auto Spot' in Keighley to collect the (now repaired) Aux alternator...  that went without hassle (although they don't take card so I needed to find a cash point once there) - 190 quid later I was back on the train and getting ready to refit it ... in the rain of course!

The limitations of the Brolly DID mean I ended up with a very wet left leg but it's all done now and "proper" mains power has been restored... Tumble drying can re-commence (and has done) and I've secured (but left connected) the 'Heath Robinson' joint charging cable... for next time just in case it happens again... either way!

Boyd (however you spell it) by my recent Karma repayments, I even got in the mood to play Rummikub again... AND I won!!!   TWICE!

I'll leave it here for now as the sun has just sneaked out so I'm going to head out for some fresh air - this is only a couple of days behind current events so I'll come back to this tomorrow morning before I begin looking at my winter chores list.

Until next time...

oh - btw...  here's the gifted tiller pin from Pennine Cruisers 

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Bent Skeg/Rudder tube,,,

Ellis is really sulking with me at the moment... she's certainly stamping her feet (well if she had them) and letting it be known she wants some TLC.

Today - whilst single-handing up Gargrave locks (I forget which one it was) I took my eye off the ball for too long and the boat was pushed back to the gate and rather than the rudder being perpendicular, it ended up straight on - WHICH Meant because it sticks out farther (further?) than the fender, the rudder/skeg/tube took the full impact of a 16 tonne boat being pushed back by the water coming in at the other end...

This kind of thing is a risk when single handing - it's never been a problem before as one of us has always been on the boat and thus kept it's position stable... .it's just very very hard to do this on your own with wide locks - ergo, I misjudged the force and the damage was done.

It's not the end of the world...  I STILL have full steering (so at least I know the rudder is still in the cup) but it's VERY stiff - on the plus side, it acts a bit like cruise control lol.

I'm annoyed with myself -  not to worry ... having spoken with Ian of Pennine cruisers he did say he would come out to the boat if I wanted him to  and have a go at sorting it IN the water... more easily though would be to put the boat on his lift and do it out of the water when I return in 9 days time... SO - I'm gonna limp my way over to Nelson and back and have him wallop it with his big hammer then.

Meanwhile, the Heath Robinson charging regime is holding up ok - apparently things go wrong in 3s so I should be looking over my should for the grim reaper before I retire tonight.

Until next time..  If I live!

Tuesday 15 October 2019

190 quid repair... and hmmmf...

So then - having taken the alternator to an auto electricians in Keighley, they phoned to say they had sent it off for repair (it being too complex for them) and the good news is it could be done for £190... and should have been back to their shop today (Tuesday) in Keighley...

SO - having left it as long as I could, I bought a return from Skipton and set off - I'd phoned at lunch time but the van hadn't arrived by then but "is usually here by 4 mate"...

Half past 3 I got on the train... arrived at the shop by 4.15 only to discover when they phoned to check that it had been put on the van but no label on the box - ERGO it was now heading it's way back to the specialist and they only get deliveries /collections Tuesday and Fridays... 

SO - it's plan f for now...  f being a rude word than rhythms with book!

It's a good Job my heath Robinson method of using the starter alternator goes some way towards keeping the batteries charged -   Tomorrow, we're heading off from Skipton and up to the curly wurlies ... the alternator will have to wait until I head back down this way in 10 (ish) days time.

MEANWHILE - I've booked into Reedley Marina for my final turn round of this season ... to wash and tumble dry on the mains again... it makes it so much easier.

Until next time...

Sunday 13 October 2019

OH stop your moaning...and a buggered Alternator!

Look, I've already explained... time is short due to fast turn arounds and me now doing dark blue AND light blue jobs (due to the aforementioned recent single-dom)...

When I do get a few hours to myself, they are occupied by trying to keep in touch with the world of boater forums and non-boaty friends...either that, or having a bit of a clean  OR (as in the most recent bloody annoying case which I'll come to shortly), FETTLING things that need attention.

So then,

I left you sitting at the top of Bingley waiting for my next guest to join me...  This was Simon the CRT volunteer who'd already been on a couple of times with me since Andy's departure to help out as crew - it seemed weird for me to "doff my cap" so to speak and look after him... (as anyone who has been aboard/knows me will agree,  subordination does not come naturally to me lol)...

Anyway - we had an easy and pleasant enough run along to skipton - the wind at times being a bit of a pig but between us, we managed the (WAY TOO NUMEROUS) swing bridges with out much problem..  Simon was keen to spend some more time at the helm which gave me an opportunity to Kingfisher spot - a few were areound but as usual, never close (or slow) enough for me to get a decent photo...

Our trip was bascially Bingley to Skipton for an over night and then on to Grargrave and back the next day... The weather the next day being nothing better than bloody awful - folk  keep saying there is no such thing as bad weather just wrong clothing... having worn my way through all my waterproofs I'm inclinced to think that's a load of cobblers .

Anyway - once back in Skipton rather than get off ready for the next guests to arrive, he stayed on for another couple of days as crew and that gave me chance to get revenge ease off the hosting a bit whilst he picked up the slack.

The guests who arrived were thinking about buying a boat so wanted to play around for a couple of days on someonhe eleses - a good idea ... and probably part of what lead me to begin this "live-aboard" experience in the first place...  when we were looking at getting a boat, it was either hire or hotel - nothing in between...  without blowing smoke up my own harris, I'm the perfect "middle ground"...  I just keep HAVING to remind some folks about me NOT being a HOTEL!!!!!

This trip was a taster I cobbled together that took us to Gargrve (and back) and then to Kildwick (and back)... the weather once again was not very good but we battled on.  Simon giving them locking instructions ... "best practice" rather than "practical boating" but at least it meant I didn't have to be climbing up and down ladders - ergo, I let him get on with it .

Once moored for or final night, we cracked open some lemonade (for Simon) and the grown ups went on to Gin / Wine... and played a game that Vickie (a recent guest) had left for us - it was blooming hard but a great laugh so thanks for that Vickie ... we'll force you  encourage you to play it next year when you come back.

When they left the following morning (complete with hangovers) I had another frantic same day turn around and even got Simon roped in to cleaning the bathroom room lol... once done, he beggared off home and a Lady and her daughter came aboard earlier than planned - it being a sunny day I phoned to suggest if they were in the town already, we might set off earlier and get to Bingley before tea-time... the next days weather forecast being a bit rotten... 

They were happy to oblige so I cobbled together a quick ham sandwich to take the edge off their hunger, and off we set to Bingley ... arriving by tea time as planned so we were in the queue to go down first thing...

Once safely through the locks (btw - the Bingley crew are brilliant) I put them back to work on the locks at Dowley Gap staircase....  

Once again, this was a short trip which ended at Apperley Bridge - Luckily for me, I was able to get moored alongside the Marina when it closed and able to "plug in" to shoreline for laundry turn around ...  

Next day, after ANOTHER rapid turn around, we set off with 2 new guests - Skipton Bound once more...  The triple stair case at Field locks is getting worse though and it took a fair bit of buggering about to get up...  Still we made it ok. 

Once in Skipton, we tried a couple of ales in the Boathouse Bar and also the Narrowboat - where I tried a few pints of Amnesia ... I THINK I liked it... !!!  😁

When they left the following morning, I did another rapid clean and then set off BACK to Shipley in readiness to collect the penultimate guest of this season... (well unless I do a few 2 nights from Wakefield over the Christmas period - un decided about them yet...)

The wind was still blowing a hoolie and 21 swing bridges head sent me in to a bit of a downer... I won't dwell on that day - suffice to say, on arrival at Bingley again, I collapsed in a heap.

Oddly, things then went down hill further... 

Half way down the Bingley 3, I nipped in to put the kettle on (electric one when the engine is running) and noticed the engine didn't "dip" ... on checking the battery status, I also noticed they were lower than when starting an hour earlier.  It looked like the Auxiliary alternator (the 175 amp one) had packed in...

Once at the bottom, I tied up, went into the engine hole and checked connections etc... All ok so I grabbed my amp meter and discovered bugger all output from the alternator... 

I do have RCR membership but my first port of call was Pennine Cruises in Skipton - the boss bloke being a proper boater... alas, they didn't have a suitable one in stock...  SO reluctantly, I called RCR, only to be told that as it's the auxiliary one not the starter one, it's not classed as a break down and they passed me to their "contracting division"...  who sent me through a quote to supply and fit a replacement...  £695  to include 5 hours labour!!!

Well, having taken the thing off myself in less than half an our, I decided against that option... AND on the recommendation of Wendy's Eddie, got a train to Keighley and took it to an Auto-shop who have sent it away for assessment and (hopefully) repair....  I'll find out tomorrow if it's repairable... if not, I'll bite the bullet and get the like for like part from the engine mariniser so at least I know I wont need to bugger around with brackets etc... (well in theory).

Noting the batteries were now quite low (thank you fridge/ freezer and heating) - I panicked a bit and rushed off to Screw fix to buy a little genny to charge them - I'm actually very pleased with the little thing.. only 700watts and 8kg but is easy to start and once I'd reduced the output of the combi charger to 45amps it works fine.

Once tied up for the day in Shipley, I went digging around in my box of bits and bobs and found some old jump-lead cable which I bastardized with a little modification became a temporary charging lead from the Starter battery to the Aux bank (them already sharing the negative)...  ONCE the genny had gotten them back to a reasonable level, I connected this up so that when I chug along, they'll charge - albeit it at a slower rate than normal... the crocodile clip enables me to simply unplug the starter circuit when I stop the engine so as not to end up with a flat starter battery - although if I forget, I do have a back up plan with my starter pack !

I'm currently sitting in Shipley awaiting a gap (hopefully) in the rain to chug up to Saltaire and collect the guest due after lunch...  and then we'll set off  Bingley bound ready to ascent again tomorrow.

Until next time...

Thursday 3 October 2019

Back to Back trips suck...

Well not the trips as such, just the shortage of "days" in between them... 1 day minimum is normally tough enough but on 2 occasions, I've only same day change overs (due to me being amenable when asked to squeeze in a trip on planned 'down days')... I can't complain because they HAVE been my own doing...

Rewind a bit -  Having left Rodley with the Ozzies, the weather deteriorated rather considerably... in fact it was bloody awful - wet and windy and the trip up to Saltaire was grim at best.  Peter and I worked well together though on the locks in the rain and we tied up on the visitor moorings in Shipley (for the night) before moving on to the 6 hour ones in Saltaire the following day... Peter now taking the helm and realizing how difficult it can be to stay in a straight line!

After a day to explore Saltaire, we chugged on up Dowley Gap locks and moored for the night outside the Fisherman's pub... WHERE Peter and Lois insisted we went for tea - their treat...  who am I to refuse  a night off cooking!

It was actually quite nice grub - decent portions and not too expensive either...  

The final days chugging took us on to Bingley and up the 3 and then 5 rise

Once at the top, we moored up and this was the end of their cruise  - they heading off the following morning for a trip down to London and subsequent flights home to Oz... I did make a bit of an effort and cobbled together a nice dessert for us (We don't normally have "pudding" ) and it was well received.

We'd had quite a nice time - and our conversations had covered everything from Brexit to Euthanasia - the latter being something of rather high importance to Lois.  

I asked her if I could mention this in my blog as I found her views on it most enlightening and fascinating.

You see, this lady is in the early stages of dementia with her short term memory getting ever worse... as a former nurse, she knows what's coming... and at 79, she has decided to take steps to prepare to end her own life when she no longer feels useful... either to herself or anyone else.  

She's talked very candidly about joining the Australian version of "dignitas" and also gathering together the drugs we will need to "end her own suffering" before she gets to the point when she can't.

Initially it seemed a most uncomfortable area of discussion but when you stop to think about it, it does actually make perfect sense...  During the trip, she'd asked me to take a few photos of her for her "funeral wall" - which is a 'thing' they do in Australia...  put loads of photos up at funerals to show different stages of her life ... to some extent I suppose we did the same with my mum - my dad cobbled together a collage of photos of mum"through the ages" that sat on a table at the bun fight.

What particularly stood out, was the ease at which her and her old mate Peter talked about it - her deteriorating memory and at no point were our discussions morbid - perfectly matter of fact and at times very funny.  She wanted to help with cooking and washing up etc and as a result, 4 of my 6 long handled teaspoons have "gone missing"...  they may be wrapped in towel or for all I know, now safely back in Oz in her kitchen... no matter... 

It's made me think that rather than that vote on Brexit Mr Cameron screwed up on, we'd have been better off having a vote on legalizing assisted dying in the UK - we don't let animals suffer the same way we do our  oldies...  AND at least a referendum on Euthanasia is something the electorate would have actually understood!

Anyway - Lois is still hoping that the Oz government actually approves the bill before she HAS to take matters in to her own hands..

It's a funny old world.

So - they left after breakfast and I had "my day off" - which consisted of 4 loads of washing/tumble-drying and 5 trips up and down the hill from Crossflats to the supermarkets in Bingley...  easy walking DOWN the hill but less so on the return weighted down with shopping. 

Bingley is actually a better town for shopping than I thought - it's just he walk up the hill that spoils it. 

Once the shopping and laundry was completed, I cleaned the boat and ready for my next guest who joined me the following morning...  When we headed off towards Skipton and then to Gargrave.  

Until next time...