Sunday, September 5, 2010

Out of England.

Friday 27 August. 0 & 0
Weather is fine so it's outside and give the boat a bit of a clean. Only one side gets done as the other is over water and having managed to last this long without falling in I don't want to risk it on the last day. Diana is busy inside doing cleaning and tidying. We take a look at Cockely and then back to the boat for the last Night.

Saturday 28 August
Lynn & David turn up around 1000 giving us plenty of time to put the boat to bed for a few days. By road to Worcester for lunch and then to the station. Train from Worcester to Windsor with a change at Slough. Luggage into the B&B then a walk around town and some diner before into bed. A bed that I can get into without climbing over Diana.

Sunday 29 August.
It's Bank holiday weekend and Frogmore House is open to the public. This is Queen Victoria's mother's house and it is only open twice a year so we have to go. It is outside the Castle wall, not lived in but used by the Royal's for meetings, parties etc. Bucketed with rain on the way back. Dried out at the B&B & started the packing. Weather became fine so off to town again before more packing diner and bed.

Monday 30 August
Up early. Taxi to Heathrow. Plane 30 minutes late. sit in Aeroplane for 9 hours. Unfortunately not window seats as it was daylight and the weather was fine all the way across Greenland and Canada. After passing through customs we managed to catch an earlier flight to Comox and got a message passed from the pilot to Frank who got 10 minutes warning of our arrival. So ended our time in England.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Wednesday 25 August. 6 miles, 9 locks.
Not the best day to start with 2 double staircases. Why not the best day? Well it is the height of the season for hire boats and Wednesday must be the day they all pass through Stourport going down onto the river Severn. Diana goes and sets the bottom lock while I unhook from the mooring. I enter the lock and as Diana is about to fill the lock she spies someone opening the top lock gates. They hadn't even thought about what was happening below them and were most concerned as they had a "70ft boat" and another one was behind them and 2 more boats waiting at the top. The easiest option was to back out and let the two 70-fters come down. Diana negotiated with the third boat, 60ft, to pass in the middle pond so we started up. Of the half dozen or so giving advise nobody seem to read the instructions so every time we tried to fill a lock there was not enough water so we had to cycle it down from the top. On one occasion they stopped putting water in and indicated I should move forward. I did a bit then backed off. They got the message that I would move when I was happy with the depth of water. Eventually 3 1/2 hours later, having had a delay in getting gas we were on our way. So was the rain. We stopped in Kidderminster so we could top up the generator petrol and go to the police to see if Diana's Bracelet had been handed in and make a lost items report for insurance purposes. Back on the boat to move on. one does not moor overnight in Kidderminster. Moored up at Wolverley lock. So to finish a wet day went to "The Lock" for dinner.

Thursday 26 August. 2 miles, 2 locks, 1 tunnel.
Still raining but we decide to go into the village of Wolverley. A quaint place with nice cottages and a unique tearooms/grocery/gift shop/library. On the boat for lunch and then a slow trip to the mooring. Slow because we didn't want this experience to end but end it must. Tomorrow we will pack our bags (traveling for 3 1/2 months without using a suitcase is great), tidy up the boat and, weather permitting look at the local area. Dave & Lynn will take us to Worcester on Saturday to catch a train to Windsor for a couple of nights before flying out to Canada.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just the two of us.

Tuesday 24 August. 12 miles, 3 locks.
An early start out of Worcester, well earlier than we normally get away, and it was a good decision as the wind got up later. First time I have seen white caps on the canal system. Once again we nursed the engine along and it kept going OK'ish. We are still on the river Severn, moored at Stourport just short of a series of locks to take us up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal to the end of our journey just 8 miles & 11 locks away. Had a wonder around the town which was built when the canal was built so there are no really old buildings. Diana found a 1904 carousel which she went for a ride on. Carousels are one of her things. After a couple of days with no engine drama, Dave has left us to finish the trip up the canal by our selves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A good drama to finish

Sunday 22 August. 5 miles (1 1/2 under tow), 1 lock.
A beautiful day. Tested the engine repair and all is looking good to make Upton upon Severn in time for a good mooring. Less than an hour into the day and steam everywhere, engine cover off to find the replacement part missing. Engine off, anchor out, sit and wait. Eventually a narrow boat comes alongside and tows us through a set of locks to Tewksbury. Phone call to Dave and a plan is hatched. Dave arrives at 2000 and puts fitting back on and stays the night. During the last 2 days there has been heavy rain in the Severn headwaters so there is a danger that the river will be closed which is not a nice place to have the boat.

Monday 23 August. 16 miles (0 under tow) 1 lock.
The river is not too high so off we go. A crew of three. Me (Captain) driving and Dave (engineer) watching the engine. Water bubbling all around the place for some time before it settles down and we nurse the boat up river. We stop at Upton upon Severn for a bit of a look. Nice town pity there was a down pour for the hour we were there. Continued Nursing the boat to Worcester where we will spend the night. We have 12 miles before we can get off the river and Dave will stay with us until then.

Anchor Christening

Saturday 21 August. 9 miles (1 under tow), 1 lock.
Not the best of weather but up early to go down the lock and leave the docks. Lock keeper starts at 0800. We were ready to go but a floating crane was in first and no room for us to join him. Went down about 0830 and headed up the Severn with the intention of getting to Upton upon Severn about mid day. Not many moorings there so need to be there when the overnighters leave.
This didn't happen. about 2 hours into our travels smoke starts appearing from the engine room so off with the covers, steam every where and temperature rising. Stop engine, throw the anchor out and settle down in the middle of the river. The anchor is 20 years old and this is the first time it has been used. First boat along was the big tour boat from Gloucester who slowed to enquire about our plight. He was too big to tow us. Second boat was a cruiser (plastic type, not navy) but with a 15 hp outboard he wouldn't be able to pull us. Third boat was the broad-beam boat we had been moored to in Gloucester. They came alongside and towed us about a mile to the next moorings where we tied up and settled in. the fault was that one of the new fittings installed by Dave in Gloucester had failed. After many calls to Dave we decided to replace the part with the old one and after a couple of experiments considered we had a temporary fix but it was better to wait till tomorrow to set out. So the rest of the evening was spent on the boat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Turning for home

Thursday 19th August. 4 miles, 0 locks.
Before heading off we visited the neighbours for a coffee & chat. Left after midday and then it was supermarket and domestics (emptying porta potties). Weather deteriorated so for a while I was on the back getting wet. Found Mike & Maggie moored up at their permanent mooring so pulled in in front and joined them for coffee. Weather not much so holed up for the night.

Friday 20th August. 7 Miles, 0 locks.
Set off down the canal through 2 swing bridges to Saul Junction where there was a winding hole so we could turn and head north. Generally the canal looked wide enough to turn but it would have been tight and with a reasonably strong wind I didn't fancy straddling the canal. As we approached Gloucester lock the rain bucketed down and the wind got up making holding the boat off waiting for the lock interesting. Nothing was happening so rang the keeper to see when the lock would be ready and all I got was an answer phone. At this point and with a mooring available we came alongside. Once tied up decided that would do for the day. Went to the Waterways Museum which isn't a patch on the one at Ellesmere Port.
Starting the distance to the mooring and time available calculations now the end of our boating is getting close.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gloucester Docks

Monday 16th August. 0 miles, 0 locks.

Tewksbury a very photogenic town. Well it must be as Diana took 604 photos today. She/we started at 1100 and she finished at 1800 (420 minutes later).

Tuesday 17th August. 13 miles, 2 locks.
Backed about a 100yds up the Avon so we could turn into the lock that takes us down to the level of the Severn River. All locks on the rivers have lock keepers to operate them so that helps. At the first lock on the Severn the Keeper gives you a set of instructions on how to enter Gloucester lock as the river runs quite fast past the entrance to the lock. In the lock with us was a wide beam boat who had been to Gloucester before so we followed them down the river. It rained for a while but the river was wide the trees relaxing and I enjoyed being on the boat. As we approach the lock you slow down as much as possible and have to grab at chains hanging from a wall and tie the boat to them, stern first and then the bow. Well I picked up a chain but it was longer than the rest so as I tied to it it rattled and banged around the bottom of the boat until eventually the boat stopped with the chain out of the water. So now it's time to attach the front rope. By now the bow is well out into the river so I'm trying to pull the boat in by hand and get in a position to grab another chain. Achieved this and looped the rope around the chain to find it was a broken chain. Wasn't going to try and move the boat so held on to the front by hand until the lock was opened for us. Into the lock and up to Gloucester Dock. A lovely setting where all the warehouses have been converted to apartments and new buildings built in the same style. Place was pretty full so breasted up alongside the boat we followed down the river.
As we arrived we had a call from Lala & John, friends from Bristol. They were in the area so came to meet us. They took us to a wildfowl sanctuary further down the canal at Slimbridge which we are not sure if we have time to get to. Then to Sharpness to look at the docks there and look down the Severn to the bridges in the distance. The tide was almost out and it was fascinating to see how high it had come when there had been a 9.7 mtr spring tide on Thursday causing the famous Sever Boar. After dinner in a local pub we returned to Gloucester to complete a busy day.

Wednesday 18th August. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Dave and Lynn came over to talk about there NZ trip and replace a couple of fittings on the engine. Had lunch at a Chinese "all you can eat". Don't need any tea tonight. Earlier in the day a woman came past the boat and seeing the flags asked where we were from. They have a house at Waipatiki beach about 10km north of Napier where they spend the northern winters. Then it dawned on me that they, Mike & Maggie, had been to our place to talk about boating back in 2006 or 07. They had to move off to their mooring down stream a bit so we will probably go down a see them tomorrow. The other interesting connection is that the mother of the owner of the boat we followed down yesterday was born in Taradale. So here in Gloucester dock are three boats lined up together all with a Napier connection.