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.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Saturday 14 August. 880 yds, 1 lock.
This mornings lock was a bit different as it is diamond shaped. Don't know why. Took the boat through with assistance from a boat waiting to come up. Down river to Pershore. A pretty village with a mix of building styles. The brochure says one of the best Georgian streets in England. We dogged showers all day. How we miss the verandas of NZ. Back to the boat and a lie down to finish the day.

Sunday 15 August. 15 miles, 3 locks.
The weather was great. They say the lower half of the Avon is the best and we would agree. Just a nice day on the water. For the sailing friends, imagine racing an 18ft trailer sailer in a river 150ft wide with 20ton steel boats going one way and plastic launches going the other way through the course. They get a lot of tacking experience but didn't see any get up to speed. We passed three sailing clubs today all with races in progress. Tonight we are at the bottom (lower end) of the Avon at Tewkesbury which is another town of varied buildings. Counting down the days trying to fit as many places in as possible.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Berry, berry nice.

Thursday 12 August. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Stayed on board this morning. A bit of a walk to supermarket and into town for a couple of photos. Back on board by 1700. I think she overdid it a bit.

Friday 13 August. 5 1/2 miles, 2 locks
Diana had a better nights sleep. Realised she will only get better by taking it easy but we all know Diana can't do that. Set off on down the Avon around lunchtime. Stopped for water and picked blackberries there. The two locks were doubles and Diana was not allowed off the boat. Arrived at the first lock which was set for going down so went straight in with the intention of waiting for another boat and crew to help. One wanted to come up so I had the help needed. Same happened at the next lock. This is working well. Third lock. A boat was coming up so I went to help and they offered to help me go down. As we talked we found out that there were no moorings where we were heading so didn't go down but moored up close to Wyre lock. We are on an Island so there is nowhere for Diana to want to go and walk tonight but there are ripe cherry plums on a tree at the door. Now I spot some blackberries as well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Diana's moving again

Wednesday 11 August. 0 miles, 0 locks.

Diana didn't have a good nights sleep, neither did I. Feeling a bit better and able to move but still in pain. taxied to the chiropractor who said her back was out a bit but she will get better slowly. "Don't over do it when you feel better." Yeh Right. Had lunch in Evesham and visited their local museum. Once again a great display of local memorabilia that they can be proud of. Back to the boat mid afternoon for a dose of pills and feet up time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Monday 9th August. 9 miles, 6 locks.

Nice to be on the move again. Down the Avon River with clear water. Can see the bottom and sometimes it's not far away. We can now do 6mph and the boat travels better at that speed. The locks on the Avon are all doubles and different. Heavy gates and nothing to spare with a 70ft boat. We paired up with a younger couple so that helped with locking. On one occasion the boat was diagonally across so the gate could be opened. Ended up at Bidford on Avon which again had a variety of manors, cottages and terraced housing from anywhere in the last 6 century's. As there are not as many places to stop on rivers we were invited to breast up alongside another boat.

Tuesday 10th August. 8 miles, 4 locks.

Went into Bidford on Avon as we had spied a nice bakery last night. Very tasty but unnecessary morning tea. Set off by ourselves with the intention of having lunch at the first lock and waiting for another boat to join us. Not necessary as at the first lock there was one waiting to go down so we joined them for the next 2 locks before they moored up leaving us to do the third by ourselves. The 4th lock had a lock keeper so that made it easier EXCEPT this is the tightest lock on the Avon (so far). Ropes needed to be pulled from various directions to hold us back from the front gate and then forward from the back gate. then open one gate and pull the boat into the middle to open the other gate. Not difficult but time consuming and I had lost the use of the crew. As we pulled into the lock Diana passed a rope to the keeper, turned awkwardly and pulled her back so she sat frozen on the front of the boat until we were through the lock and moored up downstream a bit. We were in Evesham where we had planned to stop. After several phone calls to various agencies and a 5 minute walk by me to the local small hospital I was advised to call an Ambulance. They were excellent. Paramedic did an assessment and gave us some options. A Senior Paramedic was called and when he arrived he spent over an hour working out what were the best drugs to easy the pain and get the back working again. Tomorrow will tell how successful this approach is going to be.
He wouldn't tell me when Diana would be fit for full duties!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Water, water.... non in the taps.

Friday 6 August 0 miles, o locks

Market Day so Diana's to town. I tidy up the boat then walk into the railway station to sort tickets back to Windsor on the 28th before we fly out on the 30th. Our time here is running out fast. Latter in the day was a long walk to find a supermarket before we head off down the river.

Saturday 7 August o miles, 0 locks.

No water coming through the pumps again so we are not moving today. Dave will bring a spare down in the morning. Did some more exploring in Stratford and on the way home passed a boat called Kotuku. Must be kiwis so made ourselves known. Turns out to be a guy from Christchurch I had been in contact with in 2006 when we were looking at buying and he was building at the time. He had a kiwi couple with him, one of which is an Air Traffic Controller in Auckland. I had heard of him, must have come across him but didn't remember where. Had a couple of drinks on the tow path. Shower came through so in the good english fashion we put the brollies up and stayed outside.

Sunday 8 August 0 miles, 0 locks.

Dave fixed the pump in the morning. There was a steam boat festival on so decided to stay. Only two steam boats but the Avon was alive. Nice day so every one was out at least half a dozen tour boats and 20 or so rowing boats and motor dingies going all day along with narrow boats and plastic cruiser coming and going. Spent the afternoon listening to a Brass Band playing in the park. Talked to a couple who swap their boat and are keen to come to NZ again. Boats probably a bit small, 48ft, for us.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Bard country

Wednesday 4 August. 2 miles, 5 locks.
Brings us into the basin at Stratford on Avon. Nice setting full of activity. Right in the middle of the tourist industry. It was a bit windy when we moored up and the pontoons were short so the boat had about 25ft unsupported catching the wind. A bit uncomfortable at times. Wondered around the centre of town and a meal at one of the many pubs. Wind dropped for the night.

Thursday 5 August. 200yds, 1 lock.
In the morning the wind was getting up again so bought a licence to go on the Avon river so we could moor alongside the bank. I had it worked out how to use the wind to turn the boat in the small basin. Guess what? wind changed direction to the other side just as we let go. We made it out through the lock and moored up on the river opposite The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. One of the great things about boating is the places you can stop. The Butterfly farm was the feature of the day. Very good but not as good as Melbourne Zoo's butterfly's. A few more pictures a bit of walking and the day is over.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Down hill to Stratford

Sunday 1 August. 3 miles, 11 locks.
I took the morning off while Diana walked a couple of miles to look at "Packwood House". A National Trust Tudor House. She thought it was well worth the walk. Mid afternoon we moved through Kingswood junction. An interesting short canal joining the Grand Union with the Stratford-on-Avon canal. Once again boats everywhere going in many directions up and down locks. It is now high season with summer holidays and there is an increase in hire boats on the canals with many first timers. Once through the junction it is down hill to Stratford-upon-Avon. With 11 of the 35 locks done we stopped for the night in a country setting 1/2 mile south of Lowsonford. Sorry no post code, using an older guide for the rest of our trip. The boat has developed a bit of a problem with the fresh water pumps not working.

Monday 2 August. 6 miles, 7 locks.
Started the day consulting Dave on the pump problem and trying several things. Can't fix the problem so Dave will meet us this afternoon to sort it. Trundle off and the pump starts working. Cancel visit by Dave. Take a walk into Wootton Wawen as it is designated a conservation area. Nothing out of the ordinary but did walk around Wootton Hall, a large country house where a big transportable homes development is. Most interesting looking at this concept that is not in NZ. Stopped in the middle of the sticks. Pump not working. Also found a leaking pipe in engine water system. Another call to Dave in the morning.

Tuesday 3 August. 3 miles, 11 locks.
Nursed the boat a mile down canal to the nearest road intersection which happened to be Wilmcote the home of Shakespeare's mother. Dave arrives and gets the pump going, well for a while anyway. Problem is a loose wire inside the pump so it is intermittent. At least I know what to fiddle with to make it go until we can get a replacement fitted. The engine fault required a bit more thought but by the end of the day we have a temporary patch. Time will tell. Diana wondered off into Wilmcote but didn't go int Mary Arden's house as we had been before and she thought it quite expensive at 9 quid. Late afternoon with boat fixed we decided to move a short distance as we were moored close to a wasp nest. The nest had been killed but still a lot of wasps around. Next place we found to moor was 11 locks away on the outskirts of stratford. At least we have now done 29 of the 35.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baddesley Clinton.

Saturday 31 July. 2 miles, 0 locks.
Moved up to Kingswood Junction. Walked a mile or so to a National Trust Property at Baddesley Clinton. Interesting architecture as the place was started in the 15th century and had all sorts of alterations and additions over the years all in the stile of the times. It's main feature was that it still had a moat.