Friday 17 February 2006
We left home mid morning on Friday and headed for the boat, we thought we would try Chard's route via A45 M1 but are still undecided which we prefer. We stopped at the Kings Head at Napton for lunch, it was OK’ish. Once at the boat I refiled the water system and we headed down to the lock to load up before mooring just below the lock. We had intended to stay here overnight but about 4 pm an Ownerships came up so we decided to set off and make the best of the locks they had just turned for us, we moored for the night outside the Folly and ate onboard.
Saturday 18 February 2006
There was a good frost last night but the morning was very bright and sunny, Just after 10 I set off to Braunston, Diana and the dog walked back up the flight to fetch the car and take it down to Braunston, from where she would walk to meet me. I didn't see anything on the move until I was passing Wigrams mariner where a boat waited until I passed before coming out and followed me down the Grand Union. Just before bridge 108 I caught up with 2 very slow boats and the boat from Wigrams caught me up. As soon as we got to a piece of straight the chap in front eased over and waved me by, but the next boat was not so obliging, holding the middle line until we had gone under bridge 107, once past the bends he did draw to the side slightly but didn't wave me passed, but I assumed that's what he wanted and passed him, thanking him on the way. The boat from Wigrams followed behind me and soon as we were back in the wide I eased and waved him through as I like to slow right down passing moored boats and didn't want to hold him up. I ended up following him all the way to Braunston as he slowed just as much as I do. Just as I was entering bridge 99 I could see Diana and the dog walking towards me so I stopped as it was a convenient place to get them onboard. As we approached Braunston turn there was a boat coming towards me from the Marina direction, I indicated I was turning left up the North Oxford (Not by hooting but sticking an arm out) he indicated that he was turning round and would reverse down towards the N Oxford which he did in front of me. Had the boot been on the other foot I would have stopped and let the boat going forward carry on before turning round. JennyB was outside Midland Chandlers waiting to get along side and spend some money, we'll call in next week some time. We had a very quiet run to Hillmorton, Just before we reached the long term moorings above he lock I spotted what looked like a Buzzard circling on a thermal, as I watched it went higher and higher until I was unable to see it, all without a single beat of the wings. At the Hillmorton flight one of the top locks is out of use again and we had to wait for a party of young people on a Rugby day boat to go down first, as we could see a boat about to leave the next lock we waited for them to come up before proceeding. By the last lock we were beside the day boat, as they left the second lock, with the exception of the steerer they were all on the roof and the boat looked somewhat tippy. We spotted "Nackered Navvy" moored outside the award winning waterside Bistro, but no sign of Sue and Roger. We stopped for water below the locks, again a tap that can't be recommended for speed, plenty of time to make and enjoy a cup of coffee before setting off again. As we entered Newbold tunnel the lights look quite spectacular but we had only just gone passed the second set, hoping to get a photo looking back when a 5PM they all went off, are they on a time switch to turn them off when it starts to get dark? We carried on a bit more before calling it a night just through bridge 43.
For mid February today has been wonderful, bright warm sunshine all day, we even saw a chap wearing shorts walking his dog, I just hope tomorrow is just the same.
Sunday 19 February 2006
After such a wonderful day yesterday I woke during the night to the sound of rain. The morning was very overcast with a cold wind and things didn't improve all day, We set off at 10 am towards Brinklow to wind in the original arm of the Oxford Canal just before Brinklow Arches, I swung the bows in with some trepidation expecting to stop dead in the mud, but it was no problem at all and we swung round with ease. It was now the return journey to Braunston. As we approached Newbold Tunnel I was able to see the control box and solar cell for the tunnel lights. They were on this time so I was able to get the maximum enjoyment from them. If you consider the low number of boats and walkers passing through the tunnel this time of the year, BW would save a lot of electricity if they controlled the lights by motion sensors as opposed to daylight. This would not only save them money but also reduce emissions. into the environment.
Nackered Navvy was still by the Bistro at Hillmorton and as we passed Roger thrust head and shoulders out through the window to say hello, I hope he got back in OK. There were very few boats moored along the Barby Straight this weekend compared to when we usually come this way, maybe they also enjoy cruising at quieter times of the year. We carried on to Braunston and moored a little after 4 PM just before Butchers Bridge.
Monday 20 February 2006
I didn't sleep to well last night. Firstly it didn't help knowing that I had to be up at a curtain time this morning, then I had to get up and remover the engine exhaust stack as it was rattling in the wind and finally I had forgotten just how loud the Dawn Chorus is in Braunston, it must be the lights around the marina. At 7 am I started the engine to top the batteries up and then we moved down to the Bottom Lock ready to pull out for blacking. So much for them starting work at 8, Justin wasn't due to arrive until half past and it was a bit later still before he finally showed up, about 10 o'clock we were coming up the slipway and once up he wasted no time in hitting it with 3000 psi of water. After a short discussion it was decided to fit 6 new anodes and a 4" extension on the rudder.
We decided to have a day out visiting canals by car. First stop was Buckby Top Lock to see if the locky was there as I had a message for him, then it was off to Foxton, spent £1-50 on the pay and display to see what wrg had been up to, followed by a walk along the cut then lunch in
the Locks pub now one of the BW chain of pubs. They had a good choice of beer and the portion size of the meals is good, what's more they refund the car park fee. We then headed to Calcutt to discuss a forth coming BSS examination that will be required before out trip up the Bassy, this journey took us via Beale Wharf via some well gated lanes. We finally returned to Harnser at 5 pm to find her black and shiny with the first coat of black on, but no welding as yet. Work is progressing on the new back pumping at the bottom lock with a fair size hole just below the lock, the canal has been dammed off and the lock pumped dry. I think this is the only place they are working at the moment, but for some reason the towpath is closed above the lock and shop up to the tunnel for no apparent reason as this stoppage only starts above the work site and the only footpath diversions to get this far are around the big hole. In short the tow path appears to be closed several month before its needed and this must be effecting the walkers who normally wander up to the Nelson. Last night we were on 48 hr moorings in the midst of a sea of Ownership boats, today there is even one where we were moored. I wonder if they pay to use these moorings for more than the allotted 48 hrs.?
Tuesday 21 February 2006
With the weed hatch open it was somewhat cool in bed last night. After taking the dog out for a walk it was again a case of amusing ourselves for the day. First job was a trip to Midland Chandlers to get some door catches and other odds and ends, I realised that I had left the phone on the boat so we headed back to the boatyard, when we arrived Harnser had disappeared. Do to the somewhat inclement weather they had trundled her into Rogers shed and Justin was busy getting the second coat of black on her. Having got the phone we headed off again to have a look down the Northampton Arm and then followed the GU to Old Wolverton to see where the BW lock cottage was for sale and then returned to "The Navigation" for lunch at Stoke Bruerne. The weather took a turn for the worse so a walk was discounted and we went for tea and cakes at the Shire Barns shopping centre on the A5. When we got back to the yard Harnser was again outside with not only nice shiny black but also shiny anodes just above the base plate, the rudder had grown by about 4" and the weed hatch was ready to be closed up to keep not only the water but the cold out. Then came the painful bit, passing the plastic card over to pay for it all, after which we had dinner in a virtually deserted "Nelson Public House".
Wednesday 22 February 2006
By 9-30 we were back in the water and reversing down to the marina entrance to wind and the way the weather was it was literally winding, I just stuck the stern in and the wind did the rest. Diana went back to pick the car up and drive to Napton while I headed off in that direction by boat. I met Diana coming along the towpath with Magic by the Bridge Inn so we stopped there for a light lunch. After lunch we pushed on as far as the Folly where we stopped for the night. I did a couple of little jobs, modified 2 down lighters so that they would take LED arrays as opposed to capsule lamps and fitted 2 relays to control the bowthruster, there were two reasons for this, one to prolong switch life but the main reason was I think I was suffering from volt drop in the long cable run not napping the solenoids open. It was not a successful job as one of the relays turned out to be permanently made giving starboard thrust, fine if you want to go in circles or you have a constant side wind, but otherwise useless. One point of interest. The lock cottage at Napton Bottom Lock is now up for sale.
Thursday 23 February 2006
We woke to a very unpleasant cold day with sleet, rain and a cold wind. As we started up the flight people were arriving to look round the lock cottage. Luckily for us there were several boats coming down so all the locks were with us. When we reached the top we went straight to our moorings. For some time I had not been happy with my battery performance. The voltage was falling faster than I expected. The overall voltage was not a mile out when they were full charged so I set to with a hydrometer and that soon showed that I had a problem. That night we went out for dinner with my daughter and her family in Oxford.
Friday 24 February 2006
I spent the day trying to recharge half the 24 volt battery bank that was causing my problems, after about 8 hrs of engine running with just half the bank charging from the 12 alternator the charging current had started to fall and I put the system back to normal ready for our next visit.
Saturday 25 February 2006
Ran the engine for a couple of hours and drained the potable water system before shutting up the boat and heading home.