Warning, Diesel Thieves Are About

Love this ‘tweet’ from BBC Weather: “Noticed how much lighter it’s getting yet? We’re racing to more daylight with an extra 2 mins today on yesterday. By 21st Jan it’ll be up to a rate of 3 mins/day!” That’s a cheery thought on a grey day such as today!

Last night’s fog had lifted by the time we rose at around 7:00 am. We were soon on our way to Hawkesbury Junction for Elsan and Rubbish services.

We bumped into one of the boaters we’ve met quite a bit on our travels around the Oxford and Coventry canals, after telling him we were on our way to Braunston, probably staying overnight at Ansty, he gave us some good advice. He said to be careful as he’d just had some diesel stolen from his boat’s diesel tank. He wasn’t sure whether the crime was at Ansty or Brinklow, though his friend had recently lost about 100 litres of diesel, siphoned out of his boat’s tank at Ansty. Since hearing that, John’s now locked our tank; I know we should have done this anyway, it’s a bad habit we’ve got into. Think from now on we’ve got to be more careful.

There were ‘some’ anticipation that the day might brighten up, but it wasn’t a ‘real’ prospect.

Despite the ‘grey’ day, it’s a different world cruising along the canal, while the ‘rest’ of the world is busy rushing about. In the pic, we’re just about to sail under the M69 motorway.

We passed Ansty’s ‘resident’ geese. They’re looking very well too.

Think we’ve had enough water now, the Oxford is full!

One boater and….  

….his dog! (Who’s never far away).

John didn’t want to moor at Ansty, he said the towpath was too muddy, he was right, though I think there’s more to that decision.

Eventually we’ve moored next to the Trent Valley Railway line. The trains are quite close, though with Cyan’s hatches battened down, the noise of the trains is not a problem. What’s good about being here is that the towpath is hardly used, especially by bikes, so it’s relatively mud free.

Bright January Day, And The Birds Are Singing!

We’d moored for the night at the other side of the bridge from the CRT Yard at Hartshill. At 10:40 am we pulled Cyan back through the bridge and mooring on the wharf, to wait for an arranged 11:00 am Tesco delivery. It’s a perfect spot for a delivery as just beyond the hedge on the left, is a public car park, it’s an easy delivery for the driver. There’s something really cool about having a Tesco delivery popped through Cyan’s side hatch, and straight into the galley.

While waiting for the delivery, I was fascinated watching a cheeky robin. He closely inspected Cyan, which was obviously an ‘intruder’ on his patch. He hopped up and down the length of Cyan, then he hopped onto the roof, then he hopped onto the chimney cowl for several seconds. I was just about to shoo him off, just in case he burnt himself because the fire was lit, when he flew off. He’d spotted John looking down the lane on look-out for a Tesco home delivery van. The robin landed a couple of feet from John, hopping around him, like he was studying him. What characters these funny robins are.

As soon as the delivery was ‘shoe horned’ into Cyan, John untied Cyan’s mooring ropes and cruised a little distance to the turning hole at Mancetter, famous for reputedly being the site of Queen Boudicca’s last stand against the Romans. After Cyan was turned around, we came back to the yard (obviously on the other side of the canal), and moored up for a short time at the water point. We know the water has a good flow here, rather than filling at the slow flow at Hawkesbury. We’ve also got to consider that if the weather freezes again, perhaps the tap at the next water point might be frozen.

For the most part the weather has been brilliant today, and it was a joy to cruise while listening the birds singing. They were obviously enjoying the sun too.

The surrounding area next to Star Cruisers looks to be changing fast. It looks highly probable a housing development is being built.

Where have all the boats come from? Those four boats weren’t moored by the bridge near Springwood Haven Marina on Tuesday morning – there’s hardly been movement on the canal. One of the boaters had his garden chair out on the towpath, and was sprawled almost horizontal as he and his dog enjoyed the warmth of the sun, with a beer.

From what I’ve read from several comments, the area of the Coventry that passes through Nuneaton is renown as NOT being a ‘thing’ of beauty. The pollution is pretty harsh.

We cruised past this scum of oil/diesel/whatever. It’s pretty horrendous, and such a terrible shame for the local wildlife.

In the pic below, you can just about see the oily film on the murky water. The water should be bright and shiny.

(Not connected to the above!) We passed the ‘Oil Boat’; the trader sells engine oil (for about) £65 for 25 litres of 15W40 oil. Works out as £13 for a 5 litres. We’ve just paid £25.75 for 5 litres at Springwood Haven Marina! At the motor factors before Christmas, John paid £15 for 5 litres. Plus the ‘Oil Boat’ will take your used oil (free) if you buy (fresh) oil from him. That sounds like a good deal!

Tonight we’re moored by Hawkesbury Junction, and we’re on our way to Rugby for a few days. Looking forward to meeting family in Rugby next week.

What A Grey Day!

What a Gay Grey Day! Well I suppose we are in Nuneaton, so it would be fitting to channel tones of Larry Grayson.

Happy to see there’s been a thaw overnight, though slithers from sheets of ice are still floating in the water.

We left Springwood Haven Marina after paying our hefty invoice. Hopefully this will be the last heavy raid on our bank account for quite a while. We now need to get our finances back on track. Still, we’re very pleased with Cyan’s upgrades.

The new fridge/freezer is much noisier than the old one, and we live in hope that our subconscious mind will soon blank the humming from our ‘conscious ears’. The manufacturer, Shoreline, mentions the noise levels in their blurb, and they credit the higher sound levels to the new non-CFC gasses that are now having to be used.

We passed this cruiser while it was ‘almost’ afloat, and listing rather badly on the Coventry around about last November time. We remember there were about 10 full sheets of marine ply laying on the roof, and us thinking that perhaps the heavy weight was sinking the boat.

A couple of weeks later, we passed the cruiser again, only this time it was ‘under water’. Someone told us the owner was having ‘problems’, and he couldn’t afford to pay to have the boat salvaged/disposed of. A quote from CRT, and from the fire brigade, was in the £100s. We’re rather surprised to see the boat still submerged, and without any warning notices; warning boaters of the hazard.

Suppose this is where some of our CRT licence money is being used, removing wrecks from canals. Not sure what CRT can do to resolve this?

We’re now moored just past the CRT yard at Hartshill. Tomorrow we’ve a date with Mr Tescos, he’s bringing us a big shop, as we’re stocking up ready for our next adventure.

Frozen To The Bones!

Before we got out of bed this morning, we knew the Coventry had frozen over, there was that telltale cracking sound around 3:30 am, caused by Cyan slightly rocking and breaking the ice.

Cyan’s engine was gently kicked into action just after 9:00 am, and she was ‘ticked over’ through roughly 250 metres of ice to the wharf at Springwood Haven. After mooring, the first thing John did was to buy a 5 litre can of oil, to top up Cyan’s engine. We’ve had no sun at all today, so Cyan’s engine has had to be started 3 times today to top up the batteries – and all without losing a drop of oil.

There were three ‘jobs’ we needed doing at Springwood Haven Marina:

First was to test the gas pressure of the new gas cooker as the oven and hob didn’t look to be getting hot enough. A problem was found (glad about that, because I thought it might have been my imagination, or that I’d picked a duff cooker). The gas pressure was found to be low (think the reading was about 32mb), after having a new gas pressure regulator fitted, the gas pressure is now reaching around 42mb. Box ticked!

Second was to have the old 12v fridge/freezer swopped for a new one. Box ticked!

Thirdly, Cyan was tested for her Boat Safety Scheme Certificate – pleased to say she passed. Box ticked!

John had a good ‘natter’ with the Boat Safety Examiner, and he was left with a much better insight into exactly what the Scheme is all about.

There was little bit of consternation; in the CRT’s reminder email, it said, quote:

“According to our records your current Boat Safety Scheme certification expires on 31/03/2018.

BSS examinations are best done two months before the expiry of the old certificate. If your boat passes first time, the examiner is able to forward-date your new certificate so that it runs for four years from the expiry of your current certificate.”

We understood the email to mean that the new certificate will be dated from 31/03/2018. Not so, the Certificate will be dated two months from today’s date.

Today I received a reply to an email I sent to CRT about diesel spillage in the Canal, possibly from a badly listing boat. The reply said:

“Thank you for your email and informing us of the issue. We are actually aware if this issue and the local team and the Environment team attended the site on Friday.

Kind regards and have a nice day,”

Sounds like they already knew about the problem, but I don’t think it hurt to have emailed them.

We’re staying put for tonight on Springwood Haven’s wharf, tomorrow we’ll top up with diesel and water and make for a rendezvous with Mr Tesco at the CRT Yard/Clock Tower. Providing of course the Canal isn’t frozen over. The weather forecast predicts the temperature will be slightly above freezing.

All being well, we’ll make for a leisurely trip to Braunston before the stoppage starts at Butler’a Leap on 5th February.

No Use Crying Over Spilt Oil!

Yesterday John changed the oil and filter on Cyan’s Isuzu engine. All was well prepared, and the job was soon finished!

John started the engine, where it jumped into life, and ran sweetly. It still ran sweetly when John revved up the engine to test it. Brilliant, ‘job done’!

At about 4:00 pm, we turned on the engine to charge the batteries. All going well…. until…. in the far distance I could hear an alarm. It was a cold day yesterday, so we’d battened down the hatches. Thought, I’d better investigate, and was horrified to find it was the engine’s alarm screaming, with its bright red oil warning light glowing. Not good!

Once John was in the engine hole, it was obvious all the 6 litres of oil had spewed out into the container under the engine! Frantic, we wondered what had happened. The filter product number was checked against the old one: and yes that was exactly the right filter. Perhaps the new filter was faulty? John had bought 3 filters, and 10 litres of oil when he was at the motor factors, so he tried another filter. The filter’s gasket was lubricated with petroleum gel before screwing on the filter. John poured in the remaining 4 litres of oil, then started up the engine, and was annoyed to find that filter was spewing out oil too (think another litre of oil was lost).

Head scratching… think we’d best put the old filter back on. At this point the problem dawned. The used oil filter didn’t have it’s gasket attached. What had happened; the old gasket was left in place, while the new gasket and filter was screwed on top of it = the filter now had 2 gaskets, where the oil had leaked out.

John spent 3 hours this morning (penance I’d say) mopping up 7 litres of new oil from under the engine. All of the disposable nappies bought for the purpose of catching oil drips while changing oil have now been used.

Luckily, today we’ve had wall-to-wall sunshine since 9:00 am., and thanks to the 3 solar panels on the roof, the batteries have been on ‘float’ for most of the day so the engine hasn’t had to be run.

Tomorrow we’ve got an appointment with Springwood Haven Marina, where we’ll buy more oil to top up the engine. At the moment we think the engine has about 3 litres of oil, half of the 6 litres it takes.

Luckily we’ve only got a short journey to go, before Cyan gets her oil!

What have we learnt today:

a) to make sure the old oil filter gasket doesn’t get left behind, best use a mirror on a stick to double check

b) buy enough oil, and pampers, just in case there’s a problem

c) it’s a good idea to do a DIY oil change midweek and within walking distance of a chandlers.

d) it doesn’t do any good to panic!

We’ve got our fingers crossed for tomorrow, hoping Cyan passes  her safety certificate inspection.

BTW environment note; not a drop of oil from Cyan reached the canal (thank goodness).

Waking Up In A Cold Boat

Did we missed the fire this morning! We let the fire go out yesterday so we could re-position the baffle that fell down in the stove after a bit of a hard bump Cyan received while manoeuvring around an obstacle.

After starting up the central heating boiler, it was hardly worth going back to bed, so consequently we had an early start to the day. The weather looked promising, hardly a breath of breeze, a very welcome change.

This morning we cruised to our planned spot, which was just before Springwood Haven Marina. Passing the tree I mentioned in an earlier post, that’s full of catkins. This time the camera was to hand so I could capture the sight:

Just love the thought that maybe, just maybe, nature is starting to stir.

It was also good to feel a bit of warmth from the sun on our backs for a change.

But the best bit of the day; was hearing a thrush singing his very best song from a branch next to the Coventry. In fact there were quite a few birds singing, probably they’re delighted to be out and about after hiding from the fierce winds we’ve recently experienced.

We had a short break from our cruise while I popped into Sainsburys for some fresh milk, bread and a packet of disposable baby’s nappies. Think I’d better clarify what the nappies are for 🙂 , John requested the nappies for the purpose of mopping up any spilt oil from the oil change he’s about to do. He’s now got enough ‘nappies’ to last him for umpteen oil changes, over several years!

We were concerned with a large amount of diesel on a part of the canal. Concern started to be further aroused after we passed a moored boat that was listing rather badly, it looked like there were no sign of life on board, though there were bags of coal on the roof. Beyond this boat, there were also a lot of diesel spillage in the water. (A quick email was sent to CRT to put my mind at rest, so now it’s up to CRT to decide whether it’s ‘something or nothing’.)

We moored just in time before a sharp shower of rain. After a cup of coffee, and a couple of freshly bought donuts, we set too to sort out the stove. I stayed inside Cyan, removing the baffle, and fire bricks, before I wrapped the stove with an old towel to keep any soot/dust inside the stove. John was outside in the rain, giving the flue and the chimney a good brushing (no more than a 10 minute job). After a good cleanup, inside and outside of Cyan, the stove once again has a roaring fire!

While in the ‘mood’ John mended the eco fan; he managed to banish the infuriating ‘tick tick tick’ as the blades spin round.

Cruised To Hawkesbury Junction, And Then Back…

Woke rather late this morning; it’s probable we were catching up on the sleepless night we had the night before, thanks to Storm Eleanor.

After the fire was sorted, tea brewing in the teapot, and John still with his head under the duvet, Rusty and I wrapped up warm for a short walk. The weather was dry, and breezy, with a wind coming (uncharacteristically for a January), from the South/West. When we got back, John was up and dressed, he’d made the bed, and had a mug of tea waiting for me (bless him).

Re our fridge saga, during a phone call, and a haggle, to Springwood Haven Marina yesterday, they agreed to meet the price for a new fridge as offered by Ely Boat Chandlers. So to cut a longish story short; on Monday we’ve to be in Springwood Haven to have the fridge exchanged for a new one, and to have the ‘gas flow’ adjusted on our new cooker.

Springwood Haven have also arranged for Cyan to undergo an inspection/survey for a ‘Boat Safety Scheme’ certificate. As Springwood Haven have done most of the refurbishments, and renovations on Cyan, it makes sense to be ‘on the spot’, just in case the examiner comes across a problem.

Today, after breakfast, seeing the wind had died down, and the weather forecast looked favourable, we upped mooring chains and made for Hawkesbury Junction to avail ourselves of the services there. Our rubbish was now three bags deep, and the Elsan services would soon be getting urgent.

Before we left, I had a quick look at the water tank gauge, and was slightly concerned to find the tank almost empty. Have we used that much water? Surely we couldn’t have a leak, or we’d have heard the bilge pump working, or would we??? Shudder the thought!

Would you know it, as soon as we set off the wind picked up! Why on earth do we trust the weather forecasts? Still, we were wrapped up warm, which of course made the journey pleasant. The wind was against us, and Cyan’s engine was working rather hard, every now and again I got a whiff of hot engine oil.

Steering Cyan was rather testing, and concentration was needed to avoid the branches and dross ‘Storm Eleanor’ had dumped into the canal.  Just as we were approaching Hawkesbury, we came across this clump of branches obstructing the navigation. I can’t bring myself to call the obstruction ‘a tree’, but it might well have been for the problem it caused.

John increased Cyan’s speed a little, then he cut off the propeller, and steered her around the fallen branches, letting Cyan’s momentum carry her over. The wind was fierce, and pushed Cyan against the armco.  After passing the weir, Cyan was eventually encouraged by John who was pushing her bow from the towpath, to get back into the middle of the canal. (We reported the problem to CRT).

Our first stop was to fill Cyan’s water tank. The water flow from the waterpoint’s tap is very slow here, so we were prepared for a long wait as the water gauge had registered the tank empty. There was nothing for it but to have a cup of warming tea. After I’d drank my tea, I looked at the gauge to see how much water we needed, but found the needle hadn’t moved, the gauge still registered empty. John checked the electric fuse switch which works the water pump and the gauge, and all looked to be in order. A short rap on the gauge’s glass moved the needle to ‘a quarter full’.  Five seconds later, water started overflowing from the tank; the tank was full, yet the gauge’s only registering quarter full – conclusion: the gauge is faulty.  This isn’t a big problem, it’s more of an inconvenience, although we’ll need to have a think at how to solve the faulty gauge.

Once the hoses were stored away, we left the waterpoint, and cruised towards the services. The rubbish point was absolutely full at Hawkesbury, there was hardly room to dump our rubbish. It was full of what we’d think ‘non-boater rubbish’, eg., Christmas trees, loads of empty boxes, and ‘stuff’ – John didn’t want to do too much ‘inspecting’.

While we were filling with water and using the services, three boats passed us, including Auriga the fuel boat. Good we thought, the branches from the obstruction might have broken up a bit more.

With everything ‘done’, John winded (turned) Cyan around, and we were back on our way to Gypsy Lane.

Getting around the obstruction was just as difficult, and this time Cyan was bumped hard against the towpath.

The wind was not for letting up. By the time we passed the entrance to the Ashby, daylight was fading.

We eventually moored at about 4:00 pm., with the wind howling.

Tomorrow we’re making for the bridge just before Springwood Haven for the weekend.

When Cyan was bumped, the baffle in the stove fell down. We’ll let the fire go out tonight, and take the opportunity to sweep the chimney while the baffle is placed back into its position – hope this wont take too long as the weather forecast (if they are to be believed) says it’s going to turn cold again at the weekend. Don’t worry about us being cold, we’ve got 5 radiators to ‘play with’, running from a diesel boiler.

This is also a good time for John to give Cyan an oil and filter change.

After a good tidy up on Sunday, we should be ready for ‘inspection’ and a brand new fridge on Monday!

Oh Bother! It’s A Blustery Day!

What a night last night. There were no sleeping through Storm Eleanor for us, not from where we’re moored on the Coventry. We were glad to be tied up tightly, though I did have the horrors that the armco might gave way, and we’d be buried into the reeds by a strong gust of wind!

Lying in bed, and wondering if the canopy at the stern would be ripped apart, wasn’t very comforting. So I passed the time reading the #StormEleanor hashtag on Twitter. Some of the comments were very amusing, although in the main people appeared to be more worried about their rubbish bins being dumped in their neighbour’s gardens.

Waking up this morning, it appears we’ve been spared a catastrophe. Our thoughts are with other boaters, hoping people remembered not to moor under trees.

With wind still buffeting our boat, we were surprised to hear the sound of an approaching narrow boat! Cruising slowly towards us, tacking into the wind was a lone boater. We nervously watched as he came nearer hoping the wind would not crash him into CYAN. He came close, but not that close, and with a cheery wave he powered past. Either an ‘expert’ skipper on a mission to deliver a hire boat, or Eddy the Eagles’ brother!

On New Year’s Eve we stayed up to see in 2018. At 11.55 pm we took ourselves up on deck, under the canopy, to herald in the New Year. We could see a light shining behind us, along the towpath, but curiously the light suddenly stopped moving. At first we considered it strange, which consequently made us a tad nervous. Eventually the light came closer, until it was close enough to see a man pushing a motorbike, the bike’s light was shining. We’d a feeling that we’d ‘scared’ each other! A cheery shout ‘Happy New Year’ made the man smile a little. New Year was welcomed into Cyan with a bottle of Cava, while listening to Big Ben on the radio.

Nuneaton people know how to celebrate; we had a great view of around 8 firework displays from our vantage point on Cyan.

This morning we received an email from C&RT, reminding us our Boat Safety Scheme certification expires on 31/03/2018:

“BSS examinations are best done two months before the expiry of the old certificate. If your boat passes first time, the examiner is able to forward-date your new certificate so that it runs for four years from the expiry of your current certificate. If your boat needs work to meet the requirements, you will have time to correct the issues and get your boat re-examined.

To get the BSS examiner of your choice, you should make your booking now, as they could have a waiting list. You can view all Boat Safety Scheme requirements relevant to your boat, and get details of all examiners operating in your area at www.boatsafetyscheme.org “

This is something we’ve chatted to the folks at Springwood Haven Marina about, and consequently we understand they use the services of an examiner from the Ashby Boat Hire Co., we might be able to book a slot with them before we venture toward Hillmorton Lock.

Regarding our fridge, we’ve emailed Springwood Haven Marina asking for their best price for a FF2022  12v fridge freezer, they emailed back saying they’re phoning round to get a good price for us. The best price we could find on the internet is Ely Boat Chandlers at £529.99 (inc VAT). We’ve got to think about having our old one disposed of. Sad really because the fridge/freezer works perfectly well on shore power.

While cooking Christmas lunch, I (think) discovered a glitch with the new gas cooker we had installed last month, it appears the oven switches off, or goes cooler, if I start to cook the vegetable on the hob. It’s taken a while to come to this conclusion as I kept thinking it was something I’d done, like accidentally knocking a switch, or moving the hob lid by accident, and activating the safety gas cut off. Springwood Haven will take a look at the gas regulator when we visit, it could be set too low.

All ‘chores’ to do… but we’re in no rush, and we’re definitely not moving today.

Stay safe everyone!

Good Bye 2017 – HELLO 2018

Was pleased I managed to bring this website up-to-speed yesterday, it’s essential we have reference points for dates, otherwise our memories are like tangled cobwebs these days, and highly unreliable. 2017 has been our first complete-full year of living, and continuously cruising the glorious inland waterways of England and Wales.

It’s sort of traditional we look back through the past year on the eve of a new year, and make plans for the New Year! We thought this year (our 2nd full year) we’ll cruise South, aiming to spend summer on and around the Kennet & Avon – perhaps we’ll be able to cruise the full length of the navigation, incorporating 105 locks which of course includes the Caen Flight of 29 locks (Note to self: best start getting fit now!).

Loosely our plan is to cruise via the Oxford Canal, through the Napton Flight of locks and onto Pangbourne, returning at the end of the Summer, via the Grand Union.  Returning to ‘where’ is the big question…

The distance between Marston Junction and Pangbourne is 111 miles, and 53 locks.

But (and there’s always a ‘but’) CRT Winter Stoppages come into play! Our plan is to head for Braunston before the start of February (easy peasy), before the ‘Butler’s Leap Stoppage’ starts:

We’ve then got to kick our heals (or rudder) until the Napton Flight Winter Maintenance is complete, around 16th March:

This will give us plenty of time to explore Braunston, and surrounding area. What a lovely time this will be with the ducklings, cygnets, and other young arriving; Spring will have arrived.  Can’t wait now….

First though we’ve got to to sort out our fridge, it’s still not right, and we’ve recorded it as drawing around 7 or 8 amps. Presently we’re purposely mooring away from houses, and other boats, as we have need to start the engine late at night before we go to bed, just so the fridge doesn’t drain the batteries. Despite all of this, the fridge still isn’t cold enough.

Well this our New Year sorted….

Wishing all our Family, Friends, and Fellow Boaters a wonderful, healthy, happy, peaceful, and prosperous 2018!

We’ll be raising a glass of Cava to all our good friends, and we might even keep up the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, one for each strike of midnight (to gain a bit of Good Luck for the New Year).

Hope Everyone Had A Lovely Christmas

Hope everyone reading this had as lovely Christmas as us.

Obviously, in our quiet secluded mooring, we didn’t have much excitement – who needs excitement when you live on the cut? 🙂 Having a full rubbish bag blow over the side into the canal was about as much excitement we could take. Don’t worry, the bag luckily floated, and with the help of two boats passing by, the agitation of the water caused the rubbish bag to drift back toward the towpath, it drifted at least far enough to get the grappling hook through it to yank it out.

Seriously, we do hope all our friends had a lovely Christmas. This year, we sadly lost two good friends, and our thoughts have been with their loved ones. It’s a stark reminder that Christmas can be a brutal time for some.

The weather has recently been glorious, and very welcome after such cold freezing conditions.

We stayed at our ‘Christmas Mooring’ for 5 days. Yesterday we ventured onto the Coventry canal, and we headed for the services at Hawkesbury. Once the chores completed, we returned in the direction of Marston Junction, highly relieved to see no ice in the canal.

We moored by Gypsy Lane, in the sunshine.

Today we had a short cruise to Sainsburys, by Dewsons in Nuneaton, our mission was to get a bottle of bubbly to hail in 2018 in style.

After Sainsburys we winded (turned) Cyan around, and were happy to moor back at Gypsy Lane, though by this time it was in strong gales.

I didn’t have my camera close to hand, otherwise I’d have taken a pic of a beautiful tree full of catkins. Forgive me for being an optimist, but Spring is now just around the corner!