Here We Go… Here We Go…

We’ve had 12 full days in Aqueduct Marina, and developed a bad dose of ‘cabin fever’, we were fast getting to the ‘end of our tether’. Being parked on the ‘dark side’ of the marina, downwind of where boats were getting power washed and sandblasted, wasn’t doing much for the chesty coughs we’ve had for a couple of weeks. Still, we did get a load of work done.

At the first opportunity which was this morning, we managed to break free, and it was a sight for sore eyes when the tractor and ‘boat cradle’ arrived to collect Cyan.

Over the past couple of days we’ve been relieved that Rusty has been running up and down the ‘scary’ ladders without a problem, though he did go berserk when he thought ‘his’ boat was being stolen.

Within five minutes of Cyan being dropped back into the water, we were off!

Despite the weather forecast saying it’s going to be a sunny day, the clouds looked ominous, we even had a brief rain shower.

Both Minshull Lock (#2) and Cholmondeston Lock (#1) were busy, with boats waiting to ascend and descend. I helped with the locking while chatting to boaters as they went through the locks. Surprising what information can be gleaned. One boater told us to make sure we stop in Audlem to visit the fantastic butcher that is there.

Seeing that I helped other boaters with the locks, I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt popping back on to Cyan while still in the lock.

We had intended to turn right at Barbridge Junction, and make our way to Chester. But that was last week, before we had a change of mind. We’ve decided to change tack and ‘aim’ for the Coventry Canal.

We want to refurbish our galley, and we thought Aqueduct Marina could help. We’ve not officially had the estimate yet, they are going to email it to us, but we’ve been made aware it’s going to be over £7.5k, and that’s after we supply the cooker/hob, fridge, worktops, and sink. Furthermore they don’t have a ‘slot’ until next year!

There are some other work, like making indoor windows and frame for the hatch, and rebuilding the steps down from the stern. The ‘estimate’ has made our eyes water, so we’re off to get other estimates – two of which we hope will come from boatyards we trust on the Coventry.

Couldn’t see much activity at Hurlesden Junction.

All appears quiet at the locks, no boats going up and down, to and from the Llangollen Canal.

This is a real rubbish boat, there’s even plants growing through the rubbish. We saw this boat in May, except it was facing the other way. So many questions!

John’s really pleased with the work done on Cyan, which was having the top bearing replaced on the rudder, and the skeg cup bearing replaced. Cruising now appears quieter, steering is much more responsive, and the ‘play’ has gone.

We’re now moored just after Nantwich Aqueduct. We had hoped to do the two Hack Green Locks today, except the boat in front was excessively slow, we’d travelled several miles behind it on tick-over, and it was easier for us to call it a day.

Just a little tip: Before we left we had a delivery from Tesco, I’d ordered a pack of Paracetamol, 2 boxes of Lemsip, and 2 bottles of cough medicine. When ordering the medicine, a message appeared on screen saying I’d gone over my quota for medicine. I ignored the message, and Tesco delivered my full order.

We’ve travelled 7 miles, and manoeuvred through 2 locks. WiFi is 20Mg. Postcode is CW5 5HQ.


It’s All Been Worth The Pain

When we attempted to book Cyan at Aqueduct Marina to come out of the water, we explained we are ‘liveaboards’, and that we’d be staying on the boat. A manager explained it would be fine, except getting on and off the boat would be down to us, and that the marina (due to an ‘insurance’ issue) can’t provide ladders.  That left us with a dilemma, how do we get Rusty, our 45Kg German Shepherd, on and off the boat? With our strength combined, we’d still not be strong enough to throw him over a shoulder, and carry him up a ladder!

After a conversation with a director, he assured us we’d find a solution, though he stressed the marina could not be liable for what our ‘solution’ would be.  Before Cyan was removed from the water, we’d spotted quite a few wooden pallets lying around, and thought; if all else fails, we could build a wooden platform.

Luckily Cyan was ‘parked’ on a hard standing next to a boat that appears to be a ‘project too far’. The boat had a makeshift, yet sturdy ladder. So we borrowed it. The marina staff made a gesture we interpreted as ‘nothing to do with us’. If the boat owner does turn up, we’d gladly buy him a drink!

Rusty’s ears once again getting in on the picture!

When dogs ‘land’ after jumping onto something, they obviously need a ‘landing space’, the bigger the dog, and the bigger the jump, then the bigger a landing area is needed. When we were looking for ‘our boat’, we couldn’t get Rusty to jump onto a ‘trad narrowboat’, he was nervous about the smaller ‘landing’ space on the stern. He’s also a very cautious, or nervous dog, and he wont dive into a situation without ‘thinking’ (unless he sees a cat – wish we could cure him of seeing cats as prey). So getting him to jump up the ladder, and get him on Cyan’s deck which is over 5ft from the ground wasn’t pretty! His life-jacket helped with its handle for ‘fishing’ him out of the water. Initially, enticing him on the boat with the promise of a tennis ball as a reward worked, though this has now worn off. The tennis ball is/was THE ultimate ploy for getting him to do anything. Edible treats just don’t ‘cut it’ for Rusty. It’s a battle we’re presently having to go through several times a day!

We’ll be pleased when Cyan gets back in water which has been promised for Tuesday; though no doubt Rusty will be the ‘most’ pleased!

When we’ve been working on Cyan outside, Rusty’s been with us, though tied up. Several boats away from us, live two beautiful ‘Bengal Tiger’ cats, and for his own protection, rather than the protection of the cats, he’s tied up. I’m without doubt that Rusty would come off the worse if there was a scrap.

After treating the rust problem in the cratch area caused by the hard plastic matting, the area was treated with red-oxide anti-rust paint, including both sides of the lid over the water tank/bladder. The lid was then refitted and resealed. Both metal lockers were painted inside with the red-oxide paint, including the top of the lockers.

The blue coach paint was sanded where the paint had chipped, and the sanded areas painted with the red-oxide.

When dried the whole area was painted blue, and the floor painted with gunnel paint.

The new black rubber matting was fitted on the floor, and the ‘older’ blue hard plastic mat placed on top. The blue looks more durable, though the black is a good protector. I’m really pleased this area has now been sorted, as it was starting to niggle.

It’s far too nice for a winter coal ‘ole’!

The whole of the stern was painted.

Including the top.

Under the mat, the floor was painted with gunnel paint. Just in case the mat slips as one of us jump onto the bank from the boat, a couple of strips of non-slip tape was attached to the deck, under the mat.

Reachable scratches and problems on the coach paint was flatted back with a sander, treated with red-oxide and repainted (canal-side we’ll treat the presently non-reachable areas). Problem areas on the gunnel were sanded, red-oxide applied, and the whole gunnel and strikes on both sides were painted with ‘Andy Russell Gunwale Paint’. The bitumen blacking was applied by the Marina.

It’s literally been a real pain, but we’re pleased with the results, and we have the satisfaction that Cyan is now beach winter ready! Doing this sort of work while afloat, would have been much harder, and obviously impossible in areas.

Aqueduct Marina is rather interesting as there is a large area where boats are on a hard standing, with their owners doing all sorts of DIY projects. As it seams to be tradition on the waterways, boat owners are generally willing to offer helpful advice to other boat owners. As one guy put it, there’s a wealth of experience that is being shared, much more advice can be gleaned than from a ‘normal’ boatyard where profits on parts/chandlery is a priority. Whereas boaters tend to know the cheapest, and most efficient ways to solve problems, including where the cheapest parts are, i.e. B&Q or Halfords.

Hopefully tomorrow the rudder bearings will arrive, ready for the ‘rudder repair team’ to work their ‘magic’ on Tuesday.

Wednesday will see us setting off on our next voyage.

Love the signage on a neighbouring boat.

Cyan Comes Out Of The Water

We’re in Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewich, where yesterday Cyan came out of the water to have the top and bottom bearing replaced on the rudder. While she’s out, we’ll take advantage to have her bottom hull blacked, as it’s costly to have her hauled out of the water.

It looks a bit like Cyan’s in shark infested waters, as she’s steered onto the submerged cradle.

Once secured onto the cradle she’s pulled out of the water.

At this point I was worried about a cup of coffee I’d made just before the Marina’s staff came to start the manoeuvres. I remember I’d only taken a sip out of the cup, before putting it down when the men arrived. I couldn’t remember where I’d left it. The worse scenario was that I’d left it on the table where our laptops were, and that the cup had toppled over, spilling coffee onto the keyboards! Later I was amazed to find the cup still full of coffee on the sink drainer, still in tact, and with no spillage.

The pic shows the ‘mystery’ of the prop and rudder revealed.

Nick gave Cyan a power wash, before placing her on stands, on an area of land.

While she’s out of water, and waiting for the 2 coats of blacking to dry, we’ve got no end of work planned. My ambition for the week is to completely repaint inside the bow/well deck, the stern, and the stern bands of red and cream.

A few months ago, the blue ‘clip together’ plastic matting was lifted from the floor in the front deck, it revealed the plastic ‘feet’ of the matting had broken through the paintwork, resulting in corrosion and rusty areas.

While John worked outside prepping the gunwale, sanding problem areas ready for painting with ‘Andy Russell Gunwale Paint’, I spent a couple of hours yesterday sanding, and treating the rust areas in the well deck with ‘Hydrate 80’. [Note to self: The result is impressive, worth using the Hydrate on other areas.]

The area will then be primed and painted. We’ve also bought some new rubber flooring today.

We might lay the blue plastic tiles on top of the new rubber flooring – depends….

We had a glorious sunset last night! Though our ‘neighbour’ has seen a lot better days!

WiFi is 9Mg, digital TV is good.

Celebrating our First Anniversary; One Year Afloat!

On Friday we left our overnight mooring on ‘Clive Green Visitor Mooring (West)’ to a promising ‘Summer’s Day’.

Leaving behind a boat of holiday makers who were moored after us ‘fender to fender’. Grandparents, parents, and a couple of children were having a great time.

The smell of freshly cut grass is a joy to me, not so for John though as he had a sneezing fit that went on for hours.

The ‘smell’ released from the grass is apparently a ‘signal’ to bug eating insects, that the grass is being killed by bugs eating it. The grass wants the bug eaters, to help it survive ‘the attack’. The smell producing chemical released by the grass is the same chemical dead humans give off when they die. Police dogs are trained to track this chemical/smell when they’re searching for a body. It’s amazing what you can pick up from the Internet, whatever did we do before the ‘Information Highway’? (I’m hoping over time I can forget this bit of information!) (“So am I”, John’s comment!)

If there’s ever a building that needs an award for being sympathetically converted, it’s the ‘Weaverbank Stables’. In days long gone by, this is where horses that pulled canal barges were exchanged and rested.  The stables are now a beautiful home, without it’s original character hardly changing.

After a pleasant journey we’ve now arrived at our destination, Aqueduct Marina. Cyan is being pulled out of the water on Tuesday. The rudder has become loose, and getting gradually more loose since Cyan’s punishing journey through the Huddersfield Narrows. There’s also a nick out of the propeller which will also need repairing. While she’s out of the water she’ll get her ‘bottom blacked’ after having the area pressure washed and descaled.

Today is our anniversary, we purchased Cyan on 27th August 2016, and cruised her on our first journey, some 70 miles and 35 locks from Longport Wharf (Trent & Mersey) to Hinckley Marina (on the Ashby). We’d never really had the helm of a narrowboat before, except for 2 days essential training with Willow Wren. Since then, Cyan has been our home.

I’ve a feeling celebrations are in order today!

Cheers everyone, especially the helpful boaters who’ve taken time and trouble offering their advice to a couple of novices, saving us time, effort and money over the last year. Here’s hoping we can be as helpful to other novices during our next several years afloat.

For friends who’d like to ask us: “Do we regret selling our ‘place in the sun’ for a narrowboat on the Inland Waterways of the UK? The answer has to be from us both, “Not for one moment!”

In our first year, we calculated to have cruised 756 miles (at less than 3 miles per hour), and worked an amazing 562 locks, and countless swing/lift bridges. Think it’s about time we started to cruising canals that have less locks!

We’ve gone as far West to Llangollen Basin, and our most Northern point was Skipton.

Don’t think anyone can say we’ve not ’embraced’ our new way life afloat – well not for a couple of ‘wrinklies’!

Back On Familiar Territory

We thought it strange when 3 boats passed us about 7:00 a.m. this morning. It became obvious why during today’s journey.

After John had dropped off the spent oil at the Middlewich Household Waste Centre, and had been down the weed hatch to remove a plastic bag that had wound itself around the prop., we left our mooring about 10:00 a.m., which was the other side of the Croxton Aqueduct see pic below.

We climbed 4 locks on the T&M, two of which had a lockie helping, before our turning right onto the Middlewich Canal, where we climbed 2 more locks. Due to the congestion at the locks, we realised the ‘early bird’ boaters had been very clever.

We’d barely manoeuvred out of Middlewich Big Lock #75, when we were asked for a tow by the crew of a boat, the boat’s gearbox had failed and they were stranded. They wanted a tow up to Middlewich Bottom Lock #74, and from there they’d be able to pull their stricken boat to the boat yard at Kings Lock. We’d never towed a boat before, but we must have done OK, as we arrived all in once piece.

Coming down the locks was a ‘single handed’ hire boat, one of his party had become ill, and had been taken to hospital by ambulance, his other party member had gone with them. He was in a bit of a state, no doubt he couldn’t concentrate very well.

Sailing out of Middlewich Top Lock #74, the queue of boats to go down the flight was ridiculous.

At Middlewich Junction it was our turn to wait in a ‘bottle neck’! There were four boats ahead of us to climb the first 2 locks on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie.

While waiting what can you do except have a nosy around, taking pictures of rusty and stone trains, and wooden owl carvings.

It looks like there’s a market for wood carvers to make sculptures out of tree trunks.

We’re now moored for the day at a lovely spot, high above a gorgeous valley with total peace!

The spot is just after Lea Hall Bridge #22, on the Clive Green Visitor Moorings.

We’re now just over 4 miles away from our destination, at Aqueduct Marina. We need to speak to the management there as Cyan needs some attention.

Today we’ve cruised 4 miles, and worked through 6 locks. WiFi is around 30 Mg, Digital TV is not good.

Our start postcode: CW10 9JH

Our moored postcode: CW10 0LL

Annes Bridge (#157), Trent and Mersey Canal

We set out this morning with a vague plan to moor just above Kings Lock (#71), on the Trent and Mersey, enabling us to visit the chandlers, and enjoy a fish ‘n’ chip supper from the local chippy.

To get to our ‘planned’ mooring, we had to go down the last two locks on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie, and one lock ‘going up’ on the Trent and Mersey.

Our first lock of the day!

Last night while reading another boater’s blog, NB Seyella, we noticed we were following in the wake of Mags and Geoff’s Seyella. I left a comment on their blog saying if they saw a couple waving at them as we passed, it would probably be us. Although we hadn’t met, their blog was one of several we have been following for over four years, it’s been a great inspiration to us living our ‘alternative’ life on board Cyan.

We were delighted to bump into them at Middlewich Junction, where we stopped for a lovely chat for half an hour. It was great to say ‘thank you’ in person for their blog. Such nice people, and no doubt we’ll be bumping into them from time to time.

Seyella continued ‘North’ on the Trent and Mersey, while we went ‘South’.

At the top of Kings Lock we noticed the mooring rings were  too far apart for Cyan, with no hope of putting in pins, or mooring with a chain, so we thought we’d cruise on thinking they’d be a more suitable mooring relatively near. Though first, John visited the chandler, and popped into the chippy, while I temporarily held onto Cyan at the lock landing.

As soon as John returned, I popped the chips into a warm oven, for what I thought would be a short time. Unfortunately, we had to go up 4 locks, and cruise 3 miles, before we came across a suitable mooring. The fish and chips were tasty, and enjoyable, but they weren’t at their best. Still, on the bright side; we’ve 45 mg of WiFi, and great digital TV reception.

Here’s a few snaps we took today:

A lovely traditional canal side cottage, with the door beautifully decorated with ‘Castles and Roses’ artwork.

I’m so loving the amazing variety of spring flowers growing along the towpaths.

Originally this building was a stables for canal horses to rest and be changed. It’s now been sympathetically converted into a lovely home.

My  camera just isn’t good enough to pick up the beautiful vista, it’s glorious and shows just how high up the canal is.

While we were on the Llangollen, and the Montgomery Canals, we hardly saw a swan, despite the canals being surrounded with conservation areas. We couldn’t believe our eyes seeing this ‘Lamentation’ of over 20 swans. Couldn’t help but wonder what the swan convention was all about?

Today we did 9 miles and 7 Locks, and moored up with 45 mg  of WiFi.

Good Bye Llangollen, Hello Shroppie

After Sunday’s beautiful weather, Monday brought back the April showers.

At the top of Hurleston locks we stopped to take on domestic water. In the squally rain, and a cutting sharp breeze we descended the four locks. John did the locking, helped by C&RT Volunteer Lockies (thank you Lockies), and I manoeuvred Cyan through the locks, battling the fast flowing by-wash which pushed Cyan away from the direction I wanted her to take. The strong blustery wind didn’t do us any favours either.

Hurleston Junction is at the bottom of the locks, which is the end (or the beginning) of the Llangollen Canal, and is where we take a left turn.  Turning left was ‘again’ a bit of a battle as the wind wanted us to turn right! With a sharp blast of forward-thrust letting Cyan know who’s in charge, it was a relief when she started to pivot to the left!

We didn’t have to cruise on the Shroppie main line too long, as we turned right onto the Middlewich Branch. Just before Cholmondeston Lock (#1), we moored Cyan in the shelter of a tall, yet thick hedge. We were ‘snuggled’ out of the cold north wind for the night.

This morning we woke to a glorious sunny day, yet remains of an overnight hailstorm still on the towpath! The ‘weather man’ said it wouldn’t last, so a decision was made to forgo breakfast, and to get ‘the show’ on the road while the sun shines.

Picture of me and a volunteer lockie, helping Cyan down through Cholmondeston Lock. It’s a deep lock at around 12 ft.

John said it was “Dark down there…!”

John took this pic as he and Cyan left Minshull Lock. This lock’s not as deep than Cholmondeston.

Pootling along was very pleasant as the canal looked ‘down’ over the beautiful Weaver Valley.  The above pic shows us cruising through an aqueduct over the River Weaver.

This pic doesn’t do justice to the magnificent view over the valley – it’s a glorious view.

This lucky milking herd were busy enjoying the lush grass, we couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if one of the cows fell in… would it be able to get out?

The tow path has been freshly mown this morning, and what with the neatly cut hedges, it shows the canal in a wonderful light.

Here’s mother duck with her gorgeous, and hilariously cute family.

This is our ‘home’ for the night, and our exclusive ‘garden’ has been freshly cut for our enjoyment.  We must be blessed!

We visited this marina when we were looking at boats, but forgot where it was.  Places look very different when travelling by car as opposed to a narrowboat.  We were very impressed with this marina, their helpful friendly staff, and the standard of their facilities is first class.  As we passed we took a pic of their sign for details, as we just might be spending time here during some of the winter months.