Sunday, April 27, 2008

The things you see

Sheep and lambs are investigating a swan on the banks of the river Nene. Then the swan chased them away. A heard of cows and bullocks gathering on the muddy edge of the river. When the farmer arrived in his van they all turned to watch. The strange sight of two boats moving. Saw them as we were walking back from the lakes of Summerleys Nature Reserve. They turned the corner, under the bridge and stopped just beyond our boats.

We knew them. The magic of the internet, reading boaters blogs and following the progress of Dot and Derek on Gypsy Rover travelling with their friends Derek and Christina on Kalimera. We were soon all aboard No Problem for tea, cake n biscuits!

An Environment Agency patrol boat went by and then on Sunday we might have thought we were back on the canals with many boats going by.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cruising down the river

It is so different, not just because that wind has blown away. The boats are short & white, the river is wide & deep, there is no towpath and the river follows its natural course. Flood defences are obvious with manmade banks to allow the water to spread out and automatic weirs to control the flow. We passed through a flood barrier to the first guillotine lock on the Nene. Two top gates with the water falling over them and the massive sheet of steel raised to allow the water to pass through. A bypass weir letting most of the flow go that way.
Billing Lock (not the first)
All we need to do is press a button to lower that sheet of steel and the lock just fills up. Open the gates and drive both boats in, closing the gates behind them. Crack open the guillotine and suddenly the boats jerk forwards as the water goes down. Once the steel is fully raised the boats and crew leave. Three locks and three miles get us to Cogenhoe (Cookno), our stop today.

It was here that we had our post sent. Various phone numbers found on the internet failed to make contact. Went up to the Post Office only to find that our post had been ‘returned to sender’! They did not understand or know that ‘Poste Restante’ meant ‘to be collected’. It was unfortunate that we could not contact them first but now have their correct phone number.
Cogenhoe has an old Mill where the river bypasses the lock, the old millers using ‘green’ power to make the flour. There is a Chalet Village set high above the river level with boats moored below and we filled our water tank here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The longest day

We joined Sue n Vic at the top of the Rothersthorp locks which take the canal down to Northampton and stayed the night. Woke early in the morning only to find that all the water had been drained between the locks. A lazy boater had failed to close the gates or paddles the night before. An hour later than planned we were on our way thanks to the BW men coming to help. Our thanks to Paul who also came to help both us and No Problem down the locks. 17 locks in 5 miles got both boats down to the city by early afternoon in time for shopping at Morrisons, passing under the ugliest M1 motorway bridge ever seen. The lower half of the canal is quite rural with the River Nene along side. Then as we approached the outskirts of that city it got rough with rubbish and ‘poisoned dwarfs’ chucking stuff in the canal. “Do not need their aggravation”. Health and safety is ignored as they jump around the empty lock. Carrying on down on to the river we passed under a low bridge to moor near the walk bridge. We have decided to pack away our ‘biminy’ for the summer as there are too many low bridges over the rivers.

Progressed on through a few more locks to the open and exposed River Nene heading East against that cold wind in our faces, finally finding a safe haven at Weston Favel opposite the washlands.
But not before Sue n Vic pulled us off the mud when that wind had blown the boat away from the pontoon!

Looking after the birds

We stayed at Bugbrooke for a few days. The little birds are making their nests in the hedgerows. Our cat’s fir is providing them with cosy warm bedding. Watching as a Blue Tit gathered it all up and flew away with a beak full. Went for a walk round one of our favourite villages in calm sunshine with a Sky Lark singing over head and took our glass bottles to a recycle bank only to find that it was gone. Had found it many years ago just by the church car park and had used it many times in the past. Then later found that the recycling bins at Gayton Junction had also gone. Apparently BW chose to charge the provider so they stopped! What is it about this government, trying to encourage us all to be good about our rubbish and then not helping.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Moving on is better ?

Sue n Vic joined us to go up the double locks at Braunston. Waited for one boat to come out of the lock as more boats queued up behind us. Once in the lock we saw that yet another single boat was waiting to come down. “What an unsociable attitude and waist of water.” At least 4 other boats came down the next lock, taking it from us twice before we could go up. All that water going down past the bottom lock without any boats going up. We would all enjoy ‘locking’ if only boaters would help each other. The uninitiated seem to be so independent. Oh well, once at the top we only met one boat half way through that tunnel which is still restricted by the land slide.
Moorings at Norton Jn. were limited and we were obliged to moor alongside No Problem for a while. Then we took a bus ride on the Daventry Dart. A bus full of ‘free riders’ with their new bus passes. The poor driver not getting a penny from us so just hope that the government is funding the bus company. Otherwise there will be less busses to catch.
Back on the boat we moved on down the Buckby flight of locks now open after a prolonged winter maintenance program. Stopped at the bottom and consumed Ann’s homemade vegetable soup with Sue n Vic joining us at the table. Later in the day we continued on to Nether Heyford and met up with Terry n Myra on Juno. Then we enjoyed a Sunday roast at ‘The Sun’ in Nether Heyford.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Family visit

The boat was returned to water and we replaced an empty gas bottle for a full one before leaving the services of ‘bottom lock’. Gosty Hill came by and filled our diesel tank once again. Now preparing for a visit. Ann went up to the village to get fresh meat from the local butcher and made a lovely stew which cooked all day on the diesel fire. Toys out and bedding rearranged for our guests. The boys are still small enough to sleep in their own sleeping bags. Woke next day to find it had snowed over night.

Our grand children were soon outside making a snow man before breakfast. Just enjoyed their company on board watching TV, reading and drawing together before they left in the afternoon.

Another alternator failure
Before family left we realised that although the engine was running the batteries were not being charged. Luckily our solar panels were slowly topping the batteries up once the TV was turned off. Rang Justin Green at Marine Services who suggested bringing the boat back down to the bottom lock, plug into a land line and he would have a look. Only half a mile but heads were turning as we travelled with the alarm beeping and some smoke issuing from the engine compartment. Justin removed the faulty alternator that evening. Our Beta engine came fitted with a 70 amp domestic alternator with a Beta Controller designed to improve battery charging. The original alternator had burnt out in 2005 when it was less than 2 years old. This one lasted 30 months. Justin told me that Beta no longer supply the ‘controller’ so agreed to replace it with an ADVERC battery management system.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Time for maintenance

Some jobs in life need doing to protect an investment but require incentive, ability and a round ‘Tuit’, whatever that is. “Must have found all three because paint has been applied to the boat”. A bright sunny calm day and a hard edge with cut grass was essential to make the work possible. A few days later we moved on to turn at Napton Junction and found similar conditions to paint the other side. Sue n Vic on No Problem were doing the same. While the work was being carried out a boat came by with a friendly ‘toot’ and stopped. It was Maffi on Milly M. A boater never seen before, but well known on the internet among the boating bloggers. He stayed a few days so once again there were several bloggers having a meeting. Eventually we all parted as we headed to Braunston to be taken out of the water for ‘blacking’ and a safety survey. “Yes our boat is already four years old and is due for another certificate”.

Had to make sure that nothing can fall over inside when the boat is pulled up out of the water. It will be out of the water for a few days so we checked that we had enough water in the tank. Cannot run the engine so will use the land line for mains power. This will keep the batteries charged and heat water. Must remember not to let water out of the sink, bath or basin. “Don’t want our painter to get wet!”. Justin pressure washed the sides, applied two coats of ‘black’ to the lower sides and after 2 nights we were back in the water.
While on dry land Hadar went by going up the hill. Then our friends from back home came to visit with their campavan moored in the marina. Jo n Keith had stopped half way up the flight and walked back down to see us. Our social life continues despite the maintenance. Nice to see them all.
I had removed the weed hatch lid and cleaned out the box. Replacing the rubber seal is an important part of keeping the boat afloat. The Boat Safety man made his inspection and gave us a new certificate. The only problem was low gas pressure. No wonder our gas bottles lasted so long! Another job for Justin to sort out then we will be able to burn toast faster.