Thursday, 20 March 2014

Future Trips

One of the advantages of now owning our own boat is that we don't have to wait for 'our turn' to come round before we use the boat. This means that we are able to participate in canal events and activities.

We have so far volunteered to help out with Black Country Half Marathon. The route used is along the tow path of the BCN Mainline and narrow boats are station every mile or so to act as water & refreshment points for the runners. We've not heard anything back yet, so not sure if we will be needed.

I have over the last few years always wanted to take part in the BCN marathon challenge, but our weeks on Eos never coincided with the event so it has always been a bit of a pipe-dream. This year however we are able to take part and have sent off our entry fee.

Saturday 24 May 2014 - Sunday 25 May 2014

BCNS 24 hour Marathon Challenge 2014
Start planning your routes now - start anywhere on the BCN that you wish, and finish at Hawne Basin at 14:00 on the Sunday.
The event is open to everyone with a boat licensed for use on British Waterways canals.  Historic working boats and pairs are welcome.
A friendly competition, starting at 08:00 on 24 May, wherever on the BCNS you want to start, and finishing at 14:00 on 25 May at Hawne Basin with a compulsory 6 hours rest.
The winner is determined by a point system, with extra points for full length boats, buttes, small crews, cruising the lesser traveled parts of the BCN.  
The detailed information & rules are on this link, and an the entry form is here.
Having got the rules back I was a bit surprised at the time allowed for the cruising. The event starts at 8am on the Saturday and finishes at 2pm on the Sunday. This is a total of 30 hours and boats/crews must rest for a minimum of 6 hours. That means that if people use the whole of the 24 hours allowed for cruising then there  are both very long days and traveling late into the night. For example a 14 hour day on the Saturday will mean a 10pm finish and a 4am start on the Sunday to use all of the available 24 hours.

Both the long hours and cruising when it is dark do not seem to be very safe or be very considerate of other canal users. However the event has been run for a number of years, presumably without any mishap so, the organisers must be aware of the risks. We though won't be cruising when it is dark or starting before the crack of dawn on the Sunday, so second place (in our dreams) for us.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

2nd Trip (Sun 16th March)

With another nice weekend forecast we decided to take Notos out again. It would have been nice to use the whole weekend, but I had already arranged to stay over in Southampton on the Friday so that I could watch the Saints. A satisfying 4-2 win, but very fraught for the last 5 minutes when Norwich scored two late goals to make it 3 -2. Only eased at the last kick of the game when Sam Gallagher scored his first senior goal to secure the win.

Leaving the yard, with boats ready for new hirers

We managed to get a little further this time, but not as far as planned.


 We had hoped to get to Braunston Junction, but were following a pair of boats (Turo the motor & Ditton the butty), which delayed us slightly and meant we had to turn at the winding hole between bridges 99 & 98. As it was we only just got back and moored before the light faded completely.




Tuesday, 11 March 2014

First Trip.

The first weekend of the year with good weather predicted and we decided to take Notos out for a couple of hours on the Sunday.

I went to the boat on the Saturday to make sure everything was ready. The main tasks were to refill the stern greaser tube and fit a strap to secure the second gas bottle.

We were a bit delayed Sunday loading up the car with stuff (bedding, cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery etc) needed on the boat. At least we won't need to bring it back with us and in future we will be able to get way from the house much quicker. The drive to the boat takes just over an hour (this is why we are moving to a mooring nearer home) so it was about 10am before we got to the boat yard.

Once at the boat yard by the time we had got everything out of the car, stowed on board, taken down the 'Pram Top' and generally gave the boat a bit of a spring clean it was gone 12 before we got underway.

Leaving the yard.
 We decided to head up to Napton Junction, past Ventnor Farm & Calcutt marinas and up Calcutt locks. We would wind at the junction and then fill up with water just before coming back down the locks.
The Boat just outside the boat yard (currently closed)


Moored to fill up the water tank.
 Prior to filling up with water we decided, as the boat had been in the boat yard all winter, to empty the tank and completely refill it. The refill took just over 45 minutes,
Calcutt middle lock (From the top)

Calcutt middle lock (from the bottom)

On the way back to Stockton Top Marina with the sun setting

Entrance to Kate Boats (very tight fit!)



Josie concentrating to reverse into a very narrow gap

Almost there



Saturday, 8 March 2014

Preparing to Move

Notos is back in the water and we have to leave this mooring at the end of the month to move to a new, permanent, mooring just outside Penkridge on the Staffs & Worcester. This means I'm spending most Saturdays down on the boat doing various jobs to prepare for the move.

The first jobs to be tackled were a (short) list of BSS failures and some recommendations from the survey.

The BSS 'fails' were:-
  • Insecure gas pipe in the gas locker and behind the fridge (apparently the clips holding the gas pipe were too far apart).
  • No fuse in the positive lead of the battery charger.
  • A defective fire extinguisher.
All three were fairly easy to fix, although securing the gas pipe in the gas locker would have been easier if I had been a contortionist.

The surveyor visited again in January to inspect my work on the 'fails' and was satisfied. Notos now has a BSS certificate valid for the next four years.

The recommendations from the survey included:
  • Fitting a galvanic isolator.
  • Bonding the 230V earth to the hull.
  • Having the boat blacked.
  • Fitting new anodes.
  • Topping up the distilled water in the leisure batteries.
I was a bit concerned about the leisure batteries as the water level had been allowed to fall to well below the level of the plates. They appear to have survived at the moment, mainly I suspect beacuse they are currently on a trickle charger and are (at the moment) used very infrequently. A friend suggests that because they have not been used very much it is possible that the plates have not been damaged - I can only hope he is right, time will tell.

All of the above jobs have now all been done and I'm getting round to doing other jobs. To day I refilled the stern tube greaser (the screw was at the bottom of its travel). There was a little water and oil in the engine bilge which I cleaned up. The gas bottles in the gas locker were secured by a strap system that was very awkward to reach. I spent two hours this afternoon rearranging and fitting new straps. Again being a contortionist would have made the job much easier.

Hopefully that will be the last fiddly job in the gas locker, although a suggestion from the survey was that the locker would benefit from a de-rust treatment and being repainted. I think I'll leave that until the summer.

Tomorrow we are visiting the boat with a view to actually having a short cruise for the day - our first since buying the boat.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Notos Blacking

One of the recommendations from the survey was to have the hull blacked and anodes renewed. Notos has been moored at Stockton Top Marina for the winter. This is a small hire boat yard (Kate Boats, Warwick) which has repair and maintenance facilities, which was a good opportunity to get the blacking and anodes done.

The pictures below are before and after the blacking and also show the state of the old anodes and the new ones.













When we brought the boat, the previous owner had told us that there was no need for a galvanic isolator, he was convinced that there was no problem. He did sound very knowledgeable, but having seen the state of the anodes (and he was not moored in a marina) I have now fitted a galvanic isolator.

Whilst Notos was out of the water I took the opportunity to remove the old name, still visible in the top photo, but removed in the picture above.

Monday, 2 December 2013

New Boat

About two months ago we decided to buy a boat of our own. Surprisingly arranging the finance, viewing boats, seeing one we liked, agreeing a price, getting a survey done and then completing the sale all took less time then we thought and yesterday we drove to Warwickshire to be given the keys to our boat and move her to a boatyard/marina for the winter.

Photos and other information will follow shortly. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ridgacre Canal Update

Last month I sent an email to the West Midlands area of C&RT (see post below) reporting a blocked bridge hole (two fallen Silver Birch trees) and a weed covered section (about 100 Yds long) blocking the Ridgacre branch canal.  I've now received a response which included this line

"We can confirm that we are very committed to keep all of our canals and there is definitely no intention of us closing and losing this section."

Very good, but the email then went on to state

"We have previously investigated the option to dredge it but given the level of contamination and the cost to dispose of these dredging's it is currently unrealistic for us to do so, especially when you consider that we are not always able to dredge the frequently used canals as much as we would like." 

Not so good, the longer it is left the worse it will get and the more expensive it will be to clear, the email then stated that 

"We are aware of this issue being raised on local boaters forums recently so we have addressed it with the local BCNS and told them of our plans and asked for their advice. They agree with our thoughts and have stated that they will not promote its use as part of any rallies."

Very bad as there is now a part of the canal system, admittedly not frequently used, for which the official policy (supported by the local canal society) is not to promote its use.

At the moment it is possible to cruise the first 200 or so yards of the Ridgacre Branch, before being blocked by the weed growth. With an attitude of not promoting its use, how long will it be before the whole branch is lost?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ridgacre Canal

Went for a walk along the ridgacre canal recently. This is a short arm that leads off the Walsall Canal at Ryder's Green Junction. The first part, sometimes referred to as Wednesbury Old Canal is navigable up to the Black Country New Road, where the bridge is too low and narrow  to allow boats to pass.

The disused section beyond the road is still in water and is used as a linear park and for fishing.




Black Lane bridge on the disused section. Beyond the bridge is a section, about 300 yards long, which is used by the Ridgacre Angling Club.













Start of the disused section showing the narrow and low bridge below the Black Country New Road bridge.
Other side of the road at the end of the navigable section showing the low and narrow bridge hole.







Winding hole just before the terminus of the canal.

 The first part of the walk, along the disused canal was interesting and I was able to capture a picture of a tram on the metro crossing the canal.



The second part, along the navigable section, was also interesting, but for more worrying reasons. After walking past the winding hole (pictured above) and thinking that when we cruise along the Walsall canal a short diversion along the Ridgacre Branch would be manageable with such a good winding place I discovered the canal blocked in two places.

The first was just by Swan Bridge, pictured below. The bridge hole is blocked by two fallen Silver Birch trees. It did look as though they had been there for sometime.

Swan Bridge (Ridgacre Canal)
 The second blockage just 50 or so yards further on was an overgrowth of reeds and weeds. Such that the whole width of the canal was blocked for about 100 yards.





These three pictures show the state of the overgrowth. This has not happened overnight and if not dealt with soon could lead to this section of the canal becoming disused.









I have written to the West Midlands region of C&RT with the details of these blockages and will wait to see what action they take to remove them.
Junction at Ryder's Green


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Winter works open days: Dowley Gap Aqueduct, Postponed

After booking a hotel, making arrangements to visit relatives on the return journey and keeping an eye on the weather forecast, the open day has been postponed. We'll still have a weekend away, but not sure if we'll be able to make the re-arranged date.


Iain Weston, Acting Waterway Manager for the North West region, explains:
"Our winter maintenance is complex work but unfortunately external factors like this are out of our control. The teams have been working extremely hard to get the site prepared for the weekend but the snow and freezing temperatures have caused delays. We're pleased however that we can reschedule for a later date to give people this rare opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at our waterway maintenance."


Winter works open days: Dowley Gap Aqueduct, Leeds & Liverpool Canal: Winter works open days: Dowley Gap Aqueduct, Leeds & Liverpool Canal is now to take place on
17 Feb 2013
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
NEW DATE: Please note that this open day will now take place on Sunday 17 February

Work at Offerton Locks (W&B)

We're draining a section of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Dowley Gap Aqueduct so that we can carry out a number of repairs to the canal wall and install new balance beams on one of the locks.

We're inviting you to join us for a guided tour of the works to give you an insight into the maintenance required to keep our waterway network in working order.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dowley Gap open to public


Saw this on narrowboatworld and thought it deserved a wider audience.

THE 240 years old Dowley Gap Aqueduct on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Bingley is to host its first ever public open day on Sunday 27th January.

Canal & River Trust is allowing members of the public to walk along a 55 yards drained section of the aqueduct and see for themselves what it takes to keep this this waterway landmark in working order.

Stop leakage

The aqueduct, which spans the Aire, is having works to stop its leakage, that involves installing temporary dams and over-pumping the water so the aqueduct can be fully drained.

The neighbouring two-rise Dowley Gap Lock Flight will also be open for the public to visit. Two new sets of 3.5 tonne lock gates are being installed having been made at Stanley Ferry Workshop in Wakefield.

With the lock drained, the team will also be using their  skills to carry out other repointing and grouting to the lock chamber walls, repairing leaks and installing new cills and balance beams.

Another chance

Iain Weston, Acting Waterway Manager for the Canal & River Trust's North West region explained:

"Over 7,000 attended our Bingley Five Rise event last year and for those who weren't able to make that special event, we're giving them another chance to see some of our other remarkable structures. For those that did come, we're offering them something different and unique by being able to open up the aqueduct to the public for the very first time. We hope the local community really get behind this event and take the time out to understand what it takes to keep our waterways running."
The Dowley Gap Open Day will run from 10am to 4pm on Sunday 27th January (last entry 3:15pm). Event parking has been kindly provided by Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, Waggon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA (off Bradford Road near to the Fisherman's Pub). Due to the nature of the works, visitors are asked to wear sturdy footwear or wellingtons.