Tuesday, 30 April 2013

After speaking to the lock keeper this morning we we were told that it would be opened for us at 10.00.
Right on time we noticed the light go green and cast off heading for the bridge. As soon as saw us moving, the keeper closed the road and opened the swing bridge allowing us entry to the lock.

He told us that the tide was a very fast one today, and this would put our departure time back about 10 minutes. His plan was to open the river gates as soon as the level was even, but we should stay in the lock until 10.25.
At about 10.10 the gates opened and we were greeted by the sight of a fast flowing river, it looked quite daunting. At 10.25 he gave us the thumbs up and we powered out into the stream. As soon as we were clear the stream took us and swung the bow around quickly. The boat heeled over with the speed of the turn. When were fully straight and heading in the right direction the GPS was showing 8 MPH. Not as fast as we had once seen while heading to York on the Ouse, but it still seemed like flying after the sedate pace of the canals.
Our journey should take about 1.40 according to the keeper, but the flow was very strong and we arrived at West Stockwith 10 minutes early. The flow was still quite strong so we had to turn in the stream before heading into the lock.

Once safely in and the water leveled out to the canal we were on our way again. Not far this time, only about 1/2 a mile before mooring up for the day. There are boats moored on the offside, and we've moored on the towpath side just passed them. As is common these days the si for des of the canal are very shallow and we can't get the stern close to the bank, but it doesn't matter too much as the canal is wide enough for boats to pass.
Cath is still feeling under the weather so we'll probably not do much tomorrow.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Monday 29th May 2013
Just after 9.00 this morning we set off to get to Keadby. The first job was Thorne Lock. it's one of those with a swing bridge which is interlocked with the lock operating system.

After that there's Princess Bridge, a powered pedestrian swing bridge. Here we found it with a notice stuck to it, " Don't try to close the bridge, call this number ***** and someone will come within about 5 minutes."
I rang up and was told that it was ok to open the bridge, just don't try to close it. Leave it and someone will come along to sort it out. The key interlock had been disabled to allow us to take our key even though the bridge was open.
The wind soon got up again, a cold one which stirred up the shower clouds. Once again we saw showers all around us, but only once did drops hit us, and then only a few.
Along this route there are what I think is a rare sight these days. Manned rail crossings

After 9 miles, 6 swing or lift bridges we arrived at a unique obstacle, a sliding rail bridge. I've put a not very good video of it operating on here.

Last time we were here we noticed that when trains went over it they made an awful racket, but at present there is no such problem. The line is shut down due to a major landslip at Stainforth. A spoil tip from Stainforth Colliery shifted due to the heavy rainfall we were experiencing, and the track is out of order until further notice. I had a word with the bridge operator and he agreed that life at present was boring.
We're now moored up hopefully to go through Keadby Lock onto the Trent tomorrow.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sunday 28th April 2013
A fairly quiet day today. We've decided not move.
Yesterday we woke to lovely birdsong, and after breakfast turned the corner onto the Stainforth and
Keadby Canal. The first thing you come across here is Bramwith Lock. It's the first manual lock we've operated since last year, and if memory serves me it was the last we did in 2012 as we headed up to Leeds for the winter.
The boater just ahead of us had left a paddle slightly open, so until I realized it I couldn't open the top gates. Once that was sorted we were through and on our way. 200 yards further in is a powered swing bridge and the boater hadn't bothered to wait for us, although he did know we were coming.
The weather turned decidedly inclement after that, the breeze got up and frequent showers, some of hail persisted down. We looked for somewhere to moor, but nothing took our fancy until we reached Thorne. Here there is good spot just after the railway bridge, opposite the marina.
Once we were tied up the weather improved, as it normally does, so I took a wander into town. It's a nice place, with local shops including a butcher and a couple of bakeries. There's a Sainsburys as well. I also had a look at the chandlery in the marina to get some toilet cleaner. It  looks fairly well stocked.
I phoned Keadby Lock this afternoon to get times for locking out onto the Trent for Tuesday or Wednesday, and it seems we've caught it dead right with exits at around 9.00 am.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Friday 26th April 2013
A long day today, 6 hours of running, much longer than we normally do.
After the disappointment of not getting our new water pump we have decided to press on and hopefully get the pump on our way back in a few weeks time.
We set off at about 8.30 this morning, the first lock was Bulholme and luckily there was a keeper in attendance waiting for a gravel barge. He penned us through because the barge was about 15 minutes away. These days we carry VHF radio which is very handy for just that situation, and not long after the lock we met Fossdale, the gravel barge, at Pilkington Corner. Because we had the radio we knew he was there and we had a chat as well.
Ferrybridge flood lock was open so we cruised through easily, carried on to where the Navigation splits, with the canal part turning right, while straight on leads to Bank Dole Lock which drops down onto the River Aire. It's the way to go if Selby and York are your destination. We turned right, passing Kellingley Coliery,

one of very few coal mines left in this country. We carried on through Whitley and Pollington Locks, much of this section is flat and open allowing today's cold wind to whistle across.
 Wide open and windy
Showers all around us
Lots of shower clouds were building up and at one time there were many showers around us, but none of them dropped on us.
 We turned at Southfield Junction onto the New Junction Canal. This very straight 6 mile section has 1 lock and 7 lift or swing bridges, all but one of them are powered. That one is at Sykehouse Lock, and makes operation of the lock quite awkward. The BW key unlocks the manual swing bridge, and when that is opened it allows the paddles and gates to be operated, but it means that passing crews cannot hand over without shutting the bridge, which may be impossible if the boat is long enough to foul the bridge.
We reached the end of that straight section at what seems to be an unnamed junction where The Stainforth and Keadby Canal join in and have moored up for the night. A fine place, well out in the country.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Thursday 25th April 2013
I don't know what happened to yesterday's post, but it seems to have disappeared into thin air - or into the www.
Anyway, We did set off yesterday. The weather wasn't too bad, at least it wasn't raining. We plodded our way down to Castleford without any drama, other than having to stop at Lemonroyd to remove a plastic bag from the propeller. On the way we spotted the first ducklings we've seen this season, they looked to be about 3 or 4 days old.
Once here at Castleford I called in on Supreme Marine to see if the water pump was still on for delivery and was assured that it was.
This morning we took the waiting time to do a bit of boatwork. I had a go at pumping the bottom of our fuel tank, something I do occasionally to remove any sludge which seems to build up. Following this I then topped up the tank from the barrels we carry.
It's good to have a working elsan disposal point again. Not having one at Clarence dock for the past couple of weeks has been a bit of a pain. The water tank has also been topped off.
The new water pump didn't arrive as promised this morning, and they said it should arrive this afternoon now. I'm losing faith here. If it doesn't arrive by this evening I'll have to get the money back and set off, we can't be sitting around here on a promise.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tuesday 23rd April 2013
After the disappointment of Saturday I set about doing a bit of painting. Sunday I put the colour coat on the hull side and then made a start in the well deck. Here the deck was looking very sorry where we have been pulling storage boxes in and out from under the seating. The paint had long been worn away and rust had a good hold. The angle grinder soon made short work of the rusty patches and I got a coat of primer on.
Monday I applied one coat of colour and today a second coat finished the job off. Now we must wait at least a day for this to go off before we can put all the stuff back in there. Meanwhile our saloon is cluttered with the boxes and table from in there.
I finally got around to fitting the volt meter to our main battery bank. The hope here is to get a very accurate reading from the bank, without any volt drop associated with the wiring to other components.
We've decided to move off again. Tomorrow we'll go up to the doctor where Cath will try to renew her prescription for the summer, and then we hope to set off for Castleford where I expect to get our new water pump and then over the next few days we'll make our way down onto The Trent and then turn south. We don't need to be back in Leeds until near the end of May.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Saturday 20th April 2013
Another fine day lost. With the forecast set fair we decided to slip the mooring and head for Castleford again. Mike and Sally on Bendigo said that they'd like to join us as they want a good long run at high power to try and clear their engine smoke problem.
This morning dawned fine and bright so the two boats prepared for the off. Disconnect the power, stow a few things away, start the engine. Cath grabbed a radio and headed off for Leeds Lock to prepare it for us.
A few minutes later came the word "forget it, the lock's out of action". Ah well, it's an ill wind etc., at least the weather was fit for painting.
Now, Painting is my least favourite task of all time. I hate painting with a passion, only gardening comes close to it. All that preparation, the careful rubbing down followed by primer and colour. I never seem to get the finish as good as I'd like, and then of course you have to use your boat, and it all gets scratched again. Ah well, at least an effort has been made. I've got one side gunnel rubbed down and primed, tomorrow I'll put on the colour.
Another problem has reared its head as well. I regularly check on our water pump just to make sure it isn't leaking. However, on this occasion it was. Isolate pump, remove, and check connections. Nothing seems obviously damaged so I cleaned up the inlet connection, where the leak was showing, tightened it down and tested. Slight improvement, but still a slight drip. More investigation, more tightening and the drip is now down to just about 1/4 of a cup a day. We have been discussing upgrading the pump anyway because we would like a higher flow rate for better showering, so a call to our local boat yard and they can supply us with a Flojet pump with VSD and constant pressure sensor so that the pump doesn't cycle like the normal ones do, but it maintains a constant pressure within its design envelope by speeding up or slowing down, not just on/off like standard ones do.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Thursday 18th April
My apologies for the lack of blogging recently but after the last entry my old friend the chest infection returned with a vengeance. I started taking the emergency drugs which had been supplied to me a couple of years ago with the instruction to get to a doctor if I ever needed to use them.
Returning to Leeds we again entered that "black hole of communication" which is 3 in that area. They tell me that the masts are just overloaded and for the time being its just going to be difficult.
by difficult they mean darn near impossible. I can get some emails, but nothing of any size, they jsut fail to load. Sending is the same, I haven't been able to send one all week.
Anyway, with both of us now needing to see a quack, I visited on Monday and was given a new supply of emergency drugs. The original had done their intended job and cleared up the infection, but I'm still coughing like a 60 a dayer.
Cath went on Wednesday, but the x-rays weren't ready, so had to return on Friday. The outcome was as expected, osteoarthritis, so the first thing is physio, then they may entertain surgery.
This leaves our year a bit up in the air, so maybe it will be just short trips out until we get a definitive answer.
Meantime the ongoing problem of communications continues with no end in sight. If we do move that will improve as we know that outside of this area the service is good.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Tuesday 9th April 2013
The weather is starting to improve, there was actually some warmth in the sun today. Too late for me though, the cold weather has settled on my chest again and I'm coughing like a 60 a day smoker.
What a pair of old crocks we are. Cath is putting up with my hacking through the night with great fortitude, saying I don't keep her awake.
This morning we caught a bus into Wakefield and spent the day exploring and and shopping. Returning at about 3.00 I had to run a can to the elsan point before we settled down for the evening.
Tomorrow we'll head off to Woodlesford for the night and then on to Leeds on Thursday.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Monday 8th April 2013
We had a lazy lie in this morning, it was 8.45 before we stirred out of bed.
After getting the washing started we moved across the water into Supreme Marine's dock for a gas bottle. They're very busy in there, we had to squeeze in. I don't reckon they could accommodate so much as a rowing boat in there now.
After that we pulled out and moored up near the services while I walked down the road to get a bottle of milk, it was then off through Castleford Lock and on to the Calder and Hebble.
At Whitwood, where the gravel barges get filled up there is a bend in the river. It gets very shallow on the inside of the bend for quite a long way out towards the middle of the navigation. I've been caught here before so remembered to stay well to the outside of the curve.
In Woodnook Lock we were joined by C&RT workboat. The crew very kindly oppereted the next two locks for us, making life very easy.
Stanley Ferry wasn't crowded and we got a mooring easily. You can't pull in close here though because of the sloping sides to the navigation. Once tied up we took ourselves off the The Stanley Ferry for a drink and a spot of lunch. Great value here.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sunday 7th April 2013
We've moved at last. Not far, I'll grant, but at least we have stirred the water.
Yesterday I finished off making the new mooring lines and cleaning the roof, while Cath was taken to a garden centre to stock up our roof-top pots.
This morning we've moved off down the Aire & Calder as far as Castleford. Our intention is to stay out until Thursday when we must return to Leeds for Cath's appointment. After that it's anybody's guess as to what we will do. Obviously if she needs more quack time we will be sticking around this area, but if not we will at last set off southward.
As we chugged out of Clarence Dock this morning, Chris and Sally were mooring up on the other side of the dock, having already been out for a run to try to clear some of the smoke that their engine is generating, they were hard at work cleaning the side of Bendigo which can't be reached when moored on their pontoon. Sally tells me that there was a notable improvement in the engine, so there is hope that the smoke will go away altogether eventually. Sally very kindly told Cath to stay on board and she would operate Leeds Lock for us. A new experience for Cath, she's always been on the lockside never on the boat for this lock.
It was a lovely feeling to be on the water again, and the fine weather seems to have brought out the boats. We passed several out on their travels including a boy's club boat that we met at Woodlesford Lock. I could do with loads of rope pullers like that!
At Fishpond Lock, the lock keeper's cottage garden has sprouted some sculptures, in the form of rough wood carvings

Cath got a chance to use our new rope. I wonder how long it will stay white?

At Lemonroyd we passed the sadly defunct fuel terminal where tankers until recently discharged their loads. All that fuel now goes by truck.

We're now tied up at Castleford, just opposite Supreme Marine, where I'll call in tomorrow for a new gas bottle before we carry on to Stanley Ferry.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wednesday 3rd April 2013
The weather is still damned cold here. We still hope to set off soon, but Cath went to the quack this morning because her knees seem to be getting worse. She now has to go to the hospital for x-rays and it could be that our departure is delayed again.
My internet connection is still playing up and won't allow me upload pictures, in fact just getting text is a pain in the ****, and takes ages.