Saturday, 25 May 2013

Saturday 25th may 2013
What a difference a day makes!
Yesterday was just foul. We had to go up to Armley Health Centre for Cath to have an assessment on her knees. We struggled though gale force winds and driving rain to get to the bus stop up by the market. Not a day to be out on the cut, and I feel sad for any that had to be out there.
The visit went well, and she has been told that elective surgery is a runner, but she's decided to give it try through this summer and maybe look at it again at the end of the season. This at least means that we will do more cruising this year.
Paul and Jacqui fought their way up country from Bristol, the bank holiday traffic was pretty bad they reckoned and it took longer than they had planned. Still, they got here in time for us to out to the tapas bar for the evening. Anyone looking for good food and value in the Leeds area could do a lot worse than give Azucar a tapas bar on Brewery Wharf a try.
This morning the weather was fantastic, just as the weatherman promised. After going out to get a few necessary things for a BBQ we set off for the short run to Woodlesford Lock where we planned a bit of a picnic. When we arrived here we found Mike and Sally with "Bendigo" already here, so we've moored up with them and I'm sure we'll have a good evening.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tuesday 21st May 2013
Posts are a bit sparse these days for two reasons really. While we're once again standing still here in Clarence Dock there isn't a lot to say, and the other thing is that the internet is still so slow here that posting is very hit and miss. Frequently the pages won't load because it's too slow. I'm lucky to get on now.
We're using the time to do a bit of work around Lyra. The new water pump is in and working, but I may modify the inlet pipework for it some time soon. I've also fitted a second volt meter to sense the second battery bank.
Cath and I attacked the kitchen this morning, doing some overdue spring cleaning. One of these fine days (do we get enough fine days?) I'll continue the ongoing task of de-rusting and patch painting, I'm not brave enough to take on the whole thing. I've also promised myself, again, to tear up the back cabin floor to remove some ballast. Maybe.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Thursday 16th May 2013
When we got up this morning the lock was already showing open for business.
We had had a notice that the Clarence Dock service block would be out of use again, this time for another week while repairs and redecoration are carried out. Finding this I used the services here to empty 2 cans so that we could get to Leeds with as much capacity as possible. We then moved across the the cut to the rubbish disposal point and cleared out our stuff. After that it was down to the boatyard to get some fuel, when on the river you don't want to be running out.
While getting the fuel Chris Crowther brought his boat through Castleford Lock and moored at the services. When we had filled up we chugged around to where he was moored so that he could start the mods to our cratch cover. As soon as that was done Cath went up to start cycling the lock.
When it was ready I drove in and Cath closed the gates. When she got to the other end control point nothing would work. Luckily there was a sand barge just gone through Bulholme Lock and the keeper was still in the control tower. I called up on the radio to explain our trouble and she said she'd be along as as she could to sort it. When she did it only took a few minutes to sort the problem.
We finally pulled out into the river at about 11.30 and chugged off towards Leeds. Lemonroyd Lock was in our favour so didn't take too long to negotiate. At Woodlesford the keeper was in attendance, we've never seen that before.
We finally pulled into Clarence dock at about 3.15. Mike and Sally off Bendigo helped us to tie up on our pontoon. We're now plugged in, watered up, and settled in.
In the evening I got a surprise phone call from a group of old friends from Glavon TR's, the Triumph sports car group I used to run with. It was their meeting night and they sang a belated happy birthday down the phone. Wonderful!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Wednesday 15th May 2013
We arrived a Castleford yesterday to collect the new water pump. Disaster, it wasn't there. They'd sent it back because they thought it was the wrong voltage. The delivery was now set for today, but I wasn't holding my breath.
We woke this morning to a new sight for us, Castleford Lock's traffic light was flashing red. We haven't seen this before, it means the river is closed because the flow is too fast.
The first thing along was one of the gravel barges. They don't bother with little things like a flooding river. The keeper penned him through and off he went. It must be good to know what you're doing.
The central heating once again ran out of fuel, so I had to take a can over to the boatyard to get some. We're warm again now.
Later I went into town to get some milk, a Radio times, and my MCN.
The pump finally turned up mid afternoon so I gleefully opened the box to make sure it was what we needed. It was. I'm not going to fit it straight away because I wish to modify the pipe run from the tank, so now I have to go to a plumber's merchant to get some pipe and connectors to plumb it in.
Chis, the chap who made and fitted our cratch cover was on his way down river to start his season's cruising. He was going to stop off with us to carry out a modification to it. He is presently stuck at Lemonroyd Lock waiting for the river to abate. Hopefully that will be tomorrow, and then we can set off for Leeds ourselves.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Tuesday 14th May 2013
A much better day today. Once again having seen the forecast we decided to set off early. After a good breakfast we cast off and entered Pollington Lock. The sun was shining, but the wind still blew a bit.
Continuing along the Aire & Calder the wind slowly increased until we were crabbing along noticeably to stay off the edge.
Just after Whitley Lock we met a C&RT workboat coming the other way, for a small craft he certainly made one heck of a wash. Lyra bounced around like a demented dog for the next 5 minutes.
At Ferrybridge we found the flood lock shut, very strange as the gates at both ends opened without any change of level. 
We are now on pure river section of the navigation, but the flow is minimal and doesn't seem to affect our speed at all. Bulholme Lock was manned and responded to our radio call by opening for us. On to the Castleford cut, another fully canal section. Here we intend to spend tomorrow where we hope to meet Chris who will modify the cratch cover he made for us.
A disappointment was that the water pump we ordered from Supreme Marine still wasn't available. I had phoned last week and was told it had arrived, but now they say that on checking it that it wasn't the right spec so it went back. Once again it has been promised for tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath.
Just thought I'd share this photo with people. Is this taking the p*** or what? The boat is unmanned, and has been there for several days at least according to other boaters. Not only on the water point, but tied to it!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Monday 13th May 2013
Another bad weather day! We set off this morning in sunshine knowing that we might encounter some showers. Boy did we encounter some showers!
The wind was very gusty, as it has been for a while now and seems to be set for a few more days looking at the forecast. Blown along by it, the first rainshower appeared after about 20 minutes. Not too bad that one, but the next was a corker and came just as Cath was opening Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge. Luckily most of the moorings for the bridges were a bit sheltered from the wind and I wasn't trapped against the side by it as Cath had been yesterday. At Sykhouse Lift Bridge, the last one we will have to do on the way to Leeds, we made the decision to go on as far as Pollington Lock for the night.
Turning the corner at Southfield Junction we were then heading straight into the blustery wind. Soon another really bad shower came along, this one lasted quite a long time and I even slowed us down a bit hoping not to reach the mooring at Pollington while it was still hammering down. It did abate before having to tie up and once we were secure I gladly retired to the warmth of the saloon (living room for the non boaty) and a cup of hot chocolate.
Tomorrow we'll decide how far to go when we see what the conditions are. It should be either Ferrybridge or Castleford. Hoping to pick up our new water pump at Castleford.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday 12th May 2013
Once more the forecast was for the weather to deteriorate later in the day. In bright sunshine we set off with no fixed plan of where to stop for the night. If the rain doesn't look too threatening we may well make it as far as Sykehouse Lift Bridge
We bowled along merrily as the clouds started to build up and the wind got up. That wind was darned cold, it's the middle of May and I'm done up like it's January! Reading other boating blogs I'm not the only one wondering if the last bank holiday was our summer.
Bramwith swing bridge soon appeared and after passing through we made a stop at the services before tackling Bramwith Lock.
After that it was decision time,  making a start up the New Junction Canal will put us in a place where there are no moorings until we get to Sykehouse Bridge, which is nearly at the other end. Between there and where we are there are 5 miles, 7 lift or swing bridges and a lock. We wimped out, it's my birthday, so Cath talked me into mooring up and taking the rest of the day off (it didn't take a lot).
After doing some housekeeping in the engine bay the rain started so it was a good call. We've just watched a boat come passed us with the couple on the back looking rather damp, poor things.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Saturday 11th May 2013
We thought we would be getting an early start today, and with that in mind I fell out of bed at 6.45 this morning. Popping my head out for a look at the weather I find we were the lazy ones. Last night there were 5 boats moored up here, this morning they're all gone before we got up.
After breakfast we toddled off expecting to have to wait for the sliding railway bridge, but when we got there it was already open. The closure of the line must mean they can now leave it open except for maintenance vehicles.
Following that there was the usual series of swing and lift bridges before we reached Thorne. One sad sight we did see on the way was a dead swan. The pen was sitting on her nest, presumably with eggs, and floating in the water right next to her was the body of another one who we presume was here mate.
As we expected today the wind was a real pain in the butt. At Wykewell Lift Bridge the wind pinned Lyra to the side and it took a huge effort to get off to go through the bridge. Not long after that a light rain started to fall, but it only lasted about 20 minutes
We had hoped to find mooring below Thorn Lock, but none was available so we had to cycle through. We're now moored up in the same place that we were when came out this way a couple of weeks ago. I then went into town to get some supplies, mainly some steak for my birthday dinner tomorrow. It rained while I was out, but once again not too much, and now the sun is shining but I fear it won't last long.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Friday 10th May 2013
With our lock booked for 10.00 this morning we didn't jump out of bed too early. I decided to get some fuel before leaving here, don't want to be running out on a river.
The first task was to turn Lyra in the basin. With the wind blowing fairly briskly this was always going to be fun. As it turned out she came round fairly easily helped by a lull in the wind. The fuel pump was right next to the lock and I had to stick the bow into the open lock to reach it.
At 10 the lock was opened to the river and we powered out.
From West Stockwith, heading down river to Keadby, the best time to start is slack high tide, so as we entered the river it was quite calm apart from the wind whipping up some small waves.
The trip was uneventful, and we made good time, entering Keadby Lock at 12.00 o'clock.
We pulled up to the services and used all the facilities before moving to the visitor moorings for the night.
Tomorrow we intend to get to Thorne.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Thursday 9th May 2013
With the weather set to be a bit bit less clement today we set off before 9.00 heading to West Stockwith.
The first thing to do was a passage through Drakeholes Tunnel, this is followed by a cutting which is enclosed by trees. The wind was already getting up, and as it did so it was blowing loads of blossom from the trees, it looked like we were being snowed on.
We snaked our way along the canal, the wind causing us a little trouble because of the shallow sides, while crabbing along due to the wind it puts your stern closer to the sides, which then try to pull you in.
We only had 4 locks to do today, all of them double of course. Only one was against us so it wasn't to hard. That is until Miserton Top Lock. Here the wind pinned Cath against the mooring and she was having a bit of a problem getting off. To the rescue rode I, the stern needed a good push so I heaved away. Success, but as I stepped backwards to the bank my foot slipped on the gunnel and I sat down hard on the edge of the mooring, feet in the water. Nothing much hurt other than pride, but now my maximus gluteus is rather bruised. Reminds me of one of Frankie Howerd's quotes "I fell right on my Coccyx" with the emphasis on the first syllable and a pause before the second.
Misterton Low Lock, with Misterton Top Lock in the distance

We're now moored up in the basin at West Stockwith, the river should be ready for us at about 10.00 tomorrow morning.
Thoughts on the Chesterfield. I would have loved to make it to the top, but circumstances were against us. The scenery is well worth the trip as far as we went. Both Worksop and and Retford seem like nice places and we weren't really bothered in either place by rowdyism. The Worksop and Retford Boat Club were very welcoming.
About the only downside we can think of is the shallow sides and the weeds, but bear in mind that Lyra is deeper than a lot of boats at 30", due to over ballasting.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Wednesday 8th May 2013
Last night we checked the weather forecast and it said that a 20% chance of rain would start around 10.00, rising to 60% by around 1.00pm.
As usual it was the proverbial pack of lies. We were ready to go by about 8.30, and the rain started. We had planned to run up to Drakeholes Tunnel where there is a 24 hour C&RT mooring with a power hookup. The lock keeper at West Stockwith had sold us a card for this very purpose. Our hope was to do two wash loads using the hookup.
We ploughed through the rain, stopping at the Retford & Worksop Boat Club to dump rubbish and a can, and then continued through improving weather to the mooring. Pulling up to the power pole I had a look at it to see where to put the card. Nowhere! Just a keypad.
A call to the C&RT office was no use at all. The first person I spoke to said that the pole was for permanent moorers. This is a 24 hour visitor mooring! When pressed she tried to pass the call to someone else, but that person wasn't available. Finally I did get through to someone who said that it was for winter moorers and a trip boat! There is no trip boat that I know of, and the guide does state that power is available, so what's going on?
It turns out that C&RT are modifying their power poles to a keypad system, but cannot give out the pin numbers. It would be a good idea to at least tell their lock keepers that the system has changed to stop us from buying useless cards. They say we should get pin numbers in the fulness of time. But what about now?
Who is making a fortune out of modifying these power hookups? Why?
I'd like to know.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tuesday 7th May 2013
We spent a pleasant morning wandering around Retford, a lovely little town with a butcher called Bacon & Sons. Nice looking meat, and a bakery too.
I once again couldn't resist a mooch in Wilkinsons, and bought some wire to reroute the power feed to the Hurricane to see if I could stop it from dropping out when the fridge starts. It's only just as the thing starts up, the inductive load causes the DC at the distribution panel to drop to a level where the heater says low voltage and drops out for a moment, it restarts straight away, but I'd like to see if I could stop it from happening.
After the wander in town we decided to raid Asda for all those supplies that a supermarket is so convenient for.
Lunch over we moved off in search of a water point. The book says there is one by a pub not too far down the canal. Sure enough, there it was in the pub garden. The flow from the tap was the best we've seen for a long time and it only took about 30 minutes to fill our nearly empty 150 gal. tank. Pretty good.
When the tank was full we moved off again, through Whitsunday Pie Lock, the first of the double locks going this way, looking for a mooring spot marked at Clarborough.
Up to this point I've had to dive into the weed hatch twice to retrieve the usual plastic bags and weeds, but after the lock the canal seems very good, and as the picture shows, the weed boat has been busy around here.

The weed boat has left its mark here
At Clarborough we found the mooring spot and we're now tied up for the night. Cath is doing a nice chicken pilau for  dinner tonight, and I've treated myself to bottle of Grouse as it was on offer in Asda, so I'll be having wee dram before the meal.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Monday 6th May 2013
Well! Who would believe it, here it is Bank Holiday Monday and the sun is shining high wide and handsome.
We've actually seem some boats moving here on The Chesterfield Canal. Just to confirm it was a holiday we saw a long traffic jam on a road next to the canal
This morning we set off from Worksop hoping to reach Retford. The canal seemed to do its best to prevent us. I had to make 3 excursions into the week hatch to retrieve first a hoodie, that brought the engine to a shuddering halt, next a huge clump of edge trimmings, a lot of which were bramble, ouch. The last item was some building plastic.

It may be that because this canal doesn't have a lot of traffic but I've noticed several instances of boats staying on lock moorings, and today I had an interesting altercation with a fisherman. The chap in the picture was occupying the middle of the lock mooring. He became quite abusive when I tried to moor up, and said he'd fished there for years and boats had always avoided him. I would say that the human race would avoid him if he acts like that.

One of the really good things about this canal is the anti vandal locking mechanism. It's simple, robust, and simple to use with a watermate key.

We made it to Retford despite the obstacles and have once again moored up near Asda, we'll shop tomorrow.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Addendum to previous post - heaters don't run well without fuel. The pickup for the heater is well above that  for the engine. It's great warning device!
Sunday 5th May 2013
The finest day of the year so far. Although a bit of cloud and some wind at the moment it's still very pleasant out there.
We decided to have a rest today to give Cath a bit of an easier time. Rising late, after a leisurely breakfast I had a bit of a go at the stove top to restore its shine before we took a wander into town.
Cath bought some more flowers to replace the daffs which are wilting badly on our little rooftop troughs, and I got some sealant to cure a drip into our cratch area when it rains.
We decided to go up through town lock to the winding hole, turn around and come back down ready to start back towards The Trent tomorrow.
 This straddle warehouse used to belong to Pickfords

 Town Lock, where a new bridge has made it difficult to operate
There's only room for one paddle, no walkway, and a bent balance beam

 Top gate of Town Lock, Worksop
We have noticed a slight smell in the cupboard under the hob. At first we thought something may have got in there and was rotting, but finding nothing it dawned that it could a gas leak. Confession here, I fitted a leak detector  to the gas system when I did the fit out, but the only time it gets used is for BSS. Should really test it regularly, but too lazy I suppose.
Anyway, a quick push of the test button, and there was the answer, yes we had a leak. Out with the spanners, torch and soapy water. It didn't take too long to find, in fact it took longer to empty the cupboard and remove the drawers to allow access. Tightening the joint onto the the hob cured the leak, but we'll keep a nose in the cupboard to make sure.
The next problem I need to address, as soon as I've finished this, is the Hurricane unit has alarmed on flame failure so I'll have to investigate that next.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Saturday 4th May 2013
After a quiet night we got a nice late start on our way to Worksop. We've decided not to go any further up here, but will turn around and head back to Leeds after this.
Two things helped make the difficult decision, Cath is still unwell, we think it might be whooping cough, and while she can still work the boat, what with her knees playing up as well, it does take a lot out of her. We do have to be back in Leeds in a couple of weeks anyway.
It's a shame to miss the opportunity to get to the top here, everyone says that it's worth it, but other things take priority.
The first lock we came to this morning, Kilton Lock, was well choked up with weed.
I think I mentioned the weeds
Some of the islands of weeds around here are big enough to become tax havens. Maybe someone should try it.
At Bracebridge Lock there was the usual array of city detritus in and around the lock but we managed to avoid getting any around our prop.
We're now moored up in Worksop, I wandered into town to see if I could catch an auto electrical place that I spotted on the web before they shut up for the weekend. Failed there then, and now they won't open until Tuesday so I'll have to wait 'till another time. I'm looking for somewhere to crimp a 10mm ring terminal to some 75 mm sq. cable so that I can shorten one of our cable runs to improve the volt drop I seem to be getting. However a panel volt meter I bought from ebay is proving a real boon. It is showing that the very expensive battery monitor that I installed when we fitted Lyra out is not reading correctly and has been frightening me with its readings for a while. I've checked all the connections and can find nothing wrong apart from the readout being about .2V lower than it actually is. The amp/hr counter is also way out.
While in town I tried to buy a Guardian from WH Smiths, but would you believe, they've run out. finally found one in M&S of all places.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday 3rd May 2013
Our stay at Retford was only slightly marred by a couple scroats who chucked a cream doughnut from the other side of the canal, just a sticky mark to wash off.
This morning we had a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and marmalade, both the bread and the marmalade are made by Cath's fair hand.
We set off later than usual and cruised along in worm if not sunny conditions. The scenery is still very open, but there are signs of the coming steep climb. The flat land has started to undulate gently, and ahead of us are the 4 Forest Locks. the locks around here do seem to be very well maintained, both mechanically and aesthetically. Admission here: this dozy idiot didn't replace the memory card in the camera, so no pics today. The camera clicks on merrily recording nothing.
At Forest Middle Bottom Lock there was a thoughtless nerk who left his boat tied up to the lock mooring. Usually there's somewhere to go, but today the wind was blowing us into the weeds on the off side and also making it very difficult to tie alongside the offending article. I would dearly love to have cut it adrift, but that would only cause problems for other boaters. It was here that we got a taste of the weed problem that people had warned us of, having to dive into the weed hatch twice. Actually most of what I retrieved were in fact hedge cuttings.
At Forest Middle Top Lock though there were several large floating islands of weed. I managed to steer the huge one at the top gates out of our way before it could cause us grief.
As long as you stay in the middle there seems to be plenty of depth, but stray just a little and we get pulled around quite strongly. Lyra is 30" at the stern, so we get early warning if the bottom is getting too close to the top.
We decided not to go very far today so have now moored up at Ranby, a small village with just a pub in it.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Thursday 2nd May 2013
I had good evening in the Retford & Worksop Boat Club bar. Unfortunately Cath is still under the weather and decided to stay in the boat, letting yours truly run free in a bar where the whisky was sold at a very tempting price.
The members were very friendly, and it was the birthday of the lady who ran the bar, (sorry don't know her name, too many whiskys) and she had put on a small buffet for all who attended. I ended up scoffing some birthday cake of course.
This morning once again dawned bright and clear, and after using the facilities we set off into the sunshine. The canal continues to meander through pretty scenery, the land around here is quite flat and we're surprised at the need for locks at all.
In two places, one a winding hole, we came across swans nesting, and in both the pen was sitting, so soon there should be cygnets swimming around.
The first lock this morning was the oddly named "Whitsunday Pie Lock". Local legend has it that a woman once baked a huge pie for the navvies who were digging the canal. But I've also heard that old maps have shown a Whitsunday pie field near the spot, that pre-dates the canal.

The surroundings and the weather continue to be wonderful, but we can soon tell that we are approaching an urban area. Lots of plastic bags and empty take away cartons start to litter the canal and towpath as we run into Retford.
We wanted to do a shop here so kept our eye out for a likely mooring spot.
A chap who happened to be on his boat moored at the end of his garden, told us that the best place would be by Retford Town Lock. On arrival here I had a look around and decided that there was a good spot just above the lock, so we penned through this, the first of the narrow locks which sets the pattern for the rest of this canal. Narrow locks, yippee!!
We're now tied up very close to the local Asda, and I've already raided the place.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Wednesday 1st May 2013
Well, at least it looks a bit more like spring today. We woke up to bright sunshine and the promise of a fine day, the wind was still a little cool though.
Setting off we soon found that rumours of the weed around here seem to be true, but once under way things weren't too bad.
We soon reached Misterton Low Lock, where a BW key is required to unlock the paddles, as do all the locks we've come across so far.

A short run to Misterton Top Lock, where there is a new, very clean looking by wash channel

It was very heartening to see contractors our with the weed cutting boat. Rumours that the breed was extinct seem to be premature.

There are signs of the old brick industry around here

Cath took a spell of lock wheeling at Shaw Lock

And then relaxed at Gringley Lock, where there is a very pretty lockside cottage.

I did my share of leaning too.

Gringley Lock was the last one of the day, and we continued plodding along admiring the lovely scenery around here. The sun shone for most of the morning, but later on the cloud started building up and the cold breeze seemed to warm up slightly
Bridge 72, Old Man Bridge is rather pretty.

Our destination for today was Clayworth where the book shows there is a shop, we need milk.
There's also boater facilities here. When we arrived we found that it was actually a boat club mooring, and the shop no longer exists
After filling with water I spoke to the club caretaker who kindly said we could moor in front of the clubhouse for the night. The club is open tonight so we may well call in for a drink.