Sunday, 27 October 2013

A visit

Sunday 27th October 2013
Due to the clocks going back there was a good opportunity for a lie in this morning, well for me anyway. Unfortunately Cath had a rough night. Yesterday she started to get pain in her upper arm area, which got much worse overnight to the point where she couldn't get much sleep. She ended up sleeping in a chair poor girl. Looks like she's got what is commonly called frozen shoulder. Very painful.
At about 11 am our expected guests arrived, bearing gifts. Not only a lovely fruit cake, but a very nice little wind up LED lantern.
Andy and Gill West, Kevin and Jane Jones had been visiting the Railway Museum in York, and broke their journey back home to call on us.
It was wonderful to see them again and reminisce about "old times". Also to get the news of old friends from Glavon TRs.
Unfortunately the only picture I got of our group is not a good one. I used my phone instead of getting my camera out.

Luckily others took pictures, and I hope they will send them back to me for inclusion in my album.
Thanks to all of you for coming to visit. We may see you some time in the new year when we once again visit Bristol.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Storm coming

Friday 25th October 2013
Its Friday evening and after a wet morning the sky cleared up a treat, the afternoon was lovely. As the sun sets once again the clouds are gathering out to the west, and I'm sure I've heard a rumble of thunder.
 Cath reminded me about 20 minutes ago that I was going to check out electric meter to make sure we had enough. Oh damn! I think we've got another card. Oh dear, we haven't. Check meter, only £1.60 left, probably not enough for the weekend, and the office is shut.
A quick trip to Sally and Mike's boat "Bendigo", and as ever they have spares. What would we do without them, so helpful.
On the shaft seal front, I've given up my attempt to just change the lip seals. Dave, from "Pas Meche" had to have his complete shaft, seal and tail bearing replaced recently, and he kept some of the bits, which included the seal housing.
I thought that this would give me a chance to change the seals in the housing and then have one ready to slip into place when I started the job.
When I had a look at his housing, I wasn't able to get the old ones out, because they appear to be molded in place. This gave me pause for thought.
I phoned Kings Lock for advice, and was told that to change just the outer seal was probably false economy. The self aligning bearing, just aft of the seal will almost certainly be worn, and not replacing this will probably cause early failure of the new seal.
With this advice in hand I decided to bite the bullet and buy the whole lot, seal and bearing.
I must say the delivery service from Kings Lock was excellent. Ordered yesterday, late afternoon, delivered this morning!
Cath decided that we would have mussels for dinner tonight. I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic, but I'd have to give them a go. Unfortunately, they were a bit of a disaster and neither of us were impressed with the outcome.
Monday, the weather is set to become really bad, so with past experience of the wind tunnel that this place can become I've taken our Sky dish from the roof and put in the cratch area. We did this last year and it was quite successful.
We are expecting guests from Gloucestershire on Sunday. Friends from our old TR car club 'Glavon' are visiting York and will call round to us on their way back home. We haven't seem them for a few years now so look forward to meeting them again.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Settling back in

Sunday 20th October 2013
Back into the (boring) routine of winter mooring.
We've been back to our quack to make ourselves know again. It's the only practice within easy reach of our mooring, but they do have a poor rating on line. I can see why. The organization seems poor, for instance they wiped me from their books again. Despite being told of our situation, they continue to send letters instead of texts or emails. When they go unanswered, as we told them would be the case, they assume we don't want to be there any more and take us off the books.
For the Nth time we explained what we would like to happen, and the girl on the desk just says "we can't do that".What she says they can't do is send mail to an address outside of their "catchment area". What a load of bo!!**cks. When I got to see the doctor it was a completely different story. "Of course we can do that" he says, and sent an instruction to the office. So, let's see if that works. They, once again, know to contact us by email or text.
We have both applied for senior rail cards, so will probably be taking more train journeys this winter.
On Thursday I got around to taking the washer/dryer apart to carry out the regular cleaning of the drying fan and ducting to ensure that the heater doesn't burn out prematurely.
Yesterday I made a start on trying to work out how I might carry out the changing of Lyra's propellor shaft seal. I had hoped to use one of the wiper rags which I have plenty of. Grease it and tie it around the shaft to slow down ingress of water while the seal is removed.
Not a complete success. The rags are not long enough to tie around the tail shaft, and it turns out that my arms are a bit on the short side for reaching  down and getting the rag around the shaft. I can, with difficulty, get it around, but then I want to tie string around it to get the best seal possible. It's right on the limit of my reach, and passing string around the shaft under water right on the reach limit is very very hard.
Next plan is to use a strip of old sheet, kindly donated by Tracy, one of our neighbours. There's still the problem of my lack of reach. I'll get there sometime.
I've just spent the afternoon watching bike racing. An absolute treat today. The final of BSB, won by Alex Lowes, the WSB won by Tom Sykes, and in Moto GP an absolute farce of a race leaving the season still open.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Home again

Monday 14th October 2013
The weather forecast for the day was a right mixture of rain and showers. For a change they didn't get it too wrong.
We got up at just gone 8 this morning. It was raining a bit, but it soon stopped. There was even a hint of blue in the sky.
This prompted us to take the chance, cast off and head for Leeds. The plan was to keep going and see what happens.
The first three locks were on the Aire & Calder from Stanley Ferry to Castleford. Just a little light shower here, nothing to put you off.
As we turned the corning at Castleford on to the Aire, the sky was looking quite threatening and Cath nagged me into putting the full wet gear on. Boy, was I glad of that!
We had a bit of luck at Lemonroyd Lock, there was a keeper in the box and as we approached he gave us the green light. That's the first time we've ever been let through that lock. At Woodlesford Lock the heavens opened and poor Cath hadn't taken a waterproof with her to operate it. She got a bit damp.
The next lock, Fishpond, she did 'gear up', and it was worth it. Nostropp Fall appeared and it wasn't looking too threatening so once again she didn't take her raincoat. Yes, it started tipping down just as the lock emptied and she was opening the gates. By the time I could get stopped in the lock and in a position to hand her the coat she was well wet.
It stopped again for the time it took to get to Leeds Lock, but that ended as we pulled in to the service pontoon so we could throw some rubbish. Luckily it gave warning so that she could put the coat on again. It chucked it down from then until we were actually tied up back on our mooring here in Clarence Dock.
We are now tied up, plugged in, and snug.
The blog will be sparse now for a while, but I hope to add some words on my attempt to change the Vetus seal on our propellor shaft some time soon.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A great day

Sunday 13th October 2013
Despite the dire predictions of the Met Office, the weather wasn't too bad. it did rain at bit, but nothing like the predicted 80% heavy rain.
To Paul and Jac turning up on Friday, we added a load of visitors today. My cousin Gail, with husband Derek, they brought her niece Terry, who, to our delight is expecting her first baby in only about 5 weeks. Later Damon, Liz and grandson Daniel.
All ten of us then descended on the pub, Daniel headed straight for the Wacky Warehouse of course.
After lunch we retired to the boat where puddings were the order for some. There was a choice of blackberry and apple crumble, or chocolate cake from Jacqui's kitchen, or banana cake from Liz's. Derek and Gail had brought a box of chocolates, so the boat was almost sinking under the weight of puddings, and if we eat as much of them as I would like to we probably will.
We plan to head towards Leeds tomorrow, that is if the rain holds off.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A visit to Stanley Ferry

Saturday 12th October 2013
Having been unsuccessful yesterday in Morrisons getting a bottle of Southern Comfort for our weekend guests I went back this morning, on the promise that a delivery would be made. No such luck, it seems that the morning delivery was stretching the truth a bit. I also wanted some blossom honey, but they didn't have that either. All in all I wasn't impressed with the Castlefield Morrisons.
I wandered back into the main town and managed to get both of the things we needed in the Coop, and the Southern was on offer.
Paul and Jacqui arrived in mid afternoon, and of course the "Southern" was opened almost immediately.
Cath produced a wonderful beef in wine stew, followed by apple crumble. We then had a few more drinks while we set the world right again.
This morning we set off for Stanley Ferry. Paul took their car to the pub car park there, and then cycled back to meet us at Woodnook Lock. While waiting for him we took the opportunity to fill our water tank.
At Ferry Bridge we managed to get a mooring without any trouble. I had been a bit concerned that it would be crowded, but I needn't have worried.
Tonight we piled into the car and went into Wakefield where we had booked a Greek restaurant. It turned out to be a cracker. The food was excellent.
We're here(clicky)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Wednesday 8th October 2013
As the weatherman predicted, today was the start autumn.
We woke up to fine sunshine, but there was a certain nip in the air. After leisurely breakfast we started up began a slow plod to Castleford. As expected, Ferrybridge Flood Lock was open, so no stopping there. Because it was only a short trip I decided to go fairly slowly so that we wouldn't need to run the engine to finish off the washing while moored up.
Not long after setting off the sun disappeared behind some clouds, and a stiff breeze got up. I quickly reached for a thicker coat and a hat. By the time we reached Bulholme Lock it was perishing. Shades of things to come me thinks.
Once we arrived, I steered for the service block so that we could chuck a can, and then headed back to the moorings. We've taken a spot on the north bank, just to the east of the road bridge. It's a good spot where we can get satellite TV and there's somewhere for Paul and Jacqui to put their car overnight on Friday.
This afternoon we decided to go into town and get a bit of shopping, we'll do it several trips as there is a fair bit to get for the weekend. On the way back we got caught in a torrential downpour less than 5 minutes away from from the boat. Not long after that the sky cleared and the sun came out. Bad timing, or what?
In the satellite piccy we're moored right where the barges are (or were)
We're here (clicky)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A lovely trip to Ferrybridge

Tuesday 8th October 2013
Another glorious day. In bright sunshine, which even had some warmth in it, we set off through Pollington Lock.
The bright sun was on our backs as we plodded our way along the A&C. We weren't quite sure how far to go today. There was a choice of stopping at Ferrybridge, or continuing on to Castleford.
After about an hour of travelling, the wind, which had been steadily increasing, stiffened sharply. I gave up the hardy approach and donned my coat and scarf. While the sun shone it was quite good, but the clouds started to build up, and whenever they hid the sun the perceived temperature plummeted.
We made excellent progress, passed through Whitley Lock earlier than we had thought we might. This made us think again about where we might stop today.
The decision was made to stop early, that is at Ferrybridge, and make a start on the boat cleaning for our weekend visitors. We now have a bit of a crowd coming for Sunday lunch. There could 9 of us.
We moored up before lunch, and after a spot of nosh we launched into cleaning mode. I fired up the steam cleaner and attacked the tiles in the bathroom, and behind the hob in the kitchen. Cath got on with the ironing.
Later on we were joined on the mooring by Rebecca. Bob and Marie moor their boat at Clarence Dock the same as us. We had a long chat about the usual boater things, batteries, electrics, and, of course toilets. These are the favourite topics whenever boaters gather!
Here's us tonight (clicky link)

Monday, 7 October 2013

On home waters

Monday 7th October 2013
The prospect of a long day lay ahead as we cast off this morning. The plan was to get at least as far Sykehouse Lift Bridge. Between Thorne and there lay a lot of lift or swing bridges, and two locks.
First up was Bramwith Swing Bridge, a powered road bridge. Just passed it is a service block and we had hoped to take on water here but another boat had just beaten us to it and we didn't want to hang around waiting for them to finish as we weren't desperate for the stuff.
Bramwith Lock is the last of the manual locks we will have to do for a long while.
At the junction with the South Yorkshire Navigations we turned right onto the 6 mile stretch of water leading to The Aire & Calder. This short run is blocked by no less than 6 bridges and a lock. All are powered except the swing bridge over the lock.
The first bridge, Low Lane, presented the first problem. As we approach it there was a team from C&RT visible at the bridge. they were replacing old, damaged stone blocks around the bridge. One of their number was seen walking up to the control position, so we thought, wonderful, they're going to open it for us. Well, that was their plan! It didn't happen. When nothing started to move I decided to pull into the side and investigate. Turned out that the chap had tried to open it for us, but it had failed and they were calling an electrician!
Help arrived half and hour later, and we were on our way again. We approached the next bridge, Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge, and noticed a guy get off a bike and walk to the control pedestal. Sure enough, the bridge opening noises started and up it went.
I slowed down as we went through to talk to the guy, and he told us that he just enjoyed helping boats. Great! he can help all he wants. While we were bowling along towards Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge the bloke on the bike whizzed past on the towpath. Sure enough, the next bridge lifted for us, and we pressed on.
Next up was Sykehouse Lock and Swing Bridge. This is a slightly awkward one. There is a manual swing bridge over the lock chamber. You must use your key at the bridge station. This unlocks the bridge and barriers. Shut the barriers and then push the bridge until it locks in the open position. This allows you to start operating the lock proper. The rest is just to cycle the lock and return the bridge to the closed position to allow the retrieval of you key.
Two more bridges and that was it for this stretch of water. We continued to Southfield Junction, turned onto the Aire & Calder. At Pollington Lock we've stopped for the night and taken on water.
We are here

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Keadby and Thorne

Sunday 6th October 2013
No Internet last night so there's two days to relate.
On Friday the rain did arrive, but it wasn't quite as bad as the forecast. We had already made the decision not to move on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to visit Gainsborough. We've passed it several times on our way up and down the Trent, but the moorings didnt look inviting, and anyway we were on a time budget.
I had a look on line, and found that the local buses ran every two hours at 20 minutes to the hour.
I had a word with the lock keeper at Torksey to let him know we weren't travelling on to Keadby today as arranged, but leaving it until tomorrow. I then went down to the bus stop and was pleased to see that I wasn't the only one who thought that a bus was due. It's always good to have confirmation.
Gainsborough was smaller than I expected, and I didn't spend as much time as thought looking around. The only thing of slight interest is the main shopping area is in a place called Marshall's Yard. This area was once part of the famous firm of Marshall, makers of boilers and steam engines. The factory is long gone, but the name lives on in the shopping area.
As promised, the weather on Saturday was much improved. We had been joined by 3 other narrowboats, and we all set off at about 9.00 o'clock. They set a fair pace as we cruised down river
Passing Torksey Castle, now a ruin, it was built in the 16th century. Not really a castle, but a manor house with pretensions. It was burned by royalist soldiers in The Civil War and never rebuilt.

The convoy passes through Torksey rail bridge.

And past West Burton power station.

At this point the others seemed to speed up, and I was finding it difficult to coax more speed out of Lyra. It took me while to consider that the propellor might be a bit fouled. There was none of the usual shuddering that accompanies that problem. I quick burst of reverse, and all was well, we pick up speed and caught up with them easily.
We were now running with the outgoing tide and my satellite speedo was showing 8 mph.
As I mentioned earlier, the three boats were together. Keadby lock will only take a maximum of 3 narrowboats, so it was agreed that we would race ahead and take the lock alone, and they would follow for the next cycle. It all went as planned and we then tied up for the night in Keadby.

Sunday morning dawned bright and we set off expecting to get to Thorne to do a bit of provisioning. The route here is strewn with swing or lift bridges. 
On the plus side though I managed to really piss off a couple of fishermen. God, some of them are miserable, unreasonable sods. The majority of them like boats to slow down and keep to the middle. This miserable so and so shouted at me because he wanted me on the far side. Unfortunately my powers of clairvoyance have temporarily deserted me. How was I to know where he wanted me?
The second one was fishing close to where we wanted to moor up. This is the only place around here where we can see the satellite, and I wanted to see bike racing this afternoon. We tied up a good 30 yds. from him, but he complained loudly, finally saying,"Well I might as well pack up". Anti social, or what?
Anyway, on the way here we met up once again with the three boats from yesterday, so we now had help with the swing bridges, and only had to do three of them. When we got to the only lock there was someone already there and they did all the work, magic! To top it all, the one swing bridge that is always a real pain, because it is poorly maintained by the council, not C&RT, has now been permanently disabled open.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Back on the tidal Trent

Thursday 3rd October 2013
Yesterday we spent a very relaxing day, just did a bit of shopping, and a little cleaning. Last night the went out for a meal at Zizi's. Very nice food, but greedy pig that I am, I could have done with a more generous helping of ice cream for afters.
Up with the lark again this morning. We used the river flow to turn us around, just untied the bow and let her swing on the stern rope. It was a bit early for the lockie at Nether Lock, so I jumped off and operated it myself. From there it's about 5 miles to Cromwell Lock, the start of the tidal section of the river.
I had spoken to the keeper yesterday and been told that around 10 am would be a good time to pen through for our trip to Torksey.
We arrived in plenty of time to empty a can, and fill with water. The lockie said we could go at any time that suited us now.
At about 9.50 the bottom gates were opened for us and we were off on the approximately 16 mile run downstream to Torksey.
The river level is very low, we've not had a great deal of rain this summer, (not that I'm complaining mind). Here are some examples, and this is at high tide!

We met a couple of boats going upstream.
We arrived at Torksey after about 3 hours of travel, and after winding (turning) we are tied up to the floating pontoon below the lock.
We had intended to travel on to Keadby tomorrow, but the weather forecast is foul, so we may just stay here and wait until Saturday, which they are promising will be better.
We are here

PS It's just started to rain outside, and it looks bad.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Newark on Trent

Tuesday 1st October 2013
That's it, we really are into the short end of the year now. The months are in double figures, and we can see signs of turning leaves although not much yet.
I had one of those 'good feeling' moments this morning as we reversed out of our overnight mooring. We had moored on the inside of a floating pontoon and moved forward as far as possible to allow another boat to get in behind us. This meant that we had to reverse out around them.
Reversing these things can get tricky, but sometimes it just goes right. This morning was one of those times. As if she was on rails Lyra glided backwards, manoeuvring to avoid the moored boat, then swinging around in the river to face the right way. All without a hitch or hiccup. Someone should have been filming!
After using the services at Gunthorpe it was just time for the lock keeper to open up.
We were joined by "Aisling Gheal", the name means "Beautiful Dream" in Irish Gaelic.
The owner was picking up a friend in Newark and continuing on down the Trent hoping to eventually get to near Blackburn for his winter mooring. When I told him of the stoppage at Burnley he had to rethink his travel plans, and will now probably have to divert onto the Huddersfield or Rochdale canals.
The radio came in handy again today. There's a fair bit of dredging going on, and a large barge was being manoeuvred into the lock at Hazelford. the lock keeper was able to keep us advised about what was happening.

We reached Newark at about 1.30, we had hoped to get on one of the moorings with a power connection, but they were taken when we got here, we were lucky to even get a pontoon mooring as we had to tie up on a wall for lunch, but later one of the boats left so we hurriedly got ourselves over there. The wall moorings here, although plentiful, are high and Cath can't climb off the boat.
Just after mooring up, 3 more boats turned up in a group. One of them was short, about 50 ft. and they could get into the small gap between two boats on the pontoon where we wouldn't fit. This allowed the other two boats to tie up alongside them. Very handy. They had all come from Gunthorpe, where we were last night, and chap from one of them came along and returned the fender which we had lost overnight. We looked for it this morning, but could see no sign, so thought that was that. He'd found it floating past his boat, picked it up and returned it. What a star, thanks.
We are here tonight, and maybe tomorrow night as well.