Sunday 23rd August
Barbridge to Beeston
Aha, I’ve managed to wrest the keyboard off Sue so it’s me on the blog today.
The brilliant plan was to have Sunday and Monday on the boat, work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then go up the Manchester Ship Canal on Friday. Unfortunately neither of us have done enough work, so cruising on Monday is out but we still needed to be on the boat on Sunday for the surveyor to come round. Surveyor, what for you ask? Well, to go up the Manchester Ship Canal you need to have a survey, the only time we could get in done was Sunday morning so I went up to the boat by train via Crewe leaving Sue to her long-overdue work.
The train is very convenient, very fast and you can get some work done! The taxi from Crewe to Barbridge seemed quite expensive – on the way back I used JM Cars 01270 528006 who are efficient and seem cheaper but is a bit hard to be certain when the journeys are different. We had left the boat near Bridge 100 which was good for Neil Coventry for servicing the engine but meant that we had to use pins for mooring. Chains or mooring rings would be so much better but on the Shroppie the best places seem to be 48 hour only, no good for us. With our recent history and Bruce’s dire warnings I wondered if the boat would still be there but it was fine, hadn’t moved an inch.
We had wanted Neil Coventry (Mobile 07960 454492) to look at our engine. He was the original installer so knows it better than anyone else; we think he is really good and there were a few things which no one seems able to sort. I do most of the servicing but every so often I get someone more expert to do it, but I have not been too happy with the results. We still had some minor diesel leaks (one of which was my fault), the engine seems more noisy etc. Getting Neil in was great – lots of little issues sorted, for example he’s fitted new olives on some of diesel lines, the leaks have stopped. I had been previously told that the wobbly bit in the exhaust was how it was meant to be, Neil says “No, that’s broken”, and fixed it. He has also done the tappets and the engine feels noticeably smoother, well did it ’til I got stuff round the prop. 😦
The Surveyor (Brian Taylor: 01606 836689) was booked to come round at 10am which I thought would give me plenty of time for a lie in after a very pleasant steak, and a half (or so), in the Barbridge Inn the night before. After all, I could not miss the Barbridge Inn, simply because the last time we were there was in nb Dragonfly and we got somewhat merry with the crew of nb Meridian. At 9:15 (considerably better then last time if memory serves) I was vaguely in the land of the living, having just decided that the water would have to be warm enough for my monthly shower, when Brian rang to say he was just approaching the bridge – he had strict instructions to ring so we could introduce him to the dogs off the boat. Just as well, the dogs weren’t there but at leastit gave me 30 seconds to get dressed and welcome him on board for the survey. We have a new-ish boat, the RCD is still valid so once he had seen that, it went fairly quickly; Roof not under water – tick, got an anchor – tick, navigation lights – tick, VHF radio – tick, cold beer in the fridge – tick, fire extinguishers – tick. Well actually, it was not that quick as he was a mine of useful information, hints and tips. It also turns out that our RCD and boat manual is based word for word on something that he had originally written, small world.
Brian had initially gone up the towpath to survey nb “Here Again”, he found the boat, knocked on the side to be told “No we have not ordered a survey”. As it happens there were two nbs called “Here Again” parked within 50 metres of each other and he had gone to the wrong one. The right “Here Again” found him on our boat, that meant some more chatting time before he went to survey their boat afterwards.
I eventually got going at 10:30 with the intention of trying to do a little bit to make the end of the week easier; but only a bit as I still had two radiators to fit at home. I stopped at Calveley for a pump out and water tank fill. Very good pump out machine with clear instructions on how much time you have got, water pressure not so good.
The first set of locks was the staircase at Bunbury. There was a boat waiting there just setting the locks as I turned up. I was a bit concerned to start with as this was a guy by himself so it meant two soloists going the staircase and I have never done a broad lock single handed …. I should not have worried at all as the guy from Morning Star knew exactly what to do and put it across so well. His plan was to tie his centre rope to my boat and I drive the two boats through whilst he operated the locks. Simplicity itself, very very easy and as there was a boat about to come up plenty of helpful crew. Only issue was getting past the Anglo Welsh boats blocking the canal below the locks ..
I came round the corner before the next lock just in time to see a boat entering the lock, “great”, I thought, someone to share with; except they started to close the gates as I got close. They had not realised that two boats could share the lock, but they relented as I came towards them and explained my intentions. I worked my side of the lock whilst they worked theirs. It worked well ’til right at the end when I left the boat untied whilst I opened the lock gates. Indigo Dream went back as they went forward, straight into the cascade from the leaky gates … Hmm must get better at this single handed work. (Sue: Leave him to have that much fun on his own – no chance!)
It took me 10 minutes or so to get the last dregs of water out of the engine compartment, by which time the other boat was halfway down the next lock. It gave me the opportunity to work the next lock completely by myself, which went better, albeit a bit slowly. I then moored on the rings (hooray!) just between the 48 hour moorings and the lock moorings above Beeston Iron Lock and duly ordered my taxi back to Crewe. They suggested a pick up point outside of Chas Hardern’s yard in 20 minutes time, just enough time to sort myself and get to there. Unbeknownst to me, the taxi had turned up seconds before me and gone straight into the yard; 10 minutes or so later my phone rang and it was the exceedingly pleasant Chas Hardern trying to talk to me on my no bars of signal phone. We somehow managed to work out that I was outside whilst the taxi was inside …
The trip back was nice and easy on the Virgin Pendolino. Verdict on single handed cruising through broad locks: It’s ok, I just need to do better!