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Archive for December, 2015

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 38

Posted by indigodream on 30 December, 2015

Rewind to Friday 11th September

Anderton Boat Lift to Anderton Marina

We weren’t sure what the day would bring, but as it happened, it brought good news.

I went to see Ollie in hospital in the morning and following a long discussion with the vet, we decided that Ollie would be well enough to travel home in the afternoon.

Ah, the end of the summer tour - time to crash out at last :-)

Ah, the end of the summer tour – time to crash out at last πŸ™‚

I went back to the boat and we started making arrangements for the trip home. We rang Anderton Marina to arrange a 3 week visitor mooring and Richard spent a few hours touching up the paintwork while I packed up. At 4pm I went to pick Ollie up from the vet – what a lovely moment – even the bill wasn’t too awful! I got him back to the boat and hastened to get us moving towards the marina – I was very anxious to get packed up and heading for home before it became too late.

We soon moored up in Anderton, though the process of leaving took far longer than expected; actually, that’s not true, it always takes us ages to tear ourselves away from the boat, so it was hardly unexpected that it took a long time! Anderton Marina hosts a hire fleet, so they offer a whole range of marina services, including a valet service. We booked a valet, which at least meant we could walk away from the boat leaving all the fluff on the floor!

We finally got away very late afternoon and were home by late evening – when I thought back over our holiday, it had been full of adventure with a great cast of new and familiar characters, though I could have lived without the drama of the last few days. The hounds had had a wonderful time, but they were so very tired; as all bands will testify, being on the road is exhausting!


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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 36

Posted by indigodream on 29 December, 2015

Oops spot the deliberate mistake! I accidentally published day 37 before day 36 – here’s the missing day for completness!

Rewind to Wednesday 9th September

Bobbling around Northwich and Anderton

New development - nice to see the area being regenerated but that builidng is very close to the water...

New development – nice to see the area being regenerated but that builidng is very close to the water…

Between the anxiety about Ollie and Alan the vet giving us an update call at 1am, I didn’t get much sleep and woke up tired and out-of-sorts. The good news was that Ollie’s blood test results did not show anything sinister and it was all a question of giving him supportive therapy and seeing whether he’d pull through. The vet did take him off some of his regular medication. A couple of his pain-relief medications can cause gastrointestinal side-effects, though I didn’t think that was the problem, but better safe than sorry. At least in hospital they could give him intravenous painkillers.

With Ollie likely to be in hospital for a few days, we changed out cruising plans yet again! We’d already decided that a trip up to Salford Quays via Pomona Lock was not feasible; but now our plans to just head down the Trent and Mersey towards a winter mooring were scuppered too.

But there was only one plan for today – retrieve my car from Wigan. The Beanz had a last run round the moorings before we headed up to Northwich mid-morning. We moored up by the town bridge, after weaving our way past the substantial narrowing caused by the floating platforms being used by a canalside construction company. I was keen to get going, and left Richard to finish mooring while I headed off for the train station. I was surprised at how far the station was from the town centre – it’s quite a trek. The trip to Wigan was smooth and I was soon driving back to Northwich.

There are worse places to stay - the Weaver is lovely...

There are worse places to stay – the Weaver is lovely…

In the meantime, Richard had set off on a trek of his own to find the waste oil disposal facility in Northwich – quite a saga! There is a handy website for finding the nearest oil bank but for Northwich ( the arrow is nowhere near the right place – you need to go to the municipal tip which is behind Aldi. So a short walk carrying 25l of oil became quite a long walk . . . .

We hadn’t really planned this bit of the trip, so we decided to stock up with groceries in Waitrose. We got the shopping done and I gave Richard a lift back to the town bridge before heading off to Anderton in the car. I was so relieved to have the car and found a parking space outside the main visitor centre car park (which is locked at night) – I didn’t want to be caught without emergency transport again.

Our timing worked well, the cruise downstream from Northwich to Anderton doesn’t take very long and we were soon moored up at the Beanz’ favourite spot.

We had an update on Ollie – there had been a slight improvement as he was no longer being sick, but he was still passing black poo. That would have to settle before he could leave hospital, so we were staying put.

I was anxious to get off the river and up to the canal, but we weren’t able to get passage up the lift in the afternoon so we just mooched around on the mooring. The Beanz continued to enjoy their zoomies, so some good came of the whole situation.


View upstream from our new favourite moorings...

View upstream from our new favourite moorings…


The view downstream towards the salt works...

The view downstream towards the salt works…


Lovely spot...

Lovely spot…




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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 37

Posted by indigodream on 20 December, 2015

Thursday 10th September

Mooching around Northwich and Anderton

Abseiling at Anderton...

Abseiling at Anderton…

I was still feeling despondent when I woke up today, but luckily for us, our dear friends Ken and Sue, and their dog Poppy, were joining us today. Their support really lifted the day and I was so grateful to them for their company and good cheer.

They arrived mid-morning and we had coffees and pastries while catching up on the news since they last came cruising with us in May. We had a discussion about the day’s cruise – I had thought to go up the boat lift as soon as possible, but we found that it is closed for routine maintenance on Thursday mornings. We did enjoy watching the maintenance men abseiling round the lift – that’s not a job I’d fancy!

So we decided to have another day of mooching around the Weaver. But first we went our separate ways; I headed off in the car to visit Ollie in hospital while the rest of the crew headed upriver for a jolly – I’d join them a bit later.

Oh dear :-(

Oh dear 😦

Ollie was very woebegone and it was difficult to say what might be happening with his internal bleed. Because he wasn’t eating he wasn’t passing any poo, so we didn’t have any clues there. He was nicely hydrated from the intravenous fluids but the vet still looked very grave, only time would tell

whether Ollie could overcome this latest “insult” to his frail old body. The vet said there were two roads ahead of us – one led to Ollie getting better, the other to his fading away and leaving us. I had a chat with Ollie and asked him to consider walking a little further with us. In the meantime, I agreed with the vet that Ollie should stay in hospital for now; we both wanted to be sure that Ollie was well enough for the long drive home before he was discharged.

I rejoined the boat at the Red Lion in Winsford – the car park was overwhelmed with the enticing smell of chips – phwoar. But as I rejoined the boat, we made an executive decision to carry on cruising and lunch on bacon panini instead!

Such a comfort to cruise with dear friends :-)

Such a comfort to cruise with dear friends πŸ™‚

We cruised up to the Winsford flashes, playing our usual game of dare – the flashes are shallow further up and you don’t want the embarrassment of running aground, yet they are fascinating, so how far can you go??

We turned round without drama and headed back downstream. We had a lovely cruise – the weather was benign and the river is so beautiful through Vale Royal. We had a long discussion about whether to moor on the river again or try for a passage up the boat lift. I was very anxious to get off the river and up to the canal. As soon as Ollie came out of hospital we’d need to moor up and get him home; that would be very difficult if the boat were stuck on the river (the boat lift has had the odd emergency stoppage this year).

We rang the lift operators and managed to get a passage booked late afternoon; we cruised down at pace and enjoyed the last lift of the day – I was so relieved. The Anderton Boat Lift never fails to thrill – it’s such a grand piece of engineering and the views that emerge as you rise above the river are stunning.

We were soon on the canal and moored up on the 48-hour section adjacent to the visitor centre car park. It was a sociable mooring, our neighbour was a laden hire boat whose crew came out on deck with various musical instruments and entertained themselves and the towpath with songs from the musical “Oliver”. Ken and I went to retrieve my car from the Red Lion, but we decided to eat at the Stanley Arms in Anderton. It is a dog-friendy pub (in the bar) and served plain pub grub which hit the spot, as did the strawberry cider which Sue recommended – I’ve not had it before and it was delicious on ice. It also went down far too easily!

We said a fond goodbye to Ken, Sue and Poppy – it had been wonderful to spend the day with them. We wended back to the boat with the hounds – after two days of zoomies at the bottom of the Anderton Lift they seemed quite content with just rummaging at the top!



Lovely view..

Lovely view..


River Weaver view - so lovely and a great introduction to river cruising if you've never tried it...

River Weaver view – so lovely and a great introduction to river cruising if you’ve never tried it…

Vale Royal lock - the huge locks still seem incongruous on such a quiet river...

Vale Royal lock – the huge locks still seem incongruous on such a quiet river…


Although the river is quiet, the local salt industry is still busy...

Although the river is quiet, the local salt industry is still busy…


Mountains of salt - of course, I'm writing this in the mildest December ever - but if the ice returns we'll be ready :-)

Mountains of salt – of course, I’m writing this in the mildest December ever – but if the ice returns we’ll be ready πŸ™‚


All go with the building work at Northwich...

All go with the building work at Northwich…


Still fascinating - no matter how many times we use the lift..

Still fascinating – no matter how many times we use the lift..





more rusts -hopefully not where it matters!

more rust -hopefully not where it matters!


Peek a boo!

Peek a boo!


I will never tire of this view from the top of the Anderton; the canal was where we needed to be, but I was sad to leave the Weaver...

I will never tire of this view from the top of the Anderton; the canal was where we needed to be, but I was sad to leave the Weaver…






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Boat Blog: Crossing the Mersey – a TO-DO list

Posted by indigodream on 12 December, 2015


Salthouse Dock in Liverpool :-)

Salthouse Dock in Liverpool πŸ™‚

Tidal waters can be tricky so make sure that you know what you are doing!

Here are the references we looked at. Of course, there are also useful general check lists and guidance on

Note: there are fees associated with the passages along the Mersey and the MSC – this is not a cheap exercise!

Liverpool Link:

River Mersey

Entering the mighty Mersey tideway - in thick fog!

Entering the mighty Mersey tideway – in thick fog!

A note on Mersey pilots:

Liverpool Port rules state that you must have a pilot unless you are familiar with their waters – we guess that there will be very few narrowboaters who will be familiar with the River Mersey so do consider a pilot!

In theory, the official pilots can be reached through the numbers and email in their FAQ.Β  We tried email – no response; we rang several times until eventually someone answered the phone. The Clerk I talked to was a bit confused, he did not really know what to do with a boat less than 82m long so he suggested that we talk to another person in the team, Joe Blyth 0151 949 6222. We probably tried his number 20x with no success.

The very friendly CRT staff in Wigan were very good They suggested that we get in touch with Stuart Wood on 07770 664951 or by email – his address is Chestermarine followed by the usual @ sign and then This was the best advice we could have had, as Stuart is the ex-Chief Pilot for Liverpool. We found him to be a character – full of information and immensely skilled. But best of all, when he got on the radio to negotiate with Mersey Radio or the Manchester Ship Canal the reply came back along the lines of “Is that Stuart?” quickly followed by “How can we help you?”

On the Manchester Ship Canal..

On the Manchester Ship Canal..

Manchester Ship Canal


Ok this bit might seem pretty scary, but as with all exciting projects, the outcome is worth it!

I will list things in the order that we did them based on a trip from Liverpool to the River Weaver.

1. GET AN MSC SURVEY:You can’t cross the Mersey without a short hop on the Manchester Ship Canal but before you are allowed onto the Ship Canal you must get a survey. The MSC induction pack has a list of approved surveyors, we used Brian Taylor in Middlewich, a nice guy who has surveyed our boat before. If he is not available or possibly has finally retired then Stuart Wood (Mersey pilot) recommended Mike Carter in Northwich. Contact details for both are in the induction pack. The survey is not onerous providing you have a boat prepared for tidal waters, from memory he asked to see our anchor, navigation lights, fire extinguishers, VHF radio, our long ropes, life ring and life jackets, probably picking up other incidental information as he walked around e.g. does the boat float, is there an engine.

2. MAKE SURE YOUR INSURERS ARE HAPPY: Talk to your insurers, make sure you are covered and take careful note of any restrictions that they impose, they don’t negotiate! We had been with Nautical Insurance Services for years – good policy, nice people to deal with and no quibble about any of our ventures on the Thames tideway; they happily covered us as far as Gravesend without any extra fees. We did not expect any issues for the Mersey. Ha! Got that totally wrong – they insisted that we needed to have a pilot boat so we changed to who were far more reasonable; they also seem like really nice people to deal with.

3. GET PERMISSION FROM THE MSC: Send the signed survey certificate to the MSC, fill in a form requesting passage, pay a load of money and then a few days later you hopefully get a nice letter back saying “yes we will allow passage”.

4. BOOK PASSAGE INTO LIVERPOOL: You need to book passage to get into Liverpool. There is a link above; the nice people at CRT in Wigan will sort things, but they do want to see an insurance certificate. In fact just about everybody wants to see an insurance certificate so get it scanned and copied.

Ellesmere Port....

Ellesmere Port….

5. THINK ABOUT THE WEATHER AND DON’T GO OUT ON A BIG SPRING TIDE: Liverpool is fantastic – enjoy! But think carefully about when to leave via the Mersey. The important thing is to select a few days when tides are not too high (9m or less). You can only book a 7-day stay in the docks so coordinate that with when you want to leave. Be prepared to be flexible, do not go out onto the tideway in anything more then a force 4, ideally less. We reckon that winds of 17 mph start to make us feel uncomfortable! Lots of places have tide tables eg . If weather means that you are stuck, then talk to CRT either in Wigan or contact Andy Goudie, Harbour Master at Canning Dock, Liverpool (07920 862741). Acquire a sight hound before talking to Andy πŸ™‚

6. GET A PILOT: Book your pilot – we’d recommend just giving Stuart Wood a ring – don’t even think about going if he is not free! Well he charges a sensible amount, so perhaps I should have written when he is not available πŸ™‚

7. BOOK BRUNSWICK LOCK: You need to talk to Liverpool Marina to book passage out through Brunswick Lock. The lock opening hours are restricted to 1.5 hours either side of high tide, possibly a little more if tides are favourable. They can be contacted on 0151 707 6777 orΒ  They will want to see your Insurance Certificate but are very nice people to deal with. Did we mention that Liverpool is fantastic?

8. KEEP THE COASTGUARD INFORMED: Fill in a CG66 – details here: . Give them a ring before setting out and when you safely arrive.

9. BOOK EASTHAM LOCK. Eastham VTS (Peel Ports/Ship Canal) is on 0151 327 4638, your MSC Induction pack will have all the telephone numbers. Check the day before that all is ok, they will tell you who else is coming in.

10. BOOK PASSAGE OFF THE SHIP CANAL: At Ellesmere Port: You need to get Neston Borough Council to swing the bridge (Contact Rob Taylor on 07799 658814) and CRT to unlock the padlock on the lock gates. CRT are best contacted through 0303 040 4040 but the direct number for the local office is 01606 723800. At Weston Marsh Lock for the River Weaver: You just need to get in touch with CRT. The Council and CRT only work weekdays and need at least 48 hours notice; we suggest giving them at least a week’s notice then talk to CRT the day before and again on the day

11. MAKE SURE YOU ENJOY THE CROSSING: this is the most important point!

Weston Marsh lock - gateway to the River Weaver...

Weston Marsh lock – gateway to the River Weaver…

We can’t mention this often enough – make sure your boat is fit to go out on the tideway….

The Thamescruising site has lots of general guidance, there is also a useful check list in the Mersey Guidance for small ships. We have no experience of going up the whole length of the MSC – it is too far without a comfort break for the dogs.

A final word from the reassuring advice Stuart gave us:

The passage is totally weather dependent (as in point 5 above) but at the time of year you are proposing the likelihood of two bad days together is low and the various agencies you are contacting are aware of this and will cut you some slack especially if I am on the case. Entry into the Ship Canal at Eastham Locks is now through a single large lock and is traffic dependent. The big boys have priority. Minimising any delays will be down to me.”





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Dog Blog: Me own calinder…

Posted by indigodream on 5 December, 2015

Deer me Pals

Mumi Sue sez me calinder is almost reddi – she dun showin me the “proofs”…..

Iz veri sad coz Mr “Im so vain, Iz a sooper model” Archie Beanz, haz got soopermodel type pics, but I, youz own corrispondent, top croozin’ journo and all- rownd wonder-hound, I duz get the comedy pages – poo!

You duzn’t wont to bye fis calindar – even tho lots of poor howndies wot duzn’t have foreva homes wud gets lots of treets if you did – is a bloomin’ cheek!

xxx Henry B Beanz

Huh, Max and Archie - we'z so cute blah blah bah.....

Huh, Max and Archie – we’z so cute blah blah bah…..




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