Friday, 31 October 2014

Brassey Green

Here I am Rune
Distance 2.7 miles
Total 702 Locks 26 Tunnels
Running total mileage 1072.7 miles

Well after a week ashore to celebrate my 59th birthday back in Torquay we are back aboard the boat and once again on the move. The boat was here Tattenhall Marina (Google map shows it as being in a field!!) whilst we were away, and a very pleasant marina it seems, although it is very windy. Getting into the marina was interesting since as soon as I turned to go through the entrance, the wind pushed the bows across putting the boat diagonal across the entrance. As I could see that any further attempts would have the same result I took the easier option and used the bow rope to pull the boat into the marina entrance and successfully got in that way. Getting back out was equally interesting since there was still a strong wind blowing but we managed without having to bow haul the boat again.
The current intention is to carry on down the Shropshire Union canal to Birmingham and then spend some time exploring the Birmingham Canal Network (BCN). Not sure how long it will take but there is no rush.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Here I am Rune
Distance 7.1 miles
Total 701 Locks 26 Tunnels
Running total mileage 1069.9 miles

We’ve reached our target of Tattenhall Marina but it seemed to be one of those days when nothing seemed to go to script. The weather forecast had been for a dry morning with less than 8% chance of rain, well they got that wrong, it drizzled for most of the morning. The next irritation was that I just couldn’t seem to get the workings of these broad locks right. The only lock that seemed to go according to plan was the first one, Hoole Lane Lock, after that it all seemed to go downhill. The second lock had bollards too far away from the lockside for our ropes to reach so I tried to manually hold the boat as the lock was filled. The problem was that the side paddles empty into the lock about ¾ of the way along the lock which means that as soon as you open the paddles the bow of the boat is forcefully pushed across the lock and manually I was unable to stop it so it bumped quite hard on the lockside. I tried again on the next lock to hold it from on board the boat with the rope around a bollard, again this failed and the boat swung across the lock again. I then tried putting the boat on the opposite side of the lock when the paddles were opened, nearly worked but as the lock filled the flow got under the boat and then pushed it back to the other side of the lock, by the last lock I’d given up trying to control the boat and left it to its own devices. Shall have to design a strategy for these locks, they seem more difficult than previous broad locks we’ve encountered or perhaps it was just a bad hair day!!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Chester (last day)

Here I am Rune
Distance 0 miles
Total 696 Locks 26 Tunnels
Running total mileage 1062.8 miles

As expected, today was just a case of hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over. The rain was mainly in the morning but the wind has been pretty strong all day and I certainly wouldn’t fancy trying to navigate a narrow boat in it unless I absolutely had to. Saw two boats moving today, one this morning came past heading towards the staircase locks and another arrived about lunchtime to moor up behind the boat behind us. They did seem to be having some difficulty in mooring in the wind and normally I would have gone out to help, but it was also raining very heavily at the time and by the time I would have got my wet gear on they would either have moored or got themselves stuck across the canal, as it turned out they managed to get themselves moored.
Tomorrow we will need to press on a bit to get to the mooring outside of Tattenhall Marina which is our target for the day to make up for today’s lack of movement.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Chester Town Centre

Here I am Rune
Distance 0.8 miles
Total 696 Locks 26 Tunnels
Running total mileage 1062.8 miles

Another short day’s travel but I can’t really call it uneventful. After we had watered up at the Wharf there was a hire boat coming through with a crew of about 6 heading towards the lock staircase. Not one to miss an opportunity to make the job easier I volunteered to double up with them through the locks, turned out it wasn’t such a good idea. They led into the first of the three locks but then drifted diagonally across the lock. Since they didn’t seem to be doing anything about it I gently nudged into the lock and pushed their boat across to the right hand side of the lock, so far so good. Their shore crew began to work the lock but with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm. Once the ground paddle had been fully opened my boat was ‘sucked’ towards the top gate and despite putting it into full reverse I couldn’t stop it. The bow button then became jammed in the gate and as the waters rose the bow first went down then the button retaining chains broke which released it but dropped the button down to water level hanging on the two remaining chains. This was now going to cause a problem in the next lock since without a functioning bow button it was likely that the bow itself might jam in the lock gate, and that would have led to a sinking.

The solution to this, suggested by the helm of the hire boat was to tie our stern bollards together which would then stop me going forward onto the gate as his boat was some 10 feet longer than ours. This was duly done and when the second lock had been drained into the our lock we began to move forward into the second lock of the staircase. Here things began to go seriously wrong as neither of us could get over the cill between the locks. I tried to reverse back into the lower lock but, being tied to his boat, had been dragged onto the cill by his boat and couldn’t get back. I called up for the crew to let some more water into the lock and whilst I was doing this, one of his crew was tinkering with the paddles on the gate below us. I called up to say don’t open that to which he replied, “It’s already open”. That had to be the worst possible news because it meant that whilst sitting on the cill the lock was draining and if we didn’t do something about it quickly we would both sink! The problem was resolved by rapidly closing the lower paddles and letting more water into the lock but I have to say it was a seriously worrying time and in retrospect I think I’d have preferred to do the locks on our own. With quite a big shore crew the other boaters had been pretty much doing their own thing so it hadn’t been done as sequentially as is necessary to safely go through locks. I would have to say that was a bigger fright than when we caught the rudder at Watford Locks because, unlike at Watford, I had little or no control over what was happening. The best I can now say is that ultimately no one was hurt and we are still floating, but it was a bit too close for my liking.

Tomorrow the weather forecast is rubbish so it is possible that we may stay here until Wednesday.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Riverside walk at Chester

Here I am Rune
Distance 0 miles
Total 693 Locks 26 Tunnels
Running total mileage 1062.0 miles

Well, we took the riverside stroll around Chester incorporating a walk around the racecourse and since the weather held, it was a fairly pleasant walk. Crossed the Roman amphitheatre on the way back to the city centre and finished with a walk around the Cathedral. All in all quite a good day’s sightseeing. Tomorrow we should be moving up through the staircase locks back to the mooring at the back of the bingo hall before departing Chester entirely on Tuesday. Have to say that I’ve quite enjoyed my stay here and would certainly recommend Chester to any visitor.

Queens Park Bridge

The Cross at Chester