Sunday, 17 November 2013

My final boat blog for 2013

Hi There
As some of you will know, I struggle to do a regular blog with one every two weeks being about the best I can manage, but with the norm being about every three to four weeks. I’ve just been given a nudge by Carol of the good ship Rock n Roll who seems to have been waiting for me in suspenders for three weeks (damn spell checker, I did of course mean suspense J) for me to do my next instalment. Well here you go carol, get yourself a cuppa, slip into something warm and a bit more comfortable and read on.

For pictorial accuracy I should say that I had to make do with Nicky as the model for this photo although if you ask her she'll pretend it wasn't her and that say that I'd just downloaded it from the Internet, but who would you believe?

Well our last blog found us readying ourselves to ascend the 21 locks of the Wigan flight, although you can add another one to that as we’d moored outside the CaRT offices so it was actually 22 locks on the day. What’s useful about them though is that as the locks are so close together, it’s easy enough to walk onto the next lock(s) to set them, as Nicky's doing here, whilst you’re waiting for the one you’re in to fill. 

Now I usually do the hard boat bit whilst Nicky has the easy and fun part of doing the locks, but this time I thought I’d better lend a hand as there were some

heavy gates,

stiff paddles and

a face that didn't seem like it was having much fun.

We got ourselves into a good routine though and when I was in the lock and Nicky had opened the two main paddles she would move onto the next one. When the boat had risen enough, as some of the locks were quite deep

deep as the flight takes you up about 200 feet in all, I’d clamber onto the roof to get ashore and open up the other two paddles and then the gate once the water had equalised. I’d then slowly edge my way forward and when past the gate pop the boat into reverse, jump off, close the gate (keeping an eye on the boat to make sure it was on the same wavelength as me) and jump back on before it decided to drift off into the pound without me or reverse back to far. Only went wrong(ish) two or three times, but not so as I had to go swim for it or anything as drastic as that.

Here's looking up and

then looking back. I guess you could this enough locks to send you round the bend ! Wigan is in the background on the other side of the trees.

The boys had a bit of a boring day and as it was going to be a long cold one with scattered showers forecast we put their coats on as although Benji goes inside when he gets a bit cold and wet, Binks just stays out the back whatever. As it happened, it wasn't as wet as we'd expected and probably didn't get more than about twenty minutes of light rain all day that was a bonus.

Last lock of the day and had to dodge a piddler or is it a pisser? (a leak in a lock wall) that was angled just right to go down the chimney and that would have played havoc with our fire that we were looking forward to sitting in front of in about twenty minutes time.

We did the deed though in a little under seven hours that we didn’t think was too bad, but when you think an extra pair of hands would probably have saved us about five or ten minutes a lock, then that would have been 105 to 210 minutes quicker aka 2 – 3 hours that would have been quite a bit of time to knock off.

So where have we got to in these last three weeks, well, we’re four and a half miles further on at a place called Adlington. Now some of you will know that we don’t do that much travelling, the norm is about 30 cruising hours a month, but after the Wigan flight we just had to recover from the exertion. . . Only joking, there is actually a nine mile stretch between the Wigan top lock and the next lock on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and we’ve just meandered back and forth a bit.

We've only clocked up 10 cruising hours to the 16th November and whilst we've had some good clear days for the solar panels we have actually had to run the engine for about three hours during this time when the batteries got a bit low on really dull days. Still not bad though for November and still running the engine for less than an average of one hour a day compared to the three that we used to have to so they're still doing their stuff for us.

The reason we haven't travelled all that far is that we were going back home (Jersey) for three weeks at Christmas at a cost of about £850 to put the boat into a marina, hire car down, boat trip across and then the return journey so we’ve decided to go back home for seven weeks instead as it only costs a little over £200 extra for the time in the marina. Now here's a bit of a paradox for you as it seems strange going home for a holiday before coming back home again, but then Jersey will always be home to us, but then so is our boat.

This wasn’t the only reason for deciding to go back home for longer though, but there had been a breach a bit further up the canal near Rishton that wasn’t due to be repaired until about the third week in November, after which we’d have had to travel quite quickly to get past a planned winter closure followed by a few others that would have impacted on how and when we travelled when we got back after Christmas. So now, other than being unable to travel should the canal ice over, we should be pretty much able to travel as we want with the various stoppages coming to an end by the time our journey takes us too them. So after a few months of planning around visits from family, friends and booked in to do The Ribble Link, The Liverpool Canal Link and a winter stoppage at Wigan that we needed to get past we’ll be free to travel as we want until about April/May way when we’re going to start heading down south to meet up with some friends who are hiring a boat in July for three weeks.

So we’re booked in at White Bear Marina at Adlington and I’ve just started writing this blog where we moored just opposite for the night and will be moving the boat across shortly where the rest of this blog will come from.

Well that's job done, all moved across and safe and secure (Badger Sett is pictured here just in front and a bit to the right of the yellow car) plugged into the electrics and a stern full of coal ready for when we get back in January.

Anyway, back to what we’ve been doing that has been not much boating although it has been a nice scenic canal so far.

In the next photo you can see the foothills of the Pennines in the distance and what we'll be travelling through when we get back in the New Year.

And one of our mooring places.

We’ve had some excellent walks, some

along the canals

through woods,


disused train tracks

and open countryside.

They've normally been around the 2 – 3 hour mark that we do with the boys to get rid of their excess energy, but whilst we’re starting to flag towards the end, they just seem to get even more energy from somewhere and rush about like they’ve only just started out. Get them back to the boat though and that’s them out for the count until we next them excited with the prospect of another walk. 

When Benji was a puppy we'd got him his own dog basket, but he always ended up sleeping on Binks and that hasn't changed.

As luck would have it we’d moored by the grounds of Haigh Hall and Country Park and found out that they were having a firework display for Guy Fawkes night. So just outside the dinette window at nine o’clock we were treated to an impressive fifteen minute display and didn’t even have to get cold to enjoy it. Sorry, but the photo's we took didn't come out all that well. We had the country park and golf course on one side and on the other was just open fields. Just getting towards dusk in the next photo with the mist rolling in.

Binks heard on the radio that they were going to be holding auditions in Manchester for the new Star Wars film, so here he is as Jedi Binks.

So this will be my last boating blog of 2013, but I’ll try and find the time and the energy to do one from Jersey with some of the main sights and some of our favourite walks over there. I’ll also do some stats of our life aboard this year for those of you who like us are maybe considering life as a continuous cruiser and some basic facts may come in handy. So if you really want to know who many times we’ve emptied the cassette from our toilet this year, then be sure to tune in to the next exciting instalment !

And so in signing off,

Day 393 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 766 miles and 323 locks further on from when we started.