Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Slight change of plan

Grindley Brook bridge 28 to Swanley Bridge Marina : 10 miles, 9 locks, 3 lift bridges
Total to date : 86 miles, 40 locks, 20 lift bridges, 6 tunnels, 6 aqueducts
In the drink to date : Elly's phone charge (retrieved - it floated!), Mick's sunglasses, hearth brush, mooring thingie (retrieved with sea searcher)

Last night we had an email from Roger (Crown Narrowboats) who built nb Parisien Star.  We'd asked him if he would do some work for us, cutting back the radiator in the saloon so Mick could fit a solid fuel stove.  We also have more questions for when we see him! Roger said he had other commitments coming in and could we meet him at Middlewich for Friday.  Hmmmm.... get out the canal guides.... get on the laptop.... how many hours a day will it take us to get there if we cruise every day.... well..... seems we can do it.  So we scrapped our plan of only cruising a couple of hours a day, and of visiting Nantwich before making our way to Middlewich (lot's of "wiches" isn't there!).  Now we'll cruise 4-5 hours a day until Thursday and hopefully we'll be moored up at Middlewich Thursday night.

I started typing this blog at lunchtime as we made our way towards the end of the Llangollen Canal.  We had intended to moor up just before the 4 locks that are right at the end and take a walk to the ice cream shop!  Don't the best laid plans always go awry.

As we were doing the Swanley locks Mick said to wait before emptying the lock so he could dart inside to use the loo.  Oh no.... a loo disaster... the macerator pump isn't going.  We got in a bit of a panic.  What should we do?  We knew the Swanley Bridge Marina was just on from the locks so we decided to moor up and if we couldn't find a resolution ourselves we'd go the marina for help.  We read the trouble shooting guide, rang Roger, tried everything we could think of.  Mick was so frustrated.  He can fix this type of thing himself so easily in a house but everything's so different on a boat! We decided we'd move across the canal to the marina and ask for help.

They were very helpful and came out to discuss the problem.  They decided they'd have a go at pumping it out again.  A whole lot of messing around later - the loo expert fellow had to go off and do something else in the middle of all this - and we were still no better off.  It was nearly 4pm by now so we decided we'd pay to stay the night in the marina.  The loo fellow said he'd come back after his little job and have another look.

We hooked up to shoreline, turned on the fan heater, plugged in every electrical appliance that could be charged, dug out the electric kettle and toaster and settled in.  I went over to the marina office with the books I'd bought at the charity shop and finished reading and swapped them in the marina's little library.  It's actually a very nice marina.

Another very helpful Roger (this one on call at the marina) returned about 5pm and diagnosed a blocked loo.  I don't want to know how the problem was resolved (it involved a pair of kitchen gloves) but it's working again!  Yippeee!!! 

And another bit of excitement for the day was Mick dropping one of the mooring hook thingies into the drink.  We remembered that when we sorted through all the stuff that came with the boat there was one of those "sea searcher" magnets on a string.  Mick dug around and found it.  What a fantastic thing that is.  It only took a couple of dips in the general spot of where the mooring hook went in and up it came.  This was the fourth time one of us has dropped something into the canal so we decided we should keep track of them (see top of blog entry).

We can relax now.  It was a rather stressful afternoon with dropping things in the canal, a blocked loo, and then having to manoeuvre the boat inside the marina with the wind blowing.  We'll be able to make our Friday deadline so all's well on nb Parisien Star.

Today's selection :
1. Last night's mooring was very picturesque - only marred by the powerlines
2. Lockside goodies for sale - firewood, onions, tomatoes, eggs
3. A lockside cottage that's for sale at the moment
4. Tonight's mooring at Swanley Bridge Marina - looking towards the back of the boat
5. And looking to the front at the marina office and the bridge

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A bit of excitement

Whitchurch Arm to Grindley Brook bridge 28 : 2 miles, 6 locks (including staircase), 1 lift bridge
Total to date : 76 miles, 31 locks, 17 lift bridges, 6 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

We planned a short day today but that's not quite how it turned out.  We headed out of the little Whitchurch Arm in glorious sunshine.  I just walked along the towpath as we first had to head off in the wrong direction as the entry into the little arm is on a very sharp angle.  There's a winding (turning) hole just beyond so Mick had his first go at turning in a canalside winding hole.  So far they've all been larger concrete edged basins at the end of an arm.  It was still a reasonable size and he handled it easily.  As he came back around the bend to the lift bridge where I was waiting my heart did a little flip flop at the sight of nb Parisien Star.  She's our home!  I don't know why this day is any different to those we've had so far but it really hit me today.  She looked so lovely against the green of the trees and the sun was shining.  It's been a bit hard to imagine that this is our life for the next year or so.  I've always been a bit sentimental about our homes and I guess this one will be no different.

I walked along the towpath to the next bridge and stepped on board there.  It's so much easier than Mick getting the boat into the bank for me to jump aboard.  It was only a short cruise to Grindley Brook where we stopped on the very last mooring before the water points but we could still reach our hose to the tap.  We churned out 2 loads of washing while we were there and I got in a couple of hours work at the same time.  Mick went out to the towpath and painted our new plank and pole. I'm glad to have them out from under our feet inside!  After lunch we refilled the water tank and made a start on the locks.

First there's a staircase of 3 (where one lock joins straight into the next without a little pound of water in between).  I decided it was time I had a go at steering the boat into a lock as I've avoided doing so until now.  Just as the boat peeked out from the trees before the lock the wind gave the bow a push and I was off course.  I like having a bow thruster! (separate little propellor that can push the front of the boat left or right).

All was well down the staircase and Mick tied the bow of the boat up on the sharp curve of canal between the bottom of the staircase and the next lock and raced off without looking back.  Thanks Mick!  The bow was tied in so tight on the bend that the stern was sticking out into the canal and there wasn't much I could do about it because of the curved bank.  The flow of water coming down kept trying to push the stern further from the bank but he didn't even look back!  Eventually he returned to untie the boat for the first lock.

A lady coming up the 3 locks had rushed up ahead to Mick asking him to wait as she was on her own.  We tied the boat up after the first lock and waited, thinking she was about to come into the next lock.  It turns out that she had opened the bottom gate of every lock so she could just come up from one to the next.  We figured we'd just wait for her but when I turned back to nb PS she was on an obvious tilt and the rope we'd tied her with was slack.  With all the bottom gates of the locks open, the water from the pound we were in was slowly flowing through the locks.  Our home was sitting on an angle on the bottom of the canal.

By now the lady had a couple of boats queuing behind her and they walked up to see what was going on.  We emptied a lock full of water from the one we'd come from and nb Parisien Star was afloat again.  There was then a bit of confusion about what to do next.  If we went down the next lock would we make it worse for the boat coming up?  If we let more water down from above would we cause a problem at the staircase locks? The lady had tootled off on her merry way and was in the staircase with the help of the lock keeper.  I went and asked him what we should do and he came down to investigate.  He said after about 10 minutes the levels would correct themselves as the overflow from the one before would refill the next etc.  He was right of course and after a chat with the other boaters we started off again.  I stayed back at the last lock to give them a hand as we'd decided to moor up below the last of the locks.  The queue of boats was coming up the hill so they were the ones delayed.

The last boat in the queue called out that he read my blog so although I have no idea of their names or even the boat name, hello to you!

We tied up on the straight stretch of canal after all the locks and the day was all but over... for us anyway.  We are often amazed how late in the day we see boats going past but we like to have plenty of time to cook dinner, unwind, and settle in.  We've decided we'll just cruise 2-3 hours on the days we move so then we'll be moored up before the hire boats start looking for a place to stop, and I'll have time for work.  Today didn't quite work out that way with the muddling about at the locks but we were still tied up at 4.30pm.

Mick had his first attempt at tuning the tv and the channel selection was pretty dismal.  He decided we should pull the boat forward so we weren't under a big tree.  Another go at tuning the tv and the result was even worse!  We gave up and decided it would be a dvd tonight.  We have "Rivers" which is hosted by Griff Rhys Jones.  We saw it quite a while ago but decided to buy it to watch on non-tv nights.  We like "Cadbury" the chocolate labrador!

Today - nearly all about nb Parisien Star
1. Mick has discovered the bar code scanner on my ipad!
2. The winding hole
3. Here she comes around the bend
4. I love the sound of the water lapping around the boat - so peaceful
5. About to go through the lift bridge
6. Relaxed?
7. Looks like it!
8. Mick liked this cute little cottage

Monday, 29 October 2012

A day in port - Whitchurch

Sill at Whitchurch

Total to date : 74 miles, 25 locks, 16 lift bridges, 6 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

Firstly, our clocks went back an hour this morning so we are now 11 hours behind Australia and 13 hours behind New Zealand.

The weather forecast wasn't so good for Sunday so we decided to stay at Whitchurch and I'd get some work done.  Mick made up a little storage box for the floor of the cratch area and then walked into town for a couple of odds and ends (and to leave me in peace to work).  We really like where we are moored so it was nice to spend another day.

We did get a bit of rain but overall it wasn't as dreary as we feared.  We went out for a walk this afternoon and ended up way out in someone's paddock with no real idea where we were.  There was a bit of dissent over whether to keep on going (down a very muddy decline) or turn back the way we came.  I think next time I'll have to wear better shoes but I thought we were going down the towpath. No raincoat, no tissues, and a sniffly nose and cough.  Now when I look at Google Maps I can see we were actually almost back to the boat but I wasn't keen on slithering down that bank and the trees were dense so we couldn't see what was beyond them, so we walked all the way back around.  Haven't told "himself" that bit yet.

Now, at 5.30pm, it's dark and it isn't even the end of October.  Wonder what Winter will bring.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Prees Branch (between bridge 1 and 2) to Whitchurch Arm : 6 miles, 0 locks, 5 lift bridges

Total to date : 74 miles, 25 locks, 16 lift bridges, 6 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

We didn't get up until 8am which is a real sleep in for us!  There was no hurry as we only planned a short cruise today to reach the little Whitchurch Arm.  We had a leisurely breakfast and off we went.  The washing machine was going (after yesterday's disaster) and we were rugged up at the back of the boat.  Gee it was cold, getting down to zero overnight and leaving frosty patches in the shade of the hedges.

The cold here seems to feel worse, it just goes straight through your clothes.  Today was windy as well and that made it worse still.  It was what I would think of as an average Winter's day at home.  Frosty in the morning and really chilly but then a stunning sunny day.  We had our coats on the whole day - more because of the wind than the air temperature.

We pressed on beyond our usual lunch time to try and reach the moorings.  There were 2 lift bridges shortly before reaching Whitchurch and a boat right behind us.  I jumped off to open the first of the bridges and waited for the other boat to go through before closing it.  They said to me as they passed under the bridge "We'll get the next one".  Sounded good to me. 

When they reached the mooring space before the next bridge we started to wonder what they were doing.  They were both standing at the stern and nobody seemed to be making motions to get off as they slowed in towards the bank.  Next thing they both jumped off with the Mr hauling on his centre rope from the back of the boat.  Mrs wandered blithely on to open the bridge while their boat started veering out to the middle of the canal.  He had the stern in... sort of... but the bow was blowing out further and further until they were right across the canal sideways.

We felt so sorry for him as he struggled with the boat.  It was so windy!  But, he wasn't standing in line with the middle of the boat so tugging backwards frantically at the centre rope wasn't pulling the bow back very effectively.  We had no choice but to wait for him to go through as he was entirely obstructing the canal.  It was too windy to expect to lurk in the middle of the canal waiting so we pulled in.  Once he got onboard and started heading through the bridge we headed off too.  Right after the bridge Mr pulled over again to wait for Mrs.  Oh my goodness, the same charade again!  He did the exact same thing again with us stuck midway through the bridge with nowhere to go.  Luckily there is a winding hole (that's a widened section that allows you to turn around) right after the bridge so after waiting a while to see if he'd get control of his boat Mick nudged forward and managed to get around him.  It was a private boat so they were either as "green" as we are or they're borrowing someone else's boat.  It only took us a day or two to be able to control the boat from the bank.  Something the instructor who took us out on our first day said has stuck with me.  If you have your bow tied up you can use the propeller and rudder to get the stern in but it won't work the other way round.

We made the very narrow turn into the Whitchurch Arm, winded (turned) at the winding hole and moored up on a lovely sunny straight stretch just back from the junction.  After lunch we walked into town to have a look around and buy a couple of things we needed.  What an enjoyable afternoon it was.  When we got back I sat down to sort out my internet (that's why yesterday's blog was late) with the voucher we got at Tesco.  Mick went off to the junction with a windlass hoping to see a boat coming through that he could open the lift bridge for.  He came back rather disappointed a little while later.  No boats.  He did take a couple of nice photos though.

Here's what we saw today :
1. Our mooring on the Prees Branch last night
2. A very pretty bridge side cottage
3. I wonder what these little doors are for.  We see them on bridges all the time.
4. Look at the autumn colour!
5. Perhaps this boat had an Aussie owner?
6. Gorgeous building in Whitchurch
7. And another one
8. We bumped into this colourful fellow today
9. Tonight's mooring


Moving on from Ellesmere

Ellesmere to Prees Branch (between bridge 1 and 2) : 8 miles, 0 locks, 3 lift bridges, 1 tunnels
Total to date : 68 miles, 25 locks, 11 lift bridges, 6 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

We did a big grocery shop before heading out of Ellesmere.  While we were at the supermarket we had closed up the windows on the boat.  On returning we noticed that the saloon windows were slightly fogged up between them and our double glazing.  It’s probably not a good idea to close up everything, we'll see how we go tomorrow.

Next we needed water so we could do a load of washing as we cruised.  From the water point just outside the Ellesmere Arm we had to reverse back to continue on our way down the canal.  Mick’s getting pretty good at this now!

I worked today while Mick steered.  There wasn’t a single lock so that made it easier.  We looked at the canal guide before we left and decided we’d head down the Prees Branch and top up (diesel), empty out (loo) and buy gas at the Whixall Marina at the end of the arm.

We stopped for lunch on a stretch of canal away from other boats.  Mick needed a haircut and didn’t fancy an audience.  It was absolutely freezing in the wind so there we were rugged up in our coats with the electric hair clippers out.  Sure enough a boat came past!  They had a bit of a giggle at the sight.

I managed a good few hours work by the time we reached the junction with the Prees Branch.  There are a couple of lift bridges after you turn in and after them the canal was quite overgrown on both sides.  There was absolutely nowhere that you could stop.  When we reached the end the wind really picked up and kept pressing the boat against the bank on the right.  We wanted to turn left into the marina and it took a couple of attempts to be able to get away from the bank. 

Finally we made it to the right place in front of the diesel pump and loo pump.  I went inside to pay for everything and the fellow came out to help us with the pump out.  As he started the pump there was a very slight leak where their hose joined the connector bit.  How gross, although it doesn’t look like anything identifiable as we have a macerator loo and plenty of “loo blue” so there was no smell either.  It seemed to be doing it’s job despite the slight leak.  When it was all done Mick was standing right there beside the hose and as they tried to remove the connection from the boat the hose broke off.  To put it bluntly Mick got splashed!   It wasn’t too bad but I wasn’t letting him back on the boat so he stood there while I hosed him down with the rinse hose!   Hope that doesn’t happen again.  

The whole process took a lot longer than we anticipated so it was getting later than we prefer by the time we got out of the marina.  They did say we could moor up alongside on the bank but we’d spied a mooring between the 2 lift bridges and decided to head back there.  Just as we reached the first of the lift bridges we saw a boat pull into the mooring we’d earmarked.  There was room for a couple of boats so we weren’t fussed.  Of course they moored up with an enormous gap between them and the other boat ahead of them.  It would be awkward for us to get in there and we might not fit.  We decided to just go behind them although the bank was a little less cleared there.  They watched as we tied up and just as we were heading inside they called out that they’d move up if we liked.  Bit late now!  I think they offered because they felt they should but waited til we were obviously done because then we’d most likely tell them not to bother.  If course that’s what happened.  We’re fine where we are, and it’s only to sleep.

No photos of the pumpout loo disaster but here's today's selection :
1. One of the "meres"
2. Pretty stretch of canal
3. And another
4. Enjoying a pleasant cruise
5. More lovely canal views
6. Turning right into the Prees Branch

Friday, 26 October 2012

Double glazing success

We couldn't wait to get out of bed this morning and check if yesterday's efforts paid off.  What a great success it was!  The galley window was covered in condensation as usual, the side hatch was dry behind the pull across blind.  The other 4 windows were dry with the exception of one small spot where we can see the draft stop tape didn't quite reach the timber work at the top of the window so there's a little gap that will need attention.

As we sat and ate our breakfast we could actually look out a window without having to wipe it every 5 minutes to see anything.  Success!

Photos :
1. Galley window this morning
2. Top of the galley window - our morning welcome
3. Bottom of the opposite window in the galley - old water damage but dry today!
4. Top of one saloon window - a small section of condensation
5. The "clear window" breakfast - a poached egg with spinach and mushrooms

Homemade double glazing etc

We hadn't given a huge amount of thought to the problem of condensation but nb Parisien Star has obviously had issues with it as many of the windows have water damage to their timber work. I had spoken to Diane (nb Ferndale) about some home made double glazing she had made using Perspex and plastic tubing. She is happy with the result and when she put the Perspex back up as the weather cooled this month she left one off so we could see the difference when we went to visit.

Since then Mick has been thinking about ways of achieving a similar result.  We had a good look at our windows and noticed that the metal catches that hold the narrow glass panel at the top of the "hopper" windows could be removed.  This resolved a problem Diane had with the catches being in the way of her Perspex.

Today he had a go at making extra glazing for 4 of the windows after removing the catches. A lot of the day he was outside on the picnic table beside the boat cutting the thick Perspex he bought.... among a whole lot of chat with the fellow from the boat behind.  After lunch he interrupted me so many times from my work that I gave up and came out to help him.

So now we have 4 double glazed windows. We don't know how well it will work.... we will report back on it!  Our neighbour was rather negative about the whole idea and said we were wasting our time. I sure hope not.  It might not be a perfect solution but we've noticed that the pull across blind on our side hatch makes a huge difference to the condensation if we close it. The portholes are easy to wipe and don't have timber work to catch dripping water so we aren't so fussed about those. The only window left is the kitchen window but I don't want to prevent that being opened. It has a sliding section for dog patting and duck feeding, and its on the opposite side of the boat to the side hatch so we have an opening on whichever side we are moored.  Between those and the front doors we should have enough ventilation for when we are cooking.

Speaking of cooking, a couple of nights ago we made a kedgeree with smoked haddock that was in a Jamie Oliver Great Britain cookbook I bought. We've never made it before but it will be on the menu again!  The fish is much cheaper here than in Australia and there is a bigger choice even in a smaller supermarket. We've been eating fish 2 or 3 times a week since we got here.  And no Mum..... we haven't  been catching it in the canal! I'm not sure I would want to eat canal fish.  Our kitchen sink and shower drain straight into the canal.

And, on the topic of boat waste, we began to worry that the gauge on our loo tank wasn't working.  Sorry, I know it isn't a very nice topic but its something we have to deal with! We've been 3 weeks on the boat now and it only showed 2/10ths full. I have heard of people getting 3 weeks from their tank before having to empty it and we know ours tank is a decent size but it just didn't seem right. Just as I was sitting to email for advice I saw Roger, the builder of our boat, was online. I messaged and he suggested shining a torch against the plastic tank to see how full it was.

So picture this..... We had to tip the mattress of our bed up.... yes, we sleep on top of the loo tank as many narrowboaters do... as well as the hot water tank... the good Dolphin torch we brought with us didn't fit between the slats of the bed into the cavity below where the tanks are... off we went to find another torch... back to grovelling under the mattress.... with Mick holding up the mattress, I was kneeling on the floor shining the torch up the side of the tank. We could see when the light shone freely through the plastic tank so that showed us where on the side of the tank the full mark was.  All is well for a little longer but we will have it pumped out at the next opportunity. Welcome to the realities of living on a narrowboat!

There are many things different here in the UK compared to Australia.  Another one we've discovered is that Tesco (like Woolworths) sells fireworks.  It appears they use a separate counter - probably to ensure they are only sold to adults.  I picked up the brochure and took photos of it to show you all at home.  Halloween and Guy Fawkes is obviously a much bigger deal here than we're used to.  We even toyed with buying one or two of the fireworks simply because we can.  I don't know where we'd be allowed to set them off on the towpath.

Today's pics :
1. This is on view outside our window.  I told Mick he'll have to go sleep there if he's in trouble!
2. On my walk I crossed a bridge further down and zooming my camera there he was.
3. The end of the Ellesmere Arm looking out onto the canal.
4. A nearby marina.  I liked the name of the boat and then noticed 2 boats past it was nb Barolo.  We met them the other day when we moored for lunch.  What a stunning boat it is!
5. A lovely curved building in the centre of Ellesmere
6. & 7. Fireworks
8. The new double glazing - with draught stop tape behind the perspex. We'll see how it goes.  You can see the water damage to the corner too.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Meeting Lindsay

Another day in Ellesmere
Total to date : 60 miles, 25 locks, 8 lift bridges, 3 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

Today we had a quiet day with a visit from Mick's half brother Peter and Lindsay, his daughter.  We haven't met Lindsay before despite having been in contact by email for the last 5 years.  She's currently living in Dubai and is home for a week's holiday.  It's the first time our visits to the UK have co-incided w0ith hers.

We had lunch at the Red Lion pub in Ellesmere - a very big pub meal.  There'll be no dinner cooked at our place tonight!

It's the first time we've really got to show our boat to someone who doesn't know narrowboats.  We loved the reaction.  Yes!  We have a washing machine!  Yes!  We have a shower!  What?  You'd rather walk to Tesco than use our loo?  (Peter wasn't so bashful).

Lindsay, it was lovely to meet you after all this time.  Uncle Mick says so too. :)
Peter, thanks for driving all the way out here... we know it wasn't quite the Ellesmere you expected.

Photos today :
1. In the centre of Ellesmere - this building reminds me of the clocktower in Back To The Future!
2. An interesting arrangement - a sort of butty with a stern that is shaped to fit over the bow of the boat.
3. Peter, Elly, Mick, Lindsay - taken by the barman but unfortunately no flash

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Home to Ellesmere

St Martin's Moor to Ellesmere: 8 miles, 2 locks, 0 lift bridges, 0 tunnels, 1 aqueduct (tiny one)
Total to date : 60 miles, 25 locks, 8 lift bridges, 3 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

It felt like coming home when we turned into the Ellesmere Arm.   We even had 2 lots of "friends" to wave to on the way in!  Firstly, a lovely couple on the boat that had been moored behind us last week.... and we embarrassingly can't remember their names now... and as we made our way to the end of the arm to turn around, we passed nb Epiphany.

When we left this mooring last time we headed off early in the morning.  I think Mick wanted to do that so there'd be nobody to witness his attempt at turning the boat.  It really does look like a very daunting task when you see the length of the boat and the amount of space to turn it.  Even that first time he did a fantastic job of it.

We decided to turn the boat before mooring this time so our side hatch would be facing the canal (better for duck feeding) and we'd earmarked a space further back in the arm.  There were quite a few people walking around the little basin and despite chatting at the same time to an elderly couple, Mick executed a perfect turn!  Now we're looking out over a field with a couple of houses behind rather than a building site with the Tesco neon sign as the background.  It wasn't a huge day for us so we were happy, relaxed and ready for a walk.  I really like it here.

The cruise today started with going down the 2 New Marton locks.  I walked ahead to the lock to find a hire boat on it's first day out and attempting the first lock.  Now, I remember how terrified we were of doing our first lock and listening to the lady brought back those memories.  The 2 couples had a pair of dogs with them.  One of them kept yelping the entire time while the pair of them darted up and down the lockside (the dogs that is, not the couples).  I thought at first it wanted to get back on the boat but when they eventually got the water level enough to open the lock gate, the dog refused to get onboard.  They called, cajoled, yelled... looking increasingly embarrassed... but that dog wasn't getting back on the boat.  I could see Mick standing beside nb PS watching the whole charade.  By the time they finally caught the little bugger and got him on the boat relations between husband and wife were decidedly frosty.  Oh dear, not a good start to a week out.  I'm thinking that little dog won't be allowed off the boat at the next lock.

Last night I posted a list of narrowboating words we've come across.... some of which we've had to look up what the mean.  I had two comments, one mentioning I hadn't included the meaning of "bilge" and the other telling me of an error.  When I had looked up the word "transom" it said it was the place where the steerer stands but that isn't technically correct.  You really shouldn't stand on the transom (otherwise known as the "counter") as you could be knocked overboard by the tiller bar swinging around - either by the steerer or by the rudder bumping into something underwater.

I found this photo we took of nb Parisien Star while she was out of the water.

On the photo below :
Sacrificial anodes - the 2 silver patches on the bottom left
Rudder - bottom right
Propellor - under the boat, behind the rudder
Gunwale - the ledge below the the signwritten panel (above the first row of blue)
Tunnel bands - the cream and red (originally there so you could tell whether the boat you see at a distance is heading towards you or away from you)
Swans neck - the S shaped bar top right (we didn't have our tiller bar on in this photo)
Taff seats - the little wooden boards you can see on the right
Transom or counter - the semi-circular back deck.  When steering you stand inside the back doors, and the light blue "hatch" on top slides forward.

Narrowboating words

We read lots of blogs and articles and books before we started out on this adventure so we got to know a lot of the words used in the narrowboating and canal worlds.  But, for those of our readers who know nothing of boats I thought I'd start a list in plain English. No particular order.

The Cut - slang term for the canals - used by boatmen years ago
Tiller - the lever you use to steer a boat
Fenders - plastic, rope or rubber "bumpers" that are mounted front and back and hung by rope on the sides. In theory to prevent damage when moored against the bank, or bumping into something... by accident of course
A button - round rope fender on the stern
Bow - front
Stern - rear
Rubbing strakes - steel strips along the hull to lessen damage to the sides
Hull - main steel shell of the boat
Anode - replaceable, large piece of metal (magnesium) fitted to the lower hull, designed to corrode due to electrolysis instead of the hull - also called a sacrificial anode
Draft - the amount of the hull that is below water
Air draft - the height of the boat taken from the waterline to the highest fixed point on the boat
Bilge pump - pump (electric or manual) for removing water that has collected in the bilges  
Bilge - the area at the very bottom of the boat (underneath the flooring)
Holding tank - on-board storage tank for toilet waste, emptied by vacuum at pump-out stations
Blacking - protective coats of paint applied to steel hulls to discourage rusting (thick black stuff)
Starboard - The right hand side of the boat when you stand at the back facing forward
Port - The left hand side of the boat when you stand at the back facing forward
Cratch - timber assembly over the front area (usually a solid or glazed triangular deckboard or 'cratch-board' which is supported from the cabin-top by a 'top plank')
Cratch cover - fitted plastic or canvas zip up cover over the cratch
Gunwale (gunnel) - top edge of the hull were it joins the cabin side - it forms a narrow little ledge along the side of the boa
Transom - rounded back part of the boat above the water behind where the steerer stands
Side hatch - pair of opening side doors (often steel, but ours are steel frame with glass 'windows') 
Swans neck - S shaped steel bar welded to the rudder post to which the tiller bar is fitted (brass shiny stick with a wooden handle on the end)
Tiller pin - little, often decorative, brass pin that holds the tiller bar on the swans neck
Rudder -  flat steel panel that is turned by the tiller - it steers the boat
Saloon - loungeroom
Galley - kitchen
Bulkheads - upright panels (walls) separating a boat into compartments
Travelpower - separate generator powered by the engine to provide 240v power. We are glad we have one!
Inverter -  Electronic device for taking power stored in the battery bank and converting it from 12v DC to 240v AC
Galvanic Isolator - a fitting to a boat’s electrical system, intended to help prevent galvanic corrosion to the hull
Bow thruster - small propeller in the bow that can be used to push the bow left or right
Windlass - L-shaped handle for operating lock paddles. Has a square socket at one end to fit on the spindle operating the paddle gear.  Often called a 'lock key'
Gongoozler - person who lurks around canals, particularly locks, watching the boats go by. Bit like a plane spotter

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A turn in the weather

Before Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - across the Aqueduct, turn around - St Martin's Moor : 8 miles, 0 locks, 2 lift bridges (same one twice!), 2 tunnels (same ones as yesterday), 4 aqueducts (Ponty twice)
Total to date : 52 miles, 23 locks, 8 lift bridges, 3 tunnels, 2 aqueducts

We decided last night that we wouldn't go all the way to Llangollen, we'd cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, wind in the little arm beyond it and come back again.  We now have a meeting lined up back at Ellesmere for Wednesday with Mick's half brother and his daughter Lindsay.

The traffic level on the canal had definitely picked up over the weekend.  The school holidays have started and there were hire boats everywhere.  Just on dusk yesterday a hire boat charged by quite fast with a blonde teenage boy by himself at the helm.  We could see mum and some more kids about the boat.  This morning just as I got out of the shower there was an almighty thud, the boat tilted alarmingly, and stuff fell off shelves and out of cupboards.  I thought someone must have hit us - hard!  I raced out to see Mick yelling out the cratch.  It was the same boat from the evening before but this time they were going even faster... so fast that we were pulled away from the canal edge and tossed back against it.  Mick said the kid very nearly plowed straight into us and in a panic tried to divert.  At the speed he was going I'm amazed he didn't hit us.  There were waves on the canal! 

This morning we woke to rain and it's pretty much drizzled the entire day.  We forged on regardless.  Yesterday crossing the Chirk Aqueduct it wasn't raining and the rain stopped for us again today.  But, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which was a daunting crossing, we had drizzle.  I stepped off the boat right at the start saying I'd walk across to take photos.  I very quickly wished I hadn't.  It was a long way... a very long way... to the other end.  I had done the same thing on the Chirk Aqueduct but it has wide concrete on both sides and somehow that felt better.  Half way across I was having trouble looking down and ended up making a rush for the end just staring at the concrete in front of my feet.  I had quite a wait at the other end before Mick and nb Parisien Star arrived.  He was looking rather tense!

On the return trip I sat in the cratch and felt a whole lot better.  The drizzle had eased so that made it a nicer trip, plus the current was now carrying us along rather than fighting us.  We enjoyed the return journey across.  Soon after we had the Chirk Tunnel, which was also much easier in this direction, and then the Chirk Aqueduct.  The engine is under noticeably less strain going with the current.

I've not felt the best today and by lunchtime I couldn't stop coughing.  We moored up before the New Marton Locks.  We'll tackle those in the morning.

Photos of today :
1. Cautiously approaching the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
2. Carefully check not to bump into that very narrow steel barrier
3. Goodness, it's a long way down
4. Still checking...
5. The building of the aqueduct
6. Aren't they a long way off
7. Amazing view of the river below
8. Look how narrow the edge is!
9. Lovely houses in the distance
10. Still concentrating on the way back
11. And I'm enjoying the view
12. Smiling onto the Chirk Aqueduct
13. A much less stressful trip - even if it's all in your mind
14. The railway viaduct running alongside is very pretty