Thursday, 17 August 2017

Moving between Festivals.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
(Retrospective post for Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th June)

This was simply a move from the Foxton Locks Festival to Braunston, ready for the Historic Boat Gathering there the following weekend.

A good run, with nothing notable, other than the Leicester summit from Foxton Locks to Watford Locks can be fairly slow going in a deep draughted boat.  The return trip confirmed what we thought n the way up - the Southern half generally seems worse than the Northern half.

Good deep overnight mooring on rings near Welford Arm junction.

Back down the staircase locks at Watford

Looking down the staircase

They empty quite fast.
Bottom lock of the staircase.

On into single locks at the bottom.

They are pretty locks, but sadly there is an ever present din from the M1,

Last lock of the flight, and last narrow one of the trip.

Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th June
Foxton to Braunston
Miles: 27.0, Locks: 13

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Up the Leicester branch of the Grand Union to Foxton Locks.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
(Retrospective post for Wednesday 14th June to Friday 16th June.

As promised, at least some pictures from the period from early June until mid August when the blog has remained unupdated.

This trip should have featured both "Sickle" and "Flamingo", but the failure of "Sickle's" gearbox after we left the Rickmansworth Festival meant a complete revision of our plans, at it was left South for several weeks until repairs could be carried out.  We had hoped to take both boats to the Foxton Locks Festival, and then onwards from there to the Braunston Historic Boat Gathering.

We could now either still take both boats to Braunston, but cancel plans for Foxton, or could do both Foxton and Braunston with "Flamingo", but make no attempt to get "Sickle" to either.  Having not been up the Leicester in many years, we elected to do the latter.

Given that Cath and I have not been up the Leicester in years, and that the last time I did it in an historic bit was about 1971, I'm surprised how few photos we took.  I suppose that is because there are few locks, and much of the time was spent crossing the summit, (often very shallow!), so unless someone got off with a camera, most of it goes unrecorded - a lot of our photos do feature locks, of course!

We were made to wait a very long while before being allowed into Watford locks.
Not that Cath is one to miss a chance for music practice!
Finally we are allowed in.
Ordinary locks at the bottom before coming to the staircase.
Max and Odin are being encouraged to wait quietly at locks.
Approaching the staircase.

Steerer's view.
On our way up the staircase.
Ascent can be quite brisk once you are finally in the staircase.
The pounds to the side carry out the function those not present between the locks.
At Foxton, having failed to take photos on the long summit.
At Foxton looking towards the lock flight.

Wednesday 14th June to Friday 16th June
High House Wharf to Foxton Locks

Total Trip Miles: 29.3, Locks: 14

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

So what happened to the blog?

( Boat Sickle &Flamingo - posted by Alan)

So we are now into August, but the last blog posts related to any boat moves currently fizzle out in early June!

I don't imagine many people have been seeking out updates, but, if you have, I apologise, because we are clearly not doing very well!

It has been somewhat of a case of "life got in the way", but as we hope to be travelling again soon, I really don't want to let the blog die.  Even if we are its only regular readers, we do regularly find ourselves searching old entries to refresh our memories of past trips.  Often they contain useful information about what to expect, what hold ups or other difficulties we might encounter on a repeat trip, and general information about time taken.

So even if we don't record in detail everything that happened from June to now (August 15th), we will attempt to get it up and running again on our next trip out.

In brief between 3rd June and now we have done the following....

4th June - Completed returning "Flamingo" to its Northamptonshire mooring.

14th to 16th June - "Flamingo" to Foxton for the Foxton Locks Festival.

19th to 20th June - "Flamingo" from Foxton to Braunston ready for Braunston Historic Boats event.

22nd to 23rd June - "Sickle" moved from Cassiobridge to Berkhamsted following completion of gearbox repairs, but then failed again at Berkhamsted with problems with the linkages that operate the gearbox.

26th June - Flamingo" moved back from Braunston to its home mooring.

5th July - With "Sickl'e's" gearbox linkages now mended, moved from Berkhamsted to a borrowed mooring at Cow Roast.

27th to 28th July - "Sickle" noved from Cow Roast to Linslade ready for Linslade Canal Festival

30th July to 1st August - "Sickle" moved from Linslade back to its home mooring in Northamptonshire, meaning our boats were finally reunited for first time in about 2 months.

In parallel with this we have been trying to keep up the program of works on "fFamingo"  However two major equipment failures on "Flamingo" have diverted us from anything planned, and side-tracked us on to work we did not anticipate doing at this stage - I might write this up at some stage!

If I can, I will post at least some pictures relating to the 8 (or so) separate trips we have not been able to write up fully.

Friday, 9 June 2017

These Pictures Have Made Me Rather Sad!

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

I have just in rather unexpected circumstances been put in touch with a former owner of "Flamingo".

Phil seems to have owned "Flamingo" from late 1998 to probably 2008, so around 10 years in total, before selling it to the person we bought it from.

When we bought "Flamingo" its then owner claimed to have done large amounts of work on it, but it actually arrived with us as a major project.  Some areas, such as his "re-modelled" bathroom were almost a wasteland of (presumably) ripped down tiles, and badly damaged plywood surfaces, in need of a complete rebuild.

It has therefore come as rather a surprise to now see photos taken by Phil under his ownership that actually show a boat which, although having a fairly basic interior, actually looks to have been quite homely, and certainly much loved.

Phil explained to me on the telephone that he had not had huge amounts of money to spend on "Flamingo", but had tried to keep it in good order.  He acknowledged that even under his ownership the engine badly needed a rebuild, which he was never able to organise, but we now know the boat was fully repainted externally about 10 years ago, (in fact it was done twice, because the first attempt was done in unsuitable paint dock conditions, and was not satisfactory).

The following photos are unfortunately not high resolution, but give a fair idea of what "Flamingo" was like 10 years ago.  To be completely blunt, life would have been so much easier had it come to us in this condition, rather than in the state it was after a further seven years of ownership by someone who had done little to improve it, and much to spoil it.

(The pictures are reused with Phil's full permission, and we are grateful to him for making them available).


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Long, Long Day

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Saturday 3rd June

Three Locks on a gorgeous day.
We actually had no definite need to put in anything like such a long day as we actually ended up doing.  We really only planned to do at least half of the remaining trip back to base, and once we were not far North of Cosgrove we had probably already achieved that.

However by the time we were where we could legitimately have called it a day, we realised that we could easily press on to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight, so we decided to do just that.  A friend that we met at Cosgrove lock assured us that these days there is invariably space on the moorings at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight.

Three locks
So we pressed on, but when we arrived there two boats were just taking up the final moorings that were available.  Not too deterred we though we will just push on up five locks to the "long pound" - surely there would be space there?

And Three Locks yet again

About 4 locks up, our friend Barry was cycling down on his way to the services at the bottom of the flight, with a toilet cassette in a natty little trailer.  He wasn't sure the only space he had spotted in the long pound could accept a seventy footer.  Needless to say, when we got there, there was nothing approaching a suitable space.  Now very tired, options were running out, but we had little choice but to do the remaining two locks of the flight, despite being warned of no space at the top.  Maybe we could moor alongside the museum's boat Sculptor - we have been told in the past that we can.  However Sculptor proved to be facing South, and had we moored alongside it, the point the dogs need to get on and off would have been opposite its open hold - so not a possibility.

Working our way up Stoke Bruerne locks
Fearing there might be no other moorings we contemplated mooring on the bollards just South of trip boat Charlie's mooring - not ideal, although another boat subsequently did just that.  Then someone said a boat was pulling out further up - some people I think like to tackle the tunnel at the end of the day, when it is not so busy.  We quickly moved up there, and it proved ideal.

The engine had run continuously for 11 hours - about an hour longer than CanalPlanAC shows with our settings that are too optimistic for travelling with Flamingo - I really must tweak them to something that reflects reality!

I promised Cath a pub meal, and we went to the Boat, where I have to be fair and say the food was considerably better than other recent experiences we have had there.  We were joined for the evening by our friends Barry and Jan - always a pleasure, despite Barry persuading that by far the strongest beer on tap was the one to switch to.  Strong it definitely was!

Above Stoke Hammond Three Locks to Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 22.1, Locks: 13
Total Trip Miles: 185.1, Locks: 138

Friday, 2 June 2017

More Slow, Steady Progress, With No Dramas.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Friday 2nd June

Below Marsworth top lock and dry dock.
After a short day yesterday, it was time to start adding the miles and the locks.  When we had our leisure boat "Chalice" we would have considered that the trip from Tring summit to our home mooring in Northamptonshire was a relatively easy three days.  Now, however, when moving a full length, deep draughted ex-working boat about, such assumptions are dangerous.  It should still be fairly straightforward, but we knew we would pass today through pounds that are notoriously shallow, or where the water level is regularly badly down.  THe worst cases of course are the pounds that are shallow even when full, but the level has also dropped, making the "bottom too close to the surface" effect even more severe.

Ex Thomas Clayton "tar" boat Towy - a well kept wooden boat.
Slow steady progress - not rushing!
Ex "trust" boat Belfast in need of TLC, now sold to someone we know
We started the day with Marsworth locks, which used to be my favourite Grand Union flight, but these days many of the gates leak so badly that shallow pounds are guaranteed.  In fat today was not as bad as sometimes - I suspect the an in the CRT van we had seen drive past the boat had done some topping up - though not really enough.  Most locks were against us, and with only two crew, this clearly wasn't going to be the fastest of days.

Unusually another problem pound, the one between the two Ivinghoe locks was not too bad - again I suspect recent topping up, as it is regularly well off level.  We managed to avoid grounding anywhere below Grove Church lock as well, which was welcome.  For a boat that draws around 3 feet, this is now one of the worst bits for many miles.

By the time we arrived in Leighton Buzzard we were once again well down on timings we would have been used to with "Chalice"  We hadn't done anything particularly badly, and the extended timings just go with the territory with "Flamingo".  We find that trying to go faster when conditions are poor achieves very little, other than maybe making us make unforced errors, so we now largely back off to a slightly slower speed, chosen appropriate to the conditions on any stretch.

After leaving Leighton Buzzard we suffered considerable hold ups as the crews of a pair of Wyvern Shpping hire boats were supposed to be under instruction.  The male crew of one boat seemed to be fairly merry already, and paying little attention.  At least the all female crew of the second boat were trying hard to learn, though I thought the trainer wasn't doing a grand job!  We then waited as a returning Wyvern boat came up.  The couple were from New Zealand, having come to the UK just to do this.  They had been out 4 weeks on what to us would have been a very leisurely cruise, but had clearly enjoyed themselves enormously.  I can only imagine what a 4 week hiring must have cost them - I hope Wyvern had offered a good discount!  Shortly after we passed our old boat "Chalice" still looking better cared for than we often managed - it is good to see it has not joined the ranks of boats of that age left to deteriorate rapidly.

Our old boat Chalice showing some of the new paintwork we did before sale.
We were not totally unsurprised as we had passed most of the "Jackdaw" pound up to Three Locks to find the all female hire crew firmly grounded in the bushes on the offside of the canal, and unable to get themselves off.  So we did the "Good Samaritan" bit, and quickly towed them off, and on their way again.  By now we were fairly tired, and it was getting late.  We could have gone down Three Locks, but the first pound in the flight was maybe twenty inches down on what it should have been.  We decided to stay at the top, and tackle it refreshed in the morning.

Bulbourne to above Stoke Hammond Three Locks
Miles: 13.0, Locks: 19
Total Trip Miles: 163.0, Locks: 125

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Time To Get Flamingo Moving Again.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Thursday 1st June

Northchurch lock
Following the break down of "Sickle", and being forced to continue with just "Flamingo", we had taken the decision to leave "Flamingo" in Berkhamsted as long as we were able.  Here we could both keep an eye on it, but also hoped to carry on working on it.  In practice other pressures meant very little happened on that second front - in fact leaving it there actually generated yet more work.  It was left under overhanging trees, and as a result got covered in massive amounts of bird "poop".  This actually stuck like glue and proved initially very hard to remove to the extent that several days later some has still resisted all attempts to "unstick" it, and is still present!

Leaving lower Dudswell lock
Unfortunately there has been no further progress on resolving "Sickle's" gearbox issues, so with any hope of reuniting both boats in the near future now evaporated, we could wait no longer before starting to move "Flamingo" on again, this time back to its home mooring.  Our schedule required we complete that before next Monday, and today was the last day we could start to guarantee that.

Upper Dudswell lock
In practice we started late enough that we could only do the remaining "uphill" locks to Tring summit, and the summit pound itself.  Starting the descent through the Marsworth flight would have to wait until tomorrow.  This should be OK - we had some slack, if nothing went badly wrong, though not huge amounts of slack.

Berkhamsted to Bulbourne (Tring summit)
Miles: 5.3, Locks: 7
Total Trip Miles: 150.0, Locks: 106