Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thames Clipper

I went by boat from North Greenwich rather than the tube for a change.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back at Buckby

Back down the Watford flight and onto the Grand Union main line at Norton junction. We passed the new Yelvertoft marina, now dug out and nearly finished. There are even a few boats moored in it:

I took some video footage at Watford with my ipod. I'll post it later when I've edited it somewhat to remove the twenty minutes of the inside of my pocket.

Moored above Buckby Lock 8.

Total distance is 7 miles, 5½ flg and 8 locks and 1 tunnel.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


We pulled the pins and left Foxton, heading back towards the south, disappointing the swans that approach every boat that stops there.

There are no locks between Watford and Foxton, the meandering course of the Grand Union punctuated by tunnels at Crick and Husbands Bosworth. In all it takes about a day to travel this stretch so we have been without locks for two days, although we were able to look at the ten staircase locks at Foxton yesterday afternoon. We broke our return trip today at Husbands Bosworth for food supplies and at Kilworth Boat Services for diesel and water and to empty our toilet cassettes.

Near the turning for the Welford arm I spotted the rather lovely nb Zulu and although it is considered rude to peer into peoples' cabins it was hard to miss the fact that the interior of this tug style narowboat is decorated with replicas of old working boat name panels.

There was also time to polish some more brassware (boater's bling) on Syncopation. Here you can see a mushroom vent before and after cleaning:

Moored at bridge 20, Yelvertoft.

Total distance is 15 miles, 3¼ flg, 0 locks and 1 tunnel.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Foxton at Last

We arrived at Foxton in time to buy ice creams and visit the museum. The day's cruise was relatively uneventful with no locks to navigate. Nicholson keeps referring to the route as isolated and remote. We didn't pass through any villages at all. Husbands Bosworth is bypassed via the Bosworth tunnel, considerably drier inside than the Crick tunnel.

View from the top of the inclined plane.

An old boat at the position of the gate into one of the caissons.

More on the engine problem we had earlier in the week: The crankshaft oil seal was badly damaged by fragments of the failed Travelpower drive belts we have lost in the last two years. These had wrapped around the crankshaft end, worked into the area in front of the oil seal and ripped it in two, separating the inner and outer parts. I need to keep a close eye on the Travelpower drive belt.

Total distance is 17 miles, 3¼ flg 0 locks and 1 tunnel.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

To Crick

We made it to Crick today, only two days behind schedule. I had to carry both toilet cassettes to the Elsan point last night, a little further than I expected.

We turned right at Norton junction, towards Leicester. I took the bike to Watford in search of a post office (located in the village, according to Nicholson's guide). Unfortunately the post office was closed some time ago, the nearest in Crick or Long Buckby according to a helpul resident. I had to stop to reinflate the front tyre of the bike three times as it now has a slow puncture. Hawthorn hedge cuttings and bicycle tyres do not mix well.

We continued through the staircase locks at Watford gap (we're in the North now), Crick tunnel, stopping to visit the post office stores in Crick before we moored near Cracks Hill.

On arrival at Watord we met nb Justice going in the opposite direction. Justice was being driven by Steve Heyward, columnist for Canal Boat magazine.

Later on we passed bloggers nb Derwent6 who warned us that Crick tunnel would be wet, and it was.

Total distance is 6 miles, ¼ flg, 8 locks and 1 tunnel.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Off Again

Work started on the engine again this morning, with the required seal arriving at exactly the right time. It was fitted and the issue resolved. The oil is now staying safely in the sump. Stowe Hill Workshop kindly gave us use of a landline overnight so we could cook our evening meal and charge our batteries. I had to take the toilet cassettes off-site to empty them. We set off at about four in the afternoon and stopped near Buckby top lock, almost outside the shop.

Somebody on board seems to be filling up the Vacuflush toilet cassettes very quickly as we've filled two in the last 24 hours and the little red light will stay lit until tomorrow morning when I can empty them. I suspect Ewan is not able to reliably close the valve when flushing and the flush dribbles until the valve is closed properly. More on the toilet: it blocked for the second time since new today. Last time it blocked somebody had put baby wipes down the pan and the macerator blade go stuck and I had to fish them out. This time a poke with a stick was enough to clear the blockage (phew! No fishing around down there required).

Moored at buckby top lock shop.
Total distance is 5 miles, 5¾ flg and 6 locks.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Oh Dear

My nightly engine check yesterday revealed a disturbingly low level of oil on the dipstick. I topped up with the oil I had to bring the level jus to the end of the dispstick. At around 11 this morning the buzzer on the control panel went off and the little red light came on, with the oil pressure gauge showing zero. We stopped immediately and tied up. A check of the oil level showed nothing on the stick and a lot of oil in the engine bilge. Oh dear.

I got the Brompton out of it's locker and cycled up to Whilton (about 4 miles). I really should have gone by road, not the towpath as bicycle tyres and hawthorn hedge clippings don't mix well. I had to stop and pump up the front tyre three times as I now have a slow puncture in it. Whilton lock chandlery sold me some oil and an oil extraction gadget to suck the oil out of the bilge. As we'd cached the car at Whilton I didn't have to carry all this back on the bike. They didn't have an engine fitter available but as we had broken down at Stowe Hill I asked at the workshop and Rob and Graham kindly fitted us in. They did an outstanding job, stripping down the engine and diagnosing the problem, a leaking crankshaft oil seal. The part is on order from Beta Marine and is due to be delivered tomorrow morning.

Here is the problem area. One last pulley to remove. Loads of oil in the engine bilge.

Moored at Stowe Hill Marina.
Total distance is 1 mile, 4½ flg and 0 locks.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Setting Off

We set off from Blisworth at 3PM, having had a delivery from Tesco, following instructions on Sue's (No Problems) web site. We would have left earlier but as usual we couldn't get out of the door on time. As we need to collect Dominic's prescription tomorrow we have placed a car in a place convenient for tomorrow. Cathy can also nip back home to collect things we've forgotten.

Syncopation desperately needed cleaning and we started on that immediately, scrubbing the roof while we moved and cleaning the starboard side when we stopped. It was just cold enough to need the stove lit when we moored up at Nether Heyford.

Moored at Nether Heyford.
Total distance is 6 miles, ½ flg and 0 locks.