Test Cruise. 10th August

Old Potteries Arm to Beal Lock, Aire Calder Navigation, Selby Section

No we haven’t started testing out new boats, we’ll leave that to Adam on NB Briar Rose, but Mick wanted to test out Oleanna before we hit the tidal water of the River Ouse.

A coal shute

Back in October last year when I headed off to work on Panto, Mick with the help of Paul (Waterway Routes) aimed to get Oleanna up the Thames to Oxford from the Kennet and Avon. On their second day of cruising, trying to beat the rising river, Oleanna’s engine overheated and the anchor had to be dropped. They limped on to Abingdon where RCR came out. When Mick managed to get a touch further upstream to Sandford Lock the engine still wasn’t right, he called out the engineer again. This time investigations found a lot of rusty crud in the cooling system, a reason for which still eludes us. The engineer suggested leaving the system for around six to nine months and then checking to see if the crud had returned. The last thing we want is for the engine to overheat on tidal water, let alone when turning into Selby Lock!

On the river stretches we’ve been on in the last few days we’ve kept an eye on the temperature gauge as Oleanna’s engine has been cranked up and it has remained normal. Not wanting to drain the system Mick decided to see what would happen if he removed the thermostat, this would mean we wouldn’t get hot hot water from our cruise today as the system would be free to flow around the skin tank rather than the calorifier and would prove that it could do so. So before setting off today he ventured into the engine bay and removed the thermostat whilst the engine was cold.


I got the sand paper out and sanded back the filler/primer and then wiped away the dust from Oleanna’s clean exterior. Some patches will need a touch more to give a smoother finish before the top coats go on. With this done it was time to make a move.

Drier than yesterday

Somehow the soaked teddy, that had been sat on the grassy bank looking up at the view yesterday, had moved. He was now a similar distance in front of us. Maybe a C&RT chap we’d seen this morning had moved him, or maybe overnight the bear had had a tipple too many and staggered past us to end up face down in the grass. Who knows.

March 2019

Time to push off and see what damage has really been done to the skyline of Knottingly. We tried our best to line up with the photo I’d taken last year, a monumental solid image of power production. Now I am in mourning.

10th August 2020

Along the cut there are a couple of places just crying out to be used for outdoor performances. I considered giving my friend Sian a call, she lives locally. We could put a show on here, her fiance Matt could do a one man show, directed by Nick another local writer director. Sian could costume Matt and I could make the surroundings fit the play better. I wonder how two one act plays about toilets would go down with the folks of Knottingley?

A natural outdoor theatre space

At Bank Dole Junction there are permanent moorings and a boat yard. Big boats tend to live here. Today we couldn’t see round the bend towards Goole due to there being even more big boats. The penny soon dropped.

Here were Tom Puddings, sat out of the water was Sobriety and along the way was Wheldale. All these boats used to be at the Yorkshire Waterways Museum in Goole, now closed. A banner ‘FOR SALE’ on the side of Wheldale. So sad, we wonder what has happened to the moorings where these boats used to be in Goole, have they morphed into visitor moorings, or been taken over by the overstayers?

We turned left and soon came across a cruiser coming towards us, maybe the lock would be full. Sadly no another boat was following them up. Would the lock still only have one top paddle working? Would it take forever to fill? Last year we waited a very long time before calling C&RT out to assist, water was bubbling out from below the bottom gates at the same rate as it entered at the top, destined never to fill. In the end we had to go away for the night whilst they sorted it.

One out

I hopped off to lend a hand if I could, a narrowboat ascending. There was time enough for us to share our life histories as the boat slowly rose.The chap and his partner were heading to the junction with the New Junction Canal to self isolate before an operation in a few weeks time, a perfect place to be. I was also given upto date knowledge on the availability of moorings on the Selby Canal.

Going down

Our turn next to go down, it takes a while to empty, but at least both paddles work. I decided to open the towpath side gate as it doesn’t overhang the river as the other one does, therefor a lot easier to move.

Five missing

Mick reversed to pick me up and then we were off, twisting and turning. The first glimpse of Eggborough and Drax Power Stations got my usual excited reaction for the cooling towers. Just what will the sky line look like should they be demolished?

This way and that we went, checking the temperature gauge at regular intervals, around 60 rather than the usual cruising temperature of 80. No overheating.

Mind the tree

Sooner than expected Beal Road Bridge came into sight, large limbs of trees still caught on the uprights. That got us wondering how all the rubbish that was left after floods gets removed from the river banks. Do C&RT come along on boats to clear the trees of plastic bags? Do the local farmers come out and litter pick from the banks? Or is it all left to be swept away with the next flood?

As we pulled into the lock cut we could see one boat at the lock landing end of the pontoon, but the rest was clear, enough space for us. Pulled in we now had to explain to Tilly why shore leave was not possible in such a wonderful outside, she wasn’t impressed!

New thermomstat

Lunchtime and then jobs. With the engine cooled Mick set about putting in a new thermostat and I scraped away a new rusty patch on the starboard side grab rail.

Then it was time to look at the cratch cover. When we shared locks with NB Billy we’d not rolled the covers up fully. Not only had a rivet popper been squashed on the bow, but the cover had been pulled tearing it around a popper. The Fent shop in Skipton had come up trumps with some waterproof blue fabric, so I intended to patch the area as best I could, still being able to use the popper.

Closer inspection suggested I could just darn the tear, hopefully that would hold the popper in position and do the same job as a patch would do. I’d bought some thick polyester thread as the Linen thread I’ve used before hasn’t stood up well to the elements. Maybe I should have bought black thread for this job as the blue is a touch brighter than the fabric. Whilst I was there I had another go at sewing a zip back together, hopefully this will hold a while longer.

Tonights mooring

The lock island seems to be inhabited by at least one very vocal Kingfisher. Every now and again it does a circuit of the island, zooming past Oleanna and returning further up the cut. Just a shame there isn’t a suitable perch opposite us as the cut is brimming with fish.

1 lock, 3.77 miles, 1 left, 2 rights, 3 power stations, 1 a shadow of it’s former self, 12 patches sanded, 2 patches fertand, 1 thermostatless cruise, 1 new thermostat, 1 zip, 1 darn, 1 kingfisher at least, 1 bored cat.


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