Category Archives: Boat Electrics

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network
Frank

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested! https://oleanna.co.uk/2019/05/23/the-plan-20th-may/

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.

Finished!

On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.

Cornwall

Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.

Pasty

Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.

Pantotastic

Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.

Family

Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.

Christmas

In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

White's. 2nd January 2020

The Giraffe, Birmingham

This years daffs are starting to show their heads already
The ideal ash can

The two of us have spent a bit of time trying to hunt out where or how we could get a new ash can. Getting one delivered to a Post Office or Amazon Locker would have been great, except they are too big according to Amazon! So instead we’ve been concentrating on trying to find a hardware shop that might just have one.

Farmers Bridge flight

This morning we walked down the Farmers Bridge flight. We like this flight but have realised we’ve only ever been down it, never up. The BT Tower sits high above as the locks work their way under buildings, roads and the railway.

White’s

Once off the canal we followed a dirty rubbish strewn road to our destination, White’s Ironmongery. Sitting on the corner of Lower Loveday Street and Summer Lane the 1930’s building melded in with it’s background.

Hinges and numbers

The window displays of hinges, brushes, bolts on boards totally filled the windows. We opened the doors and went in.

Shelves and shelves and shelves, older than the RSJ’s above them

I was immediately taken back to when I was four, with my Dad going into Stubbs in York for some screws. Shelves lined the walls, each opening once filled with boxes of screws, nuts and bolts, all manner of things. The wooden drawers covered in decades maybe centuries of patina. Labels for many an imperial sized object still in place. As a kid I used to imagine the shop assistants sliding along the shelves on their ladders to reach the top boxes, pushing from one end of the shop to the other.

1″ what’s?

Today in White’s the shelves were not so full, but still the atmosphere. There were a few displays in the middle of the room, more boards advertising their wares, a few gaps where the last hinge of its type had been removed. Hanging from the ceiling were mop buckets and two galvanised buckets. A lady appeared a touch like Mr Ben bringing with her some warm air.

50p a pair

Unfortunately the suspended buckets were all they had, none with lids. A bucket however would do us for the time being. It would give us somewhere for hot ashes to cool off before being disposed of with our rubbish and mean the ash pan could stay in the stove rather than sit on the towpath. If we were going to get anything else nicked, we’d rather it was a bucket than the ash pan from our corner stove which would be hard to replace without ordering one from Yorkshire.

Whilst here we had a routle through boxes of bolts. Back in the summer Mick had wanted one for our batteries. A good look round and he may have found just the one. When asking of its price the lady said 10p! When our hand written bill was finished she said call it £7, the bolt now 5p.

Bucket

What a wonderful shop, with just about everything, except an ash can with a lid. How do they stay trading in this modern world? Hopefully local builders and joiners give them plenty of business.

The old and the new

A walk back through town to get some food for this evening. The trams now run into the centre and many of the hoardings we’d got used to seeing 18 months ago have now gone. Old buildings surrounded by new glazed towers.

Skating and a big wheel

Then it was time for me to do a touch of work. A script was printed out, read, notes made, photo references added to Pinterest. Then my tickets for my flight to Vienna were printed out. These are all in German, so I spent a while trying to translate them in case there was something I needed to know other than the obvious times and flight numbers. It’s a long long time since I did German at school and only the bare minimum has remained with me.

12

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 flight walked, 1 bucket, 12, 1 bolt, 1 time warp, 8 page script, 105 images, 4 flights, 22 letters in a word, 2 many consonants!

Inverting Fan. 12th December

Broadmoor Lock

Whilst the world was still dark outside it remained dry. But once the sun had risen, along with ourselves, it started to rain. We’d been hoping for an hour of dry weather to get us closer to the stoppage, so that we could be poised ready and waiting to go through, but there really isn’t any rush so no need to get wet.

That’s also what I thought when they opened the back doors! Blimey it was wet. So wet it wasn’t even worth stepping past the engine board. A morning snooze was a far better option.

No thanks! Well maybe later

Taking advantage of the situation Mick got to work in the kitchen and rustled up a breakfast. Sadly no tomatoes had been ordered, but beans did the job instead. Very nice it was too.

Later on Tilly returned to her old younger self and ventured out in the rain, only to come back soaked and leaving muddy paw prints over everything including freshly washed trousers. At least she was keeping occupied and hopefully wouldn’t be bored for the rest of the day.

I got on with my knitting whilst watching the recent Elton John interview and Rick Stein eating and cooking his way around France. With the second glove knitted, there’s just the ends to weave in now and then they can go in the post. Next on the list of jobs was Christmas cards, the post version. All are ready for the next post box.

Hmmm, yum

As our macaroni cheese cooked in the oven we could hear the new setting on the inverter. This setting means that if the inverter isn’t being used it will turn itself off, but it wakes up every second to check if it’s needed. Well the fan on the top oven needed it, but maybe not quite enough. We could hear it stopping and starting. A touch annoying.

Originally the inverter would draw 20 watts just by being on. Then when Mick put it into turning off mode it would draw 8 watts whilst not being used and checking if it was needed. A few more adjustments were made today. Now whilst the inverter isn’t needed it goes into a mode with a modified sine wave and draws 12 watts. Hopefully this will stop things like the fan from stopping and starting and not affect anything else.

We stayed up to see the first results of the general election come in. The exit pole at least would mean that we wouldn’t wake up to a surprise result.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 wet day, 1 soggy moggy, 2nd glove knitted, 25 cards written, addressed and stamped, 2nd day of 2nd attempt of new sour dough starter, 12 watts.

Inverting Again. 11th December

Cropredy Marina to Broadmoor Lock

New berth numbers going up in the marina

Sainsburys took their time in getting back to me yesterday, but this morning I woke to an email and message from them. The Banbury store had not followed the correct process. Anything with the delivery date or following day as Use by dates should have been flagged up on the paperwork. This would have given us the chance to return anything. As it wasn’t mentioned we got our money back for the ham and some humous. So it’s always worth commenting on such things.

Much of the morning was taken up with A Regular Little Houdini conversations. The production manager rang about something else so I got chance to put forward my new idea, then a lengthy chat with the new director. We came up with a solution that once we get to Vienna we may be able to improve on to get the Wow factor. Another chat with the Production Manager and all was agreed.

Festive inflatables

Mick in the mean time readied Oleanna for the off. A final load of washing was done, the dirty washing drawer now empty, again. He topped up with water and flattened down the pram cover.

Then it was time to unplug the hook up. He flicked the switch in the electrics cupboard, but the inverter didn’t come on. This should be seemless, no interruption in power, but the inverter wasn’t working!

Was open inverter surgery required?

He tried all sorts, the big breaker switches were turned off and on, the cover came off, he checked for loose connections, the volt meter came out to check for voltage. He unplugged the cable going to the Victron Monitoring system, the inverter started to work. Plugged it back in, it stopped. It was unplugged again.

Curtain storyboard

By now it was the marinas lunch time so we had lunch ourselves, I finished off a new storyboard all about curtain movements, scanned and emailed it to all concerned in Vienna and Wales. At 13:55 we untied and pushed back, only to come forwards again into the next berth which is a service mooring.

Byebye marina

A top up of diesel and five bags of coal, then we were finally ready for the off. Our plan was not to go far, the stoppage at Claydon flight is only a couple of miles away and due to reopen at the end of play on Friday. So the first available towpath mooring would do us. These however were all taken, so we rose up Broadmoor Lock and found a space there. With only half an hour before cat curfew time Tilly was allowed out to survey our location.

Broadmoor Lock

Mick spent some time on the internet looking for a solution to the inverter problem. He plugged our laptop into it, had a look. The settings seemed fine, so he plugged the monitoring system back in and all was fine. He then altered a setting which means if the inverter is not needed it will turn itself off but will wake up to check if it’s needed at regular intervals, this will save us power.

Some of those red berries would look good on a wreath!

Tomorrow the forecast is for rain much of the day. But if we wake to favourable conditions then we’ll carry on up the last two locks hopefully before it starts to rain. Fingers crossed.

Just what am I meant to do with half an hour?!

1 lock, 0.36 miles, £6.30 refund, 1 reverse, 1 left, 1 fault on the monitoring system, 1 last load, 5 bags coal, 55 litres diesel, 1 very helpful dutch chap, 1 inverter set to turn on and off by itself, 1 problem not solved just gone away, 30 minutes! 1 sock completed, 8m by 3.1m Taft CS Weinrot.