Category Archives: Narrowboat Maintenance

Greengrocer Boat. 14th May

Lockdown Pickup Mooring to Lockdown Mooring 3


Waking early this morning I peeked out of the curtains, then had to open up the hatch. At 5 am it was dawn, the birds were in full voice, steam rising off the canal all around us and the sky to the east glowed orange with silhouettes of cow parsley gently waving. The view over Scarborough’s South Bay yesterday was special, this view was magical.


I did go back to bed and had a few more hours sleep before we had our cuppa in bed. Then it was up and time to move, it was Thursday after all. Oleanna was nudged up closer to the bridge passing the locals who now know us. We found our mooring spike holes easily and just tapped them in to moor up, then settled down to have breakfast.

Steam rising under the moon

We must have been early on the route today as shortly after 10am the chap from Clem’s pulled up in his car. Three boxes for us today, Sandra had ordered two, us one. Today we got chance for a quick chat with him.

The greengrocer boat

The veg box scheme started up in October with friends who couldn’t make the market on a Saturday morning. By Christmas the demand had grown beyond friends. So by the time the pandemic arrived they were already set up. The chap we’ve seen the last three weeks had stopped working for them a while back but because demand was growing he was offered a part time job. The part time job is now 40 hours a week. At the height of demand they were selling around 400 boxes a week, he’d be delivering over £1000 of fresh fruit and veg a day. Demand isn’t quite as it was, he’s looking forward to having Sundays off again.

Our vegetable bounty this week

Whilst we are still in the area we’ll keep using them, although next week I might just ask for no potatoes and see what we get instead! Obviously when we start to be able to move again we’ll stop getting them, but should we return to Nantwich in the future and the boxes still be available I’ll get in touch with them.

Mick headed off to Crewe in the car to return it to Enterprise. Our petrol for the trip to Scarborough had only been £26 thanks to fuel being so cheap. We can’t remember when you could last buy a litre of petrol for under £1!

Rules on the canals are starting to be lifted, our cruising is still limited but fishing and canoeing amongst other sports is allowed again. One chap turned up with his rods, chair, brolly etc and plonked himself a few meters behind us, certainly not the 15 he’s meant to leave. We didn’t say anything as we were intending to move, backwards through where he was fishing.

Fishing has resummed

Mick politely mentioned what we’d be doing. The fisherman said he normally avoids canals but thought as today was the first day for fishing he’d give it a try. As he’d totally taken over the towpath with no thought for anyone else we just did what we’d have done if he wasn’t there.

More crops starting to grow

Back to the winding hole where we turned. A beep beep to let Sandra know we were nearly there and her two boxes were laid out on the bow locker for her to pick up. We had a long chat about our day out yesterday and covid-19 testing for boaters.

Who is this?

As we were on the move already we carried on toward Calverley the water tank needing filling and a big pile of washing was requiring our attention. At Barbridge there are scarecrows at just about every house. One chap stood at the helm of a narrowboat, Spiderman climbed a wall and what looked like Chewbacca held a large microphone. Apparently the village got together to make them. Hopefully they will stay for a few days longer so that we can have a walk around the village to see them properly.

He wasn’t very talkative

The C&RT bins and their enclosure at the junction have been removed leaving only the metal uprights with hazard tape around them. The canal bridge to reach them isn’t safe for the bin wagon anymore, so maybe the bins are going for good?

No bins anymore

At Calveley we ate our lunch as the tank filled, disposed of rubbish and then moved on through the bridge to pull onto the moorings and set the washing machine to work.

Mooring here for the night means that Tilly could be reminded that the outside will move once again. C&RT have amended their guidance more. Limited movements until the 23rd May. Then if you are on a visitor mooring you need to move, but if moored on a 14 day stretch you won’t need to move until the 6th June. Just about every boater we’ve talked to today is wanting to stay put, not confident of moving distances until the number of cases has dropped a lot more. We all know the set up where we are and feel safe. I think if we have to start moving we’ll still be in this pound for sometime until confidence grows. C&RT are hoping to have the waterways back up and running by the 1st June. But we’ll see.

A different outside

One thing is certain, I need to get my illustrations finished and get our gunnels looking good before we loose a low hard edged towpath mooring.

0 locks, 4.2 miles, 3 veg boxes, 2 leeks cut down to fit in the fridge, 1 car returned, 9 fishermen at least, 1 clock ticking on moorings, 1 full water tank, 1 lead to follow up, 1 happy towpath cat, 1 load of washing, 1 extra good fried rice tonight.

Cover Up. 5th April.

Lockdown Mooring 3

The forecast for today was for sun, warmth and maybe a bit of cloud, but no rain. Would our towpath here in Calveley fill with dog walkers and others out for their daily exercise? Or would we be able to take over a strip alongside Oleanna?

Tilly out for a prowl

As we had breakfast Tilly was allowed an hour of shore leave, as soon as she returned all the doors would be closed for her own safety. The disinfectant spray bottle today would be needed for a different job. The contents were rinsed out very well and then the days chore started.

It’s a year since we last had a go at our boat covers. In that year they have turned quite green in parts and because they get folded down whenever we cruise muddy ropes get laid on top of them. So they were in serious need of some attention. Last year we took over some benches at Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder right beside a water point to give them a soapy scrub. This worked but was serious hard work.

Pram cover turned green
The cratch not quite as bad

Naughty Cal had suggested we tried Wet and Forget a product that you mix with water and spray onto your covers, then once dry the elements do the job for you. Sun, wind and rain gradually clean off the muck and green. I thought this a wonderful idea and ordered a bottle to give it a try. I picked it up from my brothers a year ago and it has sat gathering dust since then. Today it was time to dust it off!

As recommended by Naughty Cal

The towpath here is reasonably wide so I wouldn’t be blocking it. The cratch cover was first to be laid out. 1 part wet and forget to 5 parts water mixed and I started. A good soaking spray was required , so this took quite some time. Decision made soon after starting, if this works I’ll be buying a pump spray bottle for next time, my poor hands can only take so much of a spray trigger.

Marked up for ease of mixing

I was being so interesting that Tilly came to have a look. Not a good idea! Wet and Forget isn’t so good on paws that will get washed. She was very quickly whisked up and handed to Mick through the hatch. Lockdown time for Tilly. I also kept an eye out for dogs and made sure people knew to keep their woofers away.

The spray lingered in the air a touch so I decided to see if I had a dust mask anywhere. A good look in amongst the boat painty things and I found one. It had been in there so long that the elastic had stopped being stretchy and was just long, too long! This now necessitated a knot being tied to keep it in place. So for an hour or so of spraying the rest of the covers I joined the mask brigade. Have to say it did help to keep walkers away from me.

Laid out getting sprayed

My faithful assistant passed me a bucket of soapy water so that the cratch board could have a good wash down before the covers went back on. There was a lot of soapy suds so I couldn’t see them go to waste. Oleanna’s horns had a scrub. Then I got a touch carried away!

She’s still smiling even under the suds

I was meant to be pacing myself doing boat jobs, they usually make my back ache and lets face it there will be plenty of time this year to get them done. But here I was with a bucket of soapy water and a very muddy boat bow and well deck. It would have been daft to leave them for another time.

A quick soap down

The well deck was emptied and there around the anchor in amongst the torn off tops of coal bags I found autumn! Autumn had moved into our well deck and concealed itself for a few months. A good sweep, the bow thruster locker lid was lifted (repainting of this added to the list as it’s got a touch rusty), washed around, down below was still nice and dry just how it should be.

The bow got a wash, round to the sides, then all that is the well deck, rinsed off, windows cleaned. Job done.

All rinsed down and drying

By now the covers were just about dry, so the pram cover went back on whilst the bow dried off nicely for the cratch cover to go back.

The look of the covers is exactly the same as before, so it looks like I’ve done nothing, we just have to wait now and let nature and what ever I’ve sprayed on them do their magic.

Identical to before it was sprayed. The roof will be a job for a few days time

More loads of washing passed through the machine today and the whirligig was kept full until the breeze grew too strong and the sail effect of duvet cover and sheet was too much, so they had to come down and wait till later.

A shoulder of lamb headed for the oven late afternoon and was ready for just after the Queens speech. An actor friend of mine found himself just by chance eating a Christmas pudding as the Queen asked us all to be good and follow the guidelines to Stay at Home during this challenging time.

So not fair

0 locks, 0 miles, 1.5 hours shore leave, 1 cat in lockdown, 4 covers well and truly sprayed, 3 loads washing, 1 well deck lovely and clean, 1 well deck in need of a repaint, 1 dust mask, 16 paws still safe to lick, 1 paint list growing, size 10 socks on the go, 1 Queens speech, 1 shoulder lamb, 1 bottle crabbies, 1 sunnyday.