No Direction

No Direction is our 70ft Narrowboat which is now home to my wife Jayne and myself, it was launched on 4th February 2008.

We spend the Winters in a Marina and cruise in the warmer weather.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Back at Base.

Thursday/Friday, 14/15th October 2010.
Hopwas to Kings Bromley Marina.
10 Miles 3 Locks 1 Swing Bridge.

Thursday.   Last day of our cruise today, met a few boats coming in the opposite direction, weather was cloudy with no wind, we even went through Fradley Junction without the usual chaos.
We have been looking out for suitable wood to burn on the fire for the last month without much success however, as we left Shadehouse lock we noticed that all the trees and bushes that normally hang out over the Canal from the offside (opposite side to Towpath) had been cut back making a nice wide channel, but, the burning question was, where was the wood that had been cut, as we approached the 90 degree bend before the next lock, Woodend Lock, we spotted 2 British Waterways workboats, they were working on the offside but we spotted cut wood on the Towpath side so a quick reverse and we were moored up.
The wood was Willow, not the best firewood but OK went dried out, so out came the Stihl chainsaw and the wood was cut into lengths that I could lift onto the roof of No Direction.

Anymore Wood down here.

As we passed the workboats we asked if there were any wood going but they were keeping it for themselves, the logs piled up in their boat was Beech/Ash/Oak all good stuff.

We tied up on our pontoon at about 3 o,clock, Jaynes car was up on the carpark as the Marina staff ask that when people are out on their boats their cars are moved from the area by their boat onto the main carpark, I pushed the unlock button on the key and the doors unlocked, put the key in the ignition and turned, click, click, click, flat battery, Ian the groundsman drove the Marina tractor up and we jump started it, the logs were taken to our small shed on the Marina where they will dry out.

Friday.     Jayne went into Lichfield for a shopping fix while I washed the boat and touched up the paint, I  was also put in charge of defrosting the freezer.

So, that was our summer cruise, we will keep bloging when anything to do with boats happens, maybe once a week or fortnight.
I have a list of things that I want to do to the boat and it will get the hull blacked next March so we have plenty to keep us busy. 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Little Problem Sorted

Tuesday/Wednesday, 12/13th October 2010
Between Rugby and Brinklow to 1 Mile past Hopwas
34 Miles 14 Locks.

Tuesday.   Got going early (for us) this morning, past Rose Narrowboats at Stretton Stop where boaters have to rotate a very light pedestrian swing bridge, take the boat through and then close it, nice steady cruise along the last bit of the North Oxford canal to Hawksbury Junction where the Oxford joins the Coventry Canal, there's a lock here with a very small drop of 6 inches, put there when Canals were owned by different private companies who feared that another company might steal their water, after the lock we had to negotiate a 180 degree turn to the right, if you go left the Canal leads into Coventry.

Charity Dock at Bedworth, always plenty to look at.

We passed by the Allotments of Bedworth and Nuneaton before arriving at Onboard Energy situated at Springwood Haven Marina.

Bedworth and Nuneaton is Allotments Land.

Onboard Energy fitted all the electrics to No Direction and the Battery monitor panel needed a little adjustment so as we were passing it was a good opportunity to get it sorted, we moored outside and waited for Kevin, their top electrical man to finish another job, he arrived and reset our monitor panel in a matter of minutes, he was rewarded with his very own No Direction Mug.

Only very nice people get these.

We then moved across to the towpath side of the Canal and that's where we stayed for the night.
You get a very good view of Mount Jud from here, a large pimple shaped Spoil Heap left over from the huge Judkins Quarry, it even has it's own facebook page.

Wednesday.   We had a lonely run to the first of the 11 Atherstone locks with no other boats moving.

We past the British Waterways yard at Hartshill on the Coventry Canal (The clocks wrong)

As we arrived at the top lock a boat was about to exit so we went straight in, it was the same at the third one as well, after all the Broad locks we have done this trip, these narrow ones are like toys. The first 5 locks going down are close together, after the 5th one we tied up and had breakfast, and then tackled the final 6 and had a nice afternoon, although it was cool the sun was out and no wind, we had to wait at the 2 Glascote locks as 1 of the top paddles was not working which made the lock slow to fill, once clear of the last lock Jayne went inside for a well earned rest.
At bridge 75 we experienced the only bit of anti-social behaviour of the trip when a hooded youth threw a couple of handfuls of gravel at us, I had seen him (it) lurking on the bridge as we approached (obviously formulating his master plan) and slowed the boat right down, he ran off as I was offering an opinion of his life and pointing a camera at him. 
We carried on through Fazeley junction, past the British Waterway Midlands head office at Peel Wharf, considering there is a Waterways office here there seems to be a higher that average number of un-licenced boats around.
We moored for the night halfway between Hopwas and Whittington. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hard Work.

Sat/Sun/Mon, 9/10/11, October, 2010
Braunston to Rugby/Brinklow.
12 Miles 3 Locks 1 Tunnel.

Saturday.    I walked up to the Marina earlier today which gave me time to stop at the Gongoozlers Rest for breakfast, it's on a boat just outside Braunston Marina. Everyone else arrived at the Dry Dock and work on Raymond carried on at a feverish pace, my arms feel like they are ready to drop off with all the hammering that was needed when replacing the Oakum sealing (see previous blog), work carried on until around 6 o'clock, we had hung one of the collection boxes and a information sheet on the walkway which passes the Dry Dock explaining what was going on and were pleased to see people dropping money in as they past.

The Dry Dock stop planks holding back the water, the normal level is at the bottom of the white line,
which is about 5 feet from the base, the top plank is held by wooded wedges which have been hammered in.

Sunday.   I had a rest from hammering today and helped with the sealing, the Marina was very busy with people looking at boats for sale or just on a day out no doubt helped by the sunny weather.

Raymond in the Dock, the Oakum (in between the planks) has been hammered in.

We also carried out a temporary repair to Nutfields cabin, it needs replacing but will have to wait until the charity have the funds.

Nutfields wooden back cabin rotting at the base, the section with the side door is the engine room which is metal.

I Finished at 4.30 today as Jayne and I planned to go over to the Boathouse to eat at 6 o,clock and I needed plenty of time to get the sealer off my hands, I started today off wearing gloves but still managed to coat my hands and arms.

Monday.   Today we were heading back to Kings Bromley Marina, the first stop was at the service facilities about 200 yards from where we had been moored to fill with water, empty cassettes and dump the rubbish, all this took about an hour so it was 10.30 before we got under way.
We caught up with Towcester, the Diesel and Coal boat after 4 miles, Julia Cook who runs it was filling a boat with Diesel and we stopped along side and bought 2 bags of Stove Glow Smokeless Fuel.
Next it was the 3 Hillmorton Locks where we a Lady boater said she had seen No Direction in the Castle Marinas Brochure.  We stopped for shopping in Rugby before finding a mooring for the night between Rugby and Brinklow, bit to close to the mainline rail track for Jayne's liking though !! 

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Back at Braunston.

Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 6/7/8th October 2010
Long Buckby Top Lock to Braunston
4.5 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel.

Wednesday.   Rain first thing this morning but the forecast said sunny later so we waited for the rain to stop before setting off, into Braunston Tunnel for the fifth and final time this year, just like we did with Blisworth, we met 2 boats coming in the opposite direction but there was no bumping. We had 6 Locks today all going down, at the first Lock we waited for a Hire Boat from Valley Cruises who had followed us through the Tunnel, we shared the first 5 Locks with them but at the 6th we caught up with another boat on it's own so we nipped into the Lock with them.
We moored just after the Lock so that Jayne could go into the shop  for fresh organic bread which is baked on the premises.
We were hoping to moor opposite the Boathouse pub or just past it but as the moorings there had changed from 48hrs to 14 days on the 1st of October we didn't hold out hope but luckily we found a gap big enough to squeeze in, no large trees either so Jayne's happy as we have TV. 

Thursday.   Not much happening today, Jayne gave me a shopping list and I walked up to the Londis store in the Village, cleaned one side of the boat and windows, Jayne then decided that she needed a package posted and as I needed some small wood screws I cycled to the Chandlery and then to Braunston post office, also bought some fire lighters there, £1.09 for 15 or £2.46 for 20, amazing.

Friday.   Today nb Raymond was going into the dry dock, It had been moored with Nutfield just between the bridge and the Marina entrance since it was brought back from the Village at War Weekend, we had arranged to meet at 8.30 and when I arrived 4 other volunteers were already there so we took both boats into the Marina where Raymond, which is a Butty (a narrowboat with no engine) was then poled into the Dry Dock, the stop planks which seal the dry dock from the water in the Marina were put into place and the valve opened to drain the dock.

nb Raymond floats in the Dry Dock.

The water runs out into a brook, after about 30 minutes the boat comes to rest on the supports leaving the bottom of the boat around 15 inches above the floor, the next stage is to pressure wash the Hull and start scraping the loose bits off.

Raymond is a Wooden Narrowboat, as with all wooden Narrowboats the small gap between the planks are sealed by Oakum, an oily fibre made from old rope, this is hammered into the gap using a Caulking  Iron until it is tight and the blacking is then painted over the whole hull.

The Oakum is hammered in to the gaps.

While a couple of us were Caulking others were re-painting the top planks and other bits of woodwork.  We have the Dry Dock until late Sunday and must be out at at 8.00am Monday so more work tomorrow and Sunday. 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Heading Back.

Monday/Tuesday 4/5 October 2010
Stoke Bruerne to Buckby Top Lock
17 Miles 13 Locks.

Monday.  The weather was dry and bright today, we had to drop down 2 Locks to get to the wide section of Canal where we could wind (turn around) then it was back up to Stoke Bruerne where we filled the water tank, then through Blisworth Tunnel for the fifth and final time this year, nice gentle cruise to High House Wharf where we moored for the night just passed the Wharf opposite the Caravan field.
I had a good sweep up of the rear deck as we had gathered a bit of mud over the weekend where we had taken our boots off, weather forecast was for rain in the night.

Tuesday.  We had rain during the night but it had stopped by the time we got up and the sky was clearing for another nice day, got the fire going before we set off and then turned it down low so that when we stopped we could just open the vent and away it goes.

Called at Rugby Boat Sales which is situated at Stowe Hill Wharf for Diesel, at 68p a litre (before tax) it is the cheapest we have found all summer.
We started up the 7 Buckby Locks on our own but caught up with another boat so shared the last 3, these wide Locks are so much easier when you share with another boat, especially going up, with just 1 boat in the lock the turbulence as the lock fills pushes a single boat around.

 We met an Australian couple who stopped for a chat, they were walking to the New Inn for Lunch and, had recently bought a Narrowboat from Whilton Marina,  I told them that the Buckby Locks were possibly the hardest to operate on the whole system, so once past these, things get better.

We had planned to moor just above the Top Lock but found there wasn't room, not to worry I had overheard  a couple who were eating lunch at one of the tables outside the pub say that they would be moving their boat as soon as they had finished, we hung around on the other bank until they moved off, so that's where we are tonight, nb Hadar was moored behind but I think they moved back to squeeze another boat in.
It's taken all our willpower not to go over to the pub tonight,  but we had an expensive weekend and next weekend will be the same so we saved our pennies.

Tomorrow we will get to Braunston where we need to be for the weekend so that I can assist when nb Raymond goes into dry dock for it's annual bottom blacking and other maintenance.

nb Raymond in Braunston Marina Dry Dock last year.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Battle Stations

Sat/Sun 2/3rd October 2010
Moored at Stoke Bruerne
No Miles No locks.

Star of the show was the Spitfire, well I thought so, especially when the engine banged into life.

We've had a brilliant time at the Stoke Bruene at War weekend despite the terrible weather on Sunday.  Saturday's weather was warm and sunny and there were a lot of people around, both pubs and the Museum cafe were busy, even the ticket offices were sentry boxes and the entrance tickets ration books to fit in with the wartime theme.

Clothing tent selling forties clothes.
U.S. Army Camp.

Boats like this were busy during WW2, Aldgate built in 1936.

I spent most of Saturday helping on "Nutfield and Raymond", Jayne's sister Pam turned up with her family so Jayne spent the afternoon with them, we didn't visit the pub on Saturday night, ate on the boat instead.

Sunday was very wet and windy but things carried on as planned with Winston Churchill leading the parade.
Sunday Parade in the rain.

By 4 o'clock the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through but most people had gone by then.

A Dispatch rider on his Royal Enfield Side Valve.

 We heard the V12 Rolls Royce Merlin engine of the Spitfire starting up at regular intervals as 'would be pilots' paid their money.

No Silencers on these exhausts.

Rolls Royce Merlin engines were used in other aircraft beside the Spitfire.

The Merlin Engine above is from a Halifax Bomber which crashed in the Lake District in October 1944, it's outside The Ruskin Museum in Coniston, (photo taken on one of my Lake District Mountain Bike expeditions).

Parts of the  wreckage are still visible up on Great Carrs. 

We finished the weekend off on Sunday night with a good meal eaten in good company at the Boat Inn.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Treefellers (well 2 actually)

Thursday/Friday 30th Sept 1st October 2010
Moored at Stoke Bruerne
No Miles No Locks.

Thursday.  Walked up to the pub again today, not to drink but to get a loaf from the shop, we stopped for a chat with Tony and Heather who run the Fudge Boat, Heather was going into Towcester on the bus so Jayne joined her.

Homemade Fudge.

There's been a pair of working boats, Planet and Gilbert, moored close to us since we arrived, these belong to a chap selling Army Surplus and was here for the Village at War weekend, he needed to turn the pair around, the nearest place where the Canal is wide enough is down a further 2 Locks so I went to give him a hand as he only had a young lad with him, 2 others went to help as well so we made light work of the Locks.

At 5 o'clock we walked back to the Boat Inn for a drink as it was "Happy Hour" (actually it's 2 hours)  that finished at 6, afterwards it was back to the Navigation for a 2 for £12 meal then back to the No Direction which was nice and warm as we had lit the fire earlier.

The Helter Skelter goes up at the Vintage Fair, on the left are the Swing Boats, Dodgems to the right.

Friday. Today it was wet, very wet, Jayne has stayed on the boat all day, I had a walk up to the Village at around 4 o,clock to check if Nutfield and Raymond had arrived, they were just emerging from the Tunnel, so walked back and helped the crew to tie them up. Most of the crew that brought them from Braunston disappeared back home tonight leaving Robin in charge, I hope more volunteers turn up tomorrow else Robin and myself are going to be busy.

In the last blog I mentioned that blogger Halfie asked about burning wood which we sometimes find along the Towpath from fallen trees, on our fire, burning wood that has not had time to Season (dry out) is not to be recommended as it can coat the inside of the Flue with a tar like substance, but, most fallen trees are dead and therefore usually dry enough to burn, it also depends on the type of wood, however I have seen people cutting up un-dried wood and putting it straight onto their fire and they didn't seem bothered. 
We clean our chimney with a special brush at least twice a year, once around Christmas and again in the Spring when we have finished using the fire, this is a very messy job which involves removing a baffle plate and firebricks from the fire, standing outside on the edge of the boat and pushing and pulling the cleaning brush which is attached to a 5ft wire handle up and down the flue, the important thing to remember is make sure that the door and the vents on the fire are closed.

Where logs are concerned we are fortunate to have a friend, Phillip, who I used to work with, his family own a couple of fields very close to Kings Bromley Marina where we moor, the fields are used to graze horses, in the corner of one of the fields there was a dead oak tree which needed to come down.

The Dead Oak, lots of logs here.

So on a Snowy morning in January this year Phillip and I attacked it, Luckily Phillip had some experience in tree surgery having attended a Training course, but he later admitted that he had not "dropped" one this big before.

Phillip makes a start
Once it was down we both set to with our Chainsaws, one of the most satisfying things in life is using a Chainsaw, well it is for me. (sad I Know)

Logging it up.

Another trailer load of logs, we filled the trailer 4 or 5 times that day.
The trailer is made from the front half of an old Dumper truck.

The Logs were transported back to Phillips house where our share was loaded into the back Jayne's Nissan Note and taken back to our shed which we rent at the Marina, they were ready to burn immediately and lasted us until April when we finished using the fire.