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.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Nothing's Changed

Marina life hasn't changed much while we've been away, the pair of Swans are now down to 3 young, 7 eggs, 5 hatched 2 died, the last a victim of a discarded fishing line.

We took the Laptop in to Boldmere Computers in Sutton Coldfield on Thursday to have it checked for viruses we got it back the same day, however Saturday morning the problem was back so it was over to the shop again, same virus, they cleared it again but we have booked it in for a prolonged diagnosis check next week, good job all this is covered by our service contract.

My trusty old Nokia N95 phone failed as well while we away, the LCD screen had an internal fault, I took it to a mobile phone shop in Lichfield who could only offer to sell me a new one, but when they realised I wasn't going to buy they pointed me towards Monkey Mobile, a small shop that repairs phones, the lad in there was on the ball and could order and replace the screen assembly, I picked it up on Saturday morning all fixed and my wallet is now £40 lighter, the Nokia is getting on a bit now and is not as flash as Jayne's I Phone but I like it and it has an excellent camera.

Glastonbury looked a bit grim on Friday night as we watched U2 on Television from our nice dry boat, a call from our Daughter confirmed they were ankle deep in mud, however things are drying up now down there and with the high temperature today that mud should be nicely baked on!!!. 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Back at Base

Tuesday/Wednesday, 21/22nd June 2011.
Braunston to Kings Bromley.
53 Miles, 20 Locks.

After a couple of long days we are back on our berth at Kings Bromley Marina, this is a week sooner than planned but we need the extra time to sort a few things out.

The journey back was good, going down Atherstone locks this morning was easy as we met lots of boats coming up on their way to Braunston, we were at lock 7 before we had to close any of the bottom gates.

At Hopwas I spotted nb Piston Broke but no one was onboard, as we rounded a bend I spotted 2 people walking on the towpath who looked vaguely like the pictures on there blog and when challenged they quickly confessed to being Lynne and Paul, nice to speak to them even if it was a quickie. 

As we turned left at Fradley Junction we were invited for a pint in the Swan with Deb and Tony who also moor at Kings Bromley but we declined, they had been for a meal but Tony's steak was so poor he got his money back, they walked up and helped with Middle lock and Shadehouse lock.

Tony lifts a paddle at Shadehouse lock.

We are now in the Marina for 2 weeks before we set off again this time to Alvecote Marina for the Summer Fair and Boat Gathering where we will be representing the RBOA and hopefully having a good time.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

At Braunston

Monday, 20th June 2011
Oxford Canal to Braunston
5 Miles no Locks.

The rain came on Saturday, showers at first then heavy, so we had a very quiet weekend and kept dry which was the plan.

Jayne turned on the Computer while we were eating breakfast and found that a "Trojan" had got into our laptop blocking access to the Internet, a call to Boldmere Computers in Sutton Coldfield where we have our service contract and we were told that we needed to take it in for it to be fixed, however as I was fiddling with it this afternoon, bingo, all's well again, apparently our virus protection has eaten it !!!

A couple of miles this morning to a point where we could wind (turn around) and then it was Braunston where we arrived at around 11 o'clock, we are moored just before the A45 road bridge on the 48 hour moorings.

Jayne went over to the Boathouse pub at lunchtime where she had arranged to meet a couple of friends she hadn't seen for ages, while she was away the British Waterway Mooring Officer George Dickinson was going along the 48 hour moorings reminding people not to overstay, one boater thought he was above the rules, I could hear him shouting at George and I was 100 yards away, he told George that by enforcing the 48 hour moorings British Waterways were infringing on his civil liberties, pretty unbelievable but it happened.


As it turned out something has cropped up, well several things really and we need to be back at the Marina sooner than we had anticipated so the decision was made to give the Braunston weekend a miss, we are now on our way back to Kings Bromley.

We passed the new Barby Moorings today, it was originally going to open last year !!

8.35 pm we have just had a call from our Daughter, sat in a traffic jam queuing to get into Glastonbury, she only had to ask and we would have loaned her our Helicopter.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ready for the Rain.

Wednesday/Thursday 15/16th June 2011.
Buckby top Lock to the Oxford Canal.
8 Miles, 6 Locks and 1 Tunnel.

Wednesday morning we moved up the last lock of the Buckby flight and slotted in on the first visitor mooring just past the water point, the Tesco delivery which was scheduled between 3 and 5 o'clock, arrived on time and was quickly passed through the side doors and stowed. The evening was spent in the New Inn with our friends Pete and Val who drove over from Sutton Coldfield, the pub was the busiest I have ever seen it mainly due to all the hireboats around, they were moored on the water point and the lock moorings.

Thursday.   With the weather forecast to turn wet we decided to move today rather than Friday as was the previous plan, so after the hireboats departed we moved back and topped up with water.

Light rain started as we headed for the Braunston Tunnel but the sun was shining when we emerged at the other end, as we came out of the Tunnel we met Dave Ford and his wife on their Narrowboat "Y Knot " who were heading for London and the Thames, Dave worked on our boat when it was being fitted out, mainly the wiring and plumbing and a good job he did too.

We stopped at the Bottom lock to get a fresh baked organic loaf from The Boat Shop however as it was being passed across the boat sharing the lock with us gravity took over and it ended up in the water, so it was back into the shop for another loaf and the ducks can have the wet one.

Jayne hangs on tight to the second loaf.

We cruised through Braunston which wasn't as busy as we expected and turned left onto the Oxford canal mooring between bridge 102 and 103 where we will sit out the forecasted rain over the weekend.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

'What the Romans Did for Us'

Tuesday, 14 June, 2011.
Stoke Bruerne to Buckby.
16 Miles, 6 Locks.

Up at 6 o'clock this morning and off at 6.20 with blue sky's and no wind, the Blisworth Tunnel was so clear and with no approaching boats I was able to use a powerful torch to have a look at it. 

Stopped at Gayton Service block to empty Cassettes and then it was just a nice Cruise in perfect conditions to the bottom of Buckby Locks.

At one point the Canal runs between Nether Heyford and the A5, as we swung around one of the many bends where the Canal follows the contours of the land up on the hill I noticed tents and bare ground but no heavy plant equipment so thought maybe it was an Archaeological dig, a quick search found that it was a Roman Villa excavation. The website mentions the "Late 18th century Grand Union Canal", never heard it called that before.

We were 4th in the Queue at Buckby Locks and went up with another boat, a competent crew who knew what they were doing, apart from their mad Springer Spaniel, we stopped just before the top lock and I went up to see if there was space on the mooring on the opposite side to the New Inn pub but as it was lunchtime a lot of boats had stopped so we will stay where we are and move up tomorrow.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Pointing the other way.

Monday 13th June 2011.
1 Mile 8 Locks.

This Morning we were watching the weather, it rained a bit to start with but the sun emerged as we dropped down 3 Locks to where we could wind (turn around) then back up 5 locks to the water point opposite the Museum.  After filling the water tank we moored halfway between the Museum and the Tunnel for breakfast but decided to stay here until Tuesday.

We had a visitor at 9.30 tonight.

14 miles tomorrow before the first Lock so I can get going early. Jayne wants to get to the top of the Buckby Locks tomorrow so that she can organise a Tesco delivery for Wednesday.

A Complete Washout, Almost.

Sunday, 12th June 2011.
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.

The picture says it all about Sunday at Stoke Bruerne, rain, rain, rain so we didn't do too well with our fund raising to help keep the Historic Boats going, we did have a few pounds put into the collection boxes but I think that was out of sympathy.

The picture shows Richard, Roger, Diana and Nick, about 15 minutes after I snapped them we packed all the stock away and went over to the Boat Inn.

The rain may have kept the public away but it didn't keep the hardy motorcyclists away who gathered at the Museum on Sunday morning for the start of the "Sunbeam Motrcycles Rose of the Shires" run for Pre 1931 Motorcycles, it was open to all makes not just Sunbeams.

A Birmingham built  B.S.A. the white drum on the handlebars is a rotating route guide
 but look at that front brake, a wooden block rubbing on a steel ring.

A Sunbeam gleaming in the rain.

Tonight we will eat in the Boat Inn, hope it's as good as the Navigation was last night.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Propellers and a Windlass part 2

Saturday 11th June 2011.
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.

First the Windlass, Ringmain Technology who make the LockMaster racheting Windlass offer a superfast delivery service, in fact its so fast than after receiving our cheque on Friday it was delivered to Jaynes sisters house in Derbyshire at 7.30am on Saturday which was handy because they were coming down to Stoke Bruene to visit us so we now have the Windlass. 

Windlass in normal mode.

And in very heavy paddle mode.

The Stoke Bruerne Gala is going well, Thursday night I (Jayne stayed on the boat) went to watch a performance by the Mikron Theatre Group in the Marquee entitled Hell and High Water, the story of the Bridgewater Canal , England's first Canal. Friday night we were in the Boat Inn just before Happy Hour finished, then over to the Museum Green for Fish and Chips from the chip van, bit of confusion regarding the time of the chip vans arrival as the programme said 7 o'clock but the ticket said 8 o'clock, anyway it was 8 and well worth the wait, then it was the beer tent.

The Mikron perform Hell and High Water.

Today the Gala opened to the public, the we had sunny intervals and, after a slow start it became quite busy. 

Some residents in the Village really enter into the weekend offering Cream Tea's or Champagne and Strawberries.

Strawberries and Champagne served in an English Village garden on a sunny afternoon.

Tonight we are off to Navigation Inn for a meal.

Next we move to the continuing story of our noisy Propeller, Crowthers had told us that in their opinion our boat was under Propped with a 20 x 15 Propeller and the noise was possibly Cavitation, but I was suprised when they told us that with our engine and gearbox ratio the boat should be fitted with a 24 inch diameter Propeller, which we couldn't fit due to lack of clearance, however they have a solution, they can manufacture a 20 inch Propeller with a larger blade area which will produce the same thrust as a standard 24 inch, we will order the new Propeller in the Winter ready for us to fit when we dry dock the boat for Blacking next spring.
A picture of the difference in blade area can be seen on Hadar's blog.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Propellers and a Windlass.

Wednesday, 8th June 2011.
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.

Jayne has always struggled a bit winding the paddles on the wide locks here on the Grand Union Canal so today she ordered herself a LockMaster Ratcheting Windlass, they're expensive but as she doesn't want to steer the boat then we have to make things as easy as possible, so that's Jayne sorted, the other problem it more complicated and will no doubt cost more money.

And that other problem is our singing/noisy propeller, we have had the noise since the boat was new and expected it to wear off, the singing is the result of water leaving the trailing edge of the blades and causing them to act like a tuning fork, we get the noise between 1350rpm and 1650rpm but 1500rpm is our happy cruising speed so we end up going faster than we want to get away from the noise.  The "Experts" say reverse into a a shallow area so the gravel/mud will rough up the noisy edge but this didn't work and when the boat was in dry dock I got the angle grinder out and ground the trailing edge into a chisel blade shape, (another fix) this had already been done.

I had considered one of the square bladed Axiom propellers but after reading various blogs over the last year have decided against  it.

So after drawing a blank I contacted Crowther Marine who are acknowledged propeller experts and according to there reply with our 50 horsepower engine,  3:1 ratio gearbox and a 20x15 propeller our boat is under propped, that means it's like driving your car around in 3rd gear, I noticed last year when we were on the River Thames that we were a bit down on speed compared to similar boats, having said that I am happy with the Canal performance, Just want the noise gone.

 So where do we go from here? The gearbox ratio/prop size was the decision of Colecraft (the hull manufacturer and engine fitter)  and Beta Marine (the engine/gearbox supplier), the investigation continues and we will keep everyone posted.

The Offending Item

I get the impression that there a lot of boats owners out on the Canal who are not 100% happy with there Propellers.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

At Stoke Bruerne

Tuesday, 7th June 2011.
Nether Heyford to Stoke Bruerne.
10.25 Miles, 1 Very wet Tunnel, 2 Locks.

We left our weekend mooring at about 10 o'clock, the sun was out but the wind was cold, the sky started to darken and by the time we had tied up a Gayton Junction service block it was raining so we got wet emptying and filling the various tanks, it's the first time this year we've been caught in a heavy shower so we aren't doing to bad, another boat moored along side at the service block and said the sun's out at the other end of the Tunnel, 20 minutes later we entered Blisworth Tunnel and it was very wet, with water cascading down the ventilation shafts.

The other boater was right it was sunny when we came out of the Tunnel.

Moored in the"Long Pound" the towpath is just the right height.

Kettles on.

Lots of Historic boats already moored between the Tunnel and the Museum, the modern boats have to drop down 2 locks and moor in what is known as the long pound, so that's where we are, 1 boats length from Nutfield and Raymond. who will move up to the Gala site on Thursday or Friday.

Nutfield and Raymond, ready for the Gala weekend.

Historic Working Boat Corona has had a re-paint and is now loaded with coal since we last saw it.

A bit of bad news, I have just found out (but it could be old news) that Tia the Narrowboat that used to travel the canals selling Ecover and other environmentally friendly washing products is no longer in business.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Friday 3rd June 2011
Buckby top Lock to High House Wharf, Nether Heyford
4.5 Miles, 7 Locks (very heavy one's)

On Friday morning we moved the 100 yards to the water point and filled up, then it was off down the 7 Locks of the Buckby flight, we met boats coming up at 5 of them so that saved us closing the bottom gates which is always very welcome as these Locks, especially the bottom one which is particularly heavy, we stopped outside Whilton Marine so that I could pop back to the glass re-cycling bin outside the Chandlery, I noticed that the Red Diesel at Whilton was priced at 99p a litre (base price) that's the highest price we have seen and beats the previous record of 97p which was at Fradley Junction, we filled up at Rugby Boats at 82p per litre, when we arrived the staff were giving instructions to the crews of 3 hire boats, so we tied up opposite for half an hour and drank tea until the hire boats departed, we then shuffled across for our fuel. Once both tanks were filled we carried on for another half mile and moored opposite the Touring Caravan site close to bridge 28, there were 4 Caravans on the field which is always well looked after. It's a Caravan Club CL site which means they only have a maximum of 5 Caravans at one time and it's always a quiet place to moor.

Also today we witnessed a hire boat, crewed by Australians trying to fill the water tank, but we will save that for another blog. 

Saturday Morning I cycled to the shop in Nether Heyford village and filled my Rucksack with supplies, all the locals were very concerned by the news of a planning application for a Travellers site on the Bugbrooke road just outside the village.

Sunday we didn't do much, Jayne had the washing machine on doing the bedding and I watched the Moto GP on the box (only they are not box shaped anymore).

Monday I changed the oil in the Generator (Needs doing every 100 hrs) and the oil and filter in the main engine (every 250 hrs), whilst I had access to the front of the engine I tried the spare drive belts for the 2 Alternators that we had been carrying for 2 years, guess what?, they didn't fit! but better to find out now rather that when we are stuck. The fuel filter also got replaced and the water trap drained.

We have also added a non-boating blog to our "blog list" , The Big Glastonbury Adventure is our Daughters blog about her annual trip to Worthy Farm.

Tomorrow we hope to get to Stoke Bruerne.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Back in Circulation.

Wednesday, 1st June 2011.
Crick Marina to Buckby Top Lock

Well that's the Crick show done, we are now back at the New Inn pub at the top of Buckby Locks, having cruised back yesterday, on reflection we should have waited until today, we would have avoided the 5 hour wait at Watford Locks.

The show went well for us and the RBOA with Jayne's organisation ensuring a smooth weekend

Jayne, in charge.

 It was nice to talk to other people who live on their boats and advise others who were considering moving onto the water to think long and hard about it, we love it, but know people who have spent a lot of money and not lasted one winter. 

We also took the opportunity to buy a few things for No Direction as most retailers were offering "show discounts",  first was Bedazzled for LED bulbs to replace our power hungry Halogen ones. Next was Travelsat for a Satelite Dish, we've had a cheap one for the last 4 years, the one that Travelsat supply is a much sturdier device with a strong magnetic mount.  

We were fortunate to get a berth in Crick Marina, if we had used official visitor moorings it would have involved a journey over the temparary canal bridge to get to the show site, something that Jayne would not have managed, so thanks to Gary the Crick Harbour Master and staff for finding us a space.

I think that we also should mention that the "Official Visitor Moorings", which were only along the Towpath and some would have needed a boarding plank to use were priced at £90 for the 3 days of the show, and that didn't include access to the show site !!!

Steamer President tows Butty Kildare out of the Marina.

We followed Steam Narrowboat President and the Butty Kildare out of the Marina, we moored up before Crick Tunnel to do a bit of shopping and to let the smoke clear, it's difficult enough to see in tunnels but with all that smoke impossible.
President and Kildare are owned and run by the Black Country Living Museum and will be at the Braunston Historic Boat Rally later this month.