Friday, 21 December 2012

Double Glazing Update

We're really happy with our new double glazing. Not only has it stopped any condensation on the windows, it's made a HUGE difference to the outside noise levels. We have lovely neighbours here in the marina but their heating exhaust is right beside our saloon and it's quite noisy. Not any more though, now we hardly even notice when it's running. The noise reduction also works the other way too, Roger can turn up his electric guitar without disturbing them either.

Although we mainly fitted the DG to reduce the condensation on the windows we've noticed a huge difference in temperature inside the boat. We now only need a very small fire and we've used one full bag of solid fuel less than usual this week. If this carries on  it'll pay for itself in fuel savings by the end of the winter.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Double Glazing

One of the benefits of being in a marina is that Roger has had time to catch up on all the little jobs he's been meaning to do for ages. Top of the list was to fit secondary double glazing and after lots of research he finally came up with a cheap(ish) and simple method which has worked brilliantly.

For those of you who don't live on boats, the main problem in winter is condensation on windows and their aluminium frames.

Every morning my first job would be to wipe up the puddles on the window cills before they could soak in and discolour the wood.

You can see in the large photo of our boat at the top of the blog that we have LOTS of BIG windows and the heat loss on very cold nights was quite considerable. In previous winters we've put silver insulating foil behind the venetian blinds at night and that worked really well but didn't stop the condensation or the heat loss during the day. Plus we had the nuisance of where to store 7 large pieces of insulation during the day.

Roger's system is made up of 3mm clear acrylic sheet face fixed around the window by double sided magnetic tape and as you can see it works brilliantly!

It was -3' this morning and there wasn't any condensation on the 6 windows we've done so far. We weren't sure whether to do the kitchen window or not as I like to have the top hopper open while I'm cooking, but as you can see in the photos above this window was dripping heavily this morning and that's made the decision for us. The magnetic tape makes it really easy to put up/take down the DG so I'll just take it down and put it on the bed while I'm cooking.

I said the job was cheap(ish) and in total it's cost us just under £150 for the 7 windows.  That included having the acrylic cut to size and delivered to Macclesfield.  If anyone wants more details feel free to email me.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Big Thank you

I'd just like to thank everyone who's been in touch, either via the blog or by phone or email.
I've been a bit overwhelmed by people's kindness, it's certainly true that when the shit hits the fan you find out who your real friends are.

I had my surgery yesterday and am now back on the boat. I can't tell you just how wonderful it is to be home. The hospital staff were brilliant but it's so true "there's no place like home".

Hopefully I'll be back blogging properly again soon.

Thanks again folks XXX

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Normal service will be resumed shortly

We're back in Macclesfield for a while. 

It wasn't where we expected to be spending the winter but I need some medical treatment which means we won't be able to go cruising for a couple of months.  It'll be a real shock to the system to be marina based again but hopefully we'll be able to get out and about in between the treatment and I'm aiming to be continuous cruising again early next year.

Thank you all for following our travels so far, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Back on the Macc.

We made it back up Marple Locks today without any real problems. Water levels in some of the pounds was a bit low which meant we had to let some water through, but it was nowhere near as bad as when we went down back in October.

The locks are due to close tomorrow for maintenance and it looks as if work will start on time as the fencing has arrived for Lock 8.

There were lots of walkers out today, making the most of the sunshine and we had "gongoozlers" at every lock.  Of course there were the usual questions; "do you live on your boat?" "is it cold?" "have you got a TV?". Several men were intrigued  with the mechanics of how a lock works and one little boy ran up to the lock and shouted to his mum that there was a ship in the bottom of the lock. He was very disappointed when we got up to his level and told his mum "it's not a ship, it's only a little boat".   Roger got talking to one couple and told them about C&RT hoping to get donations from walkers to help with maintaining the towpaths etc.  They were horrified and stated quite categorically that they wouldn't pay as it should be free to go for a walk!

This was the view from the top lock.

The moorings in Marple were full of the usual lurkers. If they have to lurk why do they have to do it on visitor moorings, why can't they do it out in the countryside?  One boat which is now on the visitor moorings used to moor permanently in Castlefield but as they've recently had a clear out it looks like he's come up to join the other "bridge hoppers" here on the Macc.

We managed to double-breast with a boat that we've met a few times before while we went to the Ring O'Bells pub for a late Sunday lunch.  The food's really good there. Roger had roast pheasant and I had slow roast belly pork with superb crackling and a black pepper and brandy sauce.  Both were served with 5 large portions of veg, roasties and boiled potatoes and was just what we needed after doing the locks.  We carried on again after lunch and got moored up just before it went dark at Hawk Green. We'll carry on again tomorrow.

I totalled up the log today. So far this year we've travelled 891 miles and done 698 locks our biggest yearly total. I'd like to make it to 1000 miles by the end of the year but think that may be a bit optimistic.  We'll see.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Canal and River Trust - turbo-charged response

On Wednesday when we were coming up Lock 91 on the Rochdale Canal Roger noticed that the ratchet on one of the top paddle gears was loose and working it's way off the spindle ready to fall in the water, so he phoned the local C&RT office to report it.  By the time we'd left the lock and arrived at the next, no more than 15 minutes, the maintenance guys had arrived to fix it! We've had fast response from C&RT  to other maintenance problems this year so I'd urge you to report anything you come across.  After all, if they don't know there's a problem how can they fix it?

Yesterday we left New Islington Marina, dropped back down the 2 locks on the Rochdale canal and then Roger worked us up the 18 locks of the Ashton Canal.  We didn't have any problems apart from low water in the top 3 pounds. This had been caused by a convoy of 5 Claymore hire boats coming down the locks on their way back to their base at Preston Brook. The pounds hadn't had time to recover from having 5 lock-fulls of water taken from them in rapid succession so we just let some down to raise the level a couple of inches to stop us dragging on the bottom.

We're now moored in Portland Basin Marina again and will probably move again tomorrow ready to go up Marple Locks on Sunday before the winter stoppage.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

New Islington Marina

It was Roger's turn to work the locks today while I drove. We would have liked to share the locks, and the work, with another boat as we'd done a couple of weeks ago when we came down the Rochdale 9 with David on Wye Knot 2 but there was no-one about when we set off this morning.

As usual the water was rushing over the gates at lock 92 but we weren't in any rush so took our time and went up slowly.

I like retracing our steps over sections of canal and lock flights as the view's different and you see things you didn't spot when going the other way. These arches under the railway bridge weren't as noticeable last time but are quite a beautiful piece of engineering architecture.

Deansgate is one of the main shopping streets in Manchester and the traffic is always very busy. It's one of the nice things about being on the boat that you can just go underneath the traffic jams with a smug smile on your face.

This was another tunnel under the shops.

The water jet coming into the canal from the right bank is really powerful and I'd remembered it from last time, so I stayed back until Roger had the lock gate open and then went in on full power to avoid being pushed into the bridge side.

Once up the Rochdale 9 we made a detour up 2 more locks on the Rochdale Canal and turned into New Islington Marina.  This is the "famous" new bridge that has reputably cost £4 million.

It has writing on it's underside that can only be read as a reflection in the water.  It's supposed to read "cast no shadow" but as it's always windy here and the canal is seldom calm enough to see any reflection it seems a huge waste of money to me.

The marina is now fully occupied and even the visitor moorings were full, but Ben the mooring warden/park keeper found us a spot right outside the Boaters Hut which houses the laundry and shower. It's only for one night and we'll carry on again tomorrow.

This family of swans arrived almost as soon as we'd moored up. They were very persistent and pecked at the boat until I gave in and fed them. Once they'd had their fill of swan pellets they left us and went to pester another boat.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Back in Manchester

Well we're back in Manchester again!  Apart from the usual 4 or 5 "lurkers" who have been here since last Autumn, Castlefield Basin is fairly empty.

We filled up with water at the service block on the way in.

It used to be a really dirty horrible place, full of boaters rubbish which was dumped here even though there are plenty of rubbish skips just round the corner but I'm happy to say that it's been cleaned up and this notice seems to be having the desired effect.

It's now dark around 5pm and although I miss the sunny evenings of summer, it's nice to sit by the fire and indulge my passion for crochet.  This is the latest little cardigan I've made for my granddaughter. She's now 6 months old and growing so fast she's keeping me busy. The stash of wool under the bed is dwindling rapidly, I feel a shopping trip coming on!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

It's time to think about Christmas

I came across these gorgeous knitted Reindeer tree ornaments recently on one of the blogs that I follow. Aren't they wonderful!  If any of you Ladies would like to make them, you can find the instructions HERE

Friday, 2 November 2012

A busy week meeting family, friends and fellow bloggers

We've been back in Boothstown this week. We're not actually in Bridgewater Marina but are moored outside the Moorings pub as it's a nice convenient spot for visiting family and friends.

Today we had a drive out over to Middlewich to meet the new owners of one of our boats. Australians Elly and Mick bought n.b. Parisien Star to live aboard and travel round Britain for the next year.  Our boats have quite sophisticated electrical systems which we always took great pains to explain fully to new owners on hand-over day, but as Mick and Elly bought the boat second hand the brokerage had no idea how things work so they needed a bit of advice and we were quite happy to go out and meet them and explain things. We've been following Elly's blog since they first looked at Parisien Star and it was lovely to finally meet them in person. Hopefully we can meet up again next year by boat and spend a bit more time together.

Monday, 29 October 2012


I've never been fond of marinas and don't like staying in any one place for more than a couple of days. One of the reasons is if you're running the engine for a few hours to charge the batteries then I reckon you may as well be cruising, so today we left Boothstown and cruised on to Lymm.  It's a lovely little village and is always very popular with moorers so it was no surprise to find it almost full when we arrived late afternoon but we managed to squeeze in on the end.

Even though he's only 7 I'm frequently asked if Chico is very old. People seem to think that because he's got a grey face he must be on his last legs. Maybe he needs some Grecian 2000?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

A few days away

We've had a few days away visiting our daughter and baby granddaughter up in the North East but it's nice to be home.

One of the first things our daughter said to us was "Do you fancy going on a boat trip?"  It seems as if we just can't get away from boats and water.

This boat was just a bit bigger than we're used to though and the trip was out to the Farne Islands to see the Grey seals and their pups as it's calving time.

The islands are 2 - 3  miles off the Northumberland coast with the boat trips leaving from Seahouses and lasting an hour and a half.  Once we got out of the harbour the sea was quite rough and the boat rocked and lurched a lot but we found it exhilarating and stayed up at the bow for the whole trip.

This is the only inhabited island. The National Trust Rangers live here for 10 months of the year and look after the seal pups in the Autumn.

This is Longstone Lighthouse. It was made famous in 1838 when Grace Darling and her father rescued 9 survivors from the paddle steam ship Forfarshire which ran aground in stormy seas.

The Farne Islands are one of the major sanctuaries in the UK for breeding sea birds. During the nesting season there are 20 different species of breeding sea birds here, including Guillemots, Eider Ducks, Shags, Terns and over 70 thousand Puffins. (Can you tell I paid attention to the commentary?)

You can tell how many birds must nest here each year by the amount of guano pooped down the cliffs.

There are between 3 - 4 thousand grey seals at the Farne Islands with about a thousand pups born each year. Unfortunately the mortality rate is very high and around a third of the pups die.

This huge bull seal was basking in the sunshine.

The newly born pups are counted every day and marked with a coloured dye. The tiny white ones marked with green in this photo had been born the previous day.  We saw a few marked with orange that had been born that morning. They looked so vulnerable laid on the rocks.

There were plenty of seals in the water, playing in the surf and following the boat and at times weren't totally sure who was watching who.

The boat trip was so good we're going to try and do it again in the nesting season as I'd really like to see the Puffins.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Rochdale Nine

Today we carried on into the centre of Manchester, down the famous Rochdale Nine locks. Some boaters find them extremely hard work but while I wouldn't recommend them for absolute novices, we didn't have any problems.

This was the first lock which was to take us underneath these buildings in Piccadilly.

One of the problems with the Rochdale Nine is the sheer volume of water that passes down the flight. It pours over the top gates so you need to keep the boat well forward or risk it getting wet.  It's also a bit of a nuisance when you're trying to open the top gates on some of the locks as the pound level is higher than the top of the gates which means you really need 2 people to push the gate open.

The lock area underneath Piccadilly used to be frequented by rent boys and drug dealers but nowadays it's been cleaned up and there's CCTV everywhere.

There's some nice graffiti art down there too. This was just one of the pics.

There's no towpath between the locks at either end of Canal Street but there is a floating pontoon so you can get on or off the boat quite easily, although we had to breast up the 2 boats as the pontoon is quite short.

A few of the locks have windlass operated winches which use chains to open or close the lock gates as there isn't enough room for full length lock beams.

Lock 88 took us underneath Oxford Street.

Just as you exit the lock there's a very powerful jet of water coming into the canal. It's so powerful it pushed Wye Knot 2 sideways into the bridge.

Most of the canal is overshadowed by high dingy looking buildings but there are a few green areas. Someone here was obviously a bird fan, along with the duck house there was a small dovecote. We saw a kingfisher and there were bat boxes under one of the railway bridges.

This is the bar and club area in the railway arches alongside Deansgate Locks.

We finally made it into the bottom lock no. 92 two and a half hours after we set off.

I was a bit apprehensive after hearing all the horror stories, but we had a good run and I'd certainly do it again.  We'll be coming back up the Nine in a few weeks to get back up to the Macc. before the stoppages on the Marple Flight.

We're now moored in Castlefield and will carry on again in the morning.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Ashton Canal

We spent last night in Portland Basin Marina, having gone there for our 4 yearly Boat Safety check. I can't believe the boat is now 4 years old! Where has the time gone?

We'd had torrential rain and strong winds overnight, so I was very happy that by the time we were ready to set off at 8am it had cleared up and the sun had come out.

Our first obstacle of the day was bridge 21.  Nicholson's guide book states that it's very low, and it was. The short cruising chimney only just made it through.

We'd met a guy at the top of Bosley Locks last week who claimed to be a professional boat mover and who told us how he'd never been on a worse canal than the Ashton.  He claimed it was full of rubbish, that the locks were exceptionally difficult and the area was full of scroats. So based on that I was dreading the trip.  It just goes to show that you shouldn't listen to everything you hear.  There was no litter in the water and neither boat picked up anything round our props.  The locks were well maintained and reasonably easy to work through, certainly no worse than anything we've come across elsewhere.  The only bit of graffitti we saw was this, and we didn't see any scroats either.

We got to the first lock just before 9.30.

A few of the locks (can't remember which) had these hand/foot holes in the lock sides. I haven't come across anything like them anywhere else.

It took us a long time getting down the flight as every lock was empty so had to be filled before Roger could take our boat in. Once he'd gone out I re-filled it for David on Wye Knot 2 and then helped him work down.

This is lock 4. Just round the right hand bend was another low bridge which was even lower than bridge 21. It was a railway bridge that's head reinforcing beams added underneath it and was so low that I had to take the chimney off and the flowers got flattened a bit. It was even lower than Droitwich Tunnel and that's saying something!

This is a block of apartments in New Islington, beside the new marina. They're hideous and are starting to look decidedly shabby as the graphics which have been put all over them are starting to peel off. It's no wonder they're half empty.

7 and a half hours after we left Portland Basing we finally made it to Piccadilly Village where we're spending the night.

It's a good job there's only the two of us travelling today as there's only room here for 2 boats. It was a tight squeeze for us getting into our mooring and I doubt that a 70ft boat would fit.