Thursday, 24 May 2012

Back on board...

It's been a good a while since I've blogged about the boat, however now is a good time.  'Thursdays Child' was sold about a year ago to a lovely couple from Cheshire way.  Sadly it was due to work reasons we parted company and ever since I've missed boating and expecially my super little narrow boat.

The week before last I visited 'TC' and her current owner Michael to have a look around.  As you'll see he's kept her ship shape over the last year and has touched her up around the gunnel area with a colour change from green to black.

So what happens next? To be continued.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Charlie & Co on the Canal

I've finally got round to downloading these snaps off our camera. This was the stint to Shardlow and a picnic on the boat with the family.

Charlie too cool for school at 1 and 3 months!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Through the keyhole... or should be port hole!

With the cushions complete and the new seating in place I thought it was time I'd put a couple of snaps on the boat blog. After much thought we opted for fixed seating on both sides, however if you look closely the seats on the right are deeper which gives more comfort for watching telly than the dining seats on the left with a removeable table. Not bad for a 30 footer with a fixed double..

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

OAP's Outing... and a 47th Wedding Anniversary!

My aunty arrived from Fareham on the south coast for a visit to Sawley in landlocked Leicestershire. The weather was rather fine on Sunday so we took the boat out for a short stint to Shardlow. All aboard were; my mum and dad celebrating thier 47th wedding anniversary, Estelle and Charlie (Charlie paying close attention to the leaky Derwent Mouth Lock in the photo above) Aunty Sheila and myself.

It was the first warm day of the year so the boat club was busy as we left. The Trent was pretty high and passing Derwent Mouth there were lots of small whirlpools and the boat got pushed and pulled around before making it onto The Trent and Mersey. We stopped off for lunch in Shardlow and opened a bottle on board to celebrate. It was just like a scene from 'On Golden Pond'.

On the Trent and Mersey... or is it 'On Golden Pond'?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A cold cruise from Sawley to Redhill

The first trip of the 2010 was a short stint from TC's new home of the Derby Motor Boat Club down to Redhill. Ship-mates included my best mate Martin and his two lads Harry and Sam. The cruise down to Redhill was ok, however the return journey back up the Trent was bitter and it was too cold for the lads who retreated inside the boat. Both rivers; the Trent and the Soar were high and the current in the Soar was extremely strong.

Bring on the warmer weather... and let the boating begin!

Martin and Harry..

Sam, Stu (me) and Harry

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Went over to check on the boat this morning and arrived at Sawley 9am. It had been a couple of weeks since I'd last had time. I was amazed how the entire marina was locked in ice - nothing was moving including the hire boats. I had a go at smashing the ice around the boat, at 4 inches thick the barge pole made little impact. Started the engine up and let it run a while as I lit a fire and thawed out. By 10am the boat was toasty, made a cup of tea and 'chilled out' onboard!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sawley from the Air!

For anyone who moors thier boat at Sawley Marina, Leic. here's what it looks like from the air. I took this photo on a helicopter trip a year or so back.
It's been a while since I've blogged however we've been out on TC a good number of times over the autumn weekends and had some great trips to Shardlow, Notttingham and down to Zouch. The cushions for our seats have all been made and look great, photos to follow shortly!

Monday, 3 August 2009

This may not look much at the moment, however these new seats will make all the difference. We had them made last week and we're still waiting for the foam for the cushions.

There's now plenty of storage and both seats pull together to make a double bed. I spent Sunday morning varnishing them.

Before this we've been managing with a futon and dinner on a tray. The layout of the boat was a bit confusing with a table stuck to the wall and not enough room for two free standing chairs.

At the same time as the fixed seating we've also had shelves put in the cuboard, so even more storage!


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Long Way Up (Part 2)... scroll down for part 1.

As tempting as it was to stay the night in Ely we only called in briefly to top-up the gas and for abit of pub grub. Anyone seeing The Great Ouse from here would be mighty impressed with the idyllic setting. However as soon as we left the towns picturesque waterfront I found the hours of cruising this wide expanse of water with its high flood banks a little monotonous and we nick named the river the 'The Great Snooze!'

Littleport was unusual, home to Harley or Davidson or maybe both? The town was proud of its motorcycle connection and had an impressive metal sculpture in the town. I've never been to a place with more takeaways and there seemed to be a chip shop, a curry house or a rotating kebab on every street corner.

We left Littleport on another cloudless morning and continued cruising until we reached Denver Sluice. This is monster lock, or a least it looks it as you approach. Locking was 3pm as we had a wait for the tide. This gave us an afternoon to explore and I got chatting with an American professor on a hire boat from March. He was bringing his grandchildren to the UK for their first visit. He'd run into a 'nice chap' in Ely cathedral. 'Paddy Ashdown... was his name'. They'd talked politics; the Obama election and so on. I found this all very amusing.

'Thursdays Child' shared the lock with one smaller boat, I think the polite way to describe it would be rustic. On board a chap from Derby, my home town and his small dog who wore an orange life vest. He explained his wife wasn't into boating and stayed at home while he went 'walkabout'. The last time he'd seen her was Christmas - it was now June!

As the lock emptied and the guillotine gates raised I pushed the throttle and ventured out on this tidal stretch of The Ouse. The current was strong - very strong. For a while we struggled to make ground against the incoming tide but slowly and surely we made our way up the mile or so to Saltlers Lode. It was a sharp turning left into the lock and to be honest I very nearly missed it and that would mean heading out to sea. Making the turn the current caught us and I messed up big time. We were being pushed back up the river and the only thing I could do was to swing the boat round and attempt the turning again. This time I increased the revs and it was still a messy but I made it in. The lock keeper reassured me I wasn't the first to make this mistake.

Salter Lode was a lock which had been cause for concern. For months they'd been a stoppage as a new lock gate was brought over from Belguim. All had not gone smoothly and soon after it was fitted it had malfunctioned and boaters had been complaining on the net how they'd been stuck for days while emergency repair work was carried out. I watched as the shiny new gate slid down, it was incredibly slow taking around 6 minutes to lower. I kept my fingers crossed until I heard the gate 'clunk' shut.

Entering The Middle Levels was a like the calm after the storm and the afternoon sun turned into warm evening light. We put the kettle on and enjoyed a cuppa soaking up this tranquil waterway. We had plans to make March that night however we soon realised this was never going to happen. We decided on Upwell or Outwell instead. We cruised through Outwell and progress was slow through a very narrow waterway with big clumps of reeds. Our American friends had caught us up and I pulled over to let them overtake - big mistake. We grounded and Andy pushed hard on the bank with the barge pole. Soon after it was my turn to get us on the move as I was forced to detangle reeds from around the prop. We pressed on, I'd phone through and the lock keeper advised us she was out in the morning and if we didn't want a delay she could help us through before dusk. We arrived at Marmot Priory lock at sundown and the Americans were waiting in the lock making small talk with the lady lock keeper - Marmite and Digestive Biscuits were the topic, two things they'd never encountered before. They too decided March was out of reach tonight and as they were first they took moorings on the right. We attached ourselves to a work boat and hammered a stake into the ground on the steepest of embankments. Making the pub that night would be a challenge, however the lock keeper had offered us a lift!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Long Way Up - 215 miles, 128 locks, 3 aqueducts and 3 tunnels

St Ives to Sawley, week one:

It was always going to be challenge: a new boat, a tight schedule and a crew change half way up The Nene.

I was picking up 'Thursdays Child' from The Pike and Eel marina on The Ouse near St Ives. I'd been waiting several weeks for Salters Lode lock to re-open after being closed for nearly 6 months. This was vital as with it shut it blocked our only way home. I'd been searching for a new boat for quite some time and I'd seen 'TC' on the net but she was out of my price range. I'd made a lower, much lower offer and it'd been accepted. Great news! the money had cleared, the paperwork signed and a new BW licence was in the window. She was mine and ready to start her long journey home - a new home.

A good mate was helping out for the first week. Andy, had a bit boating experience. He'd just got back from a fancy dress 'pirate' weekend up the Llangollen, I'm not joking! That however was a leisure cruise, this was going to be extreme boating. We'd been dropped off the night before by Estelle and had a few beers before hitting the hay fairly early so we could make a good start on our first morning. With a mug of tea in my hand, a bright blue cloudless sky and the boat dripping in morning dew I attempted to start her up. It chugged over but nothing! I tried again and nothing, and again and again and again... nothing! My heart sank and I had that churning feeling in my stomach. The batteries had been charged, I'd pumped a bit of petrol round the outboard and even I'd pulled the choke, what was wrong? It was on the fifth or sixth attempt Andy - a Rolls Royce engineer said 'Stu, have you attached your safety cord to the engine? It's on the boats keyring'. Of course I hadn't, thankfully that was problem solved and we sailed out of the small picturesque marina full of white cruisers and the odd narrowboat.

When buying the boat I asked if there everything we needed on board: a windlass, rope, full gas bottle etc, 'of course' was the reply and indeed TC was very well equipped. Unlucky for us there was one vital piece of equipment missing. It'd taken us around 40 minutes to reach the first lock. A huge electric guillotine affair with gates 50 feet high and a huge metal door which slid up and down. Cruising the canals and rivers of the midlands I'd never seen anything like it. Both Andy and I jumped ship to try and figure out how to work it. It was then I noticed a small sign: 'An Environment Agency key is needed to work this lock'. A what? I'd got a British Waterways key but not an EA key? The next 15 minutes was spent turning the boat upside down and inside out in search of this illusive key with no luck. It was still only 7.30am and we'd 2 options; wait for another boat or go back to the marina and try and find someone with a key. Neither of them seemed ideal as we'd not seen a sole since getting up. All was very very quiet.We waited around for ten minutes or so before I bit the bullet and reversed the boat back out of the lock. This was not turning into my best days boating and around half an hour later later we were back to where we'd started from. Andy and I split up, he attempted to wake the landlord of the local where we'd been drinking the night before and I spotted one lonely figure on the far side of the marina. I ran round and greeted him out of breath explaining our predicament. 'It's your lucky day' he replied, I looked bemused, 'I work for The Enviroment Agency and I've two keys, if you wait here you can have one!' Sometimes in life you really do get lucky and this was one of those occasions. I thanked him and asked him if he wanted payment to which he declined. What a gent! Andy apologised to the landlord who was on the phone to a boating mate asking him to get out of bed and get over here with a key..!! We made a sharp exit, set sail... again! and this time took a steady pace back up to the first lock and onto our destination for the night; Littleport - a good days cruise away.

To be continued...

Friday, 17 July 2009

We made the front page of Waterways World!?!

Not sure the (C) issues on this? But as a regular reader of WW hope they'd turn a blind eye on this 'one off special'.

My friend produced this cover for my dad's birthday, he loved it and so did I! Any mock magazine to order... usually though, not such a blatant copy!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Three Days on The Erewash

A couple of years ago a boater warned me about cruising the Erewash. He said 'It's full of dumped shopping trolleys, carrier bags and noisy teenagers - it's trouble!'.

Well, we did encounter on one half submerged Tesco trolley. I got rather wet de-tangling a carrier bag from around my propeller, also from Tesco! And we met 3 noisy teenagers skiving school at Long Eaton Lock. But contrary to the warning we had brilliant time and I can really recommend the Erewash to other boaters. It's canal of great diversity; brilliant wildlife, industrial heritage with town and country along the way.

This was no pleasure cruise it was work, well kind of! My mate Matt was producing a film for BBC's Inside Out (East Midlands) about the 'fisher folk,' anglers on the Erewash and the presenter Ray Gosling was using 'TC' to get from A to B.

The day prior to filming we'd taken the boat up to Langley Mill basin and met some of the chaps from the Erewash Preservation Association. They'd given us the tour and I'd purchased one of their impressive plaques as a memento and proof I'd made it right to the end of the navigation! I'd spent the night at their facilities and very clean and tidy they were too.

The crew arrived at 10am sharp and we commenced filming and started the trip south back down to Trent Lock. Ray had brought a jam jar and a pink fishing net (see below) hardly your carbon fibre rod and reel but he was optimistic about his chances.

It took us around 7 and a half hours to get up the Erewash. The journey back down was much slower and took us the best part of 2 days as we were stopping off to meet anglers along the way.

We encountered a young mum fishing alongside her pushchair with an 8 week old baby! an ex-British champion who'd landed a 30 pound carp near Shardlow on the Trent back in the 1980's and Irene a lovely lady who showed Ray the perch she'd just caught. It was hardly the deadliest catch... I've owned goldfish bigger, nevertheless Ray cried out as he claimed the fish had bitten him.. as revenge maybe?

All in all it was a great trip and Tony (series producer) even posted a clip on You Tube so I could send a message home to baby Charlie.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Erewash Outing

First thing tomorrow I'm off up the Erewash Canal in the name of 'work'. The boat's going to be used in an upcoming episode of Inside Out East Midlands and we're filming it over the next few days. The journey should take us around 7-8 hours to get up to the top at Langley Mill and then Tuesday and Wednesday will be filming days. Looking at the weather sunshine and showers (heavy) :(

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Our old boat! - A Springer Water Bug

As our boat is out of water until next week I thought I'd post a few pictures of 'Bellota' which was our previous boat and which we sold a while back! Bellota was fantastic; a little Springer Water Bug built in 1989 in Market Harborough.
We had some great times and this picture shows my dad at Foxton Locks in Leic on a trip we did in June 2007, just before the River Soar and everywhere else in the East Midlands flooded.

The is trip known to boaters as 'The Leicester Ring' and it's around 150 miles by water with loads of locks along The Trent and Mersey Canal, Coventry Canal, Oxford, Grand Union and others. This picture shows my dad (Ron) in front of the Leicester Space Centre. At the next lock a teenager jumped in the canal just as I opened the paddles and all the water rushed in...! What a nutter.

For the few years we had 'Bellota' we moored in Dobsons Yard in Shardlow and Sawley Marina, which leads me onto this picture. This is our friend Phamie who came to visit. The only problem with Sawley is when the River Trent floods you're stuck and can't go anywhere. This is one of those occasions, however determined to still going boating we had a beer on the boat.

For anyone interested Bellota is up for sale again. Her new owners didn't have her long and they're asking quite a bit more than I sold her for?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

This is Charlie enjoying a trip to Shardlow. He's taken to boating from an early age, however he's not much help with the locks yet.

Estelle and Charlie

Me and Charlie

First blog in the captain's log... Thursdays Child is now out of the water on The Erewash and having her bottom cleaned and blacked. The hull was totally covered in fresh water mussels, there must have been thousands and thousands. It was a rather unpleasant job scraping them off and the smell was terrible! The boat has to ready for Monday as she's being used as a prop on a tv programme about angling. This will also be the first time I've been up to the top of the Erewash so I'm looking forward to seeing this part of the East Midlands by water.