Friday, 8 September 2017

CRT apologises for dozens of duplicate e-mails

A couple of days ago we were having our sandwiches in a break from painting when my phone pinged to indicate the arrival of an e-mail. Nothing unusual there. It was a standard notice alert from CRT. Again, nothing to merit comment. But my phone pinged a few seconds later with the same message, which I immediately deleted, as I had the first one. The phone then pinged again and again … and again and again and again with barely a pause. Something was clearly going wrong and there was little I could do about it. When my phone eventually stopped pinging I counted 120 duplicate e-mails (I might have missed some). Later a fresh e-mail from CRT apologised for the disruption caused to some people by a bug in the system. Let's hope it doesn't happen again.

We are now at the Black Country Boating Festival at Windmill End Junction - we could hardly be closer to the actual junction. We made an early start from Cambrian Wharf and got here at about 1000. I then spent a considerable amount of time scrubbing (notionally) white plastic tables, setting them out in the main marquee and putting chairs round them.

This evening we enjoyed an archive compilation film on boating in the midlands in the company of (among others) Andy Tidy, Barry and Sandra of the Homebrew boat, Brian and Diana of Harnser, David and Mary of Kew and Peter of Solar Kingfisher.

I expect tomorrow will see us with litter pickers in hand helping to keep the site clean.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

On our way to the Black Country

Jan's using the laptop so this will be another post devoid of photos, sorry. After spending five days at a house we let in the Birmingham suburbs painting and cleaning ready for a new tenant, we have at last been boating again.

We left Yardley Wood at 1500 and arrived at central Brum at 1745. I dropped Jan off by the Mailbox so she could go to Tesco and I carried on to the services at Cambrian Wharf. There was space against the bank in the wharf so that's where we now are.

Tomorrow we'll probably make an early start as we head for Windmill End and the Black Country Boating Festival.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Fazeley to Yardley Wood in one day

It's the sort of cruising we might have done in our shared ownership days. We set off from Fazeley at 0630 and didn't stop until we reached Lyons Boatyard on the Stratford Canal, 23 miles and 38 locks later. We have a change of tenant at our house near here and wanted to check the place over. We are going to have to paint every room and organise replacing carpets. We'll be very busy for the next few days.

Again, apologies for the lack of photos. I don't think I've described our journey from Ilkeston. We did the first leg with son Andrew. He'd driven down from Sheffield; we did a car shuffle and boated to Shardlow. The next day we stopped at Barton Turn. Not the quietest of moorings, especially as there were night-time resurfacing works on the road bridge above us.

Leg 3 was Barton Turn to Fazeley. Having read Derwent6's blog we stopped at King's Orchard Marina for gas and diesel. Not far from there we encountered Del and Al in person. Del was hard at work on their battery problem but we chatted to Al for a while. Del did poke his head out of the engine room for an exchange of greetings.

And the last leg I have already summarised. We met Lisa and Dave on What a Lark near the top of the Curdworth flight - good to see you again.

Our next scheduled port of call will be the Black Country Boating Festival next weekend; we're hoping to be able to get there a day or so early in order to help set up, as in previous years. We'll see how we get on with jobs at the house.

Monday, 28 August 2017

IWA Festival of Water, Ilkeston

We've come to the end of a hot and tiring festival here on the Erewash Canal in Derbyshire. This post is by way of a stopgap - a fuller report with pictures will follow when we have more data available. We got to our mooring last Tuesday. I helped with marking out the site over the next three days; we have both been doing stints on the BCF stand and I have been helping out on the rope throwing stand. Tomorrow we shall start our return journey down the Erewash and onto the Trent and Mersey.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

What CRT does with a settee in a lock

After visiting the large new Lidl very near where we were moored at Sandiacre we carried on up the Erewash to the IWA festival site in Ilkeston. We stopped at what I thought would be the beginning of the moorings and cycled up to look for a harbourmaster so I could find out where we were meant to be. I soon came across some blueshirts marking up the moorings, and discovered that our spot was 47B, even further back from where we had stopped. They were able to tell us that the boat on our inside had gone up to wind, so we decided to do the same. That way we would be bow-to-bow and stern-to-stern, which would probably make it easier to get on and off.

At one of the locks we went through was a CRT drop-side truck with a settee which they had removed from Stenson's Lock, a little further than we were going.

Some people appear to have no brain.

Me. I should have walked round to the other side of the truck to take the photo. Well done CRT for hoiking it out.

We winded immediately above Green's Lock in an unofficial winding hole (not marked on Nicholson's) at the entrance to the bywash. There was a fair amount of boat juggling, with two boats waiting to go down the lock and us and another boat wanting to wind. It all worked out in the end, and we returned to the festival moorings. The single boat ahead in the photo is Alice, against which we moored.

The canal was covered in a white powder which someone said was ash.

It's been humid and warm today, but with no rain. Until now. It has just started.

This afternoon I helped with marking out the site for the locations of the marquees and catering stalls. We were quite surprised when we got here today to see the field completely empty of anything. The marquees etc. arrive tomorrow - no doubt I shall help with putting everything up.

Monday, 21 August 2017

We got us a convoy ...

We left Willington at 0900 and continued our way down to the Trent. We managed to share all the remaining locks, initially with our friends Alan and Glenda on Tranquility and then with Keiwa. On the way I touched up paintwork on the wooden front doors.

On the Trent I was looking forward to opening up the throttle but there was a slow boat in front of the boat in front of us.

He waved us on after we'd passed through Sawley Flood Lock.

We almost flew between Sawley Lock and Trent Lock - and suddenly we were on the Erewash Canal. There were two volunteer lockies at Trent Lock. The older one evidently hadn't operated wide locks before. He raised the ground paddle on the opposite side to the boat, causing the bow to swing over across the lock. The younger volockie gently instructed the older one how to do it, and we ascended the lock with no further problems.

A boat was tied up at the water point meaning we had to use our long hose. It had been there all day, apparently, and the volockie phoned CRT to ask if they could move it out of the way. There will be a large number of boats wanting to top up there over the next few days on their way to the IWA festival at Ilkeston. The message came back to move it, so the volockies and another boater did so. I was staying well out of it.

At Long Eaton Lock I saw an iPhone abandoned on a bench. There was no-one around, so I took it. At the next bridge I cycled to the police station in order to hand it in, but the police station was shut. Outside was a yellow phone for contacting them, so I tried but there was no reply. As I was hanging on the iPhone rang. On the other end was the owner. We arranged a rendezvous; a few minutes later he turned up and was reunited with his phone. He was understandably grateful.

We made slow progress along the pound above Long Eaton Lock. At the next lock I removed a large amount of plastic sheeting and a fair amount of weed from the propeller. This made an appreciable difference to our speed.

Sandiacre Lock
We tied up in Sandiacre and I cycled back to Swarkestone to get the car. Tomorrow's leg is very short, we should be at the festival site with the car shuffle complete by lunchtime.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Electric narrowboat

Not long after setting off this morning we met Arabia, a shortened 1907 Josher. And very nice it looked.

We have seen a few boats called Black Swan; this is the first real black swan I can recall seeing.

It was at Horninglow Basin, where we'd stopped for water and Elsan.

We saw our friends Chris and Joy on Wrens Nest at Willington, so we tied up and Jan went for a cup of tea on their boat while I cycled back to Branston for the car. On the way I stopped to talk to the owner of this boat, which appears to be called Ovaltine but which doesn't appear in the boat listing. Neither does the registration number. (To the right it says "Bob up & down".)

Anyway, Ken was very happy to talk about his boat which has an interesting drive train. The clue is in the signwriting: "Drink delicious Ovaltine for an electric experience"(!) This is what caught my eye as we cruised past. Yes, the boat is electric, in that the propeller is driven by an electric motor. Where there would normally be an engine there is a large diesel generator; where there would normally be a gearbox is the electric motor driving the prop shaft via a belt with a 3:1 reduction achieved by the size of the pulleys. There are four crates of lithium ion batteries, each crate not much bigger than a conventional lead-acid battery. The batteries are what are used in electric cars. The motor runs on 110VDC. Ken runs the generator, a "site generator" only while the boat is stationary and only for about three hours a day. He cruises on battery power with just a faint whine as the only noise in addition to the prop wash. Ken has installed a multiplicity of meters to monitor voltage, current, amp-hours and temperature. And probably a few other things which I didn't notice. I'm afraid I can't remember the amp-hour capacity of the battery bank, nor the power of the motor - although I think the generator is capable of 5kW and the motor might be similarly rated. The motor, by the way, looked fairly insignificant, certainly compared with the vast generator. One thing which surprised me was the almost complete lack of solar panels on the roof. Apparently they would have introduced too much extra complexity to the charging system.

I'm sorry I didn't take any photos "under the bonnet". I suppose I didn't want to intrude. I'd never make an ace reporter.

Thank you, Ken, for taking the time to talk to me about it all.

Keeping with the electric theme, after I dropped the car off at Swarkestone, my route back to Willington took me past the former power station's old cooling towers. A notice states that permission was being sought for their demolition between January 2017 and July 2017.

Well, they are still there, still dominating the landscape. I think they should remain. The power station itself seems to have been reduced to a few lumps of concrete.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Balance beam causes loss of balance

More shower dodging today as we moved from Alrewas to Branston. We didn't get to Willington, as I'd planned, because we drove to Newcastle-under-Lyme to visit fellow BCF member Chris in hospital. In operating a bottom gate at a lock she had fallen down a six feet drop onto the ground and sustained some nasty injuries. I understand that she lost her footing trying to negotiate round the end of the balance beam where it projects beyond the masonry. She is likely to be unable to be boating for quite a while - a bit of a problem as she and Adrian are liveaboards. We were glad to be able to visit, and I think she was glad to see us.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We were ourselves visited this morning, by Alan and Glenda on Tranquillity, also BCF members. After coffee we set off, descending Alrewas Lock onto the river section.

At Tatenhill Lock we passed Hadley in its idyllic-looking setting. Not quite so idyllic-sounding with the A38 dual carriageway not far away. I have left my camera in the car - this is an image from the timelapse recording.

At some point we passed another blogger's boat, or should that be former blogger? Yes, Granny Buttons was moored up in the locality.

I didn't have quite so far to cycle to retrieve the car - just six miles to Alrewas. My satnav doesn't have the new road at Branston, so I couldn't find how to get to the Bridge pub. In the end I picked Jan up from Morrison's and we drove straight to N-u-L from there. On the way back from the hospital visit we stopped off at the Wetherspoon's in Uttoxeter for something to eat.