Tuesday 23 September 2014

More stats, including rate of fuel consumption

In a comment Tom of Waiouru asks how much fuel we used on our recent cruise and what the consumption figures were.

I'm happy to be able to oblige. Over the 66 days of our Big Summer Cruise the engine did 311.7 hours which is an average of 4.7 hours per day. That's not to say that we cruised for nearly five hours per day as some engine running was with the boat stationary and just for battery charging.

I would like to be able to give a precise figure for fuel consumption, but my boat log suffered a minor disaster. Early in the voyage the wind caught several pages which had come loose and blew them off the cabin top. Some landed on the counter, but some ended up in the cut. I rescued a couple but lost at least one, covering two days' worth. Gone is the record on the first fill-up.

Nevertheless, I have enough data to make a reasonably accurate calculation of fuel consumption.

Second fill: nb Alton, Macc. Canal: 37 litres, 28.5 hours: 1.30 l/h

Third fill: Sowerby Bridge: 72 litres, 65.3 hours: 1.10 l/h

Fourth fill: Thorne: 76 litres, 64 hours: 1.19 l/h

Fifth fill: Shobnall Wharf: 60 litres, 41.1 hours: 1.46 l/h

Sixth fill: Cathiron (GU): 56 litres, 44 hours: 1.27 l/h

Overall consumption for these figures: 301 litres, 242.9 hours giving 1.24 l/h.

Some interesting things are apparent from these figures. Doing the heavily locked Ashton and Rochdale Canals we got the best consumption of just over a litre per hour. Much of the time in locks the engine is idling in neutral, and doesn't have to work hard between locks. The fill-up at Shobnall Wharf was the first after the River Trent - much hard running and few locks leading to the worst consumption rate of nearly 1.5 litres per hour.

The overall figure of one and a quarter litres per hour of engine running is what one is led to expect, so I'm happy with that.

The engine, by the way, is an Isuzu 38 horsepower.

Here is a rare photo of me, attending to a barbecue at Cosgrove (no, we haven't gone far from the marina).

Monday 22 September 2014

Some cruise stats

According to CanalPlan ... on our Big Summer Cruise we covered 555* miles and worked through 431 locks. We gave ourselves ten weeks to do it, but were back at the marina after nine weeks.

one highlight: the Rochdale Canal. We are just leaving the summit level; the feeder comes in where the dinghy is tied up

The waterways navigated were:

  • Grand Union
  • Saltisford Arm
  • Stratford Canal
  • Worcester and Birmingham
  • Birmingham Canal (New Main Line)
  • Staffs and Worcs
  • Trent and Mersey
  • Macclesfield Canal
  • Peak Forest
  • Ashton Canal
  • Rochdale Canal
  • Calder and Hebble
  • Aire and Calder
  • New Junction
  • South Yorks Navigations
  • Sheffield and Tinsley
  • Stainforth and Keadby
  • River Trent
  • Nottingham Canal
  • Coventry Canal
  • Oxford Canal

I have filmed much of the journey on a timelapse camera; I shall endeavour to upload the many separate sequences soon.

*we actually covered slightly more miles than this - I haven't allowed for the to-ing and fro-ing on the Peak Forest in our quest for water and a winding hole which wasn't silted up. Nor have I added in the mile or three going to the head of navigation on the Trent. And there may well be other bits and pieces I have forgotten about (until I watch the timelapse back). 560 miles would be nearer the mark. Just remembered: we went to the end of the Halifax Arm, oh, and the Dewsbury Arm.

Friday 19 September 2014

Back to the marina - the big summer cruise is just about over

I forgot to mention yesterday that we'd been to a Friends of Stoke Bruerne Museum talk - on Bikes, Boats and Bridges - as a result of bumping into Kathryn of Leo No. 2. The talk was given by, I think, Brian someone, showing many interesting canal photos from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Back to today. We had a smooth passage down the Stoke Bruerne locks, on our own, and stopped at the bottom for coffee. This turned into lunch before we resumed our journey.

Jan steering Jubilee out of Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock

There are a lot of daddy long legses around; several attached themselves to the boat overnight.  When we walked in the fields yesterday clouds of them rose into the air as we brushed past.

Immediately past the moorings at the bottom of the flight is an outfall from the River Tove.

It isn't always pouring out like this.

And so we got to Thrupp Wharf Marina and reversed in, straight to our pontoon. Now we are guests of Ally and Ben for the weekend.

Thursday 18 September 2014

The state of the union

The Scots have cast their vote, and I hope more said "no" to independence than "yes". There were plenty of union flags in evidence today as we cruised from Weedon to Stoke Bruerne.

This was poking out from behind the hedge at Nether Heyford.

We flew the flag too, in the form of bunting on the cabin top.

I think it would be a disaster if the Union Flag, loved by generations of Brits, were suddenly to become obsolete.

Nb Live Life nailed his colours to the mast.

I saw only one boat sporting the Scottish saltire.

Blisworth Tunnel Narrowboats, on the other hand, is sitting on the fence. All three flags of the constituent parts of Great Britain were flying above their premises.

No doubt we'll know in the morning. (I predict a "no" vote, by the way.)

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Braunston indicates we're on the home run

Today we turned from the Oxford Canal onto the Grand Union, and thus began to retrace our steps home. We were last in Braunston exactly two months ago, in the sweltering heat of July. Today's not been bad either, but definitely not as warm.

The spire of Braunston Church is a landmark familiar to most boaters, I would think.

At Braunston Locks we passed Chance. As we'd had a long catch-up with Doug and James when we saw them a couple of weeks ago on the Trent and Mersey we didn't stop this time.

Also coming down the locks as we were going up were a couple of CRT work boats. This one had been away for repair for nearly a year and was returning to Oxford. It seems to be shipping rather a lot of water front left.

Ally and Ben joined us for a curry at Brinjol in Weedon this evening. The place was packed - I could hardly believe it! The waiter pointed out that it was "banquet menu" night - a vast amount of food for £9.95 each. It had to be done.

Stoke Bruerne tomorrow, probably.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Misty sunbeams and spiders' webs

We got going earlier than usual this morning, in time to cruise through the mist as the sun burnt it off. Before the sun warmed up the vegetation on the offside, the millions of cobwebs were on display.

It's easy to forget that these spiders' webs must always be covering absolutely everything - it's only when dew or frost settles on them that we can see them.


As we travelled south from Stretton Stop the sun's rays broke through the mist lighting up patches of water.

The best time to be boating.


After stops at Brownsover and Hillmorton we tied up three miles north of Braunston; we should get to the bottom of Buckby Locks tomorrow. The end of our summer cruise is looming ...

Monday 15 September 2014

What are these birds?

We moved on from Coventry Basin this morning and turned onto the Oxford Canal at Sutton Stop. On the way to Stretton Stop, where we tied up for the night, we saw some birds we can't remember having seen before.

They flew like kingfishers ...

... but are obviously not kingfishers. Two other boaters independently expressed their mystification.

They called out as they flew, making a sound a bit like a woodpecker's call. They wagged their tails when on the ground.

Can someone identify them for me from my poor photos? (Irene?)

As we passed under the M6 there was a bit of a queue heading towards Birmingham. These lorries were stationary.

Oslo, a R. W. Davies boat, looked resplendent in the afternoon light. We even had a little sunshine, interspersed with some light showers of rain.

We walked into Brinklow to check out the White Lion and its curry house. But it is no longer a curry house. (Grr.) They now do pizzas, but we didn't fancy that so we returned to the boat for Plan B: lamb chops.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Crumhorns in Coventry

We liked Coventry so much we stayed an extra day. When we got up it was slightly disconcerting having Mr. Brindley right outside the galley porthole.

After going to Holy Trinity church for the "informal" 9.30 service - very good - we went to have a proper look round the Museum of Transport, much of which celebrates Coventry's long association with the motor industry.

There were several Morris 1000s lined up outside ...

... in front of a row of Jaguars.

Following a light lunch back on board we went to the Guildhall, open as part of the Heritage Open Days. In the courtyard a musician was demonstrating her wondrous collection of ancient woodwind instruments. Here she is playing the crumhorn.

We then went to Choral Evensong in Holy Trinity, also very good, and retired to the boat.

We'll move on in the morning, heading up the Oxford. Does the pub/Indian restaurant combo in Brinklow still exist? I want to find out - and I want the answer to be "yes".

Saturday 13 September 2014

Two old boats in a bridge hole

We'd not been up long before we heard the unmistakeable sound of a Bolinder engine. It didn't seem to be getting nearer, so I looked out of the bow doors and saw this.

Spey, towing Betelgeuse, had stopped in the bridge hole for a crew member to clear the blades - at least, that's what it looked like.

When they came through I saw that it was James of MB Willow steering the motor. (Amy was in the hold of the butty.) An unexpected and very brief sighting, and I'm sorry if our mooring position made it tricky for you.

These short days we're doing give us more time for looking at places. We tied up in Coventry Basin and had a brief look at the Transport Museum before moving on to the cathedral. Here Choral Evensong had just started, so we stayed for the rest of the service. (We'll return to the Transport Museum tomorrow.)

There are lots of old buildings, many of which were rebuilt after the war. Here's one shot of Coventry Almshouses.

Here is our mooring for the night, next to the statue of James Brindley. I might move the boat into one of the "fingers" of the basin in the morning to give more space to any boats needing to wind.

Friday 12 September 2014

Slow canoeists

Somehow it just doesn't feel right, doing only fours hours' boating a day. Today the engine clocked up 3.8 hours as we moved from Atherstone to Bedworth. Before we left Atherstone we had another walk into the town, and this time the church was open.

Back on the high street, would you take your worn footwear to Snob's Shoe Repairs?

On the canal we passed a Morris 1000 undergoing repairs to its underside. Presumably no pit was available. Not one that was dry, anyway.

At Bridge 32, just before the Hartshill Yard, a sign warned of slow canoeists.

And round the corner, guess what? Three slow canoeists. Only they weren't particularly slow, nor, I believe, were they canoeists. Are not one-person craft like these called kayaks?

There's a lovely old telegraph pole surviving on this stretch.

Perched on top was a bird of prey, which took off just as I took the closer photo.

Identification, someone?

When we got to Bedworth we stopped and explored the town. From photographs helpfully reproduced on a display board you could see how the town centre had been redeveloped in the 1960s/70s. I prefer how it used to look. Yes, it's a bigger place than Atherstone, but Atherstone, with traffic still allowed along its high street, had much more life than Bedworth with its dull, pedestrianised concrete areas.

The almshouses looked nice, though.

As it's a Heritage Open Day tomorrow we'll be able to get a proper look in the morning.

In the evening we had a great meal as guests of Terry and Chris in their lovely canalside house. Thank you!

Thursday 11 September 2014

Mending paddle gear on the Atherstone flight

Another day of not many hours. After half of one of them we stopped at Polesworth for a look round the town (village?). Spotting the church at the end of an inviting footpath we went to visit. The church is on the site of Polesworth Abbey, not much of which remains now. Or is the church, St. Editha's, the abbey? I don't know. There is a garden, enclosed on three sides, which was warm in the sun and very peaceful. Two artists were sketching there.

Interestingly we saw no charity shops in Polesworth.

We stopped again below the Atherstone locks for lunch. When we got going we found that the noise we'd been hearing during lunch was a dredging operation at the side pond of the bottom lock.

Oh good, I thought. A side pond being restored. But no. It won't be operational, according to the workers. What they were doing was to "improve the flow", apparently.

So it's just the side pond at Lock 6 which works as built, then. (Except that it seems to leak back into the tail of the lock.) As we were following a boat up the flight I had to drain the lock so we could enter. First, I raised the paddle to let water flow from the lock into the side pond.

When the levels had equalised - or near enough - I closed the paddle and went to raise the bottom gate paddles. One worked fine; on the other, winding the spindle failed to raise the paddle. The whole shaft, with the end made into the tapered square-ended spindle, had moved out such that the key was not engaging with the gear which lifts the rack.

As a temporary measure I used a hammer to persuade the shaft back into position, after which it worked. I took the photos after I'd done this; you can see where the shaft has been rotating where it shouldn't have been.

The key, visible in the centre of the upper photo, needs properly knocking in - I'll e-mail CRT.