A Sunday in Spring

By the time Sunday arrived spring was long gone. Admittedly the mist had cleared and the Wrekin was visible once more but there were low scudding clouds, a complete lack of sunshine and, as is always the case with this part of the Shroppie, a biting wind which chills to the bone.  There were a few foolhardy fishermen out and about but they didn’t look too happy.

We had made an early start and it was just before 8 when we came back through Norbury who were just opening up for the morning, but apart from the people there, and a few people walking their dogs there weren’t many signs of life and we didn’t really see many boats moving all morning.

We did see quite a few buzzards and we also saw two hawks in one of the cuttings but they kept hiding from Kathy’s camera.

We met a couple of boats on Tyrley locks and when were coming out of Tyrley Lock 2 No 4  the engine stopped dead and I couldn’t get the gearbox in neutral. When I started to remove the release bar off the weedhatch the weedhatch started lifting up and I found the reason for the engine stopping was a large log wedged between the prop and the weedhatch. The log simply floated free and I lifted it out and there seemed to be no damage to the prop or shaft or gearbox or engine mountings which is something.

We got back to the mooring just in time for lunch and we spent a bit of time cleaning and getting the boat ready for its big trip in two weeks time before heading home

Spring Saturday

Kathy and I arrived on Friday evening and got the boat loaded up and tried a couple of experiments with the new curtains.

On Saturday morning we got up and cast off and moved over to the waterpoint. The water point at Market Drayton is far from the fastest on the system and we ignored the 30 minutes maximum notices and filled up. If there had been others queuing up for water then we would have moved on but as there weren’t we didn’t.

Tyrley locks were quiet and I think we met one boat on the flight. When we were going through Tyrley Top Lock No 3 the dog belonging to the people who live in the lock keepers cottage thought about hopping on the boat but luckily she didn’t. According to a person on the lock side who moors on the moorings above the locks he once got to The Anchor (at Anchor Bridge No 42 ) and found the dog on his boat and had to make a phone call to let them know that their dog wasn’t missing.

The big cutting above the locks was strangely barren with not a lot of greenery in it. There were a few boats moving, and we met a small convoy of them as we approached Knighton Wharf but it soon went quiet again and I think we saw maybe two more boats before we arrived at Norbury Junction where we got a pump out, a new bottle of Calor and some diesel.

This was the first time we’d bought fuel under the tax regime and we bought about 74 litres at 48.9 per litre. We went for a 60/40 split between propulsion/generation so I’m not really sure how much per litre we actually paid in the end. I think there is a need for a “real” price per litre calculator or cribsheet.

We pulled over onto the visitor moorings for lunch before continuing south. We’d no definite plans on where to turn, we were just going to turn round at a sensible time for us to get back to the mooring sometime early on Sunday afternoon.

The wonderful spring weekend really hadn’t materialised and it got mistier and colder and windier and we decided to turn at the winding hole at High Onn Bridge No 25. The winding hole is a “private” on where turning is by permission of the land owner. But the land owner thinks that actually winding holes are good places to moor boats and its a bit silted up too, so I’d not really recommend it as a normal place to turn.

By now the weather was getting pretty grim and we moored up for the night on the moorings in the cutting just north of Gnosall Railway Bridge and we put up the new curtain rails and hung the new curtains and settled down for the night.

Gas and Electricity

We had another working weekend on the boat this last weekend and we were tackling two pretty big projects:

1) Replacing the gas cooker
2) Replacing the fridge.

We had found a very good LPG cooker on line which has flame failure devices on all burners and an electric ignition driven from a battery. Its an Electrolux and has four burners with a tiny little “simmer” one and a rather large burner and two nice sized ones. Its not a “boat” cooker but it meets ALL the requirements of the BSS and we did find that the “Official” recommendations for the ventilation for fitting it in a house/flat are less stringent than the BSS for fitting it in a boat. For example they assume that if you don’t have a lot of fixed ventilation then you’ll simply open a window. Whereas the BSS just assumes that you are so stupid that you’ll suffocate to death before opening the window!

The fridge is an under counter fitted style one which we got hold of second hand. Its made by Whirlpool and is supposedly an A rated fridge.We’d taken the fridge up previous to do some tests and we were happy that it would work so we were going to fit it.

The proposed plan of action was:

1) Remove old gas fridge
2) Remove front of cupboard round old fridge space
3) Put new fridge into space and fix it in place
4) Remove old gas cooker
5) Move boat off mooring to unload old cooker and fridge and to load new cooker. We have to move the boat because the jetty isn’t as long as the boat and due to a design mistake when the boat was being fitted out you can’t get large objects through a dog leg round the bathroom. So anything big has to go in and out through the front door, so we needed to move the boat.
6) Install new cooker
7) Replace T in gas line where the fridge was tapped off it with a through connector.

It sounds simple but it all went wrong at stage 2 as the gas line to the old fridge went through a wooden partition that we needed to remove to put the new fridge in. So we had to turn the gas off and remove the gas line to the fridge. It was at this point that we found that the through connector was shorter than the T piece which meant we would have to move the whole gas line from the cooker backwards.

So we started doing work in parallel. I worked on the fridge and Nick removed all the clips that hold the gas line in place so we could move it back. We checked the new cooker and found that we would need a fitting that we didn’t have so we drove down to Norbury junction and picked up the fitting and grabbed a coffee as it was going to be quite a while before we could have another warm drink on the boat.

The new cooker has two gas feeds, one at either side of the cooker and in the instructions it recommends that the flexi pipe to the cooker does not cross the back of it. This was actually good news as it meant we could move the gas line backwards, giving us the spare we needed to take out the T junction and it also moved the stop valve and the bubble test point into a much more accessible position.

So now with both the old appliances disconnected we moved the boat over onto the public moorings on the other side of the canal and Nick walked along the path to the town centre (marked as Disabled friendly and thus ideal for running a sack trolley, with a cooker on it, along) and I went back to the mooring, collected the car and drove back to meet him.

We brought the new cooker to the boat and then took the old cooker and fridge to the car and then I drove the car back to the moorings.

We now had everything ready to go and apart from having to cut some of the old work surface away behind the cooker slot as the new cooker is deeper than the old one, everything went pretty well, apart from a few gas leaks but we sorted those out pretty quickly.

There is still some tidying up work to be done, in that we need new splash backs round the cooker and the fridge needs some trim putting round it but those are things we can do in the evenings if we want.

New Mains powered fridge

New Mains powered fridge

New Cooker in place

New Cooker in place

Its going to take a little getting used to the new cooker and the flame failure devices but it boils a kettle really quickly on the big burner and we’re going to have to play a bit with the fridge as it had semi frozen the sausages by Sunday morning.

We’re going to have to spend a bit of time playing with the fridge and how we use it. Its going to be running off the inverter which is not a problem during the day when the engine is running but its how much power it will take in the evenings when the engine is off that is the big concern. We’re going to get a thermometer with an alarm on it so we can monitor how quickly the fridge warms up when the power is off, and if we need to buy a second battery for the domestic power then we have to buy one, its not a problem as we have space for a second one.

On Sunday we did a general tidy up and then found the bilge pump had died so we’ve had to drop in a temporary replacement.

So things are progressing