Badger, Badger, Badger..Mush…. well you know the rest…

From Tom's Moorings to Hoolgrave Bridge No 11, a distance of 19 miles, 4 flg and 24 locks.

After an easy drive up on Thursday night followed by a wander round Market Drayton which ended up with all soaked to the skin in a rather unexpected and sudden rainstorm we made a relatively early start, eased out of the moorings and headed north under rather gray skies.

Our plan was to reach Church Minshull and The Badger for the night, stopping for the odd beer along the way. We’d decided to try an experiment with the new inverter and had brought along a cheapish slow cooker – Nick threw all the ingredients into it and turned it on and it started warming up. As the power still hasn’t been hooked up on the moorings the batteries needed a lot of juice putting back into them and we were charging at about 40 amps for a couple of hours before it started to drop.

We stopped just before Adderley Top Lock No 8 for breakfast and, after buying some bacon from Adderley Farm Shop, we headed down the locks. We met a couple of boats coming up but things went smoothly and we made quite good progress.

It’s a pity that that didn’t continue…

We were waiting above Audlem Lock 3 No 15 as there were a couple of boats ahead of us including a single hander who was waiting in locks for the next one to get ready before moving out and an Alvechurch hire boat came steaming down the pound and wanted to know if we were “waiting for the lock” …I said yes and they pulled in behind us. We waited for a boat to come up and then I moved into the lock and immediately they were asking if I was “working alone”. I said I wasn’t and that my crew were helping move other boats through and would be there in a minute.

We went through the lock and into Audlem Lock 4 No 16 and someone from the Alvechurch boat was there again asking me if I wanted to to close me in. I told them no – that my crew would be back in a minute!. The lock emptied and we opened the bottom gates and waited for a boat coming up the next lock. Time for another visit from the Alvechurch boat who wanted to know why we weren’t moving out of the lock. We explained to them that we were waiting for a boat to come out of the next lock … that way boats weren’t floating round in the pound. We were told that “But we want to come through the lock and pull in behind you”.  It was made quite clear to them that that was not going to happen, and that all they’d do is waste water and not actually gain any time at all. We tried to explain about the size of the pounds in the flight but it probably fell on deaf ears (or the ears they didn’t have their headsets in.. which they made very pointed use of)

We had to wait for a bit at Audlem Lock 9 No 21 as a boat coming through lock 10 had lost its chimney and was looking for it.

We moored on the offside at Audlem Wharf  and went to The Lord Combermere for a pint which was in very good form. When we came back the Alvechurch boat was moored on the water point but noticably wasn’t watering. They saw we were going back to our boat so immediately cast off so they could stay in front of us…. Which was quite handy as we wanted to water up anyway so moved over to the water point, filled up with water, emptied the portapotti and had a pint at The Shroppie Fly whilst the tank filled up

We made good progress through the rest of the locks and down past Coole Pilate Leisure Moorings which were pretty much deserted. It was late afternoon when we got to Nantwich Junction Bridge No 92 and it seemed to take forever to go past all the moored boats.

We stopped at The Olde Barbridge Inn for a pint – there were a lot of boats already moored for the night and we did consider stopping but we weren’t on the best of moorings so decided we’d stick with the original plan and went on our way

As we were passing Nanneys Bridge No 8 Peter Stockdale leapt out and waved at us. By now the canal was quiet and as we passed Aqueduct Marina  it became obvious that everyone else had given up for the night.

The pork which had been cooking in the slow cooker all day was very good and we washed it down with a bottle of Pinot Noir.

It was raining a little as we made our way across the farm yard and down onto the track that comes out right opposite The Badger Inn – it’s a much nicer walk than using the main road. The Badger lived up to expectations with some very good beers and when we came to walk back to the boat it had stopped raining

We Got The Power

Mintball has had an inverter since she was launched. The original one was a 70-100 Watt one from Maplin which was good enough to power things like dad’s shaver.

Then we replaced that with a 300W UPS which worked well but was a bit too big.

We then went to a 700 watt one and that allowed us to put in a full sized mains fridge ( see Gas and Electricity ).

This Easter that inverter died – it smelt of burned electronics and complained of low voltage input even when the engine was running.

So we went for a 1500W (3000 Peak) Pure Sine Wave inverter, but to do that we needed to upgrade the cables from the batteries. So we bought several metres of 50mm cable (it’s welding cable which is made from a lot of very fine strands and is very flexible )

Inverter and cabling


Cabling and Inverter

We also picked up some new Battery Master Switches – the plan being to move the BMSs to the Positive lines (rather than having one single one in the Negative).

We made up a new set of cables with brazed connections and redid quite a bit of the existing wiring to tidy things up and improve things in general.

We wired up the inverter (which has a bank of fuses across the back rather than one big fuse) and powered it up.

Connections made

And it all worked.

The old inverter had a connection for a remote control which we’d basically used to allow us to use a couple of small switches to turn the inverter on from the middle and front cabins, however this inverter comes with a rather jolly remote panel with a battery monitor and a on/off switch. We’ve put this control panel in the kitchen so you can do the whole power up inverter and then power up the fridge all from one central location.

We actually powered the fridge up without the engine running which is something we couldn’t have done on the previous inverter.

The real test is in just under a week when we take the boat out for a few days.

Old Canal Logs

Progress, all be it quite slow progress, is being made on turning the old typewritten logs into logs on here. There have been a lot of problems with scanning/OCR but we’ve now got it to a point that the majority of text is usable. Also we need to read through each log closely to look for what route was actually done – for example one trip on the Trent involved detours up to Nottingham County Hall and also to Sawley Marina which wasn’t immediately obvious. We’ve also found that some of the locations mentioned in the logs don’t exist in Canalplan (hire bases that have closed down and vanished totally) which means we need to create new places in Canalplan and then wait until we can get those places into the blogs so we can then manage the route correctly.

However there are some wonderful gems in the logs:

Certificate from the Kirkless Hall Inn, Wigan

Certificate from BCN society
Coventry Canal Certificate

None of these are available any more and we’ve no idea how many other people will ever scan theirs and make theirs available

First historic logs now online

The first two logs from our early canal holidays are now up and on-line. They’re pretty minimal with not a lot of detail and no photos- although I’m hoping to find some contemporary photos to add to them.

I’m going to add some more logs in the next week or so, I just need to adjust the scanning / OCR as its not working quite as well as I hoped – but some of that is down to the typeface from the typewriter, a fading of the ink and some yellowing of the paper.

Later blog entries are in a heavier more readable typeface and have more detail.

Boating before Mintball

Historic holiday logs

Clearing out our parents house after our mothers death we have collected together all the “canal logs” that she kept, dating right back to our first trip on a boat from Anderton Marina : we were going to go up the Llangollen but we found out when we’d already headed off in that direction that the canal was closed and we ended up doing Heartbreak Hill and Bosley locks instead.

We are planning on OCR’ing them, scanning in the various diagrams and extra bits from the logs themselves (such as fliers, licences, permits etc), and scanning relevant photos from their prints and then loading them up onto here as a permanent archive.

Rather than clutter up the existing Trips section we’re planning on creating two new trip pages – one for “historic” logs for trips taken on Mintball and one for trips taken on boats before we got Mintball. The Canalplan Plugin has already been modified to support this feature and we’ll probably start on the scanning and conversion work in December.

Liverpool and Back

This is the planned route but it may well change closer to the time, or even during the holiday as the timing are very easy and we know we’ll be able to do a lot more than this during the two weeks.

Starting at Tom's Moorings and finishing at Tom's Moorings with overnight stops at : Prescott Bridge Narrows No 10, Willow Green Bridge No 208, Grocer's Wharf, Henhurst Bridge No 52, Chapel Bridge No 7, Lydiate Winding Hole, Salthouse Dock, Salthouse Dock, Halsall Warehouse Bridge No 25, Parbold Bridge No 37D, Worsley Visitor Moorings, Dutton Stop Lock No 76, Middlewich Visitor Moorings (Middlewich Branch), Wrenbury Church Visitor Moorings, and Tom's Moorings. A total distance of 270 miles, 5¼ flg and 122 locks.

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