Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.
Sounds like I’m ready to knock something and yes I am but please don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of what was made in Britain and what still is made in Britain is excellent … excellent engineering, innovation and of the highest quality. But not swing bridges no – ok, ok I know they’ve only had 200+ years to get it right and probably they weren’t and still are not thinking about the lone traveler but who can’t spell for toffee’s but what a day…
Probably its just me misunderstanding the whole point of what engineering is for – to make it easier, more efficient more conducive to (in this case) traveling on the canal, yes that’s it…it’s just me again.
Swing bridges that leave one on the wrong side of the canal so unable to access the boat once the bridge is open…I was thinking maybe the barge pole could be used as a pole vault to get back across the canal to ones boat so as to take it through after the bridge had been opened and then get back again after to close the bridge or perhaps they are designed so boaters could drop off their spouse/traveling companion so other boaters could pick them up and make new ‘friends’…dunno.
How much would it cost to put up a pontoon so boaters could moor on the correct side ‘do’ the bridge and then moor again after and close the bridge again afterwards. How much…that much wow would it take a think-tank as well so lots and lots of money once the management have been paid.
Front line workers from C&RT are great almost to a man and/or a woman though thus far I haven’t met a woman C&RT lock-keeper or worker but the system put together by management lacks credibility.
Today I have encountered stuck swing bridges – so stuck they used all my strength and ingenuity to get them to move. Lying on my back on the non-lever end pushing with my feet to get them going then jumping up all in a hurry to clamber onto the opening bridge so I didn’t fall in and working my way back to the lever end as the bridge opened on its own momentum.
Then to find the lever hovered over the water so with all my might I’d have to pull the lever grunting and squealing (like a pig) because without wings it is impossible to push the thing.There are the ones that have manually operating barriers that don’t stay shut and don’t lock shut, give no warning to stop the traffic which keeps on going until the bridge actually moves.
At bridge 218 on the Leeds/Liverpool the thing would just not move to open at all and the number provided on the bridge to contact the authority led to a trail of operators telling me it had ‘nowt’ to do with them and they had no idea where I was unless I could give them a post-code.
The fantastic C&RT dude brought a transit van with a tow hook and used a rope to haul the thing open…we (my fellow single boater and me) tried to cool it with water, tried to use the boat to haul with members of the public a pushing (bless them) to no avail, we tried oiling it, hauling it, shoving and a pushing it, shooshing it (sounds like a Val Doonican song), pulling it but only the transit did it until we were knackered…despite the muscles of the mighty but only the transit worked.
Consequently we only managed 8 miles today and were finally stopped at the top of Newlay locks because of kids swimming in the locks and vandalism on the lower lock meant work was in progress. Now we’re moored at the top of Newlay locks (operated only by the C&RT) as there is no going forward today. He (C&RT) is meeting us tomorrow at 7.30 am for an early start to get through.
So am now absolutely worn out and off to bed can’t wait for me head to hit the pillow as I know I will be straight out tired as I am.
So I came down the hillock and headed for Adlington Ellerbeck boatyard (I highly recommend this Boatyard as they do a good job with other jobs done as part of the deal and their pricing is fair compared to what I have experienced elsewhere) and had some necessary work done. I had my ballast re-sorted as the boat listed to one side. The holes that let water off the front deck seem and remain very close to the waterline maybe about 7-10 cm so just a little rocking lets water in which also seems to go out again I wonder how I will be on rivers with proper waves.
But I also had my engine serviced – which with a mate I did myself…he did more than I and showed me what to do. I had the isolator for the starter battery sorted and I had the Morso moved to the front of the boat and all is now warm…almost like a sauna in here and since its chucking it down outside all my clothes are drying and I’m sitting here hardly clad enjoying the warmth of the Morso.
I am now at Bridge 141 on the Leeds Liverpool and have a small flight to do tomorrow and a chicken chasseur in the oven brewing slowly for my tea, supper and/or dinner depending on which part of the country you are from.
clogs up the marbles and I am happy to have got going again.
Swing bridge 113 and 114 were a bother with 113 having a mooring jetty that crowded the opening of the bridge meaning I had to move the boat right back and secure it by the nose only even then it got stuck under the open bridge and required some considerable messing about to get sorted…obviously not intended for single crew users. Once past the bridge I couldn’t get close enough to moor again because it was too shallow and sort out the bridge…in end I had to leap to the shore, sort the bridge and then leap back again.
114 was no better with a very stupid almost inaccessible route from mooring to bridge bits, then the bridge wouldn’t stay open so I had to rope it open. Getting back after mooring on the other side involved climbing under a barbed wire fence…so annoying and a lot of work for a single crew user.
Not much to report since then though have lots of pics I want to share but alas keep getting an error message…Gannow Tunnel with Fouldbridge (I’m not sure which tunnel it is but apprently for one of them I will need a pilot from the C&RT) not far off and slowly like my barge I feel myself getting into the swing of it again. Weed hatch blues continue with so much rubbish getting caught round the prop – I just find myself more aware of it now by how the tiller feels but have had to clear the hatch twice today.
No plans for each day just take it as it comes…and when I can I will update the journey thus far with pics from Adlington Marina, up Johnsons Hillock again and ever onwards…me and my Morso…
I notice the pump for the water shudders every now and again and a little water is emitted into the shower basin from the pressure release valve…why does the pump do this…will I need a new pump…why, why, why….I am losing about a gallon of water to this event every day as the pump shudders or operates for less than 1 second about every 3-5 mins discharging about 50-200 mls of water each time..I have taken to switching the pump off when I am not running water.
I’m grounded at least I feel as if I am grounded. I knew about an appointment at the hosp I have to attend at the end of the month and had planned to get a train to the hosp from wherever I was, then I needed to sort the boat out so I could safely use the Morso, charge the batteries, have a working bilge pump etc so when it turned out I could go no further than Riley Green as lock 55 in Blackburn was down – and who wants to moor in Blackburn – I found myself with every reason to turn back.
I seem to be getting pretty good at winding in narrow areas but I think the boat handles particularly well.
My dreams see me going round in circles…I could have been half-way to Leeds by now but here I am stuck in the Blackburn, Chorley not far from Bolton (where I once resided) area…as if grounded for my sins. So I did what I thought stranded or grounded boaters do or did..
I made bread – sadly not that kind bread but this…well from this to this…
No big deal I know loads of people make bread, but its my first go and I did it because I’d run out of food more or less. But a good mug of tea and this bread with honey was just wonderful and lifted my grounded spirits back to the heavens once more.
To help pass the time and maintain my levels of fitness I’ve been riding Claud(ia – Butler) – she a right goer when she gets into one of her 24 gears…she resides quietly on the roof of the boat. Other than the boat she has become my main mode of transport though she does make my bum sore…I’m sure its not supposed to be like that…
…and then there’s the scenery, the sunsets, the people to talk to and the grumpy geese tapping the sides of the boat for some of my nice bread…no chance kiddo…
…and then I think I’m drinking too much so I am going to cut that out if at all possible…I just want to get going again…I feel I am under starters order I need to see this month through and be off.
I came down Johnson’s Hillock single handed the other day. The locks are close enough together to be able to leave the boat whilst I sorted out the next lock. Annoyingly there are no mooring pins in the basins which for the single handed boater is a proper pain in the neck. Ok, so I could moor up in the basin etc off and use my mooring pins and me hammer etc but that assumes there’s sufficient water in the basin to be able to get close enough to get off the boat…the water level seemed a bit down.
So at each lock I was caused to leave the boat loosely tethered and walk down to the next lock and prepare it ready for me to just drive straight in. I only loosely tethered the boat because the lock gates are constantly leaking and during my absence the water tends to ooze out. One of my biggest concerns is what can happen to the boat if the water drops away when I am off at the other lock preparing it for my arrival and it is tethered too tight. I usually use a rope tethered to the roof of the boat but have in the past used a rope tethered to the side…in such an event potentially capsizing the boat seems a possibility.
I suppose I could drop the boat down first by emptying the lock but this requires two trips up and down the ladders which I think is one of the most dangerous bits, walking on the roof and climbing the sometimes wobbly ladders. Its twice the journey going down to prep the next lock, then coming back completing the lock where the boat is and then taking her out and into the next lock, walking back and closing the gates and then walking down to the next lock etc etc…but hey all the joys of the single handed boater.
I’ve enjoyed some lovely sunset and lately the full-moons in this area. Probably as a constant cruiser I’m hanging about a bit long but just till the end of this month then its back up Johnson’s Hillock again and off up and over towards Leeds.
Have also met some great people, kind and friendly. warm and helpful and feel a certain surety of meeting many more in my coming travels but need to try and create some kind of income to assist me and keep my dream afloat, oddment my income etc.
A mate has bought me a Raptor 38cc Petrol Chainsaw…there are loads of fallen and seemingly abandoned tree-trunks about the place…so I’m going to get some bags and prepare bags of wood that potentially I could sell. I must get a picture of myself with the Raptor and all the safety kit, head visor with face guard, gloves and shin guards…I’ll try and get the picture sorted prior to the point where I cut one of my limbs off…a sort of before and lack of after shot.
Starting in May its back up Johnson’s Hillock and off up and over…and away.
I am wondering why I bothered with the survey. It cost me £395 and although it did tell me the hull density it excused itself of committing to the density test as the survey only had limited access even though the dry-dock cost £245. It did tell me that the boat was of a good construction and, said the surveyor (though he didn’t write it down) the narrowboat restored his faith in narrowboat owners because the boat was well looked after. Costs for the survey were therefore: £640 including docking.
But – it didn’t tell me that any of the amenities were working such as pumps, this was because (they said) the boat had been winterized and access to water was not available at the time of the survey – would I buy a car without driving it…I think not so why was I prepared to buy this boat without knowing if it worked in the way it should – other than actually floating on the water.
As we now know I proceeded to pump water into my boat because the shower pump-out pump was not properly sealed and was pumping water out of itself and directly into the boat instead of out of the boat.
Wouldn’t a house survey note if the boiler, taps, shower etc were/were not working…why did I accept this useless survey and for the money.
I have since the survey been advised that the Morso is in a dangerous place, fitted dangerously in a confined space in the back cabin and that it has been fitted without a proper fire-board around it. Especially at the back there is no fire proofing – I allowed the (gun-ho) Marine Engineer to lead me in what was required and what was safe…and he extended the bed (at my request) to make it a more appropriate liveaboard but has now left me with a Morso that is in danger of setting the bed alight it is so close – why didn’t he point that out when asked to make the bed a little wider?
The surveyor did point out that the Morso probably would not meet the new requirements for fitting namely; BS 8511 2010 and in his opinion any plan considered to move the Morso forwards was a good idea. Given the latest appraisal regarding a number of aspects including extra work done by the original Marine Engineer (shall remain nameless both engineer and marina until I have taken legal advice) I have had from a local Marine engineer I cannot understand why, for the money the surveyor did not state EMPHATICALLY that the Morso was dangerous and should not be used in its current location – this would have had a direct impact on my decision to go ahead with purchase.
The chimney piping for the Morso is of the wrong diameter and therefore more prone to blocking, there is no fire-board behind it and it is dangerously close to the bed in the first place but since the bed extension it is now dangerous full-stop.
The survey said that the systems and engine were all in excellent condition…what pray are the systems and does this not include the pumps…?
The extra work I had done by the marina included an inverter that apparently does not need an isolator because it has a split charge relay however, I don’t understand why that means I do not have an isolator designed to protect the starter battery from running flat. The starter battery has been running flat (3 occasions to date) all because the Marine engineer wired all the batteries through the same isolator therefore all my batteries including the starter battery are wired in parallel, so when my leisure’s go flat so does the starter battery…they’re all charging the same and all discharging the same…bloody useless.
When I took the boat out at first the sockets fitted by the (so-called) marine engineer failed to work and I had to put up with a very grumpy and rude marine engineer coming out to sort that problem. Now can you believe and I’m sure you can the newly fitted bilge pump doesn’t work either….
Personally I am very upset about the extra work I paid for, the standards of the pretty bloody useless survey I paid for, the limitations for the survey brought on by inadequate docking arrangements and the appalling standards of work applied by the (so called) Marine engineer at the Marina in question.
I intend a strongly worded letter to the Director of this organization supported by the statements of the Marine Engineer where I am having the work a) assessed and rectified and b) upgraded to a safe and acceptable standard.
It feels like an industry in the dark ages like a poor car garage rather than organizations that deal with peoples safety, peoples lives – allowing themselves to get away with shoddy work, bodging, limited safety towards boat owners and purchasers and maverick arrogant (so called) marine engineers who basically need a kick up the proverbial.
I have a list of paranoia’s or are they just worries…the weed hatch paranoia, the lack of water one, the water in the boat one, the flat battery one, the misfiring engine one, the was I ripped off when I bought it one and is the Morso too close to the bed one…, the am I doing it properly one and the did I close the paddles on the previous lock one and/or the one before it…and then there’s the usual, did I turn the gas off on the oven and have I turned all the lights off.
Such is the worry of the single handed boater. I seem to have lost a day somewhere and the associated pictures but then again not much to report on the journey from the ugly Trafford centre to Plank Lane, not far and not too much to say. But I managed to fill up with diesel for the second time and since Nantwich I have now put 90 litres in the tank…not bad thinks me for such a distance and so many hours, certainly more than 90 cruisng hours and now into my fifth week of living on a narrowboat.
I made it to Wigan basin but noticed the bottom of the canal scraping the underside as I entered the basin. The water level seemed very low as I turned to head towards the Wigan flight around mid-morning I could feel the bottom of the canal. As soon as I tried to get close enough to moor the boat to go and sort the lock the boat grounded still about 6 feet from the bank.
I tried to back it off but no joy so I used my trusty pole and managed to get it back to deeper water and I tried somewhere else and the same thing happened and then I tried another spot and so on until thoroughly exhausted I gave up grounded some 5 feet from the mooring, switched off the engine and phoned the C&RT people who promptly sent someone to Leeds to assist me despite I had explained I was in Wigan.
After a bit of messing about the Wigan office got in touch and were very supportive but by then the day had moved on and they had to get a crew to come from Burnley and traffic being what it is it all added another couple of hours to my wait.
Whilst sitting there in the rain pondering my best move and realizing I would have to moor in Wigan overnight I spotted this:
…and suddenly it was all worthwhile although it has to be said they looked like Wigan wabbits…I mean rabbits, something quite untidy about them and a certain scrawnyness. All the Wigan people who stopped to chat were very friendly I should say, not in the least bit scrawny nor untidy…I am just speaking about the Wigan rabbits here and all my fears of mooring in Wigan were unfounded for that particular night although the ambulances wailed and screamed through the night.
The C&RT trust chaps turned up and basically did the lock for me so I could get up one lock and moor just before the Britania bridge. I had one youthful voice call to me in the night…can we live on your boat with you please and that was all. I ignored the voice and it went away I was thinking it might have been one of the rabbits or both perhaps, did we all spot the other wabbit children, there’s another lollipop…
And so I had me a relatively quiet night in Wigan, Fred arrived in the morning and we set off up the Wigan Flight. At first progress seemed very slow especially as a rope on a brick slammed into the prop and the rope wrapped itself around the propeller and the brick wedged tightly between the back of the prop and the back of the boat. It distorted the prop slightly, there was a gurgling sound and suddenly the bilge pumped kicked in and started dumping water.
I was very worried at this point and thought I should boil water or call a doctor or run around in a madness wailing like an ambulance. Fred was great and said let the bilge pump get on with it while we set to releasing the brick, several shifts of cold hands and arms later it was free and the rope unwound. Fred turned the greasing screw a few times and the water stopped…he went on to tell me we could have tightened the stern gland if necessary but the extra grease seemed to sort it out.
After a stop of about 45 mins we commenced with the climb up the flight.
Not much more to report on that trip really…and 7 hours later we were at the top lock and had a very disappointing pint at the pub with an equally disappointing dinner of Fish and Chips…then Fred went off to his boat in Droylesden and I went to bed.
A boating friend I have recently made said I was paranoid about my weed hatch which I now check every day. I’ve found so many things down there and always feel a bit like James Herriot as I role up my sleeve and plunge my hand in to clear the various obstructions that cling to my propeller – I liken it to those cartoons where from a small box everything including a new car is removed as I pull things out.
But I’ve had a brick on a rope stall my engine…tights, trousers, an umbrella a basque which is always a worry and it took me a while to work out what it was. I saw a sign at a shop offering money for old clothes and I wondered if perhaps I should hang on to these bits and pieces for later sale.
But I’m running ahead of myself as these things all happened around Wigan last Tuesday Wednesday and I left Manchester on Sunday at about 9.30 am.
If you’re single crew get a willing friend. I found Fred at Droylesden. He likes to help with long flights and being a boat owner and live-aboard himself he is also very useful at a number of different things when it comes to boating and narrow boats. For the price of his fare and a ‘drink’ or two he’ll come and do a flight for you.
Fred was with me for my trip out of Manchester and also the Wigan flight (07939 206963) and was a god send really. We descended from Manchester step by step shrugging off the doom and gloom, the noise and the screaming ambulances/police cars…I felt as if I’d been stuck in a hole for 2 weeks. Looking back I should have left earlier and sorted the pump another way but its done now and all seems to be working again.
I reckon I could live here
But probably I’d want to put a motor on it and moor it somewhere else other than a city
The hum and the drum did not subside but there was something in seeing the city from the canal…like peering from another world into a madness…looking through a glass bubble at the madness and scream of Sodom and Gomorrah (no pun intended).
Some snippets of art in mad places.
A worry about the low levels of water
And these strange signs were all about…there were some chaps who seemed ill-dressed for the weather hanging about in tunnels….
slowly we made our way out of it all…looking for a clearer horizon
One couldn’t help but glance back at it though
I like a backward glance. But there is actually something to be said for seeing the City from the canal and I would recommend it to anyone…it is like being able to see it as if as a tourist without all the tourist trappings but also without having to touch it as such.
I’m not against cities …I was born in London and lived there for most of my life on an inner city council estate and cities do have their charm, their energy and of course their intensity but I prefer the remoteness and quiet comfort (and beer) of the countryside if I can find it.
I found the Leigh branch of the Bridgewater canal and stumbled across Butch and Janet – you’ll recognise them as their boat has a trike on the front and they fed me and watered (whiskey) me and so the day came to a close.
Ok let’s not all faint at once…I of no strength in my hands, no confidence in electrics fixed the pump and it actually works very well. One thing I did was to take photos of the pump whilst it was still fitted so I would know how to put it all back together again…but I omitted to take shots of the wiring – very silly. Thankfully I had enough nous to suss it out.
Brown is the boat end live and red is the pump end live and whats left (blue on the boat end and black on the pump end) is left.
First I had to get the parts and arranged with the very helpful (Ben Knott) site manager at New Islington Marina that the parts could be delivered to his office.
Cleghorn Waring seem to have every part for every pump and their tech support team were also very helpful and happy to check I had ordered the correct parts.
…and I set to work blindly going where most men have gone before…
I want to polish it and shine it all up but given I don’t know if it will work it feels like a futile errand…listen to the lovely rain spattering my roof top and but a moment ago it was glorious sunshine.
…and so me, the pump the bits and the filter make our way back to the hoses and I connect it all together again as you do.
then stuck it all back together again…
…and nothing happened, nothing at all, no motor no pumping nowt…so I went and picked someones brain and they came with new chock connections and put it all back together while I held the flange…I mean the torch…and then bingo it worked.
For those of you in the know can anyone explain why some water goes back into the shower via the plug hole as if there should be a none-return valve that isn’t working.
Others may have noted that I didn’t fit all the gasket parts to the pump…am just afraid of starting something I cannot finish – taking things apart I have always been good at its the other part – putting it all back together again that I find daunting.
I was going to put some music on to celebrate but with the rain dancing a merry tune on my roof I am engaged in its music as the wind gently rocks the boat.and so it all went in and on went the lid yippee.
There’s a lot to be said for marina life especially in a major city – hot showers, toilet facilities, washer/drier facilities, pump-out and Elsan – friendly helpful and chatty neighbours it’s all happening here in New Islington marina in the center ish of Manchester
What’s more the first week is free and then it’s just £5/night. I’ve paid more to pitch my tent on a campsite especially when there is more than one person and then the washing/shower/drying facilities are weak if not non-existent and usually cost on top of the pitch.
Then there’s the easy access to shops and supplies…easy access to cheap food and city life-entertainment, theatre and good ale.
Here at the New Islington all the facilities are included and the warmth and friendliness of the neighbours is a lovely inclusion. But I do long to be away from the scream of the ambulance, the constant sound of traffic, the numpties who run across my roof at night (not every night) despite the CCTV warnings and the wailing of police chases punctuated by the clatter of the overhead helicopter and the now-and-again gunning of a ninja/RC 30/ or some other super bike capable of massive engine revs, acceleration and speed.
Then there’s those people who ask me for money on a daily basis…I will offer a chat, a word, spend a little time with them and their dogs but I am not keen to give money as it is so easy to do and in my opinion has such a short future and no great outlook.
I filled up my water tank today and wound my diesel up to 1200 rpm to counter the wind, have had a day of washing clothes and preparing for my (hopefully) coming voyage down the locks on the Rochdale. I am planning a Saturday departure all assuming I get the parts for my JABSCO Water Puppy and that I can fix the thing myself and replace it to do the job it wasn’t doing properly before…which led to my filling the under floor compartments with water.
The geese have retired for the evening but the white-noise of constant traffic breathing out never subsides and the screaming sirens come to a pitch and fade away only to be replaced by a traffic horn sounded for so long it must be as a rebuke. Now as I sit here I can hear pedestrian traffic discussing the pleasure of the Vodka they are drinking, their conversation gets louder and louder like the wail of sirens and fades despite their volume as they stagger along the footpath – I wait and listen perhaps cruelly hoping for the splashing sound which does not come.
Many a lovely view from my boat allows me some escape – after a while though I am struggling to find a difference. Perhaps I should not seek to make beauty out of what is dirty, angry, fast, furious and overflowing in obesity.
What I should do probably is tell it like it is…I can only hear the screaming sirens not to warn others they are on their way but to cry painfully at the horror they are chasing – tell it like it is, its constant and like all demons has no reflection and despite its noise and pitch is soon easily lost in the mayhem and constant white noise of city life.
I looked at a few apartments in the City Centre wondering if I should tackle city-life again and continue with my trade. I saw some very attractive dwellings and seriously considered taking one as my home. But could I stand the pace and noise, constant rush and wailing’s of high speed life…like all of us yes of course I could stand it but in time I would return to the madness of the city punctuated only by the beauty and thoughtfulness of the art I seek. I would be absorbed and homogenized with all that is ugly and beauty at the same time, all that is madness and so I would rush to my own end, rather than amble down the bray in a toodling manner.
I want to get going, I want to go, I want to go… but am tethered to the needs of my boat – please make it easy for me to fix this pump and refit and please let the bloody thing work, I beseech thee wherever/whatever thee may be…give a boater a break that doesn’t involve a limb or being out on one.
Annoyingly I didn’t note which wire is live…am guessing red on the water puppy but is it the blue or the brown on the boat end…probably I will have to trawl the internet to be sure as running the new impeller the wrong way will damage it. Any advice gratefully received.
Of course I am most worried about the end coming early through ignorance, stupidity lack of money. I have met a few people on benefits who live on their boats in Marina’s and claim. I’ve never been too keen on claiming anything as I would rather work but working in my various industries seems to be all about lining the pockets of generally useless CEO’s and figureheads – which pushed me hard to seek something more worthy and worthwhile.
Skilled front-line and experienced teachers receiving 21k where figureheads receiving 140k is in my humble opinion an absolute disgrace especially when the organization purports to be a charity.
This new perspective is all part of this year off that I am hoping to make into two years off and then semi-retirement but I know these plans to be useless as only the practical application of living on a narrowboat including the reality of finances will decide whether it is feasible or not.
After all my flooding and mopping I feel in desperate need of a companion…some one who would have been able to make a brew, offer moral support and encouragement, someone who may have even been interested in donning a sponge for added mopping or at the very leasst interested in protruding their backside from the gunnel wall to tip the boat which would have assisted my mopping…I will leave you all to imagine that scene but probably the larger the backside the better – perhaps several backsides would assist, its all too much for one lonely solitary narrowboat owner to think about – ahem.
The delights of every where seem more attractive from (no not the gunnel wall) my narrowboat. Manchester who would have thought it has a certain beauty.
Probably best to start with Droylesden…by pictures dropping down the 18 locks towards Manchester:
A long way to go but we’re all ready and champing on the bit
Some great scenery despite the accumulation of rubbish. On a windy day I am told much of the rubbish on the local streets ends up in the canals but none of it deters from the amazing images captures from the water, its all part and parcel of the canal system.
I have to reflect on the journey, never a dull moment but the boat does what the wind tells it and seems remote from the tiller and/or push of the prop in heavy winds…don’t try and work against it I am told, work with it…which, the boat, engine, wind or tiller, oh right I say – work with it, I see – not seeing at all.
Working with or against it – ‘it’ seems to decide as I make my way and the scenery becomes more city-like:
…and then in the distance the city takes over…but tow-path signs tell me I am but a few miles from previous countryside views 0- I think about retreating….
Ok, maybe it would but not an inner city chapel.
Then suddenly…there is a certain calm and a certain tranquility if only for a moment as I moor up in the New Islington Marina and without knowing it then get stuck here for 14 days – all assuming the parts for my pump come before Friday so I can be away Saturday. Perhaps this travel plan hiatus has a reason…time to get to know my boat and know what it needs to function well, time for me to familiarize myself with my own capabilities…I thing I do know is I have a list of questions to ask, I just have to find the right person to ask them of.
I sit here full of everything to write and can find few words to say, few words to put down on paper…I hardly want to think or say I might have made a mistake. I might have forked out 27.5k on a boat that is totally unready and just not in the least but suitable for my needs. perhaps I should have spent a bit more and bought a better boat, or looked for longer until I found the exact one for me, maybe I should have had the full survey done at a bit more money, perhaps I should have insisted that the owner pay more towards the work that the surveyor sited as essential – my head is so full of worry and fear that I have bought a lemon and made a seriously expensive mistake.
Strong in my mind in the day of mopping up the water in the under boat compartments, my back is killing me from awkward positions to access the water under the floor and I am tired, weary to the bone.
Rachmaninov Vocalise calls to me and sets me free…if only briefly and I am caused to look back over the 7 days it took me to bring the boat from Nantwich Venetian Marina to Manchester…7 days of utter exhaustion and complete freedom, topped with solitude and nightly silence save the wild life, gentle meanders and a peaceful calm I have not felt for many years.
A bit of the Shropshire Union and a shave of the Middlewich Branch turning right due to stoppages onto the Trent and Mersey heading south before heading up the Macclesfield canal towards Manchester. Heartbreak Hill didn’t break my heart or my spirit and with the help of a dog walker called Buff (Bough or Buth) I conquered and endured and was lifted by her enthusiasm, her energy and downright determination to enjoy every moment. Come with me I said…I don’t think my husband would approve says she…bring him I say and so we laugh at the notion.
Then the Bosley 12 and the Marple 16 just drift by and walkers without dogs notably Andy and two young lads from a local college in Marple all assist me to make my way with only the merest disturbance from grumpy (not-so) old men and so I make my way. Each evening exhausted from climbing ladders up and down, roping, mooring, turning reluctant and troublesome paddles being one of very few boats to pass these locks at this time of year.
All these strenuous and tiring boating activities punctuated with shopping for supplies, the odd pub visit and daily I unknowingly pump my shower water into the boat rather than out of it setting me up for a bigger job before i can go much further.
Later at his Marina we drink tea and he talks about water in the diesel and microbes in the water and Marine 16. I fill up to drive out condensation from the tank finding i have used but 50 liters which worked out at about 1 litre per hour of engine. My learning curve eases off for a few moments as we examine what I already know and how I can help myself much more than I realized from the outset.
Eventually I moor in Droylesden which never looked so good and meet a group of very nice people moored there. All helpful and supportive, friendly and positive in outlook, keen to know me and where i intend to go.
I leave after 2 days and take someone with me to do the locks…and together we climb down the Ashton canal into Manchester with every intention of continuing on the Rochdale which we find is closed at the top…despite the website saying nothing about it. The lass i speak to at the Canal and River trust couldn’t be less concerned but the person who does phone back Mark couldn’t be more informative and understanding and so I’ve been stuck in Manchester this past week itching to get away and finding issue after issue that keeps me stuck here.
I might have made an error with the boat being a novice and dependent on other people most of whom despite payment have let me down badly I think but that’s what people who sell things for a living do…profit, profit, profit. But I most certainly have not made an error with the lifestyle and long to get going and back on my journey which now looks like Friday at the earliest…all assuming i am able to fix the pump when the parts arrive.
I have so much i want to say but i am dog tired tonight with another day of pump fixing and parts ordering etc tomorrow and despite it being just 9pm I must go to bed.