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.
Firstly, a huge thanks and recommendation from us for River Canal Rescue www.rivercanalrescue.co.uk and Anderton Marina www.andertonmarina.com both of whom have been extremely efficient and helpful to us over this past week.
The drama started last Saturday, luckily, just after our last son and his girlfriends holiday had finished with us and they were on their way back home. (I’m not really all that hot on grammar, but the way I’ve written girlfriend(s) makes it sound like he came with a couple of them, but no, he isn’t that lucky, he’s just go the one. Here’s a picture of them and you’ll also see Binks in his safe place whilst on the boat.
The plan was to have a few quiet days after a busy couple of weeks when KLONK CLANG (sounds like something out of Bat Man doesn’t it.) WALLOP and that was us, we weren’t going anywhere other than with the current. Luckily we were still up on the Trent and MerseyCanal and hadn’t gone down to the River Weaver that we were planning to do a few days later, so we just gently drifted the ten feet or so to the tow path side of the canal.
I thought a running repair would do so popped up to the Chandler’s for some parts, but a few hours later it became apparent that fixing it wasn’t going to happen by my fair hand and we subsequently found out that we’d managed to bend the prop shaft somehow. We contacted River Canal Rescue on the Sunday morning and they were with us a few hours later as the chaps were already on a call. It wasn’t easily fixable, as I’d thought, so they arranged with Anderton Marina to come down to have a look, price up the work that then saw us get into their dry dock.
I haven’t seen many dry docks, so the one atAnderton Marina may not necessarily be unique, but I think it is an excellent idea nonetheless. For want of another word, it’s like a skip with an entrance at one end. Once you’re in they wind up a door, pump out the water, the skip (dry dock) floats and the boat inside is out of the water – SIMPLES
Dry dock before
Dry dock after
The door at the front
Ready and waiting
Whilst we weren’t planning to black the boat until next year, we thought we may just as well get it done whilst it was out of the water so at least that’s a job done and sort of cheaper as well as we’ve put the cost of the dry dock against the repair of the prop shaft anyway.
These last eight days or so has also given our solar panels a good test as we haven’t been able to run the engine and haven’t bothered hooking up to a shoreline either so we’ve been living off the sun alone. Not bad when we’ve been pretty much out of any direct sunlight (when there has been sunlight !) and what there has been has been through a Perspex roof.
Should, with should being the operative word, be down on the River Weaver in a few days time and plan to spend the next two or three weeks down there so stay tuned and we’ll let you know how we get on.
And so in signing off,
Day 178 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat – 311 miles and 102 locks further on from when we started.
(You can view my earlier posts at narrowboatboysontour.blogspot )
We’ve had our sons over with us last week and this week so not much free time, but having done the Anderton Lift on the Trent and Mersey Canal / River Weaver, I thought this would be worthy of a quick standalone blog.
It was built in 1875, was closed in 1983 due to structural problems and then restored at a cost of £7m and reopened in 2002. The lift links the canal and the river by the 50′ difference between the two.
Entry from the canal is via a small basin and through a lift gate into an aqueduct that separates the canal from the actual tanks you travel down/up in. Once the water has equalised, a second lift gate is raised and you move into the actual tank itself.
There are two tanks and they operate with one travelling up whilst the other is travelling down and meet halfway during the process. These pictures shows the ram under the tank next to us and then another boat going in the opposite direction and then again at the end of their journey.
Each tank weighs 252 tonne with water, plus of course good old Badger Sett on the day and obviously not forgetting Nicky’s contribution. I am of course honour bound not to disclose her weight, nor her age come to that as she had ANOTHER birthday last week. There are just some private things that are best kept to ones self though, but carry on reading my blogs and I’ll tell you in three years time when she’s fifty. (Doh! given it away for the mathematically advanced of you). Got a cake for her, well she actually made me an apple pie, but couldn’t do the candles due to our insurance policies stipulations about large quantities of naked flames not being allowed onboard.
The guy who was working the lift on the day gave us a bit of talk about the lift and two bits in particular stuck. The first being that a 100+ years ago the lift took three minutes to do a lift whereas today it takes eight minutes. The reason, good old Health & Safety.
The second interesting snippet was that the gear wheels (part of the old structure and not actually used in the operation now) have got chevron shaped teeth that better dealt with the loads the gears had to move. They were designed by a French chap called Andre Citroen, later to become of Citroen car fame and the best bit, he used the chevron design of the gears for his car logo. See the similarity.
Anyway, enough chat, just a few other pictures now of the adventure. Got to be done if you get the chance.
And so in signing off,
Day 166 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat – 304 miles and 102 locks further on from when we started.
(You can view my earlier posts at narrowboatboysontour.blogspot )
A quick background to start off.
We are Keith and Nicky from Jersey and liveaboard full time with our two dogs Binks and Benji. We’re fairly new to this having brought our first narrowboat in January 2012, moved aboard full-time in October 2012 and started to continiously cruise at the beginning of February 2013 so just a mere seven weeks into this part of our adventure. The loose plan is travel as much of the network as we can that we think will take us somewhere between five to eight years, not that we’re in any rush! And our home, it’s a 57′ cruiser stern called Badger Sett.
We’re even fresher to this blog lark and have copied our most recent post below and the previous dozen or so can be found at www.narrowboatboysontour.blogspot . You won’t of course find years of experience on this blog as we’re a pair of newbies, nor just a virtual cruise of the network, in fact there isn’t really a theme to it at all I suppose, it’s just a take on our daily life and some of what happens on our travels.
Anyway, enough of the opening chat as I’ve probably lost half of you to boredom already and don’t want to lose the other half before you get to my latest post:
Without getting technical, as I’ve only got a basic grasp on the whole solar power, batteries and electrics thingy, I thought I’d just do a quick update on our solar panels.
They were only fitted in December and as we were still based at the marina until the end of January we’ve only really had them to use from the beginning of February. Have to say though, they are the pups nuts.
As we tend to potter about i.e. not travel very far very quick, we only ran the engine for 27 hours in February, 25 of those being for cruising and 2 when we left the engine running as some gloomy spells had caused the batteries to run a little low. So our average running time in February was roughly one hour a day whereas we used to always run the engine for three hours a day being it cruising, running the engine whilst moored, or a combination of the two. As we’ve recently topped up, I’ve calculated the fuel cost for February to be £31.30 for the average running of one hour per day. Had we run it for three hours a day, then our fuel cost would have been an extra £70 that should equate to an annual saving of somewhere around £700 – £800 a year.
The system wasn’t necessarily cheap and add to that the cost of changing to LED lights throughout and installing some 12v charging points and it’ll take the best part of three years to achieve payback. As we’re just starting out on a long term plan though and the system is transferable to our next boat and then even to land at some point in the future, the saving over time will be considerable. I should also add though that we are conscious of our power usage and this does of course play a big part in our battery usage v charging requirements and therefore savings.
For those with some technical interest, our system is based around 3 x 195w Schott panels and a Tristar MPPT controller. If anyone should have any specific interest or questions let me know and I’ll see if my knowledge bank is up to an answer.
We’ve been moored on an embankment south of the Anderton lift for a couple of nights that offers some good countryside views and is nicely open to catch the sun from dawn to dusk that does of course help re the previous topic.
Although we do have some reservations about this particular mooring and in particular the sign that you’ll see pictured below. Anyone for a teddy bears picnic ? without of course feeding them.
Marbury Country Park is adjacent to the canal and we’ve taken the opportunity of taking the boys for a few walks around there. Seems a very popular place, with a broad range of users – walkers, dog owners, parents with kids, cyclists and even some horses. On the towpath side of the canal is another larger area that borders onto the River Weaver with another mixture of wooded / open areas as well as some carvings in both wood and stone.
You will just be able to make our Marbury church that’s center(ish) in the above picture.
Those who read my previous post will remember the unfortunate medical condition that effects the indigenous species of Jersey, or more specifically the female brand, who are sentenced to a life with a dysfunctional gene and us chaps just have try and get them through it and support them as best we can. Well I’m sorry to say, it struck the Mrs again the other day. Came out of nowhere it did, no warning signs or anything, it just popped out. Let me explain. . . We’d taken the boys for a walk from where we’re moored to up past the Barnton Tunnel (572 yards long by the Nicholsons guide). As the towpath is on the opposite side to the canal entrance on the eastern side we couldn’t see any mention of when you could travel/timing restrictions of entry etc so walked over the top to the other side. The western side of the tunnel is better placed to look into it from the towpath and you could see through to the other side. It’s okay I said, we’ll be able to see if anyone is in the tunnel before we enter to which the reply came, wait for it, here it comes, ‘but you might not be able to see through from the other side’. This really ranks up there amongst some of her better moments, including the one where she said that a canal looked like it was going uphill and trust me, there wasn’t a lock in sight! Got to love her though and it’s just a small part of what makes her so special!
So as to not be put to shame by the Mrs and her culinary skills I decided that one of my must have items when we downsized to our boat was my pasta machine that I’d brought years ago and have used it more in the last few months than I have done since getting it. With time on our hands now though, we’d decided to try and do more from scratch than just buy in. With regards to the pasta, it isn’t necessarily cheaper and certainly isn’t easier than shop brought, but is worth the effort and what started out taking me about an hour and a half or more I’ve managed to get down to forty minutes or so from mixing the ingredients (flour and one egg, now even I can do that) through to the end product. Anyway, some pictures of me making Penna Pasta to prove it although as you can’t actually see it’s me, you’ll just have to trust me.
The kneading stage . . .
The rolling stage . . .
The cutting into squares stage . . .
The shaping it stage . . . (I find rolling it around a chop stick the best way)
The end product stage . . .
Well I suppose the end product stage would have actually been it served up in the bowl, but in my excitement and hunger, I forgot to take that photo. DOH!
And finally, it’s official, I appear to have a follower of my blog. Couple of guys went by on their narrowboat yesterday, think it was called Patricia. The Mrs was outside as they were passing and one of them asked her for ‘A Date’ so with a flick of her hair, a flutter of her eyelashes she said ‘pardon’, to which they said we want an ‘Update, an update of your blog’. Shattered she was, hero to zero in mere seconds. I feel that I should at least dedicate this post to them, but as don’t know their names I’ll just call them the Patricia Boys (just as well their boat wasn’t called Nancy I suppose).
And so in signing off,
Day 149 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat – 254 miles and 102 locks further on from when we started.
Well that’s the latest post, the older ones can be found at www.narrowboatboysontour.blogspot