Thursday, 1 November 2018

29 October: The last leg home along the Chesterfield Canal

Monday 29 October: Down the slipway and homewards (9 miles, 4 locks)
We arrived at West Stockwith to prepare Annie for re-entering the water after her blacking. John refitted newly cleaned fenders front and rear. Liana drove to Retford & Worksop Boat Club to leave the car, and returned by bus, just as John finished sorting out Annie and paying for the blacking. We paid £250 for taking Annie out of the water, jetspraying and replacing her in the water; £300 for three coats of bitumen (one coat each day) up to the gunwhale (£75 extra) and in the bowthruster tube. We also paid £160 for four 2.5kg magnesium anodes, placed 1/3 and 2/3 of the way along the hull, just above the base plate. The old anodes at front and rear still had about 1.5kg left after three years, so Annie should be well protected.
hooked up and about to move

on the way to the slipway near the van





Annie moored safely in West Stockwith basin

Our journey through Misterton locks and countryside was cold but pretty in the afternoon sun, but slow, due to shallowness: Back in May, visiting boats had turned back because of this, they had told us. We could see that some work cutting back vegetation had been done by volunteers on Chesterfield Canal Trust (CCT) work boat Python. Annie grounded twice in the middle of the canal, once when trying to enter Gringley Lock.
leaving West Stockwith basin, past the Waterfront pub

Gringley Lock seemed to have a sand bar below it

lots of fallen leaves and wood in Gringley Lock



nearing sunset at Gringley

we grounded here

 It was good to see three boats moored near Drakeholes tunnel: If only the nearby White Swan would reopen! We took 5.5 hours to reach our mooring at Clayworth, a bit longer than usual. The last two miles were completed after dusk, but headlamp and navigation lights helped. John asked Liana to look out front at bridge holes, as it is harder to judge distance at night, especially with a 60 foot narrowboat. We arrived to see the clubhouse and moorings lit up by lamps, very atmospheric. As we shivered at temperatures just above freezing, we were the only folk around on a Monday night, as you might expect. Leaving Annie pretty much winterised, we made our way home.

John sent an email to Enquiries.Northeast@canalrivertrust.org.uk as follows:

"My wife and I have been out on our boat since May, from our mooring at RWBC at Clayworth ,up the Trent to Llangollen, Birmingham, Stratford, Gloucester, Braunston and back. You can view our blog http://www.narrowboatannie.blogspot.co.uk

Returning up the Chesterfield Canal from West Stockwith, the canal is one of the shallowest around! While not rushing, we could not travel more than 2 or 2.5 knots in most places. After Misterton Locks, the next two miles are very shallow.  The bollarded visitor moorings in the country need dredging too. Before Drakeholes, our narrowboat Annie (CRT512012) grounded in the middle of the canal, passing a cattle watering spot. She also grounded a few yards from the bottom gates of Gringley lock, directly in front of the gates.  Some sections have a lot of reed / sedge growth at the side, too.

I am delighted to see the work being done to improve this canal by volunteers using NB Python. I know that the budget is tight, but I hope that money saved by volunteers working so hard can be found to increase dredging this winter on what is such a lovely canal.

Earlier this summer, we spoke to several boaters visiting the Chesterfield Canal. They had turned around before Retford because it was so shallow, and were disappointed, after daring (their words) to come down the Tidal Trent, in line with the encouragement given by CRT to boaters. We ourselves always tell folk how beautiful the Trent is, particularly above Newark. We also encourage people to use the Tidal Trent.

My wife Liana and I used our boat to take Sean McGinley, another CRT lady and the inspectors between Misterton and Clayworth,  before our canal was awarded its green award, as we are active supporters of the Chesterfield Canal. The work done by volunteers deserves some reward, in our opinion, apart from that derived from jobs well done. I would be pleased to hear that further dredging works can be included on the Chesterfield canal in the near future."
If you wish to let CRT know about any problems you have or find on the canals, let them know, so they can investigate and decide if action needs to be taken.


Friday, 26 October 2018

22-26 October: Getting Annie's bottom blacked!

Monday 22 October: Out of the water
John returned to West Stockwith at midday, prepared Annie and moved her across the basin to the slipway. The tractor had an articulated lorry trailer in the water, with five foot poles sticking up on either side. John guided Annie between the poles, leaving about four inches on either side, helped by Wilf's partner Deborah. As the trailer emerged, John had to keep Annie moving forward, until the boat was resting firmly on the trailer. John suddenly found himself about fifteen feet in the air, as trailer with Annie was pulled onto level ground close by the basin. He needed a long step ladder to get down!
Deborah seeing Annie onto the trailer and up the slipway

Mick Ogden, who sells diesel and gas  here, helping Deborah and Wilf. Thanks for the coffee!

you can just see the tractor pulling Annie

nearly there

looking down from on high!

you can see the rudder, largish propeller and long swim of Annie (the V bit of the hull)


not much to jet spray off …. the steel hull looks almost unpitted and in great condition.

more than half of the magnesium is still there on the sacrificial anodes.
After finishing his work at 3pm, lock keeper young Wilf jet sprayed Annie's hull and bowthruster tube, watched with interest by John. The plan was to give her three coats of blacking, on Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday. John removed fenders and jet sprayed them at home.
hull, bowthruster tube and front anode before jetspraying

before jetspraying, the tube looked surprisingly clean, thick and solid
unusual view of Annie!

young Wilf jetspraying Annie

clean!






Friday 26 October: Sacrificial anodes and painting
Wilf and Debs were finishing off the third coat when John popped in yesterday.
bottom blacked, but no anodes yet
Removing the weed hatch cover, John cleaned off loose rust and dirt, and painted on two coats of iron oxide paint down the weed hatch, plus the rear deck hatch. He then used a fibre disc and drill to clean rust off the red and white painted panels around the stern of the boat. Finally, the red panels were given a coat of grey primer undercoat, while the white panel was given a coat of white primer undercoat. Annie looked much better.
blacked under the swim, too

still lots of magnesium left

shiny metal ready for welding anode brackets to

looking good

tube blacked, too

Basically, magnesium sacrificial anodes welded to steel hulls dissolve in water, rather than the steel rusting: they are sacrificed, hence the name. Zinc is used in sea water, where magnesium would dissolve too quickly, as it is chemically more reactive than Zinc, which lasts longer.

Wilf waited for John to be present, in case welding caused a fire, externally or internally. Once the four 2.5kg magnesium anodes arrived at 2pm, Wilf, Deborah and friend John soon had them welded in position, 1/3 and 2/3 of the way along the hull side, just above the base plate, where anodes had been in the past. The existing anodes at bow and stern still had at least half of their magnesium, so we all thought spreading the new ones out would give better protection against rust. Deborah painted blacking around the newly welded anodes, while John checked for fire. Giving the blacking a whole weekend to harden, we agreed to put Annie back in the water on Monday.
one of the four new 2.5kg anodes welded and blacking added (second coat tomorrow)


friend John with Wilf arc welding

blacked and primed/undercoated stern :) 

John popped home to spend time with brother Phillip and Jackie, and catch up :)


Monday, 22 October 2018

October 17-20: Down the River Trent to West Stockwith

Wednesday 17 October: God daughter Jo visits and then on to Holme Pierrepoint (3 ½ miles, 2 locks)
It's lovely to have another fine, dry autumnal day. We tidied up and then walked near the canal through the Castle Meadow area, past the expensive-looking HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reception building and law courts, with Honeypie. The Canal Museum bar was closed and not dog-friendly, so we had coffee at the Costa in the Railway Station! ALL our babies (now in their 30s) are abroad this week, in Australia, Colorado and Scotland, either working or visiting friends. We exchanged messages with niece and God daughter Jo Jackson, who works here, and she found time to visit us on Annie for an hour, and have lunch with us. It was great to have time together to catch up and enjoy each others' company again: The time went all too quickly. We hope to see her teenagers, James and Sofia, soon, too.

Once Jo had departed for work, we set off for Castle Lock, where foreign visitors asked to take their pictures by the boat.
Castle Lock, Nottingham

Castle Museum area opposite the lawcourts

newish developments

a new look for the waterfront

the canal is hidden below the London Road, on the way to Trent Bridge and Meadow Lane Lock

entering Meadow Lane Lock, to go down onto the river by Trent Bridge
Liana walked Honeypie most of the way to |Meadow Lane Lock. John was able to take Annie straight in, as a cruiser emerged up from the river. As we emerged and were picking up Liana, a piratical-looking boat approached, full of cheery young folk, complete with tricorn hats plus pirate flag! We continued down the two miles to Holme Pierrepoint, the National Watersports Centre, past Nottingham Forest's City Ground, new housing developments on the North bank, the millionaire's mansion and Sea Cadets base next door, Sailing Club and marina, until we reached the weir and moored above Holme Lock. On the way, we saw lots of canoeists, scullers and rowers, too, all enjoying the water. We watched kayakers using the White Water Rapids by the mooring, walked the dog and had a coffee in the cafe there. There were fours and eights using the mile-long rowing course. We passed the huge lock to see that the new water turbine has been largely completed in place of the old lock, between the new(er) lock and the weir.
Nottingham Forest FC's City Ground

rowers before the old railway bridge, which is now a road bridge

the Brian Clough stand, God bless him


kayakers zooming past, with new development behind on the North bank

millionaire's mansion


more rowers to be aware of!

more North bank development



The lower mooring we chose (where the warning signs are!) had bollards, and was easier to disembark from, but there is a 25cm (10") ledge just below the surface. Fat fenders and loose ropes are one answer.
Later, we chilled. A dog from a boat opposite barked continually until dusk, whenever it saw anyone move: We wondered how its owners and boating neighbours coped! Thank goodness our daughter Rachel has trained Honeypie not to bark. HP is sweet and very well behaved, thanks to Rachel, who took her for a full course of training as a pup. As HP was her first dog, Rachel was careful to learn the correct ways to train her dog. Really, it is the owner who needs the training, of course!
NB Mulcibar arrived with Clive, who told us that the water leak turned out to be from the water tank/pipes, not through the hull, thankfully. He was stocked up with water containers for the moment. John looked some Boating Association charts for him to borrow for the voyage down the Trent to Newark and Torksey. After dusk, bright lights shone on the white water kayakers still busy yards fron our boats. On TV, Autumnwatch showed the beauty of New England in the Fall.
Liana and Honeypie by the adjacent White Water Course

the mooring and the view upriver at Holme Lock

Annie's mooring above Holme Lock, looking towards weir sluices and lock

Thursday 18 October: down the River Trent to Newark plus advice on preparation for navigating the Trent (21 miles, 5 river locks)
We cannot recommend the beautiful voyaage down to Newark enough: The Trent here is wide and scenic, like the Middle Loire in France – truly! Bird watchers will enjoy many hundreds of wildfowl. We even saw a small solitary white Egret. The huge locks and weirs are impressive, but straight forward to use. There is some advice below.
The newest Pearsons Canal Guide to the East Midlands takes you down the non-tidal Trent through Newark, to Cromwell Lock. It includes lock telephone numbers on the maps. He writes so wittily and informatively that we love to read his books. However, you need more than this guide to navigate tidal and non-tidal Trent. We travelled from above Holme Lock, by the 4km way post, to the 38km way post by the CRT offices Kiln pontoon moorings at Newark, using the Boating Association River Trent (Non-Tidal) Chart. As well as showing where to place your boat in shallow stretches, this has all the telephone numbers of locks and VHF info you may require, available for about £10. We find these charts essential: You can Google them before your trip. “Narrowboat on The Trent” by John Lower is available from the Chesterfield Canal Trust. We know John and wife Barbara, who are members of RWBC, with forty years experience of navigating the Trent. He explains how to calculate passage using the tides, bearing in mind that High Tide (HT) at Hull is long before HT at Keadby. HTs at West Stockwith,Torksey and Cromwell are later still. Water flows upstream for only an hour or two at Flood Tide, so you can see why we advise you to contact the lock keepers at Cromwell Lock the day before you intend to go down river on the tidal section. The lock keepers at Torksey and West Stockwith will advise you, too. Set up your anchor(s) and fit longer ropes front and back before setting out, as the locks are high. Wear life preservers in deeper waters. John Lower's book has all the advice needed for a safe passage.
leaving Holme Lock
John contacted the Holme lock keeper on VHF Channel 74, and he prepared the lock for us. We always have a charged mobile ready, in case VHF is too crackly, or if lock keepers don't hear it while busy at their lock. The signs used are: RED=wait, RED and GREEN=wait while we set lock for you, GREEN=enter lock, ORANGE=boater operation after hours. Both Annie and NB Mulcibar entered once we saw the green light, and we continued in convoy all the way to Newark. You pass through five locks, at Holme, Stoke Bardolph, Gunthorpe, Hazleford and Newark Town. All the lock keepers are helpful, and ring ahead, too.

Once through Holme Lock, we soon passed under the impressive Radcliffe on Trent Rail viaduct, then the massive red cliffs which give the town its name. John contacted Stoke Bardolph Lock, and the others, on VHF when we were a mile away, to give them time to prepare it for us.

railway viaduct

red cliffs at Radcliffe-on-Trent


approaching Stoke Bardolph lock and weir

Fishermen were abundant. The river sweeps around wide bends through water meadows with lots of birds, through the wide arches of Gunthorpe Bridge to the popular Gunthorpe wharf and lock. Liana passed Clive a cup of tea, as he was single handed.
lots of wildfowl, including Canada and Greylag Geese, plus gulls


cormorants, too

Gunthorpe Wharf and Lock

green light at Gunthorpe, Liana ready with rope to loop around risers in lock
On the way to Hazleford Lock we saw plenty of aeroplanes and gliders, probably from RAF Syerston, close by the river. More sweeping bends take you past the Bromley Arms at Fiskerton, the lovely parkland of East Stoke Hall (scene of the bloody Battle of Stoke Field in 1487, in which no quarter was given), Farndon Marina, the new Staythorpe Power Station, impressive Averham Weir and on to Newark Dyke, Marina and town. On a sunny day like today, it can't be beat!
looking back at Gunthorpe weir, with NB Mulcibar leaving lock



memorials to WW2 flyers


Hazleford Lock
Bromley Arms, Fiskerton

newish gas turbines at Staythorpe Power station

Averham Weir

interesting canoe with side float on Newark dyke, a la south pacific!

Newark Marina

Newark has CRT yard and workshops

not far to Newark Town lock

Newark Town Lock with castle behind, opposite which you can moor
We arrived at Newark about 2pm. Mooring is either against a highish wall opposite scenic Newark Castle, or through Newark Bridge to more suitable Kiln visitor pontoon moorings with electricity, by the CRT offices. We used these, having our daughter's dog Honeypie to deal with.
with Clive and NB Mulcibar in Newark Town Lock

Newark has plenty of decent shops and a thriving market several days a week. This was packing up as we walked around. Wetherspoons are not dog friendly, but we found the Prince Rupert pub nearby, full of character and very welcoming: Honeypie was made a fuss of by staff, and the beer and coffee were good, too. Liana found material in Boyes for her quilts. Liana popped into Aldi for good, inexpensive Indian meals, while John walked the dog.



Friday 19 October: from Newark to Cromwell Tidal Lock and on to Torksey( 21 miles, 2 river locks)
Using the Boating Association River Trent (Non-Tidal) and (Tidal) Charts, from way post 38km at Newark to 72km at Torksey, we travelled 34km, or 21 miles, today.
John radioed through on VHF, and the friendly lock keeper saw Annie and Mulcibar through Nether Lock.
approaching Newark Nether Lock past weir and under ring road


leaving Nether Lock for the five mile trip to Cromwell in the sun
Under the A1 in the sun, we had a cool but scenic journey to Cromwell Lock.
North Muskham moorings by the pub


approaching Cromwell Lock, visitor moorings on left, lock moorings and services beyond, before lock

Cromwell tidal Lock and weir. Ask the lock keepers' advice.

it's big

lock moorings below lock

we used to see aggregate barges loading here at Besthorpe
On VHF, John had asked about timing and tides. In the Lock, we were told we could go anytime, as the tidal range was tiny here, so off we went, past fishermen below the gushing weir, past the old mill at Carlton on Trent, Besthorpe Gravel Wharf and avoiding the invisible sunken island at Normanton Stakes. In the past, John has paused for a snack (carefully) at the ski jetty before Fledborough Rail Viaduct, when single handed. Clive followed Annie carefully, and used the Boating Association Chart we had lent him, navigating safely through Dunham bridge and Rack, and the shoals around Laneham.

water ski club jetty

Dunham Bridge, stay right going downstream
Butler's Island is normally awash. Today, the level is so low that four feet of land showed, plus a forty yard sand spit downstream of the island, never seen before by us. Boxing the compass past the huge towers and modern gas turbines of Cottam Power Station, we arrived at Torksey at about 2pm, but were told via VHF that both boats would need to moor on the pontoon in the cut below Torksey Lock.
Butler's Island

Torksey cut in sight!

Annie moored in Torksey cut, below lock
We walked Honeypie to the lock and along the moorings, chatting with boaters. There are more than a hundred fancy wooden chalets behind lovely new private moorings, opposite, at The Elms retirement homes park. The Gainsborough-Lincoln bus has a bus stop in their car park close to the lock, plus bus stops by the White Swan pub down the road by the roundabout, where we popped in for a well-earned drink or two. Staff and locals were very welcoming.
Clive had to wait until 6pm for the depth of water above the lock cill to be enough for NB Mulcibar to ascend Torksey Lock. John helped him through. We walked Honeypie to the pub again, and had excellent meals, plaice & chips, and a tasty home made steak pie with mash and peas. We will come again! We had a quiet night reading and watching TV on Annie.

Saturday 20 October: from Torksey to West Stockwith and the Chesterfield Canal (15 miles, 1 river lock)
John walked Honeypie to some grass in his pyjamas, as we got up late at 0830! We wrote up diary and blog, as there was no rush today: We were told to be at West Stockwith for slack water at 1615 (4.15pm), so we could leave at 1415 to get there at 6 knots.
Torksey Lock. The tea shop is 11-3, but not on Fridays ...
We decided to set off at 1030 to visit Gainsborough. The river was very low, with muddy banks showing. John made sure we kept away from shallow spots, using the Boating Association River Trent (Non-Tidal) Chart.
In Gainsborough, we left Annie on the secure visitors pontoon and visited Boyes, Lidl, other new shops and the Marshall Centre. John bought a Lidl detail sander.
West Stockwith is about four miles past Gainsborough, which takes 30 minutes at 6 knots, plus a 2 knot current. We set off early at 3.30pm, giving ourselves 45 minutes, plenty of time …..... dawdling, with slow current and low water, we had to speed up to get there, with no VHF link as the banks cut out the line-of-sight signal. Once within sight, John found the lock keeper checking the depth of water above the lock cill. We winded and faced upstream against the current, but had to wait over 40 minutes just outside the lock! The current reduced to zero at slack water (the best time to enter the lock), and John switched off the engine near the lock to talk to young Wilf, the lock keeper. Wilf had never known anyone do that before! While waiting, John did a figure eight with Annie, then lined her up against the slowly increasing flood tide. Luckily, Wilf let us in before the Flood speeded up, although the angle to turn in is more, coming from upstream.
Once in, we chatted with Wilf and his dad, Old Wilf, who agreed to take Annie out of the water and black her, next week. Sorted! Young Wilf gave Liana a lift to our home, as it was on his way, so now we have a car :) John walked Honeypie and watched Liverpool beat Huddersfield at the Waterside pub, while regulars spoiled Honeypie.

Sunday 21 October: at home
Today we packed up, filled the car with washing, books, clothes and dog, then visited Aldi for food, plus Morrisons for diesel and air. Lots to do at home! Organised for John to return tomorrow for Annie to be taken out of the water at 1200.