Saturday 26 May 2018

May 23-24 Cruising from Castle Marina, Nottingham through Sawley up to Shardlow

Wednesday 23 May Castle Marina to Sawley Cut
Marina electricity had recharged the batteries. A local boater asked John to look at his solar set up and batteries, which appeared to be square NiFe cells, with transparent tubes supplying fluid to each battery by handpump. John explained the solar meters display, and noticed that the batteries were only 88% when connected  to the marina supply, so something seemed wrong. The clear electrolyte was low, with none in the pump reservoir. John had never seen a set up like this, so advised  that he contact the marina electrician and read his boat's manuals, to see if the fluid needed was distilled water or something else (Potassium Hydroxide solution)!
John returned keys and remote gate opener to the Marina office and bought two discounted brass folding steps to place on the boat sides forward of the solar panels. Liana moved the car outside the gates and we set off in the unseasonably cool and windy weather, wearing winter gear! We tootled along the Nottingham Beeston Canal, past Trevethick's Boatyard, Players and Boots factories, to Beeston River Lock.

John moored at the lock pontoon, close by the lock, so the two narrowboats coming off the river had to leave the lock one by one, to avoid Annie. How would two widebeam boats cope crossing over? The river was pretty, with lots of wooden chalets with boats waterside. Liana filled the 11' deep Cranfleet bottom lock slowly, to avoid bashing Annie around, helped by the friendly ex-lock keeper. He suggested we could moor at the end of the lock moorings, on rings, for the weekend, if we wished.
looking basck at the moorings, Nottingham Yacht Club and Cranfleet Lock
After lunch there, we headed off in the now sunny weather up a busy river to Sawley, where several volunteers locked us up. Working boats were making their way to a bank Holiday event on the Erewash canal, so I guess it will be lively early next week when they all leave ...  could be fun on Tuesday ....
emerging from Cranfleet Cut - Leicester left, Erewash right, Sawley and trent & Mersey straight on

Two good pubs above the Erewash Canal river lock, Trent Lock
Mooring opposite the marina on the 48h moorings, we visited the marina, got free magazines, brass ventilator, present, tea and cake, before viewing the boats. As it was 4.45, we called it a day, and chilled! Still couldn't contact Whyatts, but the new alternator worked fine, keeping batteries at 100%, so solar panels provided zero current until we stopped the engine, when they kicked into action. :)

leaving Sawley Lock as working boats approached

Thursday 24 May a short cruise to Shardlow

John cooked himself a rare |Full English with scallops - delicious! Liana settled for just tea, after which we set off gently the mile or so up the Trent to Derwentmouth, where the Trent & Mersey canal begins.
under the road to Sawley Flood Lock and the river

Traffic was busy, so we waited for boats to descend, chatting with the volunteer lock keepers. Once up, we passed the wide beam Peter Le Marchant charity trip boat, giving old folk a day out. we got a wave! the two marinas on the right are packed with boats. After the flood lock, there are two lovely houses on the right, one with its own private arm and the other with an O gauge railway track going all round its garden.
Passing the old New Inn (!) and Malt Shovel pubs, then boats being fitted out around Dobson's boatyard, we moored by the famous warehouse, at the Heritage museum, clearing out lots of mud. It was closed, though ….. open weekends and bank holidays only.
lock to left, warehouse ahead, museum to right

the small Heritage Museum

We like the unspoilt nature of this pleasant, friendly village, and walked round it, back to the two pubs, reading the information boards. Friendly folk in the Malt Shovel helped us find a local taxi when our Nottingham firm couldn't come.
Liana had got packed up, including dirty washing. I sorted the boat, and we decided to try leaving the fridge on while we left the boat overnight, to see how the solar powered batteries coped.

May 19-22 Torksey Lock to Newark and Nottingham with Sarah. Alternator troubles ....

Saturday 19 May Up the Trent from Torksey Lock to Newark Castle and daughter Sarah. Alternator troubles.
Up at 7am, John set off for Torksey in cool air but bright sunshine, arriving at 9.30 in plenty of time for the flood tide before 11am.
approaching Torksey on a sunny cool morning
Leaving Torksey Lock, the tide took Annie, followed by NB SolvForet (Swedish for Silver Forest), up the Trent steadily to Cromwell Lock. Her friendly crew told us they were taking her down to London for a relative, and having a holiday at the same time!
locking down at Torksey Lock to catch the flood tide up to Cromwell Lock
The tidal range up here is less than a yard, so the current upriver, which lasts a couple of hours, is not too fierce. It's very rural, but pleasant and relaxing.
leaving Torksey along Torksey cut

Cormorants on the Trent

Dunham bridges

One of the many cruisers we saw, zooming past

Cattle on the tidal Trent
approaching Cromwell Lock and weir

you can moor below the lock, if necessary

we locked through Cromwell Lock with Solv Foret and a cruiser

the friendly boaters were taking her down to London
Through Cromwell, we covered the last few miles to Nether Lock, under the A1 bridge, and moored opposite the ruined Newark Castle, below Newark Town Lock.
small pontoons by the Bromley Arms pub at Fiskeerton

Blessed by a visit by daughter Sarah, we all toured the town before eating exotic pizzas at Zizzi's, by the bridge next to the castle.
Sarah in Town Lock, Newark
The new leisure batteries were getting low, and it was clear that they were not being charged. John checked battery wiring twice – fine: An alternator test suggested failure :/
The solar panels bought for fitting sometime were needed NOW!
Sunday 20 May Solar power arrives on Annie. A glorious day with Sarah, up the Trent to Holme Pierrepoint near Nottingham.
While Liana and Sarah shopped, John pulled out the two 100W semi-flexible solar panels, solar charge controller, fuse and wires. In the morning sunshine the panels were soon stuck down on the roof, batteries connected to the charge controller via a 10A fuse, then panels connected, and we were in business!! 30 volts, 4 amps, so 30v x 4A = 120W (Physics teacher, power = V x I = volts x amps!!), which seems fine for a sunny day. By boiling water on the cooker, to save electrical energy, the batteries gained about 8% today, and went from red light low batt on the Victron Inverter to green ok :) It was worth it!
daughter Sarah with Liana on a sunny Trent

Sarah and Liana had plenty of time to catch up and chat. Sarah brought my Birthday Present from her, sister Rachel, Liana and Gran Flo – an Apple iphone 6S, which is clearly more clever than I am! After passing through Town Lock, the phone wouldn't work – Sarah realised it was sensing movement and thought I was driving a car, so switched off!! She soon got everything working except my email, which I managed to sort next day :) Great present, guys!!!!! …. and the camera is very HD, too.
weir after Newark Dyke and before the power station

keep away from the weir

the river was busy

The twenty miles to Nottingham are really lovely, very scenic, with waterside pastures and parks, wildfowl, sheep and cattle sipping river water. Today, the sunny weather also brought out narrowboats and cruisers in droves! Cue lots of waving.
The five locks (Town, Hazleford, Gunthorpe, Stoke Bardolph and Holme) are all large river locks electrically operated by their lock keepers. John used our handheld VHF radio to keep track of traffic and contact each lock as we approached.
the power station looks very different with the new gas turbines

we hovered while Hazleford lock was lowered for this cruiser

Liana and Annie moored at the end of the lock moorings above Holme Lock

looking back at Holme Lock. the white water course is a few yards to the right
Reaching Holme Lock after hours, the light was orange, so we operated it ourselves with a CRT yale key. We moored above the lock by the white water centre, and watched the rubber dinghies paddling in the evening sun. After roast chicken, Sarah was picked up and repatriated to her car by her very kind Aunt Ali (Thanks, Al!), who was visiting gran Flo nearby. All this fresh air and sunshine makes for a good night's sleep ….

Monday 21 May Through Nottingham to Castle Marina: Car collection and Alternator testing.
We spent a pleasant couple of hours cruising the two miles up to Trent Bridge and Meadow lane lock, past the old defunct entrance to the Grantham canal and Nottingham Forest's city ground.
leaving Holme: Note the solar panels (which moved when I was sticking them down :( )

the weir can be adjusted to maintain the water level above

Grantham Canal river lock now leads nowhere … Brian Clough Stand behind

Meadow Lane Lock is 100m before Trent Bridge, on the right. You can go upriver half a mile.

a slow current made mooring for the lock easy

looking back as we left the lock

turn sharp left at the Premier Inn!

a new canalside view

note the new Nottingham tram passing overhead!

passing the law courts / old museum area
The canalside near the castle and law courts is now much modernised. We eased into Castle Marina to visit their chandlery. Liana spent a large chunk of the afternoon travelling to Lincoln and Torksey to collect the car from the lock car park. It eventually dawned on John that we could charge Annie's batteries from the mains if we stayed at the marina, so this was arranged.
John got the tools out, took out the alternator, then took a taxi to Stapleford. Here, Steve Whyatt bench checked the voltage regulator and coils, tested it and pronounced that the rotor coil was kaput. A replacement was ordered for overnight delivery.
John found The Old Cross pub near Whyatts, serving excellent Worthington Creamflow and playing wonderful rock music, so rested and sipped happily with the locals while waiting for Liana to collect him. I slept well again, but someone else complained about the beer-induced snoring!

Tuesday 22 May Fitting a new alternator.
Liana spent some of the day with her mum, Flo, shopping, while John worked on Annie. Steve Whyatt rang to say that the alternator had arrived, and he had fitted the original belt pulley, so it was ready to fit. We popped over to Whyatts at Stapleford (near Sandiacre on the Erewash Canal, 6 miles from Castle Marina by road) to collect it and pay the £245 (it is a 24volt, 110A beast of an alternator). John fitted it quickly – apart from the fact that the top lug had M12 x 1.75mm metric thread, while the bolts for the older model had a finer, Whitworth thread :/ ….. the helpful staff at Castle Marina let John look in their box of nuts and bolts, where he managed to come up with a solution :)
We now have leisure batteries fully charged from the mains, plus alternator and solar panels working, too. Couldn't contact Whyatts, but will try again.

Midlands Cruise 2018: May 15-18 Chesterfield Canal to Lincoln

Tuesday May 15 2018 Setting out from Clayworth to West Stockwith

We have been very busy redecorating bedrooms, gardening, sewing and erecting a garden shed, plus clearing and sorting out our Summer House. John has worked on the boat, fitting new batteries, painting and buying bits for a Solar Panel kit to fit soon. Liana has made loads of doctor's scrub hats and dolls clothes, too. Church, bell ringing, Lions Club activities, embroidering have kept us busy, too. Liana has worked hard to give John lovely 65th Birthday celebrations with a holiday for us both in Stratford, where we saw Macbeth and had a river cruise (of course!). We had a great day with family at Anne Arden's House. At home, we had a meal for 14(!!) which Liana cooked for brother Phil & Jackie and some of our dearest friends. We had more friends round for tea before we all managed to win second prize in this month's Lions Quiz. Retirement? Love it!!
Hardly surprising, then, that this morning saw us packing for the boat, shopping and buying red diesel for Annie before we set off, finally, exhausted, at 2pm! Shorts, sandals and T shirt weather. Liana sat in the sun enjoying the lovely scenery, spotting loads of fish. John saw a huge Pike near Wiseton, where the canal is rather overgrown and shallow. Don't expect to speed on the Chesterfield: Plan for 2.5 mph, relax and enjoy the trip. The pretty moorings before Drakeholes Tunnel were empty. On such a warm, sunny day we saw no boats, just dog walkers. Hawthorn May Blossom was exuberant, while the bright yellow, strongly scented Oil Seed Rape flowers covered so many fields in the valley of the Idle.

The wide Gringley and Shaw locks were heavy and stiff: One Shaw lock bottom gate wouldn't open, so we used the other. Finally, we met a narrowboat moored at Misterton: John had a chat and a rest, while Liana popped for an extra pint of milk from the coop here (there is an excellent butcher opposite it). Both Misterton locks worked ok: I guess our muscles are out of practice. Mooring in West Stockwith basin near the trip boats Robin Hood and Maid Marian, John greased the stern gland, as usual, while Liana prepared Fajitas for tea. We had an early night, setting the alarm for an early start tomorrow.

Wednesday May 16 2018 Up the Trent to Torksey

Liana slept not too well: surely one small wine glass shouldn't make John snore THAT loud? A 6.30am alarm saw John checking the oil and water. Skies are lowering, as we say in Lincolnshire – cloudy and thinking of rain. A strong, cold wind made John wear yellow waterproof trousers and jacket under his life jacket – a good move, keeping warm, even though rain kept off, thankfully.
The Boating Association guide to the Tidal Trent is excellent help, as is our friend and fellow Retford & Worksop Boat Club member John Lower's book “Narrowboat on the Trent”, with his 40 years experience on the Trent, published by the Chesterfield Canal Trust.
passing the Gainsborough Visitors pontoon. Turn to face current to moor. CRT key needed

Gainsborough bridge

Liana with Annie, waiting to go up Torksey Lock
John did a VHF radio check with Jim, the West Stockwith lock keeper, and used it to contact Torksey lock. Unusually, we had to wait on the pontoon while FOUR boats came down the lock. To our surprise, two boats appeared from the river to moor with us, having come upstream from Keadby, on their way to Nottingham.
Locking up, we were advised to moor by the tearoom (open 11-4pm except Mon & Fri), where we filled up with water, dumped rubbish and had delicious sausage rolls and beetroot and chocolate cake (it's tasty!) with decent coffee.
Annie moored by the services at Torksey, on the Foss Dyke

looking towards Torksey Lock

While Liana took the bus to retrieve our car, John did a few jobs and admired the RN engine of NB Emerelda, who locked down so she could leave early tomorrow. After a short walk and the second half of the Fajitas, it was TV and an early night again: all that fresh air tires you out!

Thursday 17 May A Social Day on the Fossdyke

Cool but sunny, Saxilby was inviting. We spotted The Tea Room opposite our moorings, over the footbridge, so rang sister Dianne to pop over for a light lunch together, and to view the boat.
Annie at Torksey

Saxilby's decent visitor moorings are beyond this railway bridge, on the right

we walked to visit our friend Andy Onion's grave at Saxilby Church

Liana with my sister Dianne

Dianne meeting Annie :)
We toured the village to visit our friend Andy Onion's grave at the church. Villagers were friendly and the flower folk decorating the church were doing an impressive job.
Lunch at The Tea Room with Dianne was really good: creamy celery and stilton soup, superb French onion soup with that bread with cheese floating on top, tasty Quiche, salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, etc – excellent quality for a reasonable price: We will come again!
Onward to the Pyewipe Inn by the Lincoln ring road, where we picked up Liana's friend Liz Boucher for a short leisurely cruise in the sun to Lincoln Brayford Pool and back, while they caught up with each other's news. We passed the Brayford Belle trip boat, hooting happily. The visitor moorings by the CRT services, just before the Brayford, were full of what looked like residential boats, as we had been warned by a boater at Torksey. Why CRT and Lincoln Council have not sorted out secure visitor moorings in the main Brayford Pool, after their publicised wish to attract visitors down the Trent, is beyond me.
After a quiet afternoon, we tried the modernised Pyewipe Inn with friends Helen & Kevin plus Karen & Nick, having a cheery evening as we enjoyed the meal. The diet starts tomorrow ….

Friday 18 May on the Fossdyke

We were woken by a plastic boat speeding past with white water waves rocking Annie! Before friends Amanda, Dean and boys arrive later, we decided to visit Burton Waters Marina to fill up with Diesel and turn round, so we can repeat our little trip to the Brayford if they wish. Woodcocks restaurant/pub, close by the marina, is child friendly. Brayford trip with Amanda and boys, picking up Dean and returning to Woodcocks for play and food was fun together.
Alby with dinosaur

Amanda and Sullivan

entering Brayford Pool under the newish road bridge

Amanda, Alby, Dean and Sullivan on Annie at Brayford Pool

hard to recognise: Brayford Pool looking west

ongoing work by the marina offices in front of Lincoln University

looking back at the Brayford

back up the Foss Dyke

at Woodcocks near Burton Marina: Food and Fun for Families!