This Month's Totals and Average
31.89 miles 20 locks 16.17 hrs 3.21 lmph

  January 2016

Sunday 31st January ~ Alrewas to Streethay (en route to Fazeley)

The rain started late yesterday evening and continued all night - a dull and wet start to the day. Went to the Methodist church for their service, then after lunch continued towards Fradley. Rain had stopped by lunchtime and the afternoon looked much brighter. Ascended the four locks to the services berth at Fradley and did the necessaries (a bit windy, as usual, at Common Lock), then ascended Junction Lock. All locks had been against me but still made good time. Turned left onto the Coventry Canal then went back to assist another single-hander up the lock. Overcast afternoon, but still quite bright. Moored at our favourite spot outside King's Orchard Marina just as dusk was falling.

5.47 miles 5 locks 3.32 hrs 3.15 lmph

Saturday 30th January ~ Barton Turn to Alrewas (en route to Fazeley)

There must have been rain overnight as the windows were wet when I was woken by a boat going past, at 08:15. Out for the count for the whole night! Took my time getting going, but included starting a load of washing. Day was colder, but mostly sunny. Moved on the remaining half-hour to Wychnor Lock and ascended onto the river section. Very tame in comparison to last time I saw it. Easy run to Alrewas Lock, and stopped at the visitor mooring at the top of the lock.

After a leisurely lunch took a quiet walk round the town, then a bit of cleaning (including a full vacuum out after the drydock, will get the floor washed in the next couple of days) before chilling out for the remainder of the afternoon.

2.44 miles 2 locks 1.48 hrs 2.99 lmph

Friday 29th January ~ Burton to Barton Turn (en route to Fazeley)

The team turned up as agreed at 07:00 and completed the work on the stern gear. Dock flooded on time and "Paws" came out of dock, mooring just outside the basin. Cleared up sufficiently to move, and was given a lift for shopping by another boater. After lunch, took fuel. Leak on pipework still not stopped so Gareth had another go at tightening. Paid the bill and moved off on the return journey to base.

Day had been mostly cloudy, with a very strong wind. Difficult manoeuvring into and out of Branston Lock as it is so open. Tatenhill Lock was slightly better and Barton Turn Lock the easiest of the day as it is sheltered. Moored up just after Barton Turns Marina, noting that the warning board for the river section said "open" - something finally going right! Early night, exhausted.

4.13 miles 3 locks 2.35 hrs 3.04 lmph

Thursday 28th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Last full working day. Shutters came up to a lovely sunny morning, although it felt cooler. Final touching up on the paint. Investigated the minor leak, found it was not where expected (turned out to be pipefittings not fully tightened!). Boiler man turned up mid-morning and gave it a once-over, including doing a modification to electrics. Now running well. Parts for stern-gear finally turned up at 15:10. Managed to get the new outer bearing and shaft in before knocking off. Plan to start at 07:00 tomorrow to finish. Rain came on late afternoon.


Wednesday 27th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Windy night, with shutters rattling. Rain cleared by morning but wind not abated. Paintwork completed, and final bearing removed  ready for new parts tomorrow. Kept the drydock team supplied with shortbread. Small leak still to fix, and heating engineer failed to turn up (says he's coming tomorrow). The end is in sight. Very heavy rain during evening.


Tuesday 26th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Dull and windy morning greeted us as the shutters went up, and cooler in the wind. First coat of paint above waterline. Took a walk to shops for stores. Tides Marine contact Gareth early afternoon to ask for address. I email it on his behalf. They then email me back (not expecting it, so get it an hour later) asking for details of payment (normally Gareth). Gareth agrees I can pay direct so I ring them and pass details. They then inform us that due delay in responding to email, parts will now be delivered Thursday - hope we have enough time to fit them! Rain set in during afternoon.


Monday 25th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Up promptly, and reversed back to basin entrance ready for docking again. Entered dock just after 10:00 and on the blocks and water pumped out before lunch. Disassembled the inner bearings and seal from the drive-shaft, then managed to remove the shaft past the rudder-stock (the rudder was constructed to be permanently connected to its stock, the swan-neck and tiller, making it impossible to remove - lesson learned for any future build!). Found the cause of the leak and contacted Tides Marine - the shaft showed extensive wear  in places and one area which appears to show heat. Whilst not accepting any liability for the cause of the damage, and not giving any suggestions as to its cause, they have given a considerable discount on the replacement parts as they have had such a short life. Parts expected for Wednesday. Lovely warm dry day throughout.


23rd-24th January ~ Shobnall, Burton

Quiet night, and warmer. Saturday dawned with only high cloud slightly masking the sun. After being in the shed for the past week, noticed the lighter evening and earlier light in the morning. Did a batch of baking (recipe worked perfectly this time, hopefully that's it cracked) while waiting for another load of washing (towels this time). During the afternoon, reversed back to the basin entrance, topped up the water and did the loo, before returning to the mooring. Sky slowly clouded over during the day, to overcast by dinnertime, then turned to rain in the evening.

Rain cleared by Sunday morning, overcast but warm. Went to St Thomas' Church again. On the way back, assisted one boat up Dallow Lock, then assisted "Mr Jingles" & "Lyra" down. Nice to meet up with them again. Did yet another load of washing (change of bed linen), and another batch of baking (just to prove I had cracked it!).


Friday 22nd January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

As planned, undocking commenced first thing. A much warmer day, today, but heavily overcast to start. Just as they began to flood the dock, the rain came on! Reversed out of the dock and the basin onto the main line and moored up to the east of the entrance (the berth I used last week was full). Did a pile of clearing up - a load of washing, and the dishes (couldn't do either of these in the dock as the water would have run down across the new paint). After lunch, the rain had cleared so walked into town again for shopping. Did a wash-down along the near side above gunwale. Remained sunny and warm for remainder of day.


Thursday 21st January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Cloudy start to the day, and just as cold, with a thin ice crust in the basin. Second coat of paint applied to underwater hull. Engineer for central-heating service delayed by emergency. That, plus all other work, rescheduled for next week. Expect to be undocking tomorrow morning. Ice in the basin did start to melt by the end of the day.


Wednesday 20th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Another cold morning, but no ice in the basin today. Sunny for almost all the day. Painting continued on other boat in dock, then first coat applied to underwater areas on "Paws". Stern-tube discussed with Tides Marine - they're concerned over short time before failure, and need to know full extent of damage in order to supply correct parts. Work scheduled for next Monday as space needed in dock over weekend.


Tuesday 19th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Shutters up on cold damp morning, layer of slight icing on water in basin. Hull inspection - old paintwork in very good condition. Agreed on two coats of "Comastic" below waterline. Agreed to also paint above waterline to gunwale and rubbing-strakes one coat as per original spec. Noted stern-seal in poor condition. Tides Marine called for parts, awaiting call back. Rudder will need to be made removable before shaft can be withdrawn. Anodes in good condition, no work required. Sun came out during morning and temperature rose slowly, ice crust mostly melted by mid-afternoon. Drydock staff work on painting other boat in dock as still damp areas on "Paws".


Monday 18th January ~ Drydock, Shobnall Basin

Contacted Gareth of Burton Boat Company at the drydock  as soon as he opened, and he advised "Paws" would dock at 10:00. Dry but cloudy day. Moved into the dock as planned (alongside another narrowboat), and the water was pumped out. Pressure-washing was started as soon as the water level was down. Had lunch at the café attached to the chandlery. Washing finished by just after lunch, and shore power and a small heater were supplied.


13th-17th January ~ Shobnall, Burton

In contrast to Tuesday night, a bright and sunny Wednesday morning, although cold. Spoke with Gareth at the dock and discussed a reshuffle due to our late arrival. "Paws" will now dock Friday, or Monday latest, for bottom-wash, paint and stern-tube work. Other work may be done before that. Walked into Burton centre for a few stores. "Mr Jingles" & "Lyra" arrived at the berth at lunchtime, and "Rosewood" passed as Dan, Kerry and I were chatting. Heavy showers during evening, but clearing overnight.

Thursday started dull with occasional brighter spells, and gradually improved over the day to wall-to-wall sunshine. Went for a walk to Dallow Lock in the afternoon, for the exercise. Wished I hadn't as the towpath was like a mudbath all the way along. Otherwise, a quiet day.

Light dusting of snow overnight, but Friday dawned clear and cold, remaining that way all day. Generally a quiet day all round. A couple of light showers late afternoon.

The muddy towpath was frozen solid on Saturday morning, and there was a hint of ice in the marina basin. Sky was cloudless again. Took "Paws" into the tunnel at the marina entrance, took water and did the loo, then dropped back onto my berth outside. After that, another quiet day twiddling thumbs waiting for the dock.

There was a moderate fall of snow for about 2 hours late evening till midnight, but it stopped, and was thawing by Sunday breakfast-time (the mud was soggy again!). Visited St Thomas' Methodist Church. Made very welcome, but there was only a small congregation (about 25). Did a bit of shopping, then spent the remainder of the afternoon sending data updates to BCF  and to 'Water Way' .


Tuesday 12th January ~ Alrewas to Burton

Damp and drizzly morning. Whilst doing 'morning pottering', noted a CRT man heading for the lock. River section (down about 5 inches) now open again with care. Walked back to let "Rosewood" and the pair "Mr Jingles" & "Lyra" know as they were also waiting. Moved off in convoy mid-morning. The bend at the weir was 'hairy' but not unsafe. Got to Wychnor lock to find "Land & Water" doing (planned) dredging so had a wait. Once on the move again, continued along the noisy section next to the A38, dropping through Barton and Tatenhill Locks. After the drizzly start, it had turned quite sunny and was a pleasant run. Getting cold by Branston Water Park so stopped for a brief lunch then moved on, just as the rain came on, accompanied by increased (icy) wind. Dropped through Branston Lock and arrived at Shobnall Basin frozen and soaked. Moored outside the marina as instructed by Gareth. Went into their tearoom for a hot chocolate and heat, then returned to "Paws", cleaned Smokie's hoosie and did tidying up ready for drydock tomorrow.

6.50 miles 5 locks 2.82 hrs 4.08 lmph

10th-11th January ~ Alrewas, awaiting river level (en route to Burton)

After a windy night, Sunday dawned with beautiful sunshine, and remained that way all day. Went to Alrewas Methodist Church for a change of "scenery". The service was also identical to our Church of Scotland service, and I was made so welcome. Very quiet afternoon. Sky had clouded over by Monday morning and it remained dull, damp and cold all day. Water level looked to have dropped a fraction, but not a lot. Did a small batch of shopping to tide me over a couple of days, then had another quiet afternoon, mostly reading.


Saturday 9th January ~ Streethay to Alrewas (en route to Burton)

Lovely quiet night as usual at that berth. Day broke with a heavy shower of rain, but it quickly cleared and we moved off in a cold damp air. Headed round to Fradley. No leaves on the trees so far easier to see the birdlife. Usual suspects around, sparrows, blackies, robins, great and long-tailed tits, but saw a jay this morning. Squirrels in abundance in the woodland on the approach to the junction. Noted the board at the junction said the river section was closed - that will delay arrival at Burton. Turned right and dropped through Junction Lock, stopping at the services berth for water and rubbish before moving across to the visitors' berth for lunch. Chatting to passers-by (as one does), and one introduced himself as Harry Arnold. Great to meet him "in the flesh" having read his columns in the waterways press.

Clouds had slowly cleared during the morning and the sun came out over lunch. Descended Keeper's Lock, and the rain came on! Continued down through Hunt's, Common and Bagnall Locks in the moderate showers, so pretty wet (mitigated somewhat by spotting a kingfisher). Arrived in Alrewas mid-afternoon and moored at the east end (my preferred mooring) ready to move on when the river level drops. Rain had stopped again so went for a walk. Checked the river level (just into the red) then walked round by the Anglican Church and back to the boat past The Crown Inn. Rain resumed as I got back so battened down for night. Torrential rain late evening.

5.45 miles 5 locks 3.24 hrs 3.23 lmph

Friday 8th January ~ Fazeley to Streethay (en route to Burton)

Nice bright start to the day, so got the stores in, 'oiled up' and paid the electrickery bill. Headed off from the marina at mid-day bound (eventually) for Burton-on-Trent for drydock. Once again on the very familiar route to Fazeley Junction, turning left and out through Hopwas and Whittington. Had a sandwich lunch on the move (the remains of the supplies I had with me over the two days to/from Prestwick). Arrived at 'our berth' just north of King's Orchard Marina late afternoon, finding it empty this time. A lovely sunny day with occasional high clouds, although temperatures more like they should be for this time of year, rather than those we have been getting recently.

7.90 miles 0 locks 2.96 hrs 2.67 lmph

6th-7th January ~ off-boat in Prestwick

As mentioned at the end of last month, an uncle of Pat's passed away on Christmas Eve. I travelled north to Prestwick on Wednesday and joined Pat in a hotel for the night. It was a surprise as I hadn't let her know I was coming. The run north was very good, mostly bright and sunny if cold. After dinner, we went to Auntie Theresa's house, Lucy and David were also there.

Thursday, unfortunately, started wet but this eased and, by the time the Mass and cremation services were over and we had joined family and friends for sandwiches afterwards, the rain had almost completely stopped. I got an almost dry run south again, although I think I had only narrowly missed some torrential downpours judging by the surface water on the road in places. Arrived back safely at 22:00.

It was great catching up with family, and meeting 'new' members, even if the circumstances weren't the best. Look forward to seeing you all again in the future. My thanks to David from "Sweet Dream" for looking after Smokie for me while away.


1st-5th January ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Happy New Year to everyone. The new year started frosty but fair. Had a walk in the morning, then stayed tucked in for the afternoon. Rain returned mid-afternoon. The rain continued overnight, but cleared by Saturday morning, leaving a dull and damp start. There were patches of brightness during the day, but they never came to anything. Routine chores in the morning, then a quiet afternoon. Sunday was another wet and windy day. Went to St Paul's in the morning. The rain and wind had ceased by Monday and we had a bright, if cool, day. Contacted the drydock at Shobnall and confirmed date and work. Did the shopping. Tuesday was another bright day, although with a couple of showers. Finally got my hair cut (Rachel had been off with flu). Final arrangements for being away next two days, and for trip on Friday.


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