Friday, 16 February 2018

Saltisford (and another mini cruise)

I seemed to spend all day on Wednesday traipsing to Warwick and back.  The first visit was to Sainsbury’s but the other times were to get my phone repaired.  The phone had stopped accepting a charge so the charging port needed replacing.  It couldn’t be done whilst I waited so that’s why I had to make two further trips into town; once to drop it off and then another to pick it up.

In the end I went up a fourth time!  When I got home after picking up the phone, one of my daughters called and, after about 10 seconds the line started buzzing and she couldn’t hear me.  I tried a few more people as a test and they were the same, so it was back into Warwick to tell the repair shop that they had mucked something up.  This time they fixed it whilst I waited and it all seems to be OK for the moment 😊

We’ve not had a TV signal since leaving Lapworth over two weeks ago, and it hasn’t been a problem as we can always use the internet to watch or download TV programs if we want to.  We have found, though, that since we have been at Saltisford junction that our internet signal seems to disappear at about six in the evening until nine the following morning.  We’ve not encountered this anywhere else on the canal system and find it most strange.

To get over the intermittent internet signal, I decided, on Thursday morning, to move the boat back to below Hatton bottom lock.  It required quite a lengthy reverse and I was glad there were no boats on the move as I had to keep stopping and correcting my direction of travel.  I blame the wind of course 😉

Moored back at the bottom lock (again!)

The boat moored behind us appears to be on a permanent mooring.  This is an unusual place to find a single permanent mooring as it is alongside the towpath at the back of houses.  The tall pipe, aerial thing sticking up from its stern deck is housing an electrical feed from the house alongside where it is moored.  

Karen went back to work on Thursday but was home again by four and went straight to bed; obviously not fully recovered yet

Later on, on Thursday I went to check up on how the works were progressing at lock #27.  Three more stanking planks had been added to the stank below the bottom gates:

I’m not sure why they had been added as there would have to be a terrific amount of water for it to come up that high.  Also the ends weren’t secured in anything so water would just run round them.  I’ll have to go back when the workers are there and ask them the reason.

The picture above shows the new bottom gates in the closed position.  The balance beams and walkways haven’t been put on yet.  It looks like the old ones are going to be put back as they are both laying alongside the lock still.

One of the balance beams

At the top end of the lock, a stank had been put in place ready for removing the top gates for repair:

Stanking planks in place leaving the top gates clear for removal

The ground paddles have been left open in order to drain the water and pipes had also been placed in the water and connected to a pump driven by a large generator.  They will pump the remaining water out when they start working on the top gates. 

The blue box is the generator.  The ground paddle is lifted showing the hole through which the water runs when filling the lock.

This next picture shows the paddle winding gear in the up position – the rod with a white top above the white cylinder is fully extended.

The lock ladders on this lock are also being replaced as they are not up to standard apparently! 
There is one lock ladder in each wall of the lock. One can be seen in the picture above.  We use the ladders when climbing back onto the boat once the lock is empty and ready for us to move the boat out.

We'll have been here two weeks by the weekend so we'll be off to Leam next.  It's only three miles and through the two locks at Cape so it'll be an easy cruise.  Once down the two locks we will be at the lowest point of the canal; from then on all the locks climb uphill on the Grand Union until the other side of Braunston.

Publishing this blog entry proves that the internet is OK here! 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Saltisford (a little cruise is still a cruise)

Karen was still off work on Tuesday; I don’t think I’ve ever known her take time off work other than when her back’s been bad, so it must be serious
It was forecast to rain all day, but stopped at about 10.00, so Buddy and I cruised the few hundred yards to the Saltisford arm. We wanted to fill up with water before the weekend and, as we don’t particularly like mooring at Cape (the next water point), I thought a trip into the arm and then back to our current mooring would be the best thing to do.  In the end, I only reversed back to the junction as it's a nice sunny spot (when the sun comes out) and as it was fairly breezy I didn't fancy reversing back to where we had been moored below the bottom Hatton lock.

Moored at the junction with the Saltisford arm after getting water on Tuesday

The arm is run by the Saltisford Canal Trust rather than CRT so, after filling up, I popped down to their office and gave them a donation for the water.  The guy who runs the place is always friendly and very helpful.  A year ago, I fitted a new beefy padlock to the rear hatch and the first time I used it I left the keys indoors when Karen I went out for a walk.  There was nothing for it but to ring round for some bolt cutters; the guy at Saltisford said we could borrow his.  I must admit that walking along the towpath with large bolt cutters did make Karen and me feel a bit like we had criminal intent.

Water point is near the entrance to the arm – that’s us in the middle just before the bridge

Buddy doesn’t like me using the services here as there is only a short jetty and, as the front of the boat needs to be alongside the jetty, it means he cannot get off the rear deck to have a nose around.

In the picture above, the little house to the right of the jetty is the pump out house and was built in the 1980’s when the canal arm was restored.  Calling it an arm is not strictly correct as it was originally the Warwick end of the Warwick and Birmingham canal.  About half the arm is still in water but the other half was filled in during the 1970’s for housing and other developments.

The parapets of a bridge that went across the canal

The bridge above is about all that remains to show the arm used carry on into Warwick.  Interestingly, this bridge was never widened as part of the widening scheme around 1930 when all the single width locks had double width locks built next to them.   The wider locks allowed more boats through and also wider barges which meant the bridge holes had to be capable of taking 14’ wide barges.  The bridge at the entrance to the arm (two pictures up) was widened but that was as far as they went on this stretch.

OS map from 1887 (courtesy of Peter Perry who has lots of information on the history of Warwick)

The canal shown in blue on the map above is what was filled in during the 1970’s.  The bridge just below the railway bridge is the one where only the parapets remain.  The Antelope pub now sits where the canal terminated at the two wharfing arms.

Looking out to the Saltisford arm from our new mooring

In the afternoon, Buddy and I had a wander around Warwick.  I needed to get my phone repaired and, whilst I waited, I thought I’d have a good look around.  Every so often I came across something fascinating and went to take a picture, but of course I couldn’t; I use the camera on my phone and that was in the shop being repaired – oh well, another day then.

It started to rain again so Buddy and I got soaked but soon dried out once we were back on the boat.  By five o’clock the rain stopped and the sun tried to come out.  It was still fairly light at 5.30 which shows spring is not too far away now 😊

View from our new mooring at 5.30 in the evening - is spring in the air?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Saltisford (remembering about picking the right steps)

Poor Karen was under the weather all weekend and spent most of it in bed with a temperature.  She won’t be happy that I’ve mentioned it, but she is one of those people who never seem to be ill and, if she does get a cold, she just carries on regardless.  On Monday morning she was no better, so I took her to the doctors.  Our GP surgery is the on other side of Leamington and it took us over an hour to drive the four or five miles; a combination of going in the rush hour, a major accident on the M40 and the fact that a major street in Warwick is closed for seven weeks causing mayhem around the local roads.  Maybe we should have gone by boat 😉

The GP diagnosed her with flu, we had been worried that it was a chest infection, and explained it could take some time to clear up, so she was confined to the boat for the rest of the day.  

When we got back from the surgery, I took Buddy for a walk up the Hatton flight.  There was a flurry of activity at lock 27; stanking planks were going in 😊 I know many people call them stop planks, but I prefer the less-used term. 

That’s how to put stanking planks in

Looking at the lock reminded me that when single-handing up broad locks like these, you have to work out whether to go in the left-hand or right-hand gate.  Lock 27 is one where you should go in the left-hand side because that side has the easiest step access.

Lock 27 – steps either side but the ones on the left are much easier

When you go into one of these locks you step off the boat as it enters, taking a centre line with you.  You then walk up the steps, keeping hold of the line, and then loosely tie the boat up to a bollard.  If you didn’t take the line you could end up looking rather stupid with your boat drifting in the centre of the lock and no way of getting to it without swimming

The steps on the right climb away from the lock and if your line isn’t long enough then you’ll end up losing it.  Our lines are long enough, but only just, so if there was a slip up or a slight mistiming then I would have to let go.

A bit further up is a lock with straight steps either side, so you could go in either side.  If it’s wet or icy, or you are not in your youth like me then you really should use the right-hand steps as they have a hand rail.

The safety conscious would use the right-hand side steps

Nearer the top of the flight are a few problematical locks where the steps curve away on both sides.  When handling these locks on my own I don’t bother with the steps and just go into the lock and climb up the ladders built into the sides.  Mind you, Buddy still gets off at the bottom and runs up the steps, as he doesn’t tend to have a rope to carry.

A sign has now gone up at lock 27 explaining to the public about the works that are taking place over the next few weeks:

The old gates, which were lifted out last week and left at the side of the lock, have now been loaded onto a pontoon ready to be taken away:

When I went back up to the lock later in the day, the planks were in place and I expect the pumps will be installed tomorrow so the lock can be emptied to enable the works to continue.