Saturday, 31 October 2009

Day 4

Another early start, this time I got away from Banbury at 7.40. Engine running great again though loads of leaves around which needed frequent clearing from the prop. Having Hamish along was a tremendous help and we got through the locks much quicker than single handing. He also introduced me to Biltong, a South African meat thing. Very morish & we snacked as we cruised. Had the first stop after 3 1/2 hrs to brew fresh coffe & visit the loo. By this stage we'd reached Aynho & I'm begining to recognise place names.

I knew I wasn't going to make Oxford in time so stopped at lower heyford at 2pm to get a lift from mortimor bones to my childrens' Halloween party. Made it in time & I was so pleased to see them again.
So far I've notched up 21.7 engine hours, I pulled campanula through a few locks with engine off at times so travelling time probably more.

So tomorrow it's about 7 hours to Oxford. I reckon I need to leave at 7am to get back for the afternoon.

Been in such a dash today I didn't make more of an effort to take photos. Got one of Hamish skippering away though.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Day 3

After the engine threw steam last night I pulled up on the nearest bank which just happened to be full of brambles. In the morning they'd started crawling up the side. I also didn't notice the tree on the other side which was full of very loud birds as I discovered at about 6 in the morning. Still, it helped me get up in time for an early start.

I checked the engine over and took the water pipes off the expansion tank, testing them in the sink (blow through and watch for bubbles) nothing was showing so I tightened everything up, filled up with water, did the oil & stern gland checks & resolved to stop after an hour to check on water. I left the boards up to keep an eye on the engine. Half an hour later a slight hiss was heard & I quickly hit the towpath again to check. This time I could see the problem, a cut in the hose as shown in my last blog. Luckily I brought a toolbox & the split was near the end. A quick nip with a Stanley knife & a search for a spare hose clip (which happily the previous owner had left) sorted the problem & off I went. No problems since.

Cruising the summit was lovely but as it was very early the view was limited. Still spotted the radio mast id read about elsewhere. Filled up with diesel at fenny Compton - 11 quid for a day and a few hours cruising - not bad at all.

Fenny Compton tunnel - why did noone warn me about this?? A long stretch with only room for one boat & lots of nice jagged rocks on the side. Managed through without loss of life or limb. Pretty though.

Hit claydon locks around 11.30 and was very pleased at colin edmondons advice in his book "going it alone" brilliant ideas to see through locks when single handing. Managed them in just over an hour.

Then on towards Cropredy where I met Mike Athy from the canal forums. He waved me down as I approached & I worried I'd been going too fast & offended someone. But no, a warm welcome from mike who'd read about my journey on the forum. A lovely guy, he followed me down a few locks to lend a hand. Cheers mike!

I met dusty on a lock. As I approached the lock his boat was sitting there & noone to be seen, he was up the bank gassing away to someone. Still, I took two bags of coal off him for his trouble.

I stopped at cropredy very tired & in need of nourishment. I'd been recommended two pubs but all was shut! I headed south towards Banbury & got a call from hamish offering a hand with the last leg. He set off north & I headed on in my first proper dark cruising experience. I took it very slowly & even managed three locks before the shadowy vision of hamish appeared on the towpath. We managed a few bridges more & moored up at castle quay in Banbury. Thankfully the skater dudes didn't hang around too long & we were able to sit by the fire listening to bagpipe music & gassing away.

So tomorrow I need to hit lower heyford by 2pm to make sure I can get the train to catch Joseph & Polly's Halloween party. Reminds me a little of steve martins planes trains & automobiles. So another early start required tomorrow.

My mooring in the morning. Note the tree on the right with lovely birdies.

The brambles like the boat so much the tried to get on board

The mast on the summit. Nice!

And down again, just hitting claydon locks.

The first time I left campanula unattended at cropredy in search of sustenance.

The culprit!

Found this before I set off. Cut it short & reattached. Very glad I though to bring a toolbox!

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Day 2.

What an introduction. Started well with good lock free cruise getting used to the boat. Went a bit slow at first (got overtaken twice!) then got the hang of it. Set off at 8 and got to first napton lock at 11.41. Cleared the locks in 2hrs20. Loads of people coming down so lots of locks ready. I only had to do one on my own. Most people really helpful, just one overkeen couple who janked the paddles straight up, bam, into the gate - thanks!

Loads of hire boats out & a real mix of experience & disaster zones. Twice when trying to pass, the hired hogged the middle of the cut, I thought one was heading straight for me but moved at the last minute.

Last two hours very stressful. The water light came on quickly followed by belch of steam from engine. Before I picked the boat up, Dave from braunston left the clutter out of the engine room saying "I didn't put it back because the engine room is for the engine." I learnt what he meant. Trying to declutter before getting to boards is not funny when there's steam underneath. It calmed down quickly & after time to cool I refilled system & checked for leaks. Nothing obvious though took two kettles of water to refill. It was fine on startup and I let it run awhile before setting off, this time with no clutter & the engine board off so I could keep an eye. Got a good hour and half more before a slight hiss started & this time I was straight into the towpath & engine off. Not wanting a cooked engine. In the morning I'll check all the hose connections & do another refill before setting off.

So managed 7 hrs of cruising, wasted hour on engine cooldown & checking & had to stop early because of second over-heating. Did some cruising in the dark for a while which was very nice. The moon was my friend & lit up the water nicely.

So I need to do 11 hours tomorrow to get back on schedule. Hmm, early night called for.

Away we go - leaving Braunston.

Coming out of wigrams, grand union meets Oxford canal

Lots of beasts!

Psyching myself up for the first set of locks at napton.

Here we go!

The best three quid I ever spent!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Day 1

So, end of day one and no cruising yet. The engine needed some additional work (minor servicing stuff) & it took a bit longer than expected to sort. I could have spent my first hour on the cut in barely light but thought that was very silly. I'd rather be alive than brave.

Still, I have managed to introduce myself to most of the boat systems. I even had my first whoops moment when, as I was tying up to put some diesel in, I heard a splash and saw a ripple where something had once been. Panic! Phone? No, wallet? Nope, keys, no, what was it? Then I noticed the end of the rope had fallen in. A salutory lesson. I boarded camanula and emptied pockets of everything & stowed all away safely.

Then of course the loo is required and a quick scurrying to find the manual, open here, pour there, click that, press that - quick! I need to go now! Still, will be quicker next time round.

Then the man-job of lighting fires. I won't say how many times it took but the previous owner kindly left lots of old used papers which were very useful.

I was introduced to the waterpipe to go and fill my water tank. Excellent, a hose on board, off we go unpacking hose, opening water tank, winding hose to tap. No tap connector! Wind hose up again close water tank and hope there's enough for a day until the next place.

So because of the lack of progress it's early to bed and set off at first light. Cropredy in a day? Let's see!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The beginning

It all starts on Wednesday 28th October when I pick up narrowboat Campanula. This is my first experience owning a narrowboat & I'm looking forward to learning lots. This blog will give me somewhere to share some stories & photos along the way.