Monday, 29 June 2009

Horbury for the day.

A bit of an unintentional stop over here.

When we started the engine this morning I noticed that the number two alternator had a very discernible wobble. Just a loose bolt on the mounting bracket as it turned out, had it been the number one alternator no more than a thirty second job, but as Ubique is a Trad Stern the job entailed stripping out the engine box.

So what you might think, whats he going on about?

Well....... the engine box on one of these boats is an integral part and as such is permanently fixed in place, compounding the problem is me using most of it to store just about anything I can on the top.

Two, yes two fractious hours I spent in this heat getting that box out. Still, I know how to do it now. Think positive, think positive, think positive Ommmmm.

A nice little mooring though, as the sun gave us everything it had today we were rather glad not to have been standing out on the back deck.

Here are some people actually swimming in the navigation, I would really think it through very carefully before getting intentionally into this water.

Guess has just started to rain!!!!!!!

The great British weather strikes again.

Until tomorrow.....................................

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Altofts to Horbury. 6 locks.

On the move before the heat this morning, we are going to be on our way back across the Pennines but this time by way of the Rochdale Canal towards Manchester.

A lovely, lovely morning view that could have done without that pylon stuck in the middle. This is about an hours chugging outside of the city of Wakefield.

One of the last locks on the Aire & Calder, have a look at just how "busy " this picture is, there are so many things in the frame. I was just after getting the bridge support in the centre of the lock.

Another milestone along the way, this lock is where the Aire & Calder becomes the Calder & Hebble. Yet again another different set of lock gear to be worked out.

Here lies a little story:

Searching the boat after we had taken ownership we found a very innocuous piece of hardwood in the front locker. Being loathed to throw any wood away I chucked it on the roof and promised D that I would chop it up and burn it later. Of course I didn't and it has sat there ever since.

This piece of wood has now turned out to be a "Lock Spike" which is used on the extremely unusual lock gear on this canal.

Saving wood and money all in one go due to me not chucking it away, Ha Ha...........result!

Look at this, these gates even have sash weights to counter balance the paddles.

A ground sluice doing its best to fill the front of the boat, you have to open these first as the gate paddles are even worse. This happened after just two turns of the handle, there was another ten turns to go.

Just outside of the lock was this poor specimen, obviously it has been there for quite a while.

What a waste, although it is sunk the hull would be absolutely fine.

Scenery is not hard to find along here, the whole place is just what you would expect and more.

Hows this for a very smart canal bank? no rings or bollards though, you would have to whack in your mooring pins if you wanted to stop for a while.

Anyway that's it for now,

Until tomorrow................................

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Ferrybridge to Altofts. 3 locks.

Bit of a short post today as it is far too hot and sunny to be sitting in here and also we are only retracing our steps of late.

You can't stop nature, this lump of polystyrene came floating past us this morning complete with growing greenery. I mean, this is a lump of polystyrene, no nutritional value whatsoever yet these plants/weeds/trees have found a home bobbing about on the navigation. Amazing!

I know,I know, I put one of these on here the other day but you have to admit they are quite something. If you stare at this one for a while it almost looks like a Praying Mantis waiting to pounce.

Through our last huge lock of the day, that stick standing on the right is D. These are all automatic on the fill cycle so once the button is pressed you are at the mercy of the lock itself.
There are four ground sluices along the length which open one after the other from front to back. This keeps you on your toes trying to stop the boat slamming into the opposite wall and then going back to do the same again on the wall you have just left. Its all good!

Okay then I am off to enjoy the sun for a while,

Until tomorrow......................

Friday, 26 June 2009

Selby to ferrybridge.

We have come back away from the river Ouse, Ubique is overpowered for a narrowboat having quite a large engine, but there is no way she could make 10 to 12 knots just to match the flow on the river, this is before you begin to make any headway. Everything is ok riding the flow but to have to go against it which you have to do to re enter the Selby canal requires thinking about.

We watched yesterday as a narrowboat tried to make this turn in a 5 knot tide. The flow had slackened off as it was very near low water, he just went sailing broadside past the entrance, and after a lot of frantic, black smoking, high revving and what looked like (was) very panicky maneuvering he managed to slam his boat into the lock wall and scrape in along the side.

The lock keeper said that wasn't too bad.

These are spring tides at the moment and in a week they will be a lot less fierce.

Back we go then.

The Selby Canal at the bottom end requires you to keep to the centre line as best you can, shallows on each bank will soon catch out the unwary. The line to follow is the clear water in this picture.
This canal is very near weeded over thanks to the lack of boat movement at the moment. The lock keeper at Selby has never seen it this quiet at this time of year. Where is everyone?

On a previous post I was glad we didn't meet one of those ships on this bend.
Going this way we were discussing what you would do if you met one right now when this one came around the corner.

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

Just before this picture I was seriously considering cutting inside of him to allow his stern the freedom to swing to the bank and not crush us.
This was the moment just after he spotted us and was a revelation as to just how manoeuvrable these things are. (A good skipper probably helps a great deal).

We passed easily.

This is the actual place I took the other picture. Note the lookout standing on the stern, the perfect place to warn the skipper of approaching craft.

I have said before that rivers bother me somewhat, here is another example of just how much the levels can change. That fendering with the trees stuck in it is a good five feet above the present level.

We are now back at Ferrybridge and will make a decision as to where we are off to next.

Until tomorrow..................................

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Ferrybridge to Selby. 3 locks 1 swingbridge.

Our overnight moorings at Ferrybridge were completely vacant when we arrived, by eight o'clock they were so busy we had to move to squeeze one last boat in.

This is very rare around these waters as we see no more than two to three boats a day. The popularity must have been that these moorings were totally secure, fenced in and gated (Accessible only with a BW key).

This then was the view from the stern. I don't really mind these BW craft as a view because they all seem to me to have been put together on that TV show Scrapheap Challenge.
Lets stick this bit here and that bit there, whack an engine outside on the back and paint it green............. job done! Oh and don't forget to hang an anchor on a ramp over the stern.

Those huge commercial boats from my last posts have to negotiate these turns on their travels, this was not the place to meet one and thankfully we didn't. Whew.

Oddments along this navigation include these chutes. They were obviously used to load some sort of craft or another from the bank, now they are fenced off with no roads or tracks leading to them. One can only wonder.

These are actually rollers to help the ropes from the horses run smoothly, we have passed quite a few wooden ones travelling here but this is the first metal one we have seen. It does look like it seized up a long time before the horses did though.

We made the transition to the river Aire with only one slight problem....... manual locks.
I must admit we entered the lock at the top without a care in the world and realized abruptly that it would have to be worked through, crews holiday over then.
The above sign was the absolute last thing we would have expected to see at the time.
We didn't bring our water skis so a wasted opportunity there then.

We are in the basin at Selby now looking at the river Ouse passing the lock at about 10 to 12 knots. I have never seen water flowing this fast before, not even at sea.
This could make a big difference to our plans.

More tomorrow.............................

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Stanley Ferry to Ferrybridge. 5 Locks.

We chugged up to Stanley Ferry yesterday to go to the boatyard to top up with diesel as we want to head towards Ripon from here.

This has now turned out to be the fifth boatyard on these canals that either does not exist, is closed to passing boats or does not sell diesel anymore.

Two and a half hours each way wasted going there then.

This problem has come about by Mr Brown slapping a tax onto red diesel that is used for propulsion purposes and leaving no tax on red diesel used for domestic purposes.

This diesel goes into the same tank aboard your boat and is issued from the same pump, you have to legally declare how much you are going to use for propulsion and how much for domestic use. (IE: charging your batteries by running the engine and not moving) ...........are you with me so far? try and relate this madness to filling up your car.

"As I left our mobile home running on the drive to charge up the battery, you owe me some tax back on the fuel" your honour

The diesel that you declare to be for domestic use is charged at a lower (untaxed) rate.

Red diesel is red for a good reason, it was untaxed diesel to be used in tractors, heating systems and boats, the red dye can be easily identified if it is used in road going vehicles and fines issued.
White diesel is taxed and is what you buy from the forecourt.

This whole piece of ridiculousness creates a mountain of paperwork for anyone who sells red diesel leading to them just not being bothered.

Therefore our current problem is:

Do we chance the run to Ripon and back on three quarters of a tank hoping we will find a boatyard still selling fuel up here? or do we give up and go back down south where we know there are yards still selling fuel.

No question really, if D has to pull her up there by rope, (or we get a horse or something) we are going.

This is Ferrybridge power station, not all that inspiring you may think, why has he put that on here you may ask?

It was for this bit, this is where the barges loaded with coal were physically lifted forty feet out of the water into that building, turned over to empty them and then replaced in the dock, now that would have been something to see.
The whole process being overlooked by that old sandstone church now surrounded by new builds.

Hows this for a Weeping Willow in the right place? Better than in any garden.
Until tomorrow..............................

Monday, 22 June 2009

Leeds to Stanley Ferry. 8 Locks.

Well we have now said goodbye to Leeds, in doing so we have also had to say goodbye to Drew and Becki.

This has proved to be one hell of a wrench and I seem to have had something in my eyes for most of the day.

Bye for now you two, see you next time.

Anyway,..... this is not quite what you would expect looking out of the kitchen/galley window in the middle of a city. There is a Jousting arena attached to the Armoury and they ride the horses all around this centre. One final picture and we were off.

It wasn't to be all that long before we were once again out in the countryside amongst the cows.

The sky here just about matched my mood at that moment I'm afraid, so when it dropped that lot on us just before we moored up for the night I must admit I had a bit of a moan.

A good nights sleep required here,

Until tomorrow.....................

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Clarence Dock, Leeds. Moved pontoons.

We had to quickly move to another pontoon this morning as soon as it was vacated. The one we were on was not quite large enough to hold us in this wind.

I think I am going to rename this place Chicago.

Still, here we are tucked in amongst all these new buildings with lots of expensive shops within a very, very short walk.
There has been a curfew imposed on Ubique not allowing us off whilst the shops are open.
Not sure where it came from, but you can't argue with a curfew can you.

There are not all that many boats here though, these are supposed to be the permanent moorings for the use of the residents only but they have been opened up as visitor moorings for the time being.

This is just one of a myriad of such buildings around here, there are three penthouse "Suites" up there on this one, each being two bedrooms and costing.....................£2000 a month.
This does fall though as you descend through the floors ending at £650 a month for a single bedroom with no balcony.

Probably going to visit the "Armoury" tomorrow which is again right next to the boat. Although it has cost many millions to build and equip there is no entrance fee allowing anyone to see and use.

Until tomorrow.................

Friday, 19 June 2009

Castleford Then Back To Leeds. Aire And Calder Navigations.

This Blog is a bit "Shippy" so apologies to all who are not that bothered by them, the thing for us was being down on the water in our little boat that is more used to chugging quietly along a canal.

When one of these things comes thundering past. It is quite something.

Just as I finished the Blog yesterday the distinct sound of a big diesel came over the boat, everyone scampered on deck to see this go by.

Ooooooooo................Look at the size of that!
It really is quite clever having that separate motor unit, for just by strapping it to the back of one of those Dumb Barges you have an instant ship.

This on the other hand is a proper ship, it is laden to the gunnel's and awash in some places. We would meet this beast again on our travels.

Having been held up at a lock for half an hour this lump came motoring through. We had to wait at a red traffic light as they didn't want any small boats meeting this on its approach.
That bridge looks seriously low but it did make it.

Here is another one so heavily loaded its gunnel's were awash. When they pass you like this they leave a huge "hole" in the water behind them and your little boat gets dragged into it, lots of tiller and throttle work required to keep on the straight and narrow.

It's behind you................

Ok.....I can see it now.

Feeling a little bit small here as this one thunders by. Seven feet is what that top number on the bow reads which is where the water level was yesterday when she passed us laden down.

Ok that's enough big boats for now, thankfully we are now back at the docks in Leeds as the weather has turned. This time it is wind again, lots and lots of wind a full gale and a bit more by the sounds of it. We have all our ropes out to the pontoon and we are still ranging around, looks like a long day.

So until next time....................

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Leeds to Castleford. 4 Locks.

We are on our way again with only one guest this time, Becki has gone home for the week and Drew wanted another cruise.

There was an absolute Monsoon here on Monday, in just over an hour enough water fell to raise the water level into the "orange Zone" on the flood boards.

These boards are colour coded Red=Do Not go on the river, Orange=Take care and Green= Ok.

Before the rain fell the water level was well below the Green zone giving you a good idea how quickly things can change as you cruise down the rivers.

Setting off from Clarence Dock where we stayed for the weekend, a great mooring in the heart of the redeveloped docks. Water and electricity at every berth, Luxury!

The locks along this stretch are all push button operated giving the crew a holiday.
Turn this, press that......Done. Simples!

They are huge though, they were built for river barges up to three or four times our length and width. Check out that chimney.

Some might still be operating as the fendering on this newish motorway bridge is very heavy indeed. We are all hoping that we will meet one this week.

Fingers crossed.

We passed this lovely old steam powered crane outside of a canal museum, the silly thing here is that the moorings are all closed off and have been made private. No access to a canal museum from the canal.... Bizarre if you ask me.

Well it is now Wednesday and we are sitting here listening to the rain on the roof watching the water level.............mmmmmm.

Until next time...............

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Leeds to Apperley. 13 Locks.

Here we go again.

The problem we are having here is that this is actually a nice piece of the canal system when the sun is shining, the water is as clear as if it had just come out of the tap, the amount of fish that you can see is unbelievable and the tree coverage makes this as good a place as any we have seen so far.

I have no doubt that there are lots of problems along here but if you avoid the bad times (ie after twelve) it is a nice cruise through.

Another characteristically deep and short lock for this part of the canal.

Any boat over about fifty eight feet long cannot get through these locks making this canal inaccessible to a lot of narrowboats.

Most normal locks are seventy feet plus, the difference here reminds me of the saying "A Camel is a Horse designed by a commitee".

Anyway, this is Drew parked on a lock beam,

and this is Becki parked on the other. Im still not sure we are training these lock slaves properly, this almost looks like fun.

The rare occasion when they are not ruining the picture by pointing to their bums. (sic).

We are now back at Leeds central after a full load of fuel has been taken aboard and the tanks have been considerably lightened.

Leeds is just so big, we might be around here for a while.........................