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Saturday, 21 May 2011

2011 cruise start, will we make it to Liverpool?

Start of our 2011 cruise.

It seems very late in year to be setting off, but I see it was May 11th last year when we unhooked from the mains. Both years departures were delayed by me acting as a Presiding Officer for the elections & then doing the counts. I enjoy it & it brings in a bit of cash.

We couldn’t have set off much earlier though as we went to Orlando with our eldest daughter & family for 2 weeks over Easter. We all returned shattered & sun burnt but happy having had a great time and Sam, age nearly 17, managed over 100 major rides during our stay! Best bit for Carol & I was going to Kennedy Space Centre & being able to see the Shuttle on its launch pad.

Over the winter, Lily took on a different look as I built a “porch” to cover our semi-trad stern. Made of tantalised timber in a readily dismantled form, I made a cover from hooding material. It worked a treat, keeping the boat much warmer, providing useful additional storage space & enabled us to duck out of the rain & snow whilst unlocking the boat. One problem though is that I made it too tall to pass under the footbridge on the trip to Foxton so we stayed put. It is now in storage until next winter.

So the 2011 cruise, and it’s off to Liverpool basically and then hopefully over the Hebden Bridge on the Rochdale before heading south. When you see how far we made in the first week you may think I’m being ambitious.

Monday 9th May and we set off from Debdale full of fuel, water & food & empty of other things at 2.30pm in bright warm sun, with Carol showing off her tan in a strappy top & shorts. 10 minutes later it’s hammering down with hail! We then had heavy showers, sun & thunder until we tied up at Wistow. First time for a long time there were no long term moorers there, perhaps BW are enforcing better? Countryside is lovely, and why are there so many buttercups in fields now? Some of them were nearly as yellow as fields of rape. Hawthorn hedges in flower & towpath flowers complete a lovely scene.
Tuesday 10th and after a lovely quiet night we walked over to the Garden Centre to get Carol her coffee fix, before setting off on the bright, breezy & coolish day, though by 3 it was mostly overcast if warmer. We worked steadily through the day, using Kilby’s facilities as we passed. Passed several boats on way to Foxton, including one bloke at Bottom Half Mile Lock with his 45ft nb working single handed & opening both gates each time he went through them, I’m glad we weren’t behind him, he’d probably refuse to share a lock as his boat is too wide!! We finished below Kings lock.

Wednesday 11th and just as we were setting off John & Nev in Waimatu passed so we shared locks & Sainsburys with them. Nice couple & good to work with people who know what to do. Saw little bit of Pennywort above Soar Lane bridge & more near Birstall, but before I got there it was down the hatch to remove fishing line & a heavy duty polythene sheet. Pleasant surprise how warm water was at Belgrave lock and why, when the pound between Lime Kiln & Belgrave has such foul water should it have such a large population of herons? We stopped for the night at Birstall & prepared for our Orlando trippers to dine with us.

Thursday 12th and whilst waiting for our visitors the night before a colleague from Leics IWA hailed me & as we chatted he reminded me that today the branch has its Treasure Hunt in Barrow, so to Barrow we go. It was a bright but cool start but we made good progress and stopped alongside Beryl at Mountsorrel to look over her garden have coffee & a good chat. As we entered Barrow I wanted to tip the Elsan but couldn’t get onto the mooring as 2 boat were breasted up there & drinking a beer, & BW have allowed Barrow Boating to let out moorings on the other part of the landing. Cause for a fairly strong letter to BW!

Branch Treasure Hunt was very good with about 50 interesting questions to be answered during an amble of about ¾ mile. Enjoyable chats in The Riverside over pleasant beers, & we came 2nd!

Friday 13th and Happy Birthday Clare. Off to Loughborough to shop for guests tonight & Saturday & Sunday!! We arrived at Zouch before the breezy & cool day turned wet. Carol’s sister & husband came for a lovely supper & to exchange holiday tales, they had just been to the Orkneys & had seen a pod of Orcas just a few yards away from the cliff they were sitting on! We went all the way to New Zealand to see whales last year.....

Saturday 14th and the weather continues its downward path. The wind is strong & very gusty in places, overturning some of Carol’s plant pots, and we had some squally showers. Cruised on to Sawley cut for my cousin & friend to join us for a very tasty 3 bird roast, courtesy of Aldi.

Sunday 15th wind a bit lower, but quite a lot wetter. I’m a bit concerned at how long it is taking to recharge our batteries, which were fitting in November. They showed only 40% charge this morning, but during our cruise to Willington, taking 6 hours, they only showed 84%. I’ll speak to Debdale tomorrow. Shared some of the locks with Dacha, and it was a good job as we couldn’t close one of Shardlow Lock bottom gates. We worked together with poles & with people of other boats that arrived and eventually shifted whatever it was. We made reasonably good progress but it was cold, Carol wore a winter coat & gloves, I wore a woolly hat and fleece. Doesn’t 7 days make a difference!

Didn’t see a great number of boats moving, but then again on such a day would you go to the marina for a day trip? We entertained an old friend to supper, & without her we probably would not be boating as it was with her on her father’s Broads Cruiser that we first experience leisure boating. Thanks Jenny.

So, one week gone and what have we achieved. My sniffle changed to a few sneezes & now is a chesty cough. I’ve been sleeping in the lounge the last 3 nights so both Carol & I get some sleep. I’ll be doing the same again tonight. We’ve cruised 54 miles & worked through 46 locks & entertained on 4 occasions, with another couple coming to see us on Tuesday!

Sorry about the lack of photos, need to get back into it again.

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