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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Starting out again

Well we had intended to set off earlier in April but it just didn't work out, just too many things to do & people to see. As the start of May came & we were still tied up desperation was setting in. We rushed around putting things back into store, bringing other things out and generally trying to get away......but we still had a problem with our charging system. Around mid-March Debdale got around to making the fitting for the large alternator, not bad since they were told it needed doing at the end of September! The problem was that when I switched the engine off the warning light for the domestic circuit came on, and stayed on until either a small wire was taken off the alternator or the Adverc was unplugged.

There was much head scratching at the Marina, and also by Adverc. Mike & Steve tried several things, then they thought they had found the problem (some fancy stuff about it now being a self exciting alternator) and proposed something else, then at last Steve thought long and hard about it and on Thursday afternoon he came to Lily & sorted her out!!! 

Not wishing to defer our departure longer we set off at 4.15pm and cruised to just before Kibworth Top Lock for our first night of the year's cruise. The next day we pootled down to above Newton Top Lock and wandered over to the garden centre, or more particularly to the coffee shop!! The rest of the day gave us sun, strong wind, heavy rain, thunder and hail, a perfect Spring day! We cruised to Kilby Bridge where we arrived just before 4 other boats arrived, surprisingly good timing for us. We had only met a few boats during the day.

Sunday 5th. Now Carol enjoys her fix of coffee (preferably Costa) but I need my fix of the Sunday Times, so before we set off on this glorious day I walked into Wigston to get my paper........and coincidentally a takeaway Costa. 
Any idea why they have put coir rolls in front of piling?

We wanted to top up before the trip through Leicester and waited while Pete on Sunbeam finished, and said he'd wait for us at the lock which lead to a lovely day of cruising through to Kings Lock. We crossed with a few boats on the way, with one couple a bit too close for comfort as they rushed from Bush's lock! As we were working through Blue Bank a charming lady appeared and asked if we had any spare Stanley knife blades. She had rope round her prop and her blade was blunt. Pete & I said we'd sort it for her........she was 81 and working through single handed!! A lovely lady Anne on Double-U gives hope to us all and Pete dived down her weed hatch on her Sea Otter, but found my pruning saw (dirt cheap from Wilkinsons) was best. Soon he was pulling out rope, which being navy nylon looked very much like the others on her boat and sure enough it was one of her over long bow ropes that had been plucked off her front deck by an overhanging branch! 

Despite her problem she was more concerned about the boat that had gone through the previous locks with her and insisted I gave them her phone number. We found them near to Kings Lock with the shear pin on the drive of their outboard gone, no spare and no idea where it was!

We moored top side of Kings as I wanted to paint the mile post we had bought in remembrance of Carol's mum. It was a good job we did, we normally moor below the lock but there were already 3 boats filling the spaces and over night there were 6 boats moored there. In all the years we have boated & walked there we have never seen as many there. Managed our first BBQ.

Monday 6th and a cracking day. We set off with Sunbeam fairly late, all the other boats had gone before we left. A volunteer lock keeper helped us through Kings and we had a lovely trip to Leicester, saying farewell to Pete & Sunbeam as we tied up at Mill Lane bridge to buy a few fresh salad items. We were surprised that the Sainsburys that used to there is no more, so it was over to Tesco before we moved to Castle Gardens for a refreshment break. Coffee over on the lovely day we crossed quite a few boats on our way to Birstall where Carol counted 43 people watching us through.......but they had come to watch a Duck Race, not us. Restricted moorings below the lock as CRT are in the process of major towpath wall reconstruction, but we got a mooring enabling our daughter to collect us & take us for a superb BBQ at their home.

Tuesday 7th and another scorching day, but the forecast for the rest of the week is poor. Sally joined us for a gentle cruise to Loughborough. We stopped alongside Beryl, rboa secretary for coffee & to meet her new dog, Lister. A lovely dog from a rescue home after she lost Scumble, we enjoyed looking at her vast garden and catching up on news. 
Beryl & Lister at Mountsorrel

Away to Loughborough we prepared for John & Wendy Evans to join us for tea and home made goodies......Carol even does gluten free suitable for coeliacs. We stopped just before Chain Bridge and had another good chat.

Wednesday 8th & Carol was a bit crook from too much fun, her back objecting, so we spent the day in Loughborough, catching the latest Tom Cruise film (we wouldn't bother to watch it again) and giving her a rest, I washed the port side of Lily, letting the rain wash it off. On Thursday we set off after using the facilities but the weather had turned, getting cool, with strong squally winds and rain showers. I noticed one of my fingers had gone white with cold but we carried on till we were above Derwent Mouth Lock where we moored, alongside the sewage works but the wind was in the right direction! I wasn't feeling too good and got worse as the evening went on, got a good temperature over night, so we stayed put on Friday & I spent most of the day in bed trying to get warm, something that has never happened before. The weather was awful too! The first week's cruise was just 43 miles and 42 locks.
What an incredible year for dandelions

Saturday 11th and nearly fit again. I was not 100% and treated locks with care and the foul weather didn't help. We had strong winds, heavy showers including hail, so it was far from ideal cruising. We moved slowly on, but stopped to watch qualifying for the Spanish GP. This over we delayed our departure till after the downpour, only to get caught by several more. At Swarkestone the boat Club was about to race its "yachts" as we left the lock.
Swarkestone yacht race using polystyrene chip trays
A lovely range of ages taking part.

Through more squalls we carried on to the Radley Boat Stop where I shuffled a boat  along to let Lily in. We then ate in the restaurant which is not Cordon Bleu but just look at the platter I had as a mixed grill, and a proper one including kidney & liver. There was no way I could manage it all so I reckon we have meat enough for the two of us tomorrow!
A small repast that beat me!

I didn't mention previously that for the past winter I fitted double glazing to all windows in Lily. Last year I made them for the portholes and the Houdini hatch and they worked wonderfully, so last Autumn I bought a piece of 4mm polycarbonate plastic and had fun trimming it to shape. Having succeeded & found it fitted well,I then bought another 3 pieces and once trimmed to shape I attached a draught proofing strip to the plastic, put them into place & sealed round them with decorators caulk, which I used as it doesn't set solid. Come Spring by going round the panes with a palette knife and scooping out the caulk I was able to return Lily to having opening windows after having had a condensation free, drip free Winter. The polycarbonate is not cheap at about £50 a window but it made for a much more comfortable boat.

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