Canal Cruising 2019
An eBook and website by Cyril J Wood
The title photograph shows sunset at Agden on the Bridgewater Canal
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Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2019 Part 1
Over the 2019 Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of May it is Lymm Cruising Club's (LCC) turn to host the annual Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs (FBCC) Boat Rally. Consequently, our boating year started on the 4th January with a Rally Committee Meeting to see where the organisation of the rally was up to. I am not actively involved but Ange is Rally HQ Officer and is also organising the purchasing and printing of the cloth bags required for the "goody bags" given to attendees at the rally.
LCC Members attending the FBCC Rally Meeting
Our friend Paul Savage is the Mooring Officer for the rally and is in charge of allocating the moorings plus anything else appertaining to moorings. The meeting was well attended with many members giving up their time to come to LCC's clubhouse on a dark and dismal January evening. However, it was good to have a catch-up with our boating friends, many of which we had not seen for a couple of months, and we are all looking forward to the next meeting we can attend which will most probably be the Club's AGM in February.
Eric Livesey was the Maintenance Supervisor for the Bridgewater Canal Company and a long-standing employee who sadly passed away in 2015. Eric was a friend of LCC and did many favours for the Club. Alan Savage and his son Phil made a new bench to replace the vandalised one opposite the water point at Agden dedicated to his memory. The new, beautiful steel bench was put in place by Bridgewater Canal Company's contractors supervised by Eric's son (also called Eric) on the 21st January 2019. Below are a few photographs taken by Lin Savage of the bench under construction and being installed.
Eric's bench under construction...
...unloading the bench from the van...
...digging the foundations...
...putting the bench in place...
...the bench concreted in place...
...and the completed installation
(All photographs - Lin Savage)
The brass dedication plaque attached to the new bench
Later on in the week I had a photograph of sunset over Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks used as a weather photograph on the Granada Reports Weather Forecast. A screenshot of the Weather Forecast and the original photograph are included below for your appreciation.
A screenshot of the Weather Forecast showing my photograph of Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks at sunset...
...and the original un-cropped photograph
Late in 2018 Ange and I were asked if we would consider being nominated for Lymm CC's Committee. We both agreed and at the Club's AGM on Tuesday the 5th February 2019 I was voted back onto the Committee as Magazine and Website Editor. Ange was also voted onto the Committee as Quartermaster. No more watching Coronation Street with a cup of coffee and chocolate biscuits for us on Committee meeting nights! After the meeting it was gratifying to receive so many congratulations and positive comments. In the week following the AGM we had a further two trips up to Lymm. The first was on the evening of Friday the 8th February when it was a FBCC Rally Meeting after which we were given some more positive comments regarding the AGM. The first Committee Meeting after the AGM was on Monday the 11th February. Ange was away in Carnforth and had already made her apologies for not being able to attend so I went up to our mooring with Ruby straight after work on the Monday afternoon. I had booked a day's holiday for the Tuesday and planned to cruise the boat down to Lymm, stay there overnight after the meeting and return the following day. Monday afternoon was beautiful. I could actually feel heat from the sun whilst we cruised down to Lymm.
Looking down the Agden moorings from Agden Bridge
Grantham's Bridge, Oughtrington on a sunny, winter's morning
As I reversed into the arm off the canal, outside the Clubhouse, Chairman Keith Moore was just getting into his car and shouted across to me... "Fancy a trip out did you? The meeting's not until next week!" He must have seen the look of disdain on my face and continued... "Only joking... see you later!" After tea I headed into the Clubhouse and chatted with other Committee members until Keith started the meeting. It was a good (if not long) meeting when we were officially told our Committee positions and also dealt with some of the many pressing matters within the Club. When the meeting concluded I returned to the boat, gave Ruby a walk around the Club Yard before falling into bed after quite a busy day. Next morning we had a lie-in and after breakfast we headed back to Agden. I did a few jobs before having a cuppa with our new Mooring Officer Alan Savage, after which we packed our things in the car and headed for home after our first cruise down the canal of the year and the first Committee meeting of the 2019 boating year. Most satisfactory!
Our third visit to Lymm in a week was to the work party at our moorings on the Saturday morning. Our boat was one of the boats to be moved... admittedly only a boat's length but it was forty five feet closer to the car park. After the work party was completed we had lunch and then cruised down to Lymm by boat accompanied by Paul and Wendy on Adreva.
The boat moving work party at Agden in progress
Paul passing over Agden Underbridge
Ange wanted to go through her Quartermaster's Cupboard and do a stock take of its contents, which she had planned to do the following morning. In the meantime, we moored in the slipway and later on, after Paul and Wendy had returned to Agden, we went out for tea with Alan and Lin Savage to the Wheatsheaf near the Agden moorings. The meal was very good as was the company! Next morning we had a bit of a lie-in and after breakfast Ange went into the Clubhouse to make a start on her cupboard. Before long she was joined by other Committee Members including the Chairman and the Treasurer preparing for receiving mooring and Club fees from the members that afternoon. Whilst Ange continued with her tasks Ruby and I took the boat back to Agden and returned for Ange by car a little later on before heading for home.
I had asked the Committee Members to let me have their reports for the magazine by the 20th. Most of the reports did reach me by then but there were a couple who took things up to the wire (you know who you are). I had kept most of my templates for the magazine from when I was editor previously. Even so, I was busy for the next few days performing the juggling act (more like a Rubik's Cube puzzle) of making the most of the available space. One concern was the front cover but when Chairman Keith Moore sent me some photographs of the Clubhouse and Yard taken by Norman Pimlot from a drone I just couldn't resist using one of them for the front cover. I had to perform some "gardening" in Photoshop to remove an unfortunately placed van and add height to the sky but I was pleased with the end result which is included below.
The original drone photograph before editing...
(Photograph - Norman Pimlot)
...and as used for the front cover of the Slipway magazine
Needless to say, I was relieved when the printer (InPrint - Wallasey) e-mailed me to inform me that the printed copies of the magazine were ready for collection! With the magazine now "put to bed" I can now concentrate on up-dating the Club's website - https://lymm-cc.co.uk.
Later on that week I was thinking that I hadn't had many weather photographs shown on the Granada Reports Weather Forecast. As if by magic... the weather forecaster was comparing this year's weather with last year's and one of the photographs they used to illustrate the weather this time last year was my Carlett Park in the Snow photograph. I have included a screenshot of the weather forecast and the original photograph as well.
My Carlett Park weather photograph from 2018...
...and the original un-cropped photograph
The first weekend in March Ange had arranged to go with Pail and Wendy accompanied by Shannon and Paul and Wendy's niece and nephew to Reaseheath College for the Lambing Experience Day. We arrived at Agden mid-morning and whilst the others went to Reaseheath I decided to stay at Agden and make a start on my "To Do" list. Alan and Phil Savage were doing a welding job on Paul's boat so I started off by fitting new window catch screws to the lounge windows. I had obtained the replacement screws from Caldwell's Windows and had sufficient to replace all the loose screws. Having previously tried to replace some of the screws I had difficulty obtaining the same amount of friction on the catches as when they were new. This time I experimented by adding thin brass washers to the assembly and when satisfied, I ran cyanoacrylate adhesive (Superglue) into the threads to ensure that they retained the friction setting and didn't come unscrewed.
The replacement window catch screws and brass washers for the Caldwell's windows
This took me up to lunchtime and after I had my lunch with Alan and Phil I brought the boat up to the water point and started to fill the boat's fresh water tank. Once the water had been running for a few minutes I closed all the taps that I had left open and turned the water pump on. Once the system pressurised I removed the airlocks from the system then checked all the pipe work for leaks. Satisfied that everything was in order I continued filling the water tank which took well over half an hour then returned the boat back to its mooring. When the others returned we all had a cuppa whilst they shared tails of breach births, placentas, etc (lovely). before Paul and Wendy left and we had our tea. Afterwards we watched a film before going to bed in a nice, warm, cosy boat. The next morning was wet, drizzly and miserable and after a lie-in we had breakfast, cleaned and tidied the boat before setting off for home after an enjoyable and fulfilling weekend.
Our next trip to Lymm was the following Tuesday the 5th March for the monthly Club meeting. I had lost my voice and did not anticipate returning to work for the rest of the week. This allowed me to take the boat down to Lymm and asked the Harbourmaster if it would be in order to leave the boat there until the weekend. With permission granted, I moored the boat in the arm outside the Clubhouse. It was the first meeting that Ange had her Quartermaster's Table out which was filled with all kinds of goodies for sale ranging from paint rollers to clothing with the Club logo on them.
Ange and her Quartermaster's Stall at the Lymm CC Monthly Meeting
She had worked hard ordering and buying items and her hard work paid off as the sales were better than expected and she received many positive comments from Club and Committee members alike. That weekend there was another work party but this time it was at the Clubhouse clearing, cleaning and preparing the Clubhouse Yard for the Opening Cruise. We arrived at the boat Friday afternoon and took the boat down to Lymm so that we were ready for the work party.
Work party at Lymm CC's Clubhouse Yard...
...and the skip filled to capacity
I have never seen so many people at a work party. It was attended by forty one members including two junior members who also got stuck-in. There was a really good atmosphere with plenty of banter whilst throwing out enough rubbish to completely fill a large skip. Bacon butties were laid on at lunchtime and even though the work party had officially finished many members carried on working throughout the afternoon. There was also an FBCC Rally Meeting in the afternoon that was also well attended. We had brought the slow cooker with us from home which had been merrily bubbling away all day. The resulting stew we had for tea and it was most enjoyable. We relaxed for the rest of the evening watching TV and had an early night. After a lie-in the next morning we cleaned and tidied the boat before returning it to its mooring at Agden and headed for home after a tiring but rewarding weekend.
The following weekend was the first social event of the Lymm CC cruising year. We decided not to take the boat down to Lymm due to high winds and when we arrived at Agden the water level was the highest that I had ever seen it.
High water at Agden in a hailstorm
This was most probably due to the high rainfall that we had experienced plus Barton Swing Aqueduct being closed and the excess water not being run-off. After a chilled-out afternoon we drove down to the Lymm CC Clubhouse and changed into our fancy dress outfits. Ange was dressed as a hippy and I went as Mr Spock from Star trek.
Ange dressed as a hippy...
...and yours truly as Mister Spock
We also took part in Mister and Misses. The evening was well supported and afterwards we returned to the boat after a most enjoyable evening. After a lie-in and breakfast we dodged the hail stones to the car park and left for home.
The start of Lymm CC's Cruising Season was drawing near and on the last weekend in March I spent a weekend cleaning and polishing the boat's paintwork. Ange had a busy weekend ahead with work and family commitments so Ruby and I headed up straight after I finished work on the Friday. Fortunately, the weather forecast was good and I looked forard to completing the jobs that I had set mayself. After saying hello and sharing a cup of coffee with Alan Savage I started off my cleaning regime by power-washing the boat's cabin sides with the Kärcher and leathered it off which took me nicely up to tea time. Next morning, after breakfast I T-Cutted the port-side and polished it with two applications of Autoglym Resin Polish with Carnauba wax. After lunch I turned the boat around and repeated the process on the starboard side. I only did the cabin sides and didn't bother with the gunwales as this would be easier to accomplish (without bending down) when the boat comes out of the water for its biannual hull cleaning and blacking scheduled for the beginning of May.
A "selfie" of you know who putting the finishing touches to the shiny paintwork...
...and the finished article
By tea-time I was tired and decided to call it a day. The following morning... Sunday, after putting the cleaning equipment away and tidying up, I took the boat down to Lymm to empty the toilet and top-up the water tank. It was a beautiful Spring morning with the sun shining on the blossom that was starting to bloom on the trees lining the canal. The Clubhouse Yard was looking spick and span ready for the following weekend's Opening Cruise. After completing my tasks and chatting to fellow Club members I retraced my steps (or should it be wake) back to Agden where I moored at the car park, loaded up the car and headed for home after returning the boat to its mooring after a most productive few days (and it didn't rain).
Looking back towards Lymm whilst approaching Agden on a beautiful spring morning
The following Tuesday was the Monthly Lymm CC Meeting. We came up early in order to move the boat down to the arm outside the Clubhouse (with the Harbourmaster's permission) in preparation for the next weekend which was to be a busy one... we were due to attend an FBCC Rally Meeting on Friday evening, Saturday evening was the Opening Cruise Social followed, on Sunday, by the Opening Cruise with a Lymm CC Committee Meeting on the Monday... phew! I moored the boat alongside Brian Burns' boat so that it would not be in the way of the boat on the trolley being slipped back in the water or anyone wanting to use the water point or pump-out facilities. We arrived at Lymm on Friday evening in good time for the FBCC Rally meeting and afterwards fell into bed... it was a good move to leave the boat at Lymm! Saturday promised to be a sunny day and I managed to finish a couple of jobs. The Opening Cruise Social was well attended and we were treated to good food, good company and good entertainment... what more could you ask for?
Well attended Opening Cruise Social
Sunday dawned a little overcast but at least it was dry. Ange was serving sherries to the members as they arrived at the Clubhouse and I was on photographic duties. A couple of the guests were late which delayed the proceedings but before long the boats were following the Commodore in a procession to Grappenhall. We were one of the last boats to leave but, after a slow cruise we moored just after the A55 road bridge next to our friends Wendy and Paul on Adreva. They had dressed their boat with bunting, pennants, etc. and most definitely are in with a good chance to win the Roy Cocken Shield awarded to the Best Turned Out Boat on the Opening Cruise.
Lymm CC Committee Members and Dignitaries attending the Opening Cruise
Your truly on photographic duty
(Photograph - Stephen Fahey)
Adreva decorated for the Lymm CC Opening Cruise
Flying the flag... Lymm Cruising Club's burgee
After lunch we set off back to Lymm, turning around at Grappenhall Turn. We had a leisurely cruise back to the Clubhouse but when we came to moor there whilst manoeuvring the boat's gearbox would not go into neutral or forward gear. I suspected that the gearbox control cable had snapped... a suspicion that was confirmed when, after performing a half-pirouette, we eventually managed to moor. Paul came to the rescue with a replacement cable which, after fitting, worked well but was in need of adjustment as only tick-over was available in reverse but at least we had forward motion... a job for another day I think!
A few days later I heard of the death of Roy Wilcox. Roy had been a canal cruising friend since 1985 when I first came onto the Bridgewater Canal. He was a member of Runcorn's BMBC where he was Honorary Vice-President and was instrumental in the formation of the Canalwatch scheme, protecting the interests of canal users on the Bridgewater Canal. His and my children spent many happy hours together and shared many canal adventures. In 1994 he loaned Ange and I their narrowboat Painted Lady for a long weekend cruise at a time when I didn't have a boat. I will always be grateful to him and Pat for as this was when Ange caught the canal cruising bug. Roy had been ill for a while and died peacefully at home surrounded by his wife Pat and his family. His funeral is scheduled for the week after Easter. I will miss Roy's dry sense of humour and the friendly banter that we shared. Rest in peace Roy... I will miss you.
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Chapter 2 - Easter Cruise 2019
Two weeks later it was time for our Easter Cruise. This year we decided to join Lymm CC on their Easter Cruise to Anderton and back with a stop-over at Stockton Heath on the return journey. We arrived at Agden on the very warm and sunny Thursday before Good Friday and the first job was to adjust the new gear selector cable. After playing around with the adjustment I came to the conclusion that the only way around the problem was to shorten the threaded portion of the cable at the gearbox end. I left the locking screw in place and cut about one centimetre off the thread at the gearbox end. After the cutting was completed I unscrewed the locking nut to ensure that the thread had nor been damaged by the hacksaw. When put back into position and adjusted appropriately everything worked well. Last year we invited Ange's cousin Andy and his husband Lee to join us for the weekend. As a thank you they sent us a framed picture of a squirrel embroidered with beads which I hung in the aft cabin. Two jobs well done I think!
Embroidered squirrel picture presented by Andy and Lee
Next I brought the boat up to the Water point and we loaded our stuff on board then returned to our mooring ready to set off the next day... Good Friday. In the meantime, Wendy and Paul arrived and we had a quick catch-up before tidying our things away, had tea and chilled out for the rest of the evening before going to bed ready for an early start the next morning. Good Friday promised to be a stunning day with wall to wall sunshine and high temperatures. It lived up to its promise and I was glad that I packed my shorts.
Ruby and yours truly cruising in brilliant sunshine
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
We cruised in the brilliant sunshine to Stockton Heath where we stopped for lunch and a few essentials from the shops. It was Paul's birthday and we had been invited to join him and his family for a meal at the Ring-O-Bells at Daresbury so we cruised down to Moore where we were being picked up later on. In the meantime the cameras came out to play to take advantage of the sunshine. One photograph that I am particularly proud of was taken just after Walton when Ange was steering. I took a photograph from the side doors just after we had passed through Thomason's Bridge half-way between Walton and Moore. The resulting image showed half of the bridge arch and its reflection in the boat's paintwork in near perfect symmetry. More good luck than good management!
Almost symmetrical reflection of Thomason's Bridge
We carried on to Moore and tied-up just past the Tramp's Memorial ready for our lift to collect us later on. After a chill-out, wash and change of clothes we walked down to the Post Office whilst Ruby looked after the boat for us. I had taken my baby Leica C-Lux with me and took a photograph of a building that will be familiar to many Bridgewater Canal boaters. The building that I refer to is the lean-to on the side of the terraced houses opposite the canal that is constructed from planks of timber and a sideways door.
The lean-to opposite the canal at Moore
Our lift... Paul's daughter Natalie collected us on time. I had not visited the Ring-O-Bells at Daresbury since 1989 when I went there with a girlfriend. This time, the company was much better and we had a beautiful as well.
Paul's birthday meal
Birthday Boy opening his presents
We returned to our boats a couple of hours later complete with full stomachs after a most enjoyable meal in pleasant surroundings and good company... Happy Birthday Paul! The next morning was just as sunny and hot as the previous one and after breakfast we headed on towards Preston Brook Tunnel.
The wooded cutting at Preston Brook Tunnel
We were early for the tunnel passage so we had a cuppa in the beautiful wooded cutting whilst we waited. We were the first boats to enter the tunnel and passed through in a leisurely twelve and a half minutes. After negotiating Dutton Stop Lock we cruised along the Vale Royal Valley section of the Trent and Mersey Canal in the brilliant sunshine.
Bridge 211 - Dutton Horse Bridge on the Trent and Mersey Canal
After passing through Saltersford and Barnton Tunnels it was not far to Anderton where we found a mooring opposite the Stanley Arms. After mooring Paul and I visited the Anderton Lift Visitor Centre before returning to our boats and chilling out for the remainder of the afternoon. After tea we socialised with our fellow Club members and it was well after dark when we returned to our boats ready for bed.
Easter Bonnet Competition in full swing
The Easter Bonnet Parade was scheduled for ten-o-clock Sunday morning and after Ange put the finishing touches to her bonnet we made our way down the moorings to where everyone was congregating. I was quite surprised to actually win a prize in the men's category. With the competition over it was time to turn around and retrace our steps. It promised to be a slow trip back to the Bridgewater Canal with so many boats cruising in the same direction.
The queue of boats waiting for Saltersford Tunnel
We went straight into Barnton Tunnel but there was quite a queue of boats waiting for passage through the timed Saltersford Tunnel. Once in the tunnel we were behind Jo Clarke steering Mullymush and when Jo was dive-bombed by a trio of bats for which the tunnel is renowned the screams coming from her were drowned only by the laughter coming from your truly and Paul who was following me. I tried to photograph the bats but the time-lag inherent in digital cameras meant that by the time the shutter fired the bats had ducked down and were not visible.
Interior of Saltersford Tunnel
Once we had recovered from the passage through Saltersford Tunnel we had a leisurely cruise to Dutton Stop Lock passing through woodland glades carpeted with bluebells. As to be expected, there was a queue here as well. Whilst we waited our turn to pass through the stop lock a wide-beam boat exited from Preston Brook Tunnel and managed to squeeze past the line of waiting craft. It was nine foot beam and only just fitted through the top gates of the stop lock. I can honestly say that this was the first time I had seen a boat of this width passing along this stretch of the canal.
Woodland glade carpeted with bluebells
A wide-beam cruiser squeezing through Dutton Stop Lock top gates
We missed this passage of Preston Brook Tunnel so took the opportunity to have a cuppa and a spot of lunch whilst we waited for the next passage. Once through the tunnel we were back on the Bridgewater Canal and before long we were mooring up at Stockton Heath. We had visitors at lunchtime in the shape of Angie's son Michael, his daughter Shannon, girlfriend Aimee and her daughter Maisy. They enjoyed their visit and left us in peace later to enjoy the remainder of the day.
Adreva and Turbulence passing through Thelwall Cutting
We set off for Lymm after a lie-in the next morning and before long encountered one of our members Bill Avery whose boat Turbulence had broken down. Paul and I had a look at it and offered to tow Bill and his boat back to Agden. Accordingly, the boat was breasted-up to Paul's boat and I went ahead to warn on-coming craft of the two boats following me. Once back at Agden, Bill's boat was put on its mooring and we returned to our own moorings and prepared to go home after a brilliant Easter weekend that was one of the best Easters for weather that I can remember.
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Chapter 3 - Canalmanac 2019 Part 2 (in preparation)
The week after Easter I had the sad experience of attending the previously mentioned Roy Wilcox's funeral. The canal cruising community was well represented with members from Runcorn's BMBC, Worsley CC, Sale CC and I was one of three members from Lymm CC attending the service at Landican Crematorium.
Roy Wilcox in happier times
That weekend after was a complete contrast to the weather we had experience over the Easter Cruise weekend. It was wet and windy. On the Saturday afternoon we made a trip to Ikea in Warrington to have a look at the pull-out beds that we considered replacing our boat's current double bed with. After inspecting the bed in the flesh as it where we thought that it would be a viable alternative but we would have to make a few alterations to the boat. We left Ikea and went to spend the rest of the weekend on the boat. Once there we looked again at where the proposed new bed would go but decided not to pursue this avenue but planned to replace the mattresses on our current bed instead. On the Sunday morning the rain had stopped and after a lie-in we drove down to the Lymm CC Clubhouse for the FBCC Rally Meeting. Alan Savage's boat was on the slipway where he and his family were busy painting the hull having previously jet-washed it and sanded down the hull. It is our turn next on the slipway and would be returning next Saturday ready for a week's work doing the same.
Alan Savage's boat Mikalind on the slipway at Lymm
We arrived at our mooring the following Friday ready to cruise down to Lymm the next morning. Ange drove down and before long I was manoeuvring the boat onto the trolley where Phil Savage was ready with the tractor to pull the boat out. Once safely on the slipway, the power washer was employed to clean the hull.
Squirrel on the slipway
A scruffy yours truly power washing...
(Photograph Paul Savage)
...and a little later on Ange taking a turn
Whilst Paul and I were cleaning Phil and his dad Alan started to remove our old tiller bearing and replace it with a new one. They removed the tiller and rudder assembly then ground off, fabricated and replaced the lower rudder bearing cup before installing it complete with two two pence pieces as packing washers.
Old tiller bearing removed and the new one ready for installation
New rudder cup installed complete with two pence packing pieces
The weather was warm and sunny and once the hull had dried off so Paul's wife Wendy and I started to apply the first coat of bitumen whilst Ange helped Paul measure out for the up-coming FBCC Rally moorings. By mid-afternoon the rudder and tiller work was completed and the first coat of bitumen was applied. The weather changed on Sunday with intermittent showers but even so the second and third coats were on by Monday which left a good three days for it to cure. Ange touched-up the green gloss paint on the gunwales and fell over in the slipway, scraping her arm badly and banging her head on the rudder. I helped her up and she appeared shaken but seemed okay. It later transpired that she had broken a rib in her fall. Tuesday morning we finished the touching-up then drove to DV Foam Ltd. in Middlewich (adjacent to Wright's Bridge No 169) to order new mattress foam for the convertible double bed in the lounge. Ange asked the owner to cut a piece of five inch foam which she tried out successfully. We ordered our new foam and also some for Paul and Wendy's boat. The foam was to be delivered to Lymm CC the next day. We left Middlewich and headed for Venetian Marine where I had promised Ange lunch in their café.
Wright's Bridge (169) at Middlewich
Venetian Marine at Cholmondeston
The Shroppie's Middlewich Branch at Cholmondeston
We also visited the boat chandlery and Narrowboat Glass who are located there. We had seen photographs of their stained glass narrowboat windows on Facebook and were most impressed with the designs they produced. There was one pattern that Ange particularly liked and we plan to order a set of panes for the front doors on our boat in the near future.
Stained glass window from Narrowboat Glass
We returned to Lymm and after tea we attended the Monthly Club Meeting which was well attended. With her Quartermaster's hat on Ange did a good trade in personalised clothing as well as selling other items from her table. After the meeting we returned home as Ange had to be in work the following day but as I had the rest of the week off work returned the next day to continue with glossing the gunwales and a few other jobs I had planned. The weather took a turn for the worst and it was definitely rain stopped play. Thursday turned out the same but I did a few jobs inside the boat ready for the boat to be relaunched the next day when the weather forecast promised better weather.
Mission accomplished and ready for re-launching...
...and back in the water
Typically, when the painting is completed the sun comes out in Lymm
The weather forecast was correct... Friday turned out to be a sunny, hot day but there were a couple of showers but they didn't last very long. I finished T-Cutting and polishing the gunwales and late afternoon Phil and Alan Savage arrived to re-launch Squirrel. Prior to the re-launching I put Ruby in the car just in case the vibration and sudden movement frightened her. Before long the tractor was hitched-up to the trolley, the securing chains removed from the trolley and after a couple of minutes we were floating once more. Once the trolley was drawn back up the slipway I moored the boat and let Ruby out of the car. She went straight to the boat, relieved that she didn't have to be lifted on board again. After tea there was an FBCC Rally Meeting and as Ange was not well after her fall on the slipway I deputised for her. Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm which was just as well as work parties were scheduled for the morning.
Work party "selfie"
Partially completed decking on the floating bridge
I started off helping with the flooring of the narrowboat hull that was to be the floating bridge ferrying visitors to the FBCC Rally from the towpath side of the canal to the Clubhouse side of the canal. next I helped with the refurbishing of one of the mooring jetties down the Lymm moorings. We carried the new part of the jetty down the moorings whilst Phil used his dinghy to transport the welding equipment and tools. I took photographs of the new section being carried and ended up laughing at my fellow members as it was a "to me... to you" situation as the new section of jetty was manoeuvred into position.
Moving the new section of the jetty into position
Phil welding the new section of the jetty...
...and the completed new section of jetty
With the work parties completed it was time for lunch then loading up the car and heading for home to look after Ange. I had permission to leave the boat in the slipway until Monday when I returned to move the boat back to its mooring before the Committee Meeting.
nb Rannoch moored outside Bob Mac's house
The Saturday before the FBCC Rally we loaded the car with our boat stuff and drove to Liverpool where we had arranged to meet Paul and Wendy. We met them outside the Abakhan fabric shop to choose and purchase the material for our respective boats. I stayed in the car with Ruby and two hours later they emerged with copious quantities of material to cover the new foam mattresses on our boat and on Adreva as well. We then headed for Agden and spent the rest of the afternoon doing jobs in preparation for the rally. Ange was on light duties after cracking a rib when she fell in the slipway the previous week and sat down painting the two roof boxes donated to the Club to be sold on her stall.
Ange on light duties
In the meantime, I stowed some items (such as the cylindrical stainless steel barbeque) not normally required in the engine compartment and sorted out items to either go home or be sold on Ange's stall. Next I tried our new foam mattresses for size and Ruby just couldn't resist trying them out! One calamity was Ruby dropping her "Boat Bear" in the canal. Needless to say he had to have a trip home to languish in the washing machine a couple of days later!
Ruby's washed "Boat Bear" hanging on the washing line
Next, we drove down to Lymm with items to be stored ready for the Rally and had a quick excursion to the chippy for our tea then back to Agden. After tea we had a nice relaxing evening and photographed an unusual sunset before watching TV then had an early night.
Unusual sunset at Agden taken from the side doors at our mooring
Ange was attending a Rally meeting the following morning whilst I cracked-on with my jobs. On Ange's return we had lunch then painting resumed whilst I polished some more of the boat's interior woodwork. The Cowpar and Cowburn narrowboat Swan passed our mooring with the distinctive sound of its single cylinder Gardner 4VT 12hp engine echoing around the moorings. One of the first narrowboats I steered was Swan's sister Starling when it was a hire boat owned by Sid Merral at Beeston Castle Cruisers in 1967 as documented in Canalscape Book One Chapter Seven - Beeston Days.
The Cowpar and Cowburn narrowboat Swan passing our mooring
With our jobs completed we put the boat "to bed", loaded the car and headed down to Lymm to empty the toilet and enjoyed a drink in the Clubhouse with our fellow Club members before heading for home after a busy but rewarding weekend.
Our Rally Weekend started on the following Thursday evening when we, accompanied by Shannon, arrived at Lymm to off-load some stuff from the car before carrying on to the boat. I had taken the Friday off work and after breakfast we moved the boat to the water point and loaded the various boxes of stuff we had collected for the rally onto the boat whilst the water tank filled. We then stopped briefly at our mooring to load the roof boxes on board that Ange had painted to sell on her Quartermaster's Table. Once they were safely on board we cruised down to Lymm and after unloading we went to our rally mooring... Y1B, next to the now completed floating bridge.
The completed floating bridge landing stages
The marquee erected in the Club Yard
The weather forecast was good, the marquee had been erected and the Club Yard was a hive of activity with members busying themselves with various last minute jobs such as setting-up the bar, arranging tables and chairs, preparing the barbeques for the next day, etc. Ange busied herself setting-up Rally HQ whilst I took photographs then had a shift on the floating bridge before Paul arrived.
Ange in Rally HQ
We are supposed to be on the outside of Paul so I untied our boat and took it to the centre of the canal so that Paul could moor in his allotted space. Once he was there I moored our boat alongside for the duration of the rally. Paul was the rally's Mooring Officer and he had done a really good job with hardly any complaints. That evening we had a hot pot supper which was beautiful and after chatting with other rally goers we returned to the boat and were soon in bed. On Saturday, in addition to her Rally HQ duties Ange had a table for her Quartermaster's sales which was a great success. My daughter Lisa was also attending the rally and her boat Adeline was moored behind us. She had a table where she was demonstrating her canal painting and selling various painted items.
Lisa's Creighton 32 - Adeline
Lisa at her craft table
Lymm CC's Commodore John Powell and Rear Commodore Brian Burns in the Commodore's Games
There were the usual activities... model boat exhibition, dog show, Commodores' Games (may contain water) afternoon and evening entertainment to name but a few, all of which were enjoyed by everyone. Ange's sister Tracey and niece Ava visited us and enjoyed the rally so much that they decided to stay overnight. We asked Paul and Wendy if they could sleep on his boat as we didn't have sufficient beds to which they said yes. On Sunday there was a religious service before the guests and dignitaries went on a cruise to view the boats attending the rally. They were taken on board various boats including the local charity boat Wizard and apparently they had a smashing time.
Rally visitors crossing the canal on the floating bridge
View from the floating bridge
Swan cob admiring his reflection in our paintwork whist his family looks on
One amusing happening was when a family of swans wanted to pass the floating bridge. The bridge was opened for them but the cob decided to admire his reflection in our shiny paintwork instead. There was more entertainment in the evening which included a magician by the name of Dave Burns who was the son of Rear Commodore Brian Burns. The children attending the rally moved their chairs close to the stage in order to get a good view of the magician and try to discover how the tricks were accomplished. He delighted everyone with his routine which included being assisted by Charlie Savage... Alan Savage's grandson. We returned to the boat with our sides aching after laughing so much. The Illuminated Boats Sail Past was next. There were only two boats entered and the boat that won was from BMBC at Runcorn.
The winning entry in the Illuminated Boats Sail Past was from BMBC Runcorn
Bank Holiday Monday morning saw visitors to the rally starting to leave. The last official rally happening was the auction where items ranging from a stapler to an air compressor were auctioned. Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that Ange bid on and won a long arm stapler... complete with staples!
Ange crossing the floating bridge for the last time
With the proceedings over we all pitched-in to help put tables and chairs away, dismantle various items such as the bar and floating bridge landing stages. Just before we left we had a surprise visit from my son Glyn and his partner Brenda, They didn't stay long as they had only come to Lymm to visit Sextons Bakery in the village. After Lisa left Glyn and Brenda left shortly afterwards. By late afternoon we also left for our moorings, stopping at Oughtrington wharf to empty the toilet which was very nearly full. The rally was a great success and we received feed-back from many sources informing us how enjoyable the rally was. The weather was, in general, good But for now I had nearly a thousand photographs to sift through, resize and up-load to Lymm Cruising Club's website... http://www.lymm-cc.co.uk. And as well as that the Slipway magazine had to be collected from the printer, enveloped, addressed and posted in addition to formatting and sending the electronic version by e-mail. Good job I had the rest of the week off work!
After doing some shopping, washing and the Slipway Magazine was emailed or safely enveloped and posted we planned to spend a few days on the boat chilling out after the exertions of the rally. We planned to tidy the boat up after the rally, do a few jobs on my "To Do List" and start making preparations for our Summer Cruise in three weeks time... can't wait! We arrived at Agden on the Wednesday afternoon with a full car. We carried the stuff we had brought with us down to the boat on a trolley and on the way noticed how quickly the potato crop in the adjacent field had grown during the last few days. Consequently, Ruby and I went for a walk in the field accompanied by my Leica.
The field containing a crop of potatoes adjacent to our mooring at Agden
After putting the food in the refrigerator and everything else stowed away we moved the boat onto an adjacent mooring and strimmed the grass growing next to the coping stones at the edge of the canal bank, around the mooring posts and our love seat where Alan Savage's sit-on lawnmower cannot reach. Then we had a cup of coffee and watched a cob swan and gander having a confrontation over territorial rights. The swan cob was chasing the gander along the towpath and into the canal repeatedly.
The angry swan attacking the gander next to our mooring
It turned out that both birds had mates and fledglings to protect but we felt that the gander was winding the cob up on purpose as he would fly away from the canal and land further up, goading the swan to chase him again. This situation was to carry on every day and was still carrying on when we left on Sunday afternoon.
The cob and the family he was protecting from the gander
The next morning Ange made a start on painting our love seat. Whilst she did this I touched-up the gloss paint on the boat's superstructure as well as a few other jobs on my "to do list". Throughout the next few days the weather was mainly dry but the sunshine was punctuated by occasional showers. When it rained we did jobs inside the boat which including cleaning the inside of the ceiling ventilators and polishing the brass grills and bezels. I used Shiny Sinks for this instead of Brasso which we had run out of. The Shiny Sinks did as good a job as Brasso and is to be recommended. We also tried our new foam cushions and mattresses but discovered that they were slightly too long. Only by a few inches but this was enough to cause them to bend and difficult to put in place. The on-going confrontations between the cob and the gander wasn't our only avian encounter. On Saturday night Ange noticed a large bird perched on the concrete fence posts next to our mooring. It turned out to be a Barn Owl but it was too dark to take a photograph of and the camera's flash would not be powerful enough to illuminate it. After a couple of minutes the owl swooped down and flew across the potato field adjacent to the mooring.
Our few days chill-out on the boat were over all too soon and we asked the Harbourmaster Phil Savage for permission to leave the boat at Lymm until Wednesday. Phil gave us permission and we took the boat down to Lymm so that when we came for the monthly meeting the following Tuesday and the Committee Meeting on Wednesday evening we had a base and when we took the foam mattresses and cushions to DV Foam Ltd. in Middlewich to be trimmed we wouldn't have to carry them too far. I needed to fill the water tank and empty the toilet as well On the way down to Lymm the sun came out just as I was passing through Oughtrington Woods and shone through the leaves. A fitting end to a really enjoyable and relaxing few days at Agden.
Passing through Oughtrington Woods on the way to Lymm
At the Monthly Meeting Paul was presented with the Roy Cocken Shield. This is awarded to the owner of the best turned out boat on the Opening Cruise and Paul and Wendy most certainly deserved it. Whilst looking at the previous recipients Paul was surprised to see that we had won it in 2006 (see Canalscape Book 4).
Paul receiving the Roy Cocken Shield from Commodore John Powell
On the Wednesday of the Committee Meeting we loaded the new foam cushions and mattresses into the car and drove to DV Foam Ltd. in Middlewich for trimming. After they were trimmed and loaded back into the car we went for a walk along the towpath towards Wardle Junction. As it was lunchtime we carried on to the chippy opposite King's Lock, bought our lunch then walked back to the junction and along the Shroppie's Middlewich Branch towpath and sat down to eat our lunch. Whilst we were eating a couple of boats went past and we giggled as the first one gave the adjacent bridge hole a hefty bang whilst trying to go through.
Not the boat that collided with the bridge hole
With our stomachs full we retraced our steps and had a chat to Mel Edwards MBE the fender maker. I had not seen Mel for a few years and it was good to chat to him and admire his dexterity as he crocheted rope fenders although we resisted the temptation to purchase one of his CDs. Back at Lymm we unloaded the car and prepared ourselves for the Committee Meeting later on. At the meeting we asked Phil Savage if we could leave the boat where it was until the weekend as we would be up on Friday to which he gave the okay. The meeting was over by eight o'clock and we made our way back home soon afterwards.
Mel Edwards MBE fender maker in action
Looking along the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie
We were back up at Lymm on Friday tea time. Saturday morning I helped Alan and Phil Savage move a couple of boats back to their moorings after having to be moved for the rally. There was a FBCC Feedback Meeting on Saturday evening when all those involved with the rally had the opportunity to report back on what went well and what didn't, elaborating on any lessons learnt. The meeting was followed by pie and peas (proper pie not just a stew with a lid aka cobbler). We returned to the boat with over-full stomachs ready for an early start Sunday morning when we had to leave before the Navigation Trials as our boat was moored in the direct line of fire for boats taking part in the trials.
Oughtrington Wharf on the way back to Agden
After a lovely all day breakfast in the Clubhouse I took the boat back to Agden whilst Ange followed in the car. Once there we tried the cover we had bought for our love seat to prevent the bird droppings from covering it. We then checked the cupboards, clothes storage and wardrobe and made lists of food and other requirements that we needed to buy as well as clothes we needed to bring from home as it was the last full weekend before our Summer Cruise which was coming closer with frightening speed.
The love seat on our mooring with the cover in place
To be continued...
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Chapter 4 - Summer Cruise 2019 (in preparation)
For our 2018 Summer Cruise we had originally planned to revisit the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals accompanied by Paul and Wendy Savage and their narrowboat Adreva. Unfortunately, we were unable to fulfil this plan due to the breach on the Shropshire Union Canal's Middlewich Branch below Stanhope Lock. Plan B was the beautiful Caldon Canal. For our 2019 Summer Cruise we planned to try again for the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals.
The Breach below Stanthorne Lock, Middlewich in 2018
(Photograph - Canal and River Trust)
With the success of taking our summer holidays early last year (the last week in June and the first week in July) we planned to take the same two weeks in 2019... Saturday the 22nd June to Sunday the 7th June. Accordingly, the bookings to descend Frankton Locks, which give access to the Montgomery Canal, were made in February to avoid disappointment (fingers crossed). Since our last visit to the Montgomery Canal in 2005, the navigable section connected to the main line of the Llangollen Canal has been extended considerably as far as Maesbury Marsh but not yet as far as the previously restored (but unconnected) Welshpool Section. A few weeks before we were due to go on our holiday cruise I received an e-mail from the Canal and River Trust informing me that the next section of 2km (1·25 miles) from Maesbury Marsh to Crickheath where a new winding hole had been created was being filled with water. When the next section of the canal is opened the winding hole is destined to become a small marina. Accordingly, we were looking forward to cruising yet another section of canal that we had not previously been on and hoped that the latest section was open for navigation as well.
The latest stretch of the Montgomery Canal at Crickheath to be restored
(Photograph - Canal and River Trust)
In the weeks leading up to our Summer Cruise we experienced copious quantities of rain. Talk about deja vous... last year it was the breach on the Shroppie's Middlewich Branch and this year, a week before we were due to start our cruise, we received an email from the Canal and River Trust informing us that the Llangollen Canal had "topped out" close to Wrenbury Frith Bridge (Bridge 21) between Wrenbury and Marbury Lock. The resulting water movement had damaged the wash wall piling and the towpath when the water ran down the embankment into the adjacent drainage gulley which necessitated closing and de-watering the canal at that point for inspection.
Canal closure at Bridge 21 - Wrenbury Frith Bridge between Wrenbury and Marbury Lock
Close-up of the bank damage between Wrenbury and Marbury
(Photographs - Ali Whittaker)
The Canal and River Trust have said that the initial repairs will take between two to three weeks to complete but they may be able to open the canal after re-piling whilst the embankment is reinforced with rock boulders. After discussions with Paul we decided to have a Plan B in the shape of cruising up the Shroppie to Wolverhampton and then turning right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal towards Kinver and Stourport. By being in the vicinity of Hurleston Junction at the beginning of our cruise, if the canal reopens by the time we reach Hurleston we would be able to execute Plan A if not... it's Plan B. With this latest problem we got the impression that we are destined not to cruise the Montgomery Canal... at least not this year. Anyway... there might be another length of the canal reopened by the time we do eventually manage to cruise it! On Thursday the 20th July we received an e-mail from The Canal and River Trust informing us that there would be limited passage of the affected area at Marbury. We will contact them to find out what the implications are of this limited passage. With this in mind we might still manage to reach the Montgomery Canal... fingers crossed!
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Chapter 5 - Canalmanac 2019 Part 3 (in preparation)
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Our canal cruising experiences and milestones during 2019
|5th February 2019||-||Ange & I voted onto Lymm CC's Committee: Ange as Quartermaster & me as Magazine & Website Editor|
|4th - 9th May 2019||-||Squirrel slipped @ Lymm CC for hull cleaning, re-blacking & replacement of tiller bearing|
|22nd June to 7th July 2019||-||Summer Cruise to Llangollen & Montgomery Canals or Shropshire Union & Staffs & Worcs Canals|
|Lymm CC Cruises & Work Parties Attended During 2019|
|16th February 2019||-||Boat Moving Work Party @ Agden Moorings|
|9th March 2019||-||Clubhouse Yard Clearing & Tidying Work Party|
|7th April 2019||-||Opening Cruise to Grappenhall|
|18th April 2019||-||Easter Cruise Part One to Anderton Boat Lift|
|20th April 2019||-||Easter Cruise Part Two from Anderton to Stockton Heath|
|10th May 2019||-||Floating bridge & refurbishing jetty work party @ Lymm|
|24th to 27th May 2019||-||FBCC Annual Rally @ Lymm|
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The story most probably continues in...
Canal Cruising 2020
Finances, health, and time allowing!
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Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System (In Preparation)
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