Thursday, 21 February 2019

Checking The List. 19th February

Victoria Quays to Victoria Quays

A more relaxed morning today. First thing was to check in with the lady in charge of the moorings. She'd had a day off yesterday and we wanted to check when we had to be off our mooring over the weekend. It looks like we shall have to move Friday morning and may not be able to return until Sunday. The first two days in Sheffield is free, then there is a charge. Because we will be coming and going, sometimes at our own will, other times because of the Birthday bash she is going to include electric in our mooring fees. We're hoping that at the weekend we can just move onto the visitor moorings outside the basin.

Next we pootled up to Finesse, not far up the canal, managing to time our exit from the basin with Ethel coming in to wind, they held the bridge and closed it behind us.

Currently being fitted out with hydraulic wheelhouse

There was space outside Finesse just behind the stylish Brigantine that is currently in fit out on the water. We tied up to a ring and tyre and went to find Ricky, bumping into Ken who'd been a consultant on Oleanna. Just as we got into the office Rob from NB Cuba arrived to see if they might be able to help mend a broken zip on their cratch cover. 

Last night we'd written out a list of jobs. Ricky came on board to check over things. First a few snagging jobs. Then a few alterations and additions.

Nice new sailaway for someone

The window that had been leaking last winter still has a leak. They'd resealed it last year, then we had the dry summer and when eventually the rain came it was tested for the first time and sadly the problem was still there. During the summer the hot weather had caused our gas locker lid to gradually cease up, then one day the lid came off in Micks hands (I believe Alchemy had the same thing happen to them) so this needs mending. 

The power relay to our bow thruster batteries at the moment needs turning off when we finish cruising for the day as it is constantly charging the thruster batteries from the leisure batteries, we were hoping that this could somehow be altered so that it doesn't depend on memory.

Jonathan's next project

Over the last almost two years we've come to realise that having a sliding window above our cooker would be better than the full hopper we have at the moment. A new window was ordered for us in January and has arrived waiting to be fitted. This of course is the most complicated window to get to on the boat due to the extractor fan above it. 

The vents from the back of our cooker have gradually discoloured the white piece of metal they put in to deflect heat away from the cabin side. We've asked for this to be changed for stainless steel and extended up to the window.

This way, I think!

A means of being able to store our anchor was also talked about. So far we've not been able to find somewhere that we've been happy with. I talked an idea through with Ricky in the cratch. We're hoping to achieve a place for it to live where it can be ready for deployment and not have to be padded to protect paint work or be in our way when it's not needed. 

All of the jobs were agreed and Kris came on board to have a look too. Early tomorrow morning we are due back at the yard for him to make a start. We just need it to be a dry day.

C&RT half term activities

Sadly we are around 10ft too long to be able to wind at the yard and Mick didn't fancy reversing back to our mooring. So we pootled down back down the canal, retracing our trial cruise we did nearly two years ago and winded just before Attercliffe Railway Bridge. Tomorrow Mick will try the winding hole a touch closer. Back through the swing bridge we pulled in to fill with water and get a new gas bottle, then we pushed back over to our mooring.

Some more white grafitti

This evening we are going to The Crucible to see 'Rutherford and Son'. Afterwards we are meeting up with a couple of Stage Manager friends for a good catch up. It won't be a boozy evening as we have to be up early tomorrow to get Oleanna back through the bridge to the yard.

The pub cat trying to hitch a ride

0 locks, 2.99 miles, 2 winds, 2 times through the bridge, 1 feline stow away, 1 full water tank, 1 gas bottle, 4 needles ordered, 300grms yarn ordered, 2 comps, 1 play, 2 Stage Managers (1 retired).

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Final Ascent. 18th February

Eastwood Lock to Victoria Quays, Sheffield

The alarm was set and we were straight up to have breakfast, no languishing in bed with a cuppa today. Just before 8am we were outside rolling up the covers and dropping the pram hood. Rob and Sue on NB Cuba were about with mugs in hand, all ready for the off.

Swan Winding Hole

We followed Cuba towards Rotherham, passing the huge winding hole that Exol Pride uses and where swans hang out waiting to fill up on white sliced.

Different paddle gear

The lock landings on this stretch are only really made for one boat and some of them are a little distance away from the lock. It is Rob and Sue's first trip up to Sheffield and every canal has its own flavour of lock mechanisms. They went to set Rotherham Flood Lock. This is a touch different to most locks as a paddle is left up at both ends to keep a flow of water coming through. Once I joined them I could help and there was a touch of confusion over how to leave the paddles, which we sorted in the end.

We next took the lead, arriving at Ickles lock and remembering to hop off before the bridge. Then a locked gate leads you to the lock, I opened a gate and then went back to wait for Sue to be able to lock the gate. It's the first time we've gone up these locks sharing and they are quite a bit wider than your normal broad lock, you could almost fit a third boat in them. No matter how we operated the paddles the boats moved around all over the shop! Next lock we passed a rope up.

Breasted up waiting
Mural to keep us occupied

Arriving at Holmes Lock just after 9:15 we had a short wait for a Lock Keeper to arrive by bike to unlock it for us. This gave us time to admire the mural on some hoardings. Up to now there had also been some rather good graffiti of birds and bees, the lock landing here filled with art work.

Our Lock Keeper stayed with us until we reached the main flight, cycling between locks, some of them a distance, to unlock them and help with the heavy gates. Most locks were set and waiting for us a paddle had been lifted by the Lockie on his ride down the locks, all we had to do was open the gates.


Under the double decker M1 bridge, past the new Ikea. A change of Lock Keepers when we reached the main flight. This chap was more talkative, he's worked this patch for 33 years and lived through all the changes with C&RT  and BW through the years.

7/8 Lock is deep
The cill very visible
 At Lock 7/8 he took charge, keeping a close eye on the boats as they rose gently, making sure that both tillers would miss the bottom gates walkway, which occasionally catches people out. Now in the flight he'd open the gates on the next lock, help with heavy high up gates and give us instructions on how to leave the locks. Some he wanted to reset as empty, others he wanted to close the gates himself, others he wanted the gates to be left open at the top. At one lock the mitred gates had to be just so to minimise leakage through them. This chap certainly knows his locks.

Sue from NB Cuba

Sue by now was getting a touch pooped and leaving gates open towards to top of the flight was welcomed. A patch of daffodils waved in the breeze. The wind had caused a few issues picking us up and a small smattering of rain made me put my coat back on, but didn't turn into much.

Above Lock 1 of the flight Ethel was waiting to come down. She's a charity boat we've met a few times and she winters up in Sheffield, they were coming down one lock to wind and then go back up. They helped us up the last lock, opened the gates and we were on our way. 

In our case we were a bit slow as Oleanna had picked up something on her prop. If Ethel hadn't been on the lock landing Mick would have pulled over there, so we carried on to where the canal is wide with moorings that nobody uses to just hover whilst the plastic was removed. NB Cuba went on ahead.

Read my lisp
Non skid weekdays
 There's new graffiti about the place, nothing unusual with that in an urban area. The white writing stood out from the many tags adorning the walls as we made our way towards the city. Then new paintings near the basin were being completed, some good quality art work.

New graffiti art near the basin

Rob had found Paul who used to work for CV Marine who run the moorings in the basin, Paul standing in for our arrival. Our booked mooring was through the swing bridge and NB Cuba's was on the visitor moorings. We paused for lunch hoping the now howling gale would stop.

Our home for a few days

Old style windlass and key in hand I did my best to get the bridge moving. It's the first turn that is so hard, then you just don't want to stop as it may be just as hard to get it going again. Moored up in our space, we have electric, the water point is behind us, all very handy.

A call to Ricky at Finesse to see when they would like us to pull up. Times sorted for tomorrow to sus out the jobs to be done, then weather dependant we'll be back on Wednesday for the work.

It smells round here!

Because of the celebrations on Friday we will have to move elsewhere for the day, maybe two days. Our mooring will be where a brass band will arrive on a boat at the head of the flotilla to mark the 200th anniversary of Sheffield being linked to the sea by the canal. We're hoping we can get on the visitor moorings, if not Ricky says we can pull up at the boat yard.

15 locks, 7.41 miles, 1 swing bridge, 65 swans, 2 lock keepers, M1, 1 mission accomplished, 1 blowy day, 28 daffodils, 1 urban jelly fish, 1 load washing, 1 hour shore leave, 2 much wiffy woofer wee!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Squeaky Clean. 17th February

Eastwood Lock

This morning we decided that Tilly could go out, when we were here on Lillian we hadn't liked the look of the fence alongside the moorings, so shore leave was not granted. However nearly two years later we are a touch more relaxed, the fence would still be a problem if she got into trouble. Most days when she is out she most probably gets to places we'd never be able to access.

Last night we'd let the stove go out, being able to be on shore power means we can run the central heating on it, so we wouldn't wake up to a cold boat. This meant Mick could do his best Dick Van Dyke impression and give the chimney a sweep. He changed the fire brick at the front of the stove but is saving the new glass for summer. We'll look into trying to find a suitable vermiculite brick replacement for next time. 

Mucky boy!

The bank here is quite high, but I really wanted to get the rest of Oleanna clean, so started on the port side after cleaning the roof down from where Mick had tried to hide the mucky marks. 

Tilly had easily found her way under the fence where there were gaps. After a while she started to frantically try to get through where there was no gap. I told her to go back the way she'd come, not thinking much of it, until I heard cat howling!

There behind the fence Tilly had met a local cat, neither of them were pleased to see each other. Tilly was winning at the arched back and bushy tail stakes, neither of them were showing any sign of moving. I tried to suggest that Tilly came home and that she was only a visitor and would be gone tomorrow, so wasn't worth the fuss. Eventually Tilly listened and  made her way towards a gap, only to be followed and then pounced on. Not really wanting any vets bills,I did my best to shoo the other cat away as a bit of ruff and tumble was starting. Luckily I was scary enough for the other cat to high tail and Tilly came back through the fence and was grounded for an hour.

First load of washing

During the morning the washing machine had been busy and the whirligig was put into use. But now I really wanted to get to the starboard side of Oleanna. We needed water again, so we decided to reverse into the lock to fill the tank and as it filled I would wash the starboard side all the time hoping nobody would appear from below wanting to come up. We were fortunate and I managed to finish just as the tank was full and we left the lock before anyone else needed it.

Yesterday afternoon we'd been joined by a Dutch Barge that had come from Rotherham. This morning they were having difficulty in getting the engine started, flatteries. We couldn't help as our batteries are 24volt. All things were considered and in the end one of them headed off to get his boat and toe the dutch Barge back to it's mooring. 

One pooped cat

He returned with his boat an old cruiser. They tied the boats together and set off, the cruiser straining all the way. There was wind that wasn't helping and at one time when we looked they had managed to jack knife themselves.

Late afternoon a narrowboat came to join us. Didn't catch the boats name, but Rob and Sue came for a chat. They are also Continuous Cruisers and came off the Trent at Keadby several days after us after spending several months up on the Chesterfield Canal. They also had problems at Godnow Bridge, it appears that the level crossing needs over riding to let the bridge work.

Whilst chatting the Lock Keeper from the Tinsley Flight called us to check on arrangements for tomorrow. Rob and Sue are also heading up the locks in the morning, so we have lock buddies and will set off together. 

Our locking buddies for tomorrow

0 locks, 1100 ft, 550 in reverse, 550 forwards, 2 squeaky clean sides to Oleanna, 1 cat fight, 1 chimney swept, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 surprised Pheasant, 1 pooped cat who has no idea what is to come in Sheffield! 1.75kg of pork roasting, this should last us a couple of weeks.

Enough for 8!

Monday, 18 February 2019

Backed Up At 8am. 16th February

Mexbrough Meadows to Eastwood Lock

A white van at 10:30pm isn't what you would normally expect on a grassy canal side. We'd seen the tyre tracks and thought it might be from fishermen. Our chosen spot was where the bank is lower, so therefore more view and the flat area is wider. This turned out to be where vehicles could turn and did so. I suspect it was either a fisherman and we'd got his chosen spot, or someone coming to add their Christmas tree to the pile of them that had been fly tipped.

It's down there somewhere!

Another sunny morning, unfortunately a cruiser came past churning up the silt as we had breakfast, so somewhere down there was my phone, no chance of seeing it now. Time to move on, the stoppages ahead of us should now be open. We wondered how long my phone will sit at the bottom? Will it gradually get moved along by Exol Pride when it starts doing it's runs to Rotherham again? Will a dredger pick it up in years to come and add it to a mound of silt?


Quite a chunk there

A mile to Mexbrough Top Lock having passed the cruiser, we'd be first through the stoppages. The first was Mexbrough Station Road Bridge, all clear. Apparently Exol Pride hadn't got it's wheel house down in time when it came through the bridge a while ago and collided with the arch. This has now been re-bricked and pointed. 

Waddington Barges

Swinton Lock or Waddington Lock sat ahead. There is a low wall quite a distance away from the lock where a couple of charity boats moor, or you can climb ladders to get off your boat to operate the lock. Not being a fan of ladders we opted for the low wall. This involves walking across the back deck of the boats. Here railings are locked across the access points, so I had to duck  under the bars to get across.

NB Lillian
We're just so small around here

Big Waddington barges surround the lock, two below and plenty more above. Here Vic Waddington brought commercial transport back to the canals and built up a fleet of 80 barges capable of holding up to 700 tonnes of cargo. Now the boats and cranes sit idle, filling the entrance to what was the Dearne and Dove Canal which once connected up to Wakefield.

Might have been a touch noisy here

We were glad we'd not opted to head on further up towards Kilnhurst. The first mooring is right alongside a large housing development, the second by a road, both unsuitable for Tilly. 

New plaque

The Flood Lock at Kilnhurst was the second stoppage ahead of us. We'd already passed the old lock gates below Swinton Lock. Here new oak greeted us, a new plaque on the gates with new C&RT logo boasting that they were hand made in Stanley Ferry. Here the levels were equal, sluices open at both ends, but I still went through the instructions, closing sluices and opening gates.

Silhouettes of industry

Now back out onto the river, rural but with industry starting to tower above us.

Lock left, weir right

At Aldwarke Lock the drop off point isn't too handy being in the weir cut, so Mick dropped me off, then reversed back into the river and waited for me to empty the lock. Here the aroma in the air was chips from Asda, back in Swinton it had been of Hot Cross Buns, what would be next. Fried Onions.

Very old sign no new logo there

The lock landing at Eastwood Lock is a distance away and means that you have to walk along side the permanent moorings above the lock. Two chaps were enjoying the sunny afternoon, drinking at one of the picnic tables, another was clipping his dog, a wheelhouse was getting a coat of paint and soon we discovered a volunteer having a bit of a tidy up.

Last big lock until we come back

This lock leaks and something to do with the paddles means that it doesn't refill itself. The volunteer was a bit disappointed not to have spotted us sooner, he's been here most weekends and there have been no boats moving due to the stoppages. Then we turn up, the first boat in weeks and he misses the opportunity to do the lock for us.

A sunny sit on a bench

We loitered in the lock to fill with water and had a good chat with him. He'd been expecting to see boats today heading to the party in Sheffield, but we were the first. Maybe others will head up tomorrow or during the week.

Once full we pulled up on the visitor moorings, sussed out that the nearest electric bollard was working, so hooked up. We might have enough credit on our card for a couple of loads of washing and to have the heating on so that the stove can be given a good clear out.

Next it was time to sort out my phone. Argos had the same phone in stock and I'd reserved it last night all I needed now was a new Sim card. EE was full of staff, no customers unusually so service was swift. With driving licence in hand my ID was checked, he had a look at my account, put me on a new deal 2GB instead of 1GB for the same price and handed me a new Sim. Simple.


Back at the boat I turned my new phone on, clicked various settings, saw that my drowned phone had backed itself up at 8am yesterday. So within about three quarters of an hour my new phone had downloaded all my settings, Tilly's face appeared on the screen and it's as if my previous phone had not gone for an unsuccessful swim! Just a shame it has cost what I'll get paid for a days work next week. Oh well, I'll have £10 left over.

4 locks, 1 flood lock, 6.39 miles, 2 cleared stoppages, 1 volunteer, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing, 1 new phone, 1 sim, 1 programme needing tech support, 1 bored cat.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

That Didn't Float Then! 15th February

Mexbrough Meadows

After breakfast we trundled up the cut a short distance and pulled in outside the Pastures Hotel. Here the bank is a touch lower and I'd hoped this would mean I'd get chance to wash the starboard cabin side, but the bank was on a slope, so this would be hard. Instead I finished off Oleanna's roof, all nice and cream again. I suspect I'll get complaints when Mick has the sun bouncing off it, but she's at least a third clean now.

There was just time to sort out the space under the back steps before the Sainsbury's van arrived, pulling into the car park. Mick went to meet him and brought back a couple of crates that wouldn't fit on the trolley. It took a little time to stow everything and I was a little dismayed that the cartons of chopped tomatoes had been replaced by tins. The cartons pack away much better taking up much less space, at least the tins don't cost any more.

Shopping done we winded, pootled back a short way, winded and came into moor where the trees and bank were slightly lower, giving our solar panels a little boost. Here Tilly was allowed out again to find friends and annoy the Magpies!

During the afternoon I worked my way around the windows. Taking each glazed panel out laying it on a towel on the sofa, clean the glass, then gutters and drain holes in the frame. It's amazing how much crud gets into such a small space. Tilly made use of the new openings and used them to come in for a visit before heading back out again.

I had one of those phone calls (currently from a fictitious Leeds number), 'I'm calling about the car accident you were in that wasn't your fault'. I gave the usual answer that as I don't have a car that would be difficult. Don't know why I talk to a recorded voice, but it's interesting to see how it reacts to your answer, they certainly don't remove your number from their list!

Tidying up when all but the bedroom porthole had been cleaned out I picked up the towel I'd been using to protect the sofa to give it a shake out of the hatch. It felt a little bit heavier than expected and the reason soon showed itself as the slightly blue screen of my mobile drifted down through the water out of sight!

If we'd been on an average canal we think we'd have been able to retrieve it, if only for the sim card. But here on the South Yorkshire Navigations the canals are deep, able to take big wide deep draughted work boats. The big torch came out and pushing Oleanna away from the bank meant that we could see my phone. The water was too deep for the grabber, Mick suggested the sea magnet, but phones are not magnetic and all it did was help to dislodge my phone from where it was sitting and slide deeper under the boat. 
Landing net was tried next, but no matter how far we pushed the boat out we still couldn't see the phone. Bloomin heck it's deep here. Our landing net handle must be at least five foot long and I could only just touch the bottom of the canal with a couple of inches left to hold onto it. No chance of retrieving my phone. We may be able to see it in the morning glinting in the settled water, but we won't be able to reach it.

Sadly phones are not covered by our insurance and our excess is higher than the value of a new one. Comparing a new phone on contract to buying a phone and keeping a sim only contract  worked out the same for the first year, but then I'd start saving again, so long as I don't throw the phone into the canal this time! So tomorrow we'll head into the retail park above Eastwood Lock and hopefully replace everything, otherwise it'll be Sheffield before I can have a phone again.

0 locks, 0.46 miles, 2 winds, 6 boxes wine, 8 tins tomatoes, 0 cartons, 1 very big joint of pork, 1 fully cleaned roof, 6 cleaned out windows, 1 spotless galley blind, 5ft deep, 1 phone in five years, 0 photos, as they are all at the bottom of the canal! 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

If You're Going To A Party. 14th February

Mexbrough Low Lock

The morning started off in a none standard way. Mick got up to put the kettle on and make the tea, all normal. When he returned he spotted that a card and some chocolates had appeared on his pillow. 'Ooo!' He put down the cups of tea and disappeared back though to the main cabin. There was a cupboard opened followed by the sound of cellophane being removed. A short while later he then opened the back doors, closed them, then came through to the bedroom again. A cupboard opened and a box of Lindt chocolates produced, 'Someone left these on the back deck'. What a surprise!  What a romantic! It did make me laugh the fact that he'd opened the back door to back up his claim that he had no idea where they'd come from.

The bank on this side of the canal is quite high and made of large corrugated piling. Then behind this there is a bank which somewhat obscures our view whilst having our morning cuppa in bed. We could have winded for a better view but then the side hatch would be on the canal side, so when Tilly wants to come in she'd have to use the back door which involves more effort on our part. Having the side hatch on the towpath side is always good especially when emergency dog avoidance is required.

A sunny day on the wide cut

The day was sunny and soon warmed up whilst we had a cooked breakfast, time to give Oleanna a bit of TLC outside. The rust spots I'd rubbed back and treated in Cropredy back in October had another sand and another coat of Fertan. I'm hoping this warmer weather will mean I can get the bow looking a touch better than it has done for a few months.



As we seem to be heading towards a Birthday Party, the Bi-Centenary for the Tinsley-Sheffield Canal, Oleanna needs a bit of a spruce up. Well you wouldn't go to a birthday party without having a shower and putting clean clothes on! 

Half lovely

and clean

With everything removed from the bank side of the roof I swept it down and then gave it a good scrub and rinse. It's been quite sometime since the roof was last washed and it was really rather horrible. I did the near side and had planned to do the cabin side too, but the height of the bank would mean a lot of bending down which might lead to a bad back, so I'm hoping I'll be able to do it somewhere else. 

The well deck also had a good clean and wash down, the drains around the lockers getting extra attention to clear them of mud and dust.

Inspection time

Tilly spent the day being VERY busy. On several occasions I called for her, but no sign. Then she leapt out of the friendly cover and came trotting towards us bringing a friend with her. A little distraction was required, assessment made and the friend was put somewhere for safe keeping!

It's hard to think that only a week ago we were wearing balaclavas on the Trent and today I wished I'd put a t-shirt on instead of a long sleeved top.

The weir clean and flowing

During the day several C&RT people were at the lock, mostly clearing all the debris that had collected around the gates. One person stayed and seemed to be running checks for much of the afternoon. The tug and hopper that we'd followed from Barnby Dun came past and headed up stream, suspect it is going to be filled with equipment at one of the stoppages up ahead.

We had a walk round to Pastures Lodge and the Hotel there to check on access to the canal for a Sainsbury's delivery. All good, so a big order was put together to make use of one of our triple points vouchers.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 mystery delivery, 2 boxes chocolates, 2 cards, 1 extreamly busy cat, 1 friend, 2 more they didn't know about, 0.5 roof spotless, 0.5 roof left for tomorrow, 1 clean well deck, 1 tidy lock, 1 path, 0.5 knitting completed