Welford

Well our internment at Yelvertoft for the winter is now over, and we are once again in cruising mode. The winter months have allowed us to conduct some essential maintenance tasks, and the boat has also successfully passed its first BSS (Boat Safety Scheme) check. We did manage a few days trips, along the Leicester section summit of the Grand Union, and we have survived unscathed, from the harshest winter we have experienced since owning the boat. The engine has been serviced, and we have restocked our supply of filters, oils and other consumables, ready for the year ahead. We have also purchased an anchor, which will allow us to use some of the river navigations from now on. Our departure day was set as Wednesday 21st March, but upon waking, we found the Marina had frozen overnight. Fortunately the sun was up, and after a few hours, the crust of ice had turned to mush and we were off. We were aiming for a regular mooring spot near bridge 28, and after cruising for an hour and a half, we reached it to find it empty of other boats. The following morning, we got underway after breakfast, heading for Welford Junction. There was no sun shining, and the wind had picked up a bit. It felt much colder. Not long after setting off, we noted two boats astern who seemed to be traveling a bit quicker than we wanted to. We pulled over to allow them past, then continued our slow dawdle. On arrival at the straight moorings prior to the Junction, we once again found it completely empty of other boats.

All alone at Welford Junction

After lunch we took four legs for a short walk, heading towards North Kilworth. This took us past the new Marina, which has been under construction for a few years. It has recently been filled with water so it must be getting close to completion, although there still seems a lot of work needed to finish it off.                           

North Kilworth Marina

We continued on to the Wharf opposite, and purchased some firelighters. We didn’t really need any, but we always try and support the smaller canalside businesses. Back at the boat we settled down for a peaceful afternoon. Friday 23rd March, after a solitary night we set off for Welford. Turning right at the Junction we soon encountered a work boat blocking the canal. The workers were busy clearing substantial overgrown vegetation. They moved their boat allowing us to continue our passage along the Welford arm, towards the single lock ahead. Once through the lock, we trundled along to the end of the arm and found it completely full. This is where all the boats are. We winded, and took a mooring just prior to the lock landing. With hindsight this is a better spot, and may well become our regular spot for future visits here.

Mooring at Welford Lock

After securing the boat we had lunch at Totty’s Tea Rooms, before returning to the boat for a relaxing afternoon. We will stay here for a couple of days, but keeping an eye of the changing forecast for the weather next week.

  • Totals Wed.    21/3. 3 Miles
  •           Thurs. 22/3.  5 Miles
  •           Fri.      23/3. 1 Mile 1 Lock

 

Debdale Wharf

Yesterday we set off in the early morning gloom from our mooring at Foxton, for the short twenty minute cruise to Debdale Wharf. On arrival the service pontoon was partially blocked by another boat, so we moored between the bridge and the winding hole and went to report our arrival. The hoist used for lifting boats had been faulty last week, and although repaired, it had not been fitted back on the overhead gantry and tested. We therefore had a long wait ahead of us. To cut a long story short we occupied ourselves for the day by, conveying stuff to the cottage we have booked to stay in for the week, and going for walks. Finally, just before closing time they were ready to lift us out. The boat was manoeuvred into the service dock, and after some trial and error lifts the balance was found and out she came. This was the first time we had seen this part of the boat, since it’s very beginning in the steel shed. I was pleased how well the hull looked, with virtually no corrosion evident.

       

                                                                  Slowly does it.

       

After spending a night on the blocks, this morning it was time for a thorough pressure wash. Once the hull was clean it was clear to see the current blacking was still in very good condition, so once the zinc treatment has been completed we should be able to maintain the hull, in virtually as new condition.

      

                                                                  Just hanging around.

After this the boat was moved into the grit blasting shed, where the top sides are shielded by a tent structure to protect the gloss finish from the next stage of the treatment. We are having the hull grit blasted from the outside edge of one gunwale, round to the other. Once this is complete the hot zinc spray will be applied to the base plate and hull sides, up to the rubbing strake. The whole hull from the gunwales down will then have a two pack epoxy resin finish.
More pictures of the process will follow as it progresses during the week. Clearly whilst this work is being carried out we have had to move off the boat. We have booked a cottage for the week in Caldecott near Rutland.
       
       
                                                            This cottage is called ‘The Snug’ and it is.
Today we took a trip to Rutland Water for a walk. The weather was warm and sunny and it is reported to be the best day this week, so an opportunity not to be missed.
       

       

There were plenty of dinghies sailing on the water and also the odd yacht. It reminded me of where I learnt to sail on Bewl Water in Kent, but this appears larger. After the walk we found a nice pub, ‘The Wheatsheaf’ in the village of Edith Weston. The boozy steak pie was the best I have ever had, and they do Sunday roasts so we are booked in. They are very dog friendly so we will let Oscar come too.
Once back to ‘The Snug’ Oscar, being used to home comforts on the boat, selected his spot in one of only two available armchairs. Unfortunately for him, this belonged to the two legged crew so he didn’t keep his spot for very long.
       

Totals 1 Mile
Running total 635 Miles 317 Locks 22 Tunnels

Foxton

Well we have now been at Foxton for a week, awaiting our appointment at Debdale Wharf Marina. We departed Welford on Friday 9/10 in warm autumn weather. We turned left at the junction, and were soon passing North Kilworth. The new Marina that was being dug the last time we passed, still looks as if it has a long way to go before being finished. Husband Bosworth tunnel was next, at a relatively short 1166 yards. It was then a peaceful hour cruise to our destination near to Laughton Hills, a mile and a half from Foxton top lock.

Saturday 10/10 we descended the Foxton Locks, which are made up of two staircases of five locks each. Being a weekend and fine weather, we had set off early to be down the flight before all the gongoozerlers turned up. Unfortunately our plan was foiled. We had an hour wait at the top whilst four boats came up the flight first. Consequently we were watched, and photographed all the way down. I also found it prudent to keep the boat close to the bottom gates going down due to water flooding over the top gates.
       
Once through the flight we found our mooring spot by a reed bed just outside the the heavily restricted Foxton mooring zone. We can stay here for a maximum 14 days whilst we wait for our booking at Debdale.
Thursday 15/10 we needed to run the boat to the marina for a pump out and then back to our spot via the water points at the foot of the locks.
During our stay here, two Sunday’s have passed meaning two visits to the Foxton Locks Inn for a roast dinner. The three of us have become regulars there, and today Oscar was even treated to his own trimmings from the beef joint, courtesy of the landlady. This pub is very dog friendly. Tomorrow we will get to Debdale Wharf for about 8am, ready for the boat to be lifted out for its zinc treatment.
Friday 9/10 totals 6 Miles 1 Tunnel
Saturday 10/10 totals 2 Miles 10 Locks
Thursday 15/10 totals 2 Miles
Running total 634 Miles 317 Locks 22 Tunnels

Gone Fishing

As planned, lunch today was taken at the Foxton Locks Inn where they do a splendid carvery. This was followed in my case by lemon meringue pie which I can recommend. We then took a circular walk back to the boat to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. Later I took to fishing and caught a monster sized fish.

       
                                                     It fought hard to remain free.
       

                                            Well it looked bigger before it was landed.

I think it is a roach but if anyone who reads this knows different then please let me know. With the sun shining all day today the solar panel produced a total of 56 amp hours which is about a third of our daily consumption. This has meant not having to run the engine for 3 days now and as the summer arrives even more free electricity should be produced. Tomorrow we head for Welford so an early start is planned. The locks open at 8am so it would be nice to be on our way by then.

Solar Eclipse

Woke early this morning, due to the astronomical event that was due to take place today. Amazingly the weather reports were accurate for our position in the country, and we had perfect conditions for viewing  the partial eclipse. Based in Leicestershire, we were expecting 85 to 90 percent of the sun to be blocked by the moon. Having said that, it still meant 10 to 15 percent of the sun would be shining and so I was not expecting for it to go particularly dark.

I only had the iPad camera to play with, and no special solar filters the photos taken only acheived limited success.
       

                                      First photo of the day taken at about 0845 hrs

       

                            Photo taken at about 0935, the supposed peak of the eclipse. 

                                          Not exactly dark but it was a strange light.
       

                               The only photo showing part of the Suns disc missing.

Without solar filters, even adjusting the exposure settings, the power of the Suns light was too much to get a decent picture.
Our walk today took us across the fields to the Black Horse at Foxton where we enjoyed lunch in their garden in the sun.
Having been alone for a week we now have some neighbours. We are still planning on departing on Monday subject to the weather.

Services day

We have been at our mooring now for six days and it is a nice peaceful spot. When the sun is shining it is on the solar panel all day, which is good for the batteries. We are now able to run all our electrical needs for two to three days without having to charge them using the engine. Today we needed to take on water and to pump out the holding tank. We were also out of coal for the stove. We set off at 8.30 in the mist, for the water point 300 yards ahead of us. It was slow filling due to low pressure so it was nearly an hour before we were done. In this time the mist had lifted, and we had clear blue sky and bright sunshine. A number of anglers had passed us, heading for the stretch of water we had just left. During a conversation with them I told them our plan was to return to our previous spot. They were happy to leave it free for us which was great. We set off for the junction, as we had to now head back to Debdale Wharf for the pump out and coal. Whilst there we met the owners of Black Bart who had just had the same zinc coating done that we are having in October. What was really spooky was they are from Kent like us, they moor at Yelvertoft like us and have been living on board since July like us, it’s a small world.

On return to our spot we secured the boat, then walked across the fields to the village of Gumley. We found the Bell Inn and popped in for lunch. It was gone 3pm before we were back at the boat, to relax after our strenuous days work. We are now set up to stay here till Monday or Tuesday, so a Sunday roast at the Foxton Locks Inn is on the cards.

Stormy at Foxton

We arrived at Foxton Locks yesterday afternoon and have moored in ‘the Foxton mooring zone’. This area is I believe strictly time controlled, due to it being a popular tourist attraction. The area we are in restricts us to two days, and we could only stay a max of 14 days in the whole zone in any one month. After securing the boat for the impending arrival of hurricane Gonzalo, we went for a walk descending the lock flight. At the bottom is the junction where we carried on walking in the direction of Leicester. The wind started to pick up, especially when we reached open countryside and the clouds were begining to darken. The decision was made to return to the boat before we got a soaking. Most afternoons now the stove is lit, so we are nice and toasty by the evening. 

Today we went for Tuesday lunch at the Foxton Locks Inn. This is a very dog friendly pub and even has free treats for dogs when the owners have lunch. 

We have not yet decided whether to spend a further full day here or to depart tomorrow. We shall have to check the weather reports as I don’t fancy moving with the winds gusting as much as they are currently.