Yelvertoft Marina

Following our overnight stop at Hemplow Hills, on Monday 26/3, we returned to the Marina, parking the boat for a few days over the Easter break, whilst we visited family. Back at the Marina following the holiday weekend, we are in the process of having a box made to store our anchor, and this is expected to be completed around the 15th April. Our intention is to stay put till then, before finally departing on our 7 month summer cruise. This morning however, we woke to clear blue sky and warm sunshine. It was far too nice not to be cruising. Sadly, the carpenter had phoned making arrangements to attend the boat for a final fitting of our anchor box. It was just after midday when things were concluded, we got underway turning right from the Marina. Once we cleared the outskirts of Yelvertoft village, we stopped for lunch. This was in the vicinity of bridge 22. Having secured the boat, Oscar the furry crew member, decided that a photo was required. He took up his position posing in the well deck, but was most put out, when he was photo bombed by a very noisy Chinook flying overhead.

Photo bombed by a Chinook

After a brief lunch we set off for the winding hole at bridge 28. On arrival we encountered a fisherman, who soon realised his swim was about to be ruined for the day. He took it in good grace though. Once winded, it was back to the Marina arriving a little under four hours after we had initially left. 

  • Totals Monday 26/3. 5 Miles
  •          Thursday 5/4. 6 Miles
  • Running total 24 Miles 2 Locks

Watford and a Spitfire flight

As the title says we are moored near Watford, as in the the village of Watford, and not the sprawling mass just north of London. Anyway, it has been a while since the last post so a bit of a catch up is required. As planned we left Napton on a return journey for Yelvertoft, stopping briefly in a number of previously visited locations. We did however break the journey from bridge 100 on the Oxford Canal to Norton Junction, by stopping for a night halfway up the Braunston flight in the Admiral Nelson P.H. pound. Of course being so close a visit had to be made.

       

Sunday lunch on Fathers Day was enjoyed at the New Inn, Long Buckby, before heading off up Watford Locks and transiting Crick tunnel the following day. We stopped just beyond bridge 20 on the Leicester Line G.U. a usual spot for us, close to Yelvertoft Marina. On Thursday 23/6 we headed off towards the unofficial winding hole a mile ahead by bridge 24. It is very much silted up now and we only just made the turn. Had we been unsuccessful the next winding hole would have added three hours to our journey.
                                    

                                           Oscar sunning himself on the grassy towpath.

Once in the marina we had a few boat type chores to do over the next couple of days, before heading off for the weekend to visit family.
Now for the best bit. On Tuesday 28/6 it was our Pearl Wedding Anniversary. We set off from our hotel close to Brands Hatch heading for Biggin Hill airfield. The former RAF station was one of the main airfields defending London during the war and is now privately operated. We travelled the perimeter road to a hanger at the far end of the airfield which is filled with a selection of aircraft from both the RAF and Luftwaffe. After checking in we attended a safety briefing, which basically amounted to, these are the risks, as if they were going to stop me, then it was off to be kitted out with flight suit and gloves.
The next thirty minutes words can’t really describe so I will let the photos do it.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

The Spitfire in question is MJ627. Built at Castle Bromwich in 1943, she entered service with the Royal Canadian Air Force. MJ627s first operational sortie was from an advanced landing ground in Belgium. After only two days of service MJ627 destroyed a Messerschmitt Me 109 over Arnhem being flown by Pilot Officer Sidney Bregman.
The aircraft commander for my flight was Don Sigournay, a former Royal Navy pilot who flew Sea Harriers. Being the first flight of the day, on start up the engine stalled, belching smoke from its twelve exhaust ports. Second time round, no such problem. We taxied towards the runway and then waited whilst the Rolls Royce Merlin engine warmed to operating temperature. As we moved onto the runway final readings of the gauges were made before the throttle was opened and in no time at all we were airborne. The Spitfire begins to fly at about 85 knots. Climbing away from Biggin Hill we made a quick turn left, taking us away from the controlled airspace of Gatwick airport. On reaching our cruising altitude the engine was throttled back, and wings levelled as we flew south east over the Kent countryside. What occurred next I had not been expecting. I had thought I was going to be simply a passenger, up there for a ride. Now I was being offered the controls. At the instruction of Don I now flew the Spitfire, banking left and right over Kent with London in the distance. For the next 15 minutes I was in seventh heaven. The initial emotional feelings of being in such an iconic aircraft now gave way to sheer fun. All to soon control was back with Don, however there was to be one final treat. The Spitfire was put into a shallow dive allowing the airspeed to increase. As we pulled out of the dive you could feel the G force pressing you back into the seat. Then the aircraft rolled to the left, performing a victory roll. Well you simply can’t fly in a Spitfire and not do that, can you. We then headed back to Biggin Hill for a perfect landing.
Today we departed Yelvertoft Marina on our main summer cruise. We have no plan as such other than attending Glascote Basin towards the end of July for a Hudson boat owners gathering at the new Norton Canes base. We passed through Crick tunnel then took a mooring just north of the locks.
       

       


Totals 13/6 to 23/6  20 Miles 21 Locks 2 Tunnels
Totals today 4 Miles 1 Tunnel
Running totals 165 Miles 112 Locks 10 Tunnels

Yelvertoft

We departed Norton Junction at about 9.30 this morning heading towards the Watford lock flight. As we approached it became apparent there was a queue, and we were number three. There was also one more boat in the flight going up, and three more on their way down which we would need to wait for. Still, at least it was warm and sunny. About an hour later we were on our way up. The flight was manned by volunteers, who helped with our progression through the central staircase section. We had been close to the M1 for a while, but once through the top lock, we passed beneath the motorway and soon left the noise behind us. Although we’d had a bit of a wait, it is nothing like the wait people will have in a couple of weeks time, when all the Crick Boat Show traffic is on the move. It is one of the reasons we have returned to the summit level a tad early. Then it was Crick tunnel, wet as usual, but not as bad as it has been previously. Passing Crick Marina we were soon on familiar water, rounding Cracks Hill and Yelvertoft. We passed our winter home, noting our usual berth is currently empty, and then stopped for water by bridge 19. Whilst waiting we had a bite to eat, then it was on again, about half a mile to our intended mooring spot. 

       

                                                          Mooring by bridge 20.

We don’t have any hard and fast plans now until the Crick Boat Show, so will spend a few days here and there on the summit level, before returning to Yelvertoft Marina.
Totals 7 Miles 7 Locks 1 Tunnel
Running total 101 Miles 68 Locks 5 Tunnels

Yelvertoft, bridge 22

Weekly update – after spending a few days at Welford junction we returned on 31/10 to Yelvertoft marina. We are now booked in here for the winter although we will be taking regular excursions out. Friday was an admin and shopping day, so we rejoined civilisation in Daventry for a few hours. Saturday dawned and the preparations for the Halloween party were well under way. We only had a couple of hours to source suitable attire. I was most disappointed that Asda had sold out of their inflatable wings, still always next year. The evening was well attended and we had a great time, even winning a raffle prize. It was also good to make some new acquaintances who will be our neighbours for the next few months.

Sunday was a day of rest, but only after helping to clear up the previous nights entertainment. We departed the marina on Tuesday in bright sunshine and headed north, a total distance of one mile. This was to be our mooring for the next few days. It has most things we need, quite, secluded, line of sight to the sky satellite, plenty of walks and close enough to the village if we really need it.

Just few picitures of our garden in the sunshine. Today I received an email from the Little Chimney Company telling us that our new chimney is ready. This was good news as I was expecting it to take seven weeks to be ready. It is made from stainless steel so will not rust, and should therefore reduce the amount of rust and tar leaking onto our roof. This will require a trip back to Tamworth to collect it. We have planned to do this on Friday when we return to the marina for the weekend. The trip took us about 3 weeks in the boat, but will take about 30 minutes by car. Oscar is also in for a surprise as we have booked him into a vet we used up there for his one year booster vaccination. That’s all for now.

A few maintenance jobs

We have stayed put since Friday, moored close to the entrance of Yelvertoft marina. The weather has taken a turn for the worst with some quite heavy rain, and a blustery wind blowing. Inside the boat however with the stove lit it is warm and cosy. 

Prior to the arrival of the rain I bought a hat for our chimney. This is designed to just balance on the top, and a good gust of wind I suspect, would deposit it in the canal. Currently I have it clamped with a G clamp, but today I took a trip into Rugby and purchased some self tapping screws which should make a more permanent solution.
Yesterday I spent doing a few jobs in the boat. The main one was balancing our radiators so that the heat output is mainly concentrated in the living area and the bathroom, with slightly less in the bedroom and rear room. I have also been reading up on battery maintenance and it can be a minefield. It is however important if you want to get the maximum life out of your batteries, as they can be expensive. Therefore, the engine was run for nearly 8 hours yesterday whilst the travelpower generator, and mastervolt inverter/charger performed what is called an equalisation charge. Fortunately this only has to be done every so often.
One of the benefits of having the stove lit is that you can cook on it, so today sitting on the stove is my tea, beef and ale stew. It certainly smells nice bubbling away in the pot. I will let you know in my next post how it turned out.

Tomorrow we are intending to move as we need water soon and will also fill up with diesel. I have found out speaking to some neighbouring boaters, that there is an unofficial winding hole by bridge 22 so we do not need to go as far as we thought. This move will be subject to the weather.

Bridge 18 Yelvertoft

Weekly update – On Monday we departed Foxton on a general return journey. We stopped again at North Kilworth and then on Tuesday I took a trip by road to Market Harborough. This appears to be an attractive small town with decent shops and we will be visiting it by boat later in the year. On Wednesday we moved again stopping overnight near a previous mooring spot at bridge 28. Unusually for us we moved again on Thursday this time passing Yelvertoft marina before winding (turning) at Cracks Hill winding hole. We did this to beat the bad weather that is forecast to arrive by the weekend. We plan on staying here for the week as family are possibly visiting us next weekend. I have however made a basic error as after this visit we intend on heading back down the Watford Locks to Long Buckby and then continue south on the Grand Union Canal towards the Northampton Arm. I am however facing the wrong way and the nearest winding hole is 3 miles away so a 6 mile round trip which is a days cruising for us. We will only have two weeks or so to explore as the Watford Locks are to be closed at the beginning of November as part the Canal and River Trust winter stoppages for maintenance. We need to be back on the summit level before then for our mooring in Yelvertoft Marina.

Today, Friday 3/10 we walked into Crick and found that the Red Lion pub has a nice atmosphere and that on the first Sunday of each month they have a pie night. The selection looked very good so i am sure we will visit them again. There is also a well stocked mini co-op so it is good to know we have good pubs and shops all with in walking distance for the winter.

                          View back towards bridge 18 and the marina entrance.
That’s it for now as we get ready to batten down the hatches for the wind and rain that is forecast. Tomorrow we have birthday to celebrate. Oscar is one year old and we have got him a nice chewy bone for his present.
Totals 14 Miles 1 Tunnel