Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Etruria ere we go

Well it’s been a right busy fortnight with lots of boating, lots of chatting and catching up and just a small amount of alcohol (he he).  On Saturday 19th, we drove down to Darley at Alvecote and put our things in the back cabin and then by 6.30pm retired to the Samuel Barlow for pre-birthday drinks with the crowd.  After an hour three boats set off from Alvecote in convoy to The Bull at Polesworth. David Goode took the lead with his newly acquired Josher Ling with Karen Parrott as crew, followed by Darley with Dawn and I as crew and with Matt Parrott being given the honour of steering (well it was his birthday)  The convoy was being supported from the rear by little Woolwich motor Auriga.  The drinks flowed, the fun began and everyone seemed to be having a great time especially Matt as he went through the various stages of excessive drinking.  First the happy stage where he was really enjoying the company, then the second stage as he ’loved’ everybody telling them but mainly Spuggy s repeating again and again “I love you Spuggy” while playfully slapping Spuggy round the cheeks.  Then the final stage, which was mainly played out in the gents where he just wanted to die!  Sunday morning saw some of us heading down to Dusty’s cafĂ© for a mega breakfast.  Suitably refreshed we headed back to Alvecote where we were leaving Darley for the week.  A couple of evenings we drove down to Alvecote just to do a few jobs in preparation for the fourth coming rally season.  Friday after work, I was going to drive down to Darley and start back, but a midweek phone call off David Ray inviting us to his birthday on Friday night saw us driving up to the Junction Inn at Norbury for the festivities.  I volunteered to be driver and so drank coke all night, returning home about midnight and stopping off at the chippy for a supper of curry and chips.  With this consumed I put my stuff in the car and bade farewell to dawn and headed off down to Darley.  I arrived at Alvecote at about 1.30am and so was aware of the need to be quiet.  I had left the keys for Darley with Lawrence Williams at the weekend so he could fill her tanks up with diesel for me during the week.  As he needed to move Darley from outside the Barlow down to the yard where he would leave her, or so I thought.  I parked very quietly on the pub car park and walked back up the lane, across the canal bridge and back down the towpath on the opposite side to the yard.  When I got there, Darley was nowhere to be seen, Just a line of moored boats, so I proceeded to quietly pass about six moored boats and still no sign.  Strange I thought and wondered if he had put here in the yard or the marina and so I walked back up the cut back to the yard.  No she was not in the yard basin and I could not see her in the marina, but looking back down the canal, there she was, moored outside the pub where I had left her last week.  Bless you Lawrence he had filled her up and moved her back.  By 4.00am Saturday morning I was up and ready to go but it was not quite light enough until 4.30am when I fired up the Petter and was off.  By 10.30am I was making the turn at Fradley only to spend the next hour and a half to get above Shadehouse lock waiting for the numb nutts to bugger about with half paddles.  By 4.00pm on the Saturday afternoon I finally tied Darley back up at her mooring at Great Haywood after a 12 hour trip with about eight of those boating in absolute baking heat.  The factor 20 cream I had put on my head had meted completely and it looked and felt as if I had poured chip oil on my head!  Sunday I went down to Darley to sort out the cloths on the cratch.  As some of you will know I run Darley with the top cloths up from the deck board to the mast and under this Dawn has her little ‘galley’.  Since I bought Darley the side cloths have never been right at the bows all saggy and buckled and I thought it was because they needed tying up properly.  So on Sunday I set about this half hour job which ended up taking most of the day.  When once I had taken the top cloth off and put new strings on the side cloths I began to tie them back up but they were as saggy/buckled as before and on closer examination, it was due to the side cloths not being fitted correctly.  Side cloths, when tied up, should run straight from end to end along the top edge, in other words as the bows sweep up the cloths become narrower.  That is when they are fitted correctly, Darley’s followed the hull side at a parallel width and this is what was the problem.  So I untied them and then set about removing the strips fixing them to the gunnels.  After this I repositioned them and re-attached the strips.  With the side cloths now fitted correctly, I proceeded to wash them all down, including the top cloth.  With this done, I proceeded to fit the top cloths the finally the cotton rockets, which had been removed prior to the start of the winter. 

I have been down to Darley every night after work doing all the little jobs, cleaning, painting etc. in readiness for this coming weekend show at Etruria which both Dawn and I are really looking forward to. Well Darley is now ready and we will be travelling up on Thursday/Friday so if you see me on my way give me a wave, shout ‘how do’ but don’t bang ‘em about

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Something for the weekend, Sir, part two

I was working in Brum today, delivering a course to a group at an engineering company on the side of the ‘old thirteen’ just above lock twelve, needless to say when we stopped for lunch, I took a stroll up the canal for half an hour, sadly no boats on the move, but was still pleasant.  Anyway back to the blog,  the course had been organised to run from 9.30am to 4.30pm which would have meant that by the time I had finished and packed everything away it would have been near enough 5.00pm.  Now anybody who knows central Brum will know that by this time the traffic is solid and a crawl all up the motorway back to Cannock, and I wanted to be moving Darley.  So earlier in the week I spoke to the works manager and convinced him that the course would be far better starting when their shit starts which was 7.30 am.  This saw me finished, loaded up and leaving by 3.30pm, home by 4.30pm and, after waiting for Dawn to do us some pork cobs for our tea, we were down to Darley just turned five o’clock. We left Crown bridge by 5.30 and were on our way.  Despite a boat moored above Shade house lock pulling out right in front of us as we approached then taking forever working down the flight, we were still making the turn by 6.45pm. When once you have made the turn at Fradley you are on a really pretty but shitty stretch of cut.  The Coventry canal is badly in need of a good clean out and Darley dragged her arse along all the way to Huddlesford chucking up great bellows of rotted leaves, sticks and other vegetable matter.  We finally tied up under the railway bridge at Huddlesford at 8.30pm averaging 3mph overall.

Tomorrow evening, as soon as I finish work, I am off down to Darley for the last leg of this trip.  Because of cars and the need for Dawn to go to work on Saturday, she is not coming with me so a bit of single handing tomorrow and a night by myself on the boat, boo hoo (mind you I will be tied up at the Samuel Barlow pub at Alvecote Marina)  So I am really looking forward the tomorrow and the weekend.  I will let you know how it all goes when I return so till then, as always,
Don’t bang ‘em about

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Something for the weekend, Sir

Went down to Darley last night and swept out all the inside of the hold.  Just as I had finished, I heard a distant ‘engine’ and looking down the cut towards the junction I could see Andrew and Andrea with Dove and Achilles on the water point.  Andrew walked up and said they were going to moor on the grass opposite Darley so I told him to bring them up and moor abreast Darley and Chris Shenton’s boat, which they did.
 (Photo Andrew & Andrea)
We sat chatting until it was almost dark before I went home.  Well it’s all coming together, finally.  All the inside of the hold is finished, side red oxided, bottom panels blacked and all the running gear has been given a coat of red oxide.
So now for the outside, bows and counter need painting, top cloth needs taking off and scrubbing to get rid of the winter messages from the pigeons that roost in the huge tree over the bows, outside cabin brasses need a damn good clean and all this needs to be done before Etruria in 3weeks time. Then yesterday Dawn gets a message inviting us down to Alvecote this Saturday to celebrate Matt’s birthday.  So it was decided to move Darley down there over the next three nights as it is about a 10 hour trip we can split this into three 3+hour trip each evening so tonight I moved her from our mooring at Great Haywood down to Crown bridge, passing Armitage Shank's wors in Armitage which always reminds me of the scene from the film 'The Bargee' where the boats pass the factory with all the girls hanging out the windows shouting "where's Hemmel".
Tommorow night we will take her somewhere around Huddlesford and then Friday to Alvecote for the celebrations.  Whoopee some boating at last.
Don’t bang ‘em about

Thursday, 10 May 2012

And yet another quick update

As I said in my last blog, I have been busy inside the hold, painting, creosoting, making shelves etc. so I just thought I would add a couple of photo’s.  I would have put some on last night but I have been having a few problems.  Last month Dawn bought herself a new iPhone 4.  Her old phone is a HTC and as it is less than a year old and cost nearly £300 and she was only offered £80 in part exchange she said did I want her old phone.  As it had a camera and my old Nokia was a bit of a brick! I jumped at the offer (bad move) it is a touch screen phone and does all sorts of fancy things, not that I will ever use them, but when you have fingers like sausages like me then the phone develops a mind of its own.  I have been taking photos of the work I’ve been doing each night then coming home, connecting it to my computer which has the decided to clear the memory on the phone’s gallery every time.  Dawn said it was me doing something but last night I asked her to download them and it still did it so she sat for the next two hours fiddling and returning it to factory settings, whatever that is, and hey presto tonight it has worked so here are a couple of shots I have taken just to keep you all up to speed.
The stank is out.
 Scruff keeping guard and a close eye on the proceedings.
 The rear shuts fitted back in place and freshly creosoted.
 Dawn’s kitchen storage unit.
 Dawn’s fridge/hob/cooker/sink/drainer unit
 New shelf for the top cloths and ropes etc.
When I came to re lay the shuts that had been raised for the stank to be cut out, there was a slight problem which I had not noticed before.  The shuts behind the stank were about an inch lower than those in front so first thing I had to do was to saw some blocks of wood the same thickness as the difference in height and nail then to the bottom of the shut bearers to raise them up.  With that done I was able to relay all the shuts and creosote the last two then put the grand staircase back in position.  By this time it was after eight and I was getting hungry, not having anything to eat all day, so I packed everything away and headed off to the best chippy in the world, next to Crown Bridge in Armitage for two cod and chips and a pot of mushy peas, then home.  We have got the two granddaughters this week end so I probably won’t get much work done and you watch I bet its glorious sun shine all week end.  Oh well never mind there’s always next week so until then
Don’t bang ‘em about

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Another quick update

Well what a cracking day it’s been.  Have spent all day down Darley and got some jobs done.  Dawn came down to me at dinner time and brought Bruce and Scruff with her along with bacon and sausage sandwiches for dinner.  Bruce now has a red bum where he leaned up against one of the side panels while the red oxide was still wet, Scruff has really enjoyed himself going for a walk with Chris Shenton up the field with Bruce, Billy, his black Labrador and Archie his lovely Pattedale Terrier.  He has been running up and down the top planks just as if he had always been on a boat and then spent the next couple of hours sleeping on my jerkin on the back end boards.  Have finished red oxiding all the hull sides and blacking all the bottoms apart form one set of panels where there is a stank welded in.

 Terry, the previous owner of Darley, was going to build a gunnel height cabin in front of the engine ‘ole where the cabin top would have formed a long ’back end board’ platform.  Inside it he was going to fit a couple of beds for when folks travelled and stayed with him.  I know its each to his own, but for me a working boat is a working boat, the one thing I disliked about my last boat Minnow was the short cabin extension and long term I would have removed it.  So I have no intention of putting extra cabin’s etc. on Darley so this stank is in the way and has got to come out.  Chris has spoken to a friend of his who said he will pop down one of the evenings this next week and remove it with his gas bottles, yippee!  All the shuts have now been creosoted as well so that’s all the inside of the hold finished. As I had blogged about last year, I run Darley with top cloths on up to the mast as underneath I have installed a unit out of a caravan with a fridge, hob, sink and cooker.  Up against the bow stank I have two blue plastic drums so that I could fill them with water if I needed to get under any really low bridges etc.  So far I have not had to do this, and they do take up a lot of room, so having taken everything out from under the cratch to paint/creosote etc. I took advantage and have also removed the two drums and built a proper shelf for the cloths and ropes etc. and looks proper tidy now.  Under this shelf I have built a unit for DAWN to keep all HER bits and bobs in (plates, cups, saucepans, frying pan and also the plastic stacking boxes we use for storing food when were on the boat) Remember the saga of the new computer screen resulting in new desk etc. well I used the boards from the old desk to make this unit. (When I took it apart and kept it Dawn said “what do you want that for?” my reply at the time was “don’t know but it will come in for something” her response “More bloody rubbish” I rest my case.  This now just leaves all the running gear, top planks, cross beams, uprights and bottoms of the mast box and stands and that will be all the hold finished, then I can make a start on the outside including counter and bows.  Need to re paint the tunnel bands, cants and rear deck on the counter,  The cants and deck on the bows and the engine ‘ole cabin top needs red oxiding then that should be us ready for this year’s shows starting in four weeks at Etruria.  Hooray, I can get out and get some boating done so if any of you see me out and about this year don’t forget to say ‘how do’ but whatever you do,
Don’t bang ‘em about

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Quick update

Last night, after spending a couple of hours down at Darley, I  blacked another bottom panel and creosoted all the shuts down the one side and it’s starting to look quite smart again. 

Dawn came down to me later and brought the dogs with her.  Bruce our chocolate Labrador and our new addition to the family, Scruff a cross Patterdale terrier, who took to the boat like a duck to water. 

Bruce has never been a boat dog in as much when we are out and about he just sits or sleeps in the hold.  What Dawn wanted was a dog that will sit on the cabin top and run up and down the top planks and it looks like Scruff fits the bill perfectly.  Having said that, he did sing us a very merry song when we went to bed and left him in his cage in the kitchen.  It only lasted for about 5 minutes though, and it was his first night in a strange environment, so hopefully he will get used to it and quieten down over the next few days. I'll let you know, so till then, as always
Don't bang 'em about

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

All aboard The Skylark.

Last week I mused over emptying my computer desk draws and discovering a file containing old canal related junk that I had not looked at for a while and so here is another dip into its contents.  Back in the 1960’s, there was not much in the way of canal boats available for purchase, apart from ex working boats, which were not everybody’s cup of tea.  As yet, apart from the ardent canal enthusiasts, the leisure industry had not yet taken off and those who did venture onto the waterways did so in a vast array of ‘not built for canals’ craft including lifeboats, cabin cruisers, ex-army pontoons etc. etc.in fact almost anything that would float(most of the time) with a beam of less than 7’-0” was used.  The same could be said for the availability of hire boats which were either wooden ex working boats cut in two with new back ends put on each half or cabin cruisers of some description.  There were hire companies starting to see the future market popping up around the system, even in the Midlands with such companies as Double Pennant in Wolverhampton, Dartline Cruisers in Pennfields, Wolverhampton, Ernest Thomas at Calf Heath who had quite a few half wooden joey boats with square sterns with names like Coot, Moorhen & Heron.  Then of cause there was Dawncraft at Stewpony wharf who boasted ‘our cruisers have been specifically designed for the inland waterways’  probably not the scrap iron and brick strewn bottom of the BCN though! Here is a couple examples cut from Dawncraft’s 1966 brochure

I also like this, which is a price list from the same brochure which states:

Thinking of buying a boat
Then whether it is a 2 berth or
A 6 berth you want. . . .
We can supply it

2 Berth             19 feet                     at £650 (excluding engine)
4 Berth             20 feet                     at £877 (excluding engine)
4 Berth             22 feet                     at £977 (excluding engine)
4/6 Berth         25 feet                     at £1,185 (excluding engine)
6 Berth             28feet 6inches         at £1,850(excluding engine)

And just to finish on here is a price list from 1968, that I sent for when I was thinking of hiring one of Dart Lines cruisers which if I remember right were steel cruisers with a central ‘cockpit’ and a section of sliding cabin top I think called a Frobisher design.  Needless to say I never did hire one!

I love the ‘Note’ at the bottom which states “Tamar” can accommodate a further 1 or 2 persons if required at an extra charge of £3.00 per person, wow the expense of it!  When you think of it six of you could have had a weeks cruising this week for £5.00 each(I wonder if that included fuel and gas?)
Well there you go another dip into the past, when, lets be honest you would be terrified to:
Bang ‘em about