Thursday, April 20, 2017

Finishing off

The weather the next morning was glorious, and absolutely perfect for painting. There were still no other boats with us as we cast off.

Husband's Bosworth Tunnel was plain sailing this time, with only a small and very timid boat crawling along the wall towards us half-way through.

When we arrived at Welford Junction, we were very surprised to find just two other boats moored at this well-known painting spot, one of them the Cheese Boat off to their next destination, there to sell their Welsh cheeses.
We moored, and we painted. I did the first coat of blacking on and below the rubbing strake, Grace primed the scrapes and chips on the black deck paint above it. The sun shone, the birds sang lustily, and the painting didn't take long.

The next morning, we completed the job. A second coat of hull blacking, and black deck paint on the panel above. When we considered it to be dry enough, we left for the marina. We were short of food, we had no bread or milk at all, and we had a large, smelly bag of rubbish to get rid of. Unfortunately, the nearest rubbish skip and shop to this point are in Yelvertoft, so we had no real choice but to move on.

We played with the thought of continuing south for another week, but we have to be back at the start of May to meet up with friends, and we decided against it. It's looking as though our longest cruising is going to be done later in the year than usual.

Back to Yelvertoft, then.

NB Blue Belle was back in the berth next to us, getting themselves ready to leave the next day to go to Alvecote, their next trading place.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Moving out to finish the job

We got off to a late start on Monday. The weather wasn't conducive to painting, so we decided to turn around and go back to Welford to finish the job. We'd have liked to carry on for another couple of weeks, down to Market Harborough, perhaps, or head off towards Leicester, but we couldn't think of any places where the mooring would be good enough for hull painting on the starboard side, and that had been the main purpose of the trip.

Some of the floating traders had left their reserved moorings, so we moved into a space the other side of the bridge, next to the horse and boy statue.
From here, Grace went down to the shop to buy milk, and I did a couple of treks down to the disposal units. We had a brief exchange with Roger and Cindy who were still busy touting their wares on Blue Belle. Theirs was one of the few trading boats left, but there was still quite a good number of people out, making the most of the last day of the long weekend.

Needing to fill our water tank before we left, Grace winded where the canal divides to take boats to the top lock on one side and to the inclined plane on the other, though the latter route is no longer passable. Having turned, we reversed to a water point and topped up, then made our way out under the bridge, waving goodbye to Roger and Cindy, and moored again not far from where we'd come from earlier. We tied up behind NB Blue Moon, but there was no sign of Barry. After lunch, we made off out of Foxton, and moored just before the pipe bridge a mile from Husbands Bosworth Tunnel. It was a delightful spot, bright and open, remote and very quiet. It was a beautiful evening, and the sky was quite remarkable.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Foxton Locks at Easter

Easter Day had a gloomy weather outlook. Heavy rain all day from about 10:00am onwards. Grace and I stopped to talk with Roger and Cindy on NB Blue Belle at around 1:30pm, and it hadn't rained a drop. Business was going fairly well for Roger, though he said that he'd sold more paintings on his way to Foxton than he'd sold since his arrival on Friday. He was a bit concerned about the weather forecast. I assured him it was not going to rain!

Apparently, other floating traders there had complained to the Foxton management because the market had not been very well promoted, and they felt that they weren't getting value from the fee they'd paid to be there. And it was true. A visitor to the Locks could have a really pleasant wander up to top lock, buy refreshments there, and not see any reason to go any further. The trading boats were hidden from view at that point by the bend in the canal. It was shame.

Steve, Jess, Naomi and Eddie arrived before 2:00, and we had a really good Sunday Carvery Lunch together at the Foxton Locks Inn before sauntering up the locks, looking at the remains of the inclined plane boat lift, enjoying the panorama from the viewing platform, and perusing the floating market before crossing the bridge and boarding Kantara for a family catch-up over tea and coffee on board Kantara.

When they left at about 6:30, it still hadn't rained!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Isn't it always the way?

Sitting in the marina, using their wi-fi, my laptop is fine. No problems. Hardly ever. And the last time we were out on the cut, our 3G dongle worked just fine, too. But this time, the dongle works perfectly for Grace, but my computer refuses even to notice that it's plugged into it. And, just to make things worse, when we tried the 3G router, that wouldn't work for either of us!

I gave up and swore I wouldn't bother with the internet while we're out. Grace told me off for swearing, and spent the next hour making our laptops talk to the router. And she did it, of course!


So, where was I? Wednesday...

On Wednesday, we took the boat back to bridge 17, where I painted the port rubbing strake and Grace primed the scratches on the panel above it. We're seriously considering having the hull hot zinc sprayed. Pricey, but guaranteed to protect the entire hull from rust for 10 years - and probably longer.

Barry arrived not long after us, Barry from NB Blue Moon, moored at Yelvertoft. He was in need of a break, he said, and he spent many hours fishing from the bank.

Thursday's weather didn't deter Barry from fishing, but it almost stopped us making any further progress with the painting. But after some hours of indecision, Grace took a gamble with the elements, and painted the port side below the gunnel.

The paint was dry on Friday morning, so we moved on to moor just before the Welford Junction. The weather was cold but largely dry, though when we left, it hadn't tempted Barry to get out for some more fishing.

The next day, it was very cold, but dry and bright. Spring was very evident again. Tiny lambs gambolled as only lambs can, calves lay next to their mothers, blackthorn blossomed whitely in the hedgerows, and the trees and skies were full of birdsong. It was a beautiful day in so many ways.

Our journey from just before Husbands Bosworth Tunnel was slowed considerably when we caught up with a very slow day-boat. As they entered the tunnel ahead of us, we pulled over to wait for them to get well ahead of us, because Grace didn't want to go through the tunnel at tickover, which is what the other boat was doing all of the time. Mercifully, they did speed up eventually. That is, until the final stretch between bridges 59 and 60, and we arrived at Foxton in crawl mode once more.
Seeing the moorings before bridge 60 to be rather full, and with no empty spaces visible beyond the bridge, we took no risks, and hauled and squeezed into a space before the bridge, a space which was precisely the right length, so tight that we were literally fender-to-fender with the boats at both ends of Kantara.

After lunch, we took a stroll down the locks and back. The moorings beyond the bridge were, in fact, all taken, having been reserved for boats in a floating market. We met Roger and Cindy again, the painter and his wife on NB Blue Belle. He was displaying many of his paintings and drawings right down the length of the boat. We really couldn't imagine just how they managed to store them all on board. There were two or three pictures we'd have loved to have bought, but we really don't have the wall space for them.

Several of the traders said that business had been slow over the first two days of the long Easter weekend. The weather tomorrow is going to be less pleasant. At least, so the BBC forecast says. Let's hope they're wrong yet again!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On the move!

Yesterday's beautiful weather was just right for us to get out onto the cut and do the touch-up work needed on the hull. We seem to have had far more scrapes last year than ever before, so the job's going to take a few days. While we're doing it, we'll be moving in steps towards Foxton Locks, where we'll be meeting up with the kids, and having lunch together.

Our first step was to the stretch just after bridge 27 (GU Leicester Line), and we were amazed to find that there was no-one else there, painting their boat. The bank there is quite low, which means you can paint right down to the water-line quite easily.

Approaching Bridge 27

Moored against the low bank

 After sanding down on the port side, we winded just beyond the next bridge...
 ...and returned to the same spot to do the same job to the other side.

And then we went back to the marina! This hadn't been our original intention, but we hadn't realised before just how dirty the hull was, and the marina was the very best choice of place for washing it.

The spring-swept countryside was absolutely glorious.

On our way back, we passed Roger and Cindy in NB Blue Belle, who had spent a few days in the berth next to us. They're on their way to Foxton, too. Roger's an artist, a painter, and they're going to be part of the floating market at Foxton over the weekend. Because they'd left the marina, we had the empty space next to us back again, so today I've been able to wash and apply rust remover to both sides of the boat by moving her from one side of the double berth to the other. Most convenient!

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we'll be applying the hull paint back at bridge 27. One side, anyway. To do the other we'll move on to Welford Junction, turn around,  and moor against the low bank there. That done, we'll wind again and carry on to Foxton Locks. If the weather's good over the weekend, there'll be lots of visitors there. Here's hoping!