Friday, July 29, 2016

Melling and beyond

Kanatara's suffering from spurious vibrations at the moment. They're not serious, we don't think, but they're not Good Vibrations either. Their not coming from the engine as far as we can tell, but they do occur at a particular engine speed. I suspect it's something in the engine compartment, a pipe or cable perhaps, banging against the hull or the bulkhead. We're staying where we are tomorrow, so I'll use some of that time to trace it, hopefully, and fix it. I need to de-rust and lubricate the steel hinge-lock on our stainless steel ladder-cum-gangplank. I can't fold it in two as it is.

We're about 8 miles and 4 swing bridges further on from our last mooring. The journey was lovely, the countryside and the canal maintaining their rural feel. Maghull's not the grey lump it appears to be on the map. Again, the boater sees tidy housing and neat gardens.

We moored there for lunch, just above Shaw's swing-bridge 14, and a quick visit to Morrison's very close by.

 It's a peaceful haven where we're now moored (apart from the background rumble of some serious roads), on the edge of the urban outskirts of Liverpool - Aintree, Litherland and Bootle being the major towns we'll pass through on Friday on our way to Eldonian Village. We're surrounded by farmland here. The tiny village of Melling is our closest settlement. 

“The village stands on an isolated hillock at a safe distance from the big city”, says our Nicholson Guide.

We're both feeling tired. A quiet, not-too-busy day will be good for us. There are just 10 miles before Eldonian Village, the terminus of the L & L canal, where we'll spend the two nights before being taken down into the docks.

Thursday AM
Well, we thought we'd be spending two nights there, but our plans have changed now. Re-reading the wad of bumph we downloaded from the CRT Liverpool website, we saw a bit that said that two of the swing bridges between here and there have to be operated by CRT staff, and each one inside two, one-hour windows. And the implication is that they'll only allow you through on the day you're scheduled to go into the docks.

They also say that, on that day, there won't be time to stop at Litherland for services, and we really need to.

So this morning I walked down to meet the bridge-keeper at bridge 9, the first of the two. He was, unsurprisingly, very helpful, and the outcome was, “You be here at 1 o'clock this afternoon, and I'll take you down to Litherland.” And there we can stay until Sunday afternoon. He recommended Litherland over Eldonian Village because it's “safer”. And it has full services, which, it seems, the Village doesn't.

It's raining hard as I write, so the prospect of this 2-hour trip is a bit grim. But, hey! We're boaters!

And it rained on us, and we got wet. But we're so glad we did! Though it did mean I took very few photos.

Bridge 9 is about a 20 minute drive from where we were moored. We had a swing bridge to deal with first, fully manual. And that's when the rain started. That is to say, immediately! Arriving at Bridge 9 ten minutes early, I had time to remove a bundle of water-weed from the prop shaft. Then the CRT man arrived. 30 minutes late, but never mind. We're not in any hurry.

It was then that I realised why a CRT man is needed at this bridge. It is controlled electrically, but it has no barriers to bring down across the road at each end of the bridge. And it's a busy road. So there's a risk of danger there that CRT don't want to to expose boaters or motorists to.

I know. It sounds unlikely. But stupidity exists.

So the CRT man was there, and he opened the bridge, and waved us through, calling out to us as we passed that there were three other craft on their way towards us. After that, we'd have the canal to ourselves.

And along came those boats in quick succession (insofar as narrowboats do anything quickly!), and we passed them closely, each of us trying to keep to the not-much-wider-than-two-boats channel between wide swathes of water-lilies, their tiny yellow flowers closed against the dullness of the sky above them.

This route looks very different on the map from how it actually is. Much of it is tree-lined, or has pleasant houses and gardens on one side or the other, not the commercial, industrial scene which greets you as you go into London. Here, the boater gets no real idea of the density of the buildings you see on the map on both sides of the canal for several miles. It's actually a very attractive stretch, though we did comment on the degree to which the whole of the Leeds & Liverpool feels very run-down and unloved. It's very strange, when you consider how many millions of pounds have been spent on the Liverpool Docks development.

It was with some surprise that we found the same CRT man came to see us through swing-bridge 6, too. Though this time I had no idea why he had to do it, and not me. He gave me advice on operating the next swing bridge, J2, just before mooring at Litherland, and waved us on our way. Only to meet us there, too, and watch as I, aided by an enthusiastic gongoozler, opened the bridge. He then helped us into our mooring, welcomed us to Liverpool, and gave us directions to the very local Tesco, the pubs, fish and chips shop, buses and railway station. He also pointed out the locations of the services, all very close to hand.

It has to be said that this is a very long way from being the most attractive place to moor, but we're really glad to be here. It's a CRT yard and office, and we share the space with piles of bricks, bags of gravel, lengths of timber, and old machinery. But it's clean and tidy, and pretty quiet by urban standards. It's a gated site, and only boaters have the key. There are several other boats here, too, either on their way to or from the docks. Ideal!


  1. Just catching up with you again. The L&L is now officially on my wishlist. It has so much variety! Lovely posts and photos, Roger! By the way, Koos says his father always spoke about the 'trilpunt' of a boat's engine. It was the speed at which things started to rattle. Apparently (he being a commercial skipper), he just tried to avoid it. Nice one, hey? We have the same problem. We have a rattle at particular revs. In our case, it's when we are going very slowly. Various explanations have been offered, among which was the start of diesel bug, but another suggested poor alignment and/or engine mountings. i suspect it's that, but we'll have to worry about that later. Not now :) We are having too much fun this year!

    1. Thanks for the thoughts on the vibration, Val. We know it's not diesel bug (but hadn't thought of the possibility that that could cause the shakes - though I see it now). Ours, too, is at slow speed. It might be the engine mountings or alignment, but that was found wanting, and corrected last year, so it shouldn't be that. But, as you say, we're having too much fun to bother at the moment - so long as nothing falls off! I'm going for a pipe against a bulkhead. We shall see! :-D

  2. I'm impressed with the service you received from CRT! However, it has to be said, it was one of the bods on the ground rather than an office wallah and the former tend to be helpful and friendly in my experience. Cheers

    1. The "bods on the ground" are, indeed, usually really great, but I have to say that I've always found office staff helpful, too. They do a good job in the face of enormous tasks.