Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Out with the grown up ships

 While at Tewitfield, I thought I should go and have a look at the locks.  This is the northern side of the road which blocks the Lancaster canal.

The locks are all still there, but missing gates.  I wonder how much a lock gate costs...

 A couple of the old gates are on display at the side of the canal

after a bit over half a mile, we reach the point that the M6 blocks the canal

Leaving Tewitfield, there seemed to be less water in the canal than on the way up.  More scrapes and bumps as I headed south.

I decided to stop for a brew, and to clear some more rubbish from the prop, at Capenwray Canal.  This is a really peaceful spot.  I might come back here when I want to get away from the world for a while.  When I look on the map, this short stretch of canal is called Lovers Creek, and I'm here on my own.  Bloody typical.

 The canal follows a railway, but it isn't electrified, so this is not the main line.  I don't know where this goes
 There are a lot of nice canal side houses, but I think they may be out of my price bracket
 Finally I reach the junction with the Glasson branch, and the first lock is very close to the main canal.
 Six locks later, and three hours 15 minutes doing the locks solo, and finally I am out into Glasson basin
 I moored up at the visitor moorings at the right hand side of the basin just as the sun was starting to set.
 Across from me the grown up ships were moored.
 And a bit further down was another "project".  I'd better not show Luke...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Whistlestop tour to the top

As this is a last minute idea, to come over to the Lancaster canal my return Ribble crossing is in two weeks, so I don't really have much time, I decided just to have a quick tour, and stop in some of the places I haven't been for a while.

The canal isn't like the Leeds Liverpool, it seems much more overgrown

 A quick bite to eat in the Waterwitch in Lancaster...
 ..then it was over the impressive Lune Aqueduct

A lot of the stonework in the bridges seems to feature fancy columns

 At Carnforth I stopped for a quick shopping trip, and was moored behind an impressive looking traditional boat.  This will be some inspiration for rebuilding the cabin on Achilles

The bottom of the boat is dragging aginst the bottom of the canal, so I don't think there will be any blacking left on the underside.

The biggest problem with the Lancaster, is the depth
 and the rubbish.  I have had to clear the prop of rubbish more times this last week than I ever have,  Fertiliser bags, a tyre, clothes, builders bags, bags "for life", more fertiliser bags, rubber matting,,,

As I reached the most Northern section the canal became even more overgrown, and shallower - although the rubbish had all gone.

 I passed the Capenwray Arm - I have dived many times in Capenwray Quarry and I never realised that Capenwray had a canal!
 Soon I had reached the last bridge in the north of the canal...
 ..but a foot short of the end of the canal, I decided not to continue to the end!
 Instead I consoled myself with a Steak in the Longlands Hotel bar.
This is the closest to Cumbria I can get, still about 800 yards short I believe.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Out to Sea...

I've come across another picture of Achilles when it was first refloated

 The first step in fixing Achilles was to look at the engine.    This engine has been underwater for 7 months I believe.

This is a 1967 Lister HA2, which is five years older than the boat, so not the original engine.  It is a good engine thought, so hopefully is will be OK.

After a few days the engine is completely stripped down, and looking in unbelievably good condition
As we were looking at a traditional rebuild of Achilles, I went down to Northwich to Yarwoods basin.

Here I was introduced to Mike and Helen Carter who have a collection of historic boats in the yard.

Indecisions, indecisions...

It was time to go up to the Old, sadly for the penultimate charity folk Festival. By Saturday night, the total raised on the weekend was at £3700 and climbing.
Sunday, the weather was unbelievably warm, sunny and not a cloud in sight, I decided to go for a walk.
Stickle Tarn and still not a cloud in sight
I went directly on and up to Sargent Man, which seemed further than last tine I cane up here...
From there it was back over Thurnscar Knott.  The boggy ground that is normally between the two was all dried out.  In fact I don't think I have ever seen the ground so dry up here.  At this rate the valley will be running out of water
It was nearly eight by the time I returned to the Old.  I am certainly not used to this heat, and I think I have dehydrated quite badly.  Such a difference from the rain, fog, sleet and snow of just a couple of weeks ago

While the canal at Manchester is closed, nobody can get up here from down south.  I thought I would have a trip over to the Lancaster Canal while it was quiet.  Once down the Wigan locks, it was great weather all the way to Parbold.
At Apperly Bridge, the back gates were leaking so bad it was a struggle to get the locks drained.  I was very careful not to let all this water hit the back deck and flood the boat.

I stopped the night at Parbold, and got the train back to Wigan for several pints in Wigan Central for my birthday.
The following day it was still blue skies as I turned off the Leeds Liverpool main line and headed down the Rufford Branch
The further out to sea I got the more this canal looked like a river
Soon I was at Tarleton Lock, where there were some interesting boats.

At the lock there was no water. The tide would be in tomorrow and I can carry on.

Sure enough in the morning the tide came in, very quickly, and before long I was heading out into open water.  Turn right at the Ashard Lamp...

Then it was against the tide heading up the Ribble estuary.  This was the time to be glad that I have a slightly overpowered engine, and glad I doubled up on the skin tanks.  Duck-n-Dive can manage nearly seven knots against the tide, and the engine is sitting at a happy 85 degrees. 

Soon I could see the entrance to Savick Brook...

And after a climb up what seemed more like a river, than a canal, I finally reached the Lancaster Canal.  I turned right, and picked my way through the litter and floating branches to Ashton basin marina to leave the bat for a couple of days.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Perils of browsing the net when you can't sleep

Bad weather, cold, grey days.  This time of year just seems to drag on.

Woken in the middle of the night by heavy rain hammering on the roof of the boat, I can't get back to sleep.  I get up and have a brew.  Nothing on TV at 3AM, so turn on the computer.

I find a discussion about a boat, sunk in the River Medway during the storms of 2013.  This boat had a wooden cabin as it was a trip boat with lots of windows. Another boat had sunk on top and destroyed the cabin, so it was in a bad state and was eventually towed away by the Environment Agency.

A bit of searching later, I find that this was Achilles, originally one of a pair of boats, Apollo and Achilles, They were built as trip boats on the Leeds Liverpool in the early Seventies.

You know what happens when you are captivated by something on the computer.  Before you know it, it is morning, and I have been searching around for more hours than is healthy.

All of my searching had found that the Achilles was built by Colecraft in Burton on Trent for Dave Lowe when he started Appollo cruises.  The remains of the hull were abandoned in a yard near Liverpool, so I went off to have a look.
First impressions were that this boat was a wreck, which technically it is.  The engine appeared to be a lister twin, complete with undergrowth.


Back in Chorley, Ash Mandrake was playing at the Malt & Hops.  This guiy is a crazy story-telling bard combined with a mad musician, with a different hat for each song...
Drinking Marshmallow Unicorn, being enterttained by a Crazy man.  It doesn't get much better.

A long conversation with Kier, and he phoned Dave Lowe and chatted for a while. It seems the engine is the third engine for the boat, the first two being under powered.  I made a stupid offer of money, and we were off to Liverpool with a crane and a wagon.

Soon back at the boatyard - there goes my free time!