Saturday, 3 September 2011

September Adventures

After gearing ourselves up to tackle the Leeds Liverpool canal, we discovered BW were doing maintenance on one of the locks, and had no official completion date, so we've decided to take another route to get to our Sheffield winter resting place. We're going to travel down the Bridgewater from Manchester, onto the Trent and Mersey, along the Mecclesfield, do a detour to the Peak District canal, then up the Huddersfield canals (narrow and broad), along the Calder, a detour up the Aire to Leeds, back down again, via Castleford to the South Yorkshire Navigation...down to Doncaster....then up the Tinsley flight to the top of the hill at Sheffield.

We havent done most of these canals, so it's going to be a learning curve...with hopefully lots of blog updates and photos.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

August in a nutshell.

Sorry for not blogging sooner :) Early Aug we left the boat for a week, to do some youth camp bookshop work, but very glad to be back onboard. Had a lovely time travelling through the Trent and Mersey tunnels, to the Anderton Boat Lift...we have photos, but have lost the cable that connects to the camera, thus a bit of a delay on those. One of the big differences which has come about, is the need to start collecting wood for the winter months, so I've bought a bow saw, and have started chopping up every piece of spare wood along the system, and storing logs on the boat roof. Had to reshuffle everything on the roof first, which was a mission, but it's done. Another epic project we've done, was to reroute the engine hot air vent piping, so when the boat isnt cruising, we can fold them down, put up a wooden deck above the engine, creating a chillspot, which I've covered with carpeting, cushions etc. We painted the engine room walls "fruits of the forest / purple maroon" which has change the whole feel of this area of the boat. MUCH BETTER. I'm actually lying in this deck area now, in the engine room, with the Lister SR3 tucked away under me. A creative solution thats paid off. We always felt the engine room was wasted space. No more :)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Bridgewater canal....magical

Well...after coming over the Penines and having to do 93 locks, to get to Castlefield in Manchester, ...I can safely say I didnt want to see another lock for a while...the Penine summit trip was scenic, but physically demanding at times....but I'm really glad we did it. At first I didnt like Manchester's services...but this was when moored at the top of the Rochdale 9 locks....I've found it much better down at the Castlefield end.....much quieter...more boats, and the feeling that no one is worrying about you....the first time we didnt stop at Castlefield longer than an hour to fill up with water,...and heading down the Bridgewater canal.....and what a pleasure it locks for it's entire length, with some lovely towns along the's definately one of my favourites at the much so, that when we got to the one end, I turned around, and travelled all the way back to Castlefield ...and looking forward to exploring some of the Bridgewater towns we missed the first time...Leigh...Worsley. We took the kids to the Manchester Science and Industry museam today...was a great time out. Movies tomorrow, and a trip to Halfords...for a new gennie sparkplug. It isnt working at the moment, and the lack of sunlight has made the solar panels useless for now. I've been running the boat engine more to keep things charged up...:)
I have two rants to end this post with. First one...the lower lock of the Rochdale 9 sounds like a I know why there was no water in the Penines.... and lastly....someone bought us a new clock for the boat. It makes bird sounds every hour...and the poor cat cant sleep :) ...Ahhhh.....that reminds me....we were moored at Stockton Heath last week....shut the cat in the boat, and moved 100m to go put some diesel etc in the boat. The cat ran off without us knowing, and we only realised an hour later when we reached the next town. After a bit of stress and worry, I moved the boat back again, and the cat came strolling out of the hedges, and back onto the boat. Relief :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Terribly sorry...latest blog

Terribly sorry for not blogging earlier...but the last week has been a little hard going....we left the comforts of the Calder valley, and made the climb up the the summit and we're now half way down the other side, on the way to Manchester. Water is extremely short on the Pennine route, and this is a pic of our boat this morning when we awoke, on the summit, waiting for our passage through to the other side..(prior to commencing descent again).

Monday, 27 June 2011

Changed our Skipton:)

Yep...being a Continuous Cruiser is a strange life. One minute you want to go left, then you decide to go right. Maybe you want to go north, and suddendly decide you'd rather go south. This is what's happened to me. Looking at the calendar, and knowing that October is approaching fast, and canals begin to ice up, I've decided to make the best of the next 3 months, by undertaking an 80day excursion. It began today...leaving Leeds, after spending some time at the Leeds Dragon Boat Races over the weekend. With an inner drive to leave the whole Castleford, Leeds area, I kept chugging all the way to Stanley 1 of 80...with a master plan to keep on going all the way to Oxford, via the Todmorden/Rochdale route...8 tunnels....should be lots of great fun....and better blogging. The sun is really hot now...suncream applied daily. Went for an evening meal with the family at the Stanley Ferry pub...a perfect end to a perfect day.......except we've just discovered the ducks are nibbling at the growth under our boat...thought it was beginning to hail...funny, but how are we going to sleep :)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

We're passing through Leeds again, but this time on the way to Skipton

Yep...Leeds again....:) This time it's not a destination, but on the way, to Skipton...a market town near the Yorkshire Dales. Here's a pic of our boat moored in Leeds tonight.

You can see our album at Photobucket showing more pics of Leeds here - Leeds Album

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Some recent pics and more

It's been a great few days travelling. We left Doncaster and headed for Thorne marina to fetch much needed diesel. 169litres. £188. Ouch. Hopefully it will last us a long time. Thought I'd put up some pics . The first is a pic of our boat cat, Rocky :) The second is me doing some artwork on the side of the boat. Quite nerve wracking.

These next 3 are various ones where we moored for the night.

2 pirates having fun in the sun.

This one was a bit of an eyesore we passed :)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Rain, fuel, and other ramblings.

We're moored in Doncaster at the moment...and have been for 2days. Decided to put the new alternator in again (for the 2nd time), because the first time I wired it in wrong. Glad to say it's now in and WORKING :) I ran the engine for 1,5hrs earlier, and it's made a difference. When we arrived, the moorings were mostly full, but I managed to get the bow against the moorings, with the rest of the boat stuck out at sea. Have to keep reminding myself not to jump out the back engine hatch or I'll be in the drink. The cat tried it. Close call:)

It rained all day today. Very peaceful though. Kids took off to the Frenchgate shopping mall down the road. They like the Apple store. Being a Sunday we visited a church, about a 30min walk legs are still burning. It's become an interesting phenomena, visiting different churches as we travel...but a neccessary one. We arrived in one place, and our teenager visited a local youthgroup, who he discovered were leaving on a weekend we got a call to say he wanted to go with...and off he went. You have to be ready for almost anything living on a boat, with kids.

Fuel is the lates struggle. Cant find anyone selling the stuff....on the canals that is.....

Monday, 6 June 2011

On the water again.

Quick post. We left Sheffield and came down the Tinsley flight this morning. Made the lock keeper mad because I was 15mins late. We gave him a bag of chocolates to say sorry, but don't think it improved matters much. The real reason for being late was having to slow down for sooo many fisherman ;-)

We arrived at a BW moorings "somewhere" past Rotherham, and thought it was a boring spot, until I checked on Google maps and found an entire shopping complex just over the rail lines. Note to self.....use Google Maps more's always a great feeling to zoom in and see the tops of 500

More later.

Monday, 30 May 2011

5 day count down

This is it! 5 days preparation, a weekend at friends, and we leave next Monday....( must remember to book the Tinsley locks ). I cant wait. I dont mind the hardships of daily boat life, as long as I can keep moving. It's a strange thing long as I'm moving, I feel a happier person..cant explain it...narrowboats are strangely solid at wouldnt think we're floating on water right now...except perhaps the fact that one side of the bed is higher than the other ....since we filled up one of the extra water tanks higher than the other perhaps. This week will be one of preparation...check/buy gas, diesel, recharge batteries. Fix a leak in the shower nozzle. Build a better battery box cover. Re-organise the roof storage. Buy a small tv for the kids. Connect up the running 20metres of cable along the boat roof somehow...not recommended...but simpler:) I gave the engine room a paint last week, and our back cabin walls a recoat yesterday...They were getting scratched. My youngest bought a pirates toothbrush the boat life seems to have taken his fancy. Painted the shower base last spray job started flaking. This latest attempt should last longer and a recoat will be simple anyway. Kids have been warned. 1 week left of PCs. Next week, they'll be back to life on a boat...not life on a boat connected to land :)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

A month in a marina

Sorry for the lack of recent posts....but what do you say when you are tied up in a marina for a month...:) Yes we have elec hookup, shops, and the luxury of showers, toilets and more....but I'd prefer to be cruising...which we'll do as soon as our teenage son has finished his exams. 5 in all. 1 down, 2 next week, 2 the week after....I have to drive him to an external exam centre down in Dronfield, so we're moored in Sheffield at the moment....after having travelled up the Tinsley flight at the beginning of the month. Dave and Derrick are 2 helpful lock operators..with good memories. The last time I went down the flight was last October, after having bought the boat from CV Marine. We got to lock 12, got a jacket caught in the prop, engine overheated, and the clutch jammed. Had to call for help, and obviously left an impression :) I'd say we are much better boat handlers now, than a few months ago.

Sheffield is the end of the line when it comes to canals....a dead end...but a lovely city... I had arranged to park the car for April/May at the Sheffield casino...long term parking. (to use it to get son to exams.) In retrospect, it would be easier to catch a train to the exam centre, but you learn as you go. Where do I put the car for June, July, August....onwards,....I DONT KNOW....:) Time to start planning that!

Monday, 2 May 2011


We left Doncaster this morning...round 10, after emptying the toilet casette (just in there is no emptying area anywhere on our map for the next few days). The emptying point at Doncaster is hidden, unless you know what the local moorers use...there is a sewer drain lid which has to be lifted (using 2 keys from a guy on one of the boats). I decided to break one of my barbecue tongs and make my own keys and make a note to use it in the future when we pass by. I actually wanted to chat to British Waterways about our pending stay up at Sheffield, but the BW office seemed boarded up in Doncaster...

Anyway, we left. 2hrs later the side of the river started showing signs of life...runners, walkers etc. We came out of the Sprotbrough lock, and found a BW visitor mooring.(48hrs) opposite the big hire boat, and icecream truck, and Sprotbroughs entire population who were sitting on the opposite bank. The suns been out and it's been a really great day. I took a walk (the long way there..) to the SPAR in the town, only to find a return route about a 10th the distance...:)

Batteries are my daily challenge. I have now completely gone bonkers, and changed the configuration..."to see" if it's more practical. I have one battery, connected to the freezer. I have one battery for the boats 12V systems (water pumps etc). I have 2 batteries connected to the inverter for leisure usage (tvs, laptops etc). The freezer battery is only charged when I physically use a battery charger. The battery for the boat 12V stuff, is connected to the solar panel only. The leisure batteries are connected to the alternator, and are recharged only by running the boat engine. The reason I've done it this way is to actually see if the solar panel has enough oomph to keep the boat stuff working...and to give the alternator less work to do to keep the leisure batteries powered up. So far I've been quite impressed with the solar panel. It has measured 13.6Volts on it's battery, so I decided to use a clamp cable to give it more work to do, by bridging whichever of the other batteries I felt needed help today. When I was cruising, I bridged the solar battery with the freezer battery. When the boat was stopped, I bridged the solar battery with the leisure batteries. Having the ability to channel the solar power around seems a much better way than having it fixed to an entire bank. My batteries are always heavily under load, so there is no hope to ever have them all fully charged for my challenge is just keeping them all above 12.4V. :) Sorry for the technical blog today.....I've discovered that just connecting the entire bank all together with solar and inverters and freezers etc all as one...doesnt give me the recharging flexibility I the moment...with half my batteries old ones...

Sunday, 1 May 2011 opinion has changed!

Never really had a high opinion of Doncaster....I dont know why....but this time I discovered that just down the street from the Visitor Moorings is a Tesco, a Frenchgate shopping centre, a high street, a lake, and a lot more. It just shows you...every town has a silver lining if you can find it :)

We've been allowed 72hours mooring here, so we'll be leaving in the morning, and heading on towards Sheffield...via a few stops. Our plan is to find a mooring where I can go fetch the car, and drive our eldest to his exams during the month of May, before leaving the area for more relaxed cruising...all the way retracing our steps....probably heading for Liverpool,Manchester, Birmingham and every canal in between...I could do with some Penine quietness...via Leeds and Skipton....ahhh choices choices :) It's nice mooring in a city, but 3 days is enough for me...I like to be on the move....if I've seen the same duck for 3 days, It's time to find another one :)))

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Some pics from today :)

Cruised along the Aire&Calder stretch..near Whitley Village..beautiful stretch of river. The final pic shows some artwork I added to the side of the boat...which is called AreWeThereYet :)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


We're back in Castleford, and planning on heading along the South Yorkshire Navigation tomorrow :) Here's 2 pics from todays travels down from Leeds.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

LEEDS again, but for the last time in a while

Yep, we're back in Leeds... We went all the way back to a previous hunting ground....Stanley Ferry...and ended up having a Sunday roast evening meal in the pub/restaurant. Quite a highlight for the kids, considering we've not eaten out anywhere for a few weeks. I thought I would show the kids something about life, so marched them into the elsan emptying room, and proceeded to explain the facts of life on a boat.....that if they didnt hold it in, then I had to empty the casettes more often.... one of them almost puked, while the other stood by amazed as it all poured down the drain. It was quite an education for them, and I havent had to change the casette as much in the past few days. I told them that whoever made the red (full) light come on in the Thetford toilet, would be the one responsible for emptying it :)

Clarence Dock in Leeds is a haven to rest in. Elec points, a BW office just over the bridge which sells the elec cards, and the option to moor for longer then 48hrs if you pay £6 per day.

Yesterday we had friends visit us on the boat, and for effect we moved the boat up to Granary Wharf, which involved 1 very old lock, with ground paddles which work on a type of butterfly wheel mechanism, unlocked with a special key (which luckily I had stored away for such a moment). The weather was perfect and Leeds was quiet as we chugged down again, past Clarence dock, out onto the river and onward for about an hour or two. We stopped for lunch on the towpath, and just chilled. Relaxing with friends miles from anywhere, is great...occassionally I would hop up and open the automated locks for some oncoming boats as a favour. Couple of hire boats were out and about.

Due to our friends visit, I decided to reconstruct some back stairs to the boat. (I hadnt wanted any before, as it's now a main bedroom and didnt want the traffic). I've used the bed planks which support the bed at night (5 slats), and repositioned them as stairs, giving them a double purpose. Nothing like sitting in Clarence Dock, with the back doors open, watching the world go by :)

The cat has learned that he can go as far as the leash allows. At the moment he's lying on the stern floor, watching for fish. Bliss :)

Boat life can be hard, but it really does have the balance of relaxation at times. Right...time for me to go charge all my boat batteries (individually, as I blew up 2 previous chargers trying to charge the entire bank at the same time). The boat batteries are really low at the it's time to fix that :)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Stuck in the mud

Well...what a day. We left Castleford , up the river towards LemonRoyd the direction of Leeds one more time. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I let the kids do some steering, and ended up stuck on a sandbank, in the middle of a wide river....frightening when it's your first time. With lots of wriggling, and stressful moments, we managed to edge the boat back into deeper water, after about an hour. It wasn't fun :) I was seriously worried the river would rise, and the boat would remain stuck on the river bed..which is one way of sinking a boat...After a call to the Brith Waterways local specialist, he said the river wouldnt rise, and that they didnt have anyone to come and rescue us :) I could imagine us staying there the whole night..but after lots of engine manouvres, we managed to free ourselves...what a wonderful feeling...:) We've cruised past the same spot a few times in the past 2 weeks, each time thinking...stay in the middle of the river...but having a 6yr old all excited about the big steering pole, apparently let me have a "lack of concentration..." his words....sheesh...

Castleford for groceries

We've just arrived in Castleford (again) to do some shopping. I bought some boat paint, and hope to get the boat looking a little better in the near future. Going for red, greys, black and white. The webcam has been working well today, so probably set the timing to every 15mins, and leave it out for good...:) I've stuck it up on a pole..:)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bye Bye Leeds.

We left Leeds at midday, retracing our steps back towards Castleford, because I dont want to stray too far at this stage..need to stay in the area till end of May. It was a gentle cruise down a handful of automated commercial (big) locks today, and eventually drifted into a place we stayed in a week ago on the way to Leeds. This time though, we aren't planning on paying to stay in the marina..we're tying up across the canal on the other side, which is a great place to make lots of noise without disturbing people. I'm hoping to grind off some rust spots and put some paint on the fire truck red.....I tried some in Leeds...and I think it works rather well :) No one else has got such a red boat, which makes it stick out a bit, which is nice. We're all in bed in the front..Jac in the middle, and M and I in the back cabin....the coldest part of the boat...but cosy. I sleep like a log in this boat...and waking up is hard...this morning it was really dark, until I pulled out a porthole cover and the sun pierced the darkness. Will upload some pics soon. Nite nite.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Leeds: A haven.

Yesterday we cruised into Leeds, Clarence Dock...and plan to stay till Wed morning, after buying a few extra mooring days with elec.:) Just a time to chill and enjoy a larger city for a bit, with access to Halfords and other shops:) I bought a new battery charger today, after burning out the last one.....I realise now that I shouldnt have connected it to the entire bank....would have been fine if the bank was relatively charged, but it wasnt, and I think it was too small for the job. The new charger has a lovely digital display which makes it easy to see what the state of charge is....information is power, and comforting:) Nothing worse than looking at a battery you like me?:) Weather is great, and I'm looking forward to a weekend of chilling and enjoying the shops with the kids. I seriously thought I had lost my wallet this afternoon, but found it had dropped down into the propshaft area under the stern floor. Relief when I found it.:)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Battery issues :)

We had a great cruise from Wakefield, up to Castleford, and along the river towards Leeds, finding a nice spot to stop for the night, next to Lemonroyds Marina...a lovely place. Found that all that cruising hadn't charged the batteries an ounce. I found one of the older batteries hadnt any ionised water in it. Bought some this morning, moored up for a night in the marina on shore power and recharging the whole bunch. Measurements are showing a stedy increase in the battery bank levels so I'm hoping tomorrow will be more successful. Also took my generator apart today, and carried a 5Litre tank of petrol back to the boat, mixed in some 2stroke oil and blew out a blocked fuel line, plus fixed the pulley gearing, and the gennie started up first time. At least our back up power option is now working. It's been a gloriously sunny day and we've walked twice to the nearby Lidls, carrying over 10kg per trip...madness. (Once to fetch petrol etc, and later with M to go shopping...aaarrghhhh!) :) The tv reception isnt that great here...I need to go on the roof and adjust the aerial. Leeds is about 2.5hrs cruising away, through 4 locks. We'll be setting out midday tomorrow....with fully charged batteries I hope. Plan C is to toss the faulty one, and either buy a new one (a truck battery from a guy I met at the marina) or use the ones we have stored...smaller car ones, but the more the merrier :) The cat piddled on me today. (well...I lifted it while it was doing it's thing, without me knowing...silly me :)

Monday, 4 April 2011

We've made it to the end of the world...

Well..nearly the end of the world..:) 2 days travelling through some peaceful canals and rivers, and we're settled in for the night in Wakefield. Kids are MUCH more active than when land-based.....eating loads, and passing out early. We still need to find a way to rise earlier..this morning was REALLY bad :) I was up an hour before everyone..really peaceful on the canal in the morning...we have 400litres of water left, and a toilet which has already been replaced with the spare, which is soon going to be full too...oh...where to empty them....tomorrow the search for that Elsan point is on. Luckily we're moored just round the corner from a Halfords, and I need to buy some oil, spare fuses and ...erm...possibly another toilet storage container. Sorry to harp on about the loo....but it's a real practical priority when you live onboard :) The 400litres of water will probably be finished by midday tomorrow, but there are places to refill along the way. I need to get my 950Watt generator running started once last month, but hasnt this space :) The layout on the boat is working well. Kids in the front. M and I at the rear. Jac in the middle. Cat has made itself comfortable in the front. At the moment the rear cabin has the desk layout, but later those go under the bed, and the cabin transforms into sleeping quarters. There's a condensation drip on M's feet though, which I need to sort out soon...going to redirect it rather than solve it...Missing our friends and family, but really enjoying the change in pace...(it's faster, yet more relaxing....strange that.) More updates and pics soon.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Living onboard

Marielle here.. I'm getting to write this blog... Dean is a lot funnier than me but he's busy so I am taking on the job for now :)

After endless hours of packing / carrying and cleaning at our house, we finally shut the door to Nightingale Drive at about 3pm on Wednesday afternoon. To view the car, with all of us in it, was just plain crazy. We were absolutely jam-packed! Only to arrive and see the mountain of stuff in our little lounge that Dean had dropped off the day before. I had been prepared for a lot of work and attacked it with gusto but by about 10pm Wednesday night, there was no sense of humour left or any sense of adventure at all. Every place in this boat is packed with something. There is no room for anything, even fleas will battle to find some space if they decide to hop onboard!

Talking about fleas... which our cat does NOT have... Rocky, the cat, has been a bit unsettled but yesterday afternoon discovered that sitting on the one end of the boat watching the ducks is a great pastime. He has now settled in. Jesse took him for a walk on his leash yesterday but that didn't go to well. In about a day or two, we'll put him on his leash and he can roam up and down the boat to his hearts content. Just hoping that he doesn't decide to catch a duck for his lunch.

We have had a lot of wind whilst on board, but all taking it in our stride. Most of our belongings have been packed / squeezed away into every nook and cranny so we are able to walk around the boat without stepping over things. The boys have really been great helping out wherever they can. They have now mastered the art of making up and taking down their bed which is a huge help.

Dean and Jesse drove the car to Sheffield yesterday, and caught a train back. So the car has a new home for the next 2 months. I will have to walk to Asda today as it could be my last shopping trip for a few days which is probably a really good thing cause there is no space in my grocery cupboard for absolutely anything anyway. I cooked for the first time last night in the boat... it was a bit hectic... we all ate in relays as things were still a bit crazy. Thank goodness for my microwave as I could heat up each plate as we went along. Our link to electricity will be cut off a bit later today so that should be interesting. Another challenge :)

I am looking forward to finally leaving the Marina which will really mean "living onboard". Our boat is the only boat that has so much junk on it which clearly shows we are here and here to stay - well for a while at least :) I have no idea what happens when we go under a very low bridge, it would mean having to take a lot of stuff off the top of the boat and carrying it along.

We filled up with diesel yesterday, which was a bit of experience in the wind. Ummmm we did connect with a few boats along the way - eeek! I just stayed inside... No way was I gonna show my face during this pre-adventure adventure! We made our way back to our parking spot but this time the correct way round, so leaving here will be a lot easier.

We have our little cubicle at the back of the boat. I am still sitting in bed at the moment which is not good as the bed needs to be taken down so that I can move about. I NEVER stay in bed till 10am!!! but I can't move out right now cause Dean is clearing out his toolbox, just outside the door.. so I am taking the opportunity to enjoy watching "Saturday Morning Kitchen" on our little tv which actually looks huge in this small space.

Anyway.. that's all for now. Guess I had better do something constructive and get a move on somehow. I am sure Dean will give you the next update and hopefully there will be some photos to add. There would have been yesterday, but I had no idea where my camera was!!!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

6 days to go ---eeeeEEK!

If you saw the amount of stuff still lying around the rental home, you would never think we're down to less that a week before moving onboard our boat. I've finished whatever refurbishment I could do, so we'll just have to do our best from hereon out! Some pics of the interior of the boat below.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

9 days to go:

Preparations continue as we hastily make piles of stuff, for final cartage to boat, storage, or throwaway. Managed to get the camper van MOT-ed in the UK, which will make it easier to import as a UK vehicle. It'll mean we can moor the boat at times, do some travelling in the camper, then back to the boat. Nice to have that as an option. Things are happening rather quickly now...found a Google Lattitude program which might show our location on the blog..still testing it :)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

-15days to go: Moving Onboard.

Well....about 2 weeks to go, and frantically trying to get rid of things we dont need, store things we might need, and move things we do need to the boat:) We made the decision to start a new adventure living permanently aboard a 57ft narrowboat a few months ago, when we approached the bank, took a loan, found the boat we liked/could overhaul, and bought her. Over the past few months, I've done as much as I can, and times soon approaching where we just HAVE to move her out of the winter marina she has been moored at since Nov. Here's a pic of our new home :)