At 58 feet length, TQ (as we call her) is a steel hull narrow boat built by Colecraft and fitted out by Elton Moss Boatbuilders. Currently based at Aqueduct Marina in Cheshire we're able to cruise some of the most popular waterways in Britain. The Shropshire Union, The Trent and Mersey, The Llangollen Canal, The Four Counties Ring and Cheshire Ring and more.

Our friendly Syndicate decided to go down the Self Management route on 1st March 2012 and so far it has been very successful. Please visit the other pages in this blog to see the new Web Site and if shares are available for sale. (There'll not be many).

I am having to place a watermark on the blog content as someone on Facebook is stealing photos and claiming them as their own. I wouldn't mind if they asked first and attributed it to my blog. If it continues I will name and shame them. I hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment.

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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fourteen locks later

We're out in the sticks again, and I've bagged a huge log for the fire. Well is was lying there along side Whetstone Lane Lock and looked like it had been washed up by the tide. Too big to handle, it was out with the chain saw and swiftly cut up into three manageable pieces and carefully loaded up into the cratch. Soon I'll have it cut into rounds ready for the axe.
Yes, fourteen locks and about eight miles, and all double locks to boot. Not bad for a days cruise. Some of the locks have their paddles removed which makes these locks very slow to fill or empty and the gates are very heavy. The bow thruster has performed perfectly today and it's as powerful as ever.
The weather forecast is spot on tonight, it's just started raining and it will become heavy and go on through to the early hours. Let's hope it's clear by sun up and that the wind abates. It's been blowing a hoolie this afternoon.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Back on the canals at last.

We had a great days cruising today, leaving our mooring at around 09:50hrs and arrived at our first stop Birstall. After two, yes two trips to the Co-op and posting a letter, we wended our way through Leicester, which in the excellent weather we had today was a very pleasant trip. Leicester isn't at all as bad as we've heard in the media, although the Northern side is somewhat more decrepit, but we didn't feel even slightly intimidated at any time. Back out to the countryside tonight and we're through Kings Lock which signifies the start (or end) of the Grand Union Canal.
I spotted an adder today, clinging to a twig growing out of the wall close to the waters edge in Birstall and I tried to take a photo of it but as soon as the camera was ready it unraveled itself and swam off in the water along the edge of the wall. It was definately an adder as it had the black zig-zag down its back.
I had the bow thruster out this evening and inspected the brushes and commutator. It's not a horrific sight but we need a new set of brushes, two of them are down to their limit and the other two are OK, so I'll keep the two good ones as spares when I fit a new set soon. The commutator is worn slightly and was covered in a thin layer of black carbon and the brushes had lumps of carbon adhered to the joint face. I cleaned it all off and also cleaned between all the segments on the commutator, and then reassembled it and tested. They work better than I've seen for a long time. Having sealed up the two holes in the floor where the cover attachment bolts screwed in, the cavity is now bone dry and I'm wondering if cutting ventilation holes in the hull are necessary. Something else I've noticed, the brushes have a high cupric content hence the coppery colour, Vetus specify carbon which is black.

Right Style, wrong material?

Minimum specified demension is 14mm

Currently moored a short way South of Blue Banks Lock on the Grand Union Canal.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Out in the sticks after a night in the marina

I managed to change the oil and oil filter today, with thanks to the good people at Pillings Lock Marina for their help. Initial thoughts are that the engine is in good condition as there are no carbon deposits on the inside of the oil filler cap or the rockers and valve springs. It all looks as clean as when it was new.
We left the marina at around 14:00hrs after Lin washed some clothes and we filled the water tank and now we're moored a short distance South of Bridge 19 after a really good cruise in fine sunny weather. Despite the water level being in the green, there were some places where the down stream from the weirs was quite strong and I had to be careful to keep TQ on the right track.
Leicester tomorrow...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Thursday evening and we've moved... Pillings Lock Marina. Yes we're on the move, decided to go at 13:30hrs straight after an early lunch when the water level dropped to right on the red/amber border. By just after 17:00hrs we'd arrived here at Pillings. So we self pumped out, self dieseled up, self watered and self moored in the visitor moorings in the marina. Just because it's all self service doesn't make it any cheaper.We had a meal in the restaurant here, it was very good but a little too restaurant and not enough pub for me. There are no real ales, just Guiness and some Spanish or Italian lager.
Back on TQ and we discover there's no TV signal, terrestrial or satellite, but 3 is good so it's BBC iPlayer on the iPad. Our satellite system is very disappointing, we've only been able to get a signal on just one occasion this holiday, and as for terrestrial, forget it!

Thursday morning and the Soar has dropped further

But not enough to allow us to travel safely. I can see the amber below the water level and I reckon there's about a further four inches for it to drop before we can make progress. I'm now feeling optimistic about tomorrow morning and maybe even later today at a push. We're running out of provisions now and I have to make another trek into Kegworth for some more. I'm also getting concerned about the water tank and poo tank situation, we really need to service these tomorrow at the latest, otherwise we could be heading into trouble.
It's a beautiful morning here, the sun is shining and our local kingfisher is enjoying the warmth sat in the branches on the other side of the river waiting for a fish.
I see Blogger has messed up the photo I managed to place here in yesterdays blog, I'll have to replace it when I get home to my pc - blogger!

Not the best photo in the world.
It's cosy inside. Note the slight list to port.
Luckily the water level didn't rise above the mooring above the lock.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Right then, decision made.

Time is going on and if we continue to the River Trent we may be stopped again. I've just checked the Environment Agency website and although the Soar is falling, the Trent is actually rising. This is due to the heavy rain falling in Derbyshire recently. So as soon as the level on the Soar drops into the amber we'll go through Kegworth Deep Lock, wind and come back up again. We can't risk getting stopped again on the Trent, so it's back on the route we came. It's very frustrating after months of planning that the weather has to mess it all up again. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to move, though I'm not that optimistic. Whatever happens we'll have to move by Saturday and the weather forecast is good so I don't anticipate any problems there.
I walked into Kegworth this morning now that the water level has exposed the towpath again, and bought some provisions. There is a Co-op in the village and I bought some steak from the butchers. We had it for tea this evening with caramelised onions and mushrooms - delish!

Now the towpath is exposed we can walk to Kegworth, but the level is still in the red.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Water levels are going down but not very fast

Spent the whole day here at Kegworth Deep Lock again just waiting for the level to drop. It's fallen about an inch and a half and hopefully it'll drop some more overnight but there is a long way to go yet. Trouble is, more rain is expected tomorrow, not as much as we've had but possibly enough to slow the rate of decent. There's nothing here, Kegworth is about  200 yds away as the crow flies but to get there is probably a two mile walk and then if the towpath isn't flooded. I'm beginning to dislike river cruising, better to stay on the canals. It's quite frustrating as we've only about four miles to Sawley Lock and the Trent and Mersey Canal. On the bright side we've our own personal air display going on all day every day (and most of the night), if you can call it a display. I've tried to photograph one or two but when I go out with the camera the show stops. I wait and wait a bit longer then get fed up waiting and go back to TQ. Then instantly, the show starts up again. We've seen loads of everyone's favourite airline, Ryanair (not), it's probably the same plane doing circuits and bumps.

Gotcha! Oops, sorry about your nose!
More tomorrow...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Heavy rain calls a halt on cruising the River Soar

Yes, it could only happen to us, twenty-six hours of heavy rain has put paid to our plans of cruising the Ashby Canal. We're going to have to stay here for a day or two to let the river level go down. It has risen eighteen inches over night and hopefully has peaked at the time of writing this. The red amber and green water level board is almost at the top of the red this evening and the lock landing below Kegworth Deep Lock is under water.
This is near the spot where Captain Kevin Hunt arrived on the M1 Motorway with his stricken Boeing 737/400 back in January 1989. If you take a look on Google Earth/Maps you can still see the scars in the field where he touched down just before the Motorway. We can see aircraft coming in to land at East Midlands International Airport through the trees and they're not very far away.
We're on the upper lock landing at Kegworth where the water is slack, but further back it's a raging torrent where it falls over the weir, and the noise is like thunder. I hope we have enough water and provisions for our stay as there is no easy access to the village from here. Watch this space...

It was as high as the little weed growing out from behind the board at the top

Kegworth Deep Lock lower lock landing - under water

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Zouch and not far beyond

Another early start today and we managed 17.5 miles and 10 locks from 07:50hrs. Actually, it was only nine locks as Pillings Lock is a flood lock and was open at both ends. It's a bit weird going straight through a lock without stopping, something we've not done before and it's only closed from October to March or when high water is expected.
After Thurmaston Lock there is what sounds like and is described in the guides as a good pub but on arrival the Hope and Anchor is a theme pub geared for children, so not for us. In contrast at Mountsorrel is the Waterside Inn which looked well attired with a restaurant but it was too early in the day so we had to pass on through.
Onward through Barrow upon Soar and Loughborough and it looked like the weather was beginning to close in. I'd been feeling the odd spot of rain for some time and just after Zouch Lock it started to take effect so it's time to find a mooring. We're at Devils Elbow (sounds like a strong ale) on pilings and there's a pub a few hundred yards ahead, but it's on the other side of the river with no way of getting across and it's raining heavily, so it's on board pizza for tea tonight. That'll do for me.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The 'F' word.

FROST, yes, it was cold last night, nothing to do with Gordon Ramsay this time, and we had an early start at 06:30hrs. We wanted to get through Leicester before the bandits got out of their flea pits and found amusement by lobbing missiles at a slow moving target. It was a beautiful morning and we were on the move just as the sun was rising. First stop, water up at Kilby Bridge at the BW works, then it was the big push to get out through the other side of the City. Shortly after Kings Lock in Aylestone there is a pack horse bridge and this is where the River Soar joins the canal. From here on the river is interspersed by short stretches of canal all the way to the end where it merges with the River Trent. Leicester is nothing to fear, yes it's a bit decrepit in places but there's not much of it and the City Centre soon looms up with its ornate bridges along the mile straight. I'm not so sure about parking my barge here on a Saturday night, but I'd guess a week day would be OK. Through Belgrave and you're into the countryside again and there are excellent moorings just after Birstall Lock where there three takeaways, three pubs, a large Co-op supermarket, two taxi companies, a bookies, a hairdressers, an off license and more all within a short walk of the quay side. We had fish and chips from one of the takeaways and it was delicious.
It's been a lovely sunny day all day although a little chilly at times. Tomorrows forecast is not good, cloudy early, rain later.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bridge 85 near Kilby Bridge

Not traveled far today, only about seven miles (and twelve locks), but it was all very interesting. In Saddington Tunnel there were a lot of bats, none we could see hanging from the roof, but actually flying around inside. Lin found it a bit spooky. When we got to Top Half Mile Lock the next pound was about a foot or more down on water and we had to go very carefully keeping to the centre of the channel. Finally we made it to Bottom Half Mile Lock after scraping the hull in places where the next pound was much fuller. Don't know where all the water went, but we were just about take more water out of the pound by passing through Bottom Half Mile Lock. 
We moored up just short of Bridge 85 in a peaceful spot.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Bridge 68 Grand Union Canal (Leicester Section)

The blog is a bit different this time as I'm using Lins iPad, and I'm not used to it. I can only load one picture per blog and it produces some unexpected results at times.
We're right out in the sticks in an SSSI where there are designated mooring spots. We've picked one where there are tall reeds growing to the front and rear of the mooring. It's very secluded. Been through Foxton Locks today and had to wait half an hour before we could go through because there were boats coming up the flight. We haven't been up here for twenty five years and it hasn't changed much except more of the buildings are now in use.
I was about to upload a photo from our camera but the iPad has stopped communicating with it - most frustrating.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Welford Arm

Haven't been able to blog for while due to too little signal or none at all. There's absolutely none at Welford, not even TV. So we had to make our own entertainment and we went in the Wharf Inn. It's a bit run down and the toilets "hit" you as soon as you walk in the front door. Never the less the ale is good and so is the food and at a very reasonable price. The bar is popular with the local permanent boating residency, probably due to the attractive bar staff.
A pleasant journey today through the Watford Locks, where John the Lockie was very helpful with advice and knowledge of the canal and River Soar.
Watford Staircase Locks

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Moved to Norton Junction

A quiet spot just North of the junction after a visit to the chandlers in Braunston. Didn't buy anything but had a good look around. Then up the six Braunston Locks and a very pleasant journey to the junction. Oh! Jenny Wren just cruised past - They didn't recognise us.
I just love this cottage.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Battery chargers fitted

All working correctly, though I've had to take one battery out of the circuit because the charger isn't quite man enough to charge all five. On the upside, it won't take so long to charge them, the alternator doesn't have to work so hard and for a shorter period, and it frees up space in the locker once the excess battery is removed.

M300 domestic battery charger and relay interlock box

They seem to last just as long in the evening after four or five hours of telly, and there's still plenty of juice left for the following morning.

M300 Starter battery charger
The battery pack is in a bit of a muddle, there are three down below in the engine room together with the starter battery and one above in the locker. During Winter maintenance, the plan is to have all four domestic batteries in the engine 'ole, and wired properly and the starter in the locker above.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Some new parts for Tranquility

I've made some brass plates to protect the paint where the door retaining hooks hang and leave scratches. I'll fit them soon.
New brass paint protector plates
Also the new battery chargers have arrived. I say chargers as there are two - one for the domestic pack and one for the starter battery. I'm very impressed with the quality (it's made in Sweden) and has the robustness of an old Volvo.

Ctek M300 Marine charger set

There is a very clever programme for night use, it reduces the charging amps to a maximum of five and stops the cooling fan hence any noise. It does this for eight hours and then reverts to normal. Further, it remembers the setting for when its switched off for cruising or when the engine is running and restarts the eight hour cycle again when its switched on. It can be over ridden at any time by pressing the blue button - easy innit.
The power supply will come from the shore mains and will be interlocked with the engine ignition via a relay. This will also need to be mounted in an enclosure with a double 13A socket.
I'll have to find a place to mount them, not in the engine 'ole it's too dirty and it requires human access without having to go down there.