Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Blacking her Bottom!!

We were quite excited to see Leo out of the water as we have owned her for more than 3 years now and it was time to dry dock her to have her bottom blacked.  We had this done at Snaygill Marina near Skipton and we were impressed with their work.  First the pictures before the job was done:

 Here's the back view, though this had been wire brushed by the time we got there.

We have got quite a big propellor so it is no wonder Leo goes so well on rivers when there is plenty of water under her baseplate.

And here is the front end before it was wire brushed.  The finish was not too bad with only spots of rust so we opted for the same product as before - Rylard Coflex.

And here is the starboard side before the job was done.

One minor aggravation with our boat was that she has a 'hook' at the front end which tends to gather any floating weed to form a 'moustache' at the bow.  So we wanted to do something to improve her profile in that respect.

Here is the picture before.  The baseplate extends forward to create a prominent hook.  We discussed cutting this off or welding a piece in the gap but in the end opted for a compromise (and cheaper) remedy of building up the gap with fibreglass - like repairing a car bodywork.

And here is the result after blacking over the top.  Let's hope it works, but if it doesn't we can always have something else done next time she comes out of the water.

And now for the 'after' pictures of the blacking:

From the stern.

And the bow.

Leo in the Dry Dock.  Walking around her you really get to understand how much is below the waterline.

We were sharing the Dry Dock with 'Me and My Shadow' which moors at Snaygill.

Yesterday we went to see Leo back in the water:

A lovely shiny clean bow ....

...... and a very smart stern after some repainting too.

It is good to have the boat closer to home.  It only takes us about 45 minutes to drive over.  We've done a number of jobs since we stopped boating for the winter and have only a few more bits and pieces to do before next season.

And now back to the planning for where we go next year.

Happy Christmas to all those who've found their way to this posting.  See you next year.

Cruising the Length of the Manchester Ship Canal

No we haven't taken Leo down the Manchester Ship Canal, although we have spoken about doing the bit between the River Weaver and Ellesmere Port sometime.  No, Ian decided for his birthday treat this year that we would pay for a cruise along its length on a Mersey Ferry.  This is the story of the cruise with plenty of pictures.

We left home in good time to drive to Liverpool to catch the ferry at 11.00.  Having booked some time in advance for one of the last cruises of the season, it was good to see that the weather was reasonable, though not sunny.  We parked the car in Liverpool One and walked to the riverside.  Memories came back of our time in Liverpool two years ago on Leo.

Here is 'Royal Iris' coming across the Mersey from Seacombe to pick us up.  Though we had been waiting for a while, entertainment was provided by a liner, 'Boudicca' manoeuvring in the river to come in. 

And soon we were off up the Mersey cruising with the last of the flood tide on the Birkenhead side of the river.  Here you can see the two Cathedrals - 'Paddy's Wigwam' to the left and the Anglican Cathedral on the right.  These buildings are at either end of Hope Street which seems very appropriate.  As the song says, "If you want a cathedral we've got one to spare."

Twelve miles up river (though it seemed much less) you come to the start of the Ship Canal at Eastham Locks.  The first lock was fascinating in a ship, but by the last locking came to seem an unwelcome interruption to the cruise.  And we couldn't get off to help in the locking!!

Here the lock has been filled and we are waiting for the gates to open.

Here is the Ship Canal running close beside the Mersey.  As we went up the swing bridges magically opened before us.  No getting off to heave and push them open.

Before very long from Eastham we came to the exit for the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port.  The Shroppie goes up the channel just by the lighthouse and soon turns sharp left into the basin of the National Waterways Museum.  Further up crowds of museum visitors stood and watched us pass by.

Stanlow Oil refinery comes next.  This is huge and the regulations say there should be no smoking on boats passing by.  There were a couple of ships here waiting to load, so clearly there is still some commercial use of the Ship Canal.

The Ship Canal continued beside the river until we reached the  River Weaver, which we have also cruised on Leo.  The Weaver flows across the Ship Canal and here you see it coming in by the ICI chemicals plant on the outskirts of Runcorn.

You can just make out in the middle of this picture Weston Marsh Lock which provides access to the Weaver Navigation from the Ship Canal.  We'd walked down to look at this lock when we came here on Leo on a cold damp windswept day when the Ship Canal looked very intimidating.

Here is the tallest part of the chemical plant which stretches for between 2 and 3 miles alongside the Weaver Navigation.  The Navigation is a narrow channel between the Ship Canal and this building.

For some reason a whole line of old lock gates was stored here in the Ship Canal.  The Mersey is behind them.

And lest you thought there were no boats moving, we passed this one around the bend at Runcorn.  There was much tooting and waving.

This disused church is known as the Sailors' Church because it functioned 24/7 as a church for passing sailors and had no land based congregation.

This was the largest ship we saw on the Canal.  A couple of them regularly travel the Canal to Runcorn.

These are the Runcorn-Widnes Bridges and this point is the narrowest on the Ship Canal, definitely one ship at a time past here.  Again the Mersey is just to the left.

We were interested to find that the effect you commonly see in a narrowboat of the water level falling as the boat goes past, was visible in a more extreme form on this trip.  The difference in level was close to 3 feet rather than a couple of inches.  But then we were doing about 10-12 knots.

There had been a long spell without locks from Eastham at the start of the Ship Canal but the last few locks come close together.  These are the Latchford Locks.

Being used to locks of 60 or 70 foot long it was an eye-opener to see this one catering for ships of more than 300 foot long.

This small weir is where the non-tidal River Mersey flows into the Ship Canal to supply it with water.

From here the Ship Canal climbs gradually into Manchester and away from the original course of the Mersey.

Here is the view behind Royal Iris as she came into Irlam Locks. Where bridges do not swing, as this one, they have to be pretty high above the water.

Another famous sight for canal folk!  Either side of the brick tower are the two Barton Swing Bridges.  The nearer one is the road bridge and the one behind is the Swing Aqueduct on the Bridgewater Canal.  Again we had crossed the aqueduct on Leo in 2012.

This is one end of the Swing Aqueduct and you can clearly see the gate that holds the water in as it swings.  In the closed position this gate lies on the bottom of the canal.  The table below it has a pipe to drain away any leaking water.

And this is the end of the Bridgewater Canal with a similar gate to stop the canal draining away.

Here you can see both Barton Swing Bridges closing behind us. 

There are some modern and rather fun bridges on the final few miles into Salford Quays.

This is the Centenary Bridge which lifts the whole road platform on four columns.  The Centenary in question is that the bridge was opened in 1994, 100 years since the Manchester Ship Canal was opened.

Finally we reached the last lock, close by the Coronation Street studios (just to the right).  This is Mode Wheel Lock, so called after 'Maud's Wheel' which was the water wheel that drove a corn mill on the River Irlam close to here before the Canal was built.  This lock is one of the deepest at 13 feet and raised the ship to the level of the Salford Basin.

We had to sit in the lock until the Millenium Footbridge was swung to allow us to continue our cruise.  This is a shapely bridge that links the BBC and ITV studios as well as use by the public.

Here you can see the sinuous curves of this suspension bridge as it is held in the open position to allow us to pass.

And here is the last bridge which again lifts the whole bridge deck into the air.  This is the Media City Footbridge.  There were thousands of rugby fans waiting to cross to Old Trafford as we came past but they were all pretty good natured.  Wigan were playing St Helens.

And finally here is our good ship, Royal Iris waiting to return to Liverpool the following day.  The cruise finished with a coach to take us back to Liverpool to pick up the car.  A good day out for £35 each we felt.

Friday, 3 October 2014

The end of our cruise for 2014

Sadly we have now finished our long cruise for this year (though in fact we hope to do another short trip before Christmas).  It has taken me some time to finish the blog as, since coming off Leo, we've been to a family funeral in Swansea and then done a 'grand tour' of the South of England seeing friends and relatives.  It is intriguing that in the whole summer on Leo we have covered 950 miles.  In 8 days motoring down South we have managed to just exceed that total.  While covering the statistics it is worth adding that we have negotiated 787 locks this year which is a record for us.  No doubt the Huddersfield Narrow had a lot to do with this.

Our last three days boating were up the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from the fringes of Leeds into the lovely open Airedale scenery.

Leo is waiting to go up the Dobson Locks which is a double staircase.  You can just about make out Helen by the top lock, making sure that lock is full before starting our ascent.

For our last couple of days we shared locks and bridges with a hire boat called Jessica Boo.  The hirers were a nice American couple, Debbie and Ken, who had the benefit of an instructor from the boatyard at Apperley Bridge for their first day with us.  Helen here is swinging the bridge for Leo and Jessica Boo.

There is a magnificent pair of mills at Saltaire on opposite sides of the canal.  There were crowds of people here on Sunday partly because it was the last day of the Saltaire Festival.  The beat of the music pursued us out of Saltaire.
We stopped for the night above the Dowley Gap staircase and ate at the Fisherman's Arms.  The lockkeeper of the Bingley Three Rise Locks, Rick, was also there and we arranged a time to set off on Monday morning with Debbie and Ken from Jessica Boo to arrive at the Three Rise together.

Here you can see Leo with Jessica Boo in the first lock of the Three Rise.

Just a few hundred yards from the top of the Three Rise you come upon the Bingley Five Rise.  This is rightly regarded as a wonder of the waterways, rising 60 feet in five staircase locks.  Just walking up beside it is hard work and it does take some time to ascend by boat, with the assistance and under the watchful eye of Barry who has been lock keeper here for nearly forty years.  The top gates are pretty leaky and with a 57 foot boat in a 60 foot lock we washed the bow thoroughly.

Here we are in the first lock of the Five Rise with Helen temporarily holding Leo into the right to allow Jessica Boo to come alongside us.

Helen took this photo looking down from one of the bridges over the locks.  It does give a good impression of just how far down the boats are before the paddles are opened.

Above the Bingley locks there is around 20 miles of lock free cruising extending to Skipton and beyond.  You come out into the lovely Dales scenery which is the hallmark of the Leeds and Liverpool on the East side of the summit.

We moored overnight just beyond Silsden and the picture below shows the view from the window of Leo.  The odd shaped white post is a half mile marker along the canal.

We had deliberately left ourselves just a short cruise on Tuesday morning to reach our mooring near Skipton where Leo will spend the winter.

This is Kildwick where the canal goes over a minor road which ducks under the canal at an oblique angle.  The only obstruction on our final morning comprised 6 swing bridges, one of which  you can see behind the moored narrowboat.

The autumnal colours and short days emphasise that now is the time to give up boating for this year.  However with Leo much closer to our house we are hopeful that we will manage the odd cruise during the winter.  And of course we have quite a long list of things that need doing on the boat, particularly replacing the leaky water pump!

Winter is a time for making plans for next year.  The main parts of the canal system that we have not travelled are the Lancaster Canal and most of the River Trent.  So we are thinking that we might do two shorter trips on Leo next year in different directions.  Watch this space.