Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Coach lines

 Managed to get the coach lines painted, I used Craftmaster Alpha Red instead of the Manchester Red they were originally painted 

The old red.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Power tilt

 Since leaving the wet dock we have spent a few days at Tixall Wide.

 I tilted the solar panels for the first time since they were fitted eight years ago. From March to October, the sun gets high early enough that the panels always get the leisure batteries up to 100% charge each day without inclining them and the hook up in the marina combined with a Mastervolt charger looks after the batteries during winter. 

Tilting them towards the low sun today increased the input from 5amp  to 12amp  - quite a difference. 

The panels are 125W each which is quite small watts compared to new panels of the same dimensions that are on the market today, the five 135amp leisure batteries are six years old, cheap Albion wet sealed units that appear to be as good today as the day they were fitted.  They are around the 12.8-volt mark (give or take 0.1 of a volt) first thing in the morning. 

 I don't use an expensive MPPT controller but a PWM which is supposedly 30% less efficient but more reliable (old tech) and maybe kinder to the batteries.  

When there was a break in the downpours we have been experiencing lately I had a circular walk from the Wide down past Tixall Lock and Robbie's mum's gaff to Tixall Bridge, then took Holdiford road over the railway line to an entrance to Shugborough estate, through the grounds, passing the Hall, crossing Essex bridge and on to the Trent & Mersey towpath, left at Haywood bridge and back home. Approx 4 miles.

In Shugborough Estate


Saturday, 2 October 2021

Wet Dock

We booked a week in the wet dock, primarily to redo the dark blue panels on FL's flanks, but we changed tack as getting the windows out/in plus the number of coats req'd for the job in a week would be a rushed affair and we couldn't extend our stay.

So the new plan was to repaint the roof and the light grey on the sides, Craftmaster has stopped manufacturing this light grey colour as it fades pale blue within a year making it difficult to do touch up repairs, so we repainted it in a Graphite grey a colour with a bit of depth to it. The roof was painted ubiquitous raddle red.

We were lucky to get into the dock a day early, most of this day was taken up removing mushroom vents chimney collar rear doors and sliding hatch.

It was a lot of hard work to prep for painting even with the hire of an industrial sander and extractor. It was a tad disheartening getting a gloss coat on then flattening it off the next day. 

Sue was an expert at getting the undercoat and gloss coats on FL's sides rubbed down to a flat finish by hand. Working together I rolled the paint on while Sue layed it off, this worked well - we could get the roof done in ninety minutes.

Overall we are pleased with the finish we have been able to attain. A few runs but hey my name is Andy but not Russel.


The blue on the rear doors was done too.

We will book the wet dock for two weeks next year to remove the windows and paint the dark blue panels, the coach lines I can redo anytime.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Grumpy Gits

It might just be a coincidence but we seem to be meeting a few more inconsiderate or grumpy people on the cut this year. The friendly greetings from passing boaters are mingled with the dour face of a helmsman who can look right through you or doesn't want to make eye contact. Boats are left in all sorts of inconsiderate ways, in winding holes, lock moorings, water points and blind bridge holes occasionally when there's a 100-metre straight length of Armco free behind the boat.

One of my rare opportunities to help out at a lock was met with leave that effing paddle alone, on questioning his approach to a fellow boater he said he once had a bad experience with a helper raising a paddle too quickly. 

Another guy thought it better than let his crew off on the lock landing he would try and rest the boat against the lock gate and have his poor wife walk down the gunnel and scramble onto the gate. He misjudged his approach and bounced back off the gate, weakening it in the process no doubt. Why! there was a clear lock landing for his missus to disembark safely. 

I pulled over to let a boat pushing a sizable bow wave pass us, he passed on full tilt without eye contact, I shouted "you're welcome, we aren't in any hurry". He growled, "neither am I".

Could this increase in curmudgeons on the cut be a result of the pandemic and peeps who would rather be lounging on a beach in the Med have seen the glamourisation of the canals on their telly - bought a boat and now regret it.  

I wish the TV producers would give one of these celebrities a full cassette to trundle down the towpath to empty only to find the elsan cesspit is overflowing and the next facility is another six-hour cruise away. Or leave them for a week stuck on the wrong side of a lock malfunction having to fetch water in bottles from a tap a mile away. Or waiting for hours for their turn to fill the water tank from a dribbling tap. Just to give the programs some balance for wannabe viewers. 

Seems there aren't enough boats for sale to keep up with demand at the moment consequently prices are overinflated, even heard of gazumping and people offering £5000 over the asking price to secure a boat. Bloody madness. 

Anyway, it's now 3pm, I've been told by my carer it's time for my nap, apparently I become a  Grumpy old b**ta@d this time of the day without one.


Friday, 10 September 2021


Stopped in Norbury for a couple of days, we treated ourselves to dinner at the Junction Inn I had the Junction pie. 

We had a 07:30 to 08:30 slot booked for a Sunday Sainsbury delivery.

After the driver had trundled the groceries from the pub car park the 200yds to FL on his sack truck we set off for a four-mile cruise, stopping en-route at Gnosall to top the water tank.

We bagged a secluded mooring on pins {minus the Shroppie shelf}, lovely and quiet apart from the feathery tweets in the trees, the kingfisher splashing, ducks quacking, the cows lowing as they march to and from the milking sheds ...... and the sound of my angle grinder on the roof!

Turnover Bridge.

Oscote Barn Bridge.

Cowley Road Bridge.

View from the moo-ring.

Rye Hill Cutting Bridge

It only took 20 mins to get rid of the rust spots, I would never use the grinder if we had neighbours.

Friday, 3 September 2021

The Anchor and back.

Rocked up at Norbury Junction on a Tuesday, last time we were here I had a fabulous pie in the Junction Inn - shame the pub is closed on Tuesdays.  

Moored outside the Anchor at High Offley on Wednesday it was shut and only opens Friday evening to Sundays lunchtime. The landlady of 50 years standing passed away earlier this year, a pub like no other, ask for a 6X and Olive would produce a jug from under the counter and top your glass. 

Mrs Olive Cliff. pub guide photo

Today we wind before Shebdon Embankment and take a slow meander back to a booked wet dock in Stafford to repaint FL's roof - later this month. I may get my pie tomorrowđź‘Ť.


Camp at Grub Street Cutting

High bridge

Cowley tunnel

Monday, 30 August 2021

Meat Extract.

Thought it was November when we got ready to untie FL from the bank at Park Bridge. Jumper and fleece for me but I kept my shorts on (I'll hang on to summer as long as I can).

Wheaton Aston was our destination only two hours further west down the line. 

We used the services just after WA lock then found a suitable mooring. Sue suggested we light the stove but I'm resisting - a cup of Bovril will do for now. 

Wheaton Aston Bridge.

Stretton Aqueduct.

Broomhall Bridge.

Don't moor under trees.

Brewood village church spire.

Avenue Bridge