Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Slowing down to speed up

It was fun watching that ship stuck in the Suez canal wasn't it?  I expect that other canal boaters were like me and Kath shouting "Stand on the back or on the floating side and rock the boat." We could teach 'em a thing or two.  I don't suppose they had a shaft or pole long enough to give her a push.  

Anyhow I watched an interesting video about how she got stuck and it was interesting to see how the physics of it applies equally to our little boats and that great monster. In a narrow or shallow canal , the water has a job getting out of the way of the boat.  We've all been there, or anybody who has been down the Slough Arm or bits of the South Oxford has at any rate.  In order to get out of the way of the boat, the water has to speed up and when the bottom or side of the boat is near to the bottom or edge of the canal, that speeding up of the water reduces the pressure (something to do with a Mr Bernoulli if I recall correctly , but as it's been over fifty years since I was an engineering student, I may well not) and the boat get sucked down or into the bank accordingly, thus making matters worse.  So if you feel it starting to happen the best thing to do is to slow down and the suction lessens.  In the end you'll make better progress.

Boating is often counter intuitive ain't it?  Push the tiller right to go left and all that.  How often have we seen novice boaters (bless 'em - we were all novices once) come too fast round a corner, see another boat coming and slam on the (practically non- existing) brakes, thus losing all steering.  It took me a while to have the confidence to slam on the power to get more steering to avoid a fast approaching obstacle, but it works.

In other news, I came across this somewhat dilapidated gate last Friday:

In need of a bit of TLC, but it won't get it.  I don't suppose it's been closed for many a long year.  This is what all our lock gates might be like if the canals weren't rescued by volunteers up to their necks in mud in the middle of the last century. (In my mind I hear people saying it looks no worse than some of the locks on the Oxford).  Actually this one isn't on a canal, it's at the exit of a fen drain into the Great Ouse. See below, you can see a tupperware boat on the Ouse in the distance).

The drain cuts through the RSPB reserve at Fen Drayton near Cambridge.  The reserve is worth a look if you're out that way.  Lots of water fowl to look at and some good walks. Oyster catchers, egrets (of which Edith Piaf nearly had none) and wotnot all easy to see.  A pair of bino's helps of course.

I must get back out to Herbie soon and find out why the engine wouldn't start last week.  I don't suppose I could have turned off the diesel cock when we left her last autumn could I?  I think I might be grasping at straws there.

Toodle pip.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Old Herbie's Almanac 2021

Looking into Herbie's crystal ball, what do I see for the coming season?

Yay verily, I see hordes of stay-cation boaters merrily chugging along our beloved waterways, using lots of lock water, and I see said water getting very short.

Yesterday, en route by car from Wigram's turn to Cambridge we did a short detour to have a butchers at Welford Reservoir that feeds the Leicester line.  Here's how it looks.

Not ideal for the start of a busy season is it?  The lower photo shows the overspill slipway.  I foresee some lock restrictions before the summer is out.

Luckily our vague cruising plans for the summer include hardly any locks as were thinking about the North Oxford to Coventry and then up the Ashby, only three proper locks and one little stop lock each way.

That's always assuming we get going.  Yesterday we popped in to say hello to Herbie and were pleased to see that she was looking ok and  inside, she was just as we left her apart from a very fine rust coating on the lower part of the stove flue, probably from condensation.  That'll rub off easily, then we'll black it.  Otherwise no sign of frost damage or pest infestation or damp.  Domestic batteries 100% charged.

Now the down side.  I tried to start the engine, and for the first time in 15 years, failed.  The starter battery (which doesn't get charged by the solar panels) was low, but turned over the engine quite a few times before it gave up. Had we got the dreaded diesel bug?  I dipped the tank and it looked fine.  We didn't have time to investigate further, so we'll have to sort it out when we next visit.  Maybe the fuel in the lines had dissipated over the long lay off.  Re bleeding (I hate doing it) will be the first thing to do I guess.  An overnight charge from the land line charger should get the battery back enough to turn her over again.  If none of that works, at least there are 'engineers' on site, so help is at hand.  I doubt very much it is anything serious.

As ever,  there is a bit of  roof paint repair to see to, but I'm beginning to realise that's just normal, and I can deal with it.

Otherwise, all systems go.  I'm not sure where to hope for a warm dry summer fro pleasant cruising, or some decent rain to fill the reservoirs.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Fear and trepidation

 Tomorrow we take our first look at Herbie since November.  Will the engine 'ole be full of rainwater? Will the stern gland have leaked?  Have we had an infestation of mice or flies? Have any pipes burst? Will  it be damp and mouldy? Well, we'll soon find out wont we? Having a boat is a bit like having kids -always something to worry about.  It's always like this after a long break but this time the break is much longer.

It'll only be a fleeting visit en route to our Peter's place in Cambridge.  I'm imagining we'll come away from the boat with a list of things "that need doing" before we go aboard proper for our first cruise since September.  Maybe it'll be OK and we'll come away elated and eager to plan our first outing.

Tune in soon and I'll let you know.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Duckett's discoveries

If you're quick and take a look at the bottom of  today's BBC News site, there's an interesting set of photos of CRT volunteers clearing out the Hertford Union canal aka Duckett's Cut in east London.  The canal is currently drained, presumably for lock work and so they're taking the opportunity to clear out all the junk that's been chucked or dropped in over the years.  Unsurprisingly there's plenty of evidence of criminal activity, old safes, car number plates etc as well as some interesting curios.  Worth a look.

Our marina informs us that we can now visit our boat, but not yet stay on it.  Presumably we'll be able to go out on it from April 12th.  That's if she's still floating after all this time and the diesel hasn't turned to jelly etc. (ever the optimist, that's me).  We've decided to keep our mooring at Wigram's for the next six months, and then decide whether to move after that.  It should make for  an easy summer with long cruises up the north Oxford and perhaps to Coventry and/or up the Ashby with hardly any locks.  In previous times we would have scorned that, but I'm still not in the best of health so it makes sense and anyway I like that stretch and we haven't done it too many times.  Let's hope the sun shines.