Monday, 21 July 2014

Fridge problems, but a better day after that.

(Boats Sickle & Chalice - posted by Cath)
Monday 21st July - posted retrospectively due to no Internet - even in the pub, which claimed to!)

Steady progress through the locks once we finally got moving.
We woke up to find that gas had run out overnight. As our fridge is gas powered, this also meant that all our cold stuff was rapidly getting warm.

Changing the gas bottle gave us the stove back and we began to make coffee, but the fridge can be difficult to relight the pilot light. It involves crouching on the floor, looking at a tiny little window at the back of the fridge, turning the gas on, and pressing a button that gives a spark. Because it is hard to see in bright sunlight this needs to be done with all the curtains closed, and the fridge cleared so that you can see the window.  Sometimes it goes on the first click, other times it can take hours of trying on and off to get the pilot alight. That was what happened this morning, and of course,  everything was rapidly getting warm.

One of the "standard" "must take" photos - This is Gailey, of course.
In the end, Alan took the fridge out of its housing, to see if the piezo electric spark was faulty. It worked fine, and there was nothing obviously wrong with the fridge, so he blew the dust off it, and put it back. It lit first click.

So, despite our intention to get up early and get started to avoid the queuing at locks, it was quite late before we got going.

Stopping for an early luch at Gailey.
It was a bright and sunny morning, as we set off for a series of locks. However, while there were quite a few boats about we seemed to get lucky, often arriving at locks as a boat was leaving, or having another boat arriving as we were leaving. Alan set off ahead on Sickle, mostly working the locks single handed, with help from other crews going the other way.

Yes, it really is that narrow - and "Sickle" was all over the place.
We stopped off for lunch after Gailey lock, and decided not to stop at Autherley Junction, but to press on to Brewood (pronounced 'brood' - typical).

Autherley stop lock, so shallow David opened gates with no paddle winding.
After Gailey there was a clear run through to the stop lock at Autherley, but Sickle found the shallow canal hard going, bumping along the bottom a lot of the time. We realised after that this is the first time we have brought Sickle along this section.

Very typical of much of the "Shroppie".
On the Shropshire Canal Sickle continued to scrape the bottom, especially when approaching Brewood Alan got stuck. It was the worst grounding he has ever had. David and I were some distance ahead and trying hard to reverse back to him. However, Chalice doesn't reverse well at the best of times, and in the shallow and muddy channel we found ourselves dragging first to one side, then the other. We couldn't even get near to the bank to let David off with the boat pole to help Alan. While we were making idiots of ourselves going backwards very slowly in a zig-zag, a boater lent Alan a long boat pole, with which he finally managed to push himself off the scour.

Just about free from the worst grounding I have had with "Sickle".
We moored in Brewood, and went off to the pub after dinner.  The excuse was that we were moored in a cutting, so had no Internet, but the pub claimed free wi-fi.  Unfortunately that also broke before we got to post the blog - the pub claimed it was because it was overloaded by all the people using their mobile phones to cheat in the pub quiz that was going on at the time!

Filance Lock (Staffs & Worcs) to Brewood (Shropshire Union)

Miles: 16.4 (Chalice), 16.4 (Sickle), Locks: 12

Total Miles: 206.7, Locks: 91


  1. I'm quite surprised to hear that to be honest. We've never had depth problems on that stretch (except on our actual mooring!) which we do of necessity traverse more frequently than any other. Nothing like as bad as parts of the Staffie.

    1. Sickle has had a certain amount more ballast added since we last did any of these canals in earnest. It works well on our local canals, but I'm not sure it is proving so great here.

      If Chertsey's back end is anywhere near as high out the water as when I had a go, then it is possible you are not pulling down anything like as far as we do.

      I have noticed that the bottom-most of the three bands on "Sickle's" counter is regularly completely covered as her back end digs in.

      I think the back end of a shortened boat may well dig in deeper, but I don't have sufficient experience of a full length one to say that with total confidence.

  2. I should perhaps add, as it is not clear, that the "worst ever grounding" near Brewood didn't occur as part of normal navigation, but instead resulted from an ill-advised attempt to moor up on a stretch where someone else had managed it, so we stupidly thought it might be worth a go.

    It was coming close to the bank, (albeit very slowly) that was my fatal mistake, and I ended up with the "whatever you do the boat seems to be pivoting on a different bit" syndrome. (Big time - I really feared the borrowed long shaft was going to break).

  3. Hi Alan

    I'm really enjoying these latest posts (in a 'they're interesting/informative sense, not a 'laughing at your expense' one!) as having recently switched from a shallow drafted boat to quite a hefty bugger I don't feel quite so alone now in all my bumpings and groundings! The first few outings in earnest have been quite a shock as our old boat rarely picked up a bag let alone touched bottom and now we seem to scrape over stuff and get stuck with gay abandon! It's teaching us new skills of course...luring strong young men to pull/push/shove is quite a favourite and lock flushing when you're jammed directly outside the bottom gates is a bit of a thrill. So thanks for making me feel better - and I'll be following your voyaging closely and hoping to pick up a few tips for future reference. Thankfully, our next cruising is on the Severn and G&S!

    All the best



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