Category Archives: Boating reality

Why do we love to moan!

Let me start this by saying, I love a good moan, and always have an opinion! However, I do believe there is a time and a place.

A couple of things recently make me think that we are too quick to rubbish our canals and the people who look after them.

How often have you had a conversation which includes the comment “ohh, I would never go down xxx canal, I know people who have had problems going through there!” It is however interesting that it is rarely the person themselves who have had issues, it’s usually happened to someone else.

It must be said that as well as going through some fantastic countryside, canals go through many more urban settings, and often through some rundown areas of towns.  Whilst there are places where I would think twice about mooring overnight, I would like to think that there are none that I would fear to travel.

Maybe we need to stop rubishing these canals and start using them. It is only by using them, that they will improve.

We are currently on the Macclesfield canal in what should be one of the busiest weeks of the year. It is interesting how few hire boats we have seen doing the Cheshire ring, and I suspect this is in part to do with the need to travel through Manchester to complete it.

The Ashton canal has always had a bad reputation, however, I must have done the Cheshire ring half a dozen times in my boating career, and I have ever had an issue!

The most recent of these trips was last year, and I have to say it was very much improved, with good overnight moorings in Manchester, and no sign of trouble whatsoever.

I would even go as far as to say that Castlefield Basin in the centre of Manchester is one of my favorite mooring spots.

The fact is that avoiding these urban canals means that we are missing out on some fascinating canal heritage.

On a positive  note, it was really good to read an upbeat  report of a trip down the Rochdale Canal in Waterways world (August 2017).

More of these please!

But enough of the canals, let me move on to those who run them.

Let me start by acknowledging there are issues with canals, and I don’t agree with everything the CRT do, but on the whole, I think they do a pretty good job. So why do we take every opportunity to moan about them.

Let me give you an example. 2017 is the 5th anniversary of the CRT taking over the running of the canals, and quite understandably, much of their media is currently celebrating the fact.

But why did one Twitter user decide to reply to a tweet from the CRT, which highlighted their successes since taking over, with a moan about the way they had restored a particular bit of towpath.

Whilst they may well be right that this bit of work and the decisions behind it have issues, maybe pouring cold water on the CRT’s birthday celebrations was not the time or place to point them out.

The fact is that as a nation, our canals ore one of greatest assets and generally, they improve year on year. All in all, 5 years on from when the Canal & River Trust took over their management, I would suggest that on balance thy have done a good job.

Let’s start supporting and engaging constructively with those tasked with the challenging job of managing the canals and celebrate the whole network, and not just the bits that travel through green and pleasant countryside.

 

Water Water Eveywhere

Back on board for our 2 week cruise and fortunate for us we had no real itinerary, as things did not start well!!

I read in Waterways World a couple of months ago that being on a narrowboat is a bit like being stranded on Mars (as depicted in the book/film The Martian) whilst the consequences of failure are somewhat more drastic on Mars (get it wrong and you are dead!), I can definitely see the parallels.

The skills of problem solving and lateral thinking are key boating requirements, and in this case the problem was water – Too much of it in the wrong place!

The crew who had brought the boat back from Crick commented that all had been well with the boat, but reported a calorifier leak leading to damp under the bed.

Further investigation suggested the calorifier was not the source – seems that leak is sorted. Now to a process of elimination.

  1. All other pipe work – dry
  2. Shower drain pump and all connections – dry
  3. Carpet next to the bed – wet – very wet

Lifting the cabin floorboards we found the source of the damp. The bedroom bilge was full of water! Now everyone knows that in a boat the water should be on the outside, so this was not good.

45 mins and 10 buckets later, the water was put back in its right place, and the question then was where is it coming from. For this, there were again 3 options:

  1. The central heating
  2. Rain from leaking windows
  3. The one we really didn’t want to think about – The canal!!

Central heating was the favorite – it had never worked that well,  we had topped it up a few times and that water had to have gone somewhere!

We had ruled out the domestic water, as the pump had not been running (tell tale sign of a leak). But I decided to check the water tank anyway, and glad I did. It seems that the above is only true as long as it’s not the actual pump that is leaking! And it was. Didn’t seem to be leaking much, but small leaks add up over time! Still not a conviction, but definitely charged and reprimanded in custody pending further investigation! I still think this crime was not committed  alone, and central heating is still in the frame and under surveillance.

image

Anyway enough of the crime metaphor. I think a visit to Kings Lock chandlery may be in order later, and a maintenance day is on the cards.

As I said at the beginning, lucky we didn’t have an itinerary!

Roll forward 4 hours, and a very strange shopping list (water pump and a pack of Incontinence pads) later, we were ready to start the repair job.

Replacing the pump was infact pretty straight forward, with the only complication being why, when the old pump had a built in pressure switch, was there an external one fitted. Deciding that it was probably because the built in one had failed at some time in the past, I chose to leave it out. If nothing else it meant 2 fewer connections in the circuit.

Fired up the new pump, no leaks (check) water out of taps (check) – so far so good – and as a bonus the flow rate out of the taps (and the shower) were also much improved. All looked good, and to top it all, the amount of water flowing into the bedroom bilge ( where all this started) also seemed to be slowing.

Given that the water had had to traverse half the length of the boat to get from the leak to the flood, it was reasonable to expect that it would take a while to dry out, hence the need for the incontinence pads. These were installed in the bilge to soak up the remaining water.  Tip for anyone doing plumbing jobs, inco pads are an excellent way to soak up inevitable leakages – obviously really, not sure why Tena  haven’t thought of this already!!

Tomorrow will tell whether the problem is solved! Fingers crossed.

Call me crazy, but this is why I love boating!