Well after looking back over the seasons cruising I have found that we actually did 519 locks. That seems quite a lot to me, and as we were away for 192 days, and moored for probably about thirty of those, that is about three a day. I must say that the narrow locks are by much my favourite. They are quicker and easier on the muscles. Whilst on the BCN I was, more often than not, able to close one of the bottom gates when going up from the back deck off the boat. This meant that it saved either me climbing up and down the lock ladder, or Helen walking right round the lock. I'm not sure if the locks are more shallow (so the gates less heavy) on the BCN or just better hung but I didn't seem to be able to do it anywhere else. Mind you the top gate on the BCN locks are normal single gates rather than two small ones as is the norm elsewhere and they can be heavy to shift.
Farmers Bridge Flight up to Old Turn Junction from Aston Junction in Birmingham. A lovely flight of locks to work as they seem to be well maintained and the walk between them is just the right length. There are usually several people asking you the same questions to keep you from being bored too.
By my reckoning we managed to cruise 627 miles. That is a little less the to Dundee and back and a little more than to Swansea and back. So as I wont have to go there to see the Capital of Culture 2017 maybe they will be able to come to Hull! I think that as it was our first season we were galloping along a fair bit. I think next year we will definitely take it much more easily and talk time out to enjoy our surroundings more. I want to moor up in the countryside and explore the villages just off the cut and not just the 'honeypot' places. That will mean we will get to see more pubs and do more walking. The cat will also have many more chances to stretch her legs on the tow path rather than in towns etc. One of my favourite moorings of the year was at Appley on the Leeds and Liverpool. There was a good view but really it was as the weather was superb and that the cricket on the radio was fantastic as I sat in the sun and drank a few beers.
Appley moorings in the sunshine.
Another number is that it looks like we have been on 48 different canal, arms, branches and rivers this year. I realise that some on my list may not be on other peoples lists but I have tried to count them only if they are distinct named and different to the bits they come off. For example I have added the Liverpool Link Canal which could be said to part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. I'm not sure how many canals there are but as we haven't been south of Braunston really that doesn't seem too bad to me. I don't think I will be a 'canal bagger', meaning that I have to make a point of travelling on every one there is, but if we are in the area it seems daft not to check them out, if it is safe to do so. Next years plans haven't even been thought of as yet but as we are near the Trent it could be the Chesterfield, of Fosse Dyke, or to York and Ripon up the Ouse, or over the Leeds and Liverpool? We will just have to see when the time comes.
The Liver Buildings, from the Liverpool Link canal in June.
We have managed to put 460 hours on the engine too. Next time I go to the boat I will be giving the engine her winter oil and filter change. We have a Beat 43HP and it has had no problems really. It has started every time. The only slight problems I had was with the cap of the skin tank bleeder that had been over tightened and cracked. I manged to find another at Sherbourne Wharf and they gave it me for free too. The other problem was a slight leak where the water supply came off the engine block for the calorifier. I couldn't get a spanner on it until I had moved the engine lifting bracket round, and then it didn't seem to weep again. The shower and water pumps have had their moments but I seem to have worked out what the problem is now and so that isn't so bad now either. I am hoping that the problem with not being able to check my batteries regularly will be sorted soon and so then I will be able to keep on top of that. The main job for me is the shower. It has leaked and the facing veneer has started coming away from the board. I think all I can do is to get all the loose off and then tile the cubicle. I will have to make sure that the adhesive is good to stick with the movement of the boat and the changes in temperature causing expansion/contraction. Then I will have to sort the best way to marry up the tiles with the base to prevent water seeping between the two. Other than that I am pretty happy with the performance of the boat. I'm thinking that we wont bother with a cratch an cover as our deck is so high that we couldn't use it to sit with a cover, and as we are reverse lay out it isn't where we would board the boat either. It looks to me that it would just become a dumping area for 'stuff' and we want to avoid that if we can. When we become truly continuous cruisers I may well consider a 'pram hood' as it would give us that space for disrobing from the wet gear and the muddy boots, but not yet awhile i think.
The batteries are currently stowed just under the deck to the left of the red cut off switches. The height above the batteries is not enough to get a hydrometer in or to top up with water. As you can also see there isn't too much room for me to move about either. I look like I have just auditioned for a part in the Robin Hood Panto as Friar Tuck. I didn't know that the bald spot now just had a fringe at the back!
My highlights of the year, apart from just been on the water that is, were The Caldon Canal which is always beautiful, The Liverpool Link and stay in Liverpool and our trip round the back of Birmingham as it seemed such an adventure. I'm looking forward to more of those next year.