1. Waiting for the 'off' at bridge 9.
2. The convoy.
3. Val and wilvir breasted up.
4. Moored in Salthouse Dock.
We arrived at the little hamlet of Melling, that sits above the canal, on Tuesday, ready for our run into Liverpool the following morning. We were now ten canal miles from our destination and the day had been glorious, with bright warm sunshine and a sky that gave us a clear view to the horizon where we could make out some of Liverpool's tallest landmarks. Jim is pretty familiar with the city, whereas we have never been before, and is to be our guide for the week of our stay.
The following morning we made our way to bridge 9 where we met with the five other narrowboats who, together with us, were being escorted by BW staff into Liverpool. The reason for the escort was to maintain the flow of traffic across the swing-bridges as we passed through in convoy and to operate the six locks that let us down into Salthouse Dock. There was also a noticeable police presence keeping an eye on our progress, although I would like to think that was more coincidence than actual necessity.
Jim and Helen were sixth in the convoy behind us and hard pressed to keep up due to the pace the lead boat was setting. The seventh boat was right on their stern and also forcing the pace so much that little 'Val' overheated and ended up being towed by the boat behind to the next service point.
Jim had managed to alert us with his horn that he had a problem, but I was unable to go astern due to the amount of plastic bags that had wrapped themselves round our propeller, and had to stop to remove them. This meant we ended up last in the convoy, which I was glad of. On catching up with Jim at the service point we decided to drop the speed to a reasonable paces and I would bring up the rear in case his engine overheated again. However, having reduced speed his engine was back to its old self and running quite happily.
Although there was no further sight of the boats in front we actually caught up with their tail-end charlie at the first lock proving once again that churning water to foam gets you nowhere. The BW staff were also very helpful and let Jim know that there was no rush so we couldn't quite understand why the lead boat had set off at such a pace. Infuriatingly, the 'lady' on the boat that reluctantly towed Jim to the service point couldn't understand why the pace was so slow. Some people! They haven't the patience understanding or consideration to be a narrowboat skipper and are only ever going to be just a narrowboat owner!
Ginny was afraid she might miss a treat if she stayed below so we were both drenched to our undies as the rain hadn't stopped for a minute throughout the journey. And what a great journey it was too. The view and sense of historic grandeur as we approached the Royal Liver Building was something we will remember forever.
Entering the city via the canal link and the huge docks connected to the River Mersey was, to say the least, an emotionally uplifting experience, especially considering that my father often passed through these docks in their heyday as a merchant navy seaman. We finally passed through Albert Dock into Salthouse Dock and the floating pontoons where we would be moored for our stay.
It continued to rain all that night and yesterday so we spent the day wandering the shopping centres and buying a few necessities before returning to 'wilvir' and taking Gunner for a walk.
Today (Friday) the sun is out. Hooray! Now for the cultural bit and lots of photos to take!
27th Apr 2012, 15:31
(L-r) Elaine, Ginny and Jim
We were pleasantly surprised to hear from Jim and Elaine who we first met when we were moored above Wigan, at Haigh Hall, some four years ago. On that occasion we chatted about the merits of liveaboard life, as they were on the cusp of buying their own, and have since had their narrowboat 'Lottie D' built, which they moor at Scarisbrick Marina west of Burscough.
It was great to have them visit and to catch up on all that has unfolded since we last saw each other. We plan to meet up again when we pass by on our return journey from Liverpool.
22nd Apr 2012, 18:06
1. 'wilvir' and 'val' rendezvous at Abram.
2. Jim (KiSA), Ginny and Helen enjoying a chin-wag.
On Saturday we met with good friends Jim and Helen crewing their narrowboat 'Val' for a few months cruising together.
We had planned this rendezvous last year and decided to make Liverpool our first destination as the last time we were on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal the Liverpool Link had yet to be completed. Me and Ginny have never been to Liverpool and really looking forward to this trip. We'll be moored in Salthouse Dock, adjacent to Albert Dock, for a week and amongst other things hope to delve into some maritime history and find out more about the ships my Dad served aboard from 1914 to the late 50's, as well as take in all that Liverpool is famous for.
17th Apr 2012, 15:23
On the day Jim and Helen met up with us, Jim became a knight in shining armour for this group of ladies who were having a celebratory 30th birthday trip aboard a narrowboat.
One of them accidentally dropped her phone into the canal at Leigh and Jim gallantly and expertly managed to recover it with his fishing net.
17th Apr 2012, 14:36
1. Droylesden Marina moorings.
2. Shaun and Sue.
3. 'Whisper' turning out of the marina
Having 'tweeted' for a while now, I came across the skipper of narrowboat 'whisper' who moors on the Lower Peak Forest Canal. So in the time honoured tradition of making new friends I invited Shaun to the boat while we were in dry dock. There we properly introduced ourselves and arranged to meet again, with his wife Sue, aboard their boat at Droylsden Marina where we were to moor over the Easter Weekend.
Suffice to say, we have all become good friends and look forward to hopefully meeting again sooner rather than later.
10th Apr 2012, 15:33
1. Not a day for photographs, but I managed to catch these gosling's as Mum stood up and revealed them.
We completed twelve miles and twenty-seven locks From Droylesden, down through Manchester, onto the Bridgewater Canal yesterday. On leaving Manchester we turned west onto the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal and are now moored just west of Worsley.
Both of us are bruised and a little pain weary, as I slipped on the pontoon decking at Droylesden on Friday, skinning my shin and twisting a knee, while yesterday Ginny slipped down some stone lock steps and fell onto her left armpit which has left her uncomfortably bruised too. So we're taking things easy for now.
The incessant rain didn't help either as everything was very slick underfoot on the lock stonework and cobbles. Not helped by goose droppings, algae and wet moss. I can't believe we both came a cropper as we're used to it and always take the utmost care, but hey, it could have been worse. Bring back proper lock keepers I say!
The propeller also became badly fouled approaching a lock, which took all the steerage away. That allowed the bywash to suck the boat towards it until I got over 2000 revs up to even begin to enable the propellor to give me some way astern, but not enough to stop the bow fender bouncing us off the lock stonework. Fortunately it only took half-an-hour down the weed hatch to remove the assorted debris of a zippered dress, plastic, baling tape and a tyre inner tube. Fortunately no real damage done to wilvir.
Eating lunch at the tiller as we came out of Manchester, my chicken role turned to mush faster than I could eat it and Ginny absent mindedly drunk half a glass of rainwater.
10th Apr 2012, 13:20
1. Day three (three coats of Dacrylate later).
2. Day four (paint curing and tinkering day).
3. After eight years the steelwork is unblemished by corrosion or electrolytic pitting.
4. Plenty of elbow room.
The past two weeks have passed far two quickly for my liking.
However we completed what we set out to do during a planned five day layover in Portland Basin Marina Dry-Dock last week. We left on Friday to spend Easter weekend in Droylesden Marina.
With everything shipshape once again we're making an early start at dawn tomorrow (bank holiday Monday), to work down the eighteen locks of the Aston flight into Manchester's Ducie Street Junction, and then on down the Rochdale nine through Manchester. So a long day ahead of us. We hope to make Worsley on the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal by late Monday afternoon.
8th Apr 2012, 18:36
I was sat on the bow idly picking the strings of my acoustic guitar when this Bumble Bee decided to add his own accompaniment by landing on it.
I was also paid a few compliments by passing walkers as they caught the strains of my own take on a few Led Zeppelin, U2 or Pink Floyd numbers played as instrumentals.
There's nothing like the honest sound of an open-air acoustic guitar instrumental, even played by someone like me who is self taught and far from perfect. Great fun and a great days practice. Perfect weather too!
24th Mar 2012, 17:30