An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Basingstoke update (8)

The new stop plank grooves have been almost completely fitted to Lock 12 They extend 2 inches out from the Lock 'cut' wall on each side and finish at normal water level - you can see the water level mark in the pciture.  They do have oak timber to 'chamfer' the edges but in my view they could have been done with 'U' section steel, been set into the wall of the lock 'cut' and should have extended well above water level.

They way they are currently leaves me to believe they will not be easily seen by a boater and have the potential to cause damage to a boat.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A new tiller tassel for Leo No2

I have had a new tiller tassel made for Leo No2 in much the same colours of the boat.  I met David Edwards (who made it) on the Stratford Canal and he has kindly made this one for me - I think it looks lovely.

Basingstoke update (7)

The post in question
The lower cill has been re-cast
Well a lot of work going on today - my cup runneth over with excitement.  A lock 12 there is a post being put in mid-channel (only to be used when the stop planks need to go in) - no one I have spoken to today is happy with the design which I think came form BW / CaRT so it must be proven but it's just not obvious how it all goes together. The lower cill for Lock 12 has been recast to take account of the odd sized gates!

Work progresses well and the contractors seem happy.

Water streaming through Lock 20
Clearing out above the upper
wing wall of Lock 20
Deepcut - probably one of the most beautiful parts of the whole canal system (IMHO) is being re-watered at the moment - this is the first time some of it has been in water since 2009.  Some photos below of work in progress today.

A bit of a leak but the lock has not
had water near it since 2009
Byfleet Boat Club (who have been such huge supporters of the canal despite being resident on the Wey) are planning to go to Brookwood (proper)  between Christmas and New Year and to King John's castle at Easter.  Hopefully we can get the Basingstoke up and running again.

I feel the local boaters, to begin with, have a moral responsibility to show faith in the counties and use the canal as regularly as time permits.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Site Update

I have added the old BW Upstream, Downstream and Estuary guides to the left hand side under Thames Downstream Guide, Thames Estuary Guide and Thames Upstream Guide in case these valuable documents get lost in the move of the IT estate to CaRT.

Basingstoke update (6)

Where the stop planks will go
The original bases were Elm
The gates just don't fit - yet

Well the cill is a bit 'the wrong size' (or maybe it's the gates).  The picture shows the 'fit' without the elm cills in place but even so it's a bit wrong.  Probably because the gates were measured incorrectly some two years ago.  The contractors are going to recast the cills and mitre the gates and hopefully measure everything so when the gates are eventually replaced the correct size can be ordered.

The traffic cone shows just how deep the silt really is! 

An interesting pattern in the duck weed

I have a bridge at the end of the garden which leads across to the towpath giving me 32 miles of walking or cycling!

There's a bit of duck weed around at the moment - causing problems at Brookwood top lock with Marsh Gas (Methane) - not sure it is entirely due to the duck weed - maybe just the lack of use we have been forced to endure.

Back to the picture - I noticed the pattern this morning which is the result of the rain water dripping through the boarding on the bridge - I've not seen this in 22 years of living in the house - very odd but most interesting.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Basingstoke update (5)

A bit of a gap at the top
Making a plan for tomorrow
Progress is being made with the bottom plank now concreted into place. However the gates which were put in place in February-2011 don't seem to fit very well.  The upper collar hinges have been loosened off completely but the gates still do not seem to fit in the middle at the top - they seem to be a country mile out (well 3 inches in fact). There was much discussion late this afternoon and a plan has been hatched which (understandably) I wasn't privy to - we'll have to wait and see what happens.

At the same time Deepcut is being re-watered with the top two pounds now back in (and holding) water.  There's still a dozen or so pounds to go but progress is being made and on this sort of thing and the old saying 'marry in haste - repent at leisure' comes to mind.  I'd much rather things are a little slow but done well than they hurry too much. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Basingstoke progress (4)

The rubbish behind the gate
A little bit of work and
the gate swings nicely
Despite the atrocious weather this morning the team were there working on the repairs to Brookwood bottom lock (12). They are waiting now for the weather to dry out a bit and the Basingstoke Canal Authority to authorise them to bring in a 'grab' and remove the silt and leaf mould from the lock - It's about 1.5m deep in the middle so needs to go.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Well it made me laugh out loud

Warning! Self-inflates when wet
When I was returning from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee events in London the weather was awful (who doesn't remember the 'summer' we enjoyed this year).

When moored at Hampton Court there was a huge bang in the middle of the night, I looked outside and saw nothing and the boat felt fine so I went back to bed. When I got up in the morning I noticed that one of my lifejackets had self-inflated due to having become so wet.

My friends Mick and Suzanne, who are cruising the North Oxford at the moment, (but I suspect the card was bought tin Banbury as they mention climbing the Hill at Napton) saw the card in the picture and kindly sent it to me to remind me of the events of the summer. How very kind of them.  Holly is a lovely 9-year-old Cocker Spaniel.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Way off topic BUT

I have enough wood at home for the winter now and it's all stacked away (neatly) in a dry place.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Basingstoke progress (3)

The cill, the apex of which is
offset from centre by 6 inches
The coffer dam from behind
The real work is now starting which is to put in the stop plank grooves (left out during an £8m refit of the adjacent A322/A324 intersection and bridge modifications some years ago).

This starts by ensuring there is a flat surface on which the lowest board will rest which is why some of the base of the lock approach is being cut away. Understand it was made up of three layers of herringbone pattern bricks and then 3 inches of concrete with steel bars in it.

It's the first bit of practical work we've seen in these parts for a number of years which is good news but why we have had to wait 18 months since the new lower gates were put in place beggars belief in my view.

No wonder the gates are hard
to open fully
We are optimistic that things will work out; so much so that Byfleet Boat Club is planning a trip to Brookwood (proper) which means we'll try and jam the canal outside by house between Christmas and New Year.

There's a huge amount of silt in the lock - it's about a meter deep in the middle - that's going to take some shifting but the contractors have said they will shift it next week.

Each of the coffer dam 'tubes' holds 16 tons of water when full!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Basingstoke progress (2)

Well it's taken a few days to get the coffer dam in place but after a bit of a struggle the contractors have now managed to get it in place, drain the lock, rescue the fish and realise that there's a lot of silt in a lock that hasn't been used for about 3 or 4 years.

Progress is being made and we must be grateful for that but it is agonisingly slow.

The coffer dam is first filled with air and then filled with water - it is surprisingly efficient in my view.

The job to re-water Deepcut was stopped on Thursday after a small issue was discovered (not sure what it was).  Repairs to be undertaken on Friday and re-watering to start again on Monday (24-September).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Basingstoke progress

Lock 12 with the stop boards in
place on 17-September-2012
As some of you will know I am passionate about the Basingstoke Canal.  It does have the issue of 'give a dog a bad name' but it is beautiful (especially up through the Deepcut flight of locks). It has, as is well known, suffered from a chronic lack of investment by its owners (Surrey and Hampshire County Councils) over the 21 years since its reopening in 1991.

Parts of the canal are built on what can only be described as 'difficult' geology (Bagshot sand) but the County Council owners and the riparian Borough Councils have invested a considerable sum over the last 12 months and progress is being made.  I would argue that the work has been a bit 'back-to-front' with the contractors starting in the middle of Deepcut with their repairs rather than starting at the lowest point on the canal requiring remedial action (Brookwood bottom lock), repairing that and thereby enabling plant and machinery to be moved progressively up the canal to address the larger issues in Deepcut.  To coin a phrase I am not particularly fond of - we are where we are.

However worked started on Brookwood bottom lock on 17-September (some three weeks late). The estimate to repair Brookwood is 2 weeks which will then enable those three locks to be added to the already open St John's and Woodham flights (yes they are open despite what the Basingstoke Canal Authority - BCA - may say) and at the same time enable the BCA to bring their work boat onto the mile pound at Brookwood to cut back the offside growth.  Brookwood being open will also mean that the plant and machinery required for the final repairs in Deepcut to be made easily available.

The work at Brookwood bottom lock means that the towpath between Sheets Heath Bridge and the Total Service Station on the A322 (and adjacent to Lock 12) will be closed between 08:00 and 16:00 each weekday.

The BCA are planning to put Deepcut back into water this week (w/c 17-September) and check for leaks.  They have not got much water to spare despite such a wet summer - they seem to have run too much off!

We are working on an 'Open Navigation' policy which will allow a certain number of boats to use Woodham (where the houseboats are), St Johns and soon Brookwood.  Of necessity it will be controlled (in the same way the summit of the Rochdale is) with the current proposal to be up to six boats (3 lockings) up though Woodham on Mondays and Fridays (allowing a weekend or week long trip to Brookwood).  This is the initial 'starter for 10' position which we would look to expand over time; when Deepcut is opened it will enable all of you who have told me they want to 'do' the Basingtoke that opportunity.  We'll need to see if we can do a deal with a combined National Trust (River Wey)/Basingstoke licence in the not too distant future.

I'll try and keep my blog up-to-date with Basingstoke progress now we have seen the whites of the contractors eyes!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Pre-winter maintenance

Leo No2 at Kings Sutton (south Oxford)
on the way back from Stratford-on-Avon
A great day (weather-wise) yesterday so I took the opportunity to do a little pre-winter maintenance.  The rear hatch (slide) has tongue and groove lining inside; the leading edge of it had lost its paint (magnolia) so I needed to take the slide off (easy), rub it down (easy), paint it (easy) and replace it (a challenge)!  Thanks Peter from Selina Rose for your help. I was horrified at the price of paint (even run-of-the-mill paint) so decided to purchase two 'test kits' - £1:49 each rather than the £15 (ish) for a litre of paint which probably wouldn't keep - it seemed to be a great idea as just one of the 'test kits' allowed for two coats of paint.

I also re-varnished the top of the rear doors and touched up some of the red paint (on the doors) which inevitably gets chipped or fades over time.

Sorted out the TV reception (caused by a dodgy cable in the cupboard where the wiring is) and managed to convert the aerial for the fixed VHF (VHF is a requirement on the tidal Thames) to have a magnetic base rather than a fixed one which screws to the superstructure which means I can put the aerial away when not required.

I think the boat is ready for the worst excesses the winter can throw at it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

TDJP Brass plaque

I have just received my brass plaque which commemorates Leo No2's participation in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.  A pleasant memento which will go on the boat later this week.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Home (again)

Newark Priory ruins (from Warren
Farm moorings)
We had a lovely evening at Warren Farm with a lovely bonfire and BBQ. This morning was quite wonderful with a gin clear sky and a lot of mist around.

We decided to stay a while because my friend Brian (Orion's Wey) wanted to watch the Grand Prix from Monza.  At 12:10 he realised that it wasn't being shown on the BBC so we poddled off.

We stopped at Byfleet Boat Club to top up with water and then went on to our moorings at Addlestone.

I received quite a surprise when I arrived on my mooring to find someone fishing.  He told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't be there as I had no right and that he was fishing.  I pointed out that I paid an not unsubstantial sum for the right to moor.  He was very unhappy.  Luckily friends from Selina Rose (moored nearby) had come across to help me moor so they saw the whole episode.  I rang the National Trust to report the incident whilst the fisherman wandered off but left his fishing gear behind - that was slightly intimidating.  As luck would have it a policeman happened by (they never usually do) so I placed the issue in his hands and he quietened the fisherman down and sent him on his way and then came and looked around the boat.

I found the whole episode intimidating but I am sure things will work out in the long run.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Woking Stream

Club boats moored at Woking
Leo No2 at Warren Farm
My friend Brian (Orion's Wey) and I started out at the New Inn at Send this morning and despite being at Papercourt Lock by 08:30 we were in a queue; there were boats everywhere on such a lovely morning.  We made our way down to Warren Farm and moored up to await pickup by other members of Byfleet Boat Club for a trip to Woking Palace.

We had a wonderful outing up the Woking stream where we moored alongside Woking Palace.  We enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine and a display of falconry as well as a guided tour of the Palace.

All most interesting and now we are preparing for a BBQ in the sunshine.  What more could you ask for.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Slight change of Plan

We were planning to go straight to Warren Farm (as mentioned previously) but decided that a little additional mileage (and a couple of locks) on such a stunning day would be in order so we headed off to go up through Newark and Papercourt (the lock that moved) locks to wind above Worsfold Gates and spend the evening outside the New Inn at Send.

It's been a stunning day - one of those ones we remember for years to come.  I have struggled a bit with TV reception today - not realising that to have the aerial lower can sometimes work better than having it high - lower is 100% better than high today.

We'll be off at about 08:30 tomorrow (after a late summer evening in the pub I suspect) to be at Warren Farm in time to be collected to go up the Woking Stream.

Warren Farm is in a little stream to the west of the navigation just below Newark Priory and Newark Lock.

Heritage Weekend

This Saturday is Heritage Day.  To help celebrate it Byfleet Boat Club is going to Woking Palace, a place where narrowboats can't unfortunately get to so we are all meeting at Byfleet Boat Club's private moorings on Saturday morning and going up Woking Stream (entry just below Papercourt Lock) with those in the club who own small cruisers.

I met up with my friend Brian on Orion's Wey on Thursday.  We cruised up to the 'horse field' (between Murray's and Dodd's bridges) where we can guarantee a good TV signal so we could watch some Paralympics.

Off to Warren Farm today and then Woking Palace on Saturday.  We have wonderful weather - does the sun shine on the righteous I wonder - surely not!