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Shardlow to Stenson (9.75 miles, 5 double locks)

Quick update!

Side cloths are on under the top cloths on one side!

A trip to Metcalf's in Nottingham last week, to take delivery of our new set of black sheets (cloths) for the butty and we were ready for the weather.

Approaching 'carnage corner' in Shardlow

We managed to get one side done but the fact that we needed to spin the boat round and have good weather at the same time, beat us.  We decided to wait until we got to Alrewas, the other side of Burton, where the towpath changes sides anyway.

Flicking the butty into the lock at Shardlow

A 60 foot butty doesn't 'flick' into the lock quite as easily as the shorter version, but Richard got it sussed.

Coming into Weston Lock with a good bywash, to the left of the picture

Aston and Weston lock, we breasted them up beforehand using the bywash to help keep them together.

Stenson lock - deepest on the Trent and Mersey Canal and my pet hate because of it's depth at 12'6"

Coming up through Stenson lock, we decided to moor alongside the tarmac towpath to give us a rest from the quagmires of previous days.  Not good when you have dogs!

So now we wait out the incoming storm and also celebrate Richard's birthday.  The river at Alrewas will be up for a few days yet and various lock 'stoppages' are making our progress extremely slow.  Lots of waiting around, but at least it is giving us the time to leapfrog the car and get lots of jobs done in and out of the boats.....

2014 Voyage begins - at last! Erewash Canal to Shardlow (2.35miles, 3 locks)

Our brief wait at Trent Lock on the Erewash Canal at Long Eaton (Nottinghamshire) ended up being a long week, after rain raised the River Trent water levels dramatically.
The following pictures show yesterday's little voyage.

Approaching Sawley locks on the River Trent

All week, we have been busy transforming the bare shell interior of the butty into a basic workshop, shop area and store with the additional 19feet we have gained through the recent stretch.

Gracefully steering along Sawley cut (sorry about picture quality)

As we have the car back now from the garage, we have been able to get the bits and pieces needed for the rest of the work and also were in the right place to have all the wood delivered.

Trent and Mersey Canal straight on!

So, yesterday, the water levels went down into the amber, enough for us to decide to move. Richard had spent most of the morning flushing and coaxing large branches and rubbish out from the exit of the lock and onto the river Trent, with not much success and it swirled around and came back in before we could set off!

Approaching Derwent Mouth lock in the sunshine

We filled up with water, emptied the cassettes, took the rubbish to the bin and set the lock up to go down onto the river.  Leaving the Erewash Canal, there was a tense moment as Richard struggled with the steering with all the rubbish tangled around the propellor.  He had got rid of it before leaving the next lock and normal steering was resumed.

Waiting to leave Derwent Mouth lock

I had leapfrogged the car to Sawley and met Richard at Sawley lock, ready with the gates open.  The blood pressure was up as I had run with Lister from the car park, but got there with loads of time to spare.  

The boys relax after a good charge around on the towpath

The intention had been to just get off the river and be within a walk to the car, so we had moored at Shardlow just above the Derwent Mouth lock.
Today, Richard finished the counter and shelving woodwork inside, we now have to wait for the sheets (side cloths) to be ready for collection.....

Butty Stretching - Part 4

Less than a fortnight ago, we arrived at Sheet Stores Basin to get our butty stretched to an overall 60 feet in length from around 40, and our motor boat reblacked.

All finished and ready to leave the basin this afternoon

So earlier in the week, once the team had finished all the work on the butty, we could begin all the painting works necessary.

A huge area has been created by adding 19feet to the butty

Paul kindly let us have access to the butty in the workshop, which was great, so that we could undercoat/prime the steel, bitumen the external steel sides and then 'red oxide' coat the interior.

Primer going on in various different colours as we had run out of grey!

View of my feet because I had painted all the floor area and had nowhere to go!

The finished interior with Richard hiding behind the ladder!

I have to say that Paul and his team have done a first class job of Echoes and we wouldn't hesitate to get them to do other work we may need doing in the future.  We are already thinking about alterations to the cabin on Echoes for next year if things go to plan!

Out of the workshop and ready for a relaunch, complete with a name!

Luckily, Paul had some tarpaulin which he had no use for allowing us to use it to temporarily cover over the centre stretched section to keep it dry until the new covers arrive later in the month.

Successfully relaunched and dry as a bone inside to my relief!

For more photos, PJ Barber have a Facebook page where they have documented the build PJ Barber Boatbuilder Ltd. Please 'Like' their page to get updates on future projects.

So today, we set off to Trent Lock (about 3/4 mile!) to wait for the river Trent to drop and enable our 2014 voyage to begin.......

Butty Stretching - Part 3

We have had a busy week at Sheet Stores on the Erewash Canal.

The boys keep everyone under close surveillance in the sunshine

'Echoes' - the butty, is almost complete, having been chopped in half and a section of 19 feet added to bring the overall length to around 60 feet.

The stern - including Boatman's Cabin, safe behind the closed door!

The first day in the workshop, the butty was carefully positioned with the floor plate lined up.  It was then welded into place.  We couldn't believe how quickly Paul and his team got on with the job!

The bow containing everything else which wouldn't fit in the Boatman's Cabin!

The following 2 days, bit by bit the sides and finally the bow of Echoes, were attached to the floor plate and all at once we had a recognisable boat.

Comfortably Numb ready for it's turn in the beauty parlour!

Meanwhile, Richard and Paul pulled the big boat out for some much needed attention.  The blacking is meant to be done every 2 years really, but we had left both boats for nearly 3.  Some radical attention was needed, considering the miles and locks which we cover in the season!

First a really good pressure wash fetches all the sludge and loose paintwork off

After leaving the bodywork to dry, the first coat of hull blacking goes on

We managed to get 3 coats on the hull to prepare it for another 2 years in the water.  Also, we sanded and reglossed the gunwhale (level part of the side below the green cabin sides) and the band above the blacked hull.  The tunnel bands had a sand and repaint to spruce them up.

Nearly structurally complete, Echoes is really starting to look good!

Yesterday, the rudder on the big boat had some radical improvements done after finding that the post holding it was slightly bent! This was taken off, straightened and new bearings put in the top of the rudder.
We always have to be careful steering along shallow sections of canal, because we pick up large amounts of rubbish. due to a completely unnecessary drop (2 inch piece of steel!) on the underside of the skeg holding the rudder.  This was cut off and the arm holding the rudder reattached creating a more streamline underside.  No more dredging hopefully!
More pictures to follow in the next part ......

Butty Stretching - Part 2

I hope everyone had a serene and harmonious start to the New Year and that this will bode well for the future.  Sorry my nauseating optimism again, drives my husband mad sometimes!

Short trip down to the Erewash Canal on the River Trent

I have to say that I personally have not really enjoyed my time these last 2 months in a marina, so when Richard said let's go, I jumped up first!

The Trent Lock pub at Trent Lock, the entrance to the Erewash Canal and Cranfleet Cut

The weather was forecast to behave on Richard's first day off (New Year's Eve) and then get crappyly windy again, so we sorted and stowed a few items in the butty and set off down through Sawley Cut lock onto the Trent.

Nice to see people out and about feeding the swans and ducks

Making fast progress down the river, we soon arrived at the Erewash entrance.  The river was pushing a bit and this made the boats swing round rather quickly, ready to come in the entry to the lock landing.  Richard apologised as he thought we would hit the wall, but once he gave the old Lister another turn on the flywheel, we raced accurately under the bridge with the lock straight ahead.

Clearing twigs and debris off the rudder before attempting to steer in a straight line

A boat was sitting in the lock as we pulled into the side, waiting for us, we thought.  I jumped off into a couple of inches of flood water (amber boards) and went to see what was occuring. Apparently they were newbies.  I was a bit concerned as they gently exited the lock area onto a running River Trent and turned left to go down river.  Later, as we both cleared trees and rubbish from the lock and behind the gates, I turned and saw the same boat slowly going upstream.  I hoped they were ok and got to Sawley alright!

Wonderful Mississippi paddle steamer style houseboat, as I like to think of them

The Canal and River Trust must, more frequently, attend to the state of locks on our fascinating 200 year old system as it is falling into disrepair before our very eyes.  Trent Lock has both ground paddles out of action, which surely has to be a Health and Safety issue, especially when novices use the system.  It is also choked full of allsorts so we couldn't get the gates open and had to ram into the tree across the middle to get in.  What is more important, a new cycle track or safety/ upkeep of the system with the booming tourist trade on the canals in mind?    Just please take a look at these wonderful monuments once in a while and love our heritage as we boaters and canal users of all persuasions do.
Ok, I'm being naive as usual. Rant over, but seriously, I could cry sometimes!

The butty turning ready to come out of the water

Not realising that the yard were ready for us, we moored on pins just past the lock approach and settled down for the evening.  As if he were anticipating this, Paul called up and suggested now was the right time to get us securely moored in the basin, before the storm the next day.  The people in the boat opposite must have thought they were watching a Carry On film, as we jumped out, pulled the pins out and finished our short journey into Sheet Stores basin.

Sitting pretty, Echoes basks in her newly cleaned elegance (but with a lot of electrolysis concerningly!)

New Year's day, we walked Lister in the rain and wind to get the car from Sawley, but somehow it didn't bother us.  It is so great to get out for a walk together and with a dog (sorry Scoob) and not be on my own as I have been for most of the past 2 months.  Today, the butty was dragged out of the water, pressure washed and now resides in the workshop ready for some major surgery.
Back to work for Richard for a couple more days, ready to get the big boat out of the water when he gets back!