Friday, 16 June 2017

Astwood (heading the wrong way)

Thursday was moving day.  First, I had to get up to Stoke Wharf where there is a boat yard where I could get a pump out.  We set off early as the wind was forecast to get up in the afternoon.  There are a few boats on permanent moorings just up from where we have been moored and the way this one is moored reminds me of the Swallows and Amazons series of books.

Moored out of sight

The other day I mentioned about the large salt works that used to be by the canal and that the only building left standing is the old pump house.  Well, the old entrance to the works from the canal is still there as it carries the towpath.  It is blocked off at the other end but looks like it’s about 60’ long – fun place to moor if you don’t want to be disturbed by passing walkers and cyclists etc. providing you don’t mind the darkness.

Entrance to the old salt factory at Stoke Works
Ideal hideaway

We soon reached Stoke Wharf but had one lock to go up first.  Stoke Wharf is home to one of the bases of the Black Prince hire boat company.  When we used to hire boats we often went with Black Prince as the boats were always fairly new, well equipped and in good condition.

The lock leading up to Stoke Wharf

The guys at this yard were all really friendly and, as at most boat yards, made a great fuss of Buddy.  The chap who did our pump out explained that at the yard they build a new boat a month for the fleet and they currently have just over 90 boats across the different bases.  As they tend to sell them after five years I suppose it’s not surprising they have to build a new one every month.

It reminded me of our first boat, Chalkhill Blue, as we bought her from a hire boat company but she was getting on for 20 years old so was very tired.

After the pump out and getting rid of our rubbish and recycling I spun the boat round at a winding hole and headed back down south again.

Buddy waiting patiently as I bring the boat back into the loc

I was going to go back to our spot at Stoke Prior but the front of the boat had been just under an ash tree.  Wood pigeons roosted in the tree so the front of the boat was quite a mess and had taken me a while to clean before setting off in the morning.  Because of this I carried on past our spot at Stoke Prior and moored near the top of the Astwood flight.

Our new mooring at Astwood

Having turned around we are now facing the wrong way but there is a good reason for that.  Mike and Lesley are coming up for a cruise in a couple of weeks to do the locks at Tardebigge with us.  Tardebigge isn’t far from the boat yard and there aren’t really any decent places for Karen to park so I had to come back.  We’re only five locks from the next winding hole so on a nice day I’ll pop down them, turn and come back up again.

I serviced the engine in the afternoon; a job I love and hate.  There’s a good feeling when the job is done and I know I don’t have to worry about it for another few hundred engine hours but something always goes wrong.  Yesterday I manged to spill some oil when pumping out the gearbox.  Fortunately, not much, and I do keep a pack of disposable nappies handy in the engine bay for such eventualities.

The wind really did get quite strong in the afternoon so the tomato and chilli plants were soon off the roof and back in the cratch.

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