Thursday, 21 December 2017

Chester is a Christmas Belter

When we planned the Captain's Christmas birthday trip, it was because we had loved Chester when we brought our old boat, Princess Lucy, here a couple of years ago. But then, that visit took place in the summer and we had had a week of solid sunshine, balmy evenings drinking on the stern, shopping trips in shorts and tee shirts.

As the awful winter cruising weather and dark days kicked in, we wondered if it was a mistake to try to recapture the experience in another season. Getting here was horrible but would it be worth it?

Yes. We loved it all over again. Come rain or shine, Chester is one of the most attractive cities in Europe. It is blessed with a canal which snakes round its  ancient city walls and Cathedral on one side, and a dramatic tidal river and waterfront on the other. There are great shops in half timbered buidings, fantastic pubs and restaurants and a canal side Waitrose.  So what's not to love?

Today, after 4 nights, we reluctantly left and will be back.

We are now moored outside The Cheshire Cat having shared the 5 locks with South African boaters who left their native land and its 33C sunshine for a damp boating holiday in Cheshire.

Ahh well, at least we aren't the only ones with mad plans. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Mud, rain and Chester

After days of fighting the elements and days of struggling to find the motivation to fight the elements, we have arrived in Chester, with the bow right outside The Harkers Arms, where we are booked in tonight.

The stern is right outside Barton Rouge (Indian) so we may need to go off that way another night.

We are too weary to write any more.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Winter Sunshine over Hurleston

In spite of our pessimism about making any progress towards Chester today, we have cruised for 4 hours and done 6 locks in winter sunshine. it was still freezing but the sun lifted our spirits and cheered us on.

The Hurleston contractors had cleared up and cleared off by lunch (Friday pub time?) and we were through the 4 locks by 2.30. This might be naive but we expected everything to be ship shape in the lock chambers. Not so. After 3 weeks of repairs, the Hurleston locks are leaking badly, one of the gates was dragging along the ground, there was a tyre behind a gate, and a ground paddle out of action.
Then we were the first boat through the similarly repaired Bunbury double lock flight, and we nearly sank the boat. At the bottom of the lock the boat became stuck on something significant enough to tip us up. With First Mate, Jones and the boat all in peril, Captain sprang to the paddles thinking he could drop them quickly. Again, not so. They are the only paddles in the system that wind down just as slowly as they wind up. The boat tipped sideways so far that it eventually slid off the thing and launched itself into the middle of the broad lock.
We are seriously unimpressed with stoppages that seem to have made things worse and more dangerous than before. We survived but it was a scary moment.
Tonight we are safely moored just under Tilstone Lock and have just had a home made curry for dinner. All is well but we will have to see what traps have been laid in the newly maintained Beeston Locks.


The plan always was (and still is) to cruise to Chester and stay there for a few days around Captain’s birthday (the 19th).
Hurleston Locks
Unfortunately for us, Canal and River Trust decided to move the repairs of Hurleston locks from January to December ‘following customer feedback’. Clearly I should have left feedback saying that the January date was just fine.

The new dates mean the locks are not planned to be finished until the 15th (today) and we could really do with being through them today.

We visited the site yesterday and whereas the workmen were confident of being done in the afternoon, I am less so. There was still scaffolding in 2 locks and with 3 pounds to fill, and 4 boats in the queue already, 

I imagine we will be there for the night.

If it is open for Saturday, this will leave a heavy (heavy by our standards) couple of days to Chester. 

Oh well!