About Me

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The name describes my demeanour and voice! I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' couple. The Best Mate and I.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Cropredy and Back

Not again. I know we have done it many times before but on a sunny spring morning, with only the one day open to us, a day trip was very necessary. We needed to blow the cobwebs off: quite literally.

We had a weather window of 10am to 4pm without rain. We used it all.

The cruise to Cropredy was uneventful save to say that we had a good road. At Cropredy a boat had just left the water point so we winded and pulled up to wash the boat. The boat washing rotating brush attachment blew off the hose and soaked me to the mirth of the Best Mate. We soon had it back under control and washed the roof and one side of the boat before another boat came and plead water tank desperation. We backed off the water point under the Cropredy Wharf Bridge 153 and moored to go for lunch. A nice boater had left a loop of rope for us to moor on as the rings have never fitted our length!

A short walk up to the Brazenose Arms was rewarded by Hooky Mild Ale and a spritzer followed by "Scampi Salad" and "Sausages and Mash". All scrumptious.

The back to make the return. This time the Best Mate tried out her day bed. We had a bad road and I was single handing Slat Mill Lock when a hire boat crew came up. I asked for assistance with the off side gate and leapt for the disappearing boat which was almost too far down for me to jump with my prosthetic knees. I made it!

At Boughton Lock the Best Mate appeared, having heard me call to the hire boat crew at Slat Mill and didn't want me to single hand again!

Uneventfully we returned and moored up just before 4pm. The boat is a little cleaner and a lot tidier.

But it didn't rain until 7!                                                                        7.3/4 miles, 6 locks, 4.1/2hrs

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Water!

Today was a lovely day and so I re-connected the water system and we went on our famous water run. We have done it so many times but it is never boring. This was the first time we have done it since I had my second knee replacement. There are a few things that I found different. Firstly, it was a bit more awkward than it used to be to step down into the engine bay to check the oil, water and greaser before we set off. But I managed it.

We met lots of boaters. Some we knew and jested about us actually being on the move! Others we had seen "somewhere before" but of course neither us or they could remember exactly when or where! Some were locals about local business. Even one delivering a spinning wheel to Tooley's boatyard. No idea what for!

There were non boaters too. The two lively boys with her mother beside herself and the lock. As I came into the lock one told me "You're going to disappear".
"What, miss the pier!"
"No DISAPPEAR"
"Piff! paff! pooF! I'm still here!"
As I went down with the boat I told them that it was only 6 feet down so they would still see my head above the parapet. They laughed.  Back at the mooring where we passed a nice few minutes with a father and daughter who had just moved to the area. She was "doing the canal" at school. She watched me as I lengthened a chain to make mooring easier. With two prosthetic knees now I cannot kneel to reach below the pile cap level to thread a rope through the loop on my mooring chain. I have now added another length of chain.

2miles, 2 locks, 2 lift bridges, 2 hours





Monday, 19 February 2018

Anomallies!

After two full trickle charges and drop tests, and a further full charge the batteries have been given a clean bill of health.

A connecting cable between two of the leisure batteries and the third was found to be of inadequate cross-section and replaced.

The battery selector/isolator switch was found to be incorrectly wired and not isolating anything!

All systems have been checked and SONFLOWER has been returned to her mooring for the remainder of the winter.

Thank you again John and  Tooley's Boatyard


Monday, 29 January 2018

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Dead in the Water

SONFLOWER lies on her mooring forlorn and cold. We visited her today but there isn't a glimmer of life, not a sense of purpose, no heart, no soul. She is cold in the wintry breeze, the sky blackening with oncoming rain. Her cratch cover is taught with the tension of the bungee ties. She will withstand anything that the weather sends against her.

Inside she is dry. The de-humidifier is doing its job and the catchment tray has been emptied. The bilge is ventilated and, for the first winter I can remember, is dry too. There is no gas to supply for the fridge but who needs a fridge when the temperatures are below 5 degrees?

There are no blinking lights on the PV charging panel: there is nothing to charge! That is the central reason why she is dead in the water: The batteries have been removed.

So we could not run the engine.

We could not heat any water.

We could not light the fridge.

We could get my painting bag, though, and I am going to be busy doing some artwork in the next week.

We loved seeing her. Being in her. Feeling the rock and balance. She will survive. Spring will come and the engine will roar. Batteries will charge and lights will shine.

But, for now, SONFLOWER is dead in the water.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Lovely Day

It is bright and beautiful. So I have spent a few hours in SONFLOWER's company.

There was quite a frost this morning so I thought it was time to do something to protect the vulnerable bits. So I have drained the water heater, opened all the taps, drained the shower and switched off the water pump.

When I am feeling like kneeling and reaching below decks I will put a cosy on the pump but at the moment, as she is under the waterline and water temperatures are still above 10deg C I am happy that it is safe to leave for the time being.

I have a fully charged de-humidifier on the table in the centre of the saloon to keep the condensation to a minimum.

I have checked the bilge and it is bone dry. Great after a few years of working hard to get it that way.

SO I then paid attention to the outside and have touched in the cruising scratches and bruises that the paintwork suffered during the summer. My touch up is not quite a perfect match for the Royal Green that the painter used but it will keep the rust at bay fro the winter months, I hope. It will only get knocked off again next spring!

So I am pleased with my few hours work and the time I spent with fellow moorers over a cup of tea.

That;s what boating is about!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Home Again! Hillmorton to Banbury

We didn't do it all at once!

The first leg was an over-
nighter with Sooper crew on board. First a two car shuffle to get Soo's car at Hillmorton and mine at The Folly Inn, Napton. So that was definitely our first target. And we hit it on the bull's eye. Not only did we have a great day's boating bit we had time to go and retrieve Soo's car before hitting the time for our dinner reservation at The Folly Inn.

Chilli and Spud at The Folly Inn
Now, what an amazing turn around the Folly has had. It was packed, and it appeared it was packed with locals having a meal out. The beer was good, the wine was good and the food was great. I had the best blue fillet steak I have had in my life! The Best Mate had a fabulous Blanche Bait with fresh salad; SooperCrew had the best portion of chilli with her baked spud that I have ever seen. Why did  I think this was an amazing turn around. Well the last time we came to The Folly I blogged "A Folly of a Meal" when all four of the crew got meals that did not resemble the menu descriptions. Now I am reaching for Tripadvisor to give them five stars.             14 miles 1 lock  5 hours

We did work one lock before mooring so we didn't have far to go to bed down, replete.

We rose earlyish and after breakfast did another two car shuffle, this time leaving my car at The Wharf Inn, Fenny Compton. We started the ascent of Napton flight at about 9.15 and were at lock 14 by 11.00. Sooper Crew walked back down the locks to get her car to the top and met us as we exited Lock 15! The Best Mate and SooperCrew left me at the Marston Doles water point as they had to go to a craft session in Banbury.                  2 miles, 8 locks    2.3/4  hours


"Pie of the Day" at The Wharf Inn
I boated solo toward Fenny Compton. I stopped twice. Once for lunch at Stoneton Bridge 125 and once for a natural break at Bridge 131. The wind got stronger and cutting as the day progressed. I moored on the visitor moorings just before the A423 Bridge 136A at about 4pm. When I got to the car it was boxed in by two white panel vans! I inquired in the Wharf Inn whether anyone knew the owners. The main offender, that had arrived last and parked over a foot from the kerb was owned by "Kev". The barmaid went looking for him but to no avail so I took my stick and plodded (limped) up to the long term moorings near the marina to try and find him. I failed but did find the owner of the other van, which was broken down! He kindly offered to move it and rolled it down the hill without power steering or brakes and parked it beautifully. I was free, but cold and very hungry so I had a pie and a pint int The Wharf. It would have been rude not to when the barmaid said that pie was the chef's special of the day!                                      7.1/2 miles   3hours

Sooper Crew has jumped ship and is crewing on another boat today. So it was The Best Mate and I who boated from Fenny Compton to our home mooring. My knee prevents me doing a lot of lock work so The Best Mate had the brunt of the labour today. We were helped by plenty of boats on the move after the first two Claydon locks but had to fill Boughton and Hardwick locks to end the day. We were hindered by a working pair, moored against another working boat and opposite a leisure boat moored beside a "no mooring" sign! There was 7' 6" left to get my 6ft 10" beam through. To do it I had to back up several times to ensure that I was parallel with the boat moored opposite. I did not have my camera to hand to take a picture for the "moored like a twat" facebook group! Today the sun shone on us almost all the way.  We had a lunch break in The Brasenose Inn in Cropredy. This was a very pleasant break indeed. Here too we had a great example of bad mooring.  Here a 50ft boat was moored on the centre two rings of four available beside Cropredy Bridge thus preventing another boat from enjoying this lovely mooring spot. We did find a mooring through the bridge but it bugs me as to why some boaters are that thoughtless.

So we moored up at home mooring about 6pm very tired but home. We were welcomed by nb Sawdust at Hardwick Lock and cheery waves from Malc and Dink at the Cottage and the other moorers at our moorings. It is great to go boating but it is good to be home!
                                        12 miles, 12 locks, 8.1/2  hours