NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Visitors, visiting and finally on the move again!

We seem to have been lurking around the Braunston area for months – and it is a lovely area – but we will be really glad to move on again!

We were expecting visitors, so moved back from Brownsover to Braunston on 8 January, and again it was me steering the boat through Hillmorton Locks!

We started well – Gary just looking apprehensive as usual!


The bottom lock went well, and I headed off slowly through the pound.


No pictures of the next lock – as it went a bit wrong!!

Gary had the gates open for me on the right hand lock of the pair – but I got the angle all wrong on the approach and managed to hit the approach wall – and seriously tip the boat at the same time as I scraped into the lock!

Gary kept his cool (well done!!) closed the gates behind me and opened the paddles – then went to look for any damage!

Apart from a fresh scrape to the thickest part of the bow, there was no visible damage, so despite now being really nervous, I carried on.

Entry to the last lock went fine (phew!) and we were soon out of the top!


As soon as Gary was back on board I had to go into the boat to check on damage inside – a few things had slid about, I had to carefully open cupboards and push tins and jars back away from the doors – a couple of glasses had “leant over” in their cabinet – but nothing had broken – a miracle!!!

We were soon safetly moored up in Braunston again, ready for our visitors on Sunday.

Nicky and I went to school together in Portsmouth, and although we havent seen much of each other over the years, we do catch up occasionally.

We met Nicky, husband Nick, and son Ewan in the Boathouse Pub and had a great couple of hours catching up.


Then of course it was back to the boat for a guided tour and some posh coffees!


It was great to see you all, hopefully we will see you again soon!

We had been moored in front of NB Inca whilst at Braunston this time, we had not met before, but it didnt take long to get chatting – it seems Gary and Carolyn read this blog – and I now read theirs too! We didnt get chance to meet up for a drink – but I’m sure we will get the chance soon! The two Garys were soon comparing notes on oil changing – and we were soon shown the oil extraction pump that Gary uses (much smaller and easier to store than the one Keith on NB Oakfield has).

We had to move again – this time back to Wigrams Marina ready for another trip down south and waved goodbye to Gary as he was doing his oil change!


Another trip down south, staying with Mum again – she will get fed up with us soon!

This time we visited Terry and Wendy and admired their new kitchen (which is still a work in progress, but coming along lovely).

Friday evening was a gathering of ex-railway workers in Havant, we had a great evening and Gary was pleased to see so many “old” friends!

Saturday evening we met up with one of my old work mates Debbie and her partner Alan in ‘Spoons at Port Solent!


Deb and Alan have the canal boating bug – they have been with a group of friends for 3 years running – hopefully they will visit us on the boat soon!

Deb and I worked out that we have known each other for about 35 years! It is definitely a week for getting together with “old friends”.


All too soon our visiting was done and Sunday we headed back to the boat.

Monday afternoon we moved out of the marina and moored just outside. The car was taken back and we settled down to a relaxing evening.

Tuesday morning we woke to the canal totally frozen over, and after testing the ice we decided it was too thick to move in!

We went for a walk, testing the ice as we went.



As we walked back we passed this boat “ice breaking” – it was struggling with the bends!


As we got back to the boat, these boats went past apparently heading for Rugby – I dont think they made it that day!


The next day the ice had mostly melted, so we headed back to Braunston!

I needed a haircut and Charisma in Braunston had done a good job last time. We topped up with some wine in the shop and then wandered along to the locks to see the work in progress.

The pounds below and above the Admiral Nelson are completely drained and the lock has been set up ready for the open day on Sunday 25th.




Thursday was time to leave Braunston for the forseeable future! At last!

Of course first we had to top up the water tank – using our new mini hose from The Range (purchased whilst down south).


We had decided that our fab flat “food safe” hose wasnt quite long enough at times and when we saw this one, which is really small but still 10m long (so easy to store in our “gas locker”) we thought we would give it a try. The hose seems to be silicone like, really soft and easy to handle and roll up.

So then we were off, heading for Hillmorton locks again (ooh-er!)

So here we go again, for the last time this season, down the Hillmorton locks!

No dramas this time (phew!) everything went smoothly, so just a few photos of Gary doing his death defying leaps (I’m not brave enough and my legs are too short!)!


We moored up on the 24hr moorings at Brownsover – right opposite NB Oakfield and NB Inca!

The next day the canal was frozen again – but it didnt matter, we did our shopping and had a short conversation across the canal with Keith and Ann, and then relaxed on the boat. A boat had broken the ice in the afternoon, but there was still a lot around, so we stayed put.

Saturday we headed off again waving goodbye to NB Oakfield and Inca on the way.


We topped up the water tank again at Newbold and then moored up at All Oaks Wood.

Sunday the canal was frozen again – but not for too long – NB Parisien Star came past, breaking the thinning ice as they went.


Its a shame we didnt meet Elly and Mick whilst they were on the canals!

We treated ourselves to brunch this morning – the first chance to try the free range eggs (and mini eggs) given to us by Nicky and Nick (from their own chickens) – delicious!


Onwards tomorrow – heading for more retail thereapy in Ikea Coventry whilst waiting for the stoppages to finish!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Christmas and New Year Catch Up

First off a belated HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our readers!!!

We havent moved far – we stayed in Wigrams Marina until 30 December, and then moved up to Braunston for over the New Year, then moved on to Brownsover for shopping and a trip to the Cinema to see the third instalment of The Hobbit.

We did do some miles in the car though – with a visit down south to family and friends for christmas.

We had a great evening and catch up with June and Chris and admired their fabulous new house extension!


They now have an ultra posh utility room and fabulous dining room!

Mum had organised a family get together, and we had a great afternoon with 4 generations of family!


We also had a great evening with Matt at the Slug and Lettuce in Fareham – complete with cocktails for me and Matt as Gary was driving for a change! (So no photos – too many cocktails!!!)

We headed back to the boat on 23 December, and had a quiet restful Christmas Day, just the two of us, for our second on the boat!



Boxing day we headed to Yvonne and Roys for the other half of the family get together!


We had originally planned to leave the Marina on the 27th, but decided to have an extra day to relax and catch up with the washing etc.

On the 28th we woke to a frozen over marina, so had to stay a bit longer!


On the 29th the ice was thicker, so again we didnt leave!

The marina was open for business and someone obviously needed diesel badly, as they forced their way to the service wharf – making their own channel on the way. The noise was really odd – not just cracking and splitting the ice but metallic like sounds too!

I did a video and put it up on YouTube here – have a listen to the odd sounds!


Once they had broken the ice and created a turning space another boat followed them in too. The marina’s pump out machine was frozen up – so no pump outs (good job we had ours when we arrived at the marina!).


I dont think the ducks were too keen on the ice!


We went for a walk around the marina and checked on the state of the canal at the entrance.



The canal had a clear path (still ice at the sides) from Braunston (to the right in the pic) and to Calcutt (straight on under the bridge) but to Napton (left) had still been solid until one of the boats that visited the services turned that way – we could hear him breaking the ice until long after he was out of sight!



Our mooring was right down the front by the service wharf, and we were hoping that all that movement meant we could escape the marina the next day.


We’d had enough of the marina by now, so on the 30th we made our escape – although first we had to fill with water (from the next pontoon over as our tap was frozen!) and break the ice behind us.



Once we had reversed past the end of the pontoon we could turn in the non frozen bit in the middle and then head out of the marina – breaking the ice on the way!


A short video of our escape is here.

Once out of the marina the route to Braunston had been used by other boats, so although there was ice about it had been broken already.


We made it to Braunston and moored up by the junction – phew!

New Years Eve dawned – and the canal was frozen again!


Being at Braunston means boats always moving – so at 11 oclock (quite late for Braunston) a boat did come through and broke the ice!


I was fascinated by the piles of ice floating about!


In the afternoon we went for a walk past the marina which still had a lot of thick ice.


Our walk took us to the Admiral Nelson – where we spent a pleasant few hours before returning to the boat for dinner – and discovering on the way that the Boathouse was already shut at 8pm!

By midnight there were no signs of life around us, so we decided not to blow the horn – next year though I will be trying harder to recruit support!!!!

New Years Day – Gary decides to do the engine and gear box oil change all goes well to start with.

Tom and Jan went past on NB Waiouru, spotted Gary working in the engine bay and Tom quipped about Gary doing Toms oil change too – the next day we read about Toms disaster!!!

Our problem came when Gary tried to remove the oil from the gear box! He couldnt remove the drain plug as it is inaccessible, so we tried to syphon the oil out – unsuccessfully!

After quite a long time trying, Ann from NB Oakfield was passing and stopped to say hello. On hearing our predicament went to fetch Keith and his pump.

Thank god for other boaters who are so helpful. Keith arrived with his special engine/gearbox oil pump and saved the day! With the oil situation sorted out we invited them over later for drinks to say thank you!

Last winter we often saw NB Oakfield, and even moored in the same area a few times, but never got a chance to meet properly – we have now!


We were invited to NB Oakfield the next night for the next instalment! and then Keith even volunteered to pop over the next morning to check out our accumulator!

Thanks for a great couple of evenings Anne and Keith and all the help (we have now bought a bike pump and tyre pressure gauge!).

So on the 4th of Jan we were ready to leave Braunston to head to Brownsover – and it was foggy – really foggy!

We had moved the boat the previous day so that we could do a pump out and fill with water, but we still wanted a full water tank before we left, and the tap by the elsan was frozen, but Gary had spotted someone using the tap by the stop house so we headed up there, as we got closer we could make out the boat in the fog it was NB Waiouru!


Tom was just finished filling, so Gary hovered with Muleless and I hopped off to say hello.

After telling Tom and Jan to try the New Inn at the top of Buckby locks for Sunday Lunch they pulled away – we wont see them again for a whilst, they are heading towards London.


The fog was really thick – we couldnt even see Butchers Bridge from the Gongoozlers Rest!


When the water tank was full, we put our tunnel light on ready for the journey!


We turned in the marina entrance and headed back to the junction – passing another boat on the way- luckily not in the bridge hole!


As we passed the junction and approached NB Oakfield (with the solar panels on the left ahead) there was a boat stopped on the water point – and another just coming past him!


Gary had to quickly reverse Muleless to prevent a head on collision and we only just kept out of the hire boat’s way as he squeezed through without slowing down!


As we headed past Oakfield Keith popped his head out to see what was going on!


As you can see there wasnt much room to manoeuvre!


Luckily that was our only close encounter on a very foggy journey! Traveling in a car at 30 mph would have been scary, but doing 3 mph we could always see well enough!


As we approached Hillmorton Locks we were quite close before we could see them.


A boat had just come up and very kindly opened the gate again for us to go straight in – and then Gary hopped off to work the locks!


This time I kept the camera to get a steerers eye view – but the battery on the camera had other ideas and I only managed a couple of photos!


No-one else was coming up or down, and there was no wind again and this time I made a perfect entry to the middle lock!

I think Gary is still a bit apprehensive when I am steering!


The top pound was really high and the water was coming over the top of the gate as I went down.


I made a good entry into the bottom lock and picked Gary up at the lock mouth after he closed the gate when I exited, so I was quite pleased with myself!!

We were soon moored up at Brownsover and as I said at the beginning of the blog we have shopped and been to the cinema. We enjoyed The Hobbit, it is a shame that was the last one in the series!