This year’s travels have been under the direction of the new manager – Paul Smith, ably reported by Jeff Carter, whose notes follow.
Titford Pump House Saturday 24th May
We spent the rain soaked day, supping hot tea and drying out around the Epping Stove, not much sense moving to Birmingham in the monsoon, day spent greasing shafts and bearings, making sure all electrical connections were cleaned, bright and Vaseline protected, as we found the start battery flat, probable due to the bilge pump running over the week.
Dug out the 1940’s battery charging set with the Villers motorcycle engine we played about with the previous weekend and fixed the fault, this gave us the ability to re-charge the main (only) battery, but proved our vulnerability of one battery for starting and supplying the bilge pumps when unmanned.
Re-clothed Atlas to reduce the rain water, sorted out a second battery for leaving the pumps connected, will have to monitor the main battery in near future for reliability as it 4-5 years old, and has spent 6 months uncharged, which accelerates the sulphating process (look to replace?)
Titford Pump House to Birmingham (The Vale) Saturday 31 May 2014
Finished off greasing inline bearings on prop shaft.
Started descent down Crow, with expectation of Atlas being tight. Front button removed, every lock was a problematic even with all the bow and stern fenders final having too be removed, it was down still down to millimetres in squeezing around the doors through the flight.
Convinced the old girl put on weight and length!
Our expected times for descent down the Crow with a pair was 1.5 hours – it actually took 4 hours.
Seriously considering next time bring down Atlas astern so that the bow clears the cill.
Crossed strapped Malus, saves a lot of time and gives confidence to the steerer. Recommended using this set-up for inexperienced crews, it gave me time to get the kettle on and make the tea, while happily swimming along.
Smethwick flight – again removed all the buttons, sailed through with little in the way of problems.
Great to give Atlas her head as we charged down the main line to Birmingham, starting to get into her stride.
Birmingham looked more like a boater’s convention, with no space for a pair, final end up mooring at the Vale along side University’s of Birmingham Worcester and Birmingham towards the station.
Hire boat couple from Norway took great interest in the pair; we swapped a cold beer for a tour around Malus .
Crew: Paul Smith and Jeff Carter.
The Vale to Swallow Cruises, Dickens Heath. Saturday 7 June
The weather was hugely variable – sometimes beautiful, sometimes atrocious, thunder storms, and the tow path muddy boots job.
Thanks to the narrow boat who kindly gave Jeff a lift to catch up with Atlas and Malus, rather that having to hike through a ploughed field of a towpath.
Biggest problem was trying to light the gas stove for tea! I have replaced the box of matches for a gas lighter.
Crew: Paul Smith, Charley Johnston, Michael Payne, John Carrington, Mel Carter, John Worrall and Jeff Carter.
(PS – Thanks to Swallow Cruises yard, who kindly dropped us off at Dorridge station)
Swallow Cruises, Dickens Heath to Kingwood Junction. Saturday 14th June
Saturday was a good charge down Lapworth flight, that’s probably down to have a large crew on the day and most being boat owners therefore the experience showed in the smooth flow and organised speed through the flight.
Arrived at Kingswood Junction around 15:00.
Atlas battery will have to be replaced on the return leg towards Hawne Basin.
Crew Saturday 14th June:Paul Smith, Charley Johnston, Mike Rolfe, Adrian Smith, Tony Robinson, Allan Richards, John Worrall and Jeff Carter
Time: 10:00am moored up time 15:00pm