I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday 28 January 2013

The Winter of 2012/2013

I thought I would post a quick blog to let you know what we have been up to this winter.
clip_image003On the boating side we went up to Swanley Bridge Marina as Mary H was coming out of the water.  We took our caravan up and stayed at Swanley House which is a few minutes’ walk from the marina.  It was that very cold spell at the beginning at the beginning of December but we were as warm as toast in the caravan however it was very cold for Richard working on the boat!  Mary H had her bottom sand blasted first and was then taken into the DIY shed where she was blacked.  Richard’s aim was to strip the roof back and then repaint it but he decided in the end it was too big a job for him in the time so it was arranged that Willow Boat Painting, who are located in the shed next door, would do it in January.  We also asked Martyn from Vimart Signwriting to make a slight change to our name – but more of that when we start cruising again in March!
We had had trouble from a leaking stern gland all summer so Richard got Swanley’s resident boat engineer, Danny, to look at it.  Mary H is a Liverpool boat and Danny has had dealing with leaky stern glands on them before.  The original stern gland was a water lubricated one which isn’t really suitable for canal use with the rubbish, silt and fishing line that can get into it and cause damage.  So we opted to convert to a conventional grease packed stern gland which involved cutting out the old prop shaft tube and fitting a new one with a new prop shaft.  At the same time a flexible coupling was installed to reduce any problems of engine misalignment.  He also repaired the rudder which had developed some backlash where the rudder blade is attached to the stock.  This involved putting in extra clamping bolts and a new top bearing.
We are having a new cratch made – not a conventional one as we do find the traditional one that we had was difficult to get in and out of.  Mark from Advanced Marine Services had been out when we were in Nantwich in October and given us an estimate so while the boat was in the DIY shed he came to Swanley to take all the measurements he needed.  When we next go back to Mary H it should all be fitted – exciting!
The Boat Safety Certificate was due in December and the surveyor had already been and given his report so there were a few jobs for Richard to do so that we could have our new certificate.  We also have a nice newly painted gas locker and gunnels.
When we left Mary H she was looking very smart (shame about the fender though!)
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                                Before                                                                                  After
clip_image009Richard popped up to Swanley again two weeks ago as Mary H was going back into the water and he just wanted to make sure that the plug was in!!!  No of course not but he wanted to satisfy himself that she was tied up to his satisfaction (it was of course!), she was still drained down and that there was enough credit on the electricity bollard to keep the batteries charged up.  He also took the photo of our new roof which I am thrilled with.
This week I have been planning our summer cruising.  We have decided to break the summer up a bit more this year and come home a bit more though part of me doesn’t want to do that at all but we do have a large garden and I have an aged, though still very sprightly, 90 year old mother who I need to visit more than I did last year.  We now know exactly where we are going.  I was an event organiser with IBM before starting my own Virtual PA business (Beacon Secretarial) so I do like things to be in order!  I know many summer cruisers like to go where the wind takes them but that’s not for us!
So far we two events this summer, my 60th birthday in April and then a week in Tenerife with friends.  This should mean that the summer is our own to cruise as we wish!  We will also be going to Cyprus in October for my niece's wedding.
On the personal side of things this winter, so far, we have had my Mother’s 90th birthday and my son’s wedding – both of which were very happy and momentous occasions. 
I have been following lots of boating blogs this winter and am looking forward to meeting some of my fellow bloggers.
We are due back on Mary H on March 26th and intend to go to Chester and possibly Ellesmere Port before returning home for my birthday and going to Tenerife.  We will then do the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals in May.  I am really looking forward to the summer though we are planning on doing the South Pennine Ring with its numerous locks – anyone fancy a few days holiday??!!


  1. Hello Linda. Just read your blog. From experience we've found that when doing the South Pennine Ring it's easier (relative term!)to go anti-clockwise - especially if water is scarce because that way round you take the water down the HNC with you on the Yorkshire flank of the hills. Happy boating.

  2. Mary H must look really smart having had all that work done. When you go to Ellesmere Port make sure you go into the museum - so worth it. We had a day out in Liverpool when we moored at Ellesmere Port. It was a really good day out and you can take dogs on all the public transport. Let's hope we have some good cruising weather this year.