We have been planning our first summer trip as a narrow boat owner, when we first hired from Black Prince we had planned to do the Avon Ring. Unfortunately, that had to be abandoned this due to the rivers being very high after a few weeks of rain and not being recommended at that time for canal boats.
The route is approx 110 miles and over 130 locks, if we count the three to get on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal from our base at Droitwich Spa Marina.
This time we have almost 3 weeks to complete our trip, which should give us plenty of time to slowly meander the route, we may even take a slight detour to Birmingham.
The only major question is do we go clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Today we went to collect Floydtilla from Black Prince at Stoke Prior, she had been returned to them to have a problem with the roof paint fixed, from what we can see they have stripped off the old paint and reapplied the primer and yellow topcoat, it now all looks beautifully smooth.
We had a lovely sunny day for our trip back to Droitwich Spa Marina, the only problem was the wind whipping across the marina, which made the slab sided canal boat into a sailing pushing us sideways when we tried to approach our mooring, after two attempts going up wind and turning, we decided to reversed past out berth and tried going downwind which made things a lot simpler. We are learning all the time.
If you have been reading our blog you will know we had a little problem with the paint on the roof, we purchased the boat from Black Prince only a few weeks ago, they have looked at the peeling paint and are going to repair it.
It is an odd problem, looks to me, a non-expert, like some surface contamination under the primer as caused it to lose adhesion, I have seen similar problems this caused by the oil used to lubricate the air tools used when removing the old paint.
Worcester to Stoke Prior
We have been on a trip to Worcester and are going to drop the boat off at their base in Stoke Prior before we set off home.
We broke the trip up this time, turning around at Diglis Basin just in front of the Diglis Lock, we had decided to try and get past all the locks and then rest up for the night just after the M5 bridge at Tibberton, we would then have a simple trip to our mooring at Droitwich Spa Marina the next day, before heading off on the Saturday to the Black Prince Base at Stoke Prior.
Sonia and Obi the dog collected the car from the marina and drove to Stoke Prior while Mary and I moved the boat. Once Sonia had arrived at Stoke Prior, she let them know we were coming and check where they would like us to moor before walking down the canal to meet us.
The trip took us just under 3 hours at a leisurely pace, with just the 3 locks at the top of the Droitwich Canal and then 7 on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. We finally arrived and moored up next to another Black Prince customer boat, “Pub Trawler II” which was known as Ava when she was a hire boat.
We have since heard that they will completely strip the roof and repaint it, should be ready in a couple of weeks. Furthermore, we are hoping to get a battery monitor fitted while she is with them. I have selected the Victron BMV-712 as I can talk to this via the onboard monitoring system I am developing (More on this later).
Our trip this week was to Worcester to meet an old friend. So, once we are out of the marina, we turned right towards the Hanbury locks 1 to 3. Restoration of them was completed in 2002 and a sign can be seen on the locks dedicating the restoration to Neil Pitts.
These 3 locks are often manned by very helpful CRT volunteers, as locks go they can be a bit confusing, if you have not seen locks with a side pounds before.
The side pounds are used when the locks are emptied to hold half the water by opening some extra paddles that can be found halfway along the lock. Once they are filled, these extra paddles are closed and the rest of the water is emptied in the normal way downstream. The water in the side pound is then used to refill the lock when needed, saving half the water.
The Worcester and Birmingham Canal
Then we turned a very tight left turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal towards Worcester. Sonia then took over the helm, and we then have a leisurely potter for just over a mile to the Dunhampstead Tunnel which at just 216 m long was a nice cool down from the baking sun. Then another couple of miles to the M5 bridge at Tibberton before we descend the short 6 lock Tibberton flight, locks 16 to 11.
We pass under the A449 and passing a stone sign marking the outskirts of the City of Worcester.
We then continue our descent to Worcester through:-
Tolladine Lock 10
Blackpole Lock 9
Bilford Locks 8 & 7
Gregory’s Mill Top Lock 6
Gregory’s Mill Bottom Lock 5
Block House Lock 4
Sidbury Lock 3
City Centre Mooring
We decided to moor on the 48-hour moorings just before Mill Street Bridge. This trip had taken us just about seven and a half hours, or about 30 minutes in the car. We then had a short walk into the city where we found The Burger Bar Five Guys in Cathedral Square. We tried, in vain, to empty the bottomless drinks machine, before going on the search for an Aloe Vera cream and some factor 50 sun block. It had been a very hot day.
We had a problem with the inverter/charger when plugged into the marina mains supply. It would not switch over to charging the batteries, we had reported this to Black Prince, and they said they would sort it.
The old inverter was replaced, and we still had the same problem, back at their base they tested the old inverter, and it worked without a problem.
The next step they replaced the Photonic Universal 3000W unit with a Sterling PCS123500 unit, this gives us a slightly higher max output to 3500W but also accepts a higher shoreline input voltage of up to 270V.
All the work in now completed, and we will see in the next few days if this has been a success. We have only had excellent service from Black Prince on any problems we have had, there will always be problems, that is to be expected. It is how well they are dealt with that makes the difference.