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 were all very excited as we set off from Somerset to go and pick up Floydtilla from the Black Prince base in Stoke Prior. We aimed to get there for around 11:30 am so the rush of the hire customers getting underway would mostly be over.
Inspection and payment
When we arrived at Stoke Prior we could see Floydtilla in her new bright paint work, and we parked up in the yard. We had had the roof painted yellow and in the bright sun it will probably need sunglasses while we get used to it. Hopefully this will keep the roof cooler, as the normal Black Prince dark blue can become a little hot to the touch.
They were all ready for us so we had a tour around and an in depth explanation of what we needed to know as an owner not a hire customer.
We got presented with what will become the Bible for Floydtilla which was a folder with all the manuals for the Engine, Gearbox, Heater etc, as well as 37 pages of general information and diagrams of all the systems. This was a gold mine of information and covered all the questions I had in my notes and I am sure many more to come.
In one of the cupboards they had also included two spare engine belts an air filter, fuel filter and oil filter, it is the little extras that make life simple.
Next came the fun with the bank: We had transferred all the money into our current account ready to make payment and informed the bank what was going to happen. They said that we would probably have to call to make such a large transfer as it could trigger the anti fraud limits. Once we were happy, Sonia tried to call the bank. The message on the automated response let us know that “they have a high level of traffic at the moment” we did start to wonder when they didn’t! After 40 minutes hanging on we got to talk to a person and then a few minutes later we owned a boat.
Off to Droitwich Spa Marina
The Black Prince team had prepared everything, the diesel tank was full, all the beds made up, the boat had all it’s equipment just as we had used it in the summer.
I checked the engine hours (11,588) and then we asked them to help us turn her around and we set off down the Worcester and Birmingham canal towards Droitwich Spa Marina. What a great feeling, it was all finally ours.
We had a lot to learn as we found out a few hours later once we arrived at the marina. We had never moored in a marina before, and while we tried to find our allocated space the weather rained, hailed and blew us about.
In a simple mistake we had been given the wrong berth number and when we found it, it was already in use, so we headed in to the next available berth. This took us many attempts and finally after a few four letter words we managed to get the bow in and finally tied up for the night. The office was now closed so we would sort out the correct berth in the morning.