Cruising in 2004
Our first summer on Sanity has been wonderful. We have not broken much new ground, most of the places that we reached have been revisits rather than voyages of discovery. However the whole exercise of getting to know Sanity and learning how to live comfortably on board has been enough of an adventure to keep us stimulated.
These are some extracts from Sheila's log (here are the relevant pictures):
Having spent the first three months of the year travelling backwards and forwards to Higher Poynton to watch the development of Sanity it was a great day for us when we moved aboard on the 15 April. On Saturday 17 April my sister in law, Jan, performed the naming ceremony and Elanor joined us to spend the weekend testing the boat. We returned to the yard, when Elanor left us, for a few minor adjustments and finally left the yard on 22 April. We had an idyllic cruise past Macclesfield and Congleton to Kidsgrove where we turned down the Trent and Mersey to Middlewich then across to Barbridge on the Shroppie and so to Chester. All this in weather more like June than April. It's the first time I have been sunburnt in April!
The first week-end in May was spent introducing my family to Sanity. My brother and his wife had already had a short trip the day she was named but this time they joined us for the weekend on the way from Chester to Northwich. Theirs was the honour of testing the guest double - the self inflating airbed on the floor of the saloon. It can't be too bad, they have bought one for themselves! On the Bank Holiday Monday we had a family cruise from Northwich to Anderton and back. There were four generations of my family on board, from my mother, through to my great niece. Bruce coped very well.
Back on our own, we moved back to Chester for the next weekend when we had invited friends and former colleagues to come and see us and inspect the boat. Many of them took us up on the offer and it was a busy and enjoyable couple of days. A number of people expressed surprise at the comfort and convenience of Sanity. Did they really think I would be prepared to rough it?
Next we had two weeks to get to Crick in Northamptonshire for the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. We had been very flattered to be asked by the owners of Braidbar if they could exhibit Sanity at the Crick Show and we had to deliver her there with the minimum of scratches on the paintwork . From Chester we cruised down Shroppie to Autherley Junction (Wolverhampton), up Staffs & Worcs to Great Haywood (Stafford) then down Trent & Mersey to Fradley (Lichfield), up the Coventry to Hawkesbury Junction (Coventry), up the North Oxford to Braunston (Daventry) and up Leicester Arm of Grand Union to Crick. The weather was kind and as we progressed we encountered many other boats heading the same way. It meant that by the time we arrived at the show we had many new friends and had no trouble settling in.
We moved into the marina on the Wednesday and spent three days washing and polishing Sanity inside and out. On the Friday Rick came down from Braidbar to lend a hand and by 10 am on the Saturday she was looking splendid. The show was very enjoyable but hard work as both Saturday and Sunday were 10am to 6pm and Monday closed at 4pm. We greatly appreciated the organisation that went into managing the visitors to Sanity which meant that they all got a good look but minimized wear and tear. It was very flattering to hear so many complimentary remarks about our boat.
After the show we desperately needed a bit of piece and quiet so we headed on up the Leicester section and turned down the Welford Arm. This suited us very well as Welford is a small Northamptonshire village that has put a lot of effort into waymarking a number of walks, most of which are quite easy going and all we had to do was decide how far we wanted to walk. We then went on to Foxton in Leicestershire. This is a site that we had visited many times by car when we lived in Leicestershire (and a few times by boat) but it is in the throes of a major rebuilding and it will be interesting to visit again next year to see what has happened. We made a leisurely return to Braunston to meet a couple of friends whom we had met through Ownerships. They were out for a week on their boat so we had planned a cruise in company onto Ashby Canal.
Leaving our friends on the Ashby Canal we retraced our tracks northwards to Great Haywood then continued up the Trent & Mersey, through Harecastle Tunnel and on to the end of the Trent & Mersey at Preston Brook. We then went down the Bridgewater canal to Runcorn in order to attend a campaign rally. In spite of very wet weather it was an enjoyable weekend as we were joined by both our children. Graeme had flown from Germany to spend the weekend with us and it was his first sight of Sanity. Runcorn is on a side arm and we went back onto the main part of the Bridgewater and up towards Manchester. On this occasion we got as far as Lymm, another place with pleasant waymarked walks.
From Lymm we returned to Macclesfield and back round to Chester to meet Bruce's sister Jane. She lives in New York and knew nothing of the British canals. Like many people she was surprised by the comfort of our boat. We did the tourist bit round Chester then cruised gently down to Nantwich where Jane caught a train to her next destination. We went back to Middlewich and up to Kidsgrove to get back onto Macclesfield Canal. Elanor joined us for a few days and we got to the top of Upper Peak Forest at Whaley Bridge. We explored Bugsworth Basin, sadly only on foot as it is still closed because of leaks. We called back to Braidbar to have the licence number painted on side of the boat and took the opportunity to have a battery state monitor fitted. We managed to fit in a visit to Lyme Park , the stately home used as Pemberley in the recent BBC dramatization of Pride and Prejudice. It is a lovely building with magnificent gardens.
This was a busy month. We descended the Macc pausing at the foot of Bosley Locks to climb The Cloud where we had an excellent view across the Cheshire plain. Back down the Trent & Mersey again. This time we had a very wet day when we were moored at Barlaston so we took the opportunity to visit the Wedgwood factory. It was an exceptionally good tour that took us right through the working factory. We spent a weekend at Great Haywood and fitted in a visit Shugborough Hall home of Lord Lichfield. Next came one of the few bits of canal that was new to us. We went straight on at Fradley, still on the Trent and Mersey until we reached the marina at Barton Turns just outside Burton. On the third weekend of August this was the site of the Great Internet gathering or GiG, a meeting of canal enthusiasts who correspond over the internet. It was a lively weekend with quizzes, folk singing, a charity auction and just a little beer drunk!
Speaking of beer, we then proceeded to Burton on Trent, that town once of many breweries, to be ready for the National Festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Since we had arrived five days early for the party we presented ourselves at the Waterway Recovery Group (wrg) camp and volunteered our services. The week was very enjoyable, I learned a great deal about all the strange things that can be done with a scaff spanner, mainly in the field of erecting fences. On the Tuesday night wrg were invited to tour the Marstons Brewery which was very interesting, particularly the last bit in the sample bar!
I don't think that the Festival was as interesting for us as the Crick Boat Show being more aimed at introducing people to the waterways but we had a lot of fun with wrg and promptly booked for next year at Preston Brook.
At the end of August and beginning of September we had the opportunity to prove that we could still do long days of boating if we needed to. My brother was celebrating his sixtieth birthday the weekend after the National and we had four days to get back to Heritage marina near Congleton in time for the party. We made it with not a lot to spare and left Sanity for the first time to spend a couple of nights with my brother. It was very strange to find ourselves sleeping in a bedroom again but it was a really good weekend. We spent a lot of time at the party saying "Yes, we're the ones who live on a boat".Then on to Braidbar where the Brycelands were kind enough to give me a secure mooring while while Bruce was in Glasgow for a few days.
We had been having some trouble getting the charge on the batteries to last the night and were becoming a little worried as to how we were going to manage in the winter when we needed more lighting and heating. However investigation showed that one of the batteries was faulty and we had probably never had the battery bank up to full charge. The problem, once identified, was quickly rectified and we now have power and to spare. We also had the pump-out tank monitor changed to one that showed which of four levels we had reached. We finished the month back in Chester where we left the boat for a day while we made a quick return to Bangor for doctor and dentist appointments.
We set off down the Shroppie and enjoyed a visit from Graeme for the first weekend in October. At the southern end of the Shroppie we turned right for another stretch of canal that was new to us. We boated right down to Stourport and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. On our way back we visited the cave houses at Kinver and enjoyed an exhilarating walk on Kinver Edge. By the end of the month we needed to be back in Middlewich as BW maintains the canals over the winter and the stoppages commenced at the beginning of November. We returned through Middlewich to Anderton for the end of the month.
The pace slowed with the onset of winter. We had been undecided in our plans for the winter whether to take a winter mooring and stay in one place or to carry on cruising. On balance we decided to give winter cruising a try this year. In the course of a full month we cruised from Anderton through Middlewich and up the Cheshire locks to Kidsgrove, then up the Macc to Congleton We found a very good walk up Mow Cop to Wilbraham's folly. Then back, down the Cheshire locks and through Anderton to join the Bridgewater Canal and travel through to Castlefield Basin in Manchester.
We continued on the Bridgewater to Leigh where Bruce had a day's work to do, then retraced our course through Anderton and Middlewich to rejoin the Macclesfield Canal. By now we were in the Christmas break from mainenance and Bosley Locks had reopened so we were able to work up to the top of the Macc. Christmas was spent at Higher Poynton and we had our first experience of being frozen in for a few days. This only worried us in that we had to get back down Bosley Locks before they were closed again. By New Year's Eve we were back on the Ramsdell Hall mooring where we had been on Noveber 5th. The fireworks were almost as good at New Year as they had been in November.