After a week we left Goole and, along with Paul and Maxine on Nb Rosemary, went to Rawcliffe Bridge.
Because the navigation is so big and straight you can see one mooring from the other, but it still took us nearly an hour to get there.
In the morning we left Legend tied up safely outside the marina and drove down to Mum and Dad’s for a few days. They’ve got a new shed arriving in January, so they wanted to get a concrete base laid for it before it started to get frosty, and we’d put that weekend aside to help with the donkey work and pick up our post from Karen’s. It was also close to Dad’s birthday, so after an afternoon of levelling, shuttering and digging out tree roots we all went to the pub to celebrate. Next morning Paul and Perry from Dad's bowls club arrived with a cement mixer and by lunch time, well ahead of schedule, we’d got the 8’x6’ slab laid and levelled.
That afternoon we got Dad to have a listen to our car. For a while there had been a rhythmic rattle coming from the top of the engine. Dave suspected the poly V serpentine belt which, as well as driving the alternator, follows a torturous route round the water, air con and power steering pumps. Dad agreed that it was a possible cause, so Dave got on the internet to find a new one. Our little Kia’s engine is a Hyundai 1.5 diesel; finding a belt for it proved tricky, but Dave finally managed to source one in GSF at Luton. Even if it’s not the culprit it’s worth renewing it before it becomes impossible, so we arranged to pick it up on our way home.
On the Sunday it was Nanny Wendy’s 80th birthday party, which was a lovely open house affair and a great time to catch up with lots of folk we haven’t seen for years. It also gave everyone a chance to see Wendy’s new kitchen extension which was fabulous. Really spacious with an island unit in the middle and a whole big floor-to-ceiling window wall looking out over her lovely garden.
In the morning we were off back Up North. As well as swinging into Luton for the drive belt, we stopped off in Rugby for diesel and a chat and a brew with Lindsey before heading home. In the evening Dave quickly rigged up the new inverter that we’d got in our post haul from Karen’s so that the next morning we could do a wash load while we were on the move. We’d decided to go back to Goole to fit the belt as it would be so much easier than anywhere else, so we had another week there. The new belt was easier to fit than we’d feared, but didn’t cure the noise which we now think must be the timing chain. Changing that would mean dropping the engine, along with the sub-frame, out of the bottom of the car. That’s clearly something we’re not geared up for and would cost around £600 in a garage. Despite having got quite attached to our little Kia, it’s not worth the expense of having it done. A noisy cam chain can last for quite a while, so we’ll just turn the radio up and keep an eye on Auto Trader for the time being. We did, however, give the poor thing a wash and a hoover while it was close to the boat.
Other things in our post haul from Karen’s included a bubble tester for the boat’s gas system and a bottle of Aquasteel rust converter. The bubble tester is a little device that goes in the gas locker next to the bottles and lets you check, quite literally at the push of a button, the integrity of the whole system. Any leak shows up as a bubble in the bowl of liquid at the base of the tester, so we can add it to our monthly check list. It also enables the BSS tester to quickly check the system without having to go through all the rigmarole of using manometer. (Which is classed as “Working on the gas system”, meaning that the tester also has to be Gas Safe registered.)
The Aquasteel is for the floor in the well deck. When we got Legend, the well deck was open to the elements and there was a chipboard box/step arrangement in there which had been used to store coal and logs and all manner of rubbish for years. As well as that, the scuppers, which drain water from the well deck, were cut into the sides about quarter of an inch higher than the well deck floor leaving a lip, meaning that any rain water made puddles which never went away, and the bit under the box was permanently damp. Over the years the floor - and the sides it’s welded to - have got quite rusty. We cleaned it all out when we first got the boat, and have done it again when we were on the Caldon canal, but it had become obvious that it needed something more than a clean-up and a lick of paint to deal with it properly. Dave went over the whole floor with the wire brush on the angle grinder, and then ground the scupper openings down to remove the lip. That will stop the puddles, and along with the upcycled fridge shelves that we’ve put in under all the stuff in the front lockers, should keep the floor dry. Two coats of Aquasteel went on before a coat of black gloss.
The Aquasteel forms a chemical bond with the rust, leaving a waterproof polymer coating that the paint has a very good adherence to. It comes highly recommended by other boaters, so we’re hopeful it will sort it properly. We only had time to do one coat of gloss before the weather turned too cold to paint, so it’ll get another one as soon as it warms up a bit.
After doing all the things that needed a big space next to us and really good car access, we had a few short, bright but cold hops up the navigation, first back to Rawcliffe Bridge, then Pollington lock...
...and Knottingley. We moored just below the lock at Whitley and in the morning when we were getting ready to set off, we noticed that the traffic light on the lock had gone to red, meaning that there was a lock keeper on duty and that there was something coming. Sure enough, a few minutes later Fusedale H, one of the big gravel barges came up behind us and went into the lock. After she’d gone through, we radioed the locky and asked if we could grab a cheeky pen-up while he was there. He said that he’d be more than happy to, but he had to shoot off to Ferrybridge so that he could pen Fusedale H through when she got there, so he was sorry but we’d have to do it ourselves. Ah well, it was worth a try.
We’d looked at Knottingley on Google Earth and picked a useful looking spot near the junction to stop at. However, when we got there we found a fishing match was going on. There looked like there was just enough room for us to tuck in at the end of the worm-drowning party, but as we tried to pull over the wind picked up and pushed the front out into the middle of the navigation, then, much to the amusement of the fishermen, we got the back end stuck in the mud. It wasn’t going well, but we managed to sort ourselves out with a bit of muddy thrusting and rope pulling and eventually got the boat alongside. We took stock of the situation; it was a concrete bank which would mean using mooring pins, and right next to a busy road bridge, so it would be noisy. We both agreed that it would be better to go and find somewhere else, so we pushed off and with a wave to the line of bemused anglers, slid Legend through the churned up murky water and disappeared under the bridge. Half a mile further on we found somewhere far more suitable, with piling to chain to and a handy alleyway leading to a road where we could park the car. Later that afternoon Ferndale H came past, so we were glad we'd moved on and were chained to the Armco.
Ferrybridge was a very short hop from there so once we were moored up we had plenty of time to take the car forward to Castleford and, as there isn’t a towpath down the river section, come back over the hill through the town.
In the morning we went to have a look at Pontefract. What a lovely town! It’s got a fabulous castle, a thriving indoor market, a really good and helpful library and a very nice cocktail/coffee bar called Carter’s where we stopped and had a game of rummy.
On the way home we came across the fascinating All Saints Church – the church within a church.
Back at the boat we untied and headed for the floodlock and the three remaining cooling towers of Ferrybridge power station.
The autumnal colours were stunning as we pushed up the Aire...
The forecast had high wind warnings as Storm Arwen passed over the UK, so we were grateful of being a bit sheltered, but it was still a noisy and rocky night on board. It didn’t let up for the whole of the next day, so we stoked the fire up and found things to do inside. Both our birthdays were imminent, as was Christmas of course, so there were no shortage of crafty things to keep us occupied while the boat rocked and the wind howled through the silver birches.