Thursday, 17 May 2012

Blackstone’s engine is healthy again.

For some time now, we have suffered from fuel contamination. At first we did not realise why our filters kept clogging and the engine kept stopping at the most inconvenient places. Suddenly a light went on in the brain and we realised that our diesel was contaminated with diesel bug. Not surprising really as we had not cruised very much for a couple of years due to personal circumstances, so the fuel had just been sitting in the tank.

At first we tried to sort this problem out ourselves. We added Marine 16 fuel treatment, but although this helped briefly, the diesel was soon contaminated again. We pumped out fuel into containers and let the gunk settle before carefully pouring the clean diesel from the top of the containers back into the fuel tank. Again, this was only a temporary solution as the bug grew again. We were loath to lose nearly a full tank of diesel so, as we were not intending to cruise far during the winter, we decided to use the diesel up charging the batteries, heating the water etc; empting the muck that collected in the water trap every time we used the engine.

Finally, when we were down to less than 1/4 tank and what was left was more gunk than diesel, we booked into Claymore Narrowboats to have the diesel tank pumped out and cleaned. They did a wonderful job, getting rid of the contaminated fuel, cleaning out the tank and engine, fitting new filters etc. They then filled us up with over 200 litres of nice fresh diesel and we were ready to cruise again. The engine hasn’t sounded so good for ages.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

A little bit of Jennyanydots

After we had the new dinette fitted, we had to decide on the cushions to furnish it.


While we were deciding, our friends Anne and Ray offered us some cushions from their boat Jennyanydots. They had replaced their sofa, but kept the cushions from the original sofa.

We accepted their kind offer and set about converting two long cushions into four smaller cushions.

We started with two of these:-


We removed the covers and cut the foam to fit the dinette seats.


Liz cut down the covers and sewed them to cover the seat cushions.

IMG_0132      IMG_0136

The second cushion pad was then cut down to make the back cushions.  










This was tricky as they had to be shaped to fit under the gunwales.



The covers were cut and sewed to make the back cushions.


And the job was completed.

IMG_0195        IMG_0196

Liz is no seamstress and has never tried upholstery before, but these cushions turned out OK. We are very pleased with the result.

Thank you Jennyanydots for donating these lovely cushions. They look great on Blackstone.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sunken Boat on the Bridgewater Canal

We walk our dogs along the Bridgewater Canal towpath at around 6:00am every day. On Friday as we approached Oldfield Quays, we spotted a sunken boat. Judging by the mooring pins on the bank, it must have been tied up originally, but by Friday morning, it had come adrift. Of course, I never have my camera with me when I want it!

On Saturday I remembered my camera. The boat had been tied up again but the windows had been knocked out. It looked like the owner had started recovering his possessions as there were items spread about on the towpath and in a wheelie bin.

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The boat was called Gale Force and it was not displaying a licence. It had a “BW Aware” notice on it. Perhaps it had come onto the Bridgewater to get away from the BW enforcement officers?

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By Sunday, the owner appeared to have recovered more belongings. There were clothes and other items hanging on the fence, a van and nearby industrial unit doors to dry out. There was plenty of debris on the towpath and in the canal as well.

IMG_0166 IMG_0163This poor boat owner has not had a very good Easter break. I hope that his boat was not his home and  that he is able to salvage his boat and possessions.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Made me giggle

I have been dipping into some old posts on the blogs that I follow and I found the following entry about the Bridgewater Canal:-

I don't know what it is about this particular canal but none of the boats with Bridgewater registrations slow down; maybe they think that because the canal is owned by Peel Holdings British waterways rules don't apply?

It made me giggle because, as stated above, the Bridgewater canal is not owned or run by British Waterways so of course BW rules don’t apply!

Incidentally, Bridgewater Canal Company rules DO state that you should slow down past moored boats, but there are a lot of people who disregard this rule – Bridgewater and BW registered boats.

A lot of BW licence holders don’t realise that that they are no longer on BW waters while they cruise the Bridgewater Canal and that they are only allowed to navigate the Bridgewater Canal free for a period of seven days at a time. Nor do they realise that, unlike on BW waters, they are only allowed to moor for a maximum of 24 hours in any one place. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Refitting after the stretch.

I have just realised that I have not blogged since Christmas! I hadn’t looked at the blog for ages and had forgotten that the last post was my Christmas greeting. A bit out of date now, so I thought i had better add something new.

Although we check the boat regularly and spend the day or weekend on board, we have not been out cruising yet this year. So no new stuff to report.

Every time we decide we will have a weekend cruise, something else crops up. I don’t suppose we have tried hard enough.

We have had a lot of work done on Blackstone over the last couple of years and she is looking good now. I have already blogged the stretch and the repaint, but I never got round to blogging the refit so here it is.

Saloon before the stretch.

Blackstone Lounge

After the stretch, with just the floor laid.


Batons in place.

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Insulation fitted.




Walls boarded above the gunnels.

IMG_0557 Roof boarded with tongue and groove.








Below the gunnels done - routed to look like tongue and groove.




Front bulkhead and new door.


Some of the trim.





Building the dinette.




Table in place.


Corner cupboard and shelves.














Building the shelving unit.















Cupboard doors to hide the TV. Floor covering laid.


Roof finished. LED lights and new brass vent covers fitted.






Side hatch lined and beautiful panels fitted. Panels painted by

 Canal Arts by Terence.

side hatch with panels painted by terrence

All done and several coats of varnish later ………..

  looking from front door to gwards galley





 corner cupboard and new front doors

 dinette just needs upholstery




………. and Blackstone’s refitted saloon is ready and waiting for us to furnish and decorate.

looking from galley to front

Looking forward to the extra room when we go cruising this summer.

Saturday, 24 December 2011


Merry Christmas

The crew of Blackstone would like to wish everybody a very merry Christmas and happy cruising during 2012.

Lets hope Santa brings you everything you wished for.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Licence time again and praise for BW licence team.

So it is time to renew our boat licences. They run out on 31 December. As we moor on the Bridgewater canal, we have to have a Bridgewater licence. As we do most of our cruising on BW waters, we have to have a BW licence as well. Luckily we get our BW licence at a concessionary price, making the cost of the two licences £60 more than the cost of a full price BW licence. If we had to buy both licences at full price it would cost £1,115.00!!

We could just get short term licences from BW whenever we want to cruise their waters, but in the past we have found that they worked out more expensive. Plus you have got to remember to buy them in advance. It is more convenient to have a full yearly licence – we don’t have to plan in advance.

This year, our Bridgewater licence has gone up by 5%. However our BW licence has gone up by a whopping 44%! Unfortunately the short term prices are only published for the period to 31/03/12, so we cannot work out whether it would be cheaper to use short term licences this year. Who knows how much these will increase from 01/04/12? If we don’t renew our BW licence at the same time as the Bridgewater licence, we don’t get the concessionary rate. We will just have to make sure we get our money’s worth next year.

When I came to send the renewal forms to the Bridgewater Canal Company, I found that I had not received the renewal notice from BW. I telephoned them to ask for a duplicate. I was worried that it would not arrive in time due to the Christmas holidays, so I asked if they could email it to me. The very helpful lady at BW printed the form, scanned it and emailed it to me so that I could print it off and get it in to the Bridgewater Canal Company in time to miss the late payment penalty. I have often read about the problems people have with BW, but in this instance I have to say a big “thank you” to BW.