Maximus Mutinous Dec 22 - Jan 3th 2003 (part one)

Route : Gailey -Stone- King's Bromley

How we moved Maximus from Gailey to its new home at Kings Bromley Marina.

Sunday 22nd: Gailey - Hatherton - Gailey

We arrived at Gailey mid morning as arranged and found Maximus covered in oak leaves at the farthest end of the mooring. The engine covers were off and the boat was loosely moored with the ropes just looped round the armco. As no one was about I enquired at the office and was told that the engine wouldn't start and that we probably needed a new starter battery. This was surprising as it's only two years old. Eventually it turned out the problem was the connector between the control panel and the engine (AGAIN!). Whilst the staff fiddled with the connector we moored the boat properly and started shovelling leaves before moving in.

While this was going on our friend and new co-owner David Ferguson arrived and we showed him round the boat before completing the formalities of his share purchase. We then discovered that despite being at base for three weeks the scheduled oil change had not been done. As this is best done with the engine warm we decided to give David a quick test drive down to Hatherton and back.

After a short delay (while yet another fault on the connector was fixed) we set off in very pleasant afternoon sunshine. Once we reached Hatherton we decided to push onto the next winding hole as it was such a lovely afternoon. The turning point was a bit tight and was the venue for a fishing match, but the anglers were good natured about our intrusion.

It was getting a bit gloomy by the time we got back to Gailey and the oil change was started straight away. Whilst that was being done David helped me get the car to King's Bromley as we didn't want to leave it at Gailey. On my return I was asked to move the boat so we poled it across the canal to the water point in the dark.

Monday 23rd: Gailey - Radford Bridge

We had hoped to be at Penkridge by now, so as the weather forecast was for a dry morning and a wet afternoon we got away at 8:45, making our final departure without fuss in the early morning gloom. It was soon obvious that our troubles with the engine instrumentation were not over, the hour meter wasn't working. I decided that I would fix it myself later, rather than wait for JD Boats staff to fiddle with it again.

We had the canal to ourselves as we headed north. It was still dry when we reached Penkridge so we decided to press on to the Radford Arms. As we travelled on the weather started to close in, but the rain held off till we were mooring at our destination (what timing). We had arranged to meet our friends Peter & Karen Hobday for dinner at the pub, and thinking that it might be busy Chris checked with them to see if we should book and was told it wasn't necessary.

Maximus fan clubI spent the afternoon trying to figure out what was wrong with the hour meter but to no avail, all the connections were OK and volts were appearing where they should. Then once it was dark I rigged up the Christmas tree and assembled the new improved stove fan which does a far better job of wafting the warm air from the stove to the rest of the boat. This took a bit of fiddling as both needed the same 12V outlet. A double adaptor is now on the shopping list.

We strolled into the Radford Arms at the appointed hour and were surprised to find the place virtually deserted. Peter & Karen arrived shortly afterwards and we ordered a meal from the not-very-inspiring menu. Despite the fact that we were almost the only customers, the meal was an awful long time in arriving and what we got was passable at best. Now we know why there was no need to book.

We had a great evening with our friends catching up on news. By about 9:30 it became apparent that the staff were waiting for us to leave so they could go home, as we were literally the only customers in the place. So we wound up the evening and went back to the boat.

Tuesday 24th: Radford Bridge - Weston

River Sow in floodAfter taking careful note of the time I started the engine and we headed north again. This was one of those glorious winter mornings that make winter cruising so worth while - a "This is why we do it!" sort of morning. It was chilly, but the rising sun cast the scenery in dramatic relief and I had some trouble seeing where we going at times. The river Sow was in flood and we passed mile after mile of flooded fields - not much good to the farmer but very picturesque.

We passed our friends Ken and Yvonne on Fortuitous at their mooring (we were frozen in with them at Wheaton Aston last year). At Great Haywood Kier Gale greeted us and we enjoyed a good chat while we filled the water tanks. They set off south for their meal at the Plum Pudding and we set off for Weston.

As we ascended Weston lock (very slowly, due to a damaged paddle) we were assisted by one of the locals who told us when the church services were and later he returned to our mooring with a copy of the parish magazine with full details, what a gentleman! After mooring by bridge 80 we went to the 6 o'clock Christingle service. It was the first time we have been to one of those (and probably the last) - it's best summed up by Kids, Chaos and Candles. After that we went back to the boat and opened our prezzies (OK, it was early, but it was just us).

Christmas Day: Weston - Stone - Weston

We had a lie in and breakfast in bed, but decided as the weather was good to go to Stone and back for the turn. Normally this bit of the canal is spoilt by the thunder of trains going past but not today, all was quiet.

As we approached Stone we noticed a lot of debris in the canal. Just as we left Aston lock we picked up a real bladeful - lost all propulsion and steering - something was jamming the rudder. The bywash was pulling me away from the towpath and Chris. My rapid poling and colourful language got us to the lock landing. There was a large forked stick on the rudder which I prised off with the boat hook. I went down the weed hatch and removed a collection of ropes attached to a plastic bottle plus a lot of weed.

While I had my head down the hatch and was up to my armpit in cold water, the only boat we saw all day came the other way. He was single handed and needed the lock landing that we were on. But we managed, with the exchange of appropriate seasonal pleasantries and a warning of further debris ahead. There was plenty of room at the moorings at Stone but as the weather was very pleasant we decided to return to Weston and arrived back at our starting point just as it was getting dark.

Some time during the return trip the hour meter started working again and to my surprise it had kept tally of the hours even when it wasn't displaying - odd.

Christine had a turkey roast in the oven and we settled down to a traditional Christmas dinner with some of the trimmings (neither of us like Christmas pud and we are crackers enough).

Boxing Day: Weston - Ashtree

We woke to the sound of rain so we had a lie in, then Chris did me a cooked breakfast. By about 10 I was thinking "here we are on a winter cruise and we haven't got cold or wet yet" so we set off before the rain had cleared. By the time we reached Weston lock the rain had stopped but it was still rather windy.

As we passed the moored boats at just north of Great Haywood someone objected to our passing - I can't think why, we went by ever-so slowly. I think some people complain out of habit.

To our surprise we had to queue at Haywood lock - as we had hardly seen a moving boat since we left Gailey, this came as a shock. The boats ahead were Stratford Court and a Canal Time time-share boat travelling in convoy. We stopped below the lock for a leisurely lunch to allow them an hour or so head start so we wouldn't catch them at Colwich lock.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, our friends on Fortuitous came down the lock and we followed them on convoy and caught up on each other's news and plans at Colwich lock. Apart from that it was a quiet and uneventful trundle through Rugeley, although it was getting noticeably colder as the sun went down. We moored at the Ashtree as we have in the past but we noticed that the ground was rather soft and a speeding boat disturbed our pins, which we then redid.

At about 7pm while we were having a very nice meal (served promptly in nice surroundings - what a contrast to the Radford Arms) we saw a couple of boats with headlamps go by at speed. This meant we had to fool around with mooring pins again in the dark. We finally jammed them in right against the piling which seemed to work.

Friday 27th: Ashtree - King's Bromley

King's Bromley marinaA short day's boating as we spent the afternoon with Peter & Karen at their house in Stafford. Rather a cold and windy day, but not cold enough to need gloves yet.

We arrived at the marina and I dropped Chris off to find our mooring slot. Once she found it we had to back up a bit. I decided to try to reverse in but the wind defeated my first attempt, the second attempt succeeded with much poling and pulling on ropes. (I can see where a bow thruster would come in handy.)

That's it - after all the upheaval, we had finally arrived at Maximus' new home. Very nice it looked too, what a contrast to Gailey. Andrew Dyke showed up and welcomed us to the marina, but he couldn't stay as they were about to set off on Lord Toulouse with Roger and Margaret Millin. Then just as we were getting ready to drive to Stafford, the Beekies arrived ready to take Uncle Mort (moored 4 slots away) in hot pursuit of LT. We arranged to meet up with them for the next day.

After a very pleasant afternoon in Stafford we returned to the boat and settled down to await the arrival of our son Tim and his wife Caroline. They found us after some heroic map reading and joined us on the boat and we caught up on their news and swapped prezzies.

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