Cleddau back on the Cut
Friday 4th April: six months after arriving at Longport Wharf in Stoke-on-Trent Cleddau was deemed fit to leave.
How excited were the Cleddau crew – up the M1, across the M6, take the M6 Toll, re-join the M6, now the A500; oh, the road route has become well known.
The boat lay, like last week, under the slip at Longport; she had been cleaned inside
and her external bodywork relieved of the dense layers of shed dust.
Six hard hours followed of car unloading, boat unpacking, possession stowing. Then, just after 6pm, the moment came.
Start up engine…
Fend off on the offside…
0.6 hours was recorded on the engine hours clock as Cleddau was moored just ten minutes later at Westport Lake, barely half a mile north of Longport Wharf.
How good it felt to be back afloat, (though less good the following morning to be awoken early by persistent duck and Canada goose courtship calls…)
This isn’t a holiday cruise, it isn’t a race round the Cheshire Ring, rather it is the crew and craft “on sea trials”, reacquainting themselves with their vessel, exactly twenty years after first taking ownership of her. Back then, in April 1994,at Sawley Marina, she was a green, dare one say, rather ugly duckling,
a 60’ unfinished project, a hull with engine, elementary plumbing and very little fitting out.
Now she is twenty five years old, on her third engine. Long ago her cabin was shortened, a window removed, her bow deck raised. Her solid fuel stove has changed sides, her lining, once patched varnished light oak, is now ash throughout. But since arriving in the northwest in 2008 she has blossomed – external paintwork (Andy Russell, 2009); front cabin, galley and bathroom refit (Bourne Boats, 2011), replacement engine, refit to utility area and back cabin (Stoke Boats 2014).
The trials proceed: after three days the boat is moored on Biddulph Aqueduct,
outside Congleton, with 14 running hours on the engine, about 15 miles travelled.
Impressions so far:
• The engine runs beautifully quietly; indeed from the front deck the ride seems smooth, as if on an electrically operated vehicle.
• Changing from left to right hand throttle (or vice versa) is a simple operation – ensure the throttle in use is placed in the vertical position so that the gears disengage, then move the required throttle into required place.
• The new storage spaces created in the bedroom and galley are simple to access and convenient to use.
• The Webasto diesel water heating system continues to perplex (it now fires up, the air lock is gone, it provides heat to the appropriate radiators, but no hot water to taps…)
• The cross bed is easy to switch from day to night mode and a pleasure to sleep on for those who lack height. The Captain, however, yearns to stretch his toes…
When not under way the Captain has spent many (mostly happy) hours in his engine room, curled up into awkward corners, crimping wires and installing radios. There have been moments of crisis, of course… How many times does a shower pump have to fail before the cause of its misbehaviour is discovered…? The washing machine, joy of Boatwif’s heart, when switched on shone all the right green lights – but would not, could not, fill with water. Investigations subsequently uncovered a completely twisted hose…
Now at about the half way point back to home moorings, this is the slowest ever creep along the Macclesfield Canal. Sea trials apart, it’s proving an agreeable post-winter float through a dramatic landscape. Fresh colour,
and swans on nests
– all evidence surely that the season is a-changing!