Our main goal this week was to get into Liverpool and we made it!!!!
Despite the weather (it is more like a Renmark winter at the moment than an English summer!! or maybe they are the same thing?????), the logistics (of getting fuel, offloading waste etc) and those pesky swing bridges, we finally arrived Tuesday early afternoon at our rendezvous point – Swing Bridge 9. Here we waited as 5 more narrowboats and an hotel widebeam boat arrived to form a convoy for our booked journey on the Liverpool Link into Salthouse Dock on Wednesday morning. As we arose so did our excitement in anticipation of this hitherto unknown experience. We had of course read the reams of information and studied the maps that described in detail all the rules and regulations, and helpful hints, about how to make this last leg a safe and successful experience. And we had heard the stories of other boaters.
So with our pram cover securely fastened (thank you NB Moody Blues), our instructions and maps at the ready and the convoy behind us we set of through the first bridge (opened by CRT staff only) and wound our way through the outskirts of Liverpool towards our destination. All was going very well – despite the rain – until we approached the services point in Litherland only to find a bridge, not previously mentioned or defined on the map, clearly blocking our path. Bob got off to work out what to do, with the rest of the convoy coming to a halt behind us, and we were relieved when the CRT worker turned up – tea mug in hand- not having expected us so soon!!!!
He opened the bridge and we got through, quickly disposed of waste at the service point and rejoined the convoy in 4th place – a much more comfortable position. Then off to the series of locks and meanderings through the docks to reach our moorings. It was all wow from here – the sights, the smells, the sheer size of things!!!! And we were so stunned with how everything seemed to work together – old and new buildings, huge ships and tiny boats, cityscape and docklands. Just amazing.
On arrival at Salthouse Dock we discovered that our assigned moorings were currently occupied, despite the work done by the staff in the Wigan CRT office to secure continuous moorings for our duration. No problem. Both Figment and Celtic Maid followed directions and waited patiently in temporary moorings until the CRT volunteer could work it out. She returned a little later with a staff member in tow who offered us an alternative. Figment were happy with theirs being able to move on Thursday morning to the mooring they had secured when we first booked (for a different time period) back in February. We however were offered one at nearly the other end of the dock until the lovely CRT guy assigned us the “ghost” mooring – the one with no number!!! we were delighted – despite the barely disguised grumblings of some near neighbours who wanted to know why they hadn’t been given it!!!!
So, happily moored, we set off to celebrate with a Chinese meal – which we found in nearby Chinatown. Everything is close here.
On Thursday after Figment moved to their new position (entailing swinging the stern around 90 degrees and mooring up again) Julia and Bron started in on their accumulated washing while Bob started to clean out the gas locker in readiness for a much needed spruce up. Technically our ballast is not as good as it should be and we have had our bow a little low in the water causing water to flow in through the drain holes in the gas locker resulting in rusting of the floor. We noticed the severity of the problem (we weren’t actually going to sink) when undertaking the Boat Safety Survey and decided to remedy the problem as a matter of some haste. It wasn’t as bad as it seemed once it was cleaned up but the process was interesting with Bron finding Bob at one stage completely inside the quite tiny gas locker – quite a feat!!! Meanwhile Malcolm was doing some running repairs and touch ups to Figment. We were all taking the much needed lull in travelling to get our homes in order!!!
We also heard that Malcolm and Julia became grandparents for the 6th time with the birth of Fred – a little early but doing very well by all accounts. Our congratulations to the family!!!!
Julia and Malcolm decided to take a walk around the docks and a look at the River Mersey on Friday morning. They came back to tell us they had found a fish and chippery (we had been craving a feed since we started coming into Liverpool), so we made Bob down tools and change for a trip out for lunch. The fish and chips were very good but we realised afterward that we should have shared 2 servings between the 4 of us!!!!! Waddling back to our boats we stopped to pick up brochures from the information centre so that we can plan to use our time here to see as much as possible. Whilst we have all had a look at these brochures we still haven’t decided what to do – you will have to wait for that bit of excitement.
So after a day of shopping and odd jobs yesterday and following our usual pattern of Sundays today (breakfast on Figment followed by pub for the boys, blog for Bron and all sorts for Julia (sometimes licorice!!!) then roast dinner on Celtic Maid) maybe tomorrow we will get out and about and the weather will be kind to us.