London to Middlewich
Our train to Crewe left about 11:00 so we had plenty of time to get reorganized and have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. This was part of the plan of having a hotel near the train station. This was going to be a long day; train to Crewe, taxi to Middlewich, pickup, provision, and board the boats, and try to get out of Middlewich and a ways up the canal before dark. I neglected to plan for lunch! (My wife would tell you that I do this regularly!) We should have gotten something to take with us on the train. As it happened our next meal was about 9:00 pm that evening!
The only excitement at the train station was that Schuyler tried to get the refund for his Oyster cards, which he initially filled with much too much money. This was not something he was able to accomplish at the last minute at Euston Station. He gave me the cards and I agreed to try take care of them when Karen and I returned to London in a few weeks.
The train was crowded. Remember, these were the cheapest seats and no reservation. The women got to sit down immediately and the guys got to stand until some of the other passengers got to their destinations. The train made a lot of stops. The journey to Crewe took about three hours. One of the other passengers was a young mom with a small child. This kept my wife entertained. The trip was otherwise uneventful.
We waited 10 or 15 minutes for our taxi at the Crewe train station. It seemed like longer. As usual there were a lot of vans picking up passengers and they all looked like they should be our taxi. We all fit into the taxi with our stuff. The cost was about 25 GBP. Worth every penny.
The folks at Andersen Boats were ready for us. All we had to do was load our gear and purchase our provisions. There was a small Tesco (big UK supermarket chain) within a relatively short walk. Across a busy main road. One of the serious planning failures was failing to make a meal plan and grocery list prior to arriving at the boat. As a result, my wife had to that on the fly, in the store. Fortunately, she is pretty good at planning in real time. Another problem is that a short walk is much longer carrying a couple of bags of groceries. In retrospect I could probably have borrowed on the four wheel carts from the boat yard.
Once we had our gear and groceries stowed we were checked out and briefed about the boats. They are about 60 feet long with a 7 ½ foot beam and plenty of standing headroom. They are powered by a big 4 cylinder diesel engine. The engine charges two separate sets of batteries; the starter batteries for the engine and batteries to provide domestic power for the boat. There is an inverter so that there is AC for a microwave, fridge, TV (we never turned it on) and several outlets. The hot water from the diesels cooling system is used to heat hot water for the sinks and shower. We had plenty of hot water during the trip. Fresh water is provided from a large tank. The fresh water is used for the sinks, the shower, and the head. We were also briefed on the correct operation of the head. There is four burner gas stove with both an oven and broiler.
We were also shown the barge pole (for getting unstuck from the mud), the gang plank (which we never needed), and the steel stakes and small sledge hammer used for mooring the boat at night.
Most of these pictures have captions. If you click on the "i" that is somewhere on the page you should be able to read them