June 6th – June 8th 2014 IWA Campaign Festival – Chester

The first cruise in the year of 2014, is to the IWA campaign cruise in Chester. Here the object of the local Branch of the IWA, is to re-open the link from the Shropshire Union Canal down onto The River Dee, above the current weir. This is an objective we members of the CCT thoroughly approve.

Of more than 120 boats attending the Festival no less than eight boats from the 4 c’s are attending:
Timeout with Angela and John Cheesbrough, (our incredibly talented and resourceful events organiser who organising skills will be sorely missed in future years).
Jigsaw with Marilyn and Ged Layfield
Lucky B with Margaret and Bruce Paul, (aiming to be the longest travelled boat at the Saul Junction pageant in August).
Minimo, with Beryl and Geoff Smith (whose gas-free boat provides many interesting discussions)
Doinmein with Sue and Martin Turner, claiming to be escaping from their cats and a new house.
Cormorant II (that’s 2 not eleven) with Lynn and Bob Hallam (believed to be the only captain who needs GPS and a depth sounder and two VHF radios to find his way)
Aquarigo with Lesley and Peter Taylor. They are stalwarts of the local IWA branch and have been instrumental in organising this event. Accordingly they are not, unfortunately, moored with the rest of us.
Intrigue crewed on this occasion by Polly Fothergill and Jan Thomas, the Globe and canal trotting, Uke toting festival attending pair in the multi-coloured boat with a highly polished tiller extension.

One boat which hoped to attend, Great Escape with Mike and Mo Wood had to cancel at the last minute. We will miss them and hope all goes well with their concerns.

Beeston Pimms O'Clock

Beeston Pimms O’Clock

After many varied experiences, like BCNS Exporer cruises, engine problems, house moves and life, five boats met up at Beeston, where the Pimms O’clock routine was re-established. Bob was so surprised he fell off his chair – but held his G&T clear of the grass! Applause!

After being inspired by ace knitter Jan Thomas, Sue Turner introduced the latest accessory for the discerning 4C’s socialite. A bright orange tea-cosy. It wasn’t long before a knitting circle was formed and orange tea cosies were flying off the production line! Enthusiastically received, they were soon put to good use.

Orange tea cosy knitting circle

Orange tea cosy knitting circle

Our first objective with the five boats gathered at Beeston was to get to Chester in the rain. There were six boats but “Intrigue” had no crew and was moored up and would follow later. The trip to Chester was accomplished quite easily, given queues and single handed boats. A quick victualling foray was made to Tesco we then went slowly down the Northgate Staircase. Of course the wind blew up when we came to our moorings in the old North Basin.

The building site basin

The building site basin

Changes of mooring layout ensued as we made our usual neat show of manoeuvring, Martin’s height was a great advantage, John was on hand to offer Health and Safety advice.

"Oh Dear...I wouldn't do it that way......

“Oh Dear…I wouldn’t do it that way……

Day 1 at the Festival site:

After a comfortable night, we were rudely awakened by builders working on the new apartments close to us around the basin. What should have been an idyllic place rapidly became a Beirut-like area. Hammer drills, platform engines, crashing scaffolders, big trucks, all at 07:00!

When we emerged, all boats were covered in brick dust, not at all pleasant. After discussion with the organisers, we moved with our said skill and efficiency to the other side of the basin, to be nearer to Jigsaw really, who didn’t move! After sweeping off the thick coat of dust, we went our various ways. Some went on a guided city walk, some went shopping some just wandered around the Festival site.

At around 17:30, just as Pimms o’clock (the first one on a building site) was beginning, we received news that Minimo was broken down at Tesco prior to the staircase Bob volunteered to go and attempt a rescue, which was successful (it started on test and kept going!) Now all members expected were in the mooring area. The extended Pimm’s o’clock continued until 21:00 hrs.

Day 2 at the Festival site:

After a second night, we all explored around the site, and with Intrigue and Minimo now in the basin but opposite the earlier contingent, a coffee break was arranged closer to intrigue, as Sue and Jan continued with the orange knitting, now down to detail level of small burgees!

We now have three days to meander round the Festival site,
peering at the trade and canal society stalls, listening to the brass bands and other musical offerings, visiting the historic city of Chester (including the really historic “Old Boot” pub where most of our number managed to sink a fine pint (or two) of Sam Smiths at £1:78 a pint) before enjoying our Pimms O’clocks!

We enjoyed a flypast of a WW2 Hurricane (or was it a Spitfire?). The flight had been delayed several times due to the changeable weather. However, towards the end of the afternoon the weather began to clear and all eyes looked skywards as the throaty sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine approached at last. The aircraft made several passes overhead and then with a waggle of wings departed. It certainly was a fine sight which Bob managed to capture on film (well, digital film anyway!)

Polly (with springer spaniel Ellie) won a couple of prizes in the pet show, it rained a bit, we ate, slept and wandered again. The ship surveyor examined the boats of all who were crossing the Mersey, all passed muster!
Bob had a long look at ‘Minimo’ in an attempt to fix its reluctance to start, hopefully this was successful – time will tell!

Finally, on Monday morning we all manoeuvred with our world famous skill and departed from the moorings. A gentle cruise (again with some heavy rain) soon saw us at the top lock at Ellesmere Port.


There was some congestion for a time at the water point which is located just prior to the top lock but eventually all were once again moored in readiness for our next foray, the Mersey Estuary which will be the subject of a seperate report.