Saturday, 21 May 2011

Moving Sickle - Second Weekend, first day.

(posted by Alan)

We are limited to weekend moving of SICKLE if we are to both be involved, due to Cath's job.  Although we are not certain exactly what moves we are planning before we try to get SICKLE to events in June at Stoke Bruerne and then Braunston, we do know we want her a lot closer to our home.  It is obvious that certain items need attention, and it would not be feasible to keep travelling as far up as the boat currently is.  So the objective of these first two week-ends is simply to progress as far as we can with an untried boat.  As neither of us has recent experience with a deep draughted boat, we realise plans may need to change, depending on progress.

Another constraint is trying to do what we can by train to avoid the use of two cars, and positioning moves.  If either of our sons were drivers, life might be simpler!

So, like last week, it was the 05:30 alarm, quick baths and a comfort break for Charlie the dog, then off to the station on bikes.

SICKLE has been at Atherstone for a week, but a kind person called Carol has been keeping an eye on it, for which we are most grateful.  As we had battery charging problems last week, and as the battery may have suffered, we wondered if the engine was going to start.  I failed the test of trying to hand crank it, so in the end pressed the button, and, thankfully off it went.

Progessing up the Atherstone flight of locks
We were seeing a steady procession of boats starting off up the 11 Atherstone locks, but precious little coming down, so we took up our place in the line.  These are slow filling locks at the best of times, and it only needs a slow person or two in a queue to really start to impact on time taken.  It ended up being a rather slow start to the day, but not so slow as to be a disaster.

Amongst the waits, I sorted a few things out, including setting up computer and Internet.  I also checked something I now really wish I had checked last week.  The bloody tunnel lamp doesn't work - not ideal if we have to tackle Braunston tunnel tomorrow - one of the longer and busier ones.

Making the turn at "Sutton Stop" - Easy with just a 40 foot boat!
Once clear of Atherstone locks, with the sole exception of one very shallow stop lock later, we knew it was just a case of trying to tick off the miles.  People had said how shallow it gets around Nuneaton, and it wasn't great, with a fair amount of grinding over stuff in bridge-holes, but equally it wasn't half as bad as some have suggested, even though SICKLE sits fairly deep in the water.  I did wave a more shallow draughted boat past us, though - in CHALICE I'm not sure this courtesy has ever been necessary, so we definitely need to adjust to how different SICKLE is.

Nearly round, and now on the Oxford
Whilst Cath did a steering stint, I diagnosed the headlight problem.  Just a blown bulb, but it's a "historic" kind of big old fog lamp with a bulb you wouldn't exactly expect to replace at Halfords!  Unfortunately tomorrow is Sunday, and I'm not sure who we can get to that will be open, but I have little hope of replacing this unusual bulb easily.  I rather fear we will have to spend out on a modern headlamp as a workaround to allow us to start tackling the tunnels.

TAYGETA -We last saw this at Anderton, nearly 2 years ago.
Passing "Stretton Stop" late in the day, Cath noticed a working boat down the arm, and asked me what it was.  I immediately recognised some distinctive modifications made to TAYGETA, so this was another "Middle Northwich" motor - one of the other 7 built with SICKLE, but in this case still full length.  I nipped back to take some quick snaps.

Steady progress on the Ocford
It's getting dark much later now, so we could have pressed on, but we were both exhausted.  When we saw a good mooring, well away from road and railway, with proper piled edges, that was our invitation to stop!  Much of this canal had curios angled sloping edges, making convenient mooring actually near the bank impossible, as the bottom of the boat grounds long before on the sloped sides.

Atherstone Bottom Lock (Coventry Canal) to Near Brinklow (Oxford Canal)
Miles: 21.1 Locks: 12

Total Miles: 51.8, Total Locks: 23

1 comment:

  1. A photo of the boat on this blog