Saturday, 23 June 2012

Braunston Historic Boat Show 2012 - The Saturday

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

When we delivered "Sickle" to Braunston a week ago, there was still little indication of what this years event was likely to be like.  When the water shortages and restrictions were at their peak, some months back, there were even question marks about whether there would be a Braunston Historic Boat Show at all in 2012.  It was already obvious that there would be far less boats attending than last years record of well over 100 - some would have been put off by the restrictions, some would be going to an alternate event being held at Northwich, and some might just have found last year's chaos a few boats too many.  A couple of weeks ago it had been indicated to me over 60 were booked in, but anywhere between about 40 and 80 would not have surprised me.  In the end the final count seems to have been around the 50 mark, though I wasn't counting this year, and, anyway, it depends if you include boats in the area, and on view, but not necessarily participating directly.

So this was to be a smaller event - not something that worried me personally, in fact I think I thought it might improve it.

Parading - passing the main spectator areas.
Friday evening should have been a time to gather and chat, and meet with fellow boat owners, and other enthusiasts - there is after all a beer tent with a wide selection of ales.  However, like last year, the organisers seem to think a "well amplified" band is called for.  There was nothing wrong with the band in question - in fact anywhere else I might have appreciated them, but here I wanted to hold conversations - impossible in the tent, and I was still drowned by sound, standing in the rain outside.  Some may appreciate this entertainment, but the large numbers of boat owners defecting to the Boat House the following night must surely be a message that many would prefer there are no loud bands.

"Hampton", "Owl" & "Camel"
Saturday should have been more organised than last year.  We picked up our boater information pack, which made it clear we were in the afternoon parade.  So plenty of time to clean the boat up, and polish brass, whilst watching the morning parade, then ?  Not so, because by 10:30, everybody around us was starting engines, and getting ready to parade - so much for plans!  So there are a number of photos in circulation of us, on the move, still trying to polish the most tarnished brass, whilst various things are not in the places they should have been, (or are in places they should not!).  Still great fun was had, and the fact they had decided to release all the tugs towards Braunston Turn when all the full length boats sent off from the arm were still not coming back, guaranteed total chaos for a while along the stretch near the Boat House.

"Sickle" has acquired some cans since the last "Braunston".
However, once through that, things became smoother, and the complete circuit was completed in a merest fraction of the 5 or 6 hours it took some people last year, (when we didn't get to parade at all on Saturday, because the morning parade didn't really end until the afternoon one should have begun!).

The day became a bit of a blur after that, except I remember talking to loads of friends, many from canal World Forums, as well as meeting many further people from Canal World in the flesh for the first time.

Laura Carter, (in front of cabin), was Renfrew's former steerer.
We decided the, (rumoured to be louder), band to play the beer tent that evening was not for us, as did many others, so an extended meal and drinks at the Boat house was planned.  "Could we take people there by boat ?" we wondered, so set off with "Sickle" to see what the mooring situation looked like.  Part way there we met many other owners walking towards it, who thumbed a lift.  I think we had 13 on the "floating patio", making sure they didn't all stand on the same side at once!  "Can you pick us up about 9:00" said one, as we deposited them, and went back for the next party.  The next group was a bit smaller, but still big enough that negotiating a table big enough for us all proved impossible.  We spent a very enjoyable meal with Peter & Laura - owners of the lovely "Stanton".  I'm always fascinating to hear tales of how people got into "old boats", particularly where they have taken one on and restored it - we often feel cheats with "Sickle", as most of the work was already done!

It was dusk as we left the Boat House, and if we were taking Sickle back, it would be in fading light.  "It's OK - we know the way well enough!" someone said, so off we went.  I was less certain about making a passage through the private Braunston Marina at that time, to leave "Sickle" facing the right way, but talked myself in to it.  As I was about to swing in, everybody was yelling "there is a boat coming out!".  I thought they were joking, but made a sudden change of plan not to go in, when I saw "Slough", coming out!  Slough is a very short working boat conversion, but with much projecting pusher tug apparatus at the bow - definitely best avoided!  We found another way of doing thing, before tying up in the near dark.  Overall a fun evening, at the end of a fun day!

Circuits around the environs of Braunston
Miles: 3.6, Locks: 0

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