Friday, 8 June 2012

More Indifferent Weather - But Improving, Hopefully.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

What a night!  It was forecast to be a bit windy, but nothing like what was actually thrown at us which was, frankly, pretty wild.  We were moored at a relatively sheltered location at Cosgrove, but again treated to  high winds whipping up the canal surface, with the resultant waves constantly lapping under the counter at the rear of "Sickle".

Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock
Cath is often, if tired enough, able to sleep through such things, but unless I'm totally exhausted, I seldom do as well.  It must have disoriented me more than a bit, I think, because when I went for a "comfort break" it was already light, and I instinctively tried to revive the range fire, and put on a kettle for coffee - only when the kettle came to the boil did I actually consult my watch to find it was not even yet half-past-five!

Passing the Mikron Theatre's boat "Tyseley"
By seven I gave up the struggle of trying to sleep, and started to make trips along the branch-strewn tow-path to refill the water container, and to dispose of rubbish and empty the toilet cassette.  Poor Cath continued to try and sleep on, as I barged around the limited confines of the cabin.  Needless to say, when I did want to make coffee properly, the cabin range was ashed up, and would not easily revive.  It's the only way to boil a kettle, so breakfast was a bit delayed.

We had agreed with the owner of "Tug No 2" that we would travel together, as he was on his own, with the Stoke Bruerne locks to do - of course with the water shortages we are being encouraged to share, so this made sense anyway.

Cath was still relaying the car forwards, so I was again on my own with "Sickle", whilst she drove up to Stoke with the bike, before cycling South to meet me again.  It was still a wet and very windy morning, and I don't think Cath much enjoyed riding on a slippery grassy tow-path, with the wind coming in gusts, on a bike that has road tyres.  Even "Sickle", normally unaffected by cross winds, was travelling "crab-style" at times.

"Woolwich" bows to left, "Northwich" ones to right.
Anyway we were straight into the Stoke Bruerne lock flight on arrival.  It occurred to me that since we have had "Sickle" we have never once shared locks with another historic boat.  Both "Sickle" and "Stewarts and Lloyds Tug No 2" are ex Grand Union Canal Carrying Company full length working boats, both shortened many years ago to make 40 foot tugs.  They make an interesting comparison.  "Sickle" was build by W J Yarwoods at Northwich, whereas "Tug No 2", was built (as "Algol") by Harland and Wolff at Woolwich, (hence the informal "Middle Northwich" and "Small Woolwich" descriptions often used).  Whilst both Yarwoods and Harland and Wolff were given a similar brief by the GUCCCo, each made their own interpretation in terms of the final build, and a "Woolwich" boat has many differences in construction and apperance from a "Northwich" one.

I'd like to add a word for the volunteer lock-keeper at the flight, who was helpful, without over-interfering.  Some of these volunteers have received poor press from some people, so I think it important to say when they are doing an effective job.

Back ends differ too - extra "guard" on counter of "Sickle"
As we ascended the flight the weather started to improve, and by the top I had shed my heavy raincoat.  We were directed to a suitable mooring by the "harbour-master", (goodness knows why that term is used for inland waterways events!), and we were soon both moored up, and in "The Boat" for lunch.  I suspect it will not be our only meal in that establishment this weekend.

I thought I had been terribly good, and got a blog post done very swiftly on arrival.  Unfortunalely "Blogger" somehow "ate" nearly all my typing, and I lost it.  I needed further refreshments at the beer tent, before attempting it all again.  Personally I'm sure the first version read better, but I had drunk less when I wrote that!

Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 6.6, Locks: 7

Total Miles: 18.4 Locks: 8

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