Thursday, 8 August 2013

Onwards, but slower than expected

(Boats Chalice and Sickle together - posted by Alan)

Refuelling Mayhem 1
Boating with both boats together is a very different experience from either on their own.  For a start, most of the time we require two steerers, and with a crew of only three, it means I in particular spend most of the day at a tiller, so can't get on with anything else instead whilst actually boating.  Things you take for granted like tidying up, washing up, making a hot drink or snack, checking the Internet, (or even going to the loo!), get put on hold, unless you actually stop.

Refuelling Mayhem 2
It is possible in flights of broad locks to breast the boats together, allowing one to drag the other through the flight, but in practice the different lengths and nature of each boat doesn't make this as effective as with two more matched boats.

We thought today we would easily be all the way up Stoke Bruerne locks, and would probably arrive a bit early, and hence that we would probably press on through the tunnel.  The reality has been rather different, as a number of delays crept in.

"Towcester" sets off again with "Bideford" on a seriously long line.
Yesterday I discovered "Chalice's" stern gland was leaking more than it should, and I hadn't felt like tackling it then, so that was first job of the day.  Having set up "Chalice's" gland, I thought it prudent to check and adjust "Sickle's" as well, also to refill the stern tube greasers in both boats.

Cosgrove Lock

We set off with me leading on "Sickle", and Cath, David and Odin on "Chalice", but knew we needed fuel, and a text to Julia on "Towcester" said she was travelling South towards us.  This left us in some comical situations of trying to ensure we did not finally meet her somewhere all the boats could not pull over, including us stopping and checking ahead at a stretch that I knew was lined with other boats.  As Richard and Julia also had their butty Bideford in tow, the resulting gaggle of 4 boats when we did meet caused a bit of chaos until the transaction was complete.

Odin loves his ball
Having cleared Cosgrove Lock we found it remarkably hard to find somewhere to pull over for lunch.  Places like Thrupp Wharf now have almost no mooring, because most has been taken away unnecessarily to provide an "exclusion zone" near the marina entrance.  Beyond much of the bank is completely overgrown,  When we did try to stop further on we again couldn't get into the bank, and I picked up a bladeful of rubbish that stopped "Sickle's" engine dead, and left me drifting mid channel.  Cath came to the rescue, and towed me for a bit on improvised cross straps!

The uncontrolled offside vegetation between Yardley Gobion and the Stoke Bruerne flight is now getting very bad - of course all is fine when nothing is coming the other way, but boats forced into the worst of it risk not just damaged paint and chimneys, but injury to those on board.

Second lock up Stoke Bruerne flight.
We decided to work the Stoke Bruerne flight with a steerer on each boat, rather than "breasting" the boats - largely to see how we got on.  With care this allows only needing to open single gates, not those each side of a lock, (it being fairly easy to "punt" one boat across to make room for the other).
I'm not convinced we made the right decision, but equally it was not a disaster, and if you don't try, you don't find out!

David in charge of "Chalice"
We found space in the "long pound" two locks down the flight, so decided to stop there, not being sure how much space might be at the top.  I didn't feel a lot like working on a hot engine, but braced myself to give "Chalice" an engine oil change and filter replacement, which I was sure was somewhat overdue.

Cath managed a considerable "over-order" on a take away meal from the excellent "Spice of Bruerne", although David is now working his way through the excess as I type.  We managed two separate visits to the "Boat" wrapped around this, and Odin got a fair run-around as a result.

I am wondering though, how long the blogging can last, if I'm trying to do it late in the night, due to absence of time any earlier on!

Little Woolstone to "Long Pound", Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 14.5 (Each boat), Locks:6

Total Miles: 50.0, Locks: 21 

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