Friday, 18 July 2014

First Day With Both Boats Is Hard Work.

(Boat Sickle & Chalice - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Friday 18th July

Glascote locks - the only ones we did today.
We realise that trying to take both boats together some considerable distance on narrow canals is going to be quite hard work.  David doesn't tend to choose to steer the boats very often, so basically Cath and I have to take charge of a boat each, and, other than planned stops, steer for most of a day.   Every narrow lock has to be worked twice, of course, although having a third person means we are very much better off than if we were each trying to single hand at every lock.

Just North of Fazeley Junction and Peel's Wharf
However being at the tiller all day means that nothing gets done inside either boat whilst we are moving, so no tidying up, washing up, clothes washing, or even catching up on the blog!

So we have tried to pre-plan days that are not as long as many we take, and particularly make allowance of doubled up effort at every lock encountered. (Actually it is usually worse than that, as if nothing is waiting to come the other way, the lock is never in your favour for the second boat, and has to be turned).

I don't seem to be fighting with it here, at least!
I have to say that after just the first day with both boats, we may still be being too ambitious.  To say I was done in by the end of the day is a considerable understatement!  However part of the problem may be that I had charge of Sickle, and for much of the day, between Fazeley Junction and Fradley Junction the canal is fairly heavy work if you have a deep draughted working boat. (Actually, to be precise, this stretch is made up of two canals, as the first  part of it is the Birmingham and Fazeley, but you then switch back to a detached portion of the Coventry).  I have to say "Sickle" gave me an unusually heavy work out, as I wrestled to stay in channel.  At some of the shallower more debris ridden bridges, it mattered very little what I did with the tiller, as "Sickle" still largely chose its own route!  (Sometimes I had to whip the range chimney off as we got slewed to close to the arches of some of the lower bridges).

Names rather than numbers on bridges means its the Birmingham & Fazeley,
One mistake was I think to go too long with no break.  There are no locks between Fazeey and Fradley junctions, so we didn't stop at all.  It would been less exhausting had we done so I think.

A lot of further effort was expended at Fradley, where we could find space to moor "Chalice", but couldn't get "Sickle" anywhere close to the bank on the only other available spot beyond the end of the most suitable bit of towpath.  We hadn't wanted to breast the two boats together, but eventually decided that to do so would still leave plenty of room for passing boats, (of which there were surprisingly few at this usually busy spot).

David's photos make steering "Sickle" look easier than the actual reality!
There is a very wide towpath here, so chairs and tables were set up, and the rest of a very pleasant evening, including the meal largely took place outside.

Alvecote to Fradley
Miles: 14.8 (Chalice), 14.8 (Sickle), Locks: 4

Total Miles: 125.3, Locks: 55

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