I had a limited time today. I needed to move the boat between boys to school time and the time that the Best Mate could pick me up somewhere near the canal. She had an appointment today at 3.30pm so I had to be around at school out time.
That's where Nick came in. His canal planner allows you to change the speed at which you cruise. Being 'single handed' today I changed the time taken for doing the locks and then adjusted my speed until I knew I had time to get from our overnight mooring at Napton Lock 13 to The Wharf at Fenny Compton between 0930 (drop off time) and 13.30 (Pick up time). Nick's plan gave 3hrs and 57 minutes at 2.5mph.
I don't usually travel 'single handed' so this is how it went. I cast off at 9.32am and cruised to the first lock to find it full. A bad start but as I opened the top gate to leave another boat arrived and offered to close it for me. At the next lock I opened one of the two bottom gates and pushed the other one open with the bow (sorry BW). This time, as I was opening the top gate I left it to swing while I lowered the paddle. Mistake. The next lock started to be emptied and the wash of water in the pound promptly closed it again for me with a bang (Sorry BW). I had to re-open the paddle and then, knowing that another boat was on its way down I was in a quandary as to whether to close the gate or leave it open. I left it open and then, before I had left the lock lay-by had a pang of conscience and looked back. The boat behind who, had closed the gate for me at the last lock, were now in sight and the crew was disembarking. I stopped and returned to close the gate, turned and saw the bow of other boat coming round the bend past a moored boat. So I stopped closing it. By this time the crew was ready to let the water out by opening the bottom paddle. I shouted "STOP!" and opened the gate again to let the thankful descending boat enter.
It 's not easy being single handed!
As I approached the top lock I could see daylight between the gates so gingerly eased Sonflower's bow toward the bottom gates to prise them open. As I did so, I saw another boat come to the top gate. The crew member holding it on a rope moved toward the paddle to fill teh lock. I sounded the horn and hoped, as the gates started to open, that he had understood. Sonflower slipped in and I ascended the steps to take my place on the gates. "Good morning", I said, "Would you mind closing the other gate for me?" "delighted, he said, "G'day to ya". The crew of Alouisius had out in her for five weeks. "Do you know where we can get diesel?" I told him of all the marinas that now adorn the area below Napton Locks.
From there on it is all on the summit level. The passage was uneventful until I came up behind three gents on Union Canal Carriers' Wenlock, They seemed to me to be dawdling so after a little while they invited me to pass. I don't do that very often and I am not sure whether I want to do it again. As I passed the boats seemed to get locked together, I had to navigate round a bend across their bows and they didn't give way so hit me broadside! no damage done but quite scary.
The next boat I came up behind was Florence Edith from Kate Boats. This time I didn't ask to pass. They didn't wave me on, but I thanked them for giving way when they next went aground. The young man in the front well deck resignedly elevated himself from his seat and reached for the pole giving credence to the hypothesis that this was not the first time that it had happened.
Then I received a text from the Best Mate. Time was no longer of the essence. She was bringing my mother for a trip out and lunch at The Wharf.
I arrived at The Wharf at 1302, well ahead of Nick Atty's prediction. As I moored the Florence Edith arrived and scaped down my side as they headed for a mooring space ahead of me about half a mile long. "Take care of Cheryl and Nick's boat", I said "They are nice people" as he hit the piled bank at 30 degrees. "I was trying to miss you" he said.
The three men in a boat arrived about 15 minutes later and we were all in the pub together by 1330.
I needn't have bothered to rush!
Anyway, thank you Nick for your wonderful site.
- The name describes my demeanour and voice! I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' couple. The Best Mate and I.