This morning the sun shone and it looked as if we would have a great day.
A new neighbour with a brand new 70ft boat, "Willy Nilly", asked me to accompany her on the "water run". She picked me up off the boat at Tom Rolt Bridge No 164. The lift bridge 165 in town has challenges for the single hander but we negotiated it safely. On approach I was hailed by Kate Saffin, of Theatre in the Dock Fame, who wanted to return a book I had lent her. Pushing the boat over to Tooley's side of the canal to collect the volume put us a bit out of centre for going through the bridge narrows. But all was fine.
We settled onto the water point and filled the boat, the kettle and had a cup of coffee. Taking on water is just something one has to do. And it takes as long as it takes.
A single hander came up the lock and shut the gate behind him. No problem really as my friend wanted to do all the work she would have to do on her own. I did help him through the lift bridge.
Entering the lock from the water point is an easy sweep. The lock at Banbury is at an angle to the main run of the canal and getting it wrong can mean a scrape down the concrete side, getting the cruiser stern stuck under the raking coping and other nightmares. It is best to keep well back and smoothly enter the lock. My friend did it perfectly:
Thence to Bankside Winding hole to turn. My friend did very well here. Turning a 70 footer is quite a lot more difficult than my 57 ft boat. We passed "Dusty" on the way back and pulled over to the facilities to set the lock. It was full this time, the hire boat having worked up. "Dusty" came up and we allowed him to go first. "Working boats have priority" I said. "I wish everyone would think that" he replied. Just watching "Dusty" work the lock taught us a bit about single handling. Don't get too close to the gates when the lock is emptying, you'll be sucked against the gate and could break them; slow the boat with the gates if it is going into the lock too fast; watch the speed that you let the water in so that the boat doesn't crash against the top gate. etc. etc.
Our turn came and went well. Del and Al from Derwent 6 came up behind and were there to help with gates and paddles.
So through the lift bridge we went. Having let "Dusty" go first we now came to a halt. He was delivering to the boat yard and their collection of vessels meant that the way was entirely blocked. A boat was coming the other way too!
After the way cleared we returned to the mooring. I got off at Tom Rolt Bridge No 164 and let Willy Nilly return to her mooring. I started SONFLOWER's engine and backed her to Sovereign Wharf where I started to turn. In the middle of the turn the boat started to move sideways toward the lock. To my surprise a boat "Zenith" came round the bend and headed between my bow and the bank sucking SONFLOWER toward it as she approached. "Wait up a minute" the helmsman shouted. "Who is turning?" I replied, "Shouldn't you be waiting a minute?!"
Thence to the whaarf for a PUMP OUT. By all accounts they had had a very good Canal Day and the Punch and Judy had been very good. The lack of Punch whacking Judy round the head and the absence of the baby being thrown to the crowd during the performance was noted as a sign of the times.
Then back to home mooring to wait for Dusty and the coal delivery. Good things come to those who wait. 5 bags of Pureheat at £11.00 a 25kg bag. Half what the garages and garden centres would charge.
A busy and very full morning.
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