It is a long time since I blogged. However that is not because life has not been exciting.
Sonflower was one of many boats at the IWA Festival if Water in Worcester over the August Bank Holiday weekend. This festival was arranged on the Worcester and Birmingham canal to celebrate 75 years since Tom and Sonia Rolt met Robert and Ray Aickman at Tardebigge Locks and the IWA was born.
The festival was a good weekend but low in “footfall”. The Worcester festival was in full swing with a line up of 100 bands and there was a lot of other attractions in the area. There was not much of a chance for boaty stuff either: the canal is not suitable for boat handling competitions or boat trips.
After the festival we moved down toward Worcester for boaty stuff like a pump out at Worcester Marina and a mooring near to Bridge 5 for a crew change. Sue left us and Alex came on board. Our bilge pump float switch failed so I had to get a replacement to fit when we returned. I rigged up a temporary bilge pump to tide us over and ensure that we were safe on the Severn.
Our first challenge were the two wide locks that lead from Diglis basin to the Severn. Here, a couple of local moorers made things very difficult. As we were coming out of the top lock having set the bottom lock they opened the bottom paddles to drain the lower lock with the top paddles still open, The lady who did this was deaf so could not hear Alex shouting. He managed to retrieve the situation quite quickly but not before the intermediary pound had been lowered by about 18 inches!
Their local knowledge di provide a recommendation for dinner. We moored on the Severn beside the race course. £4 a night pay and display. We went to the pub htat was recommended to find that food is only served on Thursday to Sunday. We went to the kebab house instead. We did go back fir a beer as they had their own pale ale. It was quite good.
In the morning we set off up the Severn and made good progress. I was dreading the locks as Diglis lock had been firce and I thought they would all be like that. However they were quite gentle. Highlight was an otter seen swimming across the river ahead if us. Apart from that it was a bit of a boring trip to Stourport.
We stopped in Stourport for lunch which was the remainder if the previous evening’s kebab!
Onward again this time taking in the fabulous achievement of the builders of the canal who hewed channels out of stone cliffs to form the meanders and follow the contours. All the locks seemed to be identical in dimensions and fall. It was very enjoyable and we managed ti make out target of Stourton in good time. I had left the car here and used public transport to return to Worcester so we moored up on 5 day moorings to return home.
Our only problems were made by the lack of repairs to paddle gear. Quite a few locks had only on paddle on the top or bottom. On top gates this was not really a problem because these locks have gate paddles which fill locks quickly but a single bottom paddle slows the process considerably. I spoke to a couple of CRT operatives wHo were tasked with fitting a pinion spindle to a paddle. They had difficulty deciding which gear train to fit it to as both paddles were equally worn! They only had one spindle with them. Other locks had leaking gates and some beams had been bound up and boxed in to keep then together until the winter stoppage season. It had all the signs of a wait til it breaks maintenance policy.
Another navigational problem is reeds. Why are they allowed to reduce the canal to a boat’s width? It is difficult to see oncoming boats.
From Stourton north The Best Mate was on the boat. We enjoyed the canal and made excellent progress to The Anchor Inn at Coven. Here we had a really enjoyable meal before locking the boat up for another week. Here there was no 14 day moorings as all the mooring between the bridges is designated 48 hours. We had no option but to overstay. There were no other boats moored when we left!.
Suepercrew came with us on return and The Best Mate and she navigated to Penkridge while I drove to Fazeley and returned by bus. I had fitted a new bilge pump float switch and put the temporary pump away. We cruised without problem onto Trent and Mersey Canal. At Fradley bottom lock we found the broken paddle gear had been covered with a purpose made cover. Apparently it had been ot of action for months.
We had to make a stop at The Taft for a cup of tea. Peter and Julie have sold their wooden boat but still offer hospitality to all who want it and have set up very adequate safeguarding precautions to maintain their self shielding against covid