|Approaching Dudswell bottom lock.|
While we have been off boating with Chalice, Sickle has remained tied up for over a month. It has rained a fair bit, and when it does her hold starts to fill up. An electric pump will get it out again, but this runs off her battery, also needed to start the engine.
|And entering Dudswell bottom lock|
So what better excuse, when you have just returned from a long trip in one boat to go boating in the other one - Sickle's batteries needed charging, (honestly!).
|And descending Dudswell bottom lock.|
Cath was returning to work after the weekend, but we reckoned we could take Sickle in to Berkhamsted on late Saturday afternoon, then bring her back on Sunday morning. In the meantime we had arranged a drink and a meal with some friends. As Sickle was pointed North, I took her up to the former buffer depot at New Ground, and turned her to point South. I used to do this regularly with a boat I owned at Cow Roast in the 1970s. What a difference 40 years has brought - back then you could just motor down there, turn, and be back soon after. Now almost entirely the whole length is lined with moored boats, mostly local live-abaoards, but some from further afield, and many are very poorly tied up on slack lines. Sickle doesn't "crawl" easily, due to a big engine and large "blades", and very irritatingly has to be regularly taken out of gear in order not to draw the more poorly tied up boats around as she passes. That short trip is now not a lot of fun, to be honest!
|Approaching "Bushes" lock in Northchurch.|
Saturday late afternoon and early evening brought us pleasant but cool conditions, and it was good to be using Sickle again, although she handles so differently from Chalice that the first mile or two is still a bit of a shock! I was genuinely surprised on bits of the trip to Berkhamsted just how far from the bank I could be, even on the towpath side, and still end up aground. If the person who motored past me just above Gas Two is reading this, and wonders why my boat got dragged into the path of his whilst I waited patiently (static) on the mud for him I'd be happy to explain, but you could have chosen a better path and speed, sir!
|Returning through "Gas Two" on Sunday before the rain set in.|
Our friends has walked out some of the way from Berkhamsted, and met us for the final few locks. Berkhamsted has now become such a popular "temporary" mooring for so many boaters, (some boats to my knowledge having remained on "visitor" moorings there for over a year!), that finding a spot for even a 40 foot boat that late in the day was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately there was just one space we could squeeze into without working on further than we wanted to, (just as well it wasn't Chalice we were on - it would not have fitted).
After a pleasant evening in the town, and a generally quiet night, we set off back on Sunday, quickly catching a boat that had gone ahead of us.
|Sharing "Bushes" lock on the way back up.|
The fact that some rain was forecast for around 10 o'clock came nowhere near the reality of what actually happened! By 11 o'clock, it was absolutely lashing down, and Cath and I had travelled with well less than adequate clothing, both our coats failing the "waterproof" test after about five minutes, I'd say. I can't actually recall getting as wet boating in a very long while, although there are no pictures, as I doubt the cameras would have survived the deluge.
We tied up a rather wet Sickle, and went home very cold. I think a trip to do some drying off of things is now quite an urgent need!
Edited further to add:
It occurs to me also, that this is the first time Sickle has operated south of Tring summit in our ownership, placing her firmly on territory where I and my brothers know her firmly from as long ago as the early 1970s. I never photographed her in Berkhamsted then, but my brother Mike did. Some time we must try and do "then and now" photos, attempting to put Sickle as close as possible to locations we photographed her then. Here she was tied up at the old gas works site, a firm favourite for tying up BW maintenance boats at the time. I rather have a feeling that these days a lot of bushes might stop you tying Sickle against the bank, but I'm not sure without checking again....
|Sickle in Berkhamsted, early 1970s [Photo: Mike Fincher]|
Cow Roast to New Ground Buffer Depot to Berkhamsted to Cow Roast
Miles: 7.0, Locks: 14