Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Somewhat Longer Day Than Anticipated

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Descending the Stoke Bruerne flight
As Cath explained in yesterday's blog, our trip down to Rickmansworth is slightly unusual because we have something like five appointments to keep along the route, and with no other transport than the boat, we must arrive in certain places by certain times.  So, although we don't want it to be a mad rush, the first few days travel require that we get to at least a certain point each day.  We don't have a lot of experience in boating in "Flamingo" with just the two of us, and far less still of trying to keep two energetic dogs in check at the same time.  Also my newly operated on shoulder is very painful, and almost certainly I should not be working locks, leaving Cath to do them all, so it is inevitable we are slower than we would usually have been in the past.

Cosgrove lock, where there was a queue in the other direction
A further barrier to fast progress is "Flamingo" itself.  "Flamingo" is a heavy boat, and whilst it goes along well enough when underway, it is considerably slower of the mark than either "Chalice" or "Sickle".  However the main reason you do not rush with "Flamingo" is its great reluctance to stop in a hurry.  I have never known a narrow boat take longer to stop, and with "Flamingo" you can give it all its got, and still find pulling up alarmingly slowly.  We don't really know why, but suspect the propeller is not the most ideal one for that boat, engine and gearbox.  We don't actually know the diameter or pitch of the propeller, never yet having docked "Flamingo".  So at the moment locks are entered very much slower than we would with other boats, and blind bridges approached with greater caution, all resulting in slower progress overall.

Our old boat "Chalice" looking well cared for.
Anyway today's minimum place to reach was Stoke Hammond, and we have achieved that, albeit taking longer than I probably expected.

Today was mostly new territory with us for "Flamingo", which we had previously never previously brought further South than four locks down the Stoke Bruerne flight, but is of course a stretch we have covered numerous times in our other boats.  A near 72 foot boat that is slow to stop somehow makes the whole journey rather more "exciting".

The very shallow lock at Fenny Stratford
I usually try not to post to much about what can go wrong when one meets other less experienced boaters, but today we have certainly been treated to a few things that made life somewhat harder on occasions.  I am well used to being waved past steerers of slower moving boats that we have caught up, who then don't then let you pass easily, so often I will decline going past if it looks in any way likely to become risky.  However, today I was waved past by a hire boat steerer at what was actually a very good spot to go past, (they often are not!), but it takes a while to get a 72 foot boat past one of maybe 60 feet.  All was going swimmingly well until I was half way past when he then speeded up again - there was no real panic because there was still a clear view ahead, but as I tried harder and harder to draw ahead of him his front end swung across to the point it was rubbing our back end.  It really doesn't have to be made that hard - if you wave someone past, make it easy for them to get past quickly, please!

Distinctive double bridge at Stoke Hammond lock.
However on a wide straightish section by Linford an approaching boat switched across to the wrong side of the canal as it was already quite close to me, and firmly held its position, leaving me no option but to reverse hard, and hope they took avoiding action eventually.  There was no collision but we ended up on the mud and in the bushes.  "Sorry" said the steerer, "Woman, driver, I'm afraid - I think I need more practice".  I was forced to agree with her about needing more parctice, but as I tried to extract us from the mud, I did wonder why neither of the people stood by her had intervened, particularly if either was more experienced, but had allowed her a go at the tiller.  I suppose I have to laugh it off, but we have quite a lot of scratched paint as a result, and I didn't really think the the "lady driver" excuse good enough!

Strange effect with Max's ears as the photo  captures him mid leap!
Otherwise it has been a good day, with good weather, and we and the dogs have thoroughly enjoyed it.  When we finally moored up Max decided Odin was definitely going to play bouncy chasing games, and he didn't let him off the hook until both has had a very active run about.  Max is definitely getting a lot "younger"!

Moored for the night just above Stoke Hammond lock
Stoke Bruerne (Long Pound) to Stoke Hammond
Miles: 21.2, Locks: 8
Total Trip Miles: 31.3, Locks: 10

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