Friday, 9 June 2017

These Pictures Have Made Me Rather Sad!

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)


I have just in rather unexpected circumstances been put in touch with a former owner of "Flamingo".

Phil seems to have owned "Flamingo" from late 1998 to probably 2008, so around 10 years in total, before selling it to the person we bought it from.

When we bought "Flamingo" its then owner claimed to have done large amounts of work on it, but it actually arrived with us as a major project.  Some areas, such as his "re-modelled" bathroom were almost a wasteland of (presumably) ripped down tiles, and badly damaged plywood surfaces, in need of a complete rebuild.

It has therefore come as rather a surprise to now see photos taken by Phil under his ownership that actually show a boat which, although having a fairly basic interior, actually looks to have been quite homely, and certainly much loved.

Phil explained to me on the telephone that he had not had huge amounts of money to spend on "Flamingo", but had tried to keep it in good order.  He acknowledged that even under his ownership the engine badly needed a rebuild, which he was never able to organise, but we now know the boat was fully repainted externally about 10 years ago, (in fact it was done twice, because the first attempt was done in unsuitable paint dock conditions, and was not satisfactory).

The following photos are unfortunately not high resolution, but give a fair idea of what "Flamingo" was like 10 years ago.  To be completely blunt, life would have been so much easier had it come to us in this condition, rather than in the state it was after a further seven years of ownership by someone who had done little to improve it, and much to spoil it.

(The pictures are reused with Phil's full permission, and we are grateful to him for making them available).




















 








































































Monday, 5 June 2017

Long, Long Day

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Friday 2nd June


Three Locks on a gorgeous day.
We actually had no definite need to put in anything like such a long day as we actually ended up doing.  We really only planned to do at least half of the remaining trip back to base, and once we were not far North of Cosgrove we had probably already achieved that.

However by the time we were where we could legitimately have called it a day, we realised that we could easily press on to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight, so we decided to do just that.  A friend that we met at Cosgrove lock assured us that these days there is invariably space on the moorings at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight.

Three locks
So we pressed on, but when we arrived there two boats were just taking up the final moorings that were available.  Not too deterred we though we will just push on up five locks to the "long pound" - surely there would be space there?











And Three Locks yet again

About 4 locks up, our friend Barry was cycling down on his way to the services at the bottom of the flight, with a toilet cassette in a natty little trailer.  He wasn't sure the only space he had spotted in the long pound could accept a seventy footer.  Needless to say, when we got there, there was nothing approaching a suitable space.  Now very tired, options were running out, but we had little choice but to do the remaining two locks of the flight, despite being warned of no space at the top.  Maybe we could moor alongside the museum's boat Sculptor - we have been told in the past that we can.  However Sculptor proved to be facing South, and had we moored alongside it, the point the dogs need to get on and off would have been opposite its open hold - so not a possibility.


Working our way up Stoke Bruerne locks
Fearing there might be no other moorings we contemplated mooring on the bollards just South of trip boat Charlie's mooring - not ideal, although another boat subsequently did just that.  Then someone said a boat was pulling out further up - some people I think like to tackle the tunnel at the end of the day, when it is not so busy.  We quickly moved up there, and it proved ideal.

The engine had run continuously for 11 hours - about an hour longer than CanalPlanAC shows with our settings that are too optimistic for travelling with Flamingo - I really must tweak them to something that reflects reality!

I promised Cath a pub meal, and we went to the Boat, where I have to be fair and say the food was considerably better than other recent experiences we have had there.  We were joined for the evening by our friends Barry and Jan - always a pleasure, despite Barry persuading that by far the strongest beer on tap was the one to switch to.  Strong it definitely was!



Above Stoke Hammond Three Locks to Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 22.1, Locks: 13
Total Trip Miles: 185.1, Locks: 138

More Slow, Steady Progress, With No Dramas.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Friday 2nd June


Below Marsworth top lock and dry dock.
After a short day yesterday, it was time to start adding the miles and the locks.  When we had our leisure boat "Chalice" we would have considered that the trip from Tring summit to our home mooring in Northamptonshire was a relatively easy three days.  Now, however, when moving a full length, deep draughted ex-working boat about, such assumptions are dangerous.  It should still be fairly straightforward, but we knew we would pass today through pounds that are notoriously shallow, or where the water level is regularly badly down.  THe worst cases of course are the pounds that are shallow even when full, but the level has also dropped, making the "bottom too close to the surface" effect even more severe.

Ex Thomas Clayton "tar" boat Towy - a well kept wooden boat.
Slow steady progress - not rushing!
Ex "trust" boat Belfast in need of TLC, now sold to someone we know
We started the day with Marsworth locks, which used to be my favourite Grand Union flight, but these days many of the gates leak so badly that shallow pounds are guaranteed.  In fat today was not as bad as sometimes - I suspect the an in the CRT van we had seen drive past the boat had done some topping up - though not really enough.  Most locks were against us, and with only two crew, this clearly wasn't going to be the fastest of days.

Unusually another problem pound, the one between the two Ivinghoe locks was not too bad - again I suspect recent topping up, as it is regularly well off level.  We managed to avoid grounding anywhere below Grove Church lock as well, which was welcome.  For a boat that draws around 3 feet, this is now one of the worst bits for many miles.

By the time we arrived in Leighton Buzzard we were once again well down on timings we would have been used to with "Chalice"  We hadn't done anything particularly badly, and the extended timings just go with the territory with "Flamingo".  We find that trying to go faster when conditions are poor achieves very little, other than maybe making us make unforced errors, so we now largely back off to a slightly slower speed, chosen appropriate to the conditions on any stretch.

After leaving Leighton Buzzard we suffered considerable hold ups as the crews of a pair of Wyvern Shpping hire boats were supposed to be under instruction.  The male crew of one boat seemed to be fairly merry already, and paying little attention.  At least the all female crew of the second boat were trying hard to learn, though I thought the trainer wasn't doing a grand job!  We then waited as a returning Wyvern boat came up.  The couple were from New Zealand, having come to the UK just to do this.  They had been out 4 weeks on what to us would have been a very leisurely cruise, but had clearly enjoyed themselves enormously.  I can only imagine what a 4 week hiring must have cost them - I hope Wyvern had offered a good discount!  Shortly after we passed our old boat "Chalice" still looking better cared for than we often managed - it is good to see it has not joined the ranks of boats of that age left to deteriorate rapidly.

Our old boat Chalice showing some of the new paintwork we did before sale.
We were not totally unsurprised as we had passed most of the "Jackdaw" pound up to Three Locks to find the all female hire crew firmly grounded in the bushes on the offside of the canal, and unable to get themselves off.  So we did the "Good Samaritan" bit, and quickly towed them off, and on their way again.  By now we were fairly tired, and it was getting late.  We could have gone down Three Locks, but the first pound in the flight was maybe twenty inches down on what it should have been.  We decided to stay at the top, and tackle it refreshed in the morning.



Bulbourne to above Stoke Hammond Three Locks
Miles: 13.0, Locks: 19
Total Trip Miles: 163.0, Locks: 125

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Time To Get Flamingo Moving Again.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Thursday 1st June


Northchurch lock
Following the break down of "Sickle", and being forced to continue with just "Flamingo", we had taken the decision to leave "Flamingo" in Berkhamsted as long as we were able.  Here we could both keep an eye on it, but also hoped to carry on working on it.  In practice other pressures meant very little happened on that second front - in fact leaving it there actually generated yet more work.  It was left under overhanging trees, and as a result got covered in massive amounts of bird "poop".  This actually stuck like glue and proved initially very hard to remove to the extent that several days later some has still resisted all attempts to "unstick" it, and is still present!

Leaving lower Dudswell lock
Unfortunately there has been no further progress on resolving "Sickle's" gearbox issues, so with any hope of reuniting both boats in the near future now evaporated, we could wait no longer before starting to move "Flamingo" on again, this time back to its home mooring.  Our schedule required we complete that before next Monday, and today was the last day we could start to guarantee that.





Upper Dudswell lock
In practice we started late enough that we could only do the remaining "uphill" locks to Tring summit, and the summit pound itself.  Starting the descent through the Marsworth flight would have to wait until tomorrow.  This should be OK - we had some slack, if nothing went badly wrong, though not huge amounts of slack.



Berkhamsted to Bulbourne (Tring summit)
Miles: 5.3, Locks: 7
Total Trip Miles: 150.0, Locks: 106

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Very regular locks, but nothing like enough water.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Wednesday 24th May


The decision was to take Flamingo to Berkhamsted, at laest for a while, whilst we sort ourselves out, and hopefully work out what can happen to Sickle.  I was now back with the boat, so with only one boat and three crew life should have been a bit easier. (But read on!...)

Apsley - almost unrecognisable from when Cath and I worked there.
I always reckon that on the Grand Union, south of Tring summit, as you pass down through Berkhamsted, Boxmoor, Kings Langley, Cassiobury, etc, you can broadly reckon on 2 locks per mile.  A few are in closely separated pairs, but the majority have maybe anything between a third of a mile to three quarters of a mile between them, meaning they can really only be set up in advance if the lock wheeler has a bike.  Today's stats, I note, work out at nearly 3 locks per mile, but the total distance travelled of little more that 5 miles fails to tell the whole story.

Mind numbingly stupid features to add to a lock that is in active use.
South of Berkhamsted, except in periods of real drought, water levels should not be a problem, as rivers flow in and out of the canal, and also the treated outfall from Berkhamsted sewage works contributes thousands of gallons.  However things seem to have deteriorated, and pounds that in the past would have been brim full, are now regularly very very low.  We encountered three very low pounds in a row once we had passed through the attractively named "Sewer", (or "Sewerage"), lock.  We reckon they were in order about 20", 16" and finally 21" down.  With an "historic" boat like "Flamingo" this can be a major issue, and at best we were stirring the mud throughout, but at worst grinding through bridges, and getting almost stuck mid channel. Time and time again we were near halted on the various rubble and other obstructions in the channel.  Frankly at times it was ridiculous.

Attempting to clear lock cill where gates not sealing.
These were not the only hazards of the day.  At the bottom Winkwell lock, David reported there were some 50 or more steel bolts that had been let into the masonry of the offside lock wall!  These were each projecting some two or 3 inches into the lock chamber, turning a wall that a boat should be able to slide up and down freely into a major hazard where a descending boat could get hung up, or an ascending boat could get held down.  There were no warnings, and although workmen's rafts and tools were present the workmen were not.  Until this point we were sharing locks with another boat, but clearly putting 2 boats in to this lock together could be a major hazard, so we elected to work through singly.  This is frankly the most mind boggling stupid thing I have seen happen on CRT waters  in many a year, and unsurprisingly we were not the only ones making urgent complaint.





Barely enough water for Flamingo to float in.
Some other locks on this stretch are in a very run down state, and leaking exceedingly badly - no doubt a major cause of the very low pounds.  However we though the bottom gates at Rising Sun lock so bad that we though something must be blocking them, and that the lock looked unlikely to seal enough to fill.  I spent some time with a shaft attempting to find obstructions on the cill, but locals at the pub assured us that it genuinely always was this bad.  In the nd we worked through it regardless of the huge amount of water being wasted.

Multiple reports about problems encountered were sent to CRT that evening, but I doubt much can be done about any of it whilst so little maintenance and repairs are being carried out.  All in all a rather depressing day, as we watch our most local canal getting steadily worse every time we make a trip this far South.



Apsley to Berkhamsted
Miles: 5.4, Locks: 14
Total Trip Miles: 144.7, Locks: 99

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

I wasn't even there!

(Now with Flamingo only - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Tuesday 23rd May


Backwards down the lock, unpowered.
For the moment I will not concentrate on the problems with "Sickle's"gearbox, other than to say we decided that we were definitely in a position where we could not carry on with the boat, and would have to continue on just with Flamingo.

A deal was struck to put "Sickle" on a mooring in a local marina, so the first boat movements of the day were rather unusual ones.  Firstly we took "Sickle" backwards through the last lock we had worked the boats through together, then, not wishing to risk use of the gearbox, we turned her around then used the long shafts from both boats to poll it back down to the marina entrance, and on to the allocated mooring.

Sickles long flat deck makes it an easy boat to pole.
Although I am writing the belated blog entry, I was not involved in the main boating activity of  the day.  I had an important Doctor's appointment in Berkhamsted, to be followed by an evening out in London with former work colleagues.  So I had worked out how to get to Berkhamsted by a combination of buses and trains, and then on to London by train.  I would return by train to wherever was close to where Cath and David had managed to move "Flamingo" to in my absence.



It's very rare that we move boats, and I'm not part of it.
In practice I was exceedingly lucky that a well known local boater spotted me at the bus stop, and guessed I was trying to get back to Berkhamsted.  The bus and train for that part got replaced by a comfortable ride in a BMW, leaving me with lots of time to kill before my Doctors appointment.  From then my day ran to plan, leaving me only needing to phone to find what station I needed to come back to, once I was finished with friends in London.  The answer was Apsley - Cath and David had done well.

This looks to me like Hunton Bridge locks.
I say they had done well, because although Cath has regularly steered "Flamingo" she had not ever actually taken it through locks.  That may sound surprising, but much of our locking has been with both boats, and invariably I take "Flamingo" and Cath takes "Sickle".  So for the first time she had to quickly learn the tricks to stopping nearly 72 feet of heavy boat in locks that are only a few feet longer.  She must have done well, because the record shows that despite a late start, they had done a dozen of them.  Equally all the gate and paddle work had been down to David, who had clearly supported Cath superbly as she got to grips with "Flamingo" in the steady run of broad uphill Grand Union locks.  Unsurprisingly, by the time I got to the boat, they had treated themselves to take away pizzas.  Everybody was bushed, but at least we had managed to achieve all we wanted, once it was obvious "Sickle" had to be temporarily abandoned.



The rather unattractive new development at Nash Mills
Cassiobridge to Apsley
Miles: 6.1, Locks: 12
Total Trip Miles: 139.4, Locks: 85

Monday, 22 May 2017

Stopped In Our Tracks

(With both boats - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Monday 22nd May


This should have been the day we started to make good progress on our trip back North with both boats - sadly, however, that did not happen.

The first problem of the day was not to be the worst, but even that was a bit alarming at the time.  Having worked through the first lock at Batchworth, we adopted a quite normal strategy of Cath going on ahead first towards the next on "Sickle", with David and I to close up the lock and follow on "Flamingo".  However, as soon as Cath was disappearing around the first bend, and we had barely set off, it became apparent that "Flamingo" was labouring heavily, and making almost zero progress.  With hindsight I should have tried to find somewhere to stop immediately, but I was mindful of a weir just above the lock that I did not want to get pulled on to, and almost immediately after that the very long line of permanently moored boats makes towpath access impossible.

This much plastic sheet doesn't stop a Lister HA2, but it almost stops the boat.
Had I realised just how bad things were, I would have tried to reverse up and risked a period stuck against the heavy outflow at the weir, but instead I tried to carry on, and was floundering at maybe half a mile an hour maximum, with the engine labouring, and almost no steering.  After what seemed an eternity, but was undoubtedly less than half a mile, we found enough of a gap in the moored boats to get our back end into, leaving the front across the cut.  Using my best skills both with a short shaft, and actually physically hanging off the counter and reaching under, I was able to make very little impact on what was obviously a pretty large prop foul.  Fortunately David who is both more agile and more persistent took over, and it was not long before a large transparent plastic "tarpaulin" was extracted.  It was large enough that I was very impressed that the engine, gearbox and prop had managed to overcome it enough to give us any propulsion at all.

Almost certainly the point at which David knew he was stuck in reverse.
Unfortunately there proved to be much else wrapped around the prop shaft, and, as is often the case, removing the ast ten percent took maybe ninety percent of the time.  David persisted, and eventually the best weapon was declared to be the double edged carving knife, which, because we are vegetarians, only comes out on such occasions.  By now of course Cath had winded "Sickle" and come back to work out what could possibly have happened to us!

So delayed by maybe an hour we set off again, but it wasn't long before we were in much more serious trouble.  Just two locks further on, as David attempted to stop "Sickle" in the lock, the gear lever stuck solidly in reverse, and could not be moved.  Quick diagnosis showed it to be the gearbox itself that was at fault, not any of the levers or linkages that operate it.  This was very disappointing, as it is part of the recently installed replacement engine.

The two levers joined by a spring have straightened more than they should.
With cover off the gearbox, we could see that the issue was that internal levers that allow selection of forward gear were throwing too far, so that instead of maintaining a slight angle to each other, they were locking out in a straight line.  The gearbox had been known before purchase to be capable of doing this, but we thought we understood the reasons, and that it was sorted before installation.  Obviously not, unfortunately.

We managed to get in touch with the seller by phone, and initially it was hoped to be a matter of adjustment.  However ever increasing adjustment failed to make the problem go away, and although we managed to get to the next lock, exactly the same "stuck in reverse" fail happened there.  By now I had convinced myself that continuing was neither sensible nor safe.  We had literally just passed a local boatyard with its own engineers, and I was lucky enough to persuade one to come and take a look that evening.

The part projecting 3 or 4mm right of the big brake band probably should not!
Whilst still not exactly sure of the nature of the failure, we convinced ourselves that a large part of the gear mechanism that should be retained on the main gearbox shaft, and should not be capable of much lateral motion along the shaft, was actually moving several millimetres.  This was clearly not right, and it was probably the excessive movement of these parts causing the levers to lock out in reverse to the point that selectinf forwards was no longer possible.

This was unlikely to be a quick canal-side fix, so attention had to turn first to practical matters.  I was supposed to be attending an important Doctor's appointment in Berkhamsted the next day, and then travelling for an evening out in London.  How could I still achieve this, given we had made almost no progress towards Berkhamsted?



Batchworth to Cassiobridge
Miles per boat: 2.5, Miles both boats: 4.9, Locks:4
Total Trip Miles: 2.0, Locks: 73

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Rickmansworth Festival

(With both boats - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st May


We had an excellent festival, but took not a single photo it seems, so I have little to share of the event.

We had not intended to involve ourselves in the tug of war, but when we were told on Sunday that this was likely to be the very last year it is held, at least in its current form, we couldn't resist joining in.

The obvious weapon of choice for the event would normally be "Sickle", but "Sickle's" newly installed engine, still warrantied by the seller, was causing us to have some doubts, so we decided not to use her, and went for "Flamingo" instead.  We didn't start the pull wonderfully, (either time!), and were fairly quickly defeated by Dave Wright on "Lupin".  Observers said he was cheating better than us, which I don't doubt for a moment, (I don't do cheating - not because I'm against it on principle - I'm simply not good enough at it!)

Someone must have taken some pictures, so if anybody has any I can use here, I'd be most grateful.

There is however a video, that shows we did a fairly good job of asphyxiating the commentators!....

Link to video - courtesy of MrGig2010

In the meantime this which turned up on Flickr, really rather amused us!

Link to photo - by Ian Wood



At Batchworth
(Only boat movement was Flamingo in Sunday's Tug of War)

Friday, 19 May 2017

Easier and More Manageable

(With both boats - posted by Alan)

Starting off for the day - first lock.
Well, in brief, if you don't want to read a fuller explanation, our plan, (or more accurately our plan that had to be frequently re-written), kind of worked out in the end.  We put in enough extra effort yesterday that today was manageable.  It was only actually only about four less locks today, and a similar mileage, but it just felt easier and less pressured throughout, even when for the final locks towards our destination things got very congested, and at least one other boater lot his cool really big time.  The latter was such a bizarre incident that if I retold what actually happened here, I don't think any single person not actually present at the time would believe me.  So I'll not try to explain, but talking to some of the "locals" afterwards, it appears this is not actually unusual for the person involved, and such outbursts are well known.  Perhaps it is a good thing that these days we only rarely venture this far down the GU!

David on Sickle
There's mot a lot extra to report really.  I do actually think that when we are concentrating on getting our act together we are doing considerably better with boating both boats together than when we first tried it.  Cath in particular is saying she feels far more confident going ahead with "Sickle", and I can see that she us far more adept at getting it on to difficult lock landings, and getting off and tethering it, whilst she starts to set the lock.  I for my sins did not repeat all the errors I made on the same trip last year, particularly at the several 90 degree tight bends through Cassiobury park.  I may still have been far from perfect, but equally nothing got hit - even the small moored "plastic" boat at the final bend, which has to have been in one of the most suicidal locations I have ever seen anyone choose!

Cassiobury Park - pretty as ever
Max (left) and Odin
David repeated his trick of cycling between locks whilst around the Iron Bridge area, with both Max and Odin in hot pursuit. The new slimmed down Max is now able to compete with Odin on fairly equal terms, something that seemed impossible a year ago, when the still very much fatter Max couldn't really hack it.  David was surprised initially that Odin seemed slower than last year - until he realised that last year he was riding a small folding bike, but this year was on a full sized mountain bike!




Assisted through Cassiobridge Lock by helpful CRT man Steve.
Kings Langley to Batchworth
(for the Rickmansworth Waterways Festival).
Miles per boat: 6.9, Miles both boats: 13.8, Locks: 13
Total Trip Miles: 128.3, Locks: 69

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Hard Work - And More Rain.

(With both boats - posted by Alan)

First lock of the day
Another day that hasn't exactly gone to our original plan, (although as time goes on and on, I'm becoming less convinced that you could really call much of what we do "planning!).  Because we decided not to continue in yesterdays heavy rain, we realised we would have to work harder on the last two days of the trip to Ricky.







Travelling breasted up in Berkhamsted.
We decided we would try and split things today to do considerably more than half the remaining miles and locks, in a bid to make tomorrow more relaxed.  It has only partially worked,  We have certainly managed to do more than half, but equally not massively more, and tomorrow is still likely to be quite hard work.








Passing Sickle's twin, Tycho.
Using our favoured planning tool, CanalPlanAC, still set to speed estimates we would have used for our old leisure boat "Chalice", suggests today's travels could be achieved in under 6 hours.  However the engine hour counters indicate we travelled closer to 8 hours.  It seems we need to add maybe 30% extra to give more realistic timings appropriate to travelling with "Sickle" and "Flamingo" together.




"The Riser" where we performed two days ago.
Until today we have been fairly successful in breasting both boats side by side where locks are very close together, thus freeing up a steerer and adding a second person to work locks.  I decided to try some longer pounds the same way to see how we fared.  Unfortunately the answer was often "not very well".  Levels were severely down in some pounds, meaning insufficient channel for two deep draughted boats forming a single "boat" 14 feet wide.  This was exacerbated by excessive offside vegetation, often not permitting us to use what channel there was.  We quickly lost a fair amount of time going aground so reluctantly decided to double up only where distances between locks was very short. This meant David had to do the vast majority of the intensive lock work. There is also considerable effort expended if you keep roping the boats together only to fairly quickly separate the again.  We continue to experiment to find the most effective balance for us.

Winkwell swing bridge
Exhausted, and with tempers somewhat frayed by about 2:00 pm we stopped for a late lunch and to look for some energy.  It struck me we had not got that far since racing yesterday to beat the lock stoppage that should be ending about that time!










Well and truly raining again by Apsley
We soon decided to get going again, but had already by now cut back ideas about where we hoped to end the day' boating.  As the afternoon pressed on, the rain set in, intermittently at first, but  fairly well established by the time we tied up.  Although there is very adequate depth where we moored, there is nothing to tie up to, and the towpath is impenetrable to stakes, as it seems to be solid concrete only a few inches below the surface.  People have left loops of very insubstantial rope, (twine might be a better word!), passed through some of the small holes in the relatively unusual style of pilings here.

Trevor Maggs on Corona - stll in the rain.
So we now have two very heavy boats attached to not a lot more than "fat string".  However it was soon well tested as veteran boater Trevor Maggs on Corona came past at his usual very brisk pace.  The "string" loops survived, so we are probably OK until the morning.  Trevor is a bit of a legend, now well into his 80s and still handling the working boat he has owned since the 1960s he has, I believe, made the journey from Rugby to Rickmansworth and back every single time the festival has been held.  He doesn't hang about!



Berkhamsted to Kings Langley
Miles per boat: 7.0, Miles both boats: 14.0, Locks: 17
Total Trip Miles: 114.5, Locks: 56

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The unexpected (and unwanted) things you can find out in a pub!

(With both boats - posted by Alan)

Both boats have been moored on the moorings at Cowroast on Tring Summit for rather more than a week.  This was all part of a master plan that intended to achieve all the following:

It rained more than a little.
1) To allow us to be available to drive son Michael for a medical procedure where he was not allowed to drive afterwards.
2) To allow me to attend my GP surgery for some tests.
3) To allow us to attend and perform at a friend's wedding last weekend, involving getting to the Ludlow area whilst our main car was still where we commenced this trip, (don't ask!)
4) To perform with new Moon Morris at the Rising Sun pub, canal-side in Berkhamsted, last evening.
and (rather optimistically !)
5) To allow us to spend time on the boats doing further painting to spruce them up a bit.

The lock where work was due - still raining hard.
When all the above was done, we would recommence our trip to Rickmansworth. However, whilst in the midst of "number 4" on the above list, we got chatting with some people in our audience who were themselves boating on the Grand Union.  All seemed well until they told us they had raced up through a huge number of locks to be able to beat the one day stoppage just about to happen at "Gas" locks in Berkhamsted. "What one day stoppage?!?" exclaimed the Finchers!

Strange spider-legged crane - presumably to put the stop planks in?
Well, I thought we had checked, but clearly not recently enough!  The locks were to close at 11:00 am  the very next morning, and not reopen until 2:00 pm the following day.  If held up by this, we would be put under far more pressure to get to "Ricky" in time than we wanted to be.









There was little incentive to get going in this much rain,
A conference of war was held, and clearly the only way we could beat the stoppage was to make an urgent change of plans and get ourselves installed on the boats last night, ready to move off early today.  So we raced home, threw a few essentials in bags, and did just that, (much to the consternation of our other son!)






Although I was walking the dogs here, so still not staying dry.
We had a good run this morning, and got through in time, but then faced trying to deal with the consequences,  We had had to cancel a groceries delivery, as nobody would be at home to receive it.  The only available car needed retrieving from where we had left it - a bus ride for me - should have applied for a bus pass now I'm state pension age!  We had not been able to take clothes and food we would need last night - only enough to get through the next half day - all this needed sorting.


Half way through the stoppage there is little evidence of much work done.
The bottom line is that, although we might have got a couple of hours more boating done today, we are still in Berkhamsted - a decision heavily tempered by just how much it was raining and the fact it looked set in.  Tomorrow looks better, and by being the "right" side of the stoppage now, we have reclaimed to whole of the morning and up to 2:00 pm instead of having to wait for the stoppage to end.

A final comment is that the Rickmansworth Festival is a fairly major waterways event, attracting boats from long distances away.  CRT's decision to do this stoppage at this time more or less guarantees a lot of those boats visiting from the North may get caught up in it.



Cowroast to Berkhamsted
Miles per boat: 2.7, Miles both boats: 5.4, Locks:7
Total Trip Miles: 100.5, Locks: 39