Monday, 10 April 2017

Quietest ever passage through Hatton

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Hatton, before the locks come thick and fast
We were aware that our domestic battery bank was in poor condition, but it hadn't really affected us until now.  Whilst on permanent moorings we can use mains electricity, and because we are working on the boat normally, far more time has been spent "at base" than actually out cruising.  However this trip was starting to prove that still with too much reliance on an old and large inverter our battery bank had lost enough capacity that spending much more than one night before the engine was nexrt run wasn't a great idea.  As we would be tied up at the event we are going to for 2 or 3 days, running the engine was likely to be an unfortunate consequence.  I am not too mean to delay replacing batteries if required, (honestly!), but equally wanted to make sure we had enough charging capacity to not risk damaging new ones once purchased.

Max waits patiently
However as there was a battery supplier within easy walking distance of the Saltisford arm, I decided to go and ask about replacements.  They would do a deal on five, so we went for it.  David and I spent the morning with borrowed wheel barrows, spanners, and heat shrink sleeving and Vaseline, only just managing to complete close to noon, when our free mooring period ended.

The only boat we saw moving in 1 locks
So not until the afternoon did we finally move off, heading for the flight of 21 locks at Hatton

Although we have done Hatton many times over the years, the record shows we have nearly always gone down the flight, not up it, as we were today.  David reckons that we have only ever ascended twice, the last time up being in in 2009.

Odin, Cath and Max
We got off to a not so great start when David got out the lock wheeling bike, only to find a flat tyre - the second time on this trip already.  So whilst David set about a repair Cath and I started off up the flight alone, with all locks being against us.  We had decided not to rush, and set off very sedately.

About to enter the "thick" of Hatton
What we were not expecting at all was to only see one other moving boat in the entire flight.  After a long period of no other boats at all, we passed a solitary boat coming down.  We hoped this might mean an easy passage, but after only two or three locks in our favour, they then started to all be against us again.  As we saw no evidence of another boat ahead of us, we can only assume the boat we passed had been moored up in the flight, before setting off again.  We were very glad we had David on the bike - with just 2 of us, and the dogs - we could not have had someone working ahead.

David on bike, doing a great deal of the work.
I'm not sure what the eventual time was - we were not out to rush, often only drawing a paddle on one side of the lock, but think we came in at about 3 hours, which was fine.

Hatton workshops - only 4 more locks to go.
I had one period of distress thereafter, bring caused by a combination of massively excessive offside vegetation blocking the view round a bend, an oncoming boat not giving me enough water, and admittedly my own lack of experience.  On a right hand bend, if the back end of Flamingo gets into shallow water, it will often not drag off again, resulting in the front end going progressively left towards the opposite bank.  You then have a quick call to make whether to go into reverse and try not to hit the offside, or to lay on more power to try and get back into the turn.  The problem is that if attempting the latter fails, the impact may then be far worse.  This time I tried holding back - I will never know if winding it on would have made things better or worse!

Looking back towards Warwick
We pushed on to Kingswood Junction, where, despite some concerns, we swung onto the Stratford Canal as our chosen route into Birmingham.  However I am reminded that a trip in the other direction with "Sickle" about five years ago was very hard work, with far too many cases of "bottom to close to the top". (Blog post Slow going on the Stratford). The next few days should see if we have gone instead via the Grand Union route.  The recent blog by Sarah for Enceladus, another historic boat headed to the same place is entitled "Should have stuck to the Grand Union", so I am not over optimistic!

Almost there

Shrewley tunnel - wet in parts!

Saltisford Arm to Kingswood Junction
Miles: 7.7, Locks: 21
Total Trip Miles: 38.1, Locks: 59

1 comment:

  1. Definitely feeling more well disposed to the North Stratford now...but I suspect we don't draw quite as much as you and every inch counts at the minute. But no showstoppers to speak of, although a fair incidence of branches/logs down into the cut.

    We were, like you, very surprised to only meet two boats in Hatton on Saturday...


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