Friday, 5 May 2017

New Approach To Working Lock Flights With Both Boats

(With both boats - posted by Alan)

The "long pound" - two locks down at Stoke Bruerne
We started rather later than we had hoped to.  To steer Flamingo I have to stand in David's bedroom, so if David is slow to rise, things don't necessarily get going as fast as we really need them to.  (David's alarm apparently did not go off for some reason).

Getting practice at lining the pair up with the lock.
We started off with our first lock flight with both boats since they have both had all the work done.  Up until now when we have breasted the boats together to work through such a flight, we have always used Sickle as the towing boat.  There has been good reason for this, as Flamingo lacked power, particularly (and most importantly!), stopping power, whereas Sickle had power in excess.  However because the very much lighter and shorter boat was dragging the much heavier and longer one, the pair has always tended to go up the canal with both boats travelling somewhat askew, and not lined up with the route being taken, which made getting through bridges and into the locks harder than it otherwise would have been. (It also looked odd in photos!)

David was rushing about on one of the bikes, dogs in pursuit.
Cosgrove gives some respite from the lock-less miles.
Now Flamingo's propeller is modified, and both pulling and stopping power improved, we decided to try using Flamingo as the towing boat for the first time.  This proved to be a satisfactory arrangement, and with Flamingo towing Sickle, we no longer travel crab like up the cut.  Flamingo is still a fairly slow stopper, and at first my worry was that if it was trying to stop two boats rather than one, it might not be good enough.  I tried each lock very cautiously at first, but soon found a comfortable speed of approach where stopping both boats was not an issue.  This is very positive, and I think we will continue to use Flamingo as the towing boat when breasted up for lock flights.

We stopped for lunch or Cath and I would have had no break whatsoever
Once Stoke Bruerne is out of the way, there are many miles of canal with only the quite shallow lock at Cosgrove, until you reach the much shallower still one at Fenny Stratford.  I have to say this is a stretch I have done more often than most - we used to keep Sickle at Fenny, so always travelled it to go anywhere North of there.  I'm now not that keen on this stretch, which has large numbers of moored boats throughout much of its length, and you an never go very far at a decent speed before slowing down yet again for further moored craft.

How do you caption this?  - Go and Google it!
We had hoped to get further than Fenny, but ran out of time.  Admittedly we started later than planned, but even so the elapsed time we took was far more than the canal planner estimated.  When we could go a good speed we generally did, so the only explanation we can come up with for taking a lot longer than CanalPlanAC predicted was that much of the day was spent at tick-over, not a full cruising speed.

Cath led all day until the very end, when I passed so I could moor first.

Stoke Bruerne to Fenny Stratford
Miles per boat: 17.6, Miles both boat: 35.1, Locks: 8
Total Trip Miles: 54.8, Locks: 8

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