Saturday, 6 May 2017

Taking Longer Than Plan

(With both boats - posted by Alan)

Our previous boat Chalice looking very well cared for.
One of the main discoveries of this trip South down the Grand Union continues to be that we are simply unable to make the kind of progress we have in the past, and the actual boating time each day takes a lot longer than the canal planner indicates, (we use CanalPlanAC, an excellent free online resource).

Setting off in to "Three Locks" (Chalice in background)
Admittedly I have not tweaked my settings to try to allow for the fact we are now travelling in two ex working boats rather than one modern leisure boat, but i am still surprised that in the past we have managed to equal or better the planners timings, but now are coming nowhere close to the suggested timings.

We actually reckon we are starting to work quite efficiently much of the time.  we are making good progress along all but the shallowest pounds, provided there are not large numbers of moored boats.  The three of us are also fairly slick at the broad locks, and in flights tying both boats together frees up 2 people, so one can set ahead, as the other largely works the boats through the current lock.

"Three Locks" - Waiting for down hill boat.
Yet progress is still a lot slower than we had hoped, and we are perhaps taking 25% to 30% longer than we might have hoped.  Clearly if we are going to rely on a planner, we will need to adjust our "speed" and "time per lock" settings to something that better reflects our actual progress.

However we are now seriously thinking that the slow progress is only in part down to us.  We are now maybe only travelling this stretch a couple of times each year, but, although it is hard to be exact, there seems to be an increased number of moored boats each successive time that we do so.  We are now repeatedly travelling larger and larger distances on tick-over, often only able to briefly raise our speed for a minute or two after we have passed one cluster of boats before we reach the next.

Ready to pass the many hire boats tied up at Linslade.

Many of the biggest and most awkward to pass boats, (many of them very wide wide-beams), are moored on the outside of bends, or obscuring a clear line through bridges.  This is survivavble with Sickle, but can be a nightmare with Flamingo - bends it should be easy to get around become very hard, because you can't put the boat into the most ideal bit of water.

Grove Lock
It's starting to sound like I'm on a roll, so I will stop for now, but I suspect this pattern will repeat every single day of this trip.  Obviously nobody has a right to an uncluttered canal to use as their own personal plaything, but certainly canals like this stretch of the Grand Union are getting more and more crowded, making the whole experience of travelling it less pleasurable than in the past.  The one bit of good news is that not many of these boats seem to actually move very often or very far - just as well really, because if they all suddenly did, it would be grid lock!

Fenny Stratford to Slapton
Miles per boat: 12.1, Miles both boat: 24.2, Locks: 9
Total Trip Miles: 78.9, Locks: 17

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