Friday, 2 June 2017

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

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