Friday, 28 July 2017

Unusually we are boating with just Sickle again.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)
(retrospective post for Thursday 27th and Friday 28th July)

Marsworth locks - it's sometimes easier to rope boat out, if shutting gates.
Our ambitious plans for the year to date would have had us visiting all the following events with both boats in this order - Rickmansworth, Foxton, Braunston and Linslade.  The problems with Sickle had already meant that she had not made it to either Foxton on Braunston, and we now decided that we would further cut back plans, and not bring Flamingo down to the Linslade festival either.  All this was disappointing, but we had lost a lot of time because of a number of things, (not just Sickle), and to do separate journeys to Linslade with each boat, (one being South of it, the other North of it), would further eat into time we might be getting on with work on the boats.

Coming down Marsworth - still one of my favourite lock flights
Currently Cath and I have not worked out satisfactory ways of overnighting on Sickle with both dogs, so anything more than a day move of Sickle requires leaving them at home in the care of our sons.  Wherever a trip takes place with a different start and end point, the issue of transport and car movements usually arises.  We decided this trip could be tackled by driving to the start point at Cow Roast, leaving a car there, then, on arrival at Linslade, using a combination of bike and train to retrieve that car, and bring it back to where the boat was.
Once upon a time only Cath would have been pictured doing this.
It was excellent weather for boating, and was a great pleasure to both be using Sickle on her own, (quite unusual at the moment), and to travel a length of canal that once upon a time we travelled all the time, but which, since basing the boats further North, we now only boat on much less frequently.

We took turns to steer, and I got to work quite a few locks.
In order not to have to cook on the boat, (it was far to warm to have the coal fired range alight!), we arranged to moor overnight at Cooks Wharf, and walk in to Cheddington to eat at the Old Swan pub.  (Once upon a time we would have avoided this after dark, but a few years ago a continuous footpath was added ro the road where previously there was none - a great improvement in safety). This pub seemed on its last legs only a few years back, (spending some time closed down), but is currently undergoing a massive resurgence in popularity.  The food is quite expensive, but definitely a notch or two above standard pub meals, so worth treating oneselves once in a while.

Shame about the electricity pylons!
It was a real pleasure to be boating with our rather special tug again, although I'm still not used to Sickle now having a two cylinder beat to the engine, replacing the three cylinder noises I have been enjoying for years.  Performance is still lively, and more than adequate, but you have to remember to not try pulling some of the show off stunts she was capable of with the even more powerful engine,

Our steerer usually closes the gate they have entered the lock through.
All too soon we were at Linslade.  It is a long while since I have done more than lock wheel on a push bike, and although no large cycling mileages were involved in my attempts to get first from Sickle to Leighton Buzzard station, and then from Tring Station to Cow Roast and the car, I was struggling by the time I finally got there.  Clearly I need to work more on my fitness!

Cow Roast to Linslade
Miles: 11.2, Locks: 18

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A Short Proving Run

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)
(retrospective post for Wednesday 5th July)

Waiting for "Bushes" lock in Northchurch.
This was only  short move, but an important one!  With David's help we had completed repairs to the mechanism that operates the gear change which had caused Cath and I issues on the way into Berkhamsted.  We were now so far adrift on any original plans for this period, that taking "Sickle" up to its Northamptonshire home mooring made little sense, if we were coming back down to the Linslade Canal festival not many weeks later.  However our friend Jim's mooring was not currently in use, as his boat is having major renovations elsewhere, so we were offered the loan of his mooring until we needed to move on to Linslade, (thanks Jim!).

Entering Dudswell Bottom Lock
This short run was a vital stage in checking that our repairs were up to scratch, in anticipation that the journey on from Cow Roast had the possibility of being trouble free.  With that in mind, David and I were the crew for this trip, and we travelled with lots of tools, just in case.

The trip was completed without incident - this was a good result, of course, although only much longer runs will ultimately establish whether we might still end up with more problems.

Berkhamsted to Cow Roast
Miles: 2.6, Locks: 7