Thursday, 5 April 2018

Finally actually boating again!

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Wednesday 4th April

Anybody who even only slightly follows our boat travels will probably have realised we actually haven't moved either boat in many months - in fact our last move anywhere was at the end of July 2017.  This are pretty unusual circumstances for us!

Starting ascent at Buckby, as dogs go in search of copious mud!
After many boating plans got scrapped last year for various reasons we had hoped to at least attend the big historic boat gathering at Alvecote on August - this is our favourite event of the calendar, and plans were in place to take both boats - indeed we were already on them, loaded up with supplies, and about to leave.

Then we got the message that our son Michael had broken his ankle - though it took a while to realise how badly, and just how long the fall out from that might continue.  Obviously the trip had to be abandoned before the propeller turned a single turn.  Whilst we managed to spend small amounts of time on board since then, it has certainly not been possible to go anywhere.

Then we formed big plans to take "Flamingo" to the Easter Gathering at Ellesmere Port, an event we have not managed to attend by boat before.  However this is where it gets complicated!  Before Michael broke one ankle, he had already been on the list for surgery to sort out a problem in his other ankle, and they were not prepared to carry out that operation, until he had shown sufficient progress with the broken one.  Needless to say, when he did get a date for that operation, it was just before the Ellesmere Port event.  As he could not drive, and as he was likely to need people around for the early days following it, we had no choice to pull out of this next trip we wanted to do.

Old bloke with old boat!
Not wishing to give up entirely, our thoughts turned to maybe doing the Thames Ring, starting at about this time.  To achieve this we would need to pass through the very narrow locks at Napton, where many of the working boats of the same or similar design to Flamingo cannot get through, because some of the lock walls have moved slightly, reducing available width.  Still we though we would try - at least we would then know if "Flamingo" can pass down onto the Southern Oxford, or not.  However the latest blow to our plans is that the River Thames has remained firmly on "red board" warnings throughout the entire length from Oxford to Teddington, so passage would have been quite impossible.

So ultimately Cath and I were left with a choice of either going nowhere, and simply carrying on with working on "Flamingo", or of still taking a short trip somewhere.  Having made so little use of the boats we decided to do the latter.  The current plan is to go around to Napton Locks on the Oxford Canal anyway, and see if "Flamingo" is one of the "Town" class boats that can squeeze through, or whether it is not.  Popular money seems to be that we are more likely to fail than to succeed, but at least then we will know!

We worked out if we could be at the mooring and loaded up in time to get up the Long Bucky flight before dusk, then we could reward ourselves with a meal in the "New Inn".  So that's what we did, being a fairly damp first half day, although the real pain at the moment is that the tow-paths at the lock flights are in many places a quagmire, so boots, shoes, clothing, (and dogs), are all getting fairly covered in mud.

High House Wharf, Weedon to Long Buckby
Miles: 6.2, Locks: 6
Total Trip Miles: 6.2, Locks: 6

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