Tuesday, 22 May 2018

I wish that I knew then what I know now.

(With both boats - posted by Alan)

Kings Langley
Today was a day that was never going to go to any agreed plan, however hard we tried.  As I explained yesterday our son Michael was booked into hospital today for another ankle operation, and reliant on us both as transport, and to meet the requirement that he has someone with him at all times for 24 hours after the "general".

Last surviving part of Dickinson's Apsley Mills
To this end we stopped early yesterday, and Cath took a train home, with me, David and the dogs staying on the boats.  Today Cath had to have Michael in hospital by 07:30, after which she drove to Boxmoor, (Hemel Hempstead), intending to cycle down and join us.  We reasoned we could get her back to Boxmoor before Michael would be released.

Massive cill leak at Boxmoor lock - no paddles are drawn in this picture!
However instead of Cath arriving I got a phone call to say there were problems with the bike, and I would have to cycle out to her on our boat bike with what was necessary to solve them.  However as I hastily tried to compose myself, and set off, she rang me to say she had instead gone in to B&Q to buy what was needed to solve the problems - insulating tape and bungee straps, but I'll leave you to guess what two problems she needed to solve!  So eventually she arrived with us not a lot later than originally anticipated, and we grabbed a quick breakfast before setting off.

We rather expected to make quite slow progress, and indeed so it proved - quite a lot of boats are now travelling the same direction as us, quite a few of which we recognise from the festival.  With two boats, and being somewhat over-tired, we are not that fast anyway, but can generally roughly match the pace of those ahead and behind.  We had arranged for Cath to leave the car at Boxmoor, thinking Michael might need picking up by about the time we got up to that point.  However a call to the ward suggested that even though he was out of surgery and awake, he would be "several more hours", which left us in a quandary about what to attempt next.

Bridge operators view at Winkwell swing bridge.
In fact we decided that Cath would move the car further up the canal, and that David and I would try and proceed with two boats on our own, expecting Cath to meet us by walking back South, to bring us back up to three crew.  It sounded a simple plan, but travelling breasted I could have done without the wide-beam coming the other way that decided to make his way to the tow-path as I was about to pass him.  Fortunately the resulting grounding of Flamingo wasn't serious, and I was able to get the pair moving again - just as well, as the only other "people" on the boats at this point were two dogs. 
Once through the Winkwell rail bridge, we encountered another loose wide-beam floating tied only by one end.  Once I had worked out how to get a sledge hammer to David he re-moored yet another boat.

Once tied up at Winkwell, we expected Michael would be ready for collection - not so, however, despite being a morning rather than afternoon operation.  We could in fact have got the boats to Berkhamsted, which would have suited us much better, but we lacked any information that allowed us to have done this, so had to err on the side of caution.

It was getting on for 7:00 pm before Cath set off to collect Michael, who was finally being released, complete with crutches. She has now ferried him home, where he is not allowed to be on his own.

Thinking back to this morning, (and as I have titled this post), I wish that I knew then what I know now!

Home Park (Kings Langley) to Winkwell
Miles per boat: 4.7, Miles both boats: 9.3, Locks: 10
Total Trip Miles: 150.7, Locks: 91

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