Friday, 23 May 2014

If we had a plan, we certainly didn't follow it!.......

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Waiting for first lock of the day at Minworth  
We are BCN Challenge novices, so really do not quite know what to expect of the weekend ahead.
Those who take the event seriously no doubt invest large amounts of time in detailed planning, but with all that has been going on in our lives we are just pleased to be here at all, and other than plan getting here at all, planning hasn't been a top agenda item.

We are not going to be one of the highly placed crews, I'm sure.  There is a curious quirk in the way the points are calculated that uses the length of the boat as a multiplying factor to apply to the distance travelled, so a 70 foot boat will rack up the points far faster than our modest 50 foot boat.  There seems to be no great logic in this, as both can generally get along at the same speed, but the shorter your boat is, the less likely you are to finish high up the table.

The long reverse to Star City from Salford Junction
So we are content to just go with the flow, and hopefully not finish in one of the lowest positions.

However there is some considerable significance in where you start from, and at first we thought Salford Junction, (which actually now sits under the motorways at Spaghetti Junction!) looked a good option, if only because it was where we arrive first on the "Challenge" map.  But as you start straight off into a flight of locks, if too many people make the same choice of start point, you could lose a lot of time before you even get going.

So we reasoned maybe we don't start there, but actually go up some or all of the Perry Bar lock flight to try and avoid many boats all competing for the same bottleneck.  The rest of my crew seemed to prefer that option, so I thought that was maybe what we were doing.  However the owner of the boat ahead of us as we set off today indicated he intended to make for the secure moorings at Star City, and hence starting at Salford Junction.

Reversing through Nechells Shallow Lock
So curious as to what these moorings were like we decided to take a look.  Not quite as easy as it sounds, as it involves reversing into a junction, then back several hundred metres, including through the narrows of a former stop lock.  Some narrow boats reverse far better than others - "Chalice" is not the worst I have steered, but it is also most certainly not the best in this respect!

When we got to Star City, the other boat, "Telemachus" was the only one there.  Perhaps we had been wrong to assume several boats might start from this location?  We decided to stay put, and have a relaxed day

Star City (before the crowds turned upo).
Needless to say three other boats competing in the "Challenge" have already arrived here since, so we know at least 5 boats will set off from here tomorrow at 08:00 am.  Perhaps we should have gone with our alternate plan, but it is too late now!

Curdworth to Star City
Miles: 6.2, Locks:3

Total Miles: 126.0, Locks: 67

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