Saturday, 7 June 2014

Boating On Other People's Working Boats.

Retrospective post for Saturday 7th June
(Boats Chalice, Sickle, Southern Cross & Stanton - posted by Alan)

Leaving Blisworth tunnel on "Southern Cross" with "Stanton" following.
There were a number of reasons we were bringing the boats up to Stoke Bruerne a week before the actual festival, rather than just for the weekend it was actually going to happen.  The main one was that we had been approached some weeks back to ask if "Sickle" could be used in the Festival display, as the ex-working boat that often did this was unavailable this year.  We had struggled to say "yes" for a while, because it needed to be a firm commitment, and we couldn't make that commitment until we had some certainty that Odin was truly in full recovery mode.  However a while back we were able to agree, and someone had been down to measure "Sickle" up, in order to create the "add-ons" that were to be used.  We were sworn to absolute secrecy about this year's theme.

"Southern Cross" travels down the "Long Pound" with "Stanton" behind.
So we had agreed to bring "Sickle" up a week early, to allow the test-fitting of the "add-ons".

Having turned 4 locks down Peter brings both boats back up.
However I had also indicated we would like to take part in a trip being organised by the Leighton Buzzard Canal Society on the working boats "Stanton" & "Southern Cross".  We had expected to do this last year, but the trip had to be cancelled because of the sudden death of one of the owner's father.  Unfortunately as today approached for the date of the reorganised trip, the weather forecast remained truly foul, with just about every combination of storms, hail and thunder and lightning predicted -  the Daily Express ran a story that it might be the worst in decades!  We had contemplated suggesting "Sickle" joined the other two boats, but thought it possible the whole event might get called off again, or at least that not many would be up for riding in the holds of working boats in thunderstorms.

I photograph my own boats from someone else's.
So Cath decided she really didn't fancy it, but I got togged up in waterproofs, and she drove me up to the Weedon area from which the boats would be leaving.  In practice quite a lot of people came, and also the weather was not quite as bad as predicted, but it was still fairly dire!  I wish I had adequate pictures of people huddled under umbrellas, but I don't really.  Of course the problem with interlaced umbrellas is that whilst one person tries to stay dry, their "brolly" discharges underneath someone else's, and they still get wet.  I decided to abandon umbrella and rely on waterproof over-trousers, my very tatty Barbour jacket, and trusty Tilley hat.  It really was very wet, other than the respite offered by Blisworth tunnel - itself always wet, of course, but today nothing like as bad as "outside"!

And David captures me photographing "Sickle" from "Southern Cross"
The trip was coming down from the Weedon area to Stoke Bruerne for lunch, before returning back to Weedon.  My mistake was to join the trip in only one direction, but to choose the morning journey South.  By the time they set off North again mid-afternoon the heavy rain had given way to sunshine - and I wasn't going with them.

In the 1970s my brothers used to coal boat with Andy stood on the gunwale here.
Towards the end of Saturday we spotted an opportunity to move "Sickle" up to where she was needed, so set off with just "Sickle" through the top two locks, to moor in the tunnel pound.

So although I travelled quite a lot of miles by narrow boat today, only the tiniest part of it was in either of ours!

At Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 0.0 (Chalice), 0.4 (Sickle), Locks: 2

Total Miles: 36.1, Locks: 10
(Not counting locks I worked on other boats!)

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