Friday, 14 April 2017

Hard Work!

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

A bit of a gloomy place to try clearing a propeller.
The crews of the four boats that over-nighted in the basin at Walsall, agreed we would all set off together today.  Cath has hurt her back badly so people kindly agreed that we would be one of the middle boats up the Walsall flight of eight locks, which you tackle almost immediately after starting.

Walsall flight
Based on yesterday's experience we put the boat with keb first, and this quickly proved a good decision, because Nick on the lead boat fairly quickly found a lock where the bottom gate would not shut due to debris on the cill.

Thereafter we were able to go up the locks relatively briskly, with no serious difficulties, although I picked up quite a bit of fouling of the propeller, which had to be removed with the short shaft.

Swallow following us up
After the top of the locks for the remainder of the Walsall canal, things got quite difficult, and at one or two of the bridges we were brought to a complete halt, and only got going again with some difficulty.  For whatever reason I'm not exactly sure, maybe to do with the rotation and dynamics of the propeller, I continue to make most of the sharp left hand turns OK, but regularly foul up turns to the right of similar magnitude.  It is almost becoming a psychological thing - I see the map shows a very sharp right hand turn ahead, ans start to get freaked by the idea of getting ut wrong, and increasingly seem to be doing just that!

Beatty arrives at the top of the Walsall flight.
I hoped things would improve after we turned onto the Wyrley and Essington, (needless to say another sharp right hand turn that I messed up), but for a while they got distinctly worse.  Immediately we found Nick on Beatty stuck in the first bridge after the junction, with Nick and Liz manhandling through on a combination of ropes and engine.  They eventually extracted themselves, but we then stuck as least as hard.  Fortunately Nick offered us a long line, and towed us over the scour - the second time the crew of Beatty have had to bail us out in two days.

Whilst I'm fighting a very large carpet, Swallow slips past.
Fortunately things did eventually improve a bit, although we ended up dragging quite the largest thing I ever have, (apart from another boat, of course).  The piece of industrial carpeting we stopped to remove was really quite impressive.  Being too heavy to drag on the boat, the best I could do was roll it out of the way down an embankment.

Beatty leads, Swallow next, by now, and Flamingo is third.
When I thought we were nearly at our destination, the map showed three very sharp right hand bends in fairly quick succession.  I messed the first two up, but got better for the final two - I'd like to think I'm improving overall, but I'm as yet far from convinced!

Whilst Enceladus brings up the rear.
As a final note the canal route planner we use estimated this as a trip of around four and three quarter hours, and I think in a modern leisure boat I could easily have achieved that.  Today we took about an hour longer than that, and I was surprised it wasn't a lot more.  Despite all the hold ups, our time was nothing like as bad as might have imagined.

Walsall Town Basin to Brownhills
Miles: 9.0, Locks: 8
Total Trip Miles: 79.8, Locks: 95

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