Monday, 2 July 2018

Braunston Historic Boats 2018

(With both boats - posted by Alan)
(Retrospective Post for Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th June)

We had a fantastic Braunston this year.

Photo: Kev Maslin
I'm not sure, but I think it is the first time we have got ourselves fully "installed" on the Thursday, rather than turning up on Friday.  This seemed to help immensely with actually having a day to sort ourselves out, do a bit of cleaning and polishing, and actually be more prepared for the weekend proper.  Anyway our guests were arriving on Friday, so we needed to be a bit smarter than sometimes.

Photo: Ian & Becky Mulford
The weather stayed hot and sunny for the whole weekend - possibly just a bit too hot and sunny!  Visitor numbers seemed to be slightly down, though nobody could make their minds up whether this was mostly due to the show promoter doubling the prices for parking, the fact the World Cup was on, or both, (or perhaps neither!).  Lower visitor numbers is, of course, not great for raising charitable funds, but it actually made moving around the site easier, (in particular getting across or under the narrow paths at bridges), and also gave more chance of getting a good vantage point to view the action.

Photo: John Harrison
Photo: John Harrison

Photo: John Harrison

Photo: Lisa Marie Trump

Photo: Ian & Becky Mulford

Photo: Ian & Becky Mulford
The density of the moored up boats seemed to indicate a not particularly high attendance, but lists produced since seem to say it was a good turn out - possinly "eight plus", though as ever this depends on exactly what you count!

Photo: Ian & Becky Mulford
We decided one parade a day was enough, but as we wanted to take both boats around, we decided to parade "Sickle" on the Saturday, and "Flamingo" on the Sunday.  On Saturday our start position out beyond the A45 bridge allowed us to slip into the parade early on, and we got round really quite easily in well under 2 hours, with Cath steering the majority of it.  On Sunday, however, the same approach didn't work so well, and we got severely help up, taking far longer to complete the circuit.  Apparently a boat had decided to stop to fuel up at a point it caused a considerable blockage, and caused a big hold up, (no comment!).  Also one of the tugs managed to acquire a tyre over its propeller, and had to be towed back, (though I'm not convinced that added much to the slowness).  The final time went unrecorded - certainly not as slow as some yeras, but slow enough, and good to finally moor up, and get to the beer tent.

Photo: Ian & Becky Mulford
When one is in the parade, the one thing you don't really take pictures of is your own boat, so I have used some that have been taken by other people, and I am grateful for being able to show them here. (Please let me know if I have wrongly credited any of them).

On the other hand you do get to photograph other people's boats, so some of our own photographs are here.

To Braunston without our extra crew member.

(With both boats - posted by Alan
(Retrospective Post for Thursday 21st June)

Setting off from our home moorings.
Last year the difficulties  with the gearbox on the new engine that had been fitted to "Sickle" meant that our planned schedule for the boats got heavily disrupted, and "Sickle" never made it to the big Braunston Historic Boat Show.  We did manage to get "Flamingo" there, however.

So we were very keen this year that both boats should make it, if at all possible.  We also had one set of canal based friends looking for some festival accommodation, and had invited one of our non canal based friends along as well.  To reasonably accommodate everybody going, we needed both back cabins available.

I set off alone into the tunnel - Flamingo stays behind
Almost invariably when we travel with both boats we take David along as well.  It is fairly hard work, and just the two of us struggle to make good progress on our own through locks.  The lock free pounds are less of a problem, as we each simply take control of one boat, but even that means the dogs left in a cabin on their own.  This year we decided to get more adventurous and see how Cath and I got on working the two boats with no other crew - the challengers were two lock flights, (Buckby and Braunston), but also Braunston tunnel, as the dogs are not keen on tunnels, and we usually ensure someone is inside with them, providing suitable distraction if there is any scraping or bumping of sides passing other boats.

We managed a pint at the Nelson, but were too late for a meal.
The lock flight problem can be solved by breasting the two boats together - roping them side by side, and operating as one large 14 foot wide "boat".  This however keeps the steerer pretty occupied, so whoever works the locks has to work quite hard, as every gate at every lock has to be opened and closed at least once, often more.  The steerer can offer some support with a bit of gate work, and even the occasional paddle wound, but the other person still does the lion's share of the physical work.

The only solution to the tunnel problem, however involved us tying up "Flamingo" before the tunnel.  I then took "Sickle" through on my own, and tied it up, (and locked it up) at the other end.  I then walked back over the top of the tunnel, to rejoin "Flamingo" at the other end, before taking that through, allowing Cath to share the cabin with the dogs.  It was a baking hot day, and walking over the tunnel seemed to take a great deal longer than either trip boating through it!

Nearly there - towards the bottom of Braunston flight.
As usual we didn't manage to leave our mooring in the morning until far later than planned.  As a consequence it was pretty late by the time we arrived in Braunston, and we were further delayed because many "historics" were already in situ, and nobody could find us another boat to tie up to that the dogs could cross to get to the tow-path, (the unusual entry arrangements to "Flamingo's" cabin heavily restrict who we can moor against, if we have to go outside of other boats).  In the end we became the first to occupy a length of tow-path further up, where no "historics" yet were.  By now all plans that we might eat in the Admiral Nelson had to be cancelled, as we were well past their time for last food orders.  Just as well then that we had manage to grab a pint at the pub on the way down the locks.

High House Wharf, Weedon to Braunston
Miles per boat: 10.5, Miles both boats: 21.0, Locks: 13