After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.
It rained all night and was still wet this morning as we arrived at Godstow Lock. For the first time the Transit Ticket was asked for by the lock keeper, but all was in order, although he did ask why it had taken so long to travel from Teddington. We explained that the boats had been moored on the K&A for some weeks during that period. Barry was steering the breasted pair and shot past the turning into Dukes Cut, so had to wind just above and backtrack a little way. Singled out on cross straps through Thames Lock and began the slow progress up the Oxford Canal, passing many residential moored boats. We had to do each lock twice, of course, because the butty had to be bow hauled through as well. An obstruction near Kidlington Green Lock dislodged the motor rudder, which made steering difficult when trying to turn to the left. I did manage to get round Thrupp turn, but only because the butty was pushing the stern round and I was complimented by Bones. Then it all went to pieces as the wind caught the boats after we cast off the cross straps. Maffi poked his head out to see the fun and eventually we got the butty on the water point with the help of a long line, but the motor was blown across the Wide to the other side. We should have discussed the situation before coming through the lift bridge and planned accordingly. Maffi then invited us all in for tea, which was much appreciated. With services completed, we set off for Shipton Weir Lock, where there is a a footbridge suited to hanging the lifting tackle to reseat the motor rudder. I was pleased to see Peter Darch appear on his bike along the towpath and he was able to offer valuable assistance with the operation, which appeared to go very well. All was not well however, as the rudder pintle was only sitting on the skeg and dropped off sideways shortly afterwards. I thought at the time that we had hit another object on the bottom, so it was another day of difficult steering. We finally moored at Kidlington opposite the cream tea place with wind chimes ringing all night.