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.
Mike and John returned at 7.15 for an early start and all went well until Shipton Weir Lock, which has a fall of only 2’5’’ and is hexagonal. As the lock water lowered, the butty rudder was on the bottom and came off both pintles, so it was a case of refill the lock and reseat the rudder on both pintles using the shaft and lock gate. However, off it came again on emptying the lock, but only the lower one this time. We used the footbridge over the lower gates and Pull-Lift to reseat it. I was elected as motor steerer to do the Thrupp Turn, which is a right angled bend and then under the lift bridge. We were singled out on a 10’ line, so as to give the butty steerer more control if the ‘ellum came off again. Maffi was watching of course from his moored boat, so my reputation was on the line. I overcooked it by 12” as the butty pushed the stern further round, but I don’t think it was obvious to an onlooker and I was pleased that no reversing and shunting was necessary.
We long lined the butty out of Roundham Lock as it was shallow at the lock tail and should have done the same at Kidlington Green Lock, where the butty rudder was lifted off yet again. Trevor arrived in the rain and dark to lend a hand, though there was little he could do. We finally moored under footbridge 229 breasted up as it was now impossible to find a mooring deep enough to get close to the towpath. The bridge would also facilitate getting the rudder back in the morning.