About Me

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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.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Basingstoke Assault 9.

Roger Cansdale tuned up at 8 am on the dot and took us through the lock 28 at the top of Deepcut, which was full of stringy weed and immediately wrapped itself around my propeller blades, so there was a lot of "chucking back" to try and clear it. Most of the weed collected behind the bottom gates and choked the blades again when we tried to exit the lock, so similar reverse revolutions again, but this time the towed boat was on the move threatening to ram Stronghold up the rear end. This is OK if the stem hits the stern fender, which will stop the tow, but if the steerer misses the fender, the towed boat slides down the side and puts both boats across the cut, causing havoc. There were fourteen locks in this flight and the same thing happened in all of them, so progress was slow. Extra canal society volunteers turned up to help, which was very welcome and there was no waiting for closed gates or locks to be filled. After the first few locks David, Jane and I developed a good routine of releasing the towline as the bow of Stonghold slowly entered the lock, which allowed Rowan enough speed to get in, but not so fast as to strike the lower gates. Pounds between locks were short and shallow, so the propeller was churning up the debris and often picking it up and slowing us down. Several times the weedhatch had to be lifted, until eventually I caught a wire coathanger round the blades, so lifting the rudder at every revolution. Unfortunately, the boat was now uncontrolable and both boats blocked the cut, so no one could get past until a volunteer took a centre line and pulled us towards the towpath against the wind. Evenually, we were moving again, but several boats had passed us and we had to wait for locks, necessitating trying to stop and causing more chaos. We were now the "tail end Charlies", but a mooring had been reserved for us at the front, so we could be first away in the morning down the St Johns flight of five, which were due to be unlocked at 8am. David and Jane invited me to a home cooked meal, which was delightful, before we walked to The Rowbarge for drinks. The perfect end to a difficult and tiring day.

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