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.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Canalway Cavalcade - Finale

On Tuesday and Wednesday, nb Stronghold, nb Leo No.2 and nb Winging It stayed put, as we were going on the St Pancras Cruising Club outing to the Thames Barrier on Saturday. However, the weather forecast predicted winds gusting up to 30mph on the day, so we all agreed on Thursday that it was too risky to go under the circumstances and we would return to the Wey via Bulls Bridge and Brentford, which we did, stopping for the night at Bulls Bridge. The following day we got on to the Wey and Kathryn and I continued to the moorings at Warren Farm, where the Byfleet Boat Club have exclusive rights to moor at weekends. It is in a quiet backwater below Newick lock and in sight of Newick Priory - almost in the middle of nowhere really, although there is a mobile home park at the back through the trees. The commodores BBQ was the event at the time, which seems to be a club tradition after a new commodore takes office. A huge open log fire was in full swing, with an awning suspended from trees and a windbreak that caused so much wind turbulence that those behind it were in tears from the backdraft of smoke. It was a very enjoyable evening as the wine and beer flowed in abundance in the usual Byfleet Boat Club tradition. What a way to end an extremely enjoyable cruise. I would do it all again tomorrow!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Canalway Cavalcade 6.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny again and for me it was to be the day of the boat handling competition. One of the organisers had already phoned me to check that I was still entering and I was quite impressed by that, although I had no rules or map of the route. I got those immediately before it was my turn in the competition after Kathryn. 
On the way to Warwick Road Bridge.
It involved steering from the Horse bridge to the Warwick Road bridge, then stopping, getting off and shaking hands with the judge, before reversing back past the island and turning round in a clockwise direction for 360 degrees. A buoy represented a man overboard and had to be lifted up with a boat hook by my bow man, David and approved by the judge. The next manoeuvre was to pull in to the island pontoon, stop and shake hands with another judge, before departing down the Paddington Arm. I was very happy with my performance, but not worthy of a prize. 
Reversing back to the island.

360 deg. turn. (all photos by Betty Smith)

Kathryn, however, gained a prize for runner up, whereas last year she was top dog. Not bad for two years running.

Walking back to my boat later that afternoon, I stopped to chat to the crew of nb Take Wine as they were setting up lights for the illuminated boat procession and got involved with helping for a while. The crew later invited me to cruise with them in the procession, which was very welcome. We were hanging about below the Horse Bridge for some time until it was fully dark, then off we went with 21 other boats. I was totally amazed at the number of people assembled on the bridge and around the pool to watch. I had a seat and a glass of wine on the stern, until it became obvious that the foremost temporary mast was not going to clear the Horse Bridge, so I volunteered to go forward and remain on the cabin top during the event to lower the offending mast if necessary. After three glasses of wine, this was probably not a sensible thing to do, but it all worked out well. Rodney and Kathryn accompanied the captain, Victoria on the counter, giving advice where necessary, as steering in the dark without a head light is difficult enough, but with all the illuminations on top, it was doubly so. Back at their mooring, the malt whiskey was passed around to celebrate a very successful event and we talked all things boating until one in the morning. My thanks to the captain, Victoria and her crew of Peter, Tony and Linda and the two K9's for a wonderful evening.

I have to say that trying to place pics on this blogger is a nightmare and has taken so many attempts that I am seriously thinking of abandoning it entirely, but what else is there to take it's place?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Canalway Cavalcade 5.

Saturday was the day for the Pageant of boats and each boat was decorated in individual style, competing for the coveted prize. I had new bunting that I had never assembled on the boat, but had already made up the means of support. Assembly was a trial and effort affair and I was very pleased that I had bought along various bungee cords on the off chance. It worked out well eventually and I decided to add my green plastic bottle windvane that I made on a Spanish camp site about twenty years ago.
A rare outing for the wind vane, which was well photographed.
 The mounting was very makeshift and it blew over in the gusty wind as soon as I came out into the Pool, but I had to carry on down through Maida Hill tunnel and wind the boat at Cumberland Basin, two miles further on, where I pulled in to make modifications. It was a very enjoyable experience cruising through "Blowup Bridge" and London Zoo and back to Little Venice.

Looking good, but no wind vane!

On return to my mooring, the engine stop cable broke, but I managed to rig up a length of Kevlar to do the job temporarily. On mentioning this to other club members, I discovered that Dick King had a spare one, which he offered to sell to me. This was gratefully accepted and with a few modifications to the end part, it worked better than the original, as it did not stick in the up position. Such are the advantages of cruising with the boat club, as if something goes wrong, there is plenty of help to hand.

Canalway Cavalcade 4.

The boats left Bulls Bridge at 10min intervals, so as not to clog the entrance to Willowtree Marina, where we were to have lunch. Fortunately, they were warned of the mass arrival and there were sufficient moorings for all boats to get in. They had even moved the four hire boats outside on the canal bank.It was another gorgeous day, so we could all sit outside to eat in the sun.
Aperitifs before lunch in the sun. (photo by Betty Smith)

Lined up in Willowtree Marina

 Some time in mid-afternoon, we all moved off towards Little Venice and were well spaced out. After three hours on this very long pound, we caught up with the queue waiting for moorings - well, that's what we assumed. It turned out that this was it and these were the moorings, apart from those with allocated moorings in Browning's Pool and Rembrant Gardens who were directed forward. All in all, I was not impressed with the arrangements and I was not alone in thinking that. In other years, moorings were allocated to all participants, rather than a free for all. I took a walk as far as the end of the Paddington Arm and found a couple of people I know from past boating events and was surprised that some of the working boats were so far away from the Pool.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Canalway Cavalcade 3.

We were up early to catch a bus to Brentford to assist the remaining BBC boats through the gauging locks and then up through the other ten locks to Bulls Bridge. Our timing was just right and we were each on one of the two locks to get the fourteen club boats through in just less than an hour. As each lock could accommodate two boats and were electrically operated, it was not hard work. Originally, these locks were where the loaded boat would have been gauged with a rod that measured the freeboard and so calculated how many tons each boat was carrying, as tolls were measured by the ton per mile. I hitched a lift on nb Nancy Bell to the next lock and then with nb Yum Sing to try and get ahead of the pack, but it was not to be and I ended up working the locks for them and nb Take Wine, but I could at least walk up and set the next lock once we reached the Hanwell flight, so speeding up progress. It was a very sunny day and hard work, but rewarding at the same time.
A well deserved break whilst waiting for another lock to fill. (photo by Betty Smith)

Ian and Betty plied me with sustenance and beer, which was very welcome.
There's more than one way to open a pair of gates! (photo by Betty Smith)

We reached Bulls Bridge mid-afternoon and were moored up four abreast. Although there was no pub within easy reach, drinks were taken on the towpath and the days events discussed in detail, before we dispersed for a well earned rest.

Canalway Cavalcade 1.

Although I have been to Canalway Cavalcade a few years ago, this was to be my first time by boat and the second long trip with the Byfleet Boat Club this year after the mass assault on the Basingstoke canal at Easter 2013. I was travelling with Kathryn Dodington, who was on nb Leo No.2, which was to be her home for the next six weeks after selling her house in Brookwood and waiting until June to move into the canalside house in Stoke Bruerne.
nb Leo No.2 on the Thames.
We departed Pelican Wharf on Tuesday, with the intention of getting to Bulls Bridge ahead of the main club contingent so that we could get back to Brentford on Wednesday morning to assist them up the eleven locks to Bulls Bridge, which included the Hanwell flight of six locks. The weather forecast was looking good for the next few days and we deserved some pleasant cruising after the extremely cold Basingstoke trip. Kathryn had already reversed out of her mooring and my engine was running after a single attempt at starting, which was unusual after the cold mornings when it needed a cocktail of additions through the air intake to encourage it to start at all, but I speak too soon, because as soon as I engaged reverse gear, it stalled! Up with the hatch to investigate and only then did I realise that the fuel cock was closed. This was to discourage a minute diesel leak in a union after changing the fuel filters and not something I would normally do.
Waiting at Molesey Lock.

It was such a beautiful morning and we had plenty of time, so opted to do the scenic route around Desborough Island, rather than through the Desborough Cut which is far quicker. It was a very pleasant run through Sunbury and Molesey locks to Kingston, where we moored up for the night. It was a very quiet night too, after some of the weekend nights previously spent there. Although mooring across the river from the waterfront bars, it is still close enough to hear the drunken bums shouting the odds until well into the early hours of the following morning.