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.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Banbury Canal Day 2013

Having collected my boat from Bossom’s Boatyard at Port Meadow, nr Oxford, I returned to the Oxford canal via Sheepwash channel and Isis lock to moor in Jericho for a long awaited visit to The Olde Bookbinders Arms, but I never went there after all. I paid a visit to The Jericho Tavern, which I had read was good on someone else’s blog (was it Herbie, I wonder?) I can’t say that I was impressed. It just did not have that more intimate atmosphere of the Bookbinders.
I made it to Thrupp the following day and made enquiries as to the whereabouts of Maffi. That paid off, as he cycled down to find me and we spent the evening in The Boat with his mate Colin, a continuous cruiser, from nb Dr. Bradley’s Linctus, where we mostly talked about boats.
Peter Darch paid me a visit in the morning and suggested that I take Stronghold up to The Rock Of Gibraltar later, where he would meet me with Escape in readiness for the trip to Banbury, via Lower Heyford the following day. We then leapfrogged up the Oxford canal to Banbury to my allocated mooring below the lock, along with other boats from Thrupp Canal Cruising Club.
The following day, I took Stronghold up to Sovereign Wharf to re-fuel, but it was closed, so I had to wind in the arm and return to my mooring. The following day, I took containers up to Peter’s boat and we both took them to be filled, while he winded his boat in readiness for the return journey. Ray at Sovereign asked me if I wanted to pay any tax, to which I replied “Not really, as this is going to fuel my winter mooring.”
A tug called “Firefly” was on a reserved mooring and had to be moved, but the crew could not start the Kromhout hot bulb diesel engine, so Peter then had to tow them down through the lock and then go another half mile to wind again. On his way back “Firefly” passed him under power, so had eventually managed to start the thing, much to his annoyance.
Kromhout hot bulb engine on Firefly.
 Kathryn Dodington passed through Banbury earlier and we had a good old chat about her trip and what I had been up to the past couple of weeks.
I heard from Kathryn later that she had passed the NBT pair, so I made contact with them and walked up the cut to the next lock to join forces. As we approached the straight section, in Banbury, where all the boats were moored, Barry leapt off and said to take the pair through, while he did the lift bridge and lock. All went well until we got to the lock where the butty came up on the inside and wedged both boats in the gap – and another boat was rising up in the lock at the same time – oh well, I was a bit out of practice after a week on my boat! A little later, I loosed the butty off to moor up and stopped her by wedging the motor bow against the bank. I’ve not seen this done by anyone else, but it seems to work OK for me. We went to Ye Olde Reindeer later and quenched our thirst with Hook Norton beers in the Globe Room at the back.
Excellent Pub and Thai Next Door.
Sunday dawned chilly and misty, but gradually warmed up to a beautiful sunny day, which brought out the crowds in their thousands, just like the previous two years that I had been here. I did my three hour steering duty in the morning, from the water point at the lock to Sovereign Wharf, where passengers disembarked and more boarded, then on to the winding point at the arm and then return to Sovereign and the water point at the start. There were four boats this year instead of the usual three and each one was packed with the maximum of ten passengers. There must have been at least a one hour wait for trips at Sovereign all the time I stopped there. On my last trip Roger came on board to learn the route, as he had not skippered there before and he was to follow me in the afternoon.
I Set Off From The Water Point. (Photo by Robin Williams)
It Is Very Busy.
Peter Winds His Water Taxi.
Balloons Everywhere.
In the afternoon, a pair of hotel boats came through and I had a brief word with the captain, who was the guy I had words with at Marston Doles last year, as we were bringing the loaded butty up the lock immediately behind the motor, even though Barry had asked one of his crew first. He did not remember me, needless to say!
Later, Vic and Linda came through on “Lindy Lou” on their way to the winter on the K & A. Only a few words passed between us, as they had  a tight schedule to keep to, but they are still enjoying the continuous cruiser life, without a home mooring.
Peter and I went off to a Chinese/Thai restaurant and on the way back I was telling him the tale I had heard at the BCLM recently about the butty boat called “Fanny” and the wife who steered it, hating the name of the boat, so the name on the stern was always covered by the little mat they always used to stop the ash cants getting dirty. As we entered Banbury bus station, I got to the part where the toll clerk used to wind her up by saying, “Come on Missus, show us yer Fanny.” A woman passerby heard this and made some comment, obviously thinking that it was directed at her. Ooops!
Monday was time to backtrack south, so Peter and I did the usual leapfrogging down the locks as far as The Rock of Gibraltar, where I had a quick word with Kevin and Ingrid of nb Columbia. Peter arrived first and headed back home with Anne, only to return for me later to have a meal with them at home, complete with Welsh cheese from The Cheese Boat to finish with – delicious!
The Rock of Gibraltar.

He returned the following day and we continued back to his mooring just above Kidlington Green lock, while I went on through Dukes Cut until I met up with Nuneaton and Brighton again just above Iffley lock. I accompanied them to Reading, where the pair were left for a crew change, while I continued back downstream toward Shepperton and the Wey.
All Alone at Tesco Mooring, Reading.
I was aiming for The Bounty at Bourne end, where I had an entertaining night the last time I passed by. The weather was horrendous, with rain and strong cross winds, just like this time last year. Eventually, I reached The Bounty in the dark, with headlight and full navigation lights on. Fortunately, there was a vacant mooring outside the pub, but few people were there and those that were, were watching footie on the TV, so it was not such a good evening and no atmosphere. Think  I will try The Spade Oak next time, as I heard from another boater that it was rammed on that same night.
Passing nb Merchant moored near Staines, I saw smoke arising from the chimney, so moored alongside for a chat and coffee with Chris Iddon, who I had met on the GU two years ago. He is now moored there at Tims yard for the winter and is able to trade peat and diesel from his mooring, which is well worth knowing for the future.
nb Merchant Selling Peat and Diesel.
Finally, I have to say that this was the best ever five week trip that I have done on my boat so far. There never was a dull moment; I don’t think I spent more than two or three evenings on my own for the whole time I was out – it was brilliant!


Tramper said...
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Tramper said...

Nice Pic of the Kromhout Ray!