Easter Cruise with the BBC
or Tugboat Ray `.
I signed up at the last minute for the Byfleet Boat Club Easter Cruise, having been mostly inactive during winter hibernation. Not that I hadn’t been to Stronghold over that period, but not actively out on the waterway, so I was rather suffering from cruising withdrawal.
Eleven boats were signed up for the trip to Guildford and Godalming, stopping at The New Inn, Send on Friday night for a meal and visiting Hector’s Bistro at Farncombe for Sunday lunch, where places for 25 members had been reserved.
I eventually got to Send at 18.30, having expected to spend the night at the boat club, but on arrival there, I was informed that they had all left earlier, so I was on my own (nothing new) for the two hour trip to the pub.
The New Inn had changed hands since I had last been there and the decor had been improved slightly, but the range of beers had been improved considerably and one of my favourites, Doombar, was on offer, so I was happy. I ordered the Scottish mussels and expected similar to other Scottish mussels that I had had in the past. However, they were not and for the first time ever in a restaurant, I complained about the miniscule size of the molluscs. I was assured that they were indeed Scottish, but was offered a complimentary sweet in compensation, amounting to half the cost of the main course, which I considered to be a reasonable offer. Next time, I will have the enormous fish and chips!
The following morning, I accompanied Mick and Suzanne on their brand new boat Cranley, which Mick had brilliantly fitted out for them as Aquarius Narrowboat Fitters. Obviously, I had to take extreme care when entering locks as I did not want to be the first to mark the shiny paintwork – I left that to someone else and indeed that someone, who shall be nameless, actually did!
|It's very hard work, this locking business!|
The trip to Farncombe was without incident and all fifty of us sat down to a hearty roast lunch, which was good for Hector’s, as it was now raining heavily and customers would have been scarce under the circumstances.
All the boats left in mid afternoon, again in heavy rain, but as I was only crewing, I had the chance to stay in the dry until we came to a lock and although I didn’t get quite soaked to the skin like John, I was pretty wet when we arrived back at the meadows. Needless to say, my fire was soon coaxed into action and I spent the evening warm and toasty.
I cruised back to Byfleet with Corn Dolly as far as Papercourt lock, where a cruiser was on the lock lay-by and I asked if he intended locking through, to which he replied in the affirmative “eventually”, as he had broken down. In my usual generous manner, I asked if he wanted a tow to Pyrford Marina, where his boat was based, which he accepted. The alternative was for him to bow haul the boat two and a half miles, which I estimated would take several hours, whereas by boat it would take about one and a half hours. After locking through with Corn Dolly, the cruiser locked through and the tow started on a very short line. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the cruiser steered and all went well until the footbridge with scaffolding after Worsfold Gates, where the top frame of the windscreen suffered some slight damage. As the guy said later, “It was OK on the way up”, but it appears there were four on board at the time and the river section had been rising during the constant rain. As is normal on any weekend, there were plenty of gongoozlers out at Pyrford lock and we both got through the lock together, which was even easier than Newark lock.
|Leaving Newark lock. (photo by Suzanne Wilson)|
I was rather worried about getting the cruiser through the narrow gap into the marina, having not done so well last year with Rowan, but this time I took it far more slowly and all went well on the short tow line. The reception committee were there on the jetty to start work straight away and I left them to it and said goodbye. I forgot to ask the guy for an address to send the salvage invoice – oh well, next time maybe!
The weekend finished back at the clubhouse downing a few beers with Mick, before cruising back to The Pelican moorings in the morning. A good start to the season.