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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, 24 June 2014

The Grand Canal Tour 2014. Tale of a Tip-cat.

Having been home for a few days, I returned to the boat club and went to where I had left my boat, only to find it was not there. Pete Hardy did mention that he might need to move it. When I did find it on a vacant mooring, I realised that I had just walked right past it! Another night in the bar chatting to various people, including the Commodore, whom I wanted to thank for the club’s hospitality.

I now had to return to Great Haywood to collect the tip-cat that was being recovered by Chris Shenton. I phoned him to see if it was ready, but it was not complete, saying that it was in such a bad state that he had had to rebuild it almost from scratch and supply the chains to my dimensions; however, he would have it ready by the following day, but it would be a bit more expensive. Sure enough, it was ready at the appointed time and I have to say that it was a bargain at £40 and looked a first class job. The usual price new is from £60 to £95 and even more!

Coming out of Great Haywood Junction on Saturday, who should be around the corner and stemmed up on the mud, but Nuneaton and Brighton. I don’t know who was more delighted at the meeting, probably the scurvy crew, because they asked me to give them a snatch off the bank. Once back in deep water we bade hasty goodbyes, with a promise from me to meet up for beers later. Meet up later – yes, but for beers – no!

With permission granted at the Anglo-Welsh base, I could moor stern on to the bank, to fit my new fender arrangement. I then set off back down the Staffs and Worcester towards Awbridge, knowing that the Trust crew were loading for the Summer coal run at John Jackson’s yard and I hoped to catch up with them in that vicinity, which I did, but not in the circumstances I had imagined. The boats were now well loaded with bags of assorted fuels and sat very low in the water. Just as I had a problem here last year in the same spot, so they were there again, on a mud bank in the middle of the cut, just below Wightwick Mill Lock. Barry was in the process of using the Pull-Lift to try and winch the motor through the obstruction, with Colin and David in attendance and although the boat had moved a few feet, the limitations of movement of the Pull-Lift were evident. Eventually John Jackson turned up for a visit to the pub, but offered to come and offer advice as a more experienced person in these matters of getting stemmed up. The butty was pushed well out of the way and I happened to be on the motor at the time, so I fell for the task of rushing the obstruction from a distance at full speed and alternating this with wriggling the stern end sideways to try and scour a channel through the mud. Eventually it worked and the motor boat slipped through with the butty behind and we made for the lock and worked both boats through. By this time it was dark and any thoughts of beer in the minds of all of us were dashed, as the pubs had long since closed. The pair were moored for the night above the lock, as any further meanderings along the next pound were fraught with hazards after dark, as well as another chance to run aground.

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