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.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

My Maiden Voyage on an Historic Pair 4

18th May 2011
Berko to Hunton Bridge
It was mostly an uneventful day of singling out between locks and breasting up for the locks. I should maybe explain that towing allows the pair to travel a little faster than being breasted up. If the boats were loaded, as they would be on a coal run, then they would travel either on a snatcher (up to about 40ft)  for the short pounds between locks or a snubber (about 70 to 100ft) for much longer pounds. The loaded boats are lower in the water which would impede the action of the motor propeller against the bow of the butty if on cross straps, but a longer tow line allows the butty steerer to keep out of the wash from the motor boat, by steering slightly to one side. At every double lock the towline is removed from the motor boat dollies by the motor steerer, which allows the butty to catch up the motor as they are entering the lock. While this is happening, the motor steerer is coiling in the tow line, which is then thrown or placed on the butty bow, allowing the butty free rein to steer into the lock alongside the motor boat, where both boats are tied together. Using the snatcher means there is less line to coil in at each lock.

Towing on a snatcher.

Towing on a snubber.

We eventually moored between Lock 72 and Bridge 162 at Hunton Bridge. Using a map of the waterways boats are located according to either bridge numbers of lock numbers, although there are some canals where the locks and bridges are named instead of numbers.
Janet left the boats here with her kit to cycle down the towpath to Watford and the train home. Having not been to Hunton Bridge before, no one knew where we could eat or drink, so we popped into the corner shop and got a good recommendation for The Kings Lodge Hotel with Hunters Bar and Restaurant. Dating from 1662 with an interesting historic ceiling and fireplace in the bar, I believe it was Henry VIII's lodge when he was hunting in this area. At the present time, all beers and shorts were on offer at £2.50 plus an excellent choice on the menu. Two servings of breast of duck and one sea bass later washed down with well deserved beer – superb after a hard day at the tiller! 

Another pub has re-opened there since writing this – The Kings Head, which serves a good choice of ales, but the food is not quite up to the same standard. It is also an historic pub with a minstrels’ gallery and other historical artefacts of interest.

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