Monday, May 30, 2016

Whitsun–Day 4 “The longest day”

Monday 30th May

Just as well we didn’t have our visitors today. We set off from our overnight mooring and into the first lock that I had set, only to be told by the volunteer lockie that he Stuck in a lockwould like us to stay in the empty lock and not come up as there was a problem with the gate paddle on the next lock, it would not close. I walked up and there was a queue of three boats waiting to come down. Then another boat joined us in the empty lock. The CaRT emergency response man #1 soon arrived to assess the situation, the keb he had brought with him was not long enough to have a good furkle and so he needed to go away again to find a longer one. He was soon back but still unable to un-jam the paddle and so a long ladder and waders were sent for while he emptied the pound above us by opening both the top and bottom paddles of the lock we were sat it.

Using the keb

CaRT emergency response man #2 arrived in another van and nearly drove the long ladders into the overhead power cables. Luckily he stopped just averting disaster and untied them from the back of the van and drove the rest of the way Replacing the boltwith them balanced level on the roof of his truck. Then emergency response man #1 donned the waders and went down into the lock and found the offending bolt which was stopping the paddle from closing. Unfortunately the nut was not on the other end so a replacement bolt, with nut, was found under the drivers seat in the van of emergency response man #1, by emergency response man #3 who had arrived whilst all this was going on,  .

The new bolt was then fitted into place, but amusingly it was so low on the gate that it was well underwater. This meant that emergency response man #1’s waders started filling with water as he bent to reach it. Now, on completion of the task he resembled emergency response Michelin man #1. This gave emergency response man #4, who had replaced emergency response man #3, a good laugh before he too departed. Finally, after 3 hours of patiently waiting we were told that the pound above our lock had refilled enough for us to work up through and continue on our way. Brenda and I even prepared and ate lunch in the lock whilst all this had been going on, so we were happy to be on our way. Well done to all the emergency response guys – a terrific job which meant we didn’t have to pull back out of the lock and peg Jannock in for a week.

DSCF2232Out of the top of the flight and off towards Cowraost on the tring summit pound. No sign of any Kingfishers during this transit. At Cowroast lock I spied Mike Askin on Victoria approaching below and so I opened the bottom gate and let him up through before we entered. By this time our previous lock partners hadstopped at Bulbourne and so we were joined by a Wyvern hireboat who had been waiting below us at Marsworth. We shared with them all the way to Berko lock where they were turning to return up through the lock in order to start heading back.

As I approached Berko lock on the mighty lock-wheeling bike there was another boat going down in front so I asked if they would let us share the next lock with them. When I arrived at Raven’s Lane lock they were waiting patiently for us. Oh good, I thought we’ll soon be home. I cycled down to prepare Rising Sun lock, filled it and opened both gates with no problems. Once both boats were in the lock I found that I could not close my top gate. The crew from the other boat came across but with us all heaving on the gate we could not budge it. Closer examination revealed that the collar holding the gate pillar into its socket had broken and dropped the gate down onto the bottom of the canal.

It was my time to phone the CaRT emergency line (08004799947) this time. It wasReplacing the bolt answered by a call taker who initially thought we were at G.U. Lock 55 near Birmingham. The duty manager, Keith, rang me back to inform me that he’d called out his engineers. Here we were, stuck in a lock for the second time today, so while Brenda prepared our dinner I took advantage of the convenient lock-side pub and got myself a pint. We then had our dinner in the lock and finished just as the next emergency response team arrived. Two guys this time riding in the same truck. Having looked at the collar and stating ‘they never usually break like that’ they agreed with our suggestion to use a ratchet strap to pull the gate back into the pivot so that we could be let out of the lock. They would then have to get a day shift in to repair it tomorrow.

Broken CollarSetting up the strapAnd the gate opens

I lent them a spare mooring rope to attach the ratchet strap to a bollard and they ratcheted it up tight, but still the gate would not move. We then volunteered to provide some ballast on the beam end to help, and they managed to get the gate to close. This meant that the water pressure would hold it in place until a new collar could be fitted. Having retrieved my rope we dropped down through the lock and continued down another three back to our mooring.

A long day taking over ten hours to complete a journey that normally takes us about five. We tidied up our stuff, packed the car and headed home – tired but happy.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Whitsun–Day 3

Sunday 29th May 2016

The only way to go boatingToday we were joined by our grandaughter (12 weeks old) as we believe in getting the started early. She appeared to enjoy the trip although she didn’t help much with crew tasks, just ate, slept, smiled and watched everything going on and floating past ;^)

First job of the day was to fill the water tank from one of the nice new CaRT waterpoints spread around the basin. All very well but the design of the tap thread ensure you get a good soaking one your hose is screwed on to it unless you add an extra rubber washer or O ring to fill the gap.

We left Aylesbury with Matt, Alice, Paula (Alice’s mum) and Felicity as crew for the run back up the Aylesbury arm to Marsworth. Matt steered for the first few locks and New brickwork at lock 12was concerned at how narrow the bridge-holes are. As the weather improved, Brenda came out to play as well, enjoying the fact that for once she had a choice. We travelled up to above Buckland lock where we pulled over for a rare lunch stop. Bacon and Haggis rolls were served, they should become a UK classic, pub grub and all that. Yum!

As the day went on, the weather got better and DSCF2221we were soon through the next nine locks and finally up the two lock staircase at the junction with the mainline. We continued on up Marsworth bottom lock and moored for the night alongside a very full reservoir. This meant that we could sit out and enjoy a bit of sunshine. We ate dinner on board, caught up on family matters as well as the state of the country and all too soon it was time for them to go home. A special family day to be treasured.

Back at MarsworthOne of Matt’s workmates lives on a narrowboat and was moored three boats away from our overnight position. His son was playing with a little girl at the tree swing alongside our mooring so he came along with his guitar and chatted with us whilst keeping an eye on his charge. They did us a favour and polished off some left over sticky toffee pudding. Graham produced some beer and bloke natter ensued as the sun began to set on a pretty spring evening.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Whitsun–day 2

28th May 2016

Graham was up and at-em at 8:30 this morning whilst Brenda was still not out of bed. She knew she had about half an hour before we reached the junction with the DSCF2218main line and Marsworth top lock. It was here that our turn out of the arm was made more difficult by the prescence of Gungadin, a boat moored immediately outside Bates’ dry dock alongside Marsworth top Lock. We could not get round to face the lock and so we reversed back into the arm and Graham then took the bow rope and then the centre rope in order to pull Jannock round. We entered the top lock just as a pair of boats were coming up through the next lock down. The volunteer lockie assisting them then swapped his allegence to us. Keith was our flight attendant for all of the Marsworth locks and we managed a terrififc run down to the bottom in less than one hour.

The new houses at Marsworth are nice, We’re pleased to see modern design housesIMG_2273 on the bank of the canal rather than some pseudo old properties as happens in so many other canalside developments. We turned into the Aylesbury Arm and we could not believe our luck, all of the first six locks were in our favour but then we got to lock 7. As we entered we could see that the pound below was almost out of water. Luckily, the addition of another lock full was sufficient to allow Brenda to keep Jannock afloat in the middle of the cut all the way into lock 8.

IMG_2276At lock 12, where the collapse happened the year before last, closing the arm for a long time, it was nice to see they had included the date in the new brickwork.

We continued on down the arm, with little to bother us until we arrived at Broughton Lock where our friend Terry was waiting for a trip down into Aylesbury basin. They live close to Broughton lock and he could get a local bus home after the trip.  Once we were in the lock a heron came and stood on the topIMG_2271 gate as the lock emptied. It was obvious that grabbing fish and/or crayfish that got stranded on the cill as the lock emptied was a constat source of food for this bird. Down past Circus Fields, the new home to Aylesbury canal society and down the last two locks to the basin where we found Terry’s wife Iris waiting for us to arrive. We reversed into the bankside mooring outside the Travelodge and enjoyed a cup of tea in their company. When they left, we RonnieBrendamoved Jannock sideways onto one of the mooring pontoons behind the security gate for the night.

After a quick trip into town to get some provisions for our guests tomorrow, we then went to the Kashmir Gardens Indian restaraunt for an excellent evening meal. On the way back Brenda sat down next to the statue of Ronnie Barker that is outside Waterside theatre – apparently Ronnie first performed on stage at a theatre (long gone) in Aylesbury.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Whitsun - day 1

27th May  2016

We left Bourne End moorings at 11:30 having loaded all our things onto Jannock and made her ship shape. We travelled solo up to Berkamstead where we moored above IMG_2261Ravens Lane lock in order to get Fish and Chips for lunch. We have sung the praises of the Fish and Chip bar at Berko station before as we’ve used them for Friday evening food on previous Soddit cruises. If you are passing through Berko close to a meal time, treat yourself to the best F&C darn sarf? Moor up by ‘the IMG_2262Crystal Palace’ or else in the park opposite the station. Brenda was disappointed that they did not have any Rock available so we both had Cod instead.

An un-eventful trip in pleasant spring weather, and about time we had some even if it is a Bank holiday. At Gas 2 DSCF2214lock an older gents asked Graham about the name Jannock. His interest was because he had only ever met one person who used theKingfisher word, to mean something or someone who was sound or good. This person had lived much of his life in India and had learnt it there. Graham managed to get a blurred picture off a Kingfisher who was perched behing some branches. The new boat camera appears to work OK.

After Bulbourne we turned left onto the Wendover Arm, cruised to Little Tring (the end), turned and moored up for the night. Todays thirteen locks with little preparitory training will make Graham ache, but also prepare him for the 23 we’ve got to do tomorrow.

How cold it has been this spring, after a mild winter, was obvious. The Hawthorn is in full and voluptuous bloom, white blossom everywhere. Very little of it had a hint of pink. The pollinating insects are obviously still too cold to be at their work.


Monday, May 09, 2016

How to hospitalise crew.

6th May 2016

We (Ian, Brian and myself) arrived at Jannock at approx. 8pm, via the XT3excellent fish and chip shop at Berkhamstead station, ready for another Soddit cruise. The weekend weather looks excellent, so we loaded everything on board, tapped the pin of XT3, which Cat and Monkey were very fond of,  and let the Soddit cruise begin. Unusually Ian immediately caught a couple of nice fish before it got dark and the serious card playing started. We managed to play 5 games of Soddit before retiring to our beds at 01:30 tomorrow ;^)

Saturday 7th May

Sausage sarnies for breakfast followed by fishing. Lots of fish caught by Ian but only two little tiddlers for Brian. Whilst I was preparing Jannock for the off, someone ascended through lock 59 and so we immediately set off at about 10pm. Brian had asked to go through Uxbridge this weekend but as we were doing an ‘out and back’ starting from ourThatLock home mooring North of Hemel I could only see us getting as far as Watford before we needed to turn around.

We passed down past Winkwell, Hemel and Oxley and then moored for lunch under the trees just above Nash Mills lock. After we had eaten and the guys had experienced a fruitless fishing session we continued on down another 8 locks before winding and mooring for the night in the wide at Grove Wharf, just below Lady Capels Lock. My plan was to do a BBQ evening meal as the weather was so good but it would appear that the stock of charcoal had suffered and no matter what I tried, I could OverLoadednot get it to light. I wonder where Jannock’s stock of easy light charcoal went to? The evening meal was eventually served having been cooked in the oven and under the grill. Another five games of Soddit finished the evening with Ian and Brian being declared joint winners for the weekend (only by half of one point). We were safely tucked up in our beds by midnight as the beer had run out. A nice quiet mooring spot here once all the Emergency Service sirens had given up for the evening.

Sunday 8th May

Bacon sarnies and a bit of fishing for breakfast before setting off back towards Bourne End. We passed up through nine locks before mooring for lunch at Apsley. There was one gap in the moored boats on the opposite side to Sainsburys and I believed Jannock would fit. Sure enough, I got her in there without touching another boat and we only had about inches spare at each end. My crew, and the crew of one of the moored boats, were impressed. After some lunch, shopping and fishing, we set off again, sharing the first lock with the boat that had been moored immediately in front of us. They were stopping to take on water above the lock and so we continued on alone. on up through the Apsley and Boxmoor locks until we got to Fishery Lock. All the time we had been ascending locks on our own, Ian and Brian had got into a routing of emptying the lock using both lower gate paddles. When empty Ian would close his paddle and climb across the gate to Brian’s side and then they would push the single gate open to allow Jannock to enter. At Fishery Lock Brian, who was pushing on the end of the balance beam, missed his footing due to the top step being there and fellThoseSteps down onto the towpath bouncing off of the stair wall as he did so. Ian immediately rushed to his aid whilst I secured Jannock, half in and half out of the lock, and then climbed up the lock gate to help. Brian was un-conscious as he had landed on his head and so Ian called 999 whilst I fetched a towel from the boat to try and stem the bleeding from his head wound. The first people along were an off-duty fireman and his wife out for a stroll. He started trying to find out what was wrong with Brian by asking all the right questions once he had regained consciousness. The next couple along were an off-duty paramedic out walking with his partner and so he took over until the ambulance arrived. When making the 999 call the call centre needed a postcode and so Ian ran into the Fisheries Inn and got theirs from the bar staff. The ambulance arrived and so we thanked the paramedic and let the professionals take over. As they were getting him sorted the boat we had shared with earlier arrived to ascend the lock and so I took Jannock up through the lock with them. Once through the lock I tied up and helped the ambulance crew get the loaded stretcher up the steps to the road. I sent Ian with the ambulance and I took Jannock back through the last four locks to the mooring with the kind help of our lunchtime mooring neighbours. I regret not remembering their boat name as I would like to thank them. I know it was a private boat whose name was a combination of his and hers and they moor at Wigrams Turn marine. Once back at the mooring I tidied up all our stuff, packed it into the car and set off to Watford General Hospital in the car. Brian needed five stitches to his head wound and he had cracked/broken six ribs. We stayed at Watford until 10:30pm when the medical team announced that he would be staying in overnight. He was eventually let home on Wednesday once he could cough without convulsing. Brian regretted not having had a drink or two when it happened as it might have taken some of the pain away.

An eventful end to an otherwise good weekend and a timely reminder that even experienced people can make the simplest mistake with drastic consequences.