Thursday, 16 December 2010

Icebergs at Kings Norton!

Captains Log

Canal Date 16th December 2010

Travels 6 miles

Current Location Still at Hopwood

A second attempt at breaking out of the ice.

This morning, the ice on the canal had reduced to much more manageable levels. Mainly clear with just the odd length with an ice covering. So we decided to have another go at getting to Kings Norton. The weather was not at all nice, a bitterly cold wind and heavy rain showers. You know the sort – The rain hits your face so hard you think that it is going to rip off your skin! Certainly not the sort of weather we would normally think of moving in. But the empty water tank and the very full poo tank has forced us to travel today.

We set off at 10.30 and met very little ice, just the odd patch, nothing to worry about. Soon we were entering the Wastehill tunnel, near enough to 2 miles. No ice in there at all, it was nice to get out of the weather for a while. When we exited the tunnel, some 35 minutes later we came across some thin ice, thicker than at the start of our journey. We have only 2 choices.

1. Continue to the water tap & pump out station 1 mile ahead

2. Reverse the 3 miles we have travelled so far.

Neither of these sounded ideal. If we were meeting ice here, it may get thicker further on and I would be forced to reverse even further. It is common knowledge that it is always 1 or 2 degrees warmer in the city than it is in country, so it almost certain that this ice would be short lived. The thought of giving up and attempting to reverse all the way though the tunnel did not sound like a good plan at all.

So onwards we went. The ice soon changed from 1inch to 3 to 4 inches of solid ice. Thick enough to stop the boat dead in its tracks. We had to reverse back and have a run at the ice on several occasions. The noise of the engine running at full power and the sound of the ice breaking and scraping down the side of the boat, the sound of expensive paint being torn from the boat, is something that I would not particularly want to hear again.

The small boy inside me wanted the ice to get thicker and make the journey more and more challenging, but the mature bit of me wanted it ice just to disappear. (The grown up part of me is buried very deep and does dot come out to play very often)

We eventually made it to Kings Norton Junction and turned round. That was not an easy manoeuvre, although I had several runs into the junction to break the ice, there always seemed to be an iceberg big enough to stop the boat from turning.

After spending what seemed like an eternity, empting the loo and filling the fresh water, we had the return trip to look forward to.

Although we had broken the ice, trying to steer the boat was still difficult as the floating sheets of ice just pushed the boat in any direction. Still it was much more controlled that breaking the ice on the way down. The weather had given up on throwing rain at us and had now started to throw little, ready made snowballs at us. Not a good day for cruising! We soon made the sanctuary of the tunnel. Once again it was much warmer and drier in there. When we exited the tunnel the rain & snow started again. We soon found a mooring spot and went down to a nice warm fire and slowly defrosted.

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