Monday, 17 October 2011

The autumn cruise

Captains Log

Canal Date   17th October 2011
Travels           All of the River Severn, Gloscester- Sharpness Canal and most of the River Avon.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011Wolverley to Stourport
A leisurely cruise, the plan was to stop off at Kidderminster to do a bit of shopping then on to Stourport. Once clear of Wolverley lock I caught a jumper on prop. This needed the weed hatch removing and pulling off with my hands. We had arrived at the next lock, Wolverley Court, this time it was more serious. I had the remains of a tow rope wrapped round the prop. Not just a nylon rope but the steel hook and wire rope. This was a complete bugger to get off. I was in the lock for some time before I managed to get it all clear. No other issues. The autumn colours were superb in the sunshine.
On arrival at Stourport we found out that Diglas River Lock is closed after 10.00 for a week! We are too late to travel any distance now as the first lock is only yards away and it is closed! So it looks like an early start in the morning. We need to be at the first lock for 7.30. if we are to have any chance of making Diglas Lock and therefore be able to arrive at Gloucester in time for a concert on Saturday evening. That will be a shock to the system.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 Stourport to Gloucester
An early start, we were up at 6.30 and on our way by 7.30. There was a lot of fog over the river. We sailed towards the first lock. We had to be there before 8 to make sure that we were the first through the lock it we to have chance of making Diglas Lock before it closes for a week at 10.00. Once through we went at full speed to the next lock. Pam phoned each lock informing them of our plight. I have never driven the engine so hard. We had a bow wave and a half! Each lock was waiting for us with its gates open. We made Diglis Lock at 10.05 - 15 minutes later than I would have liked. Luckily, the lock keeper knew of our journey and held the lock for us. As soon as we had cleared the lock he closed down for a week.
After the dash to the lock we slowed down to our normal pace ie 1,000 RPM it sounded so quiet after the noise of full power. We had decided to go to Upton upon Severn. When we arrived it was only 12.30 so we went on a bit further. Perhaps Tewkesbury. At Hampton Load Lock we were informed that there is an unusual high tide and would be a large Severn bore. He strongly recommended that we continue on to Gloucester. You would be foolish to ignore that sort of advice, so off we go aiming for Gloucester lock. A quick mental calculation soon pointed out that we would once again have to get a move on to make the lock before it closes. Not as bad as this morning, the rest of the river run was completed a 2000RPM. We arrived at Gloucester Lock with ½ hour to spare. Once through the lock we found the first mooring available. A long day with more miles covered than we have ever done before. Time off tomorrow! We did se the Severn Bore for the first time though.

Thursday, 29 September 2011 Gloucester Dock
We then walked down river a few yards to a bench and watched the Severn Bore again. There was a largish wave and the river level increased by about 2 meters almost instantly. Astonishing to see. It must be even more amazing at better points on the river.

Saturday, 01 October 2011 Gloucester Docks
Yet another fine warm and sunny morning. This is the day of music and sea shanty’s all around the town. We went for a walk by the museum and the quay side to see what music was going on. There were the shanty singers at various places and times throughout the day. Some were very good and some were not so good, but all were entertaining. The evening show in the museum “Where have all the working boats gone” was very good indeed.

Sunday 02 October 2011 Gloucester Docks to Frampton and Back again.
Yet another fine & sunny morning, how much longer can this last?
Sue and Des joined us for a day on board; we sailed from the Docks to Frampton on Severn where we went to the pub for a meal. We then returned back to Gloucester. A very pleasant day, incredible weather with temperatures in the mid 20’s and clear skies and good company. There was a most unusual looking moon. It was low in the sky and glowing very red.

Tuesday, 04 October 2011 Hempsted Bridge
We went into the town centre on the bus! A most unusual experience, it has been many years since I last travelled by bus. It was made all the sweeter by using the free travel pass. We called into the phone to pick up a replacement phone. We then had a walk about the town and ended up at Weatherspoons for lunch. A mixed grill and a pint of Guinness for £6.59 – Bargain.

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 Hempsted Bridge to Hardwicke Court
Dull and windy this morning. We moved further down the canal to Hardwick Court. A nice open spot and no one moored anywhere near us (at the moment) It was very windy coming along the canal. The wind was coming dead ahead so it did not make the steering difficult. It did help when we winded, I just held the bow against the bank and let the wind do most of the work. It looked like I knew what I was doing. The weather has deteriorated further as the day has progressed. The wind has remained very strong and the rain has started. It is much cooler now.
As the evening progressed, the weather worsened, with driving rain and very strong winds. It was like being at sea.

Thursday, 06 October 2011 Hardwicke Court
The wind is still as bad only now it is more sideways on. This has been causing the boat to rock more and to bang into the bank.

Friday, 07 October 2011 Hardwicke Court to Frampton on Severn
The strong winds have now gone and there is even a bit of blue sky. Even the odd glimpse of sun shine

We moved a bit further along the canal. We stopped at Frampton on Severn. A strange name for a village that is almost 2 miles from the river. It should be Frampton – Somewhere Near to the Severn! We moored there for no other reason than to use a £5 voucher at the pub. It’s not a bad location but it is a lot nosier that the one we just left. The pub was good; the only surprise was the cost of Pam’s glass of wine at £4.50

Saturday, 08 October 2011 Frampton on Severn
We sailed on to Purton. A location some 2 miles before the end of the canal at Sharpness. From this location you can walk down to the river bank and see all of the Purton Hulks. The tide was out and there are miles of sand and mud flats. Millie chose the mud rather than the sand and had to be coaxed ore was it pushed into the canal to try to remove most of the rather smelly mud. I like this spot, I have a thing for tidal estuaries. The view is constantly changing. We are moored all on our own with no boats close, then, just to prove the law once more a boat moors right next to us. Not so much a boat more a ship! It is the Elgar, a River Severn Cruise holiday boat complete with all of its guests walking past us.

Sunday, 09 October 2011 Purton
The canal has taken on the look of a small sea. It has waves, white horses and everything! Waves large enough to cause the boat to rock. You don’t get that on the narrow canals. We walked to the local pub for Sunday Lunch. It has superb views over the Severn estuary. Unfortunately, the pub does not do food at all. Most unusual these days. We had a pint and walked back to the boat. After a hearty Sunday lunch of beans on toast I had the traditional afternoon nap. We walked down to the river at high tide. It is amazing just how much water runs in and out of the estuary. The flow is very fast indeed. It must have been even more impressive when we had the spring tides last week.

As the evening progressed the wind increased causing the boat to move a lot and to bang against the bank. I had to get out and have a go at sorting the moorings out a 3 in the morning, I could not put up with the banging any more!! I put the centre rope out and tightened the fore & aft ropes. This helped but did not solve the issue. The wind was now at a full gale force 8. I went back to bed only to woken half hour later by the sound of the rudder banging the side of the boat. Once again, I was up and out trying to sort out this. Eventual we both went to sleep. It was by far the worst nigh we have spent on board.

Monday, 10 October 2011 Purton
Wind was still very strong but no where near as bad as it was last night. I did think that we may end up becoming another one of the Purton Hulks! The waves rolling along the canal would look more at home on the sea.

Richard & Jenny Jones joined us at 11.00 complete with a bottle of wine. After a coffee and a long chat we set off for lunch at a pub. We went back to the bell at Frampton, at least we know this one and the food has always been fine if not cheap. Richard steered almost all of the way there. His task was not made any easier by the strong winds. I took over when we came to moor and made a right pig’s ear of it. I had a few attempts at reversing off before finding a second and much better location. We then walked to the pub and had a nice two course meal for only £7.50 each. Much better value than before. Once again Richard steered the boat all the way back to Purton. He had a smile that never left his face the whole time he was on board. After a quick cup of coffee they went home. A very nice day with good company. We are both completely knackered after a bad night’s sleep and a large lunch time meal it is relax time now.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 Purton
A much better night’s sleep. The wind was still strong but not strong enough to cause the boat to rock and bang into the bank. Bits of blue sky this morning. It’s nice to see the sun again. After lunch we took Millie for a walk. She was off lead as we wandered around the hulks. She was never very far from us. That was until she saw the river about half a mile away. She ran at it like a torpedo. The mud flats were very soft indeed and she came back completely covered in fowl smelling river mud. This necessitated a couple of swims in the canal when we returned to the boat. She did not object at all.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011 Purton to Gloucester Dock
We woke up to a rainbow over the estuary; you don’t see that every morning. We set off at 11.0 for what is probably the last cruise of the Gloucester Sharpness Canal. It has been very nice even though we have had gales. It just seems the right place to be. We then walked through the town and ended up at a strange pub. This had been recommended to us. It was very good indeed. A fine chose of ales and the food was of good quality and at a reasonable price. We will remember that one for any further visits. Once back on board, with a full belly. It was hard to keep awake. This was not helped by the low intellectual value of the TV!

Thursday, 13 October 2011 Gloucester Dock
Only one other boat moored in the dock, it is so quiet here it is almost eerie. You could almost expect to see tumble weed blowing down the canal!
We will be moving off the Sharpness canal tomorrow. I shall miss it. I don’t know what it is about it that appeals to me; it is straight, wide, deep and mainly open. It has some very good view points and it is good to see the tide come in &out. We have been here for 2 weeks and have trundled up and down the canal for some 30 hours, looked at the Severn Bore, had a very muddy dog – twice, been blown about in Westerly gales and still I do not really want to leave this canal.

We went into the town. Just for a look round, not to buy anything. So we bought 4 pairs of trousers for me a new duvet for the bed plus loads of other stuff!

Friday, 14 October 2011 Gloucester dock to Tewksbury
Jim & Joan arrived to join us for a few days onboard. We soon set off on the return trip.

The weather was just about perfect. The sun shone most of the day bringing out the early autumn colours perfectly. We were sailing against the normal river flow plus an outgoing tide on the lower reaches of the Severn, this made for slower than expected progress. This was not an issue as we have plenty of time to complete the trip. We arrived at Tewkesbury at about 4.00 and after we parted with £50.00 for 1 weeks Avon River licence and £3.00 overnight moorings we were let through. Almost as soon as we had moored then our friends on “Snowbaby” came through the bridge and moored next to us. We went into the town for a meal. We ended up at an Indian and a very good meal it was too.

Saturday, 15 October 2011 Tewksbury to Wyre Piddle
Not a bad night’s sleep, we were all up showered and fed by 10.00. We said our hellos and goodbyes to Snowbaby and set off up the Avon. This river is truly spectacular with its wide open views over the flood plane. This was helped no end by the late autumn sunshine. It was a bit of a shock to the system to have to operate the locks ourselves, we had soon become to like the idea that they are manned. We moored for the night outside the Anchor Inn in Wire Piddle. This pub has changed hands since the last time and has improved no end. The meal was first class and reasonably priced. The puddings were a bit over priced but acceptable.

Sunday, 16 October 2011 Wyre Piddle to Evesham
We were planning to got to Bidford on Avon today to meet up with Ruth & Richard. This is a long trips so we set off even earlier than normal at 10.00 and made a fair speed. After 2 hours or so, Richard contacted us and said that he would rather meet up at lunch time So arrangements were made to meet up somewhere in Evesham. This gave us a bit of spare time so we slowed down and trundled along. The scenery along this part of the river is beyond belief. Helped a lot by the sunshine and the trees in there best autumn colours.

We moored up at the Workman Gardens in the town centre. Not long after, Richard arrived. After a coffee and a chat, Jim & Joan left with Richard for the taxi home.

Evesham is a bit busy today, but it is a sunny Sunday afternoon. I hope it soon quietens down. We had a Chinese Take Away for dinner, It was nice to sit on the settee together and relax after the weekend. I did spot a couple of rats on the moorings. Attracted, no doubt, by the leftover bread from people feeding the ducks. I have only ever seen rats in towns, never in rural locations. I don’t like towns!

No comments: