Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Summary of last years World Cruise

Captains Log

Canal Date                   16th January 2013

Location                       Hopwood Visitor Moorings

First blog of the new year.

I gave up with the blog half way through last year. I found that I was writing about none events and only things that would have been of interest to Pam & I.

Perhaps I was wrong, so many people have said that they missed the blog. Some saying they wanted to keep up with our movement, Some just like to spot my all too frequent spelling & typing mistakes!

I will start with a resume of last years world cruise.

We set off with every intention of going up to the frozen north for two main reasons

1) There were droughts with associated major water shortages in the Midlands and even worse in the south.

2) There was some sort of school sports day thing going on in and around London and this had to be avoided at all costs.

So up-tut Frozen North it was then.

Plan A
(why I ever bother with a plan is beyond me) was to go to the Anderton Boat lift, spend a bit of time on the River Weaver and then go on up and do the Ribble Link and on to the Lancaster Canal and go all the way north as far as we can before returning once more through the Ribble link, then going east over the Leeds & Liverpool heading along the River Trent and back towards Nottingham and finally back to the midlands for winter. With out doubt a bold and interesting plan.

It all went rather well until the plan involved help from BW. They could not fit us in for the Ribble link. The guide book recommends at least 5 days notice, I gave them 2 months, They wanted 12 months! Bless them all!

Plan B
We cut out was to be the high light of the trip and turned towards Wigan. What a place that is. Wigan peer is the ultimate disappointment on the UK tourist trail! This disappointment was more than compensated for with the crossing of the Leeds & Liverpool canal. Just the name conjures up images of abandoned shopping trolley, dereliction, decay and dead dogs. How wrong can you be? It is a true delight and the most picturesque canal I have ever traveled. All went well until some idiot in her majesty government decided that it would be a good idea to have a minister for drought. From that day on, and almost without a break it rained. Some days very heavy, the other days it was even heavier! We had run out of canal and had to join a river. The river looked like it had been modified for the Olympics and was to be used for white water rafting. Not the place for a narrow-boat at all. We were stuck there for 2 weeks before the river dropped to an almost safe level. From there we worked our way slowly up to York where we moored outside the York Minster, all very grand. York is on the River Ouse and the river was rather high on the way up. The mooring rings were just above the water level, but it is summer and the river should soon be dropping to normal levels. Oh how wrong I can be! After a full day and night of heavy Yorkshire rain it became even higher and more worryingly, faster. We made dash down stream to the relative safety of the river lock. Once at the lock we spoke to the lock keeper. He said we would have to wait at least 24 hour as the spring tides and the flood water were making the river just too dangerous for narrow-boat movement. That I can understand but I was also well aware that there was a fair amount of flood water still to come and it was still raining! He did let us through the next day. This was just about the hairiest run I have ever done or ever want to do again! Remember, we are traveling with an ebbing spring tide with the added impetus of a river in flood. The combined effect was a very fast run indeed. The river flow was 9 mph. To get any control of the boat I had to go at 2 mph faster than that. That is water skiing speeds! The bridges came up to us much faster than I thought I could cope with. There was complete trees floating along with us. Proper scary stuff.

We were very soon approaching Selby. This is where the canal branches off form the river and a safe sanctuary could be found. All I had to do was get into the lock. This lock is a 90 degree turn and the normal way to enter it is to go past the entrance, turn the boat round and go up stream nice and slowly and in full control and turn into the lock. A good plan indeed except for a small but rather important point. The river is flowing considerably faster than the good ship Daddy Cook can go, so if I had passed it I would be going flat out and still going backwards! Ending up somewhere near Hull eventually. So I went for it. Turned the boat across the river and gave it all it had and shot into the exceedingly narrow lock and just hopped that I did not hit the wall or more importantly, smash through the end lock gate. It worked like a charm, even the lock keeper gave me a thumbs up and said he was about to call the life boat out to us. We were then stuck in the lock, safe and sound but going no where. At the end of the lock is a flood defense gate and the environment agency would not open it until the tide dropped. But we were safe. I do not want to put us into such a dangerous situation again. We had to stay in Selby for 15 days until the rivers were safe to use again. The moorings we had left in both York and the river lock were some 6 foot under water. Narrow boats had sunk as the river came up before the own owners had chance to loosen off the mooring rope. A lucky escape for us.

After all that, we both said that we would give the River Trent a miss this year and come back the way we had gone – a much safer option (See – I can be sensible if I have to)

We worked out way along the Leeds & Liverpool nice and slowly. Trying to travel only when the rain stopped. It soon became obvious that we were going to be there for ever so we did travel in the wet from time to time. It was a noticeably wet summer!

The rest of the trip was all very nice, all very wet but most importantly safe. From the far north at York we went to Sharpness (Nr Bristol) We ended up back at Tardebigge – eventually.

Last years statistics
Over the year we have traveled:- 883 miles,
                                                                               519 locks
                                                     92 swing bridges.

Now that’s a lot of travel in a narrow-boat!

1 comment:

KevinTOO said...

Well about time too. I was about to send out Air-Sea Rescue to look for you :)

Seriously though Happy New Year and welcome back to blogland!

Looking forward to reading reports of your travels throughout the year.