Monday, 23 March 2015

Hawne Basin and back


Boat Movement:  Birmingham to Hawne Basin

Solar Eclipse

We got up at 0800hrs to make sure that we would be ready when eclipse started. We stayed at the back of the boat and watched it through. Truly a most spectacular sight indeed. It was about 85% complete and although it did not go completely dark it did go very cold very quickly. Our Daughter-in-Law, Sarah joined us and we went to find a late breakfast. We looked at a few places in Brindley Place but they were a bit too up market, and not what I was looking for. We ended up at a Weatherspoon pub on Broad Street and had a very good proper English breakfast and at very good prices. We chatted away for at ages at the table and had a really nice time together. I must be growing up as I drank coffee in a pub!

We walked back to the boat and we went our own ways, Sarah went home and we sorted the boat ready for movement.

We set off at 1215 and travelled along the BCN new line. It's not my favourite, I much prefer the Old Line but the New Line is much quicker. I was trying to get to Hawne basin before 1600hrs to get fuel but that was out of the question. The route took us through two tunnels and they could not be different. Netherton Tunnel is huge. It is wide enough for two boats to pass with ease, it is very all and has a sizable tow path on each side. By contrast Gosty Hill tunnel is worryingly narrow and dangerously low.

Gosty Hill Tunnel; A tunnel to remember!


The tunnel entrance looms as we pass the old tug dock


In the sludgy, silted up water progress is already very slow and we're not even in the tunnel. It's only 550 yards long and we can see the other end but, clearly, It looks certain that it is too low for our boat with the top boxes. This calls for vey slow progress; this tunnel may take quite a while.


It gets just keeps on getting tighter

And it's certainly narrow, not much more than our boat's width but its least for a while until a third of the way in the ceiling height drops suddenly, a rather menacing Dracula greets you, and it's claustrophobically low, the brickwork arching just over us. I had to stoop to fit under the roof which was inches above the top of the boat. The top boxes and solar panels are just missing the brickwork by no more than a few inches at best. The boat is chugging along on tick-over, any faster would just dig up the silt and just dig down into the sludge. It's a very worryingly tight fit in there. Suddenly the roof rises again and for a few minutes there's a bit of relief from the claustrophobia. It almost Cathedral like in contrast to the lower part but before long it drops down again for the final bit. Just as low and narrow as the previous. I was very relieved to have navigated through it without losing any paint of solar panels


We arrived at 1630 and I had several attempts at getting under the bridge into the basin; it is a very low and narrow bridge and it's a bit of a bugger at the best of times. This time I started the turn just a fraction early and I just had not got the correct line and had to try to correct it, just at the wrong moment the wind started; that’s never the best way of doing things. We eventually moored up in the marina without damaging either the boat or the bridge and slotted in-between a row of moored boats. It is just the type of moorings that I hate with a passion but as the boats either side are empty it will do for the weekend. The gates are locked outside normal hours so we cannot get out to either a chip shop or pub so we will stay here and eat proper home cooked food instead.

Waking up in a marina is most odd. There are boats touching either side and I really do not like it one little bit but it is a safe mooring in an otherwise not so good area. The factory unit behind us started to play Radio One exceptionally loud at 1000hrs but thankfully it did not last very long.

We went for a short walk up to B&Q on Mucklow Hill Halesowen; I was looking at electric drills to replace my knackered one. I had no intention of buying anything, just looking. If I did decide then I would wait until Wednesday when I get a 15% discount. We had a good look round the store and I could not make my mind up. We left and walked into Screwfix, once again to see what was available. This time they had a promotion on with DeWALT. I weakened and just had to buy a drill with three LI-ION batteries and a fast charger. It was more than I wanted to pay of course but it is a good make and hopefully should last a long time. I also had some twist drills to replace the ones that I have managed to break with monotonous regularity. That’s us broke again!

Gary & Pam went to the chip shop on the evening, that is not as easy as it sounds as the marina gates are locked and they are less then keen to give us a key so we have to ask to be let out and then ring the bell and hope that someone can be bothered to let us back in again. They were not very long and we all ate on Moonshine. The chips were followed down with tea & coffee and then I produced a bottle of whisky. Not a bad evening at all.

Boat Movement:    Hawne Basin back to Birmingham City Centre.

We needed to move to the services side to get water fuel and coal. It was like a Chinese puzzle; they moved a temporary moorer out of the way. I moved to the other side of the marina and tried to hold position while the boat that was against the facilities moved into the berth that I had just left. I then reversed back to the facilities spot. It all sound much easier than it actually was but we sorted it out in the end. Nick, the chap who deals with the fuel & shop welcomed us like old friends. We filled up with diesel. The tank just took 102 litres of red diesel at £052 P/L. I also picked up a few bags of coal; hopefully that will last us now we are heading into spring. 

We set off at 11.45, much later than I had expected. Gary, on Moonshine was gone at 0930hrs so was well beyond catching up. The run along the BCN was very nice, although we had the sun on our backs all the way; it was still a bit cold. Another boat wanted to overtake us so I slowed and pulled to the bank. He made a right pig’s ear of things and became stranded on the bottom. I had to reverse back to avoid a collision and then had to wait for several minutes while he extricated his boat and started to move off again. The boat was “Duke” and was crewed with several young men. We arrived back in Birmingham at 1615hrs. Just about 4 ½ hours travelling exactly the same as when we came. We moored on the same moorings as well. I do hope that CRT does not think that we have stayed here all that time.

I was beginning to feel the cold by the time we had moored up and we soon had the fire going and the dinner cooking. We intend to stay here for a few days before tackling the 27 locks on route to Minworth.
Happy days.

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