Sunday, 29 June 2008

Historic Boats

Here are some of the historic boats from the Braunston Rally.

Nutfield and Raymond in the process of breasting up. Below, is later in the afternoon, as they prepared to reverse into the marina.

Above: Sculptor. Below: Battersea.

Here's an ice breaker you'd probably not want to meet on the Oxford summit.

Below: Barrow, Renfrew, and Towcester, which is still working, selling coal etc.

The parade involved the boats turning at the junction. From the direction of the marina, they turned left, then reversed back the other side of the island. Here's a boat with no name displayed preparing to reverse. Below, a motor and butty pair who'd just completely the manoevre. It included letting the butty free and re-attaching it. The crew got a round of applause from the spectators on the junction bridge.

White Heather was one of the more unusual looking boats. More details here.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Braunston Historic Boat Rally

Back from a very enjoyable day at the Braunston Historic Boat Rally. There must have been sixty or seventy boats, most of which took part in the parade. They were moored three, four, or even five abreast on the towpath outside the marina.

The parade itself seemed to be a complete shambles. The boats went down to the junction to turn, then came back, into the marina through the main bridge, and back out via the exit at the far end. Dover, which moors just inside the marina so did things in a slightly different order, slipped her moorings at just after 11am. I saw her arriving back three hours later!

There were also a few everyday boaters who got caught up in the pandemonium (although they surely can't have the excuse that they didn't know it was on. The rally takes place on the same weekend each year). One boat, called Riverdancer, arrived shortly after the first few historic boats had set off, and decided to wind in the marina entrace. The stretch between the marina and the junction was chaos, with historic boats (including some motor and butty pairs) heading in both directions. So Riverdancer decided to pull in. When I walked past about half an hour later, the owners were asking if the parade could be halted so they could get going again! They didn't like being moored where they were, as these big boats kept bumping them.

After lunch, I walked up the locks to the tunnel, and went to see if I could find the top of one of the tunnel air shafts. The "chimney" above ground wasn't as tall as I was expecting -- certainly not as tall as the ones at Blisworth.

On the way back down, I met a fellow OwnerShips boat, Sandpiper, who lent me a windlass so I could help them down the locks. At the fourth lock, a tiny single handed boat left its moorings to join us. Then Sandpiper seemed to be over-heating so they stopped to carry out some checks. I borrowed another windlass to help the woman on the small boat. When I got to the bottom lock, I found Kevin and Vicky Blick sitting on the balance beam eating ice creams. Kevin is the former editor of Canal Boat magazine, and I met him and Vicky at Crick in May.

I'll post some photos of some of the boats tomorrow (although in the meantime they're on flickr).

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Chichester Cathedral

This is the view looking north from the bridge which takes the Chichester Canal tow path to the other side. At this point, at the village of Hunston, the canal takes a right angle turn. This is because the stretch from here into the city was originally an arm off the Portsmouth and Arundel canal, which formed part of the inland route from Portsmouth to London. Only the Chichester Ship Canal is left of the P&A. It was built wide enough to take 100 ton coastal ships, and the only part of the canal that achieved any success.

Another build to follow

It's always interesting to follow a build, and another set of owners are blogging about theirs. Slow Pace is a 60ft semi trad reverse layout, currently being fitted out by Heartwood Narrowboats (builders of The Maisibert, and Alma Jean, one of our favourite boats at Crick). The blog started in April, right at the beginning with the base plate, and there are plenty of pictures of Reeves building the shell. I'm looking forward to future updates.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Trip Boats

These are the Chichester Canal Trust trip boats, which seemed to be doing quite a good trade on Sunday afternoon. The narrowbeam is called Egremont, and the wide beam is Richmond. The Trust also has a little tug called Jupiter.

They're about the only powered craft you're likely to see on the canal (although Prunella Scales once said in an interview that she'd like to have her boat taken by road to Chichester, so she could "do" the canal). Only a couple miles are navigable, and that section isn't linked to anything. The trust's aim is to reconnect the canal to the sea, but it won't be easy. There are currently two road crossings blocking the canal, and a derelict lock would need to be brought back into use.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Chichester Canal Basin

A quick walk along part of the Chichester Canal today. It was nice to see so many people making use of the basin. And the Chichester Canal Trust shop was doing a roaring trade in ice creams.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

NB Foxglove

NB Foxglove was awarded the title of Best Looking Boat during our River Wey walk on Sunday. The recessed panels, the colours, the rivets, the coths and ropes on the working-style cratch, all made it stand out. I realised I'd read something about the boat before: Hadar mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. Foxglove is a Roger Fuller boat, built a couple before Hadar. Roger doesn't appear to have a website, though, which is a great shame.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

River Wey

Today we've been for a walk along part of the River Wey Navigation. We parked near The Anchor pub, by Pyrford Lock, and walked south.

There were quite a few boats on the move, and a surprisingly large proportion of them were Sea Otters.

We passed Pyrford Place, with its summer house dating back to the end of the seventeenth century. There's a small blue plaque on the building, which clearly isn't designed to be read from the towpath on the other side of the river. The only words we could make out were John Donne. It turns out that he lived here for four years from 1600 -- although not in the summer house, but in a large house further back from the river.

Walsham Gates are the last of the turf sided locks on the river. It's only used in times of flood, so both sets of gates are usually open.

The next lock is Newark lock, and we watched nb Jester II going up. Near the lock are the ruins of Newark Priory, which was a victim of Henry VIII.

Papercourt Lock has an intriguing National Trust sign reading "The lock that moved". But having whetted our appetite for a story, none was given. It seems, though, that the lock used to be where the weir now is, but needed a lot of looking after as there was no water management system. So a new lock was built and the weir put in the place of the old one. The lock keeper's cottage was also moved, and there's a story that after the builders had pegged out the site, the lockie went in the middle of the night to move the pegs around, to ensure he had a view up and down the river from the cottage.

There were two boats rising in Papercourt Lock when we arrived, and I immediately recognised one of them, Waimaru. It's a Ben Harp boat, owned by a couple who are friends of Bruce and Sheila on Sanity. I remembered reading on the Sanity blog about Waimaru's handover day, in April last year. We went over for a quick chat with (I assume!) John and Nev, (subjects covered: Ben Harp, Sanity, OwnerShips; all in about 30 seconds as the lock was full) before they set off south, in the company of yet another Sea Otter. It seems amazing that on a random Sunday walk, you can bump into people you know of, thanks to boating and the internet.

There was quite a queue of boats waiting to go up the lock, not helped by one of the bottom paddles being out of action. By the time we left there were seven boats in the queue, including a Challenger boat, a Guildford Boat House hire boat, and two from Farncombe Boat House.

We retraced our steps back to the next bridge, from where we walked into Ripley and had a ploughman's lunch at the Seven Stars. Then it was back along the towpath to Pyrford Lock, which was busy with gongoozlers. The Anchor was also heaving with people -- it's no wonder the building has been extended in all directions.

The distance of our walk was two and half miles in each direction.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Boating Blogs

I'm making use of a new way of listing my favourite blogs, shown in the panel on the right.

Rather than just the links, this system shows when they were last updated. (There are also options for including the title of the latest post, and a snippet, but there are so many blogs in my list I thought having all that might be a bit unruly).

Another option is to make the most recently updated go to the top of the list. At the moment, I've left them alphabetical, but I might try the other way for a while to see if I like it.

I've also had a bit of a clear out. Carrie on Blackbird deleted her blog a while ago, and Liberty Belle's website hasn't been working for a couple of months. So they've all gone.

I'm always on the search for new blogs to add, though, so if you know of any suitable candidates, let me know.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Dipping a toe in the marina market

Having been to Great Haywood Marina last week, I had a look at their website and noticed that the company behind it, GJP Marina Developments, is building another marina at Tattenhall in Cheshire.

Looking at the map, I see they've come up with a whole new variation on the tow path/towing path debate.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Anglo Welsh

This is the Anglo welsh hire base at Great Haywood. I was surprised there were so many boats available: in early June, you'd have thought most of them would have been hired out. There also seemed to be quite a few boats around on the day Google maps took their photo.

View Larger Map

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Finger Posts

This is the finger post at Great Haywood, at the junction of the Staffs and Worcs and the Trent and Mersey.
And here's the one at the other end of the Staffs and Worcs, where the canal joins the River Severn at Stourport.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Great Haywood

Today I've been to Great Haywood in Staffordshire, where the Staffs and Worcs Canal meets the Trent and Mersey.

There was plenty to see, with a constant stream of boats making the turn one way or the other, or tying up at the water point.

It's a lovely part of the country, and Tixall Wide, which is just a short distance along the Staffs and Worcs, must be one of the most beautiful spots on the canal system.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Dapdune Wharf

My journey to work was running early today, so when I got to Guildford I walked from the station along the River Wey to Dapdune Wharf. I knew Hadar had been there last night, but they'd gone by the time I arrived. But it was still quite a busy scene, with a Guildford Boat House hire boat Guildford Princess on the move, and a boat called Joyce just tying up at the Wharf. It was a pity I didn't have the camera with me.

Back at the station, the train before the one I'd been aiming for was running late, so I caught that one. And as usual I looked out for the community of narrowboats huddled under the elevated section on the M25, next to the Wey's junction with the Basingstoke canal.