2. Oct, 2018

IT’S WINDY

Is an understatement, so we are going nowhere. We have made it to Trent Lock after spending an extra week in Langley Mill basin, and it looks like we might be here a few days. Storm Ali is doing its worst, and as we tend to be fair-weather boaters we won’t be going far. Plus the Captain doesn’t think it’s safe to cruise the river Trent in this wind, and I agree with him.

So why did we stay in Langley Mill for another week? well 2 reasons,

1) We went and stayed with my daughter to talk about her wedding next year, and I must say how impressed I was with all the plans she and her fiancé have. My son and his wife came over and we all had tea together, which was lovely, followed by a quick game of Bastard Brag, proper family time. Next day we went into Mansfield and had tapas, and then we were chauffeured over to see my sons new house which is lovely.

2) We again tried to sort out the Captains Christmas present, his microlight flight over the Derbyshire dams, but once again the weather was against us, so we will have to try when we get back to Coventry.

We spent some time deciding where to cruise next, I would have liked to make it to Stratford upon Avon, but it would a bit of a push in the time we have left, so we are off up the Trent and Mersey to Stoke, and onto the Caldon canal which we haven’t done before. Then we will return to Coventry via Birmingham for the end of October.

As we haven’t moved very far in the last week or so there isn’t a great deal to tell, so I thought I would ramble on about more boaty and canal stuff than I usually do, pubs always seem to take front of stage in my blogs, I really don’t know why, nudge nudge wink wink.

So lets start with narrowboats, every narrowboat is different, the only thing they have a common is the width, and that can vary slightly, most are 6’10 which is the width of the single locks. You do get widebeams that go up to 14ft, but these are restricted by lock width and narrow bridge holes so tend to stick to wide canals.

Length, well how long is a piece of string, the longest boats tend to be 72ft, but these are restricted again due to the length of the locks, in the south and midlands they are long and can accommodate these boats, but in the north the locks are shorter. Avalon Two is 57ft and we can do 99% of the system, and that is why we decided on this length. Obviously the benefit of having a longer, wider boat, is more room, but it restricts were you can cruise. The big locks on the rivers which are HUGE and can take 6 or 7 boats at a time. I think we got 9 boats in the barge lock at Teddington on the tidal Thames when we went on our adventure with the St Pancras boating club in May, and there was room for more!!!

There are 3 types of back, a Trad or traditional, with this type there is really only enough room for the steerer to stand, and the engine is usually in the back of the boat, although there are also a lot that have a walkthrough engine room and make the distinctive Put Put Put sound as they cruise along.  Semi Trad, which has more room and is enclosed around the sides, but allows the steerer to have company whilst cruising along, and a cruiser stern, which is a big open space. The last 2 have the engines under the back floor. We have a semi trad.

Layout, a traditional layout has the living area and kitchen at the front of the boat, and the bed at the back, it is the way the working boats were laid out, with most of the front being for cargo, and the family crammed into the small space at the back, It’s really hard to imagine how they could live that way, but live they did, and for many years plying their trade on the cut.

A reverse layout it what it says, the reverse, with the bed at the front and the living area at the back, this is becoming more popular I think. And then some boats have a bed in the middle.

Owners , there are even more types of owner than boats, old, young, middle aged, single, couples, families. Live aboard full time, summer only, holidays, share boaters, never leave the marina types, happy, helpful, grumpy, and sometimes rude. Some boaters continuously cruise, only going to marinas or wharfs for diesel and gas, they live on the cut all through the year and don’t have a home mooring, these have to abide by the 1995 waterways act and move to a different place every 14days, and must be on a journey, rather than just hopping between two places on the canal. The interpretation of this law is difficult, and has caused more than a few arguments between boaters and the Canal and River Trust, or CRT as it’s known. I think we have the best of both worlds, continuously cruising in the summer, and living in our wharf in the winter.

Well, what can I say about CRT, they can be a bit like marmite, you love em or hate em. The frontline staff are in the main great, but the management come in for quite a bit of stick and don’t help themselves at times. The recent rebranding and new logo has come in for a lot of criticism. Boaters feel that the money spent on new signs, and other rebranding, could have been better used on maintaining the infrastructure of the canals for boats. This wasn’t helped when the press release at the launch made no mention of boats, and said that the canals are free for all to use, well that’s not true, we boaters pay a license fee to be on the water, so it’s definitely not free for us. To make matters worse the new leaflets and website had not one picture of a boat, and the website is lacking in boater information.

 I believe CRT are between a rock and a hard place, I want them to fix things that are broken on the system, and not spend money on changing signage that is perfectly fit for purpose, but is the wrong corporate colour and has the old logo, and I know that they need to find new funding stream to ensure that our 200yr old canal system remains open and usable, but I question the way they are going about it. I have boater friends that really believe CRT do not have boaters, or the canals best interests at heart. I sincerely hope this is not the case.

I hoped you enjoyed reading something a bit different from stories of pubs and beer, and will just fill you in on our trip down the Erewash. We managed to pair up with Nb Voila for the first 6 locks before stopping for the night at the Gallows. Although the next day was quite windy, the Captain decided we would set off for Trent lock and see how we got on. Well we made it and spied Voila moored, but no sign of its Captain and crew (sorry we didn’t get their names). We found a suitable space and moored up, it was a lot busier than last time we were there. The Captain chatted to the man on King Billy moored in front of us, whilst I decided we would go to the pub, (you knew there would be one somewhere in my blog). As we walked to the pub I spotted a very familiar boat, The Oak, and fishing on the back our good friend John, and his wife Janice was in the cabin below. I said hello and he was really surprised to see us, our paths haven’t crossed this year so it was great to catch up, and they came to the pub with us. Hope to see them sometime next year.

All we can do for now is wait for the weather to improve and we will be off on our adventures again