Monday, 10 July 2017
The most challenging boating in 9 years!
Not the most inspiring view from the loo but boy I was glad to tie up here!
I started my most challenging day at the bottom of Claydon Locks on the South Oxford. These 5 locks would normally take me about 80 mins to climb, being single handed. However two of the pounds were entirely de-watered which meant I had to first climb to the top of the flight and let water down from the summit level, thereby slowly filling each pound. So instead of 80 mins I was there for a good 2 hours.
I then proceeded to the Fenny Compton tunnel. It's not actually a tunnel but a very long stretch of water which is only wide enough for one boat, with the odd passing place. I had four different boats coming towards me on that stretch. That would be difficult enough but I soon discovered why the lock pounds had been empty - the summit level of the canal hardly had any water in it! So I was trying to hold my boat still in a passing place but with no water under my stern which means the bow swings out and you have very little control. Not one of the four boats coming towards me pulled over for me so I spent most of my time tilted sideways on silt!
Having survived that, I dragged my bottom through the silt at tick over speed until I got to Fenny Compton. I managed to water up but not moor so off I went again. I was just about to come to the end of a long line of moored boats when another boat came towards me. Since he was in clear water I assumed he would stop where there was room for us to pass each other. But he didn't. He headed straight for me, staring at me in a very unnerving way. With moored boats one side and the bank the other, I had absolutely nowhere to go. Right to the last second I thought he would stop and back off but he didn't. Instead he rammed straight into my bow causing a loud bang and a lot of ominous tinkling in my cabin as things were thrown to the floor. I said "Why the hell didn't you stop in the gap to let me through?" He stared right at me and just said "You should have got out of my way". At this moment one of the moored boaters stuck her head out and said 'Was that my boat getting hit?' I said 'No, mine. This idiot rammed me'. She told him to back off as I had nowhere to go. Instead he forced his way through between her boat and mine, scraping both and forcing me onto the bank. Needless to say his boat was neither displaying a name nor a licence.
On I went, getting tired now as it takes a lot of muscle power when you are steering in water that has the consistency of porridge. I was heading for a space I have moored at in the past and, oh joy, it was free. I soon found out why. The water levels were so low I couldn't get within 3 feet of the bank. On again with Bonny beginning to bark her displeasure as she was coming up to her 6th hour on the roof with only the odd lock wee to keep her going.
At last I found a boat moored on a length of Armco and I gratefully pulled in a respectful distance from it. I am still a foot or so from the bank but boats can get past and we are safe. I am so tired, my foot aches fiercely and the adrenlin is fast draining away. I found various of my belongings flung to the floor but mercifully nothing is broken. Now I have to take Bonny for a well deserved walk before collapsing.
Don't I just love the boating life?