Friday, 2 November 2012

Last Weekend - Towing

On Sunday, we had a bit of a job to do. Our friends Anton and Sophie's boat had a broken engine  and so James offered to tow them to Ely where they were booked in to get it fixed (are you noticing a bit of a theme here?). 

It was a challenge to say the least, partly because although the Duck is capable of towing, the 'butty' in this case was 70ft long, and rather dictated where the Duck should go. We tried various different towing techniques: cross straps of different lengths, and a 20-25ft line (known as a snatcher in working boat parlance). Before and after the locks we breasted up. 

On the cross straps we struggled because Anton and Sophie's boat doesn't have a high stem post, crucial for keep the lined centred, so it oscillated from side to side. Several times around bends we ended up jack-knifed, and had to detatch and start again. Eventually we realised that using the snatcher was best, for our combination of boats - we were able to make pretty good progress like that, with the 'butty' steered independently by Anton or Sophie. I felt confident enough to steer the Duck like that myself, while James went indoors for a bit. It was less sociable, but it meant that we made it to Ely from Cambridge in just 5 hours (it takes us 4 hours normally).

You can see the lack of stem post on their bow here.


We were well provided with tea, sausage sandwiches and some delicious thai style curry from our 'butty', and they were very grateful for the tow. I enjoyed being out on the river - having not boated beyond Bottisham lock since the summer. James enjoyed the challenge towing, and practicing the techniques of working a pair, albeit a modern one!

The Duck  in its role as a tug!
Safely moored in Ely. Job done.

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  1. Nice one both!

    Sorry we couldn't help: we were in Dorset doing The Great Pre-Christmas Pressie Exchange....

    Took me four and a half hours to drive there.....

    I'd much rather have been boating!


  2. I keep reading about "cross straps" when towing, although it didn't work for you can you tell me what the arrangement is?