Sunday, 17 August 2008

Day Sixteen- The Generation Game


4 miles, 1 lock (twice)

Kennet and Avon Canal

In which the Duck and its crew again attend to the drains, and frantically unpack some of the multitude of boxes and bags stowed in the well deck, before welcoming James' dad and grandparents onboard, and then cruise up the Kennet and Avon, then spend many hours finishing the unpacking and finding places for Things, and discover the amazing TARDIS-like qualities of the boat.

Sunday morning lie-in? Not this Sunday! We had to be up and about, as there was a LOT to do! The luggage my Mum had delivered yesterday was still cluttering up the well deck and the saloon. And the engine room. And the bedroom. There wasn't anything in the bathroom, but only because we needed showers.

Unfortunately, that wasn't on the agenda as- at the worst possible time!- the whole plumbing became blocked, not just the kitchen sink! Attempting to use the shower just forced brown gunk into the (cleaned!) bathroom sink; there was half a bowl of washing up water that refused to drain. Once more, the trusted wire coathanger sprung into action, combined with some mighty sink-plunger action from Amy. Maybe synchronised sink-unblocking could become an Olympic sport? I think we won silver, because soon cascades of rice, gunk, and other nasties were flowing out of the outlet as the plumbing was cleared.

The problem here was that all the outflows come through one half-inch copper pipe, which is smaller than optimum size. As there's another (bunged) unused hole nearby, perhaps a future job will be to reroute the bathroom sink and shower outlet into this, letting the (often blocked) kitchen sink have its own outlet, which might well improve matters.

Soon we attended to the gigantic amounts of possessions that were cluttering up the boat.

The scene that greeted us this morning....

I made some duckboards out of some bits of pallet that we'd not yet burned, to go on the floor of the well deck and stop us ripping out the power cable for the water pump, which is in a vulnerable position. I also gaffer taped the cable down and moved around some concrete ballast and other boxes, to make more space. Unfortunately, we'd not quite finished when my Dad and grandparents arrived, and so had to postpone most of the unpacking; we dumped the bags on the bed, and set about entertaining and giving the grand tour to perhaps our most avid blog readers!

We had a nice lunch in the sunshine on the well deck, with my dad and grandparents reminiscing over their previous narrowboating adventures- both in large groups with lots of Scouts as crew, and as a family of seven (plus friends!). We wish we'd had that many crew for the Hatton flight!

We were itching to show off the boat, and so we planned a short cruise up the K&A. I went through the pre-start engine checks, checked the weed hatch (amazingly clear considering all the weeds around) and soon Amy and I sprang into action, efficiently starting the engine, untying ropes, and moving away from the bank.... and then sucked something into the engine intake, only three feet from the bank. How very professional.

It was soon cleared, however (we're getting good at it with lots of practice) and we set off through the Oracle centre. The beach event was still in progress and again many young (and not-so-young) children waved and said hello. One young chap sang the "Rosie and Jim" theme tune at us- I didn't have the heart to tell him he'd got one of the names wrong!

We arrived at lock 106- the third time we were to go through it, having been up and down on Friday in search of moorings. Unfortunately the combination of wind and stream from the adjoining weir caused me to fail in an epic fashion at entering the lock; the bows swung round and hit both lock gates and almost hit a boat coming out of the lock. I've never mucked up that badly, ever- and the one time I do is in front of many gongoozlers and the narrowboating side of my family! It's all rather embarrassing, and unfortunately we lost the newest nice fender in the collision- and it sunk to the bottom. I had a fish about with the sea searcher to try and pick up the shackle it was attached to, but with no luck- I spent five minutes getting a four foot length of mussel-encrusted gas pipe to the surface, but it wasn't what we wanted. Oh well.

Above the lock, however, what do we find stuck on an overhanging tree but a fender, complete with rope and hook to go over the handrail! What a piece of luck that was. Despite the strong stream I managed to maneuver the boat close enough to grab it and disentangle it from the tree. Overall we'd lost nothing, which was rather nice! The hook was even the exact same shade of red as our roof. Clearly the narrowboating gods were smiling on us, and the boat lived up to its name.

Soon we were heading up the K&A, past the gardens of some lovely houses, all of which backed onto the river in a variety of different ways.

My dad and granddad took turns on the tiller, and showed that despite not having narrowboated for 20-odd years, they'd not lost any of their skills!

We winded under a conveniently wide bridge hole, and despite the propeller clonking something with a worryingly loud noise (possibly a shopping trolley- if so, the first we've run over!) managed to get around well.

The return journey, with the stream, was much faster. This part of the K&A is a canalised river, and there was quite a strong flow today. We had a hairy incident, travelling downstream, when trying to avoid an oncoming boat and a fallen tree simultaneously; sod's law dictating that we meet oncoming boats in the worst possible places!

Soon we were moored back by the gaol (I'd moved into the lock without a single bump, which I like to think makes up for the monumental failure first time around!) and with regret we waved them off- not only because we enjoyed their company immensely, but because we now had to start unpacking in earnest! We started at half five, and had everything cleared away and the boat looking the most homely (and clean and tidy) that it has yet by eleven o'clock! We've found many little places for the things we need and don't need, put up photos and posters, and have organised everything. I even did some DIY, making a permanent attachment for a hanging shoe rack, some shelves, and also a scarf rack. Our veritable mountain of clothes have all disappeared neatly into the chest of drawers and wardrobe; I swear some must be in Narnia, because there's no way that they all could fit in there!


  1. Congratulations to you both on getting your boat, and starting life afloat. I love the blog and see you have ours linked on yours so thank you. The K&A pics bring back memories of earlier on, especially the boat with the oval windows ha ha. Enjoy life as much as you can and remember to chillout.

  2. Guys, I'm going to miss these epic cruise posts when you're back in Cambridge. Here's hoping you've got lots of holidays in mind