Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Day Twenty-Five- On the Move- Finally!

Hanwell- Alperton- Paddington Basin

Grand Union Canal

15 miles, 8 locks

In which the Duck and its crew negociate a short flight, fill and empty various tanks, and fulfil an ambition by visiting Little Venice by boat, before mooring up in Paddington Basin.

The first job of the day was to ascend the 8 locks of the Hanwell flight. As locks go, they're BIG- double locks that are VERY deep, with gate and ground paddles at the top to help them fill quickly. All in all, pretty awe inspiring, especially seeing the maelstroms of water that can be created.

We had problems at first with the lower pounds having very little water; nearly two feet less than normal, if the marks on the bank were anything to go by. The water was nearly crystal clear, which was nice- but this did mean you could see the awesome amounts of rubbish floating around. Quite worrying, too, as anything in the intake- even a single leaf- is enough to block the intake and require us to flush it before we could proceed. The intake became blocked in the first pound, and after flushing it we decided to turn the engine off in the locks and for me to wait in the lock until Amy had fully drained and opened the next (all the locks were set against us, unluckily) to minimise the amount of time spent with the engine on in turbulent water, as opening the paddles stirred up all the rubbish.

The tactics worked, and we made our slow and steady way up the flight. Towards the end, we were assisted by some people from the party of two boats behind us; having enough crew to get yourselves through and help the boat in front must make things a great deal easier!

Once we arrived at the top of the flight, we had lunch (soup) and emptied the portaloo. We also filled the cavernous water tank, which had been nearly completely empty; it took nearly an hour!

We then pressed onwards, towards the junction at Bull's Bridge where we would take the Paddington Arm into the centre of London. The scenery was reasonably uninteresting and the canal was utterly full of carrier bags and rubbish- and coconuts. These come from Hindu funerals where, with BW's permission, mourners release them into the Grand Union canal- it's the equivalent of the Ganges, apparently.

Amy had to go back to her house in Harringay, where she was to meet the landlady and sign the paperwork that ended her lease. To do this, we had to get close to a tube station, ideally, and at Alperton, we moored up next to a Sainsbury's on some 7-day BW moorings. Amy headed off, but I didn't like the look of the area; it wasa bit graffittied, and the moorings just didn't feel too safe; so, at about six thirty, having done some shopping in Sainsbury's, I headed off by myself down the (lock-free!) long stretch. It was going to get dark at about 8 or so, and whilst I didn't think I'd make Little Venice, I did mean to get reasonably close. I worked the engine hard and arrived at about 8, and in search of a mooring headed into Paddington Basin.

It was good to fulfil an ambition of ours; many times, we'd visited Little Venice, often in the evening, and dreamt of having our own boat there. Whenever we passed through Paddington, in fact, we'd try and see the canal. To be moored up here was fantastic.

I found a space, although it looked rather tight, between two boats on the visitors' moorings. I headed in, only to find that the gap was only about forty-seven feet long- and not the forty-eight of the boat. Luckily, the occupants of nb Huggly Buggly moved back to let me in. Amy rather spoiled the effect I was going for, of having her arrive and see the boat moored in a space with mere inches at either end, by arriving back slightly prematurely. Oh well, I still hope it was impressive!

We had a nice dinner of bacon sarnies and went to bed happy, having written the exceedingly long blog post explaining the gap of the last few days.

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