Boatwif Blog

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Larking downstream

Monday to Thursday: Newbury to Burghfield ‘What larks you two have’ wrote a correspondent in an email recently. (Recognise the remark, C?) Well, between Newbury      and Reading there were more ‘larks’ remembered from previous cruising times as well as one or two incidents which may get stored mentally as ‘Larks from 2015’… A pleasant mooring on Monday above Newbury Lock    allowed time for town browsing (just look at the new shopping centre).  Old notices on the offside of...

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Flashbacks

Cleddau is on a previous cruising patch, this section of the Kennet and Avon Canal being familiar from Frouds Bridge mooring days. For nine years the Captain had acted as a Working Man, donned suit and tie each morning, jumped off the boat, commuted to work, returning at night to tend the stove – eat and sleep. Weekends saw him as Motorway Man, up the M3, the M25, the M1. Laundry turned round at home it would all start again...

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Open your eyes

WARNING: this post is free of references to alternator troubles and to the blight of K&A “continuous moorers” Taking a few steps away from the towpath can provide some surprises and some sights to stimulate the senses. Cleddau spent Tuesday evening moored just a few metres below Crofton Pumping Station (near Marlborough in Wiltshire)    Though the engine house wasn’t in steam it was possible to creep through the tunnel under the railway    and visit the recently reopened café. Twenty years...

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Troubles on the Long Pound

The Long Pound stretches between the top of the famous Devizes Locks and the four locks at Wootton Rivers, a distance of some fifteen miles. How a day can start well – and descend into a catalogue of irritations and difficulties. The skies were grey but the colours on this boat were vibrant    (“To remind us of where we’ve come from, Cape Town,” said the boat’s skipper). There were glimpses of curious buildings,     a Quaker Meeting House     and a procession...

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Water steps up a rather steep hill

Phase 3 of the Cleddau 2015 Cruise has been resumed. Back at Caen Hill Marina just west of Devizes (on Friday 10th July) there was time to ponder what exactly lay ahead.  True, Cleddau had passed this way once before (to Bath and back, in 2002) but memories from then were of a ferocious thunderstorm and an altogether wet and miserable time. So Boatwif, the Tentatrice crew (plus the Boat Dog) set off for an afternoon walk up the flight. To...

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Crowded on the K&A – and use a bread knife

“We’ve a long way to go,” pronounced the Captain, “and we need to be at Caen Hill Marina by 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon.” So with 21 miles, 14 locks, 8 movable swing bridges and 2 major aqueducts to negotiate in two days it would be a 9am start then… It was just a few hundred yards to the bottom of the Widcombe lock flight in Bath on a fine Saturday morning.  There, tied up against a high wall, were the...

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Drenched at Bath

Bristol to Bath (Friday 26th June) The Captain had spent the winter planning an around England cruise. Leaving Bristol marked the start of Phase 3 of the trip, it beginning with another booked start to a day’s cruise.  Tentatrice’s Captain had liaised with Bristol’s Harbour Master, requesting a bridge swing at Prince Street across a narrow section of the Floating Harbour. The Harbour Master travels by boat of course.     Off-loaded, the guys donned hi-vis vests and hard hats, then swung...

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Shipshape and Bristol Fashion

The harbour at Bristol hums with activity: there is a cross harbour ferry;     there are round the harbour sight-seeing tours, there is dinghy sailing,     there are canoeists, kayakers and paddle boarders,     restaurant boats and  historic boats.  An around the harbour trip (all the way to Temple Meads and back) on Wednesday afternoon cost £5 for a jump on /jump off all day ticket. It was a good way to pay the mooring dues, to dawdle with a drink beside...

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Portishead to Bristol

Cleddau and Tentatrice had spent the night of 23rd June moored in Portishead Marina, two narrow boats among a fleet of serious seagoing vessels. After a day on tidal waters the challenge of returning to the inland waterways lay ahead. Timing was crucial – the right state of the tide to lock back out onto the Severn Estuary as well as enough water to get up the River Avon to reach Bristol. “I’m closing the lock at 9 o’clock,” advised...

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Down the Severn Estuary

Sharpness, Tuesday 23rd June – Check final preparations for a cruise between Sharpness and Portishead: Cupboards strapped closed   Charts in place    Handheld GPS available on top hatch VHF radio set up, tuned to Channel 13   Radar reflector mounted    Flag (hanging limp and still) positioned as wind direction indicator   Lifejackets on. 1025: Cleddau and Tentatrice moved away from their comfortable G&S canal side moorings, past the beautifully restored Anstruther lifeboat    (“This is the last bit. I’ve been painting for six days,”...