Boatwif Blog

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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,”...

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Around Sharpness

Sixteen mainly rural miles after leaving Gloucester is Sharpness. From the canal the view is of the estuary, haunting in its loneliness. A low grey sea wall separates canal from tidal river.     Nothing it seems is here. Seabirds may wheel overhead or wading birds dig at the shoreline. Yet right by the seawall is a clue of human activity, boat hulls rusted, abandoned.     These are known as the Purton hulks, beached, reinforcing the fragile banks of the estuary.     (See the Tentatrice...

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All Washed up at Saul

Thursday, 18th June. What timing! Two hours further along the canal from Gloucester is Saul Junction   which itself is about midway      between the great inland docks of Gloucester and the exit point to the sea at Sharpness. Here Cleddau and Tentatrice needed to fill the fuel tanks and wait for boat servicing due on Friday. Right on cue at Saul, as the boats were manoeuvring to tie up alongside each other, there was a hail from an approaching Willow Trust...

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Phase 2 begins…

It was farewell to Worcester on Monday morning, southbound down the last mile or so of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, past the festival site where tables and chairs were being loaded onto an open barge to be taken to the next festival site, down two narrow locks to Diglis Basin and two broad locks to the River Severn. The river is broad, sometimes flowing through a green corridor, sometimes lined with ‘Birmingham navy’ cruisers.   There are glimpses of red...

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Worcester Canalfest

The last post ended with: There was no Civil War on board Cleddau on Thursday night – but an emergency had the crew out of bed well before dawn. So what happened? At 0415 Boatwif became aware of a voice from very far away, speaking to her insistently. “We’re badly aground. Wake up in case we have to get off…” It was still pitch black and the Captain had woken, aware that his feet were way up above the level...

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Hello Worcester

It’s never particularly easy reaching the River Severn from the Stourport Basins. First (this was on Wednesday 10th June) you have to weave your way past boats permanently moored in the upper basin    to find the signpost    that directs you to the narrow locks… Then you need to check that no other boat is about to ascend from the river level (four locks down). Then you ensure there is water in the top of the staircase lock, lock down, proceed...