Friday, October 20, 2006

We enjoy a pleasure cruise while the workers work

Just back from a few days on Herbie with friends Jan and Stephen. The weather forecast was for rain, but luckily it didn't, so we had a great time tootling up to Batchworth and back. Amazingly warm for the time of year, although we did have the coal stove to make us cosy in the evenings. This was Jan and Stephen's first trip aboard Herbie and they seemed to enjoy it. Anyway we got them home safe and dry and as you can see they were all smiles as they posed with Kath (and Herbie) at the end of the trip.

While we were relaxing, the workers on the canal were still hard at it. First there were the gravel boats which go back and forth all day between Denham and Hayes. When they're full they carry 70 tons of gravel and sit very low in the water and need a depth of six feet of water, so they sit mid channel and you have to move aside for them. Here's an empty one (except for a lot of water as ballast) approaching whilst in the background you can just see a full one going the other way.

Despite always having to give way to them, we really enjoy watching them and talking to the boatmen as we wind the locks for them. Its great to see the canals still being used for freight transport.

Then further up the cut, we came upon a gang relining the banks with sheet piling above Coppermill lock. They had an amazing machine sutting on a huge steel raft. Looking at first like a caterpillar tracked digger, it actually had a brilliant swiveling device for handling the piling and ramming it into the ground with a shuddering action.

The raft was so wide that only 7ft narrowboats (that's us) could squeeze past into the lock. Others had to wait for a couple of hours.

Strangely for the time of year, we saw more kingfishers this trip than ever before. There were even a couple flying past Herbie after we had moored up back at base.

Tomorrow I'm off on my 2 day Electrics for Boaters course at Reading. I've been busy trying to map out all the wiring on the boat because it came without useful circuit diagrams and nothing is labeled. It's all beginning to make sense, but I have plenty of questions to ask on the course.

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