En route we had to give way to the big gravel barge turning at its base near Hayes. Amazing to watch this big boat backing up and doing a broadside round like it was a toy. I think they have propellers that can swivel right and left.
It all serves to remind us that boats steer from the back and not the front. That's why we turn easily into the narrow entrance of the Slough Arm, but find it much harder to exit from the arm onto the wide canal. On the way in, the back of the boat is free to steer, being out in the big canal, but on the way out the back of the boat is constrained in the narrow entrance and we can't steer until the front of the boat is nearly hitting the other bank.
Today we did what I think must be our most difficult manoeuvre ever. As the canal alongside our moorings is so weedy, we want to avoid at all costs going on down to the winding hole to turn. So we decided to back into our spot. This meant turning in the tiny slipway entrance by the boatyard workshops where there is just room for a 50 footer (us) to get round. Not too bad normally, but lately there are "for sale" boats everywhere. Three abreast either side of the slipway and one on the opposite bank. So in very shallow weedy water (awful for steering) we had to do a three point turn to reverse our direction and back out in the narrow gap between the moored boats.
I don't think it looked too elegant, but we did it and it saved us a good hour and a lot of visits to the weedhatch, which is what the trip to the winding hole would have meant.
I hear that BW is sending a weed cutter down the arm this week, so maybe things will improve as long as they collect the weed as well as cutting it. I wouldn't bet that they do! That aside, now is the time to take a trip down the arm if you never have. At this time of the year bits of it are very pretty.