How long after your boat is blacked is it ok to pick up the first scratch? My usual mantra is "As long as I can get out of the boatyard / marina unscathed, then what happens after that is just inevitable and not worth worrying about." Well you'll be tickled to know that this time I didn't even get that far.
After admiring the spiffing job done on Herbie (the gunnels are a sight to behold, you could read a book in the reflections) by Andy at Cropredy dry dock we were feeling pretty smart as we tootled a hundred yards or so over to the service pontoon to fill up with diesel. Now I've done that manoeuvre many times before and this time there was not even a puff of wind, but I managed to cock it up in fine style and nudged the corner of the pontoon and put a flippin' smudge on Herbie's pristine bow. Is this a record? Can anybody beat that? Ah well, at least that got scratch 1 over with, after that I could relax. I've dug out a tin of Intertuf 16 touch up I've been saving for just such an occasion so when it stops raining I'll attempt a restoration.
So here we are on day 1 of our autumn cruise, having reached Banbury where we wait out the rain. We've done four locks without losing a windlass and I only had to go down the weedhatch once, so I reckon that's pretty good going for starters. Banbury canalside currently has a big hole full of diggers and big bits of pipe where a multi storey car park used to be, and the green footbridge across the canal has disappeared. Some mooring spaces have been lost in the process, but it's only temporary and we still found somewhere so that's alright.
The canal is surprisingly busy for the time of year and the usual banter with fellow boaters using the locks made our first morning a pleasant one. Our friends a slat mill lock popped their heads over the wall to say 'bon voyage'.
Malc of 'Malc and Dink' fame on the outskirts of Banbury gave us a cheery wave as we passed his cottage and all is well with the world.