Sunday, 15 January 2012

January weekend - Day 2

It was another cold night, and we knew there was ice on the water as soon as we started moving about the boat, because we could hear it crunching against the hull.  We had a late start to the day -- it was gone 8.30 before we got up.  With the frost and the sun it was a beautiful day.

After breakfast, we got ready to go.  The ice wasn't very thick -- maybe a quarter of an inch -- but it still makes a termendous noise as the boat crashes through it (and when you're inside the boat it sounds even worse).  You can also see the ice cracking way ahead.

We were aiming for the winding hole about a mile beyond our mooring to turn around, but we knew it would be difficult to turn in, thanks to the ice.  Adrian decided to go past a bit, then reverse up, so we at least had a bit of clear water to swing the stern into.  But just past the winding hole, the engine stopped; we'd got something round the prop.

With so little traffic about and the ice holding is fairly steady, we thought we'd try to clear it where we were in the middle of the cut.  But it soon became clear that whatever was down there was big, and wasn't coming off in a hurry.  I jumped off at the bow, took a rope, and pulled us into the side.  Even this wasn't easy, as some large sheets of ice needed to be moved out of the way.  Adrian went down the weedhatch with the hack saw, while I was on the bank with the boat hook, fishing about under the stern.  I'd got whatever it was with the hook, and Adrian was able to cut it free from the propshaft.  What we'd picked up was the biggest collection of assorted rubbish we'd ever had the misfortune find: there was rope, netting, an aluminium stand of some sort, and two varieties of metal mesh.

The whole operation took quite some time, and we still needed to turn, which meant backing up some way and having a run at the ice.  Once that was done, I steered while Adrian went and washed and warmed up from having his arms in icy water for some considerable time.

At Hillmorton Locks, all three were against us, having leaked empty overnight.  But it was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky.

After the bottom lock the ice was thicker, at maybe half an inch.  But we didn't have to go far before meeting a boat coming the other way.  Of course, this happened in a bridge hole.  But at least we now had a cleared channel to go through, which made life easier.  Not long behind, we passed our second moving boat of the day (and the weekend, in fact).

At Rugby there was virtually no ice, and from there on in, there was no rhyme or reason as to whether the ice was thick, thin, or non existant.  In some places the trees and cuttings seemed to have protected the water from the cold, in other places they seemed to have emphasised it.  In some places the sun, which was quite warm, had had an effect.

We had lunch on the move, and turned into Brinklow marina (where the breeze through the bridge hole had prevented any ice forming).  We were back on our pontoon shortly after 2pm, and were quickly packed up and ready to go.  We commented that even though we'd be out for only a day and a half, it felt much longer, like a proper break.  Perhaps it's because we know we can have weekends like this whenever we like, that a couple of days on board no longer feels like frustratingly short.

8.5 miles, 3 locks.  (15 miles, 6 locks)


Anonymous said...

That's got to be a contender for "most rubbish round one prop" award (if Herbie ever includes that as a category!).

Such a fine (if cold) weekend for cruising...

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

Sue said...

Goodness me what a load of rubbish!

Worst we had was a single sprung mattress on the Rochdale, that caught us mid stream we couldnt even get into the side. Just drifted while Vic tried to clear it. Took an age too.

We have a pair of very long rubber gloves, a bit difficult to work in, but it keeps the hands dry and warm. Might be a bit of an investment?

Ian and Karen said...

Ian always asks 'Who's turn is it to go down the weed hatch?' whenever we get a problem. Guess what? It's always his turn!

Geoff and Mags said...

Got to be the best collection I've seen for a long time. Well done!

Maffi said...

Poor you. I hope you took it to a bin.

Elly and Mick said...

We got our blog to date printed into a book. It gave us a chance to review all our "pick of the week" boats. You bought my favourite!

Halfie said...

That is an impressive catch! Despite what Sue says, I maintain nothing beats being able to feel directly what's going on down there. My tool of choice for dealing with rubbish round the prop was an old steak knife ... until the blade snapped at the handle.