Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Positioning trip: Day 2

It's been a pretty successful day.  First of all, I slept really well; I was in bed shortly after 8pm, woke at about 5am when a bike went thundering past on the towpath, but managed to get back to sleep until 7.  Trial and error has shown that, for me at least, staying up after night shifts and then having a really long sleep, is the best way to get over them.

I set off a 7.40 and once I was under way rang the fuel boat chap to let him know what time I'd be arriving at Bull's Bridge Junction.  It took about an hour to get there.  On arrival, I had to go really slowly, because a boat had just set off from its moorings by the big Tesco there, heading north, so I couldn't do my turn until they'd passed.  Once through the junction bridge, the first boat on the offside is the butty, Taurus, set up as a fuel boat.  The same company runs the motor boats Ash and Baron.  I went alongside and tied up.  I had to wait a few minutes for Peter to arrive, which gave me time to put the kettle on.

Having looked at how many hours we'd done since last refuelling, and having looked in the tank yesterday and seen almost nothing but fumes, i knew we'd need quite a lot of diesel.  I'd estimated it would probably take around 160 litres.  In the event, 168 litres went in, filled right to the brim.  Having so much had an advantage -- a bulk discount, taking the price down to a shade over 86p per litre.

It's only a few weeks since I did the Paddington Arm, so I promised myself that I wouldn't take the usual photos.  So if you want the gas holder, Trellick Tower, and the Westway, have a look at the previous blog, here!

When I got to the aqueduct over the North Circular, I slowed right down and let the boat drift through while I went inside to the loo.  There's not much can go wrong in the relatively narrow channel.  Something I wondered about last time was the shields on the little towers on the island in the middle of the aqueduct.  There's one at each end.  They show the crest of Middlesex -- which is odd because this aqueduct dates from 1993 when the road was widened, and Middlesex had long been abolished by then.  A bit of Internet research turned up some photos of the previous aqueduct, which was built in the 1930s.  The photos are here, and clearly show the crests over the road -- so the fact that they've been retained is quite a nice link to the previous aqueduct.

Another thing I noticed last time was an oddity in the bridge numbers.  The numbers go down from Bull's Bridge (where the junction bridge in no 21), to Bridge 1 at Little Venice.  More bridges have been slotted I'm between, and as is normal they've been given letter suffixes.  But the letters go the wrong way!  For example, after Bridge 7 you get 7a, 7b, 7ab, 7d (clearly 7c has been lost somewhere), and then Bridge 6.  Really, all the letter ones should be 6a, 6b, etc.

I'd had the canal all to myself until Alperton, when a small boat appeared in front of me.  I assume they'd set off from the moorings there.  On the open bits they pulled away from me a bit, but past moored boats their tickover was much slower than mine so I kept catching them up.  At Little Venice, trip boat from Camden was coming the other way, to do it's circle round the island.  The helmsman indicated clearly to the little boat to move over to their right (which is where they should have been already really).  But they didn't, so the trip boat, which was moving a quite a pace, made his swing round the island anyway.  For a moment, I thought his bow was going to ram their stern.  As he went past, the skipper told the little boat in no uncertain terms what he thought.  I hope his passengers couldn't speak English; either way, they'll have learned some Anglo Saxon.

Arriving at Paddington Basin, there's always an element of anxiety: will there on won't there be somewhere to moor?  Today I had the added factor of following the little boat.  I could see just one space that would be a possible mooring, on the very outside of the first pontoon -- the trouble was that I'd have preferred to be facing the other way.  The small boat went down to the end of the arm to turn, but were taking quite a long time about it, so I decided to turn in the middle.  I put my stern in the gap between the two sets of pontoons, and swung my bow around.  I think the people moored on the hospital side were having kittens, but even though I say so myself, it was a textbook manoeuvre!  I wouldn't have been able to do it in the windy conditions the last time we were here, though.

The pontoons here are ridiculous -- there's almost nothing to moor to.  In the space I'm in, there's a cleat for the stern rope, but it's the only one.  Someone has helpfully put a bit of blue string round one of the struts under the pontoon, so I've attached the centre rope to that.  And I've attached a rope to the forward fender eye and taken it back round the big pontoon post.

Of course a better spot might become available, and if it does, I might move to it!

16 miles, 0 locks.  (22 miles, 0 locks)

1 comment:

Tucker said...

hi Adam
Lucky again in Paddington basin. Yes those pontoons are hopeless for mooring points. We found the blue string useful and also tied the bow to the boat on the inside of the pontoon as it kept us both straight. Hope you have a good trip.
Bob June and Jimmy