Friday, 20 August 2010

Bishop's Stortford to Dobb's Weir

Back on schedule again, with boating if not blogging. I'm still a day behind. We left Bishop's Stortford at 0915 after I'd been to get a paper, some salad, cash, a disposable barbecue and some spare fuses. Spare fuses? Yes, the previous night I noticed that the inverter had died. I quickly established that that was because it was not getting its proper 12V. An inline fuse had blown. The reason for that wasn't too hard to find: a bodged joint in the supply line had been 'insulated' with insulation tape which had fallen off. The connection had shorted to earth. (Not my bodgery - not my boat!) I taped up the joint much more securely and replaced the fuse, and all is fine again.

Back to the cruising. We met David, Penny and Fergus at Sawbridgeworth, where we had an excellent fryup at the Riverside Cafe. David then had to do a certain amount of car shuffling so that Penny could return home to London later in the afternoon. Unfortunately the paths were not clearly defined, and when David found the navigation after parking the car he headed off in the wrong direction. We eventually met up at Roydon, where we enjoyed ice creams from the enterprising lock cottage.

At a later lock I thought I'd be helpful by fishing out some willow branches with the boat hook. I threw the pole over to Fergus on the other side of the lock so that he could help. It wasn't until we'd been going for at least half an hour that I remembered we'd left it behind. Immediately I pulled in to the bank, got my bike off, and cycled back upstream. If David had had navigation problems mine were just as bad, as what I thought was the towpath suddenly diverted off into the countryside. I pedalled for ages, past posh houses and through a park, taking a detour past the backs of gardens, before regaining the waterway. Now, of course, I didn't know if I'd missed the lock we'd left the boat hook at. So I cycled downstream again ... and fairly quickly came to the lock in question. No boat hook to be seen. The lock was full, though, so I guessed that the last boat through was heading upstream, and had probably 'rescued' the boat hook. It was unmissable, as Fergus had left it stuck upright in the ground. You have no idea how fast a narrowboat moves when you're chasing it on a bicycle! I'd gone a long way past Sawbridgeworth again - almost to Bishop's Stortford - when, at last, having decided that if I didn't come across it before the next lock I'd give up, I spotted a boat ahead, Popham Rose, travelling upstream. As I approached I saw on the cabin top our boat hook! I hailed the steerer, saying that we'd left our boat hook at a lock. He paused for an awkward moment, then reached forward and asked "Did it look like this?" He pulled closer to the bank and threw it over. I then started my second narrowboat chase of the day, trying to catch up Willow. This took MUCH longer than the original chase, because 1, I was more tired; 2, the wind was against me; and 3, I had further to go anyway.

Eventually boat, boat hook and I were reunited. And Jan made me a very welcome cup of tea, and David had gone off on HIS bike again to bring to car to Penny.

After this we had an uneventful cruise to Dobb's Weir, where we ate at the Fish and Eels pub. We had planned to stay there overnight, but the pub's fan was loud, and there was a sand and gravel works opposite still working at 8.30 pm, so we moved a couple of hundred yards further on and tied up for the night.

flypast in our honour(!) at Brick Lock on the Stort - what planes are these?

Note: Some of the pickup/set down places might be in slightly the wrong order. I wasn't very diligent with my log keeping. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

Surely there was a fourth reason, you were carrying a pole. I have a picture of you like a knight jousting of olde.

Neil Corbett said...

The lower two look like spitfires and maybe the upper two are hurricanes. There are a lot of them about this week because of the Battle of Britain anniversary.

Let us know when you have a firm date / time for the Hanwell flight and we may well pop over if we can get away.

email neil dot corbett at ntlworld dot com

Halfie said...

Alan/Frances, no, I was able to strap the boathook to the bike rack so that it stuck out behind me horizontally. I made sure the hook part was under my saddle!

Neil, thanks. Hanwell still seems like a long time in the future - Lechlade and IWA Festival to come. I'll let you know when I have a firm plan for the GU.

VallyP said...

You must be pretty fit to be chasing boats by bike like that!