Thursday, 14 November 2013

Breaking down in Husbands Bosworth Tunnel

12th April 2013

While I'm on the subject of tunnels and things which go wrong in them, I don't think I have told this story before.

Day 12 of my retirement cruise on Shadow saw us on a cold April morning heading south through Husbands Bosworth Tunnel. The fire is lit, there's light at the end of the tunnel, and all is well with our little bit of the world.

Note, if you would, how our pipe fenders are correctly sitting on the roof, out of harm's way. The time, by the way, is 10:06.

Fifty yards before popping out of the other end of the tunnel ... and

*** BANG! ***

Something was round the prop. Oo-er! This hasn't happened to me in a tunnel before.

I cut the engine. Fortunately the boat had sufficient momentum - just - to drift out of the tunnel. I steered, sort of, by pushing the back end away from the tunnel walls. Once out of the tunnel we drifted conveniently to the bank. So now it was down the weed hatch for me, and fill the kettle for Jan. (To pour hot water into the weed hatch, of course.)

Whatever it was round the prop, it wasn't going to come off in a hurry. Which was a shame, as the water was FREEZING! (Almost literally. We'd been ice breaking a few days before; the canal was being topped up with meltwater.)

To protect my arm against the cold I wrapped it in a bin liner. This acted like a wetsuit, a thin one, but it made a difference. I tied string round all the tools I attacked the debris with, so that I could retrieve them if I dropped them because of the numbing cold.

I think you can see how cold I was!

I sawed and I pulled and I turned the prop and I sawed some more and I pulled some more and I sawed and pulled and sawed and turned and pulled and pulled ...

... and stopped for a hot coffee.

Then I resumed sawing and pulling and turning and cutting and getting cold, until ...

... eventually ...

... at last ...

... at long last ...

... they were off. Two pipe fenders. All right, the remains of two pipe fenders. Each with its strong securing rope. Well, you wouldn't want them to come off in a tunnel, for instance, would you?

The time of the above photo: 13:17.

Three hours is what it took. Three c o l d hours.

Oh, and before you ask, no, they were not our pipe fenders.

Canal Boat magazine columnist Steve Haywood wrote in the September 2013 issue of the hazards of pipe fenders. You won't be surprised to learn that I tend to agree with him.


Captain Ahab said...

Pipe Fenders - great for mooring up but I never, ever travel with them down. Its what rubbing strakes are for!

Sarah said...

Yeah, and for mooring why not have something a bit more substantial and attractive... Following the lead of nb Bath, we now refer to side fenders as 'bonglers'. 'Dangly bonglers' can with great satisfaction be sung to the tune of Cwm Rhondda.

Tom and Jan said...

It's happened to us twice this year. "Bonk bonk bonk" noise from under the uxter plate. Fortunately the bread knife was sharp and the water not freezing.

Halfie said...

Wretched things!