Nine week cruise - day 60 - Tuesday 30th August 2005
Snarestone to Ansty
Another early start got us under way at 0645, heading back down the Ashby Canal towards the Coventry Canal. It was a lovely sunny morning. David was on the tiller, I was shaving in the bathroom. Suddenly a great clattering noise started over my head, quickly followed by the engine going full astern. The overhead noise had stopped, and so had the boat. I rushed to the stern, and found David frantically throwing his Sea Searcher into the canal. He had been temporarily dazzled by the low sun, and had not spotted a low overhanging branch. Said branch had plucked his new bicycle from the roof and deposited it into the cut, whereupon it disappeared without trace. But it was OK, as he knew exactly where it had gone in. And, anyway, surely the notorious shallowness of this canal would easily reveal its victim. So David fished, under the offending tree, and found ... nothing. I prodded around with the boathook with a matching lack of success. Nothing resembling a human-powered two-wheeler came to light. But this was impossible! We were fishing, and poking around, under the very tree which had swept the bicycle to its watery fate. Where was it? Well, we gradually widened our search, and, eventually, a good boat length in front of the place where it must have gone in, my boathook struck the bike. We hauled it up, and wondered how it could possibly have got where it did. The bike survived its dip, but David got a wet bottom for a few days while the saddle was drying out.
There is a postscript to this story. At Marston Junction, where we turned left onto the Coventry Canal, I was on the tiller. Bit of a tight turn, and overhanging trees on the opposite bank. Was I going to repeat David's mistake and get something caught up? No, of course not. So how was it, then, that Jan, looking out of a window as I made the turn, spotted David's bike lock dangling from a hawthorn branch? Yes, somehow the trees had had it in for bicycles and ancillary items. With a bit of reversing I managed to grab the lock, and any smugness that I might have had immediately after the bicycle went in (it wouldn't have happened on MY watch, oh no) evaporated.
But that was later in the day. At 1045 we stopped at Market Bosworth. Jan went to do some shopping, and I changed the oil and filter. Not recorded, but I seem to recall that old plastic milk containers were used for the old oil. Under way again at 1200.
At 1320 we stopped at Sutton Wharf for water and showers. Passed Stoke Golding wharf at 1505.
The next entry in the boat log was the bike lock incident (if Jan hadn't glanced out of the window at just the right moment it would have been a case of the Amazing Disappearing Bike Lock as well).
Not far past Hawkesbury Junction, where we turned left onto the Oxford Canal at 1920, we stopped to assist Clubline hire boat "Barbara". The crew said their engine had suddenly stopped, and, on restarting, would stop again as soon as they tried to put it into gear. I pointed out to them that their stern rope ran tightly over the stern and under the boat, Yes, they'd managed to get it wrapped round the prop. We lent them a Stanley knife and a hacksaw, but didn't want to delay our progress, so I got off with my bike and waited for them to finish cutting the rope free. Then I cycled along the towpath - surely the worst condition one in the country - to catch up with our boat.
At 2015ish (it was dark), at the end of a day packed with incident, we moored at Ansty Bridge 14.
Grà on test - The September *Canal Boat* is out, and includes my boat test on *Grà* by Finesse Boats. It will be their Crick Boat Show exhibit.
19 hours ago