Thursday, 18 July 2013

Arrival at Cassiobury Park for the National Festival

We've made it. We got here at about 5.30pm after boating continuously since 6.30am. A long day. I'm sure it should have taken only about seven hours. Most of the delays were at the locks - and there were lots of locks. At about the second lock of the day I saw someone I recognised - Sarah E - who was lock wheeling for loaded pair Clover and Fazeley. We let them through (of course) and witnessed thumblining in operation. This is a technique using a thin rope attached to the handrails of the balance beams which prevents the motor or the butty from drifting too far back as the lock empties. This would damage the ellum (rudder). The biggest pull towards the cill the butty experiences appears to be when the motor powers out of the lock: the line holds the butty in position, but when the butty starts to move forward under tow from the motor the line magically releases itself and falls back onto the boat. Or something like that. The crew were super-efficient: everything worked quickly and smoothly. We caught up with them at locks lower down, though, as the number of boats heading south built up.

Towards the middle of the afternoon, though, the other boats all disappeared, leaving us once more to work locks on our own. We'd had good locking partners, notably in Alder.

When we got near our destination of Lock 77 we came across the start of the festival moorings. We cruised slowly past, and found our spot almost at the far end. We actually went down the next lock so we could wind in order to be facing the right way for our return journey after the weekend.

Well, that's enough for now, and I must apologise once more for the lack of photos. Tomorrow should be a day with a bit more spare time: perhaps I can put some on then!

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