Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Weed slows progress on the Birmingham Canal

We set off at 0930 from near Hatherton Junction and stopped for Morrisons just after the narrows of Pendeford Rockin. We were due to meet fellow BCFer Richard at Aldersley Junction; he walked up just as we tied up there for lunch on Jubilee. And then it was off up the Wolverhampton 21. Kew went first, so all the locks had to be turned for us. With five of us altogether, though, we kept up fairly well. No water was wasted down bywashes; nearly every pound was low.

Some of the balance beams were quite rotten; I expect some are due for replacement soon. The gates themselves didn't seem to leak much. This is Lock 7; soon the lock number will be even less legible.

At the top we decided, with Kew, to go on to the moorings by the Black Country Living Museum and the northern portal of Dudley Tunnel. This is where the condition of the canal threw a spanner in the works. Or, rather, a whole lot of weed.

With Kew out of sight ahead we were going slower and slower. The water was beautifully clear, but that could mean only one thing. Weed. This is usually fine if it's just growing at the bottom of the cut, but here there was a lot of blanket weed floating on the surface. Jubilee's base plate projects an inch or two forward of the stem post. This prevents weed trapped against the bow from slipping under the boat; instead it forms a great clump which doesn't improve the hydrodynamics much. Every so often I remove it by means of a long timber batten, but as soon as I was removing it it was collecting again.

The weed also wrapped itself round the prop quite readily. The second time we stopped to clear it I discovered a thick bramble trapped on the skeg against the rudder post. This, of course, was a good collector of weed; it was sticking to the thorns. I had to resort to the steak knife to cut this away.

By the time we got to the BCLM it was 1930 and getting rather gloomy. David and Mary joined us for a meal on board Jubilee - Jan had cooked a delicious chicken stew.


Vallypee said...

At least you keep weeding out the offenders :) Happy travels, Halfie. It all sounds lovely!

Andrew Tidy said...

It looks like you will beat us to Windmill End. currently at Merry Hill with one very poorly centaflex drive coupling. I am praying it lasts for the next 4 miles after which it will be a call to RCR!

Halfie said...

Andy, we finished tying up at our mooring at two minutes to five; I then ran to the volunteers' meeting due to start at five. If your Centaflex doesn't last - and I hope it does, of course - then will you get a tow? Now that would be interesting! Give ma a shout if you want help bowhauling.

Halfie said...

Tell you what, don't bother ma - give ME a shout!