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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Offside branches, moored boat and a widebeam, something was going to go wrong.

I always say a good thunderstorm clears the air and today was no exception. Not a massive storm at the Park, a flash and a couple of loud claps of thunder followed by a minute of torrential rain, but it helped drop the humidity and we had high hopes of a pleasant morning cruising.

Pulling pins by 9.30am it was a steady run to Peartree where we stopped for water. Surely, there is not a slower tap on the system as it took over an hour to top our tank up by just 60 percent. By the time we had finished other boaters were queuing and I expect they are all in for a long stay.

 One thing I have noticed this year on the GU is the number of wide beams. Most are a reasonable width but there are the few that are monsters. With the amount of offside vegetation and branches now narrowing the width of the canal, the inevitable was due to happen. Unfortunately that 'inevitable' happened to us. Rounding a bend we first saw the moored boat before realising another boat was also coming toward us, one with a monstrous bow and one of the broadest wide beam boats I think I have seen on this canal. I'm pretty sure it could only just fit through a bridge 'ole, it was that big. Anyway we had to move over pretty smart and right into overhanging branches of an offside tree. Ian put FS into reverse but not before the front part of FS had disappeared from view. And as luck would have it, and following close behind the wide beam, was another narrowboat. We could do nothing but sit tangled until both boats had passed. Even that wide beam didn't come away unscathed. It too had to go through part of those branches to get past that moored boat. Then because FS was by now in the mud, out came the pole and with me reversing away from the branches, the front was pushed off by Ian sufficiently for our bow to clear the tree. I feel that all wide beams have their place on our canals, after all the water is to be enjoyed by everyone, but I do feel a limit on the width of some of these should be implemented, either that or C&RT has to start clearing the vast amount of offside vegetation that is encroaching on the canals to allow these huge crafts to cruise in a safe manner.

 On our way again we made it as far as Fenny Stratford. Stopped on the 14-day mooring and may stay until after the weekend. Quite fancy going to Bletchley Park which is the site of the WW2 codebreakers. We have been before but didn't feel as if we took it all in.

And seen on route,


Sue said...

If that was me in that wide beam I would have been going slowly enough to be able to wait for you to come past that tree. There seems to be plenty of room for him to have pulled over to the towpath side by the look of the pic.

I am committed to going up the Paddington Arm again this year and I am not looking forward to it for that very reason that I don't want to put people in trouble like that. It may be our last year going on the canals as there are just so many boats now.

Still, I am as happy as a lark on the River Thames.. If I wasn't then I wouldn't have bought a widebeam!

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

The wide beam was passing a moored boat ( a bit difficult to see in the picture) so couldn't pull over. I think it was the sheer size of this boat that was a problem as it too had difficulty in getting past. Don't be put off by travelling in NPXZ as most of the time there is enough room and yours is nowhere as big as that one. I'm sure you will have no problem in cruising to Paddington. Xx

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