Tuesday 28th September 2010
Weather – Reasonably mild, overcast but DRY! Day 17
We called for an early start at Marsworth of 7.30am for the narrow boat crews to get up the long flight of locks to give the kayakers
a normal start of 9.30am and amazingly we set of at 7.30am. Everyone was in good spirits and today Stevo – our one remaining Australian kayaker was taking a rest day and helping with the 29 locks we had to contend with. That left only Justin and Steven on the canal for the day, with the hard prospect of having to get out of the kayaks for pretty much every lock. Anyone who has tried getting in and out of these things will know it’s not easy. In the event they did it 19 times (some were locks close together and the first seven were a close flight too).
So at 9.30, on the dot our little flotilla set off on the summit of the Grand Union Canal near Tring. We did see the lock keeper who explained that here was still a shortage of water and some stretches were quite shallow. From now on it was all downhill to our final destination on Friday.
With the experienced Hillingdon crew on hand I was able to have a scrub up, tidy the boat and have some breakfast before the next lock which was some 3 miles away. Anybody who owns their boat will know it takes a lot to allow someone else to take on your tiller – unsupervised – just shows how much I trusted Bob, Eddie and Roy!
The Hillingdon Crew with Justin. Roy, Bob and Eddie – top blokes!
We settled in to the long day ahead of us and so when Justin phoned to say he was at our destination to the south of Hemel Hempstead at 2pm I have to say I was amazed as we still had about 2 ½ hours to go! We are w pretty slick team when locking with everyone having confidence in each other and each taking a spell walking, prepared, winding, steering, closing and so one. I managed to get my brisk walk in (several times) and reckon I did 5 miles today at least.
Stevo took the helm of Pisces for the day and was pretty impressive – his spell on Elysium which is pretty smooth and responsive was good earlier last week, but Pisces is a tough handful, much less responsive, twice as heavy on the tiller and five times as hard to stop if you need to in a hurry. In locks you are sometimes in a hurry and Stevo handled her like a professional!
Loved the town of Berkhamstead which I remembered from many years ago. The canal is sided by some very lovely buildings and pubs – very characterful.
In fact couldn’t complain (part from the number of locks) about Hemel Hempstead either until the last bit where we are moored which is next to an abandoned factory, one of the many large paper makers that used to be here. The local Newspaper asked us for a picture for them to publish and we took it here wit the ruins in the background.
Debrief was in Ye Olde Red Lion followed by a very good casserole prepared by Bobs wife Jennifer and which e brought with him last night. Big thanks to her and also for doing a pile of my washing (and even ironing my undies!). Again thanks to the Hillingdon Crew – above and beyond the call but very welcome.
A clever pic by yours truly – unfortunate angle though?
Managed to get Justin to rest from 8pm today – that’s three on the trot and means whilst he is under my control I have kept my promise to is surgeons to make him rest as long as possible at night. It’s very hard to do this when everyone else enjoys a good social atmosphere and he feels pressured to be part of it. Today however it was very easy to persuade both Justin and Steven to take early nights – they were both shattered.
The narrow boaters were too – its was a long hard day – I am so praying for help next week when I make my return trip.