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The travels of narrow boat Racundra

Maiden voyage

Maiden voyage

28th March 2014

We have returned from our two weeks in the British Virgin Islands. We had a holiday that was everything we could have hoped for and much more! How was our narrow boat adventure going to compare?

Largely recovered from our jet lag we arrived at the marina around 2.30pm. While we waited for a visit from Alec the engineer we loaded up with our clothes, groceries, new duvet, new rug, computers and a couple of bottles of wine. Alec arrived and de-winterised for us, pointing out the water stop cock, the water pump, calorifier blow off valve (huh?), and the shower pump out. We also asked him to show us how to get the Webasto running.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t responding to the controller. Alec did his best to sort it out but it was getting late and he was supposed to be at home cooking for his first wedding anniversary. It was only fair to let him go. He promised to get back on the job on Monday morning.

Stormy and fumyOur plan had been to set off the next day for a week away, travelling up to Chester and back. Oh well, “man plans, God laughs”! Without the heating it was rather cold so we decided to fire up the solid fuel stove. There was some kindling wood, fire lighters and smokeless coal left by the previous owners and we soon had it warming the boat. It was a bit fumy – hopefully it is just a matter of burning it off. In the BVI the temperature had been 26-28C, wall to wall sunshine and gentle breezes. Over Venetian Marina it was 7C and a little storm was brewing. Within an hour the rain was clattering off our steel shell, lightning was flashing right overhead and we were wincing every time the thunder rattled around us. Charlie doesn’t like narrow boats, but she really hates thunderstorms. Every time I moved she was under my feet and the fumes from the fire were making Glyn ill. This wasn’t working out the way we had dreamed it.

We decided to call it a night and we climbed into our very cold bed and settled down for the night. Actually we soon warmed up (it is only a 4′ bed) and we slept very well until about seven in the morning.

29th March 2014

No wi-fi this morning. The storm has knocked out the marina’s broadband (along with the electricity in Crewe). I had intended to subscribe to the Canal and River Rescue service. This is equivalent to the AA for boaters. I got through to them on the phone and paid for their Silver Level. It doesn’t take effect for 3 days so we had to decide whether to go out “unprotected” or sit in the marina – we took the risk.

Our planned trip to Chester thwarted we decided to head off for 24 hours, stop overnight and return in time to meet Alec on Monday morning. Still hoping to make the trip to Chester later we opted for going south on the Shropshire Union, turning left at Barbridge Junction. The moment of truth – all prevarication over the time had arrived to start the engine, cast off the mooring ropes and take to the “cut”. We had a small setback when we started the engine. Charlie decided to jump ship. She stepped onto the pontoon and walked determinedly away from the boat towards the last known location of her preferred form of transport – completely oblivious to commands, requests, pleas to return! Eventually she was coaxed back on board and she spent the rest of the day tied to the stern rail – hopefully she will adapt with time!

Being a natural worrier I was a bit concerned about the awkward cross wind in the marina and the lock that needed negotiating just outside the chandler’s shop – with everybody watching but hey, I have decided that I am just going to go for it. I did take the opportunity to watch a neighbouring boat exit the marina very successfully and learned a lot. So when it came to my turn everything went very smoothly – quite chuffed!

Immediately had to stop as the lock gates were closed against us so I left Glyn with the boat while I went forward to open the gates. While I went ahead two boats pulled up behind Glyn – more pressure! A couple of crew members came up to join me so I left them to manage things and went back and took over the boat. It is very much in everyone’s interest to help each other.

Didn’t do such a good job of Barbridge Junction but we bumped our way round and stopped shortly afterwards for lunch (we had been very late getting started) feeling quite pleased with ourselves. We continued southwards finally stopping at Coole Pilate just after 5pm and tied up for the night. Along the way we squeezed through some narrow stretches with boats moored both sides and oncoming vessels to be passed, all the while grappling with cross winds. Glyn did a lot of the helming developing her skills dropping off crew and negotiating locks.

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Glyn cooked us both a lovely stir-fry in our excellent galley, with a glass of wine followed by coffee and maltesers. Then we watched Prunella Scales and Timothy West cruising the Llangollen Canal on the telly, before turning in for the night.

Lesson learned today: Don’t leave the fenders out while cruising, I ripped one of them off going into a lock, never to be seen again.

4 Comments

  1. Hi both, nice blog, enjoy your adventure!

    • Glad you like it. Been enjoying seeing your news on facebook – keep in touch!

  2. Hi
    We have just read your blog. You have started off well coping with all the little problems thrown at you. This is boating! There is always a challenge. Good luck. Our very best wishes for a wonderful experience. We hope to meet you on the cut some time during the summer.
    Ann and Eric

    • Thank you. We’ll definitely be in touch.

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