Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Ice breaker


The canal was frozen over again on Tuesday morning.

There comes a point where it is dangerous to cruise on a frozen canal.  When the ice is too thick it can deflect steel boats off their course quite alarmingly.  As the boat breaks the ice large slabs lift up and slide over to the side and can crack the hulls of moored plastic cruisers. Also there is a school of thought that the ice scrapes the blacking off the bows.  I suspect this is true once the ice gets too thick; we don't cruise if the ice is an inch or more thick.

In the days of working boats if the canal had frozen to a point where the working boats could no longer navigate, the ice breaker boats would be called out. Unlike the traditional long narrow boat, icebreakers were generally shorter and constructed from iron or at least have their wooden hull covered and reinforced with metal.  The crew, often up to 20 men, would stand, holding onto a longitudinal rail running the length of the boat and, as a team of horses heaved away, would rock the boat quite violently from side to side to break through the ice.  This picture from the web clearly demonstrates the required action.



 

As the ice was only about 1/2 inch thick we decided to cruise up to Market Bosworth.  As we left our mooring we passed Dadlington wharf – didn’t look too up market!


Karen and Buddy walked the five and a half miles to Market Bosworth whilst I made my way through the ice.  Fortunately a boat had gone through 30 minutes before us so had done most of the hard work.  In places it was still so cold and unprotected that the ice had reformed as a continuous sheet. It was eerie hearing the sound of the breaking ice – it was disconcerting as it sounded like the hull was cracking.

Apparently Buddy managed to creep up on a sleeping duck and playfully (not biting) get it into his mouth.   The duck was taken unawares and started flapping and it seemed like Buddy was even more surprised by this and stopped trying to play with it.  Buddy may also have been surprised by the fact that he had caught it in the first place.

We moored for lunch at Market Bosworth and walked into the village.  It was all rather quaint and, we suspect, packed out in the summer months.  It’s a shame cars are allowed into the pretty market triangle.


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