Monday, 15 January 2018

Lapworth (cruising in reverse all day)

As I said in yesterday’s blog, we wanted a relaxing and quiet Sunday, and so we did.  We spent most of the morning on the boat and then went to get water before lunch.  The water point is only a couple of hundred yards away from where we are moored so you would think it would be a simple operation to cruise up there, take on water and come back again.

There is a lock between us and the water point and we had to negotiate that first.  Not normally an issue but, as we were facing the wrong way we had to reverse into the lock.  Again, this would not normally be an issue, other than narrowboats are not built for reversing.  Unless you have a bow thruster (or lady button as they are often called), it is very difficult to keep the boat in a straight line.  Bow thrusters are little motors at the front of the boat that enable the driver to move the bows left or right as required - useful when reversing but you do see people using them when they are casting off which can cause bank erosion where banks aren't protected by steel piling, concrete or other similar material. 

Even having done the operation many times here, I still don’t like doing it as the lock has a strong overspill weir which creates a strong cross current which sends the boat all over the place.  When going forwards you can adjust for the cross current by steering into it and turning away from it at the last moment but obviously not so easy in reverse when you have no control.  There was no one around which meant I got into the lock without any problems – I didn’t even hit the sides.  Of course, if there had been gongoozlers or other boats around I would have completely cocked it up 😊

Having gone through the lock I carried on reversing across the basin, span the boat round and moored up at the water point.  I turned the boat round as I had decided to go back to the same mooring after taking on water but wanted to be facing the other way.  We will be setting of for the Grand Union next weekend so it’ll be easier to set off facing the right way!  This did mean I would have to reverse back down the lock again etc.

I have only seen one boat come past us in the whole week we have been here, but, like buses, as soon as I moored up, two more appeared and then a fourth – all wanting the service point.

Moored at the water point – one boat in front of us – one waiting in the lock (having lunch!) and another to the right, out of sight of the camera

The other three boats were all people who have permanent moorings in the area and had all decided to get water or have a pump out on the same day.  Unfortunately, as they are all moored in different locations they didn’t coordinate their trips!  With the notoriously low pressure at the water point it took well over an hour to fill the boat and it was practically dark by the time the other boats had finished.  It seemed like it had taken all day to get water by the time we had moored back up again.

Even though we are having a lot of grey weather, Karen and I have both thought spring has come early on some mornings.  Laying in bed we have heard birds calling as if it’s March already – I’m not very good on birdsong but it sounds like the robins and great tits are at it already.

We have also enjoyed just sitting looking out of the window at the mallards playing outside the boat.  We know it’s the courtship ritual but some of the displays are just like they’re playing, especially when several of the males are performing the same dance simultaneously.  Our resident waterfowl pick their mates in the winter months so it’s not really a sign of spring but a sign of spring to come 😉

The other sign of spring is that a lot of our spring flower bulbs in the pots on the roof are shooting – crocuses, daffodils, tulips etc.

Before it got dark we went for a walk down to Lowsonford to have a nose around the lock cottage that’s for sale.  It really is a shame about the M40 – it really is rather noisy in the garden, so not the tranquil and remote spot it would be if the motorway wasn’t there.  As I said yesterday, it’s a mile from the nearest road – such an ideal location

Moored at the same spot but now facing the other way

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