Sunday, 24 February 2013

By Endurance We Conquer

As we wait for Easter, and the break in the ice flows that will allow us free passage from the River Soar up to the Peak Forest Canal, we have been filling our spare time usefully. Despite the bitter cold, and long months of darkness we have, when breaks in the weather have allowed, pottered up and down the canal between Pillings Lock Marina and Loughborough, practising steering the boat in a straight line, aiming at the centre of bridge holes, practising steering around corners, and generally annoying masses of anglers. In fact all of these skills can be experienced simultaneously at Loughborough Branch Junction.   

Soon, we plan a trip to Zouch, to give the crew some lock practice. But one step at a time, there is no need to rush matters. On the weekends we have not been on the boat, we have practised drinking in The Navigation at Bugsworth basin – just a mile or so from our new mooring at Furness Vale. So, although outings have been few, we do feel a little better equipped for our coming adventure.
Other skills we have practised include canal side mooring of the boat. Now the books and websites and forums will tell you what is important here: approach slowly; maybe use a little reverse; tie up with the centre line first; which knots to use, and so on. 

But they ALL miss the most important thing, and maybe the most difficult of all to achieve: and that is to pick a mooring place where you do NOT step off the boat into a pile of dog poo! 

Around Loughborough this proved to be a significant challenge, and although there were no 'incidents,' the boat did have to be dragged about 50 yards, from its initial mooring, to find a 'safe' spot. Perhaps the rural areas will be less difficult?
But most of the time we have been fast in the grip of the ice, spending the days breaking icicles off the ropes and keeping the deck clear. The long evenings and nights have been spent huddled around the stove. 

The crew have remained, for the most part, cheerful. And the dog, although regularly exercised, has generally stayed inside, occasionally putting out a paw in order to gauge the temperature. 

The long journey home remains ahead of us, and a few photographs and these rough notes will tell our tale.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Annoying anglers is *very* important.