Thursday, 29 July 2021

Preparations for Sale

 6th - 18th July

I am sure our decision to sell may seem precipitous to some, but it is something we knew might be on the cards and has been discussed between ourselves for quite some time.  If you look back to when we set off on 29th June, you will notice that we were not certain we would make it to Derby, but we were determined to give it a go. Sadly, it was not to be, so the only sensible option is to sell up and find other less strenuous adventures to occupy us.  My knees will (I hope) recover and allow me to walk Monty again and I guess eventually I may get new ones.  Chris's COPD will not improve and we did not want to leave Tentatrice languishing in a marina for a year or so in case I got better.  She was built to cruise.

Boats are selling well at present, so it was just deciding how to sell her - through a broker or privately.  The latter was not an option.  Part of our mooring agreement with the marina specifies that we cannot sell a boat privately from the marina.  New & Used have the concession as brokers at Droitwich which really made the decision for us.

They required us to move everything not boat related (ie windlasses, fenders, boat hooks etc etc) from the boat.  A mammoth task done over many days.  We now have crates, bags and boxes of 'stuff' all over the house!  Once it was empty, the next job was a thorough clean inside and out, neither of which were too bad, but the job still needed to be done.  Sarah once again came to the rescue and on Friday 16th July she came over and spent the day with us getting to all the low down places inside that I cannot get to at the moment.  The next day (one of the hottest of the year) she and her younger son came over to help with the outside.  Sarah was to help me with the blue sides and the roof (she ended up doing at least three quarters) whilst our grandson got stuck in to clean the black.  His lack of height is a definite advantage doing that job!  I have to say he worked very hard and never complained.  I heard him negotiate his 'fee' with his mother - he settled on a bottle of Lucozade!  Needless to say he got some folding money from us!

As you can see above the job was made easier as our pontoon neighbours are away (floating along the Thames I believe), so we could just pull Tentatrice across to do the port side.

The final jobs were for Chris - paint parts of the stove

and touch up the sides

On Monday 19th July we formally handed her over to New and Used.  As I published last week, the details went live on Wednesday 21st July.

We still have mountains of stuff to sort out at home.  That will take a while.  The family have first pick. Most of the rest will end up going to charity.  We have a charity called "New Start" down the road who help those in need to make a 'new start'. Some will go to our local hospice shop, so I am sure it will all find good homes.

So now on to new adventures.  On Monday 19th July we went out for a pub lunch with a friend.  She and I attended our first face to face WI book club since March 2020 in someone's garden that evening.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see 11 other people in the flesh rather than on a screen.  The book was not the best we have read, but we managed to cram in a lot of chatter.  When life was normal whoever was hosting would provide tea and cakes.  Over the last 16 months our numbers have increased (I wonder why?!), so a few people were asked to provide cake.  We ended up with so much, we all had to have 2 slices each!!  Such hardship! It was a memorable evening.  I don't think any of us will ever take meeting people in the flesh for granted again.

The next day was our daughter's eldest son's 14th birthday and we went out for dinner with them to celebrate. On Friday we headed to Derby to visit our son and his family.  I cannot actually remember when we last went to them.  They had a new kitchen in January, so it was good to see that in real life rather than on a screen.  We had a great time with them just relaxing and catching up on the months we have missed in their lives.

Back home now to await the arrival of our daughter in law and youngest granddaughter this today.  Evelyn was supposed to be on the boat with us now, so as a small compensation she is going to spend a few days here instead.  She has recently been gifted a sewing machine that had been languishing in someone's attic for years.  I was able to instruct her how to thread it and sort out the bobbin whilst we were with them and whilst she is here, we hope to get her some material and a pattern, so she can go home in something she has made herself.

I am having an x-ray on my knee on Saturday and I am already receiving physio.  All that is left to do now as far as the boat is concerned is to wait for her to be sold, so watch this space!

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

The end of our very short 'summer cruise' 2nd - 4th July 2021

 Friday 2nd July 2021
The Commandery

A rather belated post!

We woke to sun with every intention of going down one lock to the sanitary station, emptying and filling as required and then heading down the two Diglis locks on to the River Severn and mooring up on the Racecourse moorings.

However.... it was not to be.  Before we set off I wanted to put some washing up to dry on our lines in the bow.  As I stepped up into the bow, my left leg 'cracked' and I was left in a lot of pain.  It is exactly what happened to my right knee 2.5 years ago.  Chris heard my cries for help and somehow I made it to the saloon and the dinette.  It was obvious that we were going nowhere.  What to do and how to get back to the marina?  Our first course of action was to email C&RT and let them know that we might have to overstay (we were on a 48 hour mooring).  As usual, the response was swift and positive - we could stay until the following Wednesday if necessary and if we needed more time we were to get back to them.

We could manage another day without visiting the sanitary station, so we decided to stay put where we were.  I did get out of the boat and stagger using a walking pole to the Commandery all of about 30 feet away.  We enjoyed some time in the fresh air and a toasted sandwich for our lunch.

Saturday 3rd July 2021
The Commandery to above Bridge 2 via the sanitary station and the winding hole
A few hundred yards and 1 lock

We woke to rain and then a lot of activity outside

The first of the competitors in the Droitwich ring paddle - 21 miles in total.

The rain stopped.  The competitors kept coming.

We had to move - both urine containers were full!  I hobbled to the lock, filled it, Chris moved the boat in.  I took over at the helm. There was only one bottom paddle working which Chris struggled to operate - he just does not have enough puff.  He managed, I moved the boat out, picked Chris up and we headed to the sanitary station.  This one lock was enough to show us we would never get back to the marina without assistance.
I am not sure why Chris' face is blurred, but it is him!

The competitors kept coming

We made it to the sanitary station, emptied and filled as required with plenty of action to look at whilst we were there.

It took us back to 1993 and 1994 the years that our son and then our daughter took part in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race that takes place every Easter - well Covid, foot and mouth and weather permitting.  I am sure some of you are aware of this event, particularly if you have ever been on the K & A over the Easter weekend, but for those that aren't here are a few details.  

The start is on Good Friday.  First off are 19 to 35 year olds in K2s (seniors).  They race straight through. The current (non-stop) course record stands at 15 hours 34 minutes.  The course is 125 miles with 77 locks to portage round.  Those under 19 (juniors), over 35 (veterans) and K1 crews take four days.  Devizes to Newbury, then Marlow, then Teddington and finally from Teddington along the tidal Thames to Westminster.  When we did the route from Teddington to Westminster on Tentatrice we felt very small, so to do so in a canoe takes guts.  Each team needs supporters to feed and water them at the various locks en route.  With two in a canoe that meant two sets of parents and siblings to support, so we could leap frog locks.  Supporters were not allowed to help portage canoes.  If there was a break down, the crew had to lift the canoe out of the water and place it on the ground.  The support crew were then allowed to assist.  It is a really hard event which we enjoyed as support crew and took our hats off to all those who competed.  The interesting thing was that a lot of the younger siblings who supported their older siblings, then decided to give it a go themselves.  They were not put off by the sheer hard graft required to finish the event.  When our daughter took part she and her friend 'hit a brick wall' on the tidal part of the Thames.  All padding is taken out of the canoes for this last stretch to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible.  They were both in a lot of discomfort/pain, both were in tears of exhaustion and pain when a crew of two lads from another school came alongside, chivvied them along and stayed with them giving them encouragement all the way to the finish.  Real sportsmanship to put the girls needs before their own time.  The PE master/canoe coach at their school did the event as seniors with his wife one year (and never again!).  He said you needed the speed of a race horse, the stamina of a cart horse and the brains of a rocking horse!

I have just done a search on Mark and Sarah's results:
Av TimePlaceRaces1st

Gash M R21.22810
Gash Sarah Margaret25.63810

The more I dig into DW, the more fascinating it becomes.  The very first race of senior doubles took place in 1948 with 4 boats and the average time was 79 hours (surely they must have stopped a few times?). The first race for junior had 2 entries back in 1952 and the average time was 73 hours.  In 1993 there were 48 entries and the average time was 21 hours.  In 1994 there were 44 entries and the average time was 21.8 hours.  For some reason there was only 1 junior entry in 2000.    In 2000 there were only 6 boats in the senior race.  In 1987 176 boats took part in the senior doubles.  I have now discovered why the numbers were so low in 2000 and other years were missed all together:

In 2000 heavy rainfall had brought the River Thames up to flood levels with fast flowing water. A number of crews found the conditions on the Thames challenging, especially during the darkness of night-time for the non-stop crews. After an incident at Old Windsor wier the race committee took the decision to abandon the race. As some teams had already reached Teddington (and were waiting to access the tidal stretch) when the decision was made, they decided (against the race organisers instructions) to remove their race numbers and carry on unofficially to Westminster.

In 2001, along with a large number of events in the UK, the race could not take place due to a nationwide outbreak of Foot-and-mouth disease restricting unnecessary access to the countryside (and thus large parts of the course).

In 2016 Storm Katie brought storm force winds to London on Easter Monday meant that a decision was made to cancel the last day of the staged race and the results were based on the times taken to reach Thames Young Mariners. Finishers medals were awarded to those that reached this point and certificates issued marked "shortened course". This decision didn't impact the non-stop race, which had already finished on Easter Sunday

In 2018 heavy rainfall prior to the Easter weekend and throughout Good Friday once again brought the River Thames up to flood levels with fast flowing water. The race committee initially made a decision that no night-time paddling should occur on the Thames, but with conditions worsening then decided that all classes would finish at Reading (Wokingham Canoe Club at Dreadnaught Reach).[8] No finishers medals were issued and certificates were marked with "shortened course".

In 2020 & 2021 the event was cancelled because of the Covid Pandemic

Tragically in 1991 a canoeist from Worcester died on the last leg between Richmond Bridge and Westminster - the only fatality in its 71 year history.  They say it is one of the hardest endurance races - much harder than the London Marathon.  I gather that Sir Steve Redgrave pulled out after 87 miles back in 2012 when he was 50.

Anyway I digress.  We managed to find a lull and safely winded (turned round) without impeding any of the competitors.  We moored up just past B2 below the lock we had come down that morning to await rescue.  That evening we heard something moving around on the roof.  I hobbled out to have a look to find two ducks plodding around.  The male kept his distance, but the female was a lot braver (or hungrier) and came right up to me, eventually taking food from my hand.

Sunday 4th July 2021
Bridge 2, Worcester Birmingham Canal to Droitwich Spa Marina
9.14 miles, 17 locks

Rescue came in the form of our daughter with transport provided by our son in law.  Sarah arrived at 09:50 and we headed off straight away - we had a long day ahead of us.

There is not a lot to say about the journey apart from it being painful and we would never have made it without Sarah.  I managed to hobble about and could work one side of the bottom gates, so at least she did not have to keep walking round.  We were following other boats up all the way, but we all went at the same speed, so no hold ups.  

It was below this lock on the way down that we spent four hours with Chris down the weed hatch.  This time we got though without incident.

Some pounds were still down, so a bit of scraping along the bottom again.

A few hold ups with boats ahead, but no massive queues.

The occasional boat coming down

The horse and the sheep were still in their field, but today the horse had no coat and the sheep were sheltering from the sun under the tree.

Sarah hard at work as we exited the top lock and before we went under the M5.

Fun and games at Hanbury Junction when the boat ahead of us made the left turn towards the Hanbury locks.  It took a few goes and the use of the barge pole,  

but they made it through the very narrow junction without a single touch. We had the feeling that they might have borrowed the boat, but whoever they were they did everything slowly, but absolutely correctly.

It was all made more interesting when another boat came along from the Astwood direction.  They wanted to go straight on, so we had to make the turn into Hanbury before they could continue.  Chris was pleased that he made it round the turn in one, but then he has done it many times.

The Hanbury locks came next with VLKs on duty, so it was an easy ride down.  The hole I reported on on our first day has got bigger.

Just as we exited the bottom lock the heavens opened - literally 10 minutes from our mooring!  The VLKs at Hanbury have helped us more times than I can count.  I am always delighted to see VLKs wherever we are, so a big thank you to the ones who helped us today and all the others on all our previous journeys all over the country.  Will we ever pass through here again?

Not just a bit of rain! Note the coot....

A welcoming committee of the rest of the coot family at the entrance to the marina

Our son in law and one of their sons came to collect Sarah.  It had been a 7 hour trip.  One we would never have managed on our own, so a really big thank you to Sarah for giving up her Sunday and the rest of the family for lending her to us.

Typically the rain did not last long. We did not linger.  Once safely tied up we headed for home - things could be sorted out another day.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Tentatrice is officially on the market.

 Wednesday 21st July 2021

So much for me saying in my last post on 5th July, that I would be back with the details of our last couple of days on the boat - it did not happen.  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of unloading the boat and cleaning.  It is all done and we have the contents all over our house!   I am still hobbling around - I feel like I am rising 90, not 70!  I am having physio and I am sure the flare up will abate sufficiently for me to be able to walk properly again!

However the sale has gone live via New & Used - See here for details.  

If you know of anyone looking for a boat please pass on the details and if those of you who have a blog would be kind enough to add the link we would be very grateful.

I will add those last couple of days, but it might take a while as we are still sorting out 'stuff'!  

Monday, 5 July 2021

It is with much regret...

 If we thought four hours down the weed hatch was bad, things were to get worse.  I suffered a massive arthritic flare up in my good knee on Thursday which stopped us in our tracks.  When the last post was published, I had assumed we would have left the Commandery, but we didn't.  

Our daughter helped us get back to the marina on Sunday and it is with much regret that we have decided that we will have to retire from boating so will have to sell our much loved boat.  There are other health issues and we need to make the decision before we end up not enjoying the life afloat.  We have a lot of great memories to look back on.  We need to remove all the things we want to keep, then clean inside and out and she will then go up for sale.

I will write a proper blog in a few days with details of our last few days aboard, but in the meantime if you know of anyone looking for a 59 foot reverse layout boat with a Beta 43 engine please feel free to point them in our direction.  She is only 8 years old and had her bottom blacked last October, a complete re-paint was completed in December 2020 and she has just passed her BSS.  

Friday, 2 July 2021

What a Day! 01 July 2021

Thursday 1st July 2021
Perdiswell to The Commandery, Worcester
2 miles, 5 locks

I was right yesterday about it being a good place to stop.  Chris took Monty over to the recreation ground yesterday afternoon and I went with Monty this morning - it is huge - a veritable dog paradise.

We walked back to the bridge and I took a photo of Tentatrice as we crossed the bridge

There is a useful plan as you get to the other side with many different options.  Alas we did not have time to explore much of it, but it is somewhere we might well come back to by car in the future.

By the time we got back we were nearly set to go

Our timing was perfect - a boat was just emerging from the first lock, so it would be ready for us.  

In not time at all we were down the lock and as I was heading to the next lock just a short distance away, I heard a cry from Chris.  We had something round the prop.  Off he went down the weed hatch. I took this photo at 10:04 about 10 minutes or so after he had gone down.

It became apparent that this was not going to be a quick fix, so I pulled us along and tied us up to the lock landing.  The VLK (John) that was on duty came to see if we needed any help.  He lent Chris a pruning knife to add to he other tools he already had, offered words of encouragement and also took away the bulk of what we think was a fleece hoodie.

This was just part of it.

I busied myself cleaning and tidying, making tea, I helped a couple of boats through the lock below us, I watched this man for hours just turning his sign around and around and I generally tried to be helpful.

I took this photo at 13:49 and poor Chris was still down the weed hatch

The boat was all set to go over 4 hours after we had ground to a halt

We were so close, yet so far.  

We eventually made it down the second lock of the day.

Only to find that the pound below it was so low we scraped along the bottom all the way to the next lock!  

This sign was on all the locks 

They did try to get through,

 but our swan and duck food kept them occupied long enough for us to get and shut the gate.

Time to count the cost of all Chris' hard work 3 lots of plasters

and lots of bruises

The sign for The Worcester Canal Festival we attended in 2015 is still in place

and it is good to see that the mural at Lowesmoor is still looking in good condition.

A mooring was spotted at the Commandery - we had had enough, so we took it.  I am sure it will not be the quietest of moorings and we made a right meal of tying up much to the amusement (I am sure) of the people on the hire boat behind us.  They had offered to help, but sometimes it is better to just get on with things even when you are both bone weary.  Tomorrow will be another day.  We will probably only go as far as the Racecourse on the River Severn, which had been our target for today. It should only take about 1.5 hours, but we need to use the services before we drop onto the river and Chris, understandably, wants to check down the weed hatch once more before we go.    I think we need time to recover and not add a 5 hour dash along the Severn with no guarantee of being able to moor on the river when we get to Stourport.   We know the narrow locks at Stourport are closed so we will be going up the broad locks.  VLKs are available from 8am to 6pm.

Monty and I went for a little wander which included a short trip up the main street just past the next lock.  It was rush hour and very busy which included a police car with blues and twos going.  Monty has never been a fan of lots of traffic and this was his first experience since lock down and he did not turn a hair.  When I mentioned this might not be the quietest mooring we were not expecting the noises that emanated from behind us.  First a lot of women cackling then a few words drifted across the cut 'When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightening or in rain'?

The poster on the railings of the Commandery enlightened us

Words and music drifted over through the evening.  It is something we would love to have gone to had we known it was on and if we had not been quite so tired.  It was very tempting to nip up the main street to get a takeaway, but our food was out of the freezer, so Chris broke out the BBQ and I made the salad.  I am sure it was a lot tastier and healthier than a takeaway.