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Friday, 30 September 2011

Cruising reflections

Bon on holiday

Bonny can be very meditative at times, despite being young and active. She sat here, looking out over the River Trent for a good hour, just watching the world go by. That was the flavour of our cruise.  I deliberately didn’t plan to travel a long distance with limited time. Instead I wanted to be free to mooch along for a while, see a promising spot to moor and stop for the rest of the day, or a couple of days if the mood took us. As a result I was much more relaxed than usual whilst cruising as I did not put myself under any time pressure.

I also have this dream of being able to give up working and cruise for months on end. I wanted to feel what it would be like to have unlimited time and no targets to aim for. I discovered that I am more of a moorer than a cruiser! I love finding a new place to moor up; new neighbours to pass the time of day with and new walks to explore. The cruising is necessary to do this, but I am not one who likes the cruising for its own sake and so am not happy to cruise from dawn to dusk, leaving no time to explore or relax. I feel slightly less of a boater because of this, but it is good to know. I still want to explore the canal and river system but I think I would do it is chunks, taking plenty of time for each journey and returning to my home mooring in between trips. so I’m not the total gypsy I thought I was!

great single mooring Taft bridge

This is the sort of mooring I love to find as basically I am an unsociable hermit! There are wide banks of reeds at either end of the boat so no one else can moor next to me. There is no road or railway particularly close by and so Bonny can run free and there are no houses nearby. This particular mooring is near Taft Bridge on the Trent and Mersey, in between Rugeley and Great Haywood. The towpath is wide at this point so I can put my lounger out without becoming an obstacle for joggers and dog walkers.

shall I go or stay

I have been dreaming of a perfect home mooring. It would be a single mooring rented from a farmer on one of his fields. he would fence off around 60’ x 60’ so we would have room to sit, grow a few veggies and Bonny would at last have a garden to run free in. There would be access to a stand pipe for water and the mooring would be close to a bridge and the farm lane so I could park my car and access the towpath. It wouldn’t be far from somewhere I could cruise to for diesel and pump outs. It would be heaven for us, so if there are any farmers out there who want a regular income for very little effort…

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The great lone cruise

I have been and gone and come back again with the boat, Bonny and I just about in one piece!
We had 14 days to go wherever we liked and do what ever occurred to us at the time – my sort of holiday! The weather was variable as you would expect in autumn so I managed a little sunbathing, a little puddle jumping and quite a lot of wind!
In fact there were a couple of days when gales hit us. I knew they were coming so I moored up safely – or so I thought. I had moored in the woods where there was some shelter, however I hadn’t taken into account a gap in the windbreak. Boats coming around the bend were reaching the gap and losing control of their bows as the wind struck them. The first this happened to was an old, laden working boat and as it’s bow swung, it hit my boat hard enough to empty my cupboards and scrape the paint back to the metal on my gunwales. He was towing a butty (a boat with no engine generally used for hauling a load) and it followed faithfully and also bounced off me. They were very apologetic and I was very gracious! Shortly after this two hire boats repeated the performance and so I had no choice but to move. It was blowing hard as I untied and hastily leapt on the boat before she took off on her own. I had to negotiate a lock before I could reach a mooring in the woods proper. There was nothing to tie to so I had the joy of trying to hammer in mooring pins whilst at the same time preventing my boat from blowing across the canal. I had a few blisters by the time I finally sat down with a restorative cup of tea.
There were many more enjoyable and less challenging moments and below are some photos of them, but there is something about surviving a potentially dangerous challenge that gives me such a huge buzz!
best photo of cruise
This is one of my better photos of a mooring spot. I am really enjoying having a decent camera at long last. (By the way if you click on a photo you can see it much bigger) My boat is in front of the red one (or behind depending on how you look at it!) The mooring is adjacent to Shugborough Hall at the junction of the Trent and Mersey with the Staffordshire and Worcester canal. You can just see Cannock Chase in the background. Isn’t it gorgeous? The red boat contained a couple with a very friendly spaniel – much to Bonny’s delight.
rare sunbathing!
This was one of the rare really sunny days and Bonny and I took advantage of a bit of sunbathing! The mooring was near Weston on the way to Stone. There was just enough room for one boat to moor – my sort of mooring as, given the choice, I prefer solitude to neighbours.

gales at woodend
The photo really doesn’t do it justice but this was the scene of my frightening encounter with a gale and a working boat. The trees were waving about all over the place but you can’t really tell from the photo.

interesting cruising weather
Another interesting weather day. This was taken on the Staffs and Worcester near Penkridge. The promise was kept though as the next day was lovely.

fast flowing trent
The River Trent tracked us for a lot of our trip. The river is, at this point in its life, shallow and fast flowing and very beautiful. More photos and anecdotes to follow. I’ll leave you with sunset over the Trent…

sunset in paradise