About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Boaters Grapevine.

Gosh, news travels fast! We were told by two people at Sutton stop which way that cruiser had gone. Doing a blog does have its benefits.

So to begin, first we left after breakfast and followed the diesel and coal boat 'Auriga' through All Oaks Wood. The wind was still blowing and them leaves were still coming down and very glad to get to the other side. Here we met Auriga servicing the moored boats. Ian asked the price of diesel as we crept past only to be told he had none on board at the moment "But when I do it will be 74p litre." he stated.

 Ian was below making a loaf (in the bread maker I might add just in case you think he is a master baker!) when I arrived at Rose hire boats in Stretton. That swing bridge needed opening so I took great delight in pressing our 'crew alert' button. It's situated by the head light and horn buttons and many a time I got it wrong!  Not today though and he came a running to see what was happening. Not best pleased to find it was only the swing bridge that needed opening.

Moored a fair way out, me thinks, and right by the bridge!.

 That wind had a bite to it and I started to feel quite chilled but I soon perked up when, coming up to Anstey, I saw a familiar looking boat ahead. Yep, it was that cruiser and just setting off from under the M6 bridge. Ah ha, thought I, now we will see which way he goes at Hawkesbury Junction. But no chance. He took off like a bat out of hell passing moored boats like a demonic maniac. We had no chance of keeping up and despaired at finding out which way he turned.

 But as I said earlier, the boaters grapevine is a wonderful thing. We stopped before the lock and I walked around to the Coventry Canal to see if the visitor moorings were free. In the lock was a boat and I happened to ask if they had seen that cruiser. "Yes" was his reply. "Turned left heading toward Coventry and watched him weaving from side to side across the canal. He was either having difficulty in the wind or he couldn't steer it". Hmmm...wonder which one it was? Anyway, great news as that section leads to a dead end. Then as I brought FS through the lock and turned right at the junction, a lady came up to Ian, said she had read the blog and also saw which way the cruiser went. Again I didn't get her name but the boat name was Bessie Surtees. Thank you to both of those boaters and that information has been phoned through to Steve and Lesley on 'Together Forever'. Oh and one other thing. There is a page on C&RT website where one can check to see if boats are licensed. Good news for Steve and Lesley. It is and therefore, in the C&RT agreement, must be insured. Good luck to you both and I hope you get a good result.

And the wildlife today, another water vole on the Oxford canal. Excuse the photos, not brilliant I know!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Stuck cruiser, deaf and French gentleman...concern rapidly changed to anger!

I don't really know where to begin with this post. I'm wondering if we should have moved from Rugby but there again if we hadn't I wouldn't have seen what happened to a nearly new boat moored beyond bridge 35.

This could be a long post, sorry folks, but to do it justice I'm going to start at the beginning.

We left Rugby because the predicted storm hadn't arrived and the sun was out. Deciding to make for All Oaks Wood and hoping to arrive before storm Brian did make an appearance,  we left our mooring just as a Rose hire boat came past. Expecting to be on a go slow all the way it was nice to see them keep to around 3mph.

And pleased to see that more offside vegetation had been trimmed back especially at the bridge where it was almost impossible to see if any boats were coming. (Before and after photos).



No chance of seeing an oncoming boat

And after

Improvement is spectacular.

Yea...you can see the bridge.

It was along this stretch that a hire boat pulled out as we were almost up to them.  What is it about not looking??? These did go slow especially through Newbold tunnel.

About this time the wind suddenly picked up, trees swayed, leaves and small twigs rained down upon us. Crikey not happy about cruising past that amount of tall trees as I didn't fancy trying to dodge any falling branches. Had storm Brian finally arrived? Hmmm...About time we found a mooring!

Before All Oaks Wood and after bridge 35 was a lovely long length of mooring, in the open and away from any trees. We found the only bit of concrete which had steelwork attached and someone had left a nice bit of rope tied to it just right to secure FS's stern rope. Ian managed to get the chain down between the ironwork for the bow rope and we thought that we had now found the perfect mooring.

 But.....and this is where I first felt concern for a cruiser owner but which then rapidly turned to frustration and anger as I watched what he did to another boat.

Glancing out of the window I noticed a cruiser across the canal which appeared stuck on the other side. It soon became obvious that he was unable to free the boat so Ian and I went to see if we could help. Shouting for him to throw us a rope we were completely ignored. In fact, all he did was try to push himself off with the pole. Shouting again at him he eventually turned his head. I again asked him to throw us a rope. He pointed to his ears with a hand gesture which I understood to mean he was deaf and then in broken English asked if we spoke French! Ah, now I knew why we had been ignored but instead of him looking at the hand gestures I was giving him (a throwing motion with one's hands) he again turned his back and completely ignore us.

 Suddenly another boat appeared from the direction of the woods. We managed to convey to them this cruiser owners plight. As good Samaritans, they said they would tow him off but they too had no joy in trying to communicate with him even though he must have known they were going past. Took some effort but finally, he acknowledged them. A rope was thrown but instead of tieing to his T stud he tied it to his rope and then to the T stud. This meant a towing line that was really no use nor ornament because it was now much too long.

Being ignored.


Here he was getting ready to release his line.

And thinks he is now free from the mud.

Now, this is where it went horribly wrong. No sooner had the cruiser got pulled out when the wind took it and deposited him further back and again on the field. So the good samaritans reversed to have another try. Line attached again but directly to the T stud and he was pulled out for the second time. Then he put the power on!!! The bow swung around and crashed straight into the moored boat...not once...not twice....but four times!

Didn't get very far before he was stuck again.

Back comes the good samaritans.

 I couldn't believe it! He had made no attempt to put it into reverse that I could see, and with his tow rope now removed, he headed off and away from the boat. He looked to be mooring and expected him to write a note of apology but no....after turning it around he sped off (full power judging by the wave) past us heading toward All Oak Wood!

The story doesn't end here. With no one on that boat, I thought I would pop a note through their cratch explaining what happened, giving the cruiser name and number and leaving my email address. Before I had a chance to complete the note the owners came back. So I did no more than high tail it over to the boat and present the details personally. They were understandably gutted, as I would have been, and ever so grateful that, not only did I give them the cruiser details but the photos as well. They showed me the damage...OMG...it was horrendous! Large scratches on the paintwork in two places and two of the window frames were dented and damaged beyond repair. How that chap hadn't smashed a window is amazing! Of course, the boat owners were insured but they need to phone C&RT to check on the owner of the cruiser and get him to pay for the damage. I wish them luck on that one!

This photo was taken from FS and I zoomed in. Doesn't look too bad from here but the owners (Steve and Lesley) let me see for myself and yes it was bad. Two new window frames and a possible repaint on the Starboard side.
 Anyway, we have exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and I have said I would be willing to give my side of the story if it came to it but hopefully the photos will say it all. Only one thing to worry about...was he insured!

And today's wildlife comes from the Serengeti! (okay not really but it could have been)

And the hedgerow,

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