Shop front in the summer

Monday, 17 September 2012

Yesterday just didn't seem to go to plan at all. It didn't help that Bernard couldn't come into work as he has got a bad chest infection.

Whilst Mick flooded the dock I showed the dayboats out. As I was heading north with the last boat to go out, I came across Ange and her crew tied on the towpath as they couldn't get onto their own mooring as one of our moorers had tied their boat up in the wrong spot. So once I stepped off of the dayboat at the end of the moorings and bid them fair well, I moved our moorers boat into the correct spot which involved pulling it by hand round some four or five boats.

It's something that I am used to pulling a boat by hand! On the canals we term it "bow hauling" and it is the only way of moving an unpowered boat. It is most common when working a pair of working boats as when you get to narrow locks, there is only one thing for it. Human power to pull the butty along (I'll tell you about "long lining" another day...) There is a technique to it too, for which many people don't seem to get. The technique is basically the same that a horse uses to start anything off that it is pulling, but certainly the best ways to watch them is pulling a plough (or even a boat!). Basically a horse takes up the slack and then leans into the collar; using it's body weight rather than muscle strength, until the item it is pulling starts to move and then it is a case of just keeping the momentum going. It's exactly the same when you are pulling a boat that weighs anything between a few tonnes or a loaded butty that could be in excess of thirty tonnes. The best way when working a flight of locks is to pay out the full length of the line to get the straightest pull. Take a firm grip over your shoulder and lean into the line. Once the boat starts to move, you carry on leaning into the line with your body weight and begin to walk forwards keeping a close eye on what the boat is doing. You'd be surprised how quick the boat will travel and it has to "strapped" to a stop when it enters the next lock. It's amazing how number of people comment and say that it looks hard work, if you do it properly it is no more exhausting than walking with a rucksack over your shoulder! Bowhauling wasn't always necessary in all areas going back to the carrying days as certain lock flights had companies ponies stabled which could be used by the boatman. For example Audlem had such ponies. A boatman once told me that these ponies new the flight so well that they would know when to start pulling and when to stop. Once you had finished with their services you could even turn them round, give them a smack on their backside and they would walk back to their stables unaccompanied. Apparently they would walk past the top or bottom locks either...

It's been another busy day here today. One day boat out first thing and a hire boat to turn round. As Bernard hasn't been able to come in again today Lee applied the first coat of blacking and then carried on with the repainting of the Horny Toad which is coming along a treat. The coachline is now taped up and the undercoats for the main panels are being put on. Mick serviced Phantasy engine has been on a couple of breakdowns, nothing serious - just flat starter battery and a private boat that was experiencing engine trouble at Autherley Junction.

Denise has been IC of the tea room and has done a grand job. Joyce has been manning the shop, answering the phone and other bits and bobs that just don't seem to get done in the summer months.

It was a lovely morning this morning, but it turned to rain this afternoon. Let's hope that tomorrow is better as I want to try and get some painting done on my own boat!

Best regards,


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