Saturday, 2 January 2010

Wonderful cruising weather

The spot I chose to spend New Year’s Eve was just right for me. I don’t know if there were many fireworks during the night, if there were they were far enough away not to disturb my sleep or, more importantly, Lyra.

It had been quite a cold night but it dawned clear and bright and the canal was clear of ice. It was cold but that is easily dealt with by wrapping up well. The first challenge of the day was the first of the many lift bridges on this canal, (I’m not counting the one in Banbury which has convenient offside mooring bollards and is hydraulically operated), which turned out to be little problem as it has a convenient ring to secure it open. I tried a different arrangement of ropes to what i have used before (basically a very long centre line) which was not a complete success. Next came Somerton Deep Lock, which is one that I am happier to take a line off with me and haul out of the lock so that I can avoid the ladder.

I ended the day below Allen’s Lock in Upper Heyford. Lyra and I walked down to the next lift bridge as last time I came down this canal there were enough people around that I didn’t get to operate the bridge but remembered that I thought it might be quite difficult as the offside has quite high walls, but once I had seen it I was happy that I would be able to get though alone if necessary.

The river runs alongside the canal on this stretch, and was high enough to be spilling over the towpath.

This morning was again clear and cold, and there had been a very light fall of snow overnight. There was ice on the canal, but it looked to be very thin. The river had also dropped a bit, a bridge crosses it next to the lock and an additional course of blocks was visible this morning.

I broke the ice as far as the lift bridge, which wasn’t a problem to get through. Once through there was a clear path through the ice which must have been made by a boat ahead of me that had been moored near the lift bridge. It has been another lovely day for cruising in bright sunshine, at times too bright when moving directly into the sun when I could hardly make out where the oncoming boat was.

I have stopped just short of Enslow. Lyra and I went down to see what state the river section is in, and it is up in the red. I’m hopeful that the level will reduce further overnight and we will be able to proceed, but if not can either sit it out until  the level does drop or turn back towards home. I am adequately supplied to be able to wait for the right moment to continue, and if things were to get desperate I suppose I could always force myself to move on a little and tie up outside the pub.

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