Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lame Duck

So sorry - but that was just irresistable.

Day 22, Dorney Lake to Laleham

Today has been a lot more interesting. We have got to feel useful, and had company on the journey. And, the sun came out. Briefly.

We set off this morning in convoy again, and after Boveney lock, James and I swapped places so that he could have a go at steering Warrior, while I joined Amy on Lucky Duck, from which vantage point I could photograph our boat in the vastness of the Thames.

Just as we were about to go into Romney Lock, however, Lucky Duck lost power. The lock keeper was great (couldn't have happened at a better lock), as we sprung into action and breasted up to go into the lock. Luckily I was wearing my Keep Calm and Carry On T-shirt. Once through the lock, we tied up on the layby while James and Jim addressed the problem. I passed the time taking arty self-portraits.

It turned out that a grubscrew had come out on the propshaft - a similar problem to my shearing bolts on Andante. Attempts to fix it were unsuccessful, so we held a council of war and decided that while we needed to get on, having now arranged to meet some friends in London on Saturday, we couldn't abandon the Ducks - and nor did we want to - and that we would welcome the challenge of taking them along with us - all the way if necessary (well, as far as London, if not actually all the way to Cambridge). This is what happens if you have 'towage' written on the side of your boat. Going along breasted up was great, and the Duck's presence certainly made stopping easier. Half a dozen plastic boats raced by us, and were first into the next lock, no doubt heaving collective sighs of relief. As we were slowly pootling along the layby to make room for the big Dutch barge behind us, the lock keeper called out to ask if we were 60'. Fifty four, I rather rashly replied. Come in then, he said. So we edged our way in oh-so-slowly and snuggled up to the tupperware. I couldn't keep a wicked little smile from crossing my features, and was rather relieved that the lock keeper (or his assistant) kept hold of my front rope. He later explained that with the Dutch barge after us, and a trip boat coming up, he really needed to get us all through together to save keeping them waiting.

They had the next lock, Bell Weir, to themselves though, and we got to share with the Dutch barge, which was some sort of trip boat. Stopped us getting too big for our boots at any rate. We have seen some lovely barges along this stretch (as well as some not so nice ones of course) but I still love narrow boats the best for their neatness and efficiency. If only everyone could be content to live in such a small space, and not need vast houses for storing all their vast amounts of stuff, then there wouldn't be a housing crisis.

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