Saturday, 23 April 2011

Up to my ass in alligators

Here we are in Oxford and very pleasant it all is. However, it has not necessarily been a dry day as I have, for the second time since buying the boat, fallen in the cut. It happened in a place that I was well and truly warned about by, as it happens, Maffi who we met for the first time yesterday. Maffi has mentioned in his blog the installation of a new barrage outside Isis Lock that had been located in the wrong place. And I would absolutely agree.

We arrived at the pub The Jolly Boatman, Thrupp, at the lower end of the Oxford Canal. A lovely area with well maintained moorings by the TCCC, we took a walk to the local co-op and passed Milly M, Maffi's boat. Comments on the blog indicated that Maffi was around and we met up later in the evening. A very pleasant time was had by one and all. Maffi was the first person to find this blog and mentioned it on his own.

Oh, and by the way, further to my story of emergency brickwork in one lock earlier in the week, I have found more emergency work had been carried out. In this case an emergency path laid to the paddle gear necessitating the closure of a paddle on Easter weekend and more queues for slow filling locks. Isn't BW management just brilliant. You really couldn't make this stuff up. Is this the result of a navigation authority being run by non-boaters? You decide. I'm starting to sound like Maffi now.

Emergency concrete path
Today we left Thrupp and made our way to Isis Lock to wind and find a mooring opposite Collage Cruisers ready for the meeting of friends and the return leg of the trip. Out through Isis I thought it was a little tight but considered it could easily be done if I take it easy. Well I took it easy and got stuck due to the constraints imposed by the new barrier that has been built by BW. There may be enough room to turn a 70 footer but, in the (bastardized) words of Eric Morecambe, not necessarily in the right places. I got stuck in the trees at the back end and in the mud at the front end.

Attempting to extract myself I (stupidly) managed to place the boat pole against a 'v' in the bough of a canal side elm and the inevitable happened, it slipped and I was swimming for my life. Well possibly a slight exaggeration but I was standing up to my chest in water, tangled up in underwater roots and up to my ankles in mud. However the boat was moving in my direction and I was stuck in the mud so was slightly worried that the boat would move over the top of me but fortunately I was able to physically stop it and the propeller wasn't turning.

A particularly wet yours truely
Fortunately, despite the number of gongoozlers, nobody apparently saw my possible demise and I extracted myself onto the counter without anyone seemingly noticing and wielded the boat pole like a true pro. Even Lisa who had been examining my progress from the open Isis saw that I had disappeared for a minute but failed to recognise that I had been swimming. Even the bloke who was also watching my progress and came to chat to me recommending that I write a letter to BW telling them of the difficulty of turning at that point also failed to notice that I had taken a dip even though I was dripping wet and covered in mud.

Looks big enough to me
I don't want to blame the positioning of the barrage for my dunking but it is certainly in the wrong place and does not make easy the turning of a full sized boat in that space. And there wasn't any flow in the water which would have made it virtually impossible.

Needless to say that I will indeed be joining the protest to have the barrage removed from it's current location and will be writing to BW. Well it could have contributed in killing me, couldn't it. That's a relatively good reason to protest don't you think.


Unknown said...

Pete, let this not only be a lesson to BW, but to all of us, there by the grace of ..... go each and everyone of us.
It doesn't bare thinking about what may have happened had Pickles No2 been in gear, and had the person in the water not been of your height and strength, say perhaps as can be the case at locks slightly built ladies of average height or below. Well told and Brave of you to publish.

Pete said...

I didn't mention that it was quite hard getting out of the water and it was only due to the foot steps built into the uxter that I managed to get back on-board. Since I was on the same level, I couldn'd see them and I had to feel for them.

I never saw the point of them before.

Maffi said...

Make sure you write!

Pete said...

I will

Graham and Jill Findlay said...

Let you off the Ashby and you just can't be trusted. Glad you survived though.

Anonymous said...

This is summer time and we have had no rain. Would you have got out if there was say a 3 mile per hour flow or a 2 mph?
I am waiting for final report from ombudsman - but have already been told that maladministration does not include crap design or failed application of design.
Kick up a stink - it was £90k of your money that did that to you - we deserve better, and those who designed implimented and made decissions to create this monster should be removed from such projects. DUSTY

Lisa said...

Dear Pete and Lisa,
I hope very much you are both well. You have been truly missed since April 23rd I think it was I have to tell you both how much I am missing your blog, it is my bestest favourite of all the ones I follow, some are dreary but never yours you always make me laugh except of course your last entry. Very shocking. We are currently having a narrow boat built and my husband is not such a good swimmer.....
So enjoy your mini break form blogging but do say you'll be back later?

Pete said...

Hi Lisa
Yes still alive and will make an entry in the next day or so but it won't be boaty related as I am in France for the next couple of months.

I am absolutely amazed, and of course delighted, that anybody actually reads this rubbish


Carl said...

April! That was years ago. You really ought to pull your finger out and get 'blogging' some more. Please. I keep coming here to find the same old 'ass and alligator' story...

Maffi said...

Did you write?

Pete said...

I did but didn't hear anything back though. Maybe they just don't care.

'Don't turn your back' said...

Bw are really trying to bury their collective heads in the sand on this one. Will only act if there is lots of precise info on problems. Your blog-site will help.
We locals have a strong campaign going, including a petition from boaters and pedestrians who think apart from the hazards to navigation, the whole over-designed expensive mess has ruined a beautiful place in Oxford. Environment Agency are trying to keep out of it although it is E.A. main channel. Again your Blog should get them involved. Do you know of other incidents? We have seen many like yours with boats wedged against the barrage. These have all happened in 'no-flow conditions' Later the hazards will be much greater. Please contact Me 07821-110148 or Mark Davies 01865-798254, (resident boater noe troubled by anti social behavior from people who think it looks like the set of Total Wipeout!