A step up for the Cotswold Canals
Some time mid afternoon a thought occurred to me.
It was towards the later part of a really great day, we have a lot of those these days on the canal.
First thing we had first refuelled Goliath and Margaret, emptying Western Depots bowser in the process. Then the fleet proceeded down the cut. Margaret was not well with a prop full of detritus so had to be towed by Goliath. On the way we picked up Samson to do some spot dredging just East of Oil Mills bridge, a nasty little shallow, narrow that makes the tug feel like it is climbing the Himalayas. That was a convoy of four boats in a row, Goliath, Margaret, Aquila and Samson, quite a sight. Wookie was, I believe lurking around as well, no doubt doing some serious damage to the rampant bankside vegetation. As well as this a crew from WD were fixing some electrical gear onto Samson. We passed the dry and wet dredger teams and entered Ryeford locks to clear the props on Margaret and Goliath as well, seeing as we were there. This is a process never to be taken lightly and took some time to do both vessels, but the team were marvellous, getting both boats grounded first time.
Then the tugs were unleashed on the unsuspecting hoppers, above Ryeford locks, and soon shoved and shunted into place where they could be loaded /unloaded.
It was while returning to base enjoying a belated lunch while Nick drove Margaret that I had my thought. And that was how we have gone through a large step change in the last year or two. Back then we would trawl our single tug up and down the 4km navigable section and never actually meet anybody else except maybe Wookie. Today there were 9 boats in the same pound and 5 different teams, 7 if you count the fact that the Boat Team was split into 3. It was all pretty harmonious and it was something to behold.