This has not been your average week on the cut.
by: Dave I.
On Tuesday morning, dredging was under way with Patricia above Ryeford
locks, when unexpected things started to happen. A small whirlpool appeared,
with water fast disappearing down it. As can be imagined, rapid
investigation followed: it became clear the water was going down a pipe that
wasn't expected to be there, and it was getting into the pipe through a
large hole which resulted when a large 'bung' in the pipe had got dislodged
during operations. Further investigation showed the water was re-appearing
in the river, some 20 feet below and about 50 yards away.
As can be imagined, next thoughts were to block the hole again, to keep all
the water in the canal. Dredging silt back over the pipe didn't work - the
silt just went down the hole. Adding some reinforcement in the shape of a
tarpaulin went the same way - this was obviously a big hole! Next thing
Goliath arrived, with Aquila in tow, so now there were 4 folks thinking it
over, and 2 boats to tackle it from. Skipper Jones came up with a brainwave:
if a flexible tarpaulin doesn't work, how about something more rigid - a
wooden board over the end of the pipe? Not that the boats always carry
wooden boards around just-in-case - so where to get one? Why one of the
bottom boards of Aquila, of course. With 4 folks to share the load it was
dropped over the hole - and the torrent stopped and the whirlpool
Some silt was added on top to encourage it to stay in position, and the
location marked so stop others going near it. A wonderful example of
teamwork in action.
It's only a temporary repair, but it held overnight, the levels recovered,
and it still seems to be holding now. The repair will be strengthened next
week, just-in-case. It would be good to replace the bung in due course, but
that will need to wait until the owners are found and informed.
Other news is that the bund created below Ryeford Locks for Severn-Trent to
get their new pipe across the cut:
...has now removed. This is about 3 days early, which is good news, so normal
navigation can resume on this stretch. The bad news is that a quick survey
found there is still more to remove to get back to the original depth: the
contractors will be asked to complete the work before moving on.
Work is progressing to electrify Lodgemore Bridge, for which anyone who has
worked the current hydraulic system will be grateful. This included passing
cables under the bridge, and the Boat Team were happy to help.
Finally, there is new life on the cut - spring is definitely here.
With thanks to Chris King, Richard Farrer and David Lovemore for the