10 January 2019

A day on the cut

by: Dave I.

Despite the cold, Dave, John & Steve ventured onto the cut in Goliath today. It started with an introduction to Goliath for new trainee Steve. After covering the essentials of safety, and described the boat and its operation, we set off for the Ocean.

First stop was Ryeford Locks, where we saw the results of WDs new stop plank shelter building program – and very impressive it looks too! Apparently theres still some finishing off to do, then he planks can be placed inside and live a longer life sheltered from the elements.
Steve learned how locks work, and put his new knowledge into practice. Then we were through Ryeford swing bridge and onto Ryeford Wharf, where we could see the results of yesterdays log collection exercise. Its a big pile, but what you cant see is the huge stump that defied all efforts to get it out of the water – its now ‘beached in the shallows awaiting further attention.
By now, Steve was getting the hang of steering straight, and seemed to be enjoying himself. I guess thats what skippering is all about :--)
Upper Mills was slowly reached and passed; so was the Old Ship Inn site; and so was Stonehouse Wharf, at Boakes Drive. Its a generally narrow and/ or shallow section of the cut, and we were clearly disturbing the silt. And the seagulls noticed – we don’t know what was coming to the surface, but they clearly liked it
So did he local kingfishers, but getting a publishable photo of them is rather more difficult. Its a wonderful sight to see the blue flash skimming the water, then emerging from the water with a silver fish in its beak.
Lunch at the Ocean, looking at the lovely view of the hills, and then we started back home. The seagulls liked us again!
We seemed to be going a little slower than we did in the morning, and suspecting something on the prop, we decided to check while going back up Ryeford Locks. Not too much debris compared to some previous experiences, but we removed it anyway.
We still had a little time when we arrived back at Ebley, so aiming to gain maximum training experience for the day, we carried on to Dudbridge, turned at Wiggalls Yard, and finally returned back to moorings at Ebley for the end of the day. We managed to moor without spoiling the new bright white bollards (very nice they look, too) or getting paint onto us or the boat.

What a great day - wed covered the entire length currently available to us, and seen some good things both natural and volunteer-made.  After a de-brief in the local hostelry, Steve told us hed really enjoyed the day and plans to come again. Were looking forward to meeting and to help train all the volunteers whove contacted us after the article in the recent Trow.