10 January 2019

Work Boat Wanderings

by: Myron

Wednesday it was a return to some sort of normality on the canal after the Christmas break. It was a lovely sunny day but cold.

Arrangements had been made with WD to transport tools and materials from Ebley to Ryford for the new stop plank shelter there. Goliath was earmarked for this job along with its tender, Aquila. Whilst we were waiting  for the load to arrive, we readied Margaret for the job of shifting a couple of hoppers. Patricia has started to get busy and is regularly filling them up now. Margaret was just about to depart, when Wookie came through the floodgates and the engine died.

I should mention that we had been due to take Wookie down to the Causeway, for some tree clearing operations on the Leat. This is due to the well advertised fact that Wookies engine has a mangled gearbox and is u/s. However this was cancelled on Monday as they had been given that old 1.5 hp outboard that used to reside in Jaspar. You know, the one that Ian Moody loved so dearly. Since that time it has been back to WD and assurances made that it was now serviceable. Well, guess what, it got just passed the floodgates from the landing stage the other side and stopped. No amount of pulling by Ian would get it going again. That motor is jinxed. So, of course we offered a push, which was gratefully accepted.

Off went Margaret and Wookie, and Goliath’s customers arrived. It took a while to organise the loading of various bulky and heavy items, and that was just the workers, but we soon got all loaded on Goliath and Aquila and all enjoyed the trip down to the locks. Unloading was quite efficiently done as we now had an idea what we were doing.

Whilst this was going on, Margaret had finished her chores and had joined us in the lock. Not wishing to have idle hands I gave the crew a couple of minor engineering jobs whilst Isla and I walked to the site of the tree felling. Here it was established that they would dearly love a hand taking Wookie to the Coal Pen to unload later. I returned with the news, found the jobs done and we all had lunch in the sunshine. That’s what it’s all about.

After lunch we left Goliath outside the lock, locked Margaret through and arrived at Wookie as arranged. We had to get a log out of the water which had been tied up Ford’s Wharf. My God what a beast. About 7 to 8 foot long, and covered in thick ivy. After much heaving we managed to stand it on end resting against the bank. Ian then lopped off a foot or so with his chainsaw. More heaving and we managed to get another foot or so showing above the wharf wall. Now, with a last heave we got the remainder on the bank. Some time later it was in manageable pieces and loaded onto Wookie. After a short trip to the Coal Pen, we helped unload Wookie and said our good byes.

On the way back we obviously admired the new shelter, it is a thing of beauty. Alas I didn’t take a picture. I hope someone else did and puts it in a blog here. It was gone 4 by the time our tired but happy crew retired for a well earned pint.