Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 - Another Year That Did Not Follow a Plan

(Boat Sickle & Flamingo - posted by Alan)

We always knew when we took on a boat needing as much work as "Flamingo" did that we would have some years where we did far less actual boating than we were able to manage in the past when we owned our relatively modern leisure boat "Chalice".

However we could never have bargained with quite how many non boating related distractions there would be to keep us not only from boating but also quite often to also stop us getting on with working on the boats.  Since buying "Flamingo" we have had to deal with the deaths of Cath's step-mother and more recently her mother, whilst I have had various health complications, fortunately non of them life threatening, but certainly involving surgery to eyes, (twice) and a shoulder operation.

We hoped 2017 would be the year we would make more intensive use of "Flamingo", because, although there is much to do, the engine side is now fully sorted, and she could be used with far more confidence than in previous years.

For "Sickle" we had taken a decision to replace her engine with one we had originally agreed to buy for "Flamingo", hoping this would also guarantee trouble free boating.  This work had yet to happen at the start of 2017.

We had ambitious plans to take both boats to multiple festivals and gatherings, including Rickmansworth, Foxton Locks, Braunston and later in the year Alvecote, as well as doing one much longer trip with "Flamingo".

We started well, but eventually things did not go to plan................

In February, we managed to work around planned stoppages to take "Sickle" to Brinklow Boat Services.......

Cath takes "Sickle" down Hillmorton - last trip with 3 cylinder engine.



















The fitting of the new engine proved not to be quite as straightforward, and hence rather more expensive than we had hoped.  The end result, however. looks very tidy.......

"Sickle" now sports a Lister HA2, (replacing a Lister HA3)

In March we broght "Sickle" back to her mooring - on that trip all seemed OK........

Alan in charge at Long Buckby locks.



















In April we did what proved to be by far the biggest trip of the year, taking just "Flamingo" on a tour of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, and principally to the Historic Narrow Boat Club gathering at Brownhills on the Wyrley & Essington Canal.  This proved to be quite challenging due to the condition of some of the Birmingham canals used, but was a perfect shake-down for "Flamingo's" engine that had not yet seen much use since a total rebuild in late 2016.  It passed with flying colours, and, as the year worked out, we are very glad we stretched ourselves to do that intensive trip.......

Lapworth on the Stratford Canal - Still some way from Brownhills!

In May the idea that we would do a long tour with both boats kicked in.  First stop was Rickmansworth Festival - there are a lot of locks travelling South from our home mooring to "Ricky", and we took the opportunity to prove that "Flamingo's" much improved performance, (and stopping power!), allowed us to work flights with both boats breasted together.......

Travelling breasted at Marsworth locks means some fairly impressive bends .



















The Rickmansworth Festival passed without issues, but only a few locks into the return trip things started to go wrong.  "Sickle's" gearbox, (part of the deal with the "new" engine), started to lock so it could not be taken out of reverse gear.  A bit of examination showed it would not be a quick fix, and that plans for the next two events would not be possible.

Only an expert eye would know all is not quite as it should be inide here.

We had to temporarily abandon "Sickle in a local boat yard, whilst the supplier of the engine and gearbox sorted out how to resolve the failure.......


People power to get round gearbox issue.



















We decided to still do the Foxton and Braunston events with just "Flamingo".........


Down to one boat - Stoke Hammond Three Locks
Our first time on the Leicester in many years - Watford Locks

We then took "Flamingo" to Braunston.......

 So back the other way through the Watford staircase locks.

"Sickle" was repaired before the Braunston show, but it was far too late to get her there to join "Flamingo" - we did however manage to squeeze in a move up to Berkhamsted, (which also stopped us having to pay for more Marina moorings)........

Cath in charge - Winkwell swing bridge.



















After a successful Braunston with just "Flamingo" we took her back to the home mooring......

In Braunston locks

We then took "Sickle" to the Linslade Canal Festival........

Seabrook












And then back to join "Flamingo" at out home moorings......

It's starting to look like Cath did all the steering.
We thought we would make good some of the lost time by our big final trip out of the year, that should have sen us taking both boats to our favourite historic boat gathering at Alvecote in August.  We got as far as being on the boats and ready to leave.  Then we got a fatal phone call that resulted in all other boating for the rest of the year not happening.  Yes, we really were unable to go nowhere in any of August, September, October, November and December.

The reasons are covered in a post previous to this one, but are summed up by this image......

What our son Michael managed to do to his ankle in August.
We are very glad we got as much in as we did in the early part of the year, but still only managed some 500 miles, whereas past boating has seen us do at least twice that in many years.  We really are hoping 2018 will be better!

Totals for 2017 Miles: 544, Locks: 437