Fulbourne at the Braunston Historic Boats Gathering 2008
Friday 21st June
Moored near winding hole below Banbury. Unwelcome Visitors arrived in the evening. Lesley from nbSeriousMoolight, moored nearby was attracted by sounds of tinkling glass (beerbottles presumably) and summoned the police, who attended. They knew the malefactors as malefacting locally and left resolving to have words with them.
Monday 23rd June
Tuesday 24th June
Martin made temporary covering for missing pigeon box and returned to work.
Elaine and Peter arrived quite late after leaving Sheffield and bellringing at 2100. Not much traffic, just lots of lane closures to gently delay motorway progress. Following Martin's excellent boat-finding directions, parked in the industrial estate, found the boat, installed the NEW kettle, (it whistles OK-ish and is easier to fill than the other) then retired at 0045 with no sign of Henry.
Wednesday 25th June (first bit)
Weather overcast Fine. Windy
Henry arrived (with-lark-arisen) on bike at about 0900 this morning. We set off southwards armed with two seasearcher magnets to find where Fulbourne had been moored since 14th. Also excellent Martin directions to the end of a bit of piling, where we found the mooring spike holes, paced out the distance to the engine room and set about casting. We had decided to bring a pole, but that was before Henry arrived on his bike, and old age and senility approaching apace (us, not Henry necessarily) we forgot. Elaine set off to the permanently moored boats, and engaged in conversation Lesley from nbSeriousMoolight, who helpfully provided a small rake and a long (hookless) boatpole; also the information about last Friday.
Back at our casting site we had brought home one spoon, and a conversation with some towpath walkers who had seen the boat adrift on Monday and also informed BW, who already knew of the problem. So towpath telegraph being what it is, we do have some friends. AHA we've got a .. Bit of piping. Oh well. Next trick was to explore a 'good contact' about five feet out. Tied our seasearcher on the end of the pole - this allows a 'broken contact' to be resumed without all that throwing out splashing and pulling in. It seemed to wobble a bit, and with both magnets attached we thought we were bringing it into the side. But not to the surface. So after a few more lost-contacts Henry resolved to sacrifice an arm to the murky depths and after lots of rude words he brought up ONE PIGEONBOX. Elaine held on to the remaining Henryarm. Carried our find triumphantly through Banbury to the bemusement of the locals and stored it on engineroom roof pending reattachment to its correct orifice.
Wednesday 25th June (continued)
Time 1130 to 1900
Weather overcast Fine mostly with some attempts at showers. Windy
Internet connection seemed to work for once, so sent account of finding the pigeon box to the owners’ email list, building up to the picture. Late lunch afloat, but nothing else navigationally to rival THE FIND for the rest of the day. Wind mostly unhelpful to getting round bends, one of which had sufficient inside mud to convert a decent line into an offside-bank-grounding. Got off after a bit of pushing from the offside field and a couple of barbed wire fences to reunite crew with boat. BW’s three-lockside-bollard installers were working their way southwards making large holes behind lock walls which eventually grow bollards. Moored Fulbourne at the Fenny Compton boatyard hard-side – ahead was about a mile of moored boats. Henry left on his bike at 1900.
Thursday 26th June.
Time 0650 to 1720
Weather Fine - More Wind.
Early start to pass that mile of boats before they all started forming a queue at Napton. A couple of boats caught us up. Of the three 150 degree bends, the first two needed a bit of negotiations with the mud, so one of them passed at each. Other than that made reasonable progress, and only a queue of two at Marston Doles. Interesting dredging operations – building plastic sheets (like Rochdale SSSIs) six feet in from offside fields, then filling behind with canal dredgings.
At Napton, met the BW chap who had been called out to reconnect Fulbourne to the bank at Banbury. Pleased that we were on the move again without too much damage.
Already lots of boats at Braunston for the rally. Persuaded first motor and butty past the marina to let us moor outside them. Tom Stewart, of Narrowboat Trust, who is quite young, was doing formidable job as a one-man Waterspace, together with pulling ropes, offering advice on where to moor etc. He had one problem he shared with us: there were two boats wanting towpath moorings: one had a large publicity display for the education of the passing public, and the other had a disabled six-stone dog: he said it was obvious which had priority. And he thought it was obvious to everybody else. Who’d be Waterspace? …
Meal in the Plough in the village, followed by Bellringing practice, then back to the Plough for beer with the bellringers.
Friday 27th June.
Time 1415 to 1830
Route (towing butty Angel) Braunston to Norton (wind) to Braunston Tunnel south portal, then singly to north portal. [pics
Weather Fine Sunny
Peter set off on the bus to retrieve car from Banbury. Then there’s a parallel story: SueDay of the Horseboating Society had arranged with BW to leg Braunston Tunnel Saturday 28th morning early 0730 to 0900, including a closure so leggers were to be undisturbed by other boats. She is keen on legging tunnels as part of the Horseboating tradition, so when her horse was fired at by an airgun last week, frightening it, which then caused an injury; she wanted to continue with the legging arrangements – particularly because of much argument this year with BW over legging arrangements. Butty Angel – on our list of butties which Fulbourne towed during working days – was due to be used. This is owned by SheenaBourn who had bought it last year, and has been repainting and repairing since then while travelling the system with motor Aldgate and its owner NickWolfe. These were both never-converted GUCCC boats which were on sale for about 18 months until November last year, with the intention of selling to new owners who would keep them unconverted: Nick had an earlier idea for buying both with someone else, which fell through for some reason. Sheena also owns 40’ modern cabin narrowboat moored in Braunston Marina. Lots of people in the ‘historic narrowboat’ community have opinions on the pair, in boat and personal senses, almost all of which is wholly contradictory. Some web references here, here, here, here, here.
It was these two boats against which we were moored. Nick had just repainted his cabin sides before the show, and liked the Fulbourne back door design, from which he took a tracing for his own back doors. Our website says ”The stern deck had a new steel base surmounted by ash tongue and groove planking on top of which were put oak cants and the original dollies. The top rubbing band around the cants came from ALDGATE, another Town Class boat.” Those … are mine – he didn’t say.
Anyway, Nick wasn’t keen to use Aldgate to take Angel to the other end of the tunnel for the morning legging. Elaine therefore offered Fulbourne for the job, with the proviso that seven or eight hours towing a butty on a long line from Calcutt to Hawkesbury in Odyssey fifteen years ago probably wasn’t sufficient practice to claim experience in the art. Particularly with Fulbourne, and with all these experts about the place.
It worked wonderfully well: singled (short straps) to the locks [pics 1], breasted through the six [2 3 4 5 6 7], singled out of the top lock , through the tunnel and on to [9 a b c] Norton junction, breasted at the bridge to wind in the junction, singled back to the tunnel, moored Angel there for the morning, then all came back through to moor Fulbourne at the other end. Sheena walked back to the site events and we eat on board. Took some of BW’s A3-laminated signs to place at Norton, at southern portal, and on Fulbourne’s front to advertise the closure tomorrow. Sheena preferred a steerer not to be too perfectionist in how the boats were working together.
There was some entertainment with a chap from an ex-Canaltime boat whom we had taught one end of a windlass from the other so he could wind down a paddle for us. They were a lock behind, and asked Peter if they could come by before the tunnel to aid their 6pm pubmeal booking. Didn’t have any evidence, he said, that they would be going faster through the tunnel. Very tempting to wager “your month’s salary against mine” that they wouldn’t get within a boat’s length by the other end of the tunnel – but in the end just offered to pass the request to Mrs Steerer. It’s a safe bet with £0 salary, but the landslip on the Braunston side of the tunnel restricts canal width and involved more communing with the mud and would have lost the bet. Sigh. Loosed them by after the tunnel, although they weren’t very good at taking advantage. The boat behind them managed to say thank-you.
Saturday 28th June (Early bit)
Time 0745 to 0900
Route (butty Angel alone) south portal Braunston Tunnel to north portal - legging
Weather: warm for the time of day
Walked over the tunnel after the alarm was set for 0615. Path almost disappears between lines of nettles for a hundred yards or so near southern end. Sue, Angel, Sheena, BW and legging team already there. Sheena had us jump aboard – but fairly confident that the risk assessment would have had fewer people on its list, and all those required to have lifejackets and headtorches and we would be ousted for a return walk. But not so. Sue did a short speech on why we were there, thanking BW for their efforts (through gritted teeth maybe, given the organisational troubles at Standedge), and emphasising that when families legged tunnels, usually through tunnels with no professional leggers, then women would also leg: hence her taking a place in the legging team. Another northbound boat arrived at 0745, and as the official closure had started at 0730, Sue preferred us to go ahead of them which left us a diesel-free tunnel at the cost of delaying them an hour or so.
Towpath-pull to the tunnel. [pics 1] Three legging teams of two, including DuncanDavis from nbPearlBarley – with whom we had crossed the Rochdale in May; John from nbBuckden; Nick Wolfe; and a suitably-bloomered Sue. Having seen the famous picture of leggers-on-wings emerging from Blisworth, main thought is ‘this is scary’. Overall assessment after watching legging of Angel: ‘ This is REALLY scary’. [2 3 4 5 6 7 8] Afterwards wondered whether we had to write down a person-overboard procedure: but, no, there wasn’t one. Leggers did wear lifejackets, and Sue was on hand in the boat to retrieve mobile phones, money, keys from pockets that had failed to be emptied before setting off on to the wing. She also urged continuing efforts at the leg-end, having arranged for a greeting-and-publicity party to be at the far end of the tunnel at 0900. Interesting discussion on proper response to the (hypothetical) brick falling out as the leggers passed: would we note the position for repairs or worry about whether the ‘damage’ would make arranging future legging events more difficult.
We all tried for atmospheric pictures. Duncan brought his professional camera gear, and Sue suggested where to stand to take good pictures, and which pictures would be good to have. I’m sure he appreciated the advice. It was very quiet, and apart from the scariness, a pleasant way to pass under Braunston’s hill. Completed the tunnel in an hour.
Saturday 28th June (continued)
Time 0915 to 1445.
Route (towing butty Angel) Braunston Tunnel north portal to Braunston Turn (wind) through marina bridge into Braunston Marina, then singly to Reservoir entrance, u-turn, then moored fourth from the towpath on the main line two boat-lengths from the Marina entrance.
Weather Fine Sunny
Singled to the locks, breasted up – and down without incident [pics 1 2 3] – and singled out to head back to moorings - Elaine and Sheena steering boat and butty respectively. Expected to arrive too late to take part in the boat parade. But nobody was organising it, so all the boats moored three, four, five abreast in the main line waited for Nutfield and Raymond to pass through the Basin with Official Party of DavidSuchet and TimCoghlan, and along the main line towards the Turn. One boat without a mooring was enough to hold up Fulbourne and Angel just past the Reservoir entrance. This held up Nutfield and Raymond which couldn’t pass along the main line to lead all the boats to Braunston Turn for a parade back through the Basin. Everyone waited for everyone else for a while, and the boat queue squashed itself into a smaller space; this coincided with TimCoghlan photographing Sheena and saying “just get your man (Duncan) standing there” which he obligingly did, but thereby failed to untie the butty rope - which might have avoided Elaine having to reverse the motor to untighten the rope. Then DavidSuchet had to get off to unveil a plaque in the Marina, and after about an hour, the boats set off leaderless from the Arm to the junction. That ungummed proceedings somewhat, so we joined the parade. [4 5]
Highlight was turning around at the Turn: some pairs breasted for the reverse bit of the triangle; that was very tight for those who did it that way. At least everyone did it clockwise. Nick’s advice was to stay singled for the reverse, and with enough poles on the butty, this worked perfectly; ‘just like an articulated lorry’ he said; which is fine for Nick who drives articulated lorries … A forty-foot boat was approaching from the Hillmorton direction and was told from the crowd that a boat was approaching from Napton: reversed one (of his) boat-lengths: then another when the whole of Angel emerged: the disappeared further back when the rest of the 140’ emerged. The crowd of onlookers  gave a round of applause for the performance: they had all been warmed up by wedding celebration boat – including bride and groom in formal attire – a blessing on the boat before they set off; marriage ceremony had been the day before – many balloons, fizz, etc.
Given the number of boats [4 5 6 7] going in both directions, there’s no manoeuvering space between Turn and Junction, so just carry on gently. Normal loquacious announcer unavailable this year, so a few sentences from the Fulbourne brief as we passed into the Marina. By then some boats were trying to resume moorings in the Arm, and this caused more gridlock for a hour while no boats could move. Sheena took Angel into a Marina mooring having had enough paddling at the butty elum since 0745. Eventually we returned under the marina’s footbridge, u-turn at the Reservoir junction and to a mainline mooring fourth out, outside Lupin. Late lunch.
Looked around the Show for a couple of hours. Undecided about evening meal. Working a boat through the bottom lock, someone suggested that there was a Chinese takeaway by the side of the Wheatsheaf pub: it’s actually inside – part of the pub but at a counter in the pool room. So eat one of these with GrahamScothern and wife; he is chairman of the Narrowboat Trust who are organising the boats, mooring etc for Tim and Braunston Marina. He said he didn’t have as much help this year, compared with 2007, and thought that Sunday’s parade would be better controlled.
Sunday 29th June
Route two boat-lengths from the Marina entrance, to the Turn (triangulated turn), through Marina, u-turn at Reservoir entrance, reversed back into the Arm.
Weather Fine Sunny
Bellringing at the church for the service in the Marina. Lots of boaters were ringing, including Duncan who had his compact camera: never photographed a boatbonneted person with a bellrope before “Stand with the light there, for the sake of art”. SueDay hadn’t seen bellringing live before, and sat quietly in the corner: explained the terms and went up the ladder to see the bells. She might be persuaded to have a go.
Peter returned to Fulbourne: Elaine wandered around the show stands, and ended up counselling her brother on a family issue on mobile phone for some-considerable-time; then heard that Fulbourne was now passing the Arm headed for the Junction. We hadn’t finally decided whether to join the parade or not: but being fourth out, and the parade being ‘organised’ today rather than ‘just happening’, we couldn’t stay in the middle of the canal – so marginally easier to parade rather than flounder for a new mooring. Even so, single-handing Fulbourne is not completely straightforward even in the confined manoeuvering space. Nor is untying the front – dodgy knee doesn’t work on the top planks, and having untied, the return journey down the side was interrupted by emergency falling-in-avoidance-grab-at-plank. And David asks why there was still a fender down :-) Reunited with the bonneted-bow-thruster at the Turn; wind tried hard to send us on to the mud, but worked OK.
Back through the Marina: u-turn at the Reservoir entrance made extensive use of the bow thrusters, then Tom organised a reverse into the Arm for our turn as a display-boat. Gave the announcer the chance to say how well ‘the lady’ had done yesterday and whether being in the trees today was just reward. sigh
Compared engines with John from nbBuckden which moored ahead of us: says the same engineer did both installations, which explains why they are very similar. His is brassier than ours. Noticed he has unscrewable fuel filler caps on both sides – as well as a padlockable bar to go across them. Another chap called out from MillHouse that he ‘used to steer’ Fulbourne and he thought the tickover speed was too low to maintain oil pressure. Not within shouting distance to debate history of boat or engine: he later came by our Arm mooring, but escaped when Elaine tried to engage in detailed conversation. So probably nothing in the claim. GuySheratt who works in the Marina also came by: his thought, other than that engine looks to oily for his taste, was that the spring cover on the oil-wicks that isn’t there might cause the oil seal to be less effective, so lose pressure in that way. Engine did stall a couple of times when it had been in tickover waiting for those boatjams to clear.
Also visited: a chap interested in funnels originally installed on some GUCCCboats, he said. He has plans of them, and they carried the engine exhaust, ventilation fir engine, and ventilation for the engineroom … toilet. Elaine had not heard of this toilet system. Maybe the whole thing is an illusion. Also message received that ‘Brenda’ who had been on Fulbourne in working days wished to visit, or at least be remembered to us. Elaine gave contact details to people on Raymond with whom Brenda was at the show. Is this associated with the Collins plaque unveiling?
Evening back to the Plough for 34th wedding anniversary meal.
Monday 30th June
Moved Fulbourne out of the Basin. Bellringing in the afternoon when we passed the church where ringers using the simulator (silent outside) for practice. Then ringing in the evening at Whilton.