Tuesday 30 June 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❷❼

Sabrina Footbridge Worcester  to Upton Visitor Moorings

Date 30 June 2015

Overnight the weather was very warm.

Morning: We decided to make for an early start as we new we might have a long cruising day if moorings were unavailable.

Afternoon: Steady cruise and we ended up having to breast up with a boat on either side.
We arrived at Upton upon Severn moorings to find the tail end of a jazz festival. CaRT had suspended the 24 hour restricted mooring times for the week long festival. There was a buzz going round that one small cruiser had been turfed out of the local Boat Yard and was now moored up on the pontoon.  It seems that the owner was causing issues which had led to his expulsion and his dog had also somehow been drowned. The ins and outs of the situation were very vague. Later the boat left the mooring unnoticed.

We met up with a wonderful group of Australian boaters on a hire boat. However, these were well experienced boaters back in Australia. One owned a fleet of boats and had built and operated a spectacular river hotel boat of his own. As usual the Aussies immediately organised a barbecue. Which was good fun. We introduced them to the delights of Henderson's Yorkshire Relish which was added to mushy peas. I was regaled with a tale of boating in 'Flinders'. The Flinders Ranges is a ancient and unique part of the world, rugged and remote.  They took 18 months to build a boat and then went off to explore the Flinders coastal area. Basically it is living on a boat where your nearest neighbour is hundreds of miles away from your location.  Being self sufficient in obtaining food and fish and oysters were frequent on the menu. I'm hoping that I have convinced them to write up their adventure.

Then we saw the police helicopter circling overhead, for about an hour. The fire service were zipping up and down the river in their emergency RIBs. At about 10:30pm the fire service group turned up towing a boat. Which was dumped onto the moorings. The boat had no mooring lines so we had to supply the fire service with some of our spares. It turned out to be the boat that had been thrown out of the boat yard. There is something about bad pennies!

Birds: House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Long Tailed Tit,  Coot, Moorhen, Canadian Goose, Kingfisher, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon,  Collared Dove, Kestrel, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Common Tern, Swallow, House Martin and Swift the highlight being a pair of Common Sandpipers.

Butterflies: Meadow Brown, Skipper, Red Admiral
Bats: Pipistrelle
Dragonflies: Banded Damselfly, Common Damselfly, Red Darter, Four Spot Chaser.
Today's Total.
Miles: 11.0
Locks: 1
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 3.0
Solar Panels: 54 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2273.3
Locks: 1428
Swing / Lift Bridges: 302
Tunnels: 48
Pump Outs: 23
Engine Hours: 3223.9

Solar Panels: 22001 Ah

The View From Over Here (2)

The View From Over Here. Is an occasional series of observations of life along the canal and river network. It gives this writers perceptions of what he sees, hears and learns from other people and various other sources. 

Its becoming something of an old chestnut of a topic today - Cycling, the Canal and River Trust and the towpath. Its very easy to get caught up in the cycle bashing euphoria which is so clearly evident on social media. There is little that is hated more by boaters than being put at risk by cyclists other than passing boats travelling too fast.  However, it has to be admitted that the amount of ill feeling that boaters and other towpath user have towards cyclists, is growing. The reasons for the growth are patently obvious.
Cyclist using the towpath do not help themselves towards improving the shared space users - perception of them. If you compare cycle use on our city streets to cycle use on our waterways. I think there are four main differences.
The first issue is that the canals are perceived as being a place for slow leisurely speeds. The Inland Waterways have for many years provided a sheltered, quiet, peaceful, low speed environment for all of its users. Whether the user is on foot or on a boat. The whole perception of the Inland Waterways are a peaceful place to enjoy. 

The View From Over Here is that the Inland Waterways and especially the towpath are about to change significantly. The waterway is going to become a very busy thoroughfare for a much wider variety of users and uses. It seems that the Inland Waterways are about to enter a whole new era. One where the towpath is at risk of becoming a brash, high speed, busy, noisy thoroughfare.

The View From Over Here is that the second big issue is that the scale of the problem, is about to grow even more. The Trust is on a mission to bring a huge increase in the numbers of 'visitors' to the Inland Waterways. The trusts own headline figures suggest 500,000,000 visits each year. There seems to be no limit to the meteoric growth rate. That's equivalent to 1,370,000 people a day. Which equates to around 622 people for each mile of Inland Waterway in any 24 hours period.  However, common sense suggest that the numbers of users in the hours of darkness will be significantly lower. Compressing the number of users into a shorter time space.  There must be a saturation point, where the towpath is going to be full to capacity.

I would think that at a rule of thumb, guestimate the numbers will be closer to 1000 visitors per mile in the daylight hours. The season of the year with shorter daylight hours will also compact those figures even further. However, as we all know in rural areas the users per mile will be lower than in our towns and cities. Where the numbers will grow exponentially.  I have no idea what the saturation level will be.

But there are also other forces at work apart from the trust. The pro cycling lobby is also a significant player in increasing the numbers. The pro cycling lobby are on a mission to  encourage increased use of cycles and the various off road cycle corridors. There are more and more people than ever using a cycle to get around. Therefore the percentage of cyclist as opposed to foot fall visitors to the Inland waterways is going to increase significantly over what it is now. Once more I have no idea what the saturation level will be.

The second issue is a complete change of emphasis.  In many cases use of the towpath is because it provides a 'rat run' route, free from the ever present danger encountered by cyclists in the shared space that are the public roads.  On a scale and speed apart from the pedestrian the cyclist is at the top of the danger list on the roads.  Cyclist always come off second best when in altercations against cars, goods vehicles and buses. 

The View From Over Here is that we have all seen and experienced cyclist who ignore traffic lights. Who also ignore pedestrian crossings and seem to ride in the segregated area that the pavement provides for pedestrians.  That's because the cyclist has the need for speed to get between two different points. The government has in place laws that are intended to protect the pavement. Many of our green spaces such as public parks also have speed restrictions on shared spaces. The CaRT managed Inland Waterways has no such protections in place.

The Canal and River Trust's CEO Richard Parry says that the trust is going to do what the various governments have failed to do over many years on our streets. The trust is going to educate all cyclist into becoming sensible users of the shared space.  Yes, you read that right - the trust is going to educate all cyclist into becoming sensible users of the shared space.
The View From Over Here is, if it will not work on our streets it certainly is not going to work on our Inland Waterways. The government has resorted to compulsion with penalties in place if the rules are broken.  Now the old towpath telegraph has it that the 'Education' is going to take the form a leaflet distributed to cyclists. Mr Parry, please share with us - how this eduction is going to be done and how its success is going to be measured. Are their time scales in place when this eduction is going to start. How do the cyclist sign up?

The third main difference between the towpath and the street is the space to create segregation. Look at the way cycleways have been made on our streets. There is a pavement, The pavement is sacrosanct. It can't be used as a shared space. There is the cycleway which can be created between the road and the pavement areas. It is clearly marked for all to see. Then there is the road which is a shared space for all vehicles including cycles. The users are divided up into their own space. 

The View From Over Here is that much of the towpath is to narrow to create segregated areas. Therefore the users are going to be compressed into a very narrow space. While there are no rules such as sensible cycling speed limits. The problems of conflict between walkers, fishermen, boaters and the cyclist are going to increase. The boater and pedestrian are now at the top of the danger list on the towpath.  Pedestrians always come off second best when in altercations with a high speed cyclist. 

Its 4pm Thursday the 21st of May: We are moored up at Autherley Junc. I am stood on the towpath talking with a couple of other boaters. When two males on cycles riding flat out barged their way past. One missed Mags feet by inches she was sat in a chair alongside the boat at the time. One was shouting 'get out of the 'F'ing way'. The other stopped to turn around and shout abuse at everyone, before riding off again at high speed. I have reported this as a 'near miss' by telephone directly to the trust. Unfortunately there is no one available to deal with this until tomorrow. I wanted to also tell the trust that the Cyclist please dismount from your cycle notices had all been smashed. Not only that but at the pinch point someone had thrown something in the canal which rocked our boat as we passed over.  Its now Friday and no one has rung us back rang back. Its good to know that the trust are interested. I would like to see CaRT educate these users along this section of the canal.

The View From Over Here is that there is a need to put in place some protection for waterways users such as boaters. I see this as a relatively easy thing to accomplish. Two simple actions could reduce the amount of conflict between boaters and the unregulated speed enjoyed by cyclist. In areas which do not have segregated cycling lanes. There should be dismount and walk only - no cycling - zones. These should be put in place at all visitor moorings. The second - no cycling - zone should be put in place at all lock landings. These are the places where boaters come into conflict most of all with high speed cyclists.  this should also include speed calming measures of a suitable type. Including protective barriers at each end of a group of leisure moorings for instance.

The View From Over Here is that there are four further question that this major investment into the Inland Waterways brings: How are the trust going to financially benefit from the increased number of visitors and the increased amount of spend on providing and maintaining an all weather cycling surface?  
What sort of return on this major investment will this attract? 
What impact will this have on the current maintenance underspend? 
What impact will this have on the future of the 'water' half of what is after all, the Inland Waterways?

Tardebigge Flight

Well our latest cruise around the Inland Waterways is providing us with a lot more musing and the opportunity to visit a few new places. It has also given us the opportunity to meet up with people we chat with on social media. The improved weather has also been a bonus.

We spent a few days in Birmingham, before continuing with our cruise. This time we turned our attention to the Birmingham and Worcester canal and once we passed Kings Norton Junction we were on a new section of the waterways for us.

Scrolling forwards a few days. We came to the Tardebigge Flight and it was a real 'eye opener' on how well the the Canal and River Trust is functioning.  Picture the scenario, we were slowly following a boat down the flight. However, the couple aboard who I have to admit were well past the first flush of youth. Were trying their best and were struggling to manage the locks. So much so, that I was walking down and setting locks for them before returning back to follow on behind with our boat.

At about the halfway point, we met up with a CaRT crew of volunteers taking 'Scorpio' up the flight. Team handed, with a full complement of volunteers. Enough so that they could set three locks in front. So there we were - stood - with other boats waiting behind us. Because we were waiting for Scorpio to come up the three locks that had been commandeered and turned by the volunteer crew.  I had a word with one of the volunteers - who I think genuinly did not appreciate the hold up they were creating. However, the old boating couple continued to struggle along with our help. Whilst being totally ignored by anyone from the locking team from CaRT.

I had been under the impression that there were volunteers lock keepers available to assist boats up and down the flight. However, the only volunteer we saw was travelling along the towpath at a speed a time trial cyclist would have been pleased to maintain. His mode of transport however, was not a cycle, it was a quad bike. Looking all resplendent as he passed us in a cloud of dust.

All of which he managed to accomplish while riding one handed and at the same time smoking his vapour pipe. Meeting all of CaRT's safety standards by wearing a life vest.

Now call me old and cynical if you must - but a shining example was being set for all the off road bike owners. After all, if its good enough for CaRT volunteers, its certainly going to be good enough for anyone else to ride the towpath on a motorcycle or quad bike.  

So maybe as well as creating a time trial venue for high speed cyclists CaRT are also unwittingly creating a green lane for would be motorcycle trials riders.

Needless to say he rode past the two old boaters who were still struggling along. however, when you are travelling at speed you don't have much time to look around and observe people who could have done with a bit of help. 

Then we came across another team of volunteers who were at work painting the lock balance beams. Wow! What a difference, they happily assisted with opening and closing the gates and helped with raising the paddles as they said that they did not want either of us to risk touching anything that had just been painted. A very cheerful and gregarious group of volunteers and obviously having a good time, enjoying what they were doing.

Although boating today might well be an old persons pastime especially as the younger boaters are noticeable by their absence. (Well apart from the odd booze cruise on a hire boat) The person doing the locks needs to be pretty fit and strong because the way that things are going - its going to be a very long time before they start to improve.  

So how did we manage our passage down the flight? Well my other half who is like me retired, struggled with the majority of the ground paddles due to their stiffness. Once the water levels had equalised a bit, things would ease.  A fair few of the lock gates had seen much better days and a few were difficult for her to get moving. 

Further along the Birmingham Worcester canal. Around bridge 38 we noticed that the water level seemed to be a bit on the low side. Looking at the pilings it would seem that the level is down by about six inches. We noticed a pipe, ties off with a bit of red string, hanging into the canal. 

In what seemed to us to be a bit of an entrepreneurial ad-hoc water abstraction. The pipe seemed to lead into what looked like several small holdings.  Whilst I don't think that the abstraction here is responsible for the current low levels. As the advertisements for the supermarket chain say - every little helps. 

A list of people who have rejected honours has recently been leaked. There are some very illustrious names on the list.  It would seem that to be real 'worthies' you now have to be seen to spurn and award for the kudos. New figures from the Cabinet Office show that over the past three years alone 116 people have rejected such honours. 

I was asked a question by a fellow boater. He said, 'what do you think about Sally Ash getting a gong?' I enquired, 'what was if for?' He said 'for services to the Inland Waterways'. I said 'So she got a gong for just doing her normal everyday job. Well we all should be getting one of those then'.  'She got an MBE' he added.  You mean 'Mistakes Become Easier' says I. 

Sally certainly managed to became very well known in boating circles. The Kennet and Avon Boating Community website contains a document listing her major achievements while working for British Waterways and more latterly the Trust.  It makes for interesting reading and provides an alternative perspective on her career.



Monday 29 June 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❷❻

The Burf to Worcester Sabrina Bridge

Date 29 June 2015

Overnight the weather was warm.

Morning: Another leisurely start to the cruising day after the traditional egg bacon and tomato breakfast. It was almost 11am before we were on our way. A steady cruise to Halt Lock where we penned down in company with Nb Cotonwood. Another steady cruise to Bevere lock. On our exit we found a large barge breasted up with a boat that had been either neglected or sunk at some point. It was a real eye opener to see the numbers of sunken boats along this section of the river.

Afternoon: On arrival at Worcester - we decided to stop for lunch on the visitor moorings. Which due to the warmth of the weather we then decided to stay for the night. This is a pay and display moorings at a cost of £4 a night. The moorings are not very good with overgrowth of vegetation and their are some large holes in the footpath.

Evening: This evenings meal was in Witherspoon's for the Mexican night special.


Birds: House Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan,  Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Coot, Moorhen, Canadian Goose, Kingfisher, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon, Buzzard, Cuckoo, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Common Tern, Swallow, House Martin, Swift the highlight being a group of Yellow Wagtail.

Butterflies: Meadow Brown
Bats: Pipistrelle,  Daubentons,
Dragonflies: Common Damselfly, Red Darter, Four Spot Chaser.
Today's Total.
Miles: 9.5
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 6.9
Solar Panels: 101 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2262.3
Locks: 1427
Swing / Lift Bridges: 302
Tunnels: 48
Pump Outs: 23
Engine Hours: 3220.9

Solar Panels: 21947 Ah

Health & Safety

Most people are Health & Safety concious. It's nurtured into our everyday life and becomes almost automatic. When we are young we learn about things that are hot, by touch. We learn to recognise many dangers consciously or subconsciously. The latter is generally manifest when we get a feeling about something. The lesson is learned either consciously or subconsciously and generally it stays with us for the rest of our lives. Health & Safety is just the application of common sense guided by our lifetime of experiences in reducing the risk where obvious hazards exist.

However, there are people who enjoy taking the risk. We have a very descriptive name for them. We call them 'adrenalin junkies'.  They will climb a sheer rock face on a mountain or jump out of an aircraft and free fall for thousands of feet. But each uses equipment designed to make the process safer. Using a parachute and having a back-up or emergency parachute. The Health & Safety process is recognising the level of risk involved (scope) and then mitigating (managing out) the risk as far as possible.

For me it was always riding a motorcycle, learning by having a few bumps and scrapes along the way. The experience was full of learning opportunities. The first is by recognising your limitations, employing defensive riding and the third is by trusting your feelings. A new bike had a whole new feel. Then as time went on your learned how the bike feels on a myriad of different and variable road surfaces. We have a name for this - its called 'driving by the seat of your pants'.

However, life sometimes throws up a scenario for which we have no experience to fall back on especially when making a judgement. In my case, it was a medical problem. I had a lifetime of experiences to fall back on. Cuts, burns, scalds, bruises and the associated pain. However, when you discover you have a heart problem, then its a whole new ball game. Now, you have to take advice from someone else. Advice that is built upon their experience. Not as a patient but as a doctor treating patients. Suddenly, you have a serious situation and its your call. So you seek sage advice. Doctors spell out the risks of different treatments - but in the end, its still your call.

For me it was medication or intervention. The risks were thoroughly discussed though I introduced a slightly different perspective. I asked what the risks were, as everyone does. But them I asked about the pros and cons of each treatment. The pros and cons were the decider for me. I could have been on medication for the last 12 years or as in my case. I was fitted with a pacemaker and after the transitional period the medication was reduced to almost nothing. I took aspirin and statins as a precaution rather than as a requirement - I was reducing the risk. Soon afterwards the aspirin was removed and I went on to a lower dose of statin. 

After twelve years my little pacemaker was showing signs that the battery was now getting low. The electronics which had been state of the art at the time - was now - the equivalent of a 12 year old computer that would have been disposed of years ago.  So now I have a new super computer plugged in with lots of additional bells and whistles.  However, I have only one worry. I worked for many years with computer systems and when asked about any particular problem. The way to manage an issue was to first of all get the computer into a known state. We usually did this by saying to the user - just turn it off and then turn it back on again. Then enquiring 'Is it working OK now?'

There is just one human trait that we all have trouble dealing with, which is - complacency - its never happened, so it never will. People encourage complacency, for some it seems to be their mission in life. This is quite a high risk strategy to adopt. With the possibility of dire consequences.  On the boat we have 'high vis, auto inflating life vests'. We even have one for the dog. When on rivers, we always wear them, even the dog. On canals we generally don't wear them. Unless its a short canalised section of a river and we can't be bothered to take them off just  to put them back on soon afterwards on the next section of river. 

Learning from other peoples experiences is a trait that as humans we seem to have an aversion for. It starts quite young and is usually seen as us railing against our parents wishes and advice. You know - those old 'Fuddy Duddies' that we have now become. We now say what our parents also said ' You can't put an old head on young shoulders.'  I'm of the belief that life is characterised by a life long learning process. The day you think you're too old to learn is when you become the last category. A liability. Though I must admit - that some people reach this pinnacle - much earlier than others. 

Now we have a folding bike stowed away on the boat. Yes, we are also amongst the bane of the boaters life - towpath cyclists. We also have the helmets and gloves, but we don't habitually travel at a fast speed. Now, I have even started to wear the life preserver and cycling helmet in long low tunnels. We have them on the boat, so why not wear them.
Learning from the tragedy of Michael Holgate who drowned in Harecastle Tunnel on Trent and Mersey Canal. After banging his head on a low point in the tunnel and falling off his boat into the water. His wife Susan spent two hours trying to find him in 'pitch black conditions'. The couple were just like us had retired and planned to spend rest of their lives, cruising along the canals.
The white cycle helmet has a white led light at the front and a red led light at the back. It means that, if I end up in the water for any reason. I should be maintained on the surface and much easier to spot in the water. We also have small waterproof torches that fit into any pocket. I am consciously mitigating the risk and maybe now I should modify what our parents said 'You can't put an old head back on old shoulders.'  

You insure your home, car and boat - in the expectation and hope that you will never need to make a claim. Good health and safety practice is exactly the same.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❷❺

York Street Lock to The Burf (Hamstall Inn)

Date 28th June 2015

Overnight the weather was warm.

Morning: Late start after saying goodbye to a few new friends that we made in Stourport. But like all good departures, it was half a mile up to the winding hole and then return back to the York Street lock.

Afternoon: Steady passage out through the basin and down two stair case pairs and out on the river heading towards to the first manned lock. We were on tickover travelling down stream with the flow when we passed a moored boat. The owner was out to complain, about our speed. The only way we could have mooved any slower, wast to have run the engine in reverse. I noted that at the time our tiny bow ripple had not even reached their boat!

Evening: We moored up at Hamstell Inn for food and a beer, of which we enjoyed both. On our way upstream we had stayed overnight at Hamstall Inn and had been serenaded by a Nightingale. But it was just the usual sounds of the countryside tonight.


Birds: House Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Pied Wagtail,  Coot, Moorhen, Wood Pigeon, Greater Black Backed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Common Tern, Swallow, House Martin, Swift the highlight being the first Cuckoo calling.

Butterflies: Meadow Brown
Bats: Pipistrelle,  Daubentons
Dragonflies: Banded Damselfly
Today's Total.
Miles: 3.6
Locks: 6
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 2.0
Solar Panels: 145 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2252.8
Locks: 1425
Swing / Lift Bridges: 302
Tunnels: 48
Pump Outs: 23
Engine Hours: 3214.0

Solar Panels: 21845 Ah

Modern Civilization

For thousands of years, history was recorded in songs and stories rather than words on stone or paper. When the Vikings came to Britain, they had their own pagan religion. They worshipped many gods. The old stories they told about gods, giants and monsters are known as the Norse myths. Clearly, as modern civilization developed we began to record some of our history in manuscript form. 

People every day use the old rhyme. Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November; All the rest have thirty one; Excepting February alone; Which hath but twenty-eight we find; until a leap year gives it twenty-nine.

When I was a nipper and cutting my teeth in electronics - there were a number of ways to remember the resistor colour codes.  Black 1, Brown 2, Red 3, Orange 4, Yellow 5,  Green 6, Blue 7, Violet 8, Grey 9 and White 0. One of the publishable ones was 'Black Beetles Running On Your Grass Bring Very Good Weather'

Yet we still have a lingering trait - we still use words as an aid to our faltering memory. Keeping time between GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and BST (British Summer Time) would be impossible without the couplet - 'Spring forward, fall back.' We remember the difference between stalactite and stalagmite, by the phrase 'Tights come down'. Now who thought of that?
Now, where did I put my keys?

Saturday 27 June 2015

Bits and Pieces

First of all - there has been a short break in the usual daily posting to the blog - its to be hoped that normal service has finally been resumed. I have just reinstalled all the software back onto the computer and started again from scratch! Turning off and back on again did not work this time.!!!
We have just had our 300,000th visitor to the Rose of Arden blog and we are now averaging over 60,000 visits a year.  The actual number of visitors in the last year was 76,000. 

Social Media Quote of the Day: Just got a letter from CRT informing me my boat has been sighted on several occasions on my home mooring, not surprising really, it's the same mooring I've been paying them for for ten years! The letter goes on to say that illegal mooring is unfair to other canal users and if the craft is not removed in the next 14 days action will be taken to remove the boat and/or legal proceedings against me for trespass !!! CRT = Competence Removed Thoroughly.

Breaking news: MRSA is found in British pig meat. New scientific research commissioned by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, of which Compassion in Farming is a founding member, has revealed the first evidence that some British pig meat is now contaminated with MRSA. These bacteria can cause serious human infections, from blood poisoning to pneumonia. And, worryingly, several European countries report increasing cases of livestock-associated MRSA in people who have no direct contact with pigs. The overuse of antibiotics in factory farms encourages the spread of drug-resistant bacteria like MRSA. Get the facts and take action here.

Friday 26 June 2015

Drowning Awareness.

I suppose one of the things boaters are aware of more than most is that the canals are a dangerous place to be. I was warned about the dangers of the canal and two rivers which were very close to my childhood home. Getting the balance right between 'informing without frightening' our children is very difficult. Canals are exciting places to be, for children and will always be something of an attraction.

This week has been Drowning Prevention Week 20-28th June. I was surprised that the Canal and River Trust did not make it something of an national occasion. Playing a role  and taking a leading in raising awareness.  However, I suppose when you have a Key Performance Indicator for funding. Depending on attracting millions of people to the canals. It might be a temptation to look the other way and keep your head down. This is much the same as the 'head in the sand' stance of the ever increasing danger that 'uneducated' high speed cyclist are bringing to the canals. I am however pleased to say, that its not the same everywhere.  

Back on my home waterway in August 2011. Eight-year-old Matthew Cartwright died after falling into the South Yorkshire navigation at Swinton. Schoolboy Matthew like many children do in late summer, was just innocently collecting blackberries. Matthew parents created a petition which was supported by local residents asking that fencing and warning signs to be installed to make other children aware of the dangers.

It's taken four years, but now a 160 feet long 4 feet high fence is being organised and built by the Swinton Lock Activity Centre Trust. Not only that but 1200 local school children from 5 local schools are also getting involved in designing a warning poster. In its own way, this simple involvement of so many children will act as an alert for impressionable children.  Especially as the summer holidays from the local schools will be happening soon. 

Congratulations go to the Swinton Lock Activity Centre Trust for finally helping to bring to a conclusion such a sad but at the same time worthwhile need. The catalyst for the renewal of interest came about, when the Swinton Lock Activity Centre Trust adopted a length of the waterway in the area.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❷❹

The Burf (Hamstall Inn) to  York Street Lock

Date 23 Jun 2015

Overnight the weather was mild and overcast.

Morning: A late start after a leisurely breakfast soon had us at Lincomb Lock. A steady chug along the river before turning off onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. A few boats were coming down the two staircase locks.

Afternoon: We stopped for lunch at York Street Visitor Moorings.  It was so good, we decided to stay on the 5 day moorings for a few days. Shopping was high on the agenda.  I discovered a sheared bolt on the altenator bracket and when I investigated further it seemed that four bolts had worked loose at some point in time.  We managed to get three of the broken bolts extracted and replaced. leaving a further small stud to be extracted later.

Evening: We went for a meal to the Black Star in Stourport but with the waiting time being over an hour we abandoned the pub and went to an Indian the 'Namaste' for a meal instead. It proved to be a good choice.


Birds: House Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Coot, Moorhen, Canadian Goose, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon, Buzzard, Black Headed Gull, Common Tern, Sedge Warbler, Swallow, House Martin and Swift.
Butterflies: Meadow Brown.
Bats: Pipistrelle,  Daubentons,
Dragonflies: Common Damselfly and Four Spot Chaser.
Today's Total.
Miles: 2.6
Locks: 6
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1.4
Solar Panels: 45 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2249.2
Locks: 1419
Swing / Lift Bridges: 302
Tunnels: 48
Pump Outs: 23
Engine Hours: 3212.0

Solar Panels: 21656 Ah

Monday 22 June 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❷❸

Netherwich Basin to  Hamstall Inn (River Severn)

Date 22nd June 2015

Overnight the weather was clear and mild.

MorningThe usual late morning start after a leisurely breakfast. Filled up with water before setting off. The bank side vegetation made up mainly of Fragmites is quite heavy along the Droitwich Barge Canal. Eight locks in total without seeing another boat on the move.

Afternoon: Steady progress had us to the junction with the River Severn where we prepared by setting up the anchor and donning life vests before proceeding any further.  We kept an eye open for a suitable moorings and moored up on the pontoons at Hamstall Inn between Holt  and Lincolm locks

Evening: A meal in the Hamstall Inn. Well it would have been a bit cheeky not to have done so!


Birds: House Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Coot, Moorhen, Canadian Goose, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Sedge Warbler, Swallow, House Martin and Swift.
Butterflies: Meadow Brown, Comma, Tortoiseshell

Bats: Pipistrelle,  Daubentons,

Dragonflies: Common Damselfly.
Today's Total.
Miles: 11.5
Locks: 9
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 9.5
Solar Panels: 212 Ah

Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2246.6
Locks: 1413
Swing / Lift Bridges: 302
Tunnels: 48
Pump Outs: 23
Engine Hours: 3210.6

Solar Panels: 21621 Ah

Saturday 20 June 2015

Drowning Prevention Week 20-28th June

Drowning Prevention Week 20-28th June. As boaters we are all acutely aware of the numbers of people who end up in the water. In the summer its seems that not a day goes by, without a news item about people entering the water and often drowning as a result. 
Children are attracted to the canals and rivers and it is a very heartbreaking to read about such instances. But it is not only limited to children as we discovered ourselves a couple of years ago. In an incident on the Chesterfield canal where we came across a member of the public suffering from hypothermia and unable to move.

He had tripped and stumbled on the towpath and as a result had fallen into the canal. Landing head first he had been completely submerged. He had however managed to claw his way to the bank and pull himself out of the water. He had also crawled along the towpath for a short distance.

Some time afterwards (estimated at 45 minutes) we came across him, he was in a terrible state. The weather was just above freezing and the wind chill was quite significant.We immediately sent for an ambulance. Using the map apps on the Android phone we were able to pinpoint our exact location to summon the emergency services. We were then able to guide them to the exact spot. 
You can read about it here (Diabolical CaRT emergency service)
Now as the weather gets warmer, more people will be drawn to lakes and ponds as well as the Canals and Rivers that form the Inland Waterways. As the trust encourages the public to come and walk and cycle the towpaths. As towpaths are upgraded and become short cuts to and from peoples places of work. The canals are now being encouraged for use for everyone's leisure. So the numbers of casualties will inevitably grow. 
The School curriculum has changed since my day - when everyone had to learn to swim. Times change and families often have to pay now for children's swimming lessons. Its important to get that message across about teaching our children how to swim and how to get out of the water. Its important to teach children how to help save a friend in the water without placing themselves at risk. Its also important to teach them how to summon help and that floatation devices are not a plaything but provided to save lives.
The 'Families Stories' film features people from across the UK who have lost someone to drowning and have shared their tragic experiences. The film aims to raise awareness of the issue of drowning and to back the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign, which runs from June 20 – 28 this year.
It has taken a great deal of courage by the brave families who took part in the film. Please watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYUp4A43370