Moving Bella – Day 1

4 Jul

Into July already and the Hobo hasn’t moved an inch, not even the sniff of a cruise. Static R us. Whilst this was always the plan for this year, knuckle down, earn some money and tart the old girl up, I was definitely getting withdrawal symptoms and missing being on the move. So you can imagine that when asked to help move another boat we jumped at the chance.

Our good friend Reg has sold Bella, his 50 footer, to a very nice young man called Dave who has secured a mooring at Isleworth on the River Lark in Suffolk. He was going to cruise the boat there – a good two weeks from the River Stort (with ten-hour days, lots of luck and a following wind) but with limited boating experience, and none at all of locks, he was in the market for some assistance in the early days, until other friends could join him.

A mission in itself to get to his destination within his deadline but we also had to be clear of the ‘Olympic Zone’ before it was closed off at 8am on Tuesday. Originally we’d planned to get going on Sunday but decided this was cutting it a little too fine and brought it forward.

Reg suggested to him that John and I could share The Knowledge and provide some tuition/advice as well as being another couple of pairs of hands to speed Bella on her way. We were more than happy to do this and we all got cracking on Saturday.

It was warm and sunny as we tied up at the first lock, which Reg and Dave went to fill as we waited for John (who had gone to lose the car) to join us. He pitched up right on cue so I set about supervising as our new boater took Bella into the lock.

Tednambury

It’s a very open spot and the strong gusty wind did its worst… Suffice it to say that it took three of us and much reversing to keep Bella off the bank for long enough to motor her into the chamber.

Bella is a lovely boat, of which John and I are very fond  and have driven before. She responds beautifully but is a different animal to Hobo; being a cruiser stern for starters, meaning the driving position and technique is strange at first to that of Hobo’s trad, and the engine/gearing is all different. Well, that’s our excuse anyway..

Still, all good fun and an invaluable first lesson in narrowboat versus wind, which I would like to say was deliberate but, you know me – boat (honest) bird – I have to tell the truth. It wasn’t.

Next up is a very low rail bridge (mind your head), successfully navigated, followed by a stretch of moorings where Hobo lives. I am impressed by Dave slowing down on approach to these moorings with no prompting from me – something I still have to remind John about. Even now. We say hello to Hobo as we pass and trundle on.

As we chug along, we discuss boatie things, living aboard and, inevitably, embark on the great toilet debate: pump out v cassette. It is not humanly possible for any gathering of boaters not to get on to this subject sooner or later; new ones no exception.

Dave seemed to be a natural; his boat handling skills developing rapidly as we let him do the majority of the tiller work while we answered his questions and imparted our knowledge. It was great to be out on the river again and we were enjoying the ride and the company. It’s different somehow when it’s not your boat (I think that’s a responsibility thing) and also being four of us made the workload lighter and progress faster.

Our journey started at 3 o’clock (ish) and some seven miles, nine locks and four and a half hours later we tie up for the night at Hunsdon Mill. This is a lovely spot in the middle of nowhere, just the odd cottage or two, with the sound of rushing water from a mini weir to drown out the road noise from the A414, which runs parallel at this point.

We had a lovely time on the river and Dave is, I think, a happy bunny after his first (short) day of cruising as we leave him to his first night on board his new home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The lovely Bella.

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