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JohnCox

Research into boating alone

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6 minutes ago, system 4-50 said:

4 locks? You're kidding.  Thats taken care of one hour, what do you do with the remaining hours of the day?

Pub!

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29 minutes ago, system 4-50 said:

4 locks? You're kidding.  Thats taken care of one hour, what do you do with the remaining hours of the day?

Cruise the lock free bits I presume.   I roughly like to do the same amount of locks in a day as it’s roughly about a 4hr cruise.

Edited by Robbo

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47 minutes ago, system 4-50 said:

4 locks? You're kidding.  Thats taken care of one hour, what do you do with the remaining hours of the day?

I did Northampton arm in four hours single handed,  v satisfying....

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Is Kim listening? no ok

 

I treasure boating on my own....... and seek out every opportunity to do it. ;)

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11 hours ago, system 4-50 said:

4 locks? You're kidding.  Thats taken care of one hour, what do you do with the remaining hours of the day?

 

I’ll bite. 

 

As as a single hander on the k&a, cruising takes me approximately one hour per lock. Your four locks per hour single handed is probably about right for an easy narrow canal like the southern Oxford, in a fast boat. 

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6 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I’ll bite. 

 

As as a single hander on the k&a, cruising takes me approximately one hour per lock. Your four locks per hour single handed is probably about right for an easy narrow canal like the southern Oxford, in a fast boat. 

Yes and it's odd that many people assume you can travel faster on the "broad" canals when in truth the locks can take considerably longer to negotiate. 

 

But I find the speed of travel on canals these days is more influenced by the number of moored boats than anything else.    

 

 

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1 hour ago, Col_T said:

And as MtB has mentioned the K & A, are there any stretches of Armco? 

 

Yes I found it amusing earlier how Ray mentioned earlier how he kept a short centre line attached with a nappy pin on the end to hook into the Armco when mooring single handed. On the k&a there is virtually no armco anywhere!

 

There are limited lengths of Armco on the popular VMs eg kintbury, Bedwyn, All Cannings, BoA etc, but these are usually full by lunchtime and everywhere else is rough bank like a river. I’d guess only about 0.00001% of the length of the k&a has the luxury of Armco. 

 

 

 

Edited by Mike the Boilerman
Add a bit.

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The best advice I can give is take your time.  If it's windy - wait.  Don't rush.  Take a second or two to have a look at a lock or lift bridge before steaming in.  If you're going up a flight as slow as I do, generally another boat will catch up behind you and start helping.  If they don't want to help, pull over and let them past.

 

Don't be distracted by gongoozlers, keep an eye on your boat in locks.  Nobody else will be.

 

Know you limitations and don't be afraid to ask for help.

 

If you're at the bottom of a flight of wide locks, waiting a bit will often result in another boat arriving and you can share locks with them, making things much easier.

 

Look at the boat you're buying, centre lines have been mentioned but also look for a boat which is easy to get on and off the roof.  You'll need to do this a lot.

 

A short boat is probably easy to control with ropes but also has downsides.  For example, when going through narrow locks I dont' use a rope.  When going down the flow of water takes the boat towards the bottom gate and away from the cill.  When going up I leave the boat in forward gear and it holds steady against the top gate as long as I open the paddles slowly.  But when going down I always check where the lock ladders are as they can be in funny places and a short boat will float away from them so you can't get back on.

 

I struggle with some of the stiff paddles but now i have a clever ratchet windlass which makes things much easier for me. 

 

Finally, you'll be amazed at the friends who come out of the woodwork wanting a boat trip - make use of them!

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2 hours ago, doratheexplorer said:

When going down the flow of water takes the boat towards the bottom gate and away from the cill.

But be aware that if the top gate floats open a bit, then slams shut when you draw a bottom paddle, the resulting swirl of water down the lock and back again will pull your boat back in the lock towards the cill. Not a problem with a short boat but potentially lethal with a long one.

 

Don't ask me how I know this but it was the only time in 40 odd years that I’ve cilled a boat.

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2 hours ago, BruceinSanity said:

But be aware that if the top gate floats open a bit, then slams shut when you draw a bottom paddle, the resulting swirl of water down the lock and back again will pull your boat back in the lock towards the cill. Not a problem with a short boat but potentially lethal with a long one.

 

Don't ask me how I know this but it was the only time in 40 odd years that I’ve cilled a boat.

I refer you to my second point - "Don't be distracted by gongoozlers, keep an eye on your boat in locks.  Nobody else will be"

 

One thing I forgot to mention which may or may not be of use to JohnCox - tie your hair back when winding paddles up.  Otherwise you risk embarrassment when you become entangled and onlookers can't help because they're all falling over laughing.  :angry:  The same point applies to scarves.

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11 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I refer you to my second point - "Don't be distracted by gongoozlers, keep an eye on your boat in locks.  Nobody else will be"

 

One thing I forgot to mention which may or may not be of use to JohnCox - tie your hair back when winding paddles up.  Otherwise you risk embarrassment when you become entangled and onlookers can't help because they're all falling over laughing.  :angry:  The same point applies to scarves.

Scarves fall about laughing ?????

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Just had a little cruise and several things occurred to me...

Although putting the rope around a post is a good idea, you can get a lot more directional control by holding the rope directly - useful sometimes.

If you don't like the look of what's happening in the lock (and its a log way back to the centre line) don't forget there is nothing to stop you closing back down a paddle if you think it will help.

A narrowboat in a wide lock is likely to move about a bit - long as it isn't excessive (so your ornaments don't fall over!). Sometimes the boat will tend to sit diagonally with the stern nicely tucked into a gate corner, sometimes not.

 

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52 minutes ago, rasputin said:

My best is 14 locks 4 miles in 3 hours single handed

its not a race

 

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I find all this boasting about numbers of locks singlehanded unseemly, so I will join in.  My most in a day was 26 - 11 broad and 15 narrow (Calder & Hebble 2, Huddersfield Broad 9, Huddersfield Narrow 15). Mind you I was younger then, still in my 60s, but was nevertheless knackered and could hardly stagger up the hill to the Sair Inn.  No chance now :(

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8 minutes ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

I find all this boasting about numbers of locks singlehanded unseemly, so I will join in.  My most in a day was 26 - 11 broad and 15 narrow (Calder & Hebble 2, Huddersfield Broad 9, Huddersfield Narrow 15). Mind you I was younger then, still in my 60s, but was nevertheless knackered and could hardly stagger up the hill to the Sair Inn No chance now :(

That's because of the walk up the hill, not the locks!

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On 11/08/2018 at 16:54, JohnCox said:

I lost my wife a few years back. We were looking at buying a canal boat, I need to know how difficult it is to do it alone!

Lots of advice here for you,but you will find like me,your own way of doing things.I always sail solo because my family have no interest in boating,and I haven't found anyone daft enough to sail with me.

Here's my contribution:  pick a calm day for your first trip,stock up with plenty of grub and lots of stuff to drink,[you're going to lose a lot of sweat!],Don't plan on going to a specific place,just cruise the cut.Don't put yourself under pressure to get somewhere. When you start to get tired,moor up and rest.

I find after about fifteen locks,I start making mistakes and getting clumsy,you will find your own limits.

Best of luck.

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As Mrs T is having to work full time at the moment I often take a single handed trips out. If nothing else I get my fix and it keeps "my hand in."

As Furness says above "Don't plan on going to a specific place, just cruise the cut. Don't put yourself under pressure to get somewhere. When you start to get tired, moor up and rest." Rest when you first feel tired, no later. An analogy from my days offshore, the time to reef the sails is when you first think about it. Far easier to shake a reef out than trying to put one in when the wind has got too strong.

 

One of my sayings: "If you are in a rush, what are you doing on the cut."

 

Edited by Ray T
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I don't think anybody has outright suggested it yet, but if you have a choice of where to start and cruise initially, then I would definitely recommend spending the first few weeks or months on narrow canals. As a single-hander I find broad canals much much harder to deal with. Once you've got the hang of doing locks on your own on the narrow canals you can generally breeze through them* and don't need to worry half as much about what the boat does once inside the chamber. Going up locks on the K&A and Grand Union (broad canals) I find I have to tie the bow rope around a bollard and keep hold of the centre line (with a turn or two around another bollard) to take up the slack and keep the boat from getting away. When doing a flight this gets quite tedious. 

 

I've been single-handing for three years and thoroughly concur with Ray's recommendation of Colin Edmondson's Going it Alone. Somebody gave it to me when I started on the Shroppie three years ago. 

 

*The exception in my experience so far being Bosley locks on the Macclesfield canal. The top gates are mitred pairs with no platform to walk across, meaning you have to go the long way around every time to open the offside gate (unless you take to carrying a barge pole around with you, which I did in the end). 

Edited by AftApeth

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On 13/08/2018 at 20:40, system 4-50 said:

4 locks? You're kidding.  Thats taken care of one hour, what do you do with the remaining hours of the day?

Just by chance I got an opportunity to do a trip, single handed as usual, as follows:

 

Trip starting Tue 14th Aug:
Tue    Visited Kingslock Boatyard to arrange Webasto install but they could not come to me, they needed the boat to come to them.  Normally Nantwich to Middlewich 1 day trip but with the breach not possible. Decided to take the boat to them via Autherley Junc & Gt Haywood. So 
    => Hack Green locks ?M 2L
Wed    => past Tyrley locks 6M 20L  - bow-hauled the last 3 locks as split log jambed between prop and uxter plate, with help from M & R who were passing in another boat.  Took another hour to dislodge.
Thu    => past Wheaton Aston lock 22M 6L
Fri    => Radford Bank 23M 12L - as dark and headlight not well-adjusted.
Sat    => middle of Stone 8 locks 14M 5L - tightened stern gland 4 flats which stopped the drips from the log jamb.  Stopped early as twisted ankle whilst walking around a lock!
Sun     => Westport Lake 11M 14L
Mon    => Wheelock 9M 26L - left gates open on exit from sets of double locks when one full and one empty and non-leaky gates.
Tue     no move, stopped to do washing    0M 0L
Wed    => Kingslock Boatyard Middlewich    6M 5L 
 

87M 100L, approximately as may have used canalplan inaccurately.

 

Webasto now installed (except for the radiators) and I am well pleased.

 

I keep forgetting that the K & A is a muddy ditch and not a proper canal.

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On 11/08/2018 at 18:16, Ray T said:

We have just had it reprinted, and it is now available again on Amazon or from us.

 

CanalBookShop, Audlem Mill

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Just have a go and don't worry, have a look at an empty lock, that big concrete ledge that the top gates close on is the cill, don't get the back of the boat on it as the lock empties. That'll do for now, all the rest of the stuff will follow. Single handed boating is tiring but that doesn't matter, we all have to do it from time to time. The lonely part is in the evening but its not so bad if you have a big useless dog to talk to and its surprising how many people will stop and talk about their dogs to you if you have a dog. Good luck.

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