(Posted by Alan)
Boxmoor to Cook's Wharf
Resuming my attempt to remember what happened on the intensive final two days of this trip!
In fact we did not intend to make a particularly early start, but a pair of community boats had been moored behind us, where not a lot of control seemed to be being put on the youngsters aboard, making their antics look quite dangerous. So when it looked that "Pisces" and "North Star" might be about to start up, we decided we would rather be ahead of them, than behind them.
Once we had worked a few locks, and were approaching the middle Winkwell one, someone hailed us from a moored boat, and asked if we would wait for them. I thought they might be a while getting going, but in fact we were quickly sharing locks, which helped us on our way a bit.
"Wooden stake and mesh" bank reclamation just below Berk- hamsted, something we have seen elsewhere, but new to the lower Grand Union, we think.
Small tug being delivered to these these works by lorry - I had previously thought it was being taken away, but have since met the lady who drives it, and who corrected me!
We continue to share locks at Berk- hamsted's "Rising Sun". I was fascinated to hear that the owners of this boat had saved at least £20,000 over an equivalent new one, by a second-hand purchase of an almost unused boat. (It's an Aqualine, built in Poland).
Alan lock wheels past extensive floral display at The Boat, Berk- hamsted
Our companions were stopping at Berkhamsted, leaving us to press on up the next eight locks to Tring summit alone. As we started encountering every lock against us, despite frequent boats the other way, we were clearly catching up another boat, but never quite seeing it. Often pairs of top gates were open, so we were guessing either two boats or a wide-beam.
Typical state of the refuse facilities at Cow Roast
We were not long on to Tring summit, about 3 miles with no locks, before we quickly caught up a wide-beam community boat. Much of the summit, being in a cutting, is relatively, (but not exceptionally) narrow, but they seemed to be navigating it incredibly slowly, even before they decided to start letting some of the visitors steer the boat, and were actually virtually stopping on a fairly regular basis. As we caught them at one of the wider parts, they could easily have held at the side for half a minute or so, and waved us past, but they didn't, and eventually we stopped in a bridge-hole and shut down the engine until they were out of sight. It didn't help much, as we very quickly caught them again, so we repeated this, waiting longer, but still caught them quickly.
Imagine our relief when as we finally got to Marsworth top lock, a narrow-boat was waiting to enter, meaning they could not share the lock, due to their width, but we could. I don't think I have ever been waved past with quite such bad grace, or such condescending comment. A great shame, as this was one of the usually better operators of coimmunity boats, but their arrogance and unhelpfulness that day has left me with a rather different view of what can happen.
Fortunately the lady we then shared with proved to be the perfect antidote. She was not young, but single handling a boat she had recently bought, and which was not without some mechanical issues. She was clearly having the time of her life, and neither the fact that a warning beeper kept coming on on the engine, nor that she had no idea what it meant, really didn't seem to trouble her at all. In fact she was not fazed when the engine decided to stop as she was under way, ("it does, sometimes", she said quite simply!).
So thank you, unnamed lady, as well as our accompanying boat earlier in the day. Not an auspicious day for community boat crews, we felt, but some very nice private boaters made our day. (And we got back within out target time too, which was surely a plus).
Almost home! - leaving the penultimate lock at Peter's Two
Boxmoor to Cooks Wharf
Miles: 12.2, Locks: 27
Total Miles: 179.8, Total Locks: 189
11 hours ago