“Because it’s there”, the oft-quoted answer to why mountaineers climb mountains could apply equally to why we set off up the Ashby Canal. There is also another silver propellor location at the end of the canal, so that is an equally valid reason. Last night we were moored near to Bosworth Marina. We haven’t plugged the boat in to run an equalisation charge for quite a long time, and the marina looked a pleasant place to do that.
So this morning Clare went to the marina office, while I moved the boat on to the water point to fill up the tank. The plan was to drive to the limit of navigation and return to the marina. We didn’t expect to get back within office hours, so booking in advance seemed ideal. We set off a little later than I’d planned because the office didn’t open as early as I’d remembered, but we still had enough time.
With electricity booked for the evening, I wondered about trying to do the whole day on electric. In the shallow water, we made slow but steady progress. We met hardly any other boats, but still managed to meet one just as our nose went under a bridge. We stopped in time, but manoeuvring in shallow water is tricky, especially if it has just been churned up by using hard reverse. We had a pleasant exchange with the other boaters as we continued past them on the wrong side because that was where they were pointing.
At a number of the humped back bridges drivers crossing the canal would hoot their horns as they were driving over. I quite enjoyed sounding our horn in response. I don’t think I caused any accidents, but I did see at least one passenger look at us.
When we got to the official limit to navigation, I turned at the winding hole. The silver propellor location is a third of a mile further on, but the winding hole there is only suitable for boats up to fifty feet long. I’d decided in advance that I would reverse along it so that if it was trickier than I feared, we could just drive out. I had also read that there was a swing bridge that required a CRT key. I asked Clare to go and open it for us. She soon came back saying it wasn’t possible. There was a coffer dam either side of a partially built new bridge. Only carry-able boats could reach the silver propellor location today.
After an ice cream, we set off back. By now the battery was reading 66% – a value much below the usual range we run in. Going below 75% is not recommended, and getting down to 25% strongly discouraged. I decided that arriving at an unknown marina with almost flat batteries might be risky, so I chose a different experiment. If we drove back on diesel, we’d do the same distance in the same conditions as our outward journey. How close would we be to fully charged? As we arrived at the marina entrance the battery got back to 100% – we really do get twice as many miles from our diesel by driving electric.
Clare guided me to our booked mooring. There was a stiff breeze blowing across the marina, so I placed us upwind of the berth and let the wind move us sideways while I reversed slowly towards the jetty. Someone from the marina came out and stood ready to fend on the boat we were most likely to bump. Clare hopped off with a rope and I was able to use the bow thruster to counteract the wind so no fending was needed.
It was a beautiful evening, and I fancied eating outside. The strong wind made me decide to experiment with eating in the front cockpit. We still have the cratch cover up, so I was able to zip down the windward side. The table fitted snugly, though the seats are really too low. Fortunately when eating noodles, a high table can be seen as an advantage. We had an enjoyable meal serenaded by large numbers of ducks.
After dinner we went for a lap of the marina on foot. We reached the bridge just as the sun was setting. The birds whizzing over our heads turned out to be house martins when we used a phone app to identify their calls.