I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
How Narrow is Narrow?
Will we fit under here?
These boats are called “Narrowboats”
because they are always only 7 feet wide. There are boats on the English canals
that are wider, but they are limited in the canals they can use. Today we found
out exactly why they are so narrow. The locks in this part of England are all
single locks, and are just a foot or so wider than the boats, so it is tight
sliding the boats into the locks. Our’s being a “hireboat” and rented to
inexperienced and often inept folk form all over the world, it had plenty of
scratches and scrapes from hitting the sides of the locks. One day we followed
a boat that looked so perfect there were hardly any marks on it’s sides. I
watch the lady driver slide that boat around a bend and into the lock with
inches on either side without touching at all. I commented to her partner who
was working the lock, “Wow, she is really good!”, and he proudly replied “Oh
yea, she is VERY good!”. I cannot imagine even a day without scraping the
bumpers of the boat on something, but their boat was pristine after weeks of
All the bridges are this narrow
Today my IPad map program warned us that
there was a section coming up that was Narrow. This was through a section of
rock where rather than build another series of locks to go up and then back
down, or detouring a long way around the hill, they went through the rock,
digging the canal. However, they did not make it the full width of most of the
canals. Originally this section would have been wide enough for one boat to go
through easily, but over the years, trees have narrowed it and weeds have
obscured the sides, so it often looked like there was not room to put a boat
through. You had to take your time and carefully thread your way through. To
make it worse, one of these sections was so long that you could not see to the
end, so oncoming boats could not see if anyone was in the narrow section.
Travelling in September it is off-season, so the number of boats on the canals
is much less than in the summer. We often go for a long time without meeting
another boat, but approaching the end of this narrow cut, we saw two boats
frantically trying to slow down before they entered the section as they saw us
coming up. If you met another boat in this section of the canal, you would have
to back up to a spot wide enough to squeeze by. The cut was designed with
passing spots but the weeds and trees have claimed these spots in modern times.
Sliding through . .
Also very narrow are the bridges on this
section of the canal. Apparently the wealthy land-owners insisted that the only
way they would allow the canals to go through their land was if fancy tall
bridges were built to show everyone that the surrounding countryside was owned
by someone important. It appears that the canal companies appeased the
land-owners, by building the bridges high and fancy, but made them extra narrow
to recoup some of the extra cost. You have to squeeze through some of these
with inches to spare on both sides, and the height of the bridges make them
look even narrower.
Our boat has a few more
Shropshire Stripes (that’s a NASCAR reference for those who don’t get it –
Google up “Darlington Stripe”), but we made it through,