Author Topic: CaraCruiser Journal  (Read 21039 times)

gongoozler2

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CaraCruiser Journal
« on: June 20, 2008, 02:19:43 PM »
We first started boating when I was a youngster of 54 some sixteen years ago. When I say we I mean of course me and Mrs Gongoozler. The kids having all fledged, we found ourselves with time on our hands and was looking for a pleasant way to fill it on a limited budget.

?We?ll have a boating holiday? we said. Never having been afloat before, we thought it would be a novel experience for us. Consequently we booked a week on the Broads and were getting quite excited reading all the brochures and planning routes. But it was not to be and we had to cancel due to a family members serious illness. Another booking went the same way and it was then we decided to look into the possibility of buying a cheap boat. ?I bet you can buy a boat for what that holiday was going to cost,? I said. We found that you could but buying a boat was only the start of the expense.

We lived in Chesterfield at the time and Nationwide Boat Sales was only a couple of miles away so well worth a look. NBC have closed now but at the time were one of the biggest boat sales yards in the country although they were about as far as it?s possible to get from the sea. It was filled with dozens of sea going boats of all kinds with some price tags of ?45000 or ?60000 and my heart sank when I saw them.
?There?ll be nowt for us here,? I said, but went prowling round the yard anyway.

But there in a corner looking all forlorn and rejected stood a little CaraCruiser with a price tag I could afford. ?It?s got its own trailer as well,? I enthused lets have a closer look

This is the opening few paragraphs of a post I do on another forum and it is a journal of my travels with a CaraCruiser and I wondered if readers would like me to copy it to this site. Replies please.
Tom
« Last Edit: June 20, 2008, 02:24:34 PM by gongoozler2 »
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2008, 09:52:24 PM »
No takers?  Perhaps not a good idea then.
Tom
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

Tom Bradley1

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2008, 07:56:11 PM »
Where is the other forum?

Tom

JunR

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2008, 11:04:32 PM »
 Sorry I have not wrote for some time now due to a bit of a health problem, but that now all seems OK.
 My wife and good self are regular readers of the Caracruiser forum and enjoy your input very much but some how both missed the last two words 'REPLIES PLEASE' in your journal, so we can only apologize and hope that you carry on, with it.
  Our boat has been on the back burner for the last 18 mts, but having said that we have made some progress, the hull is almost ready for painting after spending weeks removing the old paint and scores of broken screws 70 + almost every screw in the rubbing strakes had been broken off flush with the gell coat and the same around the top of the transom.   
 Cheers Jeff   (actually another Tom)

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2008, 12:25:31 PM »
 JunR.  Thanks for the replies. Will post the rest of the journal as soon as I can. Tom
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2008, 12:38:06 PM »
Tom Bradley. The other forum is the www.dawncraftowners.com they have a section for CaraCruisers
Tom
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gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2008, 12:42:48 PM »
We quizzed the salesman with such questions as-Where can we put it in the water?-Do we have to pay? Do we need a licence to drive it?- Where?s the nearest slipway? ( when told what slipways were)


The upshot was we bought the boat and having been told that we could slip the boat into the Chesterfield canal at a place called Drakeholes and that we could buy a licence at West Stockwith Lock on the same canal we decided to do just that.

We went for the licence first- no need for BSC or insurance then. West Stock with Lock is where the canal meets the tidal River Trent and we got there just as the Argre arrived ( I?m not sure of the spelling but it?s the Trent version of the Seven Bore) and we found it quite alarming. ?Your not getting me on that river,? said Mrs G. and I assured her that I had no intention of venturing on it. Especially when the lock keeper told me that that was quite a small Argre. ?They can get much bigger than that,? He assured me.
?No we?ll stick to nice quiet canals? I said. ?I?m not keen on the tidal rivers myself.?
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2008, 12:45:06 PM »
For the first launch I persuaded my eldest son Tom and my brother-in law David to accompany me, Mrs G having decided to forgo the pleasure.

Arriving at the slipway we undid the chain guarding it with my newly acquired BW key and undoing the turnbuckle holding the boat to the trailer backed it down the rough slipway made up of railway sleepers. When the trailer wheels were covered I donned my wellies and gave the boat a push. It came of the trailer easily and drifted away across the canal.
?We should have tied a rope to it first ,? I said.-I?m sharp like that.
?What?ll we do?? said Dave.
?It?s alright, ? Tom said, ?It?s coming back.?
And so it was, with a gentle breeze blowing it towards us. I?d had visions of stripping down to my underpants and going for a swim.

Tying up to the mooring rings there we climbed aboard and connected the petrol tank to the outboard, primed the carb and after a couple of hundred pulls, the engine fired.
?Cast off, cast off,? I ordered in my best captains voice. And cast off they did, untying the ropes from the boat and leaving them on the bank. Now I knew that was wrong but as we had the canal to ourselves I let it and the boat go and gingerly pushed the gear lever come throttle control forward. They?d told me, ?If you can drive a car you can drive a boat.? Don?t you believe them. When you turn one way with your boat the back end goes t?other way. This explains all the chips out of the gel coat on the stern corners. You can turn the steering wheel and have to wait ten minuets for the boat to decide to go that way then. And the brakes. Least said about the brakes the better.

We meandered up the canal, meandering describing our progress nicely. After a while we got a little better and each of us had a go. We even managed to turn round and only ran the prop into the bank, stalling the engine once. We were on our way back to Drakeholes when -disaster.
?There?s a boat coming.? Screamed David. ?Do something.?
I did something. Taking the wheel I steered the boat into some willows overhanging the cut.
?Grab a branch and hang on.? I ordered my crew. Well the canal was only about 25 feet wide at that point so there wasn?t much room.
?Have courage.? said the laughing narrow boat driver. ?Have courage.?
?It?s alright saying have courage.? said David. ?He?s got a 7 ton boat and we?ve got a 7 cwt one.?
Arriving back at our starting point I approached the concrete moorings much to fast and was heading for a collision.
?Stop! stop! your going to crash. Do something! do something!?
I threw the engine into reverse and just managed to slow enough to hit the side with a gentle bump.

Recovering the boat proved easier than we had anticipated and we wended our way home. I was extremely pleased with the way the day had gone and thought I had learned a lot and obviously had a lot to learn. But I was hooked.
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2008, 01:11:14 PM »
So we were ready for our first trip together Mrs G and I, and the next weekend we again launched at Drakeholes. We got ?Don?t Panic? as the boat was called, into the water with little difficulty.

Sitting inside, moored to the bank, having a cup of tea and congratulating ourselves on the successful launch, I said to Mrs G, ?It?s a funny name for a boat-Don?t Panic- I think we?ll change it.?
?Judging by what you told me about your first trip, it seems very appropriate,? she said.
?What would you call her anyhow??
Just then a kingfisher came and perch on a branch quite near to the boat and as we watched fascinated it dived into the canal and came up with a small fish.
?The old English name for a kingfisher is halcyon? I said. ?I think that?s a good name for a boat.?
Various other names were suggested by the two of us but in the end Halcyon won the day. We?ve named each of the other CaraCruisers we?ve had over the years Halcyon. I?m told it?s unlucky to change the name of a boat but I?m not superstitious and nothing terrible has happened to our boats, touch wood.

I spent the next ten or fifteen minuets persuading the outboard to co-operate and when it eventually fired just before I collapsed with exhaustion, we pushed off from the bank-a trick I?d learned from the previous trip- and set of with some trepidation intending to have a go at negotiating our first lock.

We were lucky insomuch as we had the canal pretty much to ourselves. I had only ever seen one moving boat the time before but I knew that to get to the first lock heading in the direction of Retford, we first had to pass about half a mile of moored boats at the Retford and Worksop Boat Club. I worried that the slight breeze would blow us into a boat as we passed. ?You have to go slow passing moored boats.? I complained to Mrs G. ?But when were moving slow there?s hardly any steering.?
?Other people must do it,? said Mrs G , not unreasonably. ?If they can, we can.?

In the event we passed the moored boats without hitting anything and were approaching our first lock. Whit Sunday Pie Lock was a broad lock and on the way to it we planned out strategy.
?You get out onto the side deck holding the centre rope? I told Mrs G, and I?ll come in close as I can and you can step off and hold the boat whilst I get out to work the lock.?
"I can't stand on that little bit." said Mrs G. "It's only about three inches wide. What if I slip in?"
"You can hold onto the top rail," I encouraged. "Anyhow, It's either that or you drive and I'll get out. It's up to you."
Reluctantly Mrs G elected to get onto the side deck with the rope and that settled we carried on.
The best laid plans----- as we got in sight of the lock we could see that a narrow boat was moored at the only landing point and we didn?t know what to do. I hadn?t learned at this stage how to stop the boat and hold it still. In order for me to control it, it had to be either moving forward or moored up.
The chap with the narrow boat must have been able to see the panic in our faces for he shouted, ?Slow down! slow down! throw me a rope.?
Mrs G, standing on the sidedeck, ashen faced, with the rope in her hand, did so and we were pulled in to moor alongside the narrow boat.
There was a lady on the lock obviously with the narrow boat and she opened the gates- the lock being empty and waved us in. Once inside she shut the gates and opened the top paddles slowly. I had my work cut out trying to keep the boat from running back into the back gates until I was able to get hold of the ladder and hold her steady. The top gates were opened for us and we thanked the lady and sailed out.

Not what we wanted, we wanted to work the lock ourselves so we waited ?till the narrow boat had gone then went back through the lock. We then made our way back past the RWBC to where we?d left the car and trailer at Drakeholes.
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2008, 01:16:05 PM »
We recovered the boat without too much difficulty and were making our way home when a bearing collapsed on the trailer. Did you know those things need grease? Conveniently, it happened in Worksop almost opposite one of those places that fit car exhausts, repair brakes and fit tyres, so I was able to leave the boat with them for repair and collect it next day.

Our next few trips were on the Chesterfield Canal. It?s fairly quiet early in the year-this was mid March- so was ideal to practise our boat handling skills. We have got better, honest. There really is no need to take evasive action if you see us coming down some canal or other-that is of course unless it?s windy.

People say it?s unlucky to change the name of a boat but I?m not superstitious. Whenever we?ve got another CaraCruiser we?ve always changed the name to Halcyon and nothing terrible has happened to our boats,---touch wood.

Occasionally we have had the odd mishap however. Take for instance the time we were doing the Four Counties Ring.
Now Mrs G. has developed a technique when going downhill at locks that saves her getting out of the boat. She will place the boat in the head of the lock with the bows just touching the gates. When I?ve filled the lock she reverses the boat a little to enable me to open the gate, and then enters the lock. When the lock has emptied and I?ve opened the bottom gates she waits in the tail of the lock whilst I shut the gates and get aboard.

This is one of the few advantages of having a small boat. Others are that we have no mooring fees and we can be on any canal we fancy in a day.

But I digress. Back to the Four Counties Ring. Mrs G was waiting in the tail of the lock and after shutting the bottom gates and dropping the paddles I was going down the steps to join her when she shouted. ?Look out! Be careful. The steps are very slippery.?
?I know, I know.? I replied. ?I?m not stupid. I can see the sign. It says beware slippery steps. I?m watching it.?
The water was very deep at that point. Due to subsidence-or so I?ve read somewhere. Anyhow it came well above my head and I came up spluttering and coughing. I couldn?t get into the boat dripping water as I was so I stripped naked then got on board and washed myself down with a bowl of water. I also made a mental note not to grumble again at the amount of spare clothes Mrs G packed each trip.
?There?s some people on the bank watching you.? said Mrs G, as I towelled myself dry.
?######### ?em? I replied, or words to that effect.
I took advantage of the first shower we came across and my wet clothes were put in a black bin liner and put in the bilge until we got to a laundrette. Our first opportunity came at Market Drayton where we got a taxi and took the wet clothes. By this time they?d been in the bag several days and Mrs G explained to the lady at the laundrette what had happened. ?They might smell a bit,? she said.
?It?ll be alright,? said the good lady. ?I?ll put a bit of extra powder in.? But I don?t think she was prepared for the stench when the bag was opened. I was surprised to find that the clothes came out of the wash not only clean but smelling sweet as well.
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2008, 01:21:08 PM »
Another impromptu dip I took was on the slipway at Sawley. We had launched there four or five days earlier and left the car and trailer on the car park whilst we explored the Erewash Canal.

Arriving back at the slip I brought the car and trailer round to unload some of the stuff we had in the boat and put it into the car. I like to lighten the boat as much as possible to make it safer to tow. I say as much as possible but I suppose it is possible to take the outboard off, but I never do. Too much trouble I think. I used to take it off when I first started boating but for the last ten years or so I?ve just tilted it and evolved a method of tying it so that it can?t jump out of the tilt slots and drop down. This has worked well and I?ve towed many hundreds of miles without trouble.

Anyhow back to Sawley slip. I had made several trips back and forth twixt boat and car and was just getting on the boat stern to remove the petrol tank when it happened. If you know the CaraCruisers you?ll know they have little black knobs on the ends of the top rail. Well the one I was holding came off in my hand and I took a header over the stern. I hit my head on the tilted outboard prop on my way down but despite this I kept hold of my little black knob.

Mrs. G was inside the boat and hearing the splash came rushing to my aid. She grabbed a huge handful of my hair-I had a lot then, honest-and lifted me bodily almost clear of the water. I managed to scramble aboard with Mrs Gs enthusiastic help and was grateful for the change of clothes she gave me. She was quick to remind me that I had just been complaining that she always pack far too many clothes when we went boating.

It was at this slipway on another occasion that I got the opportunity to have a drive at one of those aluminium trail able boats. I had just recovered our boat and was getting ready for the drive home when this chap hove into view with a Sea Otter. I was watching him moor in the slipway when he said, ?Is that you boat??. Pointing to the CaraCruiser.
?Yes it is. Why?? I asked.
?Well if you like trail boats perhaps you?d like a go at that.? He said. Nodding towards the Sea Otter. ?I?m here demonstrating them.?
I spent a pleasurable half hour putting it through its paces and he explained how canal water was taken on board as ballast when the boat was launched and pumped out again when it was recovered. I really enjoyed the experience but I didn?t bother to buy one.
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2008, 01:24:18 PM »


Well now I?m ready for the 2007 season. The outboard has had it?s initial 20 hour service, The petrol tank is full, the boat has had a good wash to remove the winter grime, the gas cylinder is full, I?ve checked everything I can think of and I can?t wait.
I?m looking forward to our first trip of the season and the six months licence I applied for has just arrived from BW. It runs from the first of April and I?m raring to go.

I?m going to do the Four Counties Ring for my first trip I think. At about one hundred miles and ninety five locks, or is it ninety five miles and one hundred locks? I forget. Whichever, it will be a good test of what I?m capable of health wise. If I can do that I?ll be able to tackle most trips. I intend to take my time and take a couple of weeks for the journey and if I?m feeling up to it I might divert and take a trip up the Caldon Canal whilst I?m there.
Anyhow I intend to keep a record of the trip and take plenty of pictures which I?ll post on here.

I have been thinking of the Norfolk Broads but reading blogs on their site I find it a little off-putting . I?d miss the locks because on the canals that?s where people meet up and chat and for me that?s half the attraction of boating. Then I hear about the huge wash some of the boats throw up crossing places like Braydon Water and I don?t know if my little boat could cope.
Also I gather that you have to pay for mooring but I don?t know if that?s everywhere or just some places. Still, the people that use the Broads and post about it on the web seem a great lot of people and are quick to sing the praises of Broads boating so perhaps I might just give it a go sometime.
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2008, 01:27:06 PM »
The first trip of the 2007 season starts at Brewood


More to follow when I can get time off from boating.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 01:29:12 PM by gongoozler2 »
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2008, 01:45:16 PM »
Postby gongoozler on Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:51 am
I decided to try and 'do' the Four Counties Ring to find out if I was capable of doing what is a fairly testing journey with it's 95 locks, Harecastle tunnel and the 100miles of canal that includes Heartbreal Hill.

Brewood is an ideal place for me to start as it has a nice easy slipway, is not too expencive and most important, safe parking for car and trailer.


After slipping the boat we loaded up with all the provisions we'd taken with us-enough for several days. Filled up with water (10 gallons) and having had enough for the day, move across the cut to moor for the night.

Next morning we travelled to Norbury junction where we moored for the night-only about seven miles but we were determined to make it a very leisurly trip.



Next morning Mrs G said she could smell gas. I said I couldn't but she insisted so I checked the cylinder with some washing up liquid and sure enough there was a slight leak where the regulator connects to the cylinder.

I use those 3.9 propane cylinders and this one was one I'd bought some time last year and I couldn't remeber from where. I tried tightening the regulator but that didn't stop it, so, well aware of the dangers of gas on a boat I removed the cylinder and took it and the regulator to the nearby chandlery to try and discover if the regulator or the cylinder was at fault.

Mr Chandler was having nothing to do with gas, he said. But telephoned a Corgi chappie from the adjacent boat yard who fitted the regulator to another cylinder which cured the leak and proved my cylinder was dodgy. I had to swap one full Cylinder for another and pay the full price. Really disschuffed.
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got

gongoozler2

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Re: CaraCruiser Journal
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2008, 01:58:18 PM »
With the gas problem sorted we worked through the five Tyrley Locks in the early morning sunshine and I really enjoyed it.

Mooring at Market Drayton Mrs G prepared an early lunch and we decided to take a taxi into town. We waited for the taxi outside the Talbot Inn but when it came the driver refused to take our dog Bess. However he telephoned for another firm that did take dogs so all was well.

Whilst waiting for the second taxi to come I took a picture of the notice below.
"They must use big bottles" I remarked to Mrs G. I wonder if they sell them when they've bottled them?"

This was a notice saying girls required for bottling but i've lost the link

After a bit of shopping we returned to the boat for an evening meal, a bit of telly and bed.

The best laid plans
I had intended to spend as much of 2007 as we possibly could on the cut and we were doing quite nicely thank you, at first.

We did the Four Counties as planned having slipped at Brewood we took a leisurely three weeks and returned home to collect post, pay bills and pick up prescriptions from the doc.

The Oxford beckoned next but we couldn?t find a slipway reasonably close without having to pay through the nose to use one. Eventually we decided to launch at Stone Boat Building and found them very reasonably priced and most obliging.
The only problem we had was with the car grounding on the lip of the slipway before the boat was far enough in to float off the trailer. Unhitching the trailer from the boat and allowing it to run back another few feet on a rope solved this and we were grateful for the help of the boatyard owner.

The start of the Oxford canal at Sutton Stop was a couple of days boating away but as we had plenty of time that didn?t worry us. Mooring the first night at Great Haywood we visited Shugborough Hall before retiring for the night.

Fradley Junction was our next destination and we set of nice and early. A couple of miles or so from our destination we passed Kings Bromley boat yard and noticed that they had a slipway so we took a note of their telephone number.

We spent that night a Fradley, the next below a flight of locks whose name escapes- me and then we were at the entrance to the Oxford- Sutton Stop for the night. So it had taken us four days cruising to get to the start of the Oxford. We could of course have done it in less but experience has shown us that trying to hurry spoils the holiday.

This time we only got as far as Banbury because I was concerned about recovering the boat at Stone given the trouble we had launching and this worry made me decide to turn back cut the trip short. In the event we recovered the boat without difficulty but on the way back we called at Kings Bromley where we were offered the use of a first class slipway at reasonable cost and with safe parking. I determined to use this slip next time and try to reach Oxford itself. :evil:

Next time out we did indeed launch at Kings Bromley. This is a first class slipway that I would recommend without hesitation. Again Oxford was our destination. I wanted to get there because two previous attempts had been aborted.

The last one due to my concerns about the slipway at Stone and the previous one came when we were within five or six miles of our goal when we received a phone call to tell us that a good friend and neighbour had been killed in traffic accident. The call come just as we were getting ready for bed so we resolved to set of for home at first light next morning. On that occasion we had launched at Fenny Compton-a slipway now not in use-so we figured that if we travelled from dawn ?till dusk we could get home in about three days. Incredibly, on the first day of out return journey, another phone called informed us that two of my twenty year old cousins had been killed in a head on collision with a van. Given the above we were determined to beat the jinx and reach Oxford this time.


And we did. The trip was fairly uneventful and very enjoyable. On one occasion we did have to move on after we?d moored for the night. That was because of a party of fishermen or should I say fisher youths who came to fish in the evening with several crates of beer and loud complaints about boats mooring where they wanted to fish. After they started to fight amongst themselves and then sent two of their party for more refreshment we decided the canal looked much better a half a mile or so further on so we up stakes and moved.

Passing the entrance to the Ashby canal I remarked to Mrs G, ?Do you fancy a trip up there before we go home??
?No not this time.? she replied. ?We?re running out of clean clothes. Let?s go home for a week and I can do some washing. Then we can stock up with provisions again before we go again.?

As it turned out this was to be our last trip of the year. It was 11th June, we were home by the 13th and on the15th June the rivers Dearn and Dove came a visiting.
Image

Alderley Locks
Happiness lies not in getting what you want but in wanting what you've got