Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pump out and sharing mooring rings

The Environmental Agency (EA) has a very good pump out machine at Abingdon lock.  Ten minutes of suction for £10.  This morning we had a problem the card Jan had purchased wouldn’t work in the machine.  Fortunately most EA locks have a rostered lock keeper and he was able to set the machine on manual.  This did get me thinking.  The EA machines rarely fail and the cost for using it is £10.  The Canal & River Trust machines always seem to be breaking down and the cost is £15.  Why do CRT machines cost 50% more yet are less reliable.  I can only assume a larger number of CRT’s customers are not as considerate when using the machine and this has resulted in a increase in maintenance costs.  These costs are then reflected in the increase to all customers.  I did ask the Abingdon lock keeper if their machine experienced problems.  He informed me most of the problems were with the card reader but that he hated vegetarians and posh boats!  Apparently the pump doesn’t like expensive toilet paper or lentils! Smile

It took just under three hours to cruise from Abingdon to Oxford.  Things got rather busy on the river around Christchurch Meadows.  Numerous punts had been hired out to groups of teenagers and they were attempting to steer using the poles.  Few of them were watching where they were going and none were looking for other boats. 



We weaved amongst them attempting to predict in which direction they were heading.  This proved almost impossible as they didn’t know.  Eventually we reached Osney Lock.  There had been nothing behind us but to our surprise a small boat came into the lock behind us.  I enquired where they had come from and was informed they had just left the marina below the lock and were out for the day.  The owner informed me it was a trailer boat weighing just under two tonne.  They usually cruise in southern France towing the boat behind their Range Rover.  He told me they prefer the French canals.

The 24 hour moorings above the lock appeared to be full of crusty’s.  Each leaving a spare mooring ring between boats.  If they all closed up there would be room for an additional two boats.  One of them called out to me.  I thought he said “Are there any vacant moorings beyond Folly Bridge?”  Jan thought he said “There are moorings beyond Folly Bridge!”  I replied “Where is Folly Bridge?”  He just rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders and turned his back on me.  Later I checked the map and realised he was asking about moorings opposite Christchurch Meadows.

We found room for two boats at the end of the 24 hour moorings and reversed back so our stern rope was sharing the same ring as the fibreglass cruiser behind.  This left just enough room for another narrowboat in front of us.  The crew of the cruiser came out and grumbled at having to share a ring, mentioning there was plenty of room in from of us.  We ignored them.  20 minutes later a narrowboat arrived and gratefully grabbed the mooring in front.  I would have thought it was boating courtesy to close up when mooring space is at a premium.  The crew of the boat behind must have been displeased as they departed two hours later.

After lunch we wandered into Oxford.  This time we made a trip to the covered market.  It was mostly window shopping, although Jan did buy some red gooseberries and a couple of dark plums.  It’s damned hard to buy gooseberries in Australia and Jan just happens to love them.

We noticed an interesting cake shop down one of the covered alleyways.  It was possible to watch the staff decorating cakes through the large shop windows.  Very interesting!

SAMSUNGcake 1smlSAMSUNGWe thought these last two were very cleverly decorated examples of famous Oxford buildings.

Tomorrow we will be back onto skinny canals.

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