It’s that time again, another 250 hour service for the noisy green thing in the shed. Either the engine compartment is getting smaller or I’m getting older and less flexible; probably the latter! My New Year resolution was to lose 10kg…. only 15kg to go!
It’s interesting how I was regularly replacing the 175A alternator belt with belts purchased from chandlers. 18 months ago I bought two replacement belts from a motor factors in Banbury and the first is still on the engine 18 months later. It’s not showing much sign of wear! Today I re-tensioned it and the charging voltage immediately increased.
On our arrival at Tewkesbury I asked the lock keeper what time we would should lock down onto the River Severn. He’d informed me we should go at 2pm. So I had a slight surprise this morning when the crew of the boat moored in front (nb Waka Nui 2) mentioned they were leaving for Gloucester at 11am. I immediately went to the lock and asked for confirmation from the rostered lock keeper. Yes, it was 11am! By now it was 10 45am and we wanted to take on water. The crew of Waka Nui 2 kindly waited for us. So we have two boats in the lock with Maori names. However the other crew have no connection to NZ and have never been there. They bought their first narrowboat from a Kiwi who lived in Rotorua and who had named the boat. Waka is a large canoe or boat and Nui means……. well how the hell would I know… I’m not a Maori!
There have been spring tides over the last few days and the lock keeper informed us this had pushed the water back over the weir at Gloucester Lock bring a large amount of debris with it. We were warned to be careful.
There was a bit of fluffing around at Upper Lode Lock with one boat coming up and the two of us going down. Then we were joined by a large fibreglass cruiser and it took the lock keeper several minutes to decide where he wanted us positioned in the lock. We’re back on big locks.
Waka Nui 2 is a local boat and we decided to follow rather than lead. It was a good decision because in the rush to leave I’d failed to load the River Severn map into the gps.
There was a good downstream current and we moved along quite nicely with the engine doing 1200rpm.
There was a final glimpse of Tewkesbury Abbey which we will also see on the way back, although we’re not planning to go back up the River Avon.
The river is actually rather boring. High banks covered in trees means there is very little to see. The river is shallow on the left bank on the bend below Haw Bridge, but there are marker posts and warning signs.
Last of the marker post. The current had Waiouru “crabbing” as we went around the bend. At Combe Bottom we met two large fibreglass cruisers going in the opposite direction. Not only were they going faster than us but they were also pushing against the current. For us it became “A life on the ocean waves… a home on the rolling deep” . I steered diagonally across the river in an effort to meet the waves in their wake square on to the bow rather that be struck side on. That mostly worked with spray from the bow bursting into the air. Narrow flat bottomed boats don’t handle waves very well. As it was we bounced around in their wake for a good kilometre.
The river splits at Upper Parting. We needed to go left onto the Eastern Channel, but the current was attempting to take us right to the weir. I was glad Waka Nui 2 was ahead and knew the way. The Eastern Channel looks more like a wide canal than a river, however by looking at the banks it was obvious the water level had fallen by half a metre so the high tides had affected the channel.
We had been seeing and avoiding small debris for most of the cruise but from this point onwards some of it became significantly larger.
There’s a second weir at Gloucester Lock. The crew on Waka Nui 2 had phoned the lock keeper when we reached Blackbridge Railway Bridge to warn him we were coming and hopefully have the lock ready for us.
The river makes a right turn in from of the lock and then goes over a weir. We didn’t want to get caught by the current and hugged the left bank staying back from the lock gates until they were open.
When the lock was ready we powered on through the current until inside the lock. It was only once we were inside the lock that the steerer on Waka Nui 2 informed me that was the most interesting trip he had done on this stretch of the river.
We’ve reached Gloucester and found a mooring in the basin.