Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Christmas Cruise

Christmas Cruise
Staffs and Worcester Canal
28 December 2009

A Christmas time cruise to the Fox and Anchor at Coven has become something of an annual tradition for the Ahabs, normally accompanied by some friends.

Coven Dec 2009

This year we ventured forth with our longstanding friends, the Hamstones plus their three children. Their eldest is Jeff's best friend and had spent the night with us so that let us three lads make an early start and check out the ice before the clan set off to join us.

Whilst there had been a thaw for a couple of days, there had been a sharp overnight frost and I feared than the canal would have returned to a solid state. A quick trip to Long Molls Bridge near the Four Ashes Chemical Works revealed only a thin crust of ice with maybe a centremetre or so in the marina basin itself. The hoardes were therefore summoned and the stove lit to warm the boat.

Four Ashes with a trace of ice

By the time they arrived at 11.30 am, the sun was out and the rime had melted leaving only a couple of hundred yards of ice to negotiate before reaching the open water in the cut. The problem with ice is that whilst it's ok going forward, turning round 90 degrees is very difficult and it took us a good 10 mins to break an iceberg filled lagoon large enough to point WB's bows at the entrance, much to the amusement of the other boaters present who saw us out with a round of applause!

Coven Cruising Club in the ice

The cut itself was largely ice free, with thin brash appearing as we approached Coven. Our progress was helped by the two boats which had made the passage before us and at no time did the ice present the sort of problem we encountered last January.

We winded in the iced up hole by Coven Cruising Club, before returning to a warming round of Hot Chocolates at the Fox and Anchor.  This was followed by lunch aboard which included soup and hot dogs wrapped in bacon - very seasonal.

With the sun setting into a wintry sky we made out way back but this wasn't without incident. The Hamstones youngest son made a rapid entrance through the front doors and placed a steadying hand flat onto the top of the solid  fuel stove! Ouch!. 60 mins of a burnt hand in some ice cold water and a trip to accident and emergency were necessary, but he emerged with nothing more than a sling and a tube of moisteuriser to be applied over the next few days. Three  cheers for a mum and an aunt who are both nurses.

It is a relief to visit WB after long periods of frost and find that everything was fine.

Mind you, I am feeling a bit more nervous about the current freeze up. How much does a new calorifier cost?

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