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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Canal Boating in Wales part 2

Canal Boating ~Sept 15-Oct 1, 2010
Canal Boating in England and Wales, Week 2.

This report is being prepared 1.5 months after the experience.  A certain perspective has been gained and certain software has been obtained to make the photos easier to insert.  Apparently, it takes a while to load up the photos so start this file and then get something to wash it down with.

To recap:  We started this canal boating in Anderton (see map) and took 7 days to get to Llangollen Wales which was our McGuffin to start with.  We had the boat for another 7 days but had the desire to see Chester which was a turn in a different direction from where we had been.

We had traveled by train on the upper bit of the illustration through Scotland and then boarded our lovely little canal boat in Anderton, England, roughly in the upper right of the black ellipse below.

The next bit was on the canals as shown on this canal chart which shows some of the 4,000 miles of canals in England.  The black ellipse shows our cruising grounds for our trip.  Apparently, there are 39,000 licensed boats on these canals.  We saw many full marinas, which meant those boats were not out on the canal with us.

You can see the other canals in England on the chart that was in our boat on display, note how many we didn’t see!

We started out in yellow from Anderton (near Northwich)  and except for a stop at Northwich we went direct to Llangollen in Wales on the left with the long ellipse.  The green shows the trip back from Llangollen and the side trip to Chester.  The red circles are approximate locations for the stops at night. 

The rough numbers are:  170 miles round trip, 70 locks, and 12 lifting bridges.  Fuel was approx. 210 litres @ 1.30 pounds per liter.  1.7 dollars = 1 pound at the airport in Heathrow.

The most notable stop in the country is near the lower left of the rectangle which is where we saw the castle that has been in use since 700 BC.  More on that as the trip writeup progresses.

The canal to Llangollen is the busiest and the narrowest in England and I would not like to see more boats than we did because of the narrow canal parts we saw.

Section of narrow canal, lined with concrete on both sides.  Polly driving.  Lori photo.

Polly is steering the Great Blue Heron to Llangollen in the narrow bit.  It was difficult to take a nap due to the contact of the hull with the concrete or rocks on a regular basis.

Keep in mind, a walking person can go faster than our boat, easily!  Lori took this photo and then jumped back on. 

Even narrower than this was the aquaduct 200’ in the air and over 200 years old!  It is 6’ 9” wide and the boats are all 6’-6” wide.

Below is a photo of our boat being piloted by Lori.  One has to wait until there is NO oncoming traffic out of Trevor and then go across in a parade.  There were 3 boats going when we were going upstream to Llangollen, and we were the middle boat.

You can see the thickness of the tub we were floating in and that is a soccer field below to give some scale.

Some data on the Chirk Tunnel:  421 meters long.  Note the head room or lack thereof on the right here.

Below here we are entering following another boat that had issues with the minimal current.

Going through the Chirk Tunnel.  CF could not stand up in the cockpit.

The sign tells of the longest tunnel we had to go through and the second photo shows the entrance as we followed another boat inside. 

That boat, we found out later, drew 36” to our 24’ and it hit the current at the entrance and basically stopped.  We rammed into the back of him even though we were barely going.  Things like that happened regularly and is why the boats are built of stout steel.

Our lead boat made it through very slowly due to his extra displacement in the 42’ deep canal even though he had the same 42 hp that we had.  Apparently physics cannot be ignored with these boats.

Here is a shot of the side of the 200’ tall  aquaduct.  It was built in the glory cast iron age.

We made it easily from here to our end goal of Llangollen, which must be the hardest word we had to pronounce as it is Welsh.  The Scottish claimed to speak English but when they got excited it was tough to figure out what they were saying but the Welsh were downright hard to understand.  If they spoke slowly, we could communicate well.  The English were also tough to understand but the Welsh get the nod for the weirdest language issues.

Below is the marina in Llangollen, where we stayed for $6 pounds a night.   There was water and garbage and electricity and it was a very nice little pond away from the town and got the last of the sun in the area.

The Llangollen Marina with our boat in the foreground center.

Count Ferrari was able to turn the boat around and back into the slip on the first try.  He was very proud of that!  Our boat is the middle one in the foreground.

Below is the town of Llangollen with a river running through it below the canal level.  Also, they have tours with horse drawn canal boats to the top of the canal as shown in the photo below the river shot.

We went out to dinner there and did some laundry and bought some flags of Wales as the dragon looks much like a Griffin which we liked for our farm flag.  The town had a library with internet and seemed pretty alive.  Prices for houses were less than those closer in.  This town is kind of on the frontier and remote in the hills, thusly the houses cost a bit less.

Please notice the Count Ferrari documenting the Leisure Centre.  There were 4 of these encountered in our travels and as a Leisure Expert it seemed only natural that the Count should apprise himself of their whereabouts.

The Way Back:

The boat had been out now for ½ of the time it was chartered for, 7 days so far, and we were at the far end of our journey.  That sounds good but we had a detour in mind for the trip back which would take us out of the way to Chester, England.  It is the best preserved walled city in the UK and a tourist destination that turned out to be very worthy.

We got a late start out of Llangollen at 2:30 PM which might have been problematic if others were arriving up there that day.  It was a Saturday and the day the hire boats all kick their newly hired boats out, starting at 1:00PM or later.  We were able to get to through the narrow bits and even across the long aquaduct without stopping for oncoming traffic. 

After the aquaduct the scene became moderately frantic with the newbies really doing a bumper boat run towards us.  Since we had been out a week, we were quite smug as we were EXPERIENCED now and knew the drills to avoid looking really stupid.

We stopped at a side rail or baby branch line that was ½ mile long to the town of Whitchurch.  We had to take a shallow right turn on our way in and Lori got to try a turn around in the basin.  The wind bumped us against the shore a couple of times but she finally got it.  We parked for the evening and enjoyed the walk into town.  More ancient churches and commercial buildings with nice newer brick homes on the edge of town.  The town, Whitchurch is so named because the rock they built the church out of was white in the1700s and still has some whiteness in it.

We started earlyish, 7:00AM or so and Polly walked to the first obstacle which was a lifting bridge where the branch canal meets the main canal.  CF tried turning right into the main canal and found out it was only 54.5’ wide and a 55’ boat would not turn in that space.  Almost stuck between bank and tree, he had to push the bow off the bank and then he had to go up the canal for ¼ mile to another turnaround and then come back and pick up Polly.

We made a pretty long run that day until near dark and pulled over.  The next morning we got an early start, near 8:00 AM so we could make some miles, get in the side trip to Chester, and still get the boat home in time for the handoff.  We had a record run through the step locks and saw a huge fleet trying to go up them.  That was a serious CF that would take them most of the day to negotiate.

We made the turnoff to Chester, which was just after Nantwich and as soon as we turned we noticed the canal was a LOT wider.  I went ashore and found a half dozen eggs at a pub which a patron had in her car! 

Here is a clever way of saying to slow down as one goes by….

The next day, we started up the lockings toward Chester and discovered the locks were 2xs a wide as the other locks we had been in.  They would fit two boats, side by side and actually it was easier that way because the boats wouldn’t get sideways as much in the lock as the water turbulence moved the boat/s around.  The downside was the lock doors were 2xs as big, making them tougher to move.

Polly opening the larger lock gate on her own.

It is always longer to go some where the first time than it is to return from whence one came or to travel a second time to that destination.   We made a strong push to get to Chester and ended up parked right downtown, about ¼ of a mile from the wall and the tourist area.  There were a few sirens and traffic noise but it wasn’t too loud and the luxury of having the city right there, made up for it!

Chester, the historic walled city:

Entering Chester.

Our parking spot downtown Chester.  No Charge.

Lori and Polly heading into the city to see the sights.

The wall and one of the Gates.  A cool Clock below on the wall…
A view of the town inside the wall.  A LOT of tudor!

Girl Gladiators in the Roman Amphitheatre.
The way Chester may have looked with the Romans in town.
Knife, Spoon, and Fork each about 10' long.
Tea saucers stacked up with mug.  Maybe 20' tall.

Cool carved sculpture, each about 10’ long.  Below is the stacked dishes about 20’ tall.

Count Ferrari, Claire and Jenn after his breakfast at the Watergates Bar.
City art abounded with sights for all!
Touring the oldest artifact we found:

We left Chester after only 30 hours, we could have spent more time here but we were on the dreaded schedule.  On our way in we had seen this old castle up on a hill about a mile from the canal.  It turns out to have been in use since 700 BC!  What a view from up there.  The following photos are from touring that spot.

High marks are to be given to the UK for providing walking paths everywhere!  This castle was on the list of places as were way too many things for us to even think about.  There is a lot of history recorded in this part of the world.

Polly standing by the boating canal with the castle visible on the right side of the hill in the background.   Note the lushness of the pastures.  This is a very easy place to grow things with lots of water, moderate temperatures, and VERY rich soil that has been worked for thousands of years.

Each Red bit on the map to the left is some historic castle or church or ???? and they are all connected by walking trails.

Lori standing outside the outer wall Main entrance.  There are very high cliffs on 180 to this fort which had been in use since BC.

You can get some idea of the scale and difficulty of getting in when the wall was unbreached.
This photo and the one above are part of the outer wall, last breeched in 1745 during England's Civil War.
The entrance to the inner Bailey.  The rock was quarried here and there was a moat.

The view from the inner Bailey.  Note our boat is a whitish line by the triangular brown wheatfield on middle right.  This view went 360 on a beautiful day!
Looking up at the inner Bailey walls on the precipice to document the construction techniques.

Cool sculptures on the grounds.   Count Ferrari is considering putting one of these together when he has a free moment.  Griffin Hill Farm can always use another horse.
After this most excellent day trip, we returned to our boat and headed for Anderton and got there in plenty of time to hand the boat over.

An observation on the web connection over in the UK…  The ‘dongle’ we purchased in Northwich for $25 pounds was a USB stick modem that had a prepaid 3 gigs of service if there was cellular service.  What a great idea.  I wish I could get that in BC.  Up there I had to purchase the modem for $200 Cdn. And then pay an additional hook up charge, then $30 a month for 5 gig a month.  MUCH MORE and one had to suscribe AND provide a local Telus phone number in BC  to even get that!

We had fun on that trip and give it a total ‘thumbs UP’

Submitted by Count Enrico Alfredo Ferrari on November 23,2010.  Written at Griffin Hill Farm.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Canal Boating in Wales part 1

To set this Narrow Boat narrative trip up:

We had heard about the amazing aquaduct that had boats going across a bridge 200' in the air.  It seemed the thing to go for so we looked about and came up with  If you look at the Llangollen route (which is a dead end canal) and then extend the trip into two weeks you would find the small town of Anderton, south of Manchester and snuggled next to Northwich (not Norwich).  Anderton is a hub of UKBoat Hire with a complete rebuild marina.

If you liked this article, the continued trip is described here (Part 2, click here).

If you want to see a photo tour of the boat we were on click here.

We had just done a two week B&B walking trip in Scotland and then trained into Northwich and got on the boat.  See the last bit of Count Ferrari's blog on Isle of Skye and Fort William.  For a good canal boat walk through, see the Canal Boat Description.

This blog starts about 3 days into the trip.  Somewhere there is a hidden Leisure Log of going to Nantwich which was way fun.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010:   Nantwich to a bit beyond the Hurleston 4 locks.  2:00 PM – 5:00 PM travel day on the canal (not a brutally long day…).
Pretty Polly in the Nantwich center square.

It was a leisurely start to the travel as we (the girls) went off shopping in Nantwich for the AM as described.  We had to double back a mile or a bit more and then came the sharp right hand turn for  the locks.  That was a bit of a boat handling cluster but the turn was made and we had to hang out on an unmowed side of the canal as we waited our turn to climb the 4 locks.  There were passing ponds between them and traffic coming down as we took our turn going up.  As both boats opened their respective locks, one had to wait until the other emerged into the passing bay, as the emerged boat was out of the way the other would slip across into the opposite lock and vice versa.
We found water at the top of the lock and it only took 15 minutes.  Must be more pressure there than before, as I cannot divine any less use of water.

Observations of the Count:
A.       I like the shallow wide galley sink, with a small rinse sink next, and a built in drain basin for the drip dry dishes.  It is very handy for dishes and laundry which I do a bit of each night and then put on the radiators to dry.

B.      The single handed mixed faucet is a treat after all the B&Bs with hot and cold separate on EVERY sink we saw.  Our shower is very easy to operate!

C.      BBC TV doesn’t seem to have  commercial breaks.  We only get two or three stations but we get the news and weather with an odd show, many on architectural issues or designs or on buying houses or flats for various budgets.

D.      Internet is not on, out here in the bush and farms, as we enter Wales at Wixall.   Other boaters have bemoaned the cellular service so I expect the USB stick to be less effective than one would hope.

E.       Did I mention the beer was too cold on the first day?   Literally!  It was frozen with about 30% liquid when opened.  The 16 oz can was so frozen I couldn’t open it all the way open.

We moored up at one of the British Waterway public mooring spots, generally with room for 4-5 boats and mooring rings in concrete to tie to.  It is nicer than pounding stakes and it is mowed so nicer to board the boat without tripping on brush.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010:  Somewhere past Hurleston to Fern Wood:  9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Sun (short sleeves) for most of the day and sprinkles at the end.

10 locks                  6  lift bridges and 14 miles for the day’s data.

I know I was tired of driving at the end of the day and couldn’t wait to make popcorn and settle down with my book.  Nap after.  Dinner was soft tacos prepared by the Countess.  Very tasty!  It is wonderful to be able to eat one’s own cooking.   That may be one of the better reasons to do a boating experience like this.
Stair Step Locks (4 in a row with no passing lanes and a lock tender managing traffic direction)

Note the trailer hitch!  I have never seen the like.  71’ overall length is the most for these locks.
Note on plumbing:
Polly smelled a bad smell in the head so we monitored all day and didn’t notice anything later.  We had been told to get a pump out from the waste tank when a red light appears on our electric toilet flush button.  So far no red light.  I am hoping we can combine pumpout with getting more diesel as the services will be in the same spot.  We were told to get diesel in a week.  I suspect her odors were the cow pastures we were going through at the time???  They were pretty intense then.
The views on this section are amazingly lush farm fields with cows, the odd horse and sheep.  We went past a sheep pasture with clover taller than halfway up the sheep and no signs of grazing anywhere on the 20 acres or so the ~30 sheep were in.  I am impressed by the fabulous farmland here in England.  It has been farmed for over 2,000 years and is quite impressive with the hedges as fences instead of piled rocks like we saw in Scotland.  There must be some monster hedge trimming machine as there are miles of this hedge and most of it is trimmed at around 7’
Thursday, September 23, 2010:  Fern’s Wood to past Ellesmere and the Fenton Locks,  Sun to start, light rain at end, 9:00 AM finish at 18:30 (our latest travel in the boat so far)

It rained most of the night, pretty hard rain, but no worries except for a small leak in the galley overhead hatch.  I turned on the central heat around 6:00 AM and the boat was very pleasant when getting up at 7:30 AM.

CF started driving as Lori ate breakfast (she is always the latest ariser ).  Polly came back from her morning walk, exploring the chart book claim for a farm with various meats, eggs, and cheeses.  They were closed but no worries, there are towns ahead.

The girls took over driving around 10:00 AM and it allows me to sit looking forward near the bow, watching the world go past at 3-4k in the sun.  I get to sip the last coffee for the day and work on the Leisure Log.  I even got the radio working on some smooth rock station with news.

If one is sitting on the very bow in the open air, and approaching a blind corner or bridge you can easily get a blast of the horn in your ear!   The driver usually cannot see past the upcoming bridge and needs to signal their intent on coming through.  The girls thought they heard another horn early on the trip, but I think we are the only ones blowing our horn regularly and probably sound like a charter (or hire boat) doing something inane.

Good boat names:
Just Do It

Ellesmere is our commercial stop for the day.  It was a bit tricky as the dead end canal to town had a very small turnaround at the end.  I discovered that there is a proper way to turn that made it easier, however we managed to turn the wrong way with the extension of our brest line, by joining it with our stern line.  PP did an excellent job getting the line on a bollard and then sucking the midships in by judicial pulling and waiting for the boat to drift sideways.  Have you ever pulled a 54’ boat sideways?  A good pull for a 120lb girl, unused to the ways of vessels.  An excellent job!

Polly is that spot of blue and has a line attached to the middle
of our vessel that weighs 17 tons!
Princess Polly pulling the vessel on our U turn.
After we were turned, we moored up in the only berth open to fit us and walked the short distance (one minute) to the largest Tesco’s (large chain of grocery stores) we had seen in our entire trip.  The store was new and HUGE (as large as any in the US) with an excellent selection of all food groups.
After loading up on L60 worth of groceries the girls went off and bought a purse and other wierdnesses.  They came back as I was able to send out the Leisure Log on a VERY slow connection but it was steady enough to get it out after minutes of waiting.

Next we waited for drinking water which took nearly an hour (30 minutes for the boat in front of us and then 30 minutes for us.  We pushed on a bit and got a bit of progress for the day toward Llongollen.  We will be lucky to get there on Saturday which is half of our time of our entire charter.  We still will have to get back!

Friday, September 23, 2010:  Frankton Locks to Llongollen,  7:15 AM departure , Raining hard and cold with 10-15k of head wind.  17:15 Arrival in the sun.

CF is up at 6:45 and on the helm at 7:15 with coffee being served to him by PP.  One has on all the cold weather clothes in the arsenal… fleece tights, travel pants for wind, heavy socks, water proof boots, microfleece long sleeve shirt, fleece vest, fleece lined coat, rain slicker and ballcap.

That much layering of clothing was good for two hours at the helm which included 3 hot drinks and toast being served.  The boat umbrella was doing good service but was a bit to manage in the wind but worthwhile as it took some of the brunt off the weather.
We climbed the last two locks going to Llangollen and rewatered the boat (15 minutes) earlier than expected.  The girls took the helm at 9:30 and CF retired below to warm up.  Gloves on the radiator to warm for reuse, tea in the belly, sitting in the salon near the radiator is heaven.  Looking forward is the optimum seat in the salon, enjoying the passing shores, boats, and scenery.

An odd thing about canal boating are the multiple valley views as one traverses a built up embankment.  One allowed a view of 15 miles or so!  It is very scenic and when can one look down on a view in the San Juans?

We went past a very fancy set of apartments with 5-6 canal boat slips, pool and common house with gym? And things of that nature.  Very POSH!  (note the use of the local colloquiums)

The ladies did a good job out there and we traded off as we got chilled.  We made it to our first tall aquaduct and then a 487 meter tunnel.  We got lucky and fell in behind two other boats, ramming the 2nd one just as we entered the tunnel.  The flow of the water stopped him instantly and we were right there to tap him on the stern.  The Countess was driving!  She drove the tunnel the entire tunnel.

After the tunnel the girls abandoned the Count and they went shopping in Chirk while CF fueled up and had the holding tank pumped at the Chirk Marina on his own.  He handled the entry like a pro and backed into the fuel slip expertly.  74l of diesel and a pumpout for L94 and Bob’s your uncle. 
CF made some veggie soup, crackers and cheese and the girls arrived a bit early.  We had lunch and then took off towards the long aquaduct which was coming up.

Lori expertly took the helm as we did the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Check it out on Google.  (Pronounced, not that we ever did, Pont ker sulth tee).
 It is 1000 ft long, 127’ feet tall at the deepest bit, and is supported by 18 stone piers.  It was completed in 1805, the year Nelson died at Trafalgar!  The cast iron tub parts are ¾” thick and that is all that is holding in the water we are driving through!  There is no turning needed although bumping the sides made me uneasy and we did but not as much as the fellow who was in front of us and was gunning his prop a bit more than the Countess.  This was our McGuffin for the canal bit of the voyage and it did NOT disappoint.

From Trevor (the one end of the aqueduct) we climbed slowly up to Llangollen and had to so some one way bits that were 1000’ of winding canal and we couldn’t see ahead to see if there was down stream traffic.  We got lucky and got to the top and moored in a very nice marina,CF backing into our slip smoothly, getting kudos from the ladies.  L6 cost a night included electricity (we didn’t use it), water and garbage.
Scouting the town took place after mooring up and having popcorn.  Llangollen was pretty shut down that evening but we managed to go out to dinner in a pub and had very good food for L24 or so.

Back to the boat for some cards, the wifi and the TV were not receiving.  No matter, we slept like logs and there might have been frost on the roof that night as it was cold out when I went out to check the depth after dark.  The moon was next to full, just waning but very bright.  The Big Dipper was up in the sky.  It looked much like the one I see over Griffin Hill (the name of our home farm).  Polaris was in the same place too.  There might be some astrologer who could explain all this.

Saturday, September 24, 2010:  Llangollen to Moreton Hall, Sunny but cold in the shade,

9.5 miles/ 0 locks / 1 lift bridge / 2 tunnels /2 aqueducts / 2 narrow one way parts

Departed 14:30, Arrived 18:15

OMG we left just in time.   The marina at Chirk has their changeover days on Saturday and everyone   leaves just after 14:30.  What a cluster we found after the big aqueduct!

It took us a week to get somewhat proficient at driving this boat but still we nudge the side of the canal in the narrow bits but we were NEVER sideways to traffic like some of these newbies.  Our skills were hard won and we tried to assist when we could, like telling one fellow to pass port to port and other bits of knowledge.  PP instructed a fellow on lock use for his first lock ever.  That was a hoot!

Sunday, September 25, 2010:  Moreton Hall to Whitchurch, departed 7:45 AM, arrived 17:00 PM.  Sunny day totally with some clouds.  Cold wind when it blew but it was not constant.

22 miles / 2 locks / 4 lifting Bridges / 1 tunnel

25 minute stop for water and olive oil in Ellesmere

CF got the boat moving early and the pace just happened with everyone driving a bit and lunch on the go.
We met two other boats with US citizens aboard, first a bunch from Chicago in passing and then another group from Maine who was watering with us and then found wandering the streets of Whitchurch looking dinner at 7:00 PM on a Sunday night.  No luck is our guess after we saw them turned down for food in the first pub.  We went back to the boat and had an excellent chef’s salad and garlic bread dinner.

 Whitchurch was a fun place to explore with a church in session we could only look at the exterior but it was rebuilt in 1711 out of white rock, now somewhat less white, but that is where the name of the town came from.  It seems a prosperous town with lots of new houses, both semi detached (duplex) and detached.  All were brick with tile roof.  Many had single garages but very narrow, maybe 10’ wide at the most. There were the odd places with a double garage too.  Usually a bit larger and better sited with views or canal frontage.

A calculation was made for the next day’s journey.  13.5 miles, 16 locks, and 4 lifting bridges.

We shall see if we can do that in a day.  After that we have 4 travel days to cover 50 miles and 23 locks IF we are going to be able to explore Chester, the only city in the UK with it’s ancient wall intact, maybe even dating back to the Roman times.  We still want to arrive in Anderton to make a run up and down the Anderton Lift.  This is supposed to be unique, like the Falkirk Wheel.  We shall see.

Monday, September 26, 2010:  Whitchurch to the bottom of Hurreston Locks (near Nantwich).  Departed 08:00,  Overcast clouds but warmer than yesterday and no rain so far for the past 48 hours.

We hit the flow correctly as we caught the stairstep locks going down as the last boat in two going that way.  When we hit the holding pond at the base of the triple step lock there were 5 boats going up and we passed about 8 others in the next 2 miles.   I am glad to not have to wait in that lock queue.

In fact, with the traffic coming up at us we were able to cruise right in as others opposing boats came out so alleviating the issue of moving water or even opening the top gate.  Going down is much easier than going up as we had been doing on our way to Llangollen.

We had a fancy lift bridge opened by the boat astern of us.  One where it was operated by a key with traffic blinkers and gates and all like a RR crossing.  We skated on by without having to mess with it.  On the next lift bridge CF opened it and then left it open for the opposing traffic to close which was very handy for us.  One is supposed to leave all bridges down and all locks closed.

Here is Pretty Polly running the hydraulic lift on the counterbalanced lift bridge.

80,000,000 gallons of water come down the Llangollen canal a day.  The most water flow in the UK for a canal.
10,000 boats a year go up to Llangollen, the most traveled and narrowest bit of canal in the UK.
One must pay attention while driving.  You have, at most 5 seconds of inattention to the helm before you will have some serious correction/s to do.

What NOT to do:

You can NOT turn a 55’ boat around in 54’width of canal.  I tried and failed this AM.  I was nearly wedged bank to bank.  At the bow end was a nice bit of smooth steel canal lining and at the stern end was a big tree trunk, growing out into the canal by 6” or so.  One way of turning around is to stick your boat nose onto the bank and then crank the helm over and gun the prop. It just doesn’t work if one is less than half way turned….

A sign on a moored private vessel:  "Master boaters pass at 2MPH, Master Baiters go faster."

Ramblings and photos from the trip so far…..  No coherent plot or thoughts just fun stuff.

Here is a piece of art along the canal that must be a money maker in the summer.  It appears to be towed.

Cows in a lush pasture with the canal reeds in the foreground.  Miles of this to be seen.

There were at least 6 boats that reminded me of the Merrimac from the Civil War.

Here is an example of the Countess navigating under a bridge.  The Count would have had a bloody time of it without ducking on most of them.  This is a recently rebuilt bridge.  The older ones had a marvelous spiral bricking inside of them if they were built on a turn in the canal, as MANY were, all of them making very blind corners, requiring the sounding of a horn.
This stern was unique.  Very interesting attempt at making the boat LOOK fast but in reality it would be easy to fall off of.  Speaking of which, there was a fellow, cruising with his wife, who fell off just after they went past us.  We heard the big splash and there he was in the canal and his wife shutting down the boat and pulling him aboard.  He appeared to have to swim, so maybe the depth is more than we thought.  Whatever the depth, I am not going in voluntarily.  Maybe she pushed him with the tiller as could easily happen for helm corrections need to quick and firm.
The Welsh dragon.  Welsh flags were purchased in Llangollen and will be flown at Griffin Hill.

Note that one is looking DOWN into the valley.  When does this occur on a boat in the San Juans?
An inn with free mooring for the canal traffic.  VERY posh stuff indeed.  Note:  If you look close you will see the ends of two of the finger piers have been pierced by canal boat bows or sterns!