With the container ship "Ever Given" now re-floated and traffic on the Suez Canal on the move again my old boating chum Steve has issued me with what he's calling the Evergreen challenge: to own up to my own boating adventures that have resulted in a total blockage of the canal.
My early boating was done on hire boats, which were always 70-footers and, in those days, usually conversions of deeply-draughted working boats. Coupled with the poor state of maintenance of what were still lightly-used canals and our own inexperience as boaters, running aground was not uncommon. The biggest incidents however usually involved us getting stuck in bridgeholes: not a problem on the Suez Canal but certainly a potential cause of delay on the narrow canals.
One of many such incidents occurred aboard the Tardebigge Boat Company's "Benbow", itself a former working boat, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in 1972, which required most of the crew to be put on the bow rope and the rest to rock from the side, except of course for the obligatory person on the roof to shout instructions.
We were, however, just like the "Ever Given", quite capable of running aground in the middle of the channel, which needed much engine-revving and shafting from the bow to get us free.
|Union Canal Carriers' "Bainton" aground on the Oxford Canal in 1974|
Some of the greatest difficulties occurred aboard "Gardenia", which still was a working boat and loaned out to Waterway Societies as part of the Keep the Channel Clear campaign in the early seventies. The boat was ballasted to achieve a draught equivalent to a load of 15 tons with the idea being that if it could get through, then everything else could as well.
Once again, bridgeholes were a major problem, especially if, as here at Hopwas on the Coventry Canal, a lorry load of bricks had been dumped in them
|Me doing my bit to free Gardenia at Hopwas|
|Duncan on the winch|
|Stuck at Stockton Brook|