There is a huge mixed bag of things to chat about this month so here goes;
Boat Rally. The annual BCBC boat rally will be held at the Fox & Hounds, Fleet on Saturday 21st September. Lots of things going on in, on and around the water, with much being organised by lengthsmen Jan & Frank Byrnes. They have helped out as lengthsmen so often, especially this year, I thought it would be nice if any of you could pop along, say “HI”, perhaps lend a hand if required, or simply support the event. Sadly I will be crewing the JP2 and won’t be able to attend as I had hoped.
Double booking. Another unfortunate double booking for me is on Wednesday 27th November. Having bought a £21 ticket for a concert, sadly I cannot attend. Anyone want it for £20? Details;
Royal Festival Hall, Wednesday 27th November at 7.30pm. London Philharmonic Orchestra. Sublime Polish Melodies. Penderecki Violin concerto No 1. Gorecki Symphony No 3. (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) Aisle seat front (Row C) Balcony. Interested? Contact me.
JP Boat Trip. Saturday 19th October. Enough of you have kindly already expressed interest and booked so it is definitely on. Departing Odiham Wharf at 14.30 and returning about 17.30 it’s going to be an interesting and fun trip. If the weather is kind it will be a glorious Autumnal trip with the country colours at their best. I hope also to have a short and entertaining presentation as we go upstream, a choice of activities when we reach the turning point and of course there is the licensed bar on board as well as the Waterwitch to fall into afterwards. I have 20 confirmed booking so far and would now ask please for the rest of you to decide. It’s free to Lengthsmen and just £5 for guests. If you require transport I can arrange it so I do hope you can make it because it simply would not be the same without you!
100 Up! Yes, the total number of visiting boats on the canal since Easter has topped 100. As a healthy canal needs traffic, this is a mighty fine number to build on over the coming years. So many of our canals old and recurring problems are getting crossed of the list, and despite a few odd and bitter exceptions, the vast majority of our visitors have gone home very happy. (You never can please everybody.) Over the next few months there is going to be exciting news on new, quality moorings for both visitors and permanent use. For example the current work at Mytchett Lake, due to be complete by the end of October, will be topped off with plenty of bollards. What a beautiful, idyllic mooring site that is going to be. So much more news coming soon. Watch this space.
Cyclists along the tow path are, in the main, considerate and careful. Sadly the dangerous and reckless antics of a few have resulted in many reports over the years. We, as Lengthsmen, have had many discussions about possible courses of action. I am very pleased to report that detailed discussions are now taking place on precisely this. While still in the early stages of planning, I know there are a number of you who will be heartened by this news. You have been listened to. Something is being done. I’ll keep you informed but be patient.
Work boat movements have been a little offshoot activity that has developed recently. With the help of a couple of lengthsmen we had three trips to deliver one of the rangers work boats in preparation for various jobs. These trips were very pleasant for a number of reasons. Firstly each trip saved the rangers about 9 man hours work. Secondly it gave us a great opportunity to see our lengths from the water, and thirdly I had the time to get to know three Lengthsmen and learn from their invaluable local knowledge. Truly a win – win situation. I have the distinct feeling that there are going to be more similar trips coming up over the next few months, so I will be emailing you invitations to join me for a very pleasant day on the water. However, I do appreciate that this is not for everyone, so don’t ever worry about saying ‘no thanks’.
Inspection Walks. The Rangers will be out doing their autumn inspection walk in soon. Those lengthsmen who took the opportunity to accompany them in the spring all felt it a worthwhile exercise. If you fancy walking your length with your designated ranger and seeing the tow path through their eyes you might want to keep October a bit clear. Details to follow.
A boat count. It has been suggested that we could do a boat survey. This would entail getting out on your length on one specific period in October, November or December. You would be required to report back as much info as possible about the boats moored on your length. I would expect something along the lines of ‘Km 12.75. Day cruiser “Wild Thing” approx 4m long. Licence evident/not evident. Seems in good/poor condition. ‘ The details are still being discussed but perhaps you might like to start looking a bit more closely at what is moored along your Length in preparation.
This beautiful Canal is wonderful! Over the last six weeks I have covered the entire length from Woodham Junction to Odiham Castle, at least twice. By walking, cycling and boating, I have had the perfect opportunity to meet many of you and also really closely look at 95% of the navigable canal. It is so nice to be able to report that, in the main, the canal is in rather good shape. Yes we have issues with low water levels, weed, rubbish, slippage and vandalism, but truthfully, it could be a whole lot worse. Get out and enjoy it.
It’s Christmas! Already the Santa cruises arranged by the Canal Centre are being advertised and being snapped up. Over the years they have proved very popular and generate much needed funds for the canal. A few volunteers could be a big help and make a world of difference. There are so many different ways you could help. From setting up the Grotto in Late November right through to Christmas Eve you could lend a hand. Could you help crewing Santa’s boat, serve drinks & snacks inside the centre or even be Santa himself. I have loads more details if you are interested. Please contact me.
Thanks to all of you who have been active over the summer. Your help and, input in whatever way you have managed, has been greatly appreciated. More than a few of you deserve gold star awards. However, to those of you who I have not heard from for some months now, I’d like to ask why? While it is very nice to boast of 42 Lengthsmen if 10 don’t contribute in any way, month after month, what’s the point? I feel a winter pruning coming on.
All the very best to you all.
Mike Gordon, Senior Lengthsman