Saturday, 26 October 2013

Up,Up and Away

Yesterday was the great day: Gecko was lifted out of the canal in Milton Keynes and transported by road to her winter moorings at Circus Field in Aylesbury.
For those who are not up to date with the story so far, here is a reprise.
In March, lock 12 on the Aylesbury Arm collapsed due to inexplicable neglect of maintenance over at least eight years to my personal knowledge. C&RT promised it would be repaired in time for August Bank Holiday.  In April they lifted out 24 boats who were stuck in the town basin and put them back into the canal in Milton Keynes.  For the next six months C&RT made no repairs but paid a team of men to guard the lock 24 hours a day. In August the completion date for repairs was revised to October 25.  In September C&RT revised this date again to November 25 and lifted eleven boats back from MK to Aylesbury. This left a number of us still out on the system with a repair date which moved away from us all the time like a mirage.  Hence the lift out yesterday. Originally there were 15 boats requesting a lift but some have decided to make other arrangements and so there were just five of us.

First out was Exe. Weighing thirty tons, a special crane was required which accompanied her to Aylesbury to put us all back in the water.

Next was the hotel boat Earlswood.  The continued closure of the arm upset the itinerary for their last guests of the season.  The destination was changed to Berkhamsted in place  of Aylesbury.

To keep the  lifting team on their toes the next boat was a V-bottomed Springer - Black Swan .  This had to be carefully chocked on the lorry to prevent it rolling off.

The only one of us with a traditional engine, Jarrah was lifted next: watched closely by the owner Nigel who fitted it out himself.
The most important boat was kept to last
In order that the boat is lifted in as level an attitude as possible the lifting slings have to be carefully aligned. This is traditionally done after stomping in thick mud before assuming the appropriate positions on the boat roof
As Gecko is rather tail-heavy she was loaded facing backwards on the lorry.
The exit from Willowbridge Boatyard is not generous and appears rather scary.  It was probably here that the contents of our 'fridge  decided to relocate to the kitchen floor.

As we arrived at Circus Field we passed a boat on its way in the other direction.

Shortly after, Gecko was returned to her familiar medium.

This is where we will be for the next five months.


  1. Yvonne Surtees4:56 am GMT

    I keep forgetting to follow your blog but this is fascinating! Will be a more regular visitor in future.

    1. Welcome back. It's good to hear form youout there in sunny S. Africa.


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