Sunday 26 May 2002
Richard arrived with his "trombone" lorry late Sunday afternoon. This is an interesting but simple vehicle, which is ideal for moving Narrowboats. It looks like a standard articulated lorry, the difference being a telescopic backbone in the trailer; this enables the trailer to extend to about 60 feet to carry a full size Narrowboat. Richard backed in behind the boat, and then came the first problem when he told me he would not be able to drive off the land with the boat loaded. He wouldn't be able to turn down the lane and we would have to lift the boat on to him while he was on he road. This presented a problem as a 60-Ton crane only had a working radius of about 9 meters. Our other concern was the weather. The land where the boat was standing is quite hard but its grass and not surfaced and if it was too wet there was a danger of the crane getting bogged down and what did it do, it started to rain and continued most of the night.
Monday 27 May
The alarm went off at 5 o'clock and the weather was wonderful, why couldn't it been like this all weekend. I walked down to meet Richard who had slept in his cab for the night. He drove his lorry out to the road and backed up to let the crane on to the site. Five to six and the sound of a rather large diesel engine three quarters of a mile down the road and dead on six it swung into the site, and the back wheels started spinning. This monster is called an all terrain crane, don't believe it, it doesn't take much to stop this 50 ton monster, but with all diffs locked and drive to six of the eight wheels it started moving. We then set to laying railway sleepers to make pads to go under the massive extending feet.Derek raised his jib and checked things out; he then passed me a form to sign to say I was responsible for whatever happened from here on in, including dropping the boat or the crane being stuck on site for the next week at £45 per hour. The slings were slid under the boat and the strain taken, not quite in the right place so one sling was moved forward by a couple of feet and the boat rose into the air. I had estimated Harnser's weigh to be 16 ton, the weigh load indicated 15.8 tons, I'm not sure if these were metric or imperial, but there's very little difference. Harnser was swung backwards towards the road as far as the crane could reach and lowered back to the ground. The crane was de-rigged and driven backwards to the end of the site, all the sleepers were moved and a second lift made. Richard decided that he could back his trailer under Harnser at this point and set to extending the trailer. The next thing was the lorry reversing his trailer at an angle to the lane, over the low bank and under Harnser. Derek sat her down to Richards's satisfaction, the slings removed and a couple of ratchet straps thrown over the fore and aft decks. Then before I could hardly say "see you at Calcutt" Richard and Harnser were off down the road, the time 0710. Loading had taken just over an hour. We set to de-rigging the crane (just like being back at work) and packing away all the sleepers. The maneuverability of this monster is something else. With 8 wheel steering and 4 of them can go with or against the other 4 which give a tight lock or a crab action he was able to turn to come off site quite easily. As he was reversing out he wanted to turn sharp left as he came out. This was so he could drive home the way he came, unfortunately there is a bit more rise in the land in that direction and as soon as he had a couple of wheels on the road he was scrabbling for grip. In the end he had to reverse out to the right and reverse all the way down the lane to the next road junction before he could turn round and drive forwards home. We left home with the dogs and other bit and pieces at about 8, we had a clear run to Calcutt and turned in the entrance about 2 minutes behind Richard.
While he was reversing under the boatlift I went to the office and paid the launch fee. The boat was lifted from the lorry and lowered on to a launching trolley connected to a JCB. I climbed aboard and started the engine and the JCB slowly pushed us into the water, just like launching the Lifeboat but a lot slower. I drove off the trolley at the end of the slipway and backed in against the jetty. In my excitement/fear I had forgotten to open the diesel valves, but there must have been enough in the filters for that small maneuver. Harnser sat in the water with a good list to port and well down on the bum. I lifted the floor in the rear cabin and lifted what slabs I could from the port side and stood them against the starboard side further forward which improved things enough to attempt the trip to Napton.
We had an uneventful trip down to the Folly pub in glorious sunshine. Here I decided to cycle back to Calcutt and take the car up to the moorings, leave it there and cycle down the flight to the Folly back to the boat. That way I didn't have to cycle up any hills, only down. We then carried on up he flight to moor for the night and look at our new moorings.
163.5 miles 10 hours (not bad for the first days cruise)
Tuesday 28 May
Got up just after seven and decided to move from the towpath side to our mooring, I got to within about 6 foot of the bank and went back to the towpath side. Removed the floor or the wardrobe to remove more slabs, we now have a pile of 9 2ft X 1ft slabs in the front of the lounge on the starboard side and none under the Port side floor aft of the engine, we are now sitting on an almost even keel. As we removed the slabs we found water, but decided it was too clean for canal water and must have been rain that had entered during the fit out. We mopped it as dry as possible and with the warmth the steal was drying nicely and no sign of any water returning thank goodness. We went up to the engine arm and winded to have another attempt at getting into our mooring. This time the wind was helping and by running in close from the arm with lots of forward, reverse we came along side. Harnser is now in her new home.
200 meters all day (a more leisurely rate of cruising)