Māhina Avon Ring – Day 2

Welcome back anxiety, ffs, hoping there will be a day on this trip where i don’t get morning jitterbugs! Anyways, as normal, once moving, all is well. One thing I’ve noticed when you talk to boaters about trips, the trials and tribulations of the trip very much become just part of how it is boating much the same as it is with backpacking. Stories of the mattress wrapped about the propellor, the kids throwing stones from the bridge, the x,y,z failing when you need it the most are the norm. For this reason i had a little chat with myself to expect these things and to take a calm, problem solving approach rather than shitting myself at every unexpected event and to remember that Richard is super experienced.

We are recording the trip, mainly for us on our new GoPro-esque little Akaso camera. So far i’ve been really impressed with it. We fixed it up near the light and horn as it has a snug little secure space to nestle into. However, it has come to light that when doing locks or mooring it is often smothered by either my boob or my bum! So to save myself the embarrassment we are now cutting these unfortunate views out of the videos. Also removed are our helplessly confused up-close faces, complete with concentration tongue at the start and end of the run trying to turn it on and off!

A very speedy exit through Gloucester Lock onto the River Severn. I had forgotten just how fast this lock empties. It’s always better to go on the Severn mid moon cycle, after low or no rainfall, just makes for a smoother, safer journey up what is a beast of a river! Although my boat is small, she is mighty which a good engine and a larger propellor than we actually need. I’m still learning where her limits are and today we found one.

I’ve only been up the Severn once before and we took our time and got to Worcester in 3 days, stopping after about 3-4 hours driving each time. This trip, i wanted to get to the canals as soon as possible so to coin a phrase used by other boaters in the area we decided to treat it a bit more of a motorway (zooming at 4mph!). The aim was 6 hours to Upton where we would rest for the night. About halfway we noticed a lot of smoke coming out the exhaust, on inspection i have a number of holes in my silencer box. Exactly the same as the back box on a car and yes a boat too sounds like i’ve modded it to be like that! Shortly after we hear a beeping from the control panel – a new beep that suggest its either overheating, alternators not working or low oil pressure but the bulbs in there are naff and you can barely see which one has lit up.

Taking a punt as we checked oil etc before we left, we figured its gotten overheated. Boat engine lesson 101 from Richard as if this was a car i’d know what do to but the rules are different with a boat. What we had not considered was, although the pace is slow, the engine is still working hard to push forward against the current. Māhina hasn’t had a long run out since last August and pushing her further in one hit than i did before was where we went wrong. She was far too hot but dilemma ensued as this is a river, with moorings few and far between, you can’t just pull over and you daren’t stop the engine as you’ll just head back with the current.

We slowed her as much as we could and keep everything crossed that the pressure release doesn’t blow and release the coolant in the bilge or cut out completely. We had 5 miles to go (about 2 hours driving). I talked with richard about what the plan was if that were to happen to just have it in my head but kept my gentle whisperings of encouragement directed to my engine to please make it so i wasn’t sucked into the weirs.

We approached the last lock of the day, Upper Lode lock, after this the river isn’t tidal but still with a current. It common to call ahead to this one as its a blind bend going into it with no easy place to pull over if in use when you need it. I rang and rang but no answer so we decided to slowly pull around the corner.

We could see one gate open but not the both as would be normal to navigate into. The young chap operating the lock and i could forsee a delay happening here. Not a bad thing as it could be used to help cool the engine, but with no place to pull over, not ideal. We came to the compromise that we were happy to steer Māhina in through the one open gate and he was confident the lock would still operate. Down again we went and the gates had a brief hissy before opening fully and we were back on our way. Seems like the general comments from the trust are they are having a lot of bridges/locks etc misbehave as they have had a period of not being used which they don’t like at all.

Working barges still operate on this stretch and its fun to see a digger take the load off the boat and onto the land and the incredibly low barges navigate the river with ease. When empty the barges sit quite full but when low they are barely above the waterline (see pic below of the same type of boat, full & nearly empty)

As we finally had Upton in our sights i felt good we’d be able to moor and not be stranded mid river. A last little hurdle of grounding out on some low level something but nothing a little push off the wall didn’t solve.

After all that i still had a great day and saw lots of herons, cormorants, an oystercatcher and randomly 2 Ospreys (military plane pictured above). I failed to get any decent pictures myself today.

Todays little video can be found here: https://youtu.be/Gd-NFvPXF_w

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