Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Caen Hill Flight, 1996

We had to book passage several weeks earlier as there is not enough water to keep the flight permanently open. The Caen Hill flight starts at lock 44 and ends at lock 29. That is 16 locks, but the controlled decent and ascent is between Lock 50 at the top to lock 22 at the bottom. Which is a total of 29 locks which we have to do without stopping.

We got up and had breakfast early. It is cloudy but not raining on the day we go down the flight for the first time. Pairing up with Rakes Progress at the top gate of Lock 50. The BW man arrived at 9 and checked our boats for size and let the first two in. Then it was our turn. The crew do the hard work opening the paddles and gates of the locks. At least 10 boats are going down today.

Breasting up with the much larger Rakes Progress was not a good idea. Nomad simply had no control relying on skillful aiming by Shirley. Most of the time it was perfect with only an inch of clearance both sides!

There are some more locks to go

By 11 o'clock we were half way down and met the first pair of boats coming up. Here we separated and the boats coming up went between us. Managed to make coffee on the way. You may think that it would take all day, especially if you could see all those locks at the same time. But with all the willing help we get to the bottom by 1:30 p.m. Once at the bottom we had time to rest and watched the other boats arriving behind us. The new pumping station is built but still waiting for the electric pumps. The pumps will push the water back up to the top. Then more boats will be able to go up and down without having to book the passage next year.

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