24th to 26th August 2013
We arrived on Friday evening looking forward to a lovely weekend in the company of the historic boating community. Knowing that Python had a leak was a big concern to us but she has a history of leaking and we knew we were in the best place to get advice because the people gathered at this event had all the combined knowledge and experience of historic boats that anyone could possibly need. I was also hoping to bring in some valuable funds towards Python’s upkeep by tombola and bric-a-brac sales. Friday evening in the bar, meeting old friends and making new ones with a pint or two of decent ale, was just what we needed to get us set up for the weekend.
Python was moored on a pontoon amid some wonderful old boats. What was to prove even more important on this particular weekend was that the owners of those boats had such a wealth of relevant experience. To her port side was Thea, owned by Sue Cawson, who is the Chair of the Shropshire Union Flyboat Restoration Society and has been boating since 1960. To the starboard was Elizabeth. Owned by Jim Macdonald since 1966 she is a fascinating boat with a very long history. Jim is retired now but was recognised as being one of the finest boat surveyors that anyone could employ during his working career. Although Python was leaking she was not taking on a significant amount of water and the combined opinions of the great and good suggested she would be fine to go out on parade.
We set up our fund raising gazebo and the time came for Dave to take Python out in the boat parade. The sun was shining and everyone was having a lovely day. It took Dave quite a while to return to me at the gazebo after the boat parade. It transpired that, since returning from parade, the leak had got worse. Although the bilge pump was keeping up with the ingress, it was operating constantly, which was a worry. Sue Cawson suggested we really needed to get all the water out of the bilge so that we could try to find the source of the leak. She offered us use of her wet vacuum cleaner for the job the next morning. It seemed we might have a plan. We went off to enjoy our evening meal and pick a few more people brains about the best way to get to grips with Python’s problem. Trying to sleep that night while listening to a bilge pump operating was not a great experience. Click here to find what happened next.
Fast forward to sometime on Sunday afternoon. Emotionally exhausted by the morning’s events. Now minus anywhere to sleep that night, we found a quiet corner of the bar to gather our sombre thoughts prior to saying our farewells to all our friends and heading home. We were not in the best of moods. Then Tracey & Rod, who had been looking for us, interrupted our peace. They dragged us out of the comfy sofa we had collapsed into and insisted we share a drink with them. We agreed explaining it would just be a small one as we were heading home. Then Tracey placed a set of keys onto the table. She explained that we did not need to go home, the back cabin on their boat was vacant and so we had a bed’ole for the night. She also explained that, if we went now, we would miss the band that night and they were brilliant. We chatted a while longer and somehow they managed to lift a corner of the blanket of gloom that had descended upon us allowing a glimpse of light to shine through. We accepted the keys and installed ourselves on Biddie. The band were indeed brilliant, as was the rest of the weekend.
The lasting impression we have of this event is the overwhelming camaraderie between the community of historic boat owners. Each and every one of them had a genuine concern, both for Python and for us and everyone was falling over each other to try to help in whatever way they could. There were so many heroes that weekend that I feel the need to close this blog entry with closing credits.
Chief Leak Seeker & Wardrobe: Richard (Paddy) Chamberlain
Senior Bung Fitter: Jim Macdonald
Chief Consultant to The Bung Fitter: Paul Barber
Technical Coordinator (Electricity): Sue Cawson
Chief Plot Advisor: Simon Wain
Consultant Advisor: Blossom Edge
Bung Suppliers: Nick Wolfe & Paul Barber.
Canal Carrying & Towing: Nick Scarcliffe & Alan Fincher
Dry Docking & Boatyard Services: Malcolm Burge.
Dry Docking Assistants: Ade & Matt.
Accommodation: Rod & Tracey
Incidental Music: Cath Fincher (Melodeon)
Sound: Last Highway / Time Trip
Photographer: Jan Warsop
Communications/ Support: Robin Stonebridge, Sandra Green, Cath Fincher & Jo Lodge.
Hospitality: Samuel Barlow
Narrated by: Jan Warsop
Elizabeth and Thea were both at our Gathering of Historic Boats in Retford in September 2011.