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The 1974 Canal Holiday

This was a two week July holiday, starting at Harefield Marina! We were out continuously from Friday 28th June to Tuesday 9th July. The boat was 20ftish plywood Dolphin cruiser belonging to the Arlidge's driving instructor, Mr Daley. This guy became a good friend of the family, he taught Neil to drive in a few months and then eventually spent two years and many tests, getting Neil's mum, Eileen through the test. The crew was Neil, Julian Edgington and John Rushbrook. We had vaguely planned to do the Grand Union, Southern Oxford, Thames ring. The boat proved a bit of a pain, when mooring up and on the Oxford. The transom had been cut for a short shaft outboard,  but the "Crappy" Crescent (as we named it!),  was a long shaft. We soon got through the supply of shear pins,  then things settled down a bit when we used bits of old nails! 

Neil remembers that the first night was only at the Fisheries in Harefield, as we started late. We took a tray of drinks on to the boat, which was right out side the main door. The Barman / landlord kicked up a fuss, saying that we would run off with them. Julian had an argument with him and we all got banned. This was worse for the Fisheries, as it is still a "banned" TNC venue! Again there is no log. A few of the stops consisted of the Rising Sun at Berkhamsted, the Globe at Linslade, the Boat at Stoke Bruerne and the Red Lion at Cropredy,  which is as far as we got. Neil can not remember the actual reason we turned round. 

On the way back we had plenty of spare time, so we did the Aylesbury Arm. This was incredibly overgrown and we had to let a lot of water down to fill some pounds up. The gates were very decrepit and leaked badly. Only half the paddles worked properly. We did get down to the basin. The weather was bad and we foolishly had the cockpit canopy up. This got caught on one of the low bridges below  the locks. Neil's mum made a brilliant job of mending it! We also tried the Wendover Arm, but only just got past the mill (not as far as the 60ft winding point) Here we had a shear pin replacement. This ended in disaster as Neil dropped the prop nut! We poled and paddled (using the frying pan!) ourselves out of the arm. Neil then managed to get the prop to stay on using a collection of ring pull tabs (plenty of these about!) and yet more old nails! 

We got back early and had a few day jaunts down to Cowley. 


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