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The 1997 Mega Cruise

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Planning the Cruise

The original aim of 1997 cruise was to get to Ripon, at the head of the Ripon Canal and Summit or Littleborough through the Eastern side of the now connected Rochdale Canal . Planning started in January 1997 by first agreeing on crewing arrangements and which Members would be available . The lads weeks are normally taken just before the school holidays start, so that Linda and the junior Arlidge's can start at the beginning of the holidays. This allows a break before the Arlidge Family "Bucket and spade" holiday, a week having already been booked in Padstow around August Bank Holiday. Because of Linda's aversion to tidal water, the Rivers Trent and Ouse would have to be polished of before she arrived. The lads weeks had grown to three and would start on Saturday 21st June. 
Two boat moving weeks were planned to get the boat to Blisworth for the start. Neil could have six weeks, Ian Scott could have two, one lads and one Scott family week. This would be at the end to get the boat back from wherever the Arlidge's left it. Julian could have two weeks, Colin could have two weeks, Ian Clarke one, involving the tidal Trent and Ouse. John Fleming booked his customary week along with his brother Paul and John Rushbrook would like to join us for a few days. Linda managed to get three weeks off work and Alan could join us for two of those weeks. Thus "Beatty's" longest continuous cruise could be planned, seven weeks and two weekends being available!

Ian Clarke fancied going round Trent Falls at the confluence of the Rivers Trent and Ouse. The excellent Tidal Trent Charts and Tidal Ouse Charts available from the Trent Boating Association and the Ripon Motor Boat Club manual with Ouse and Derwent charts were purchased. We purchased ours from B.W. Naburn Office along with the B.W. Hull tide tables. Next a phone call was made to the oracle of the Tidal Trent and Ouse, Gary the lock-keeper at the last lock on the River Trent, Cromwell. Our past experience of the Tidal Trent included a fraught run from Cromwell to Keadby on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, where the booked relief lock-keeper missed our booked penning of 6a.m., not arriving till 7a.m. and a particularly whizzy Keadby to West Stockwith (Chesterfield Canal) fly run up on a spring tide in 1995. 
We caught Gary (who is an ex-Trent commercial skipper) at a good time when he was not busy, we told him that we wanted to go from Cromwell to Barmby (River Derwent junction with Tidal River Ouse) in the daylight and he approximate dates. Gary said that this was very doggy in a Narrowboat in one go, but thought that our best bet was to break the journey at Torksey (junction with Fossdyke). This meant a daybreak start at 4a.m. on the start of the lads second week, 28th June, thus we had some way points by which to plan the critical tidal parts of the cruise.

The plan unfolded thus: Neil, Colin and Julian would do the first boat move weekend from Harefield Marina to Marsworth (Grand Union Canal). Ian and Neil would do the second boat move week-end from Marsworth to Blisworth. These are now "set moves" as we find it safe to leave "Beatty" at Marsworth, opposite Derek Pearson the moorings warden and at Blisworth just opposite the Blisworth Tunnel Boats hire base. ( 1999 - Please note that most of the non towpath moorings at Marsworth are now yet more B.W. permanent moorings!). Ian and Neil would do the first week from Blisworth to Torksey via the Grand Union main-line, G.U. Leicester section, River Soar and River Trent to Torksey. If we had enough time we would go to Lincoln and back on the Fossdyke. Neil, Ian Clarke, Colin and Julian would have the next week to get the boat from Torksey to Barmby via Trent Falls, River Derwent to Stamford Bridge and the Pocklington Canal to Melbourne or further. 
This week then would continue with a whiz up on a flood tide from Barmby to Naburn, then to Ripon via the River Ouse, River Ure and Ripon Canal. Finally this week would end up back in York. The next change of crew would see Ian Clark depart and the Fleming brothers arrive for the last lads week. This week would see us retrace our route on the Tidal River Ouse coming off at Selby, then the Selby Canal, River Aire, Aire and Calder Navigation to Wakefield. Here we would carry on to the Calder and Hebble and Rochdale via the newly opened Tuel Lane deep lock and tunnel to the summit and hopefully down to Littleborough, the present terminus. The family three weeks would start here with Alan for the first two weeks retracing our steps to Castleford then the Aire and Calder Navigation Leeds Section to Leeds. Finally we would return home over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, perhaps doing the remainder section into Liverpool, or our much loved Caldon Canal.

The weeks before the first boat move were spent preparing the boat, paying particular attention to the anchor, engine mounts and every thing to do with the cooling system. Although "Beatty" is keel-cooled and we don't often have cooling problems, we have got through a few hoses and connectors in our time and we now carry a spare set. We also carry a set of spare engine mounts, diesel injectors, diesel lift pump, fan belt, propeller, filters, a change of engine oil, and from the 1998 cruise a spare gearbox drive plate (but that is a story yet to come!) The front bunk lockers were filled with the customary excess of beer and lager (We always carry an excess so we don't have to bother to replenish our stocks while under way!) and the other non perishable provisions were loaded.

The 1997 Tour begins...

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