2009-10-11 @ 20:32:11 by ashtonboatman
We do two recycling trips each month, normally on the first Sunday and the first Monday of each month. The Sunday one currently involves "Southam" towing "Forget me Not" and "Lilith" in an impressive 210 foot train along the canal. This is because "Forget me Not" is currently unpowered pending fitting of her 80 year old Bolinder engine. There are usually a fair number of volunteers and we collect from about 350 homes near Fairfield Junction, Droylsden.
The Monday trip is usually a more relaxed affair. A few volunteers meet at Portland Basin at 6 PM and take a single boat for a trip to collect from one street, Gorseyfields. In the winter the trip is entirely in the dark.
For a picture of "Southam" see
She's the blue and red one in the bottom right hand corner.
This month the trips took place on 4th and 5th October. The Sunday one was straightforward and very enjoyable. The Monday one was a bit difficult.
We met as usual at 6 PM. Only 3 turned up, myself, Mike Greenwood and Bex (Rebecca Morgan). That's Ok, We've done the trip with only two. We set off on "Southam" and all was going fine until the engine stalled at Guide Bridge. As it's a 3.8 Litre BMC Commodore it takes some stalling. A little poking around with the cabin shaft revealed an enormous tangle of wire on the blades. It turned out to be telephone wire, but tangled up in it were sticks, clothes, wire mesh fencing and part of a motorbike engine ( there used to be a motorbike workshop in the adjacent mill and they tended to throw unwanted components in the cut).
By the time this lot was stacked under the sterndeck it was dark and we were running late. Luckily "Southam" swims like a fish so we wound some power out of her huge engine and were soon at Fairfield. We winded and tied up at Fairfield Road bridge. Just as we were preparing to start collecting, a posse of hooded youths crossed the bridge and started pelting us with stones from the cover of a stone wall. This was not the first time that this has happened. I chased them off and we rang the police.
It was necessary to leave Mike and Bex guarding the boat. As expected, the miscreants made another attack up the towpath before retreating to cause mayhem elsewhere. I went collecting as I was the only one who knew the route.
Eventually I got the collection done, there wasn't too much, I think partly because it was getting too late for some people to answer their doors. The police still hadn't showed up so we started the engine and headed back towards Ashton. We'd only gone two bridges lengths when the engine stalled again. This time the problem was a huge cluster of stainless steel swarf jammed on the blade. The cabin shaft turned out to be insufficient to remove this, so I had to put some thick gloves on ( it's vicious stuff) support myself with one hand on the cavitation plate while I reached down to the propeller and pulled off handfuls of curly metal with the other.
While I was head down and soaking wet my 'phone rang. It was the police, wondering where we were. They had been delayed by a call to another incident which they thought was probably caused by the same group of toe rags.
With the blade clean (ish) again we got moving. At Guide Bridge the engine grunted and coughed as we passed the site of the telephone wire. An appeal to the gods of the cut and a quick blast of sterngear cleared the blade again and we carried on, chuntering into Portland Basin some time after 11 PM.
It was Mike's first recycling trip. Despite the problems he says he'll come again. Well, it would be boring if it all went smoothly every time wouldn't it?
On the Sunday trip we generally take a train of 3 boats with "Southam" towing "Forget me Not" and "Lilith"