Sunday, 15th August 2006:
Alnwick at Sea!
The above picture, taken from the starboard side engine room hatches early on the morning of 22nd July 2006, shows an unusual view from a canal boat - we had just left Sharpness Docks heading down the coast to Portishead. We locked out of Sharpness just before high water at 5.45 am, and, in near perfect weather conditions, we took 'Alnwick' to sea for the 22 mile journey.
The journey to Portishead was completed in two and a half hours exactly with the engine running at more than 600 rpm for most of the trip. The vintage Kelvin performed well and a maximum speed of 12 mph was achieved with a favourable tide and the average speed for the trip was almost 9 mph. After some two hours the engine coolant temperature had risen from its usual 60 degrees to almost 90 degrees (Centigrade) but by this time we were slowing down to wait for the lock at Portishead and by the time the lock was ready, the temperature was back to near normal.
The short (10 miles) voyage from Portishead to Bristol was made successfully without the assistance of a Pilot on Sunday, 23rd July. The sea was quite choppy as we left the safety of Portishead Lock with a lively westerly wind which made 'Alnwick' rock 'n roll a bit until we reached the comparative calm of the Bristol Avon. The engine performed much better on its second sea trip and although we didn't exceed 10 mph at 600 rpm the engine temperature remained stable at 60 degrees. We tied up in Bristol's historic harbour for a couple of days where we explored the Industrial Heritage Museum and Brunel's SS Great Britain.
Having been tied-up about 500 yards west of the locks at Semington on the Kennet & Avon Canal for the last two weeks (while we visited friends and relatives - including Jane's parents who live in nearby Trowbridge) we are now making our way eastwards along the Kennet & Avon Canal towards Pewsey.
The photographs below show, respectively, Jane at the stern just after sunrise on 22nd July; passing under the new Severn Bridge; and, Jane looking out from the cabin side hatches as we approach Portishead Lock.
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© Graham & Jane Oliver 2006