Floodwater sweeps Bonnie away!

Floodwater sweeps Bonnie away!

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Swept away

Went to get some water on Sunday, this involves moving the boat to the water point rather than the other way around.

Which ever way the boat is facing, I go in that direction until I reach one.

North is Thrupp 1hr 20m. South is Wolvercote 1hr 20m.

They’re both a similar distance, both have 2 locks.


Overflowing overflow - Kidlington
Overflowing overflow – Kidlington

Lots of it over the last few days, to add to that which was already on the land from the previous few weeks.

It rained quite heavily the night before, and when I set out the canal was flowing quite fast down toward Oxford.

This made things a bit more tricky. Firstly because the level of mud was quite high and moving around on the towpath was quite slippery. Then the overflows were taking on a lot of water from an over full canal, which dragged the boat in a little. Where the overflow re-joined the canal below the lock, the flow was very strong from the one side and would blow the boat into the opposite bank.

I got to Oxford and filled the water tank up, took about 40 mins. Had some lunch and a glass of wine.

When the tank was full, I turned the boat around at duke’s cut and went up through dukes cut lock back up north toward home.

The overflow to duke’s cut lock was like a mountain stream! When I got off the boat to close the lock, Bonnie drifted into it’s flow and blocked parallel across the intake, so the water had to flow underneath the boat to get down the weir.

This is very dangerous because it means you have several tons of pressure on the side of your boat. It’s very difficult to move.

I decided to put the boat into reverse and pull it back into the mouth of the lock. I got it so far and it wouldn’t go any further. It was stuck.

The front of the boat was far enough from the front of the inlet that water could flow around the front of it, so I grabbed the front rope from the towpath bank and tried to pull it out.

It was very heavy. On my own, I couldn’t do anything with it. Luckily Wolvercote is close in to Oxford so you get many people using the towpath at this time of day for running, walking and doing those kind of activities by the water.

After a while, a jogger, youth from university, came past and saw that I was in trouble.

“Need a hand” he says, “yeah” says I, and explains I was trying to pull the front of the boat out so I could get going again.

With two, I thought we might be able to get the end away haha, as it were, but it wasn’t moving. “Might take 4 more people to pull that” says I. He agreed.

I explained I’d been able to pull it back away from being right across the overflow to back slightly. At the front of the boat there was now some space between the opposite bank and the front of the boat.

“Why don’t you move it forward into that space, and I’ll try and pull it over as you’re moving it forward, with the inertia”.

“Ok”. Says I. Sounds like a good idea.

Jumped on, took it out of reverse, and started moving forward.

Bonnie wasn’t particularly keen on moving, but slowly pulled away from the concrete of the lock mouth, across the front of the overflow, and up under some bushes on the opposite bank.

I didn’t think this would be enough to do it. The boat came to a halt, with no-where to go apart from to wedge further into the bank. I let the engine off… Lo and behold, the athletic student youth pulled hard, and like the arm of a clock, Bonnie’s bow began to move slowly around. As the propeller and steerage turned away from the overflow and started facing out into the canal, the boat started flowing backwards over the little weir! I had to put the engine on full blast and a large pulse of water flew up in the air and into the overflow and the boat shot forward out of harms way. A close run thing! It was being dragged down the overflow like a pooh-stick!

Although it wouldn’t have actually gone down the overflow, it would have been enough for it to get stuck again. Maybe have damaged the steering gear.

Overflowing overflow - Wolvercote - Dukes cut
Overflowing overflow – Wolvercote – Dukes cut

After a few more seconds, the student had pulled Bonnie fully round, I had blasted her out into the middle of the channel, and I was able to grab the centre rope and pull her into the towpath. We pulled her over to the bollards and tied her up. I thanked the student and after a few seconds taking this picture, set off on my merry way again back home.

No damage was done to Bonnie. It set me back about 10 minutes. It could have been worse. Not a mistake I’m going to make in the future. On the canals, we get used to not taking the water too seriously. It just goes to show, when there’s a lot of it after the heavy rains we’ve been having, even the canal can be dangerous.

Engine problems

For a while, since I visited the Thames in September, the Engine has been having a tendency to ‘boil off’. This is when the coolant circulating the engine and keeping it cool becomes so hot it boils. This shouldn’t be a problem if the coolant is kept in a sealed space, as the super-heated water has no-where to go. It can’t evaporate. If the pressure gets to great, the excess fluid gets pushed into what called a ‘header tank’.

Just recently, I’ve been going into the engine room after starting the engine and finding that the coolant has gone.

It’s not pixies, no-one stole it, it’s boiled off. You can tell because there’s a layer of condensed water on the steel of the engine bay.

It’s not a big problem. You just need to identify where the fluid is leaking out, and stop the leak.

This is where I looked first. The seal between the ‘header tank’ and the main cooling system.

Underneath there is a rubber pipe. Inside it a small cooper inset which is a cooper conduit within the housing of the radiator, it connects to the inside of the top of the pipe. I fixed it up. Left it to dry, and gave it another try the following night.

It still boiled off. Although in a more exaggerated manner.

The water, when I stopped the engine, was literally flushing itself from underneath the cap in a kind of upside-down fountain spraying into the engine bay!

It took a couple of minutes to calm down.

When I took the cap off to look the following day, this is what I found.

You can see a new cap and the old cap, see if you can spot the difference! Free filler cap to the first person to reply in comments!

I put the new one on last week.

On the two times I’ve started the engine since, the problem seems to have been solved.


Prepared this supernice meal.

It was shrove Tuesday.

I made 2 pancakes to follow.

One with lemon sugar and raspberry jam.

The other honey lemon and cinnamon.

It’s one egg, some milk a bit of flour and a bit of butter.

It’s amazing how pancakes taste so good.

Until next year.

Fly tipping in Oxfordshire

It’s a bit of a problem.

Perhaps I notice it more because I’m on my bike, but there seems to be plenty of it. I’ve noticed some around Heyford, where the airbase is. Some around Bletchindon, some in the estates of Blenheim Palace.

There’s plenty around.

Usually, it’s more wood and less plastic or other materials. Like it could be usually, old furniture or bits of old building materials.

This stuff looks too be more domestic.

Sometimes, like the one pictured, it’s not. And it’s not going to go away without someone taking it.

Sometimes the bio stuff, like wood, old furniture bits of wooden panelling. That kind of stuff might just disintegrate with the passing of the seasons.

Until next time….

3 thoughts on “Floodwater sweeps Bonnie away!

  1. Bloody hell! As I was reading I could feel my pulse rising! What a hell of an experience – for the student too, no doubt. So glad you all survived.

  2. Oh my, that incident sounds really scary…I was always worried about stuff like that….In all the years I lived on ‘Anna’ we never had rain like we’ve had this year. So glad that young man came past and offered his help…there are some lovely people about

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