Helen took the picture below, and thought - maybe there would be light at the end of the tunnel. We were in charge of the build from now on - could we finish it ourselves? We were about to find out...we were on our way to Tamworth to collect the boat.
It was now the 3rd April 2015, the cruise up to Tamworth was uneventful apart from the heavy downpours of rain along the way. We started to anticipate the journey coming back with the new boat - bow-hauling the boat through the narrow locks of the Coventry canal, we started to count the locks going through Atherstone eyeing up potential hazards and difficulties we might encounter.
We’d never towed a boat for any long distance before, so this was all new territory for us and we could chalk it up as yet another experience.
Our thoughts of towing the boat back with us to Hillmorton took our concentration away from all the fantastic countryside and views we were passing on the way there. We had to reach Glascote basin by Friday, as agreed, otherwise, being the Easter bank holiday, we would have to wait until the following Tuesday to get the boat out - there was someone at Steve's yard who agreed to meet us there.
As we entered under the bridge going into the basin at Glascote, we could see our boat sitting on the left near the paint shed. There was a boat being sprayed inside this shed and another few boats lying in different spots. It was quite eerie, the basin had previously been full of moored boats, but now, looked like the so many disused and abandoned engineering workshops & factories you see so often nowadays. It was a shame, Steve had built such a reputation and now, it seemed, no one was going to carry it on.
We met the contact for the administrators, it had started to rain more heavily now, we pulled the Beer Boat from beside the shed and using a pole, moved it to the opposite side so we could attach a line from Miss Ellie 1, we had no tiller for the Beer Boat, our contact found an old tyre and scaffold tube we could use. After checking what small work had been carried out, we signed the release documents.
The anticipation we had of collecting the boat was soon over, there was no fanfare, no smiling faces, the boatyard had no atmosphere, it was as grey as the sky.
The rain seemed to get worse, we just wanted to move the boat outside facing south so we could get an early start the next day, the light was fading, we were soaking wet, both of us exhausted. The few remaining workers and the contact in charge just watched us, under their shelter, as we struggled to work out the best way to tie up and move out.
The rain eased so we took the opportunity to pull out onto the canal facing south and moor up overnight for a very early start.
Looking across the basin, towards the houses, the basin had previously been full of moored boats (mainly Hudson) now all gone except one or two. We were ready to move out of the basin, just a few yards under the bridge and we would moor outside for the evening.
Helen was on the tiller (a scaffold pole) at the back, it seemed a long way to the front of Miss Ellie 1, well it was... about 120ft, there was some slack in the rope to make the tight turn towards port to get out under the bridge.
After tying up outside the basin we finally managed to get dry and warm on Miss Ellie 1, then planned the timing for moving off in the morning for the journey back to Hillmorton.
4th April, 06:00am, the rain had stopped although the sky was still very grey, we left Glascote and headed southeast on the Coventry canal and hoped for a quiet journey towards Atherstone locks so as to make some ground.
Helen was doing really well at the back with the Beer Boat, although eerily quiet without the engine running, she said it could have been a throwback to the days of the horse, I think it might have been easier with the horse.
All went well past Alvecote Marina, Samuel Barlow winding hole, past Pooley Hall until we moored up at Polesworth visitor moorings to take a break and wind down after all the previous days stress. It was good just to relax and not to have to meet a deadline, well for now anyway.
5th April we set off from Polesworth to head towards our first lock of the day, Helen was getting nervous at this point, I didn't feel too bad, it was just going to take a while bow-hauling in and out of each lock. We passed Bradley Green bridge and finally arrive at Atherstone bottom lock No 11. I couldn't see anything going wrong now but Helen was visibly nervous. I reassured her it would be as easy as Miss Ellie No 1, getting the Beer Boat into the lock, although much slower.
Miss Ellie No 1 through the lock and waiting between 11 & 10, just had to pull the Beer Boat through its first lock, it was going to be a very busy, tiring day ahead.