Ben - 9's Waterways

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Breaking the Ice (Part Two)

At last there is something of a thaw coming along, with a lot of the snow turning to slush. Of course, it's not that simple, as a lot of the melted snow is freezing at night and turning to black ice! But, at least, the canals are less frozen than they were, if anyone wants to get on their way.

Last week I commented on the noble efforts of Brian McGuigan breaking ice along the Macclesfield Canal to reach his customers.

During the week there has been much coverage of a completely different method of breaking ice.

A couple of bright young sparks decided to take their car for a spin along the Union Canal in Scotland!

They thought it would be a good idea to drive on the ice! Tyremarks in the covering of snow on the ice showed that they had driven along on the ice for half a mile before the inevitable happened and the ice gave way beneath them.

The two occupants escaped and fled the scene but were later arrested by police and charged with "reckless conduct". Is that an offence in England? I have not heard of it here, but maybe it should be!

I don't know how to put pictures on here and I'd probably be breaking some sort of rule if I showed a photo from another site, so here is a link to a news article with a few photos. A nice touch is the "Police - Accident" sign on the towpath. I'm not sure who it is supposed to be warning, though! Perhaps towpath walkers should slow down as they pass.

Maybe these two fruitcakes were trying for a nomination for a Darwin Award? These prestigious awards are given to those who improve the gene pool by removing themselves from it. However, as they managed to escape they would probably not be eligible.

I wonder whether a BW enforcement officer will be along soon to put a sticker on the car for not having a BW licence?

Ben Nine

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Breaking the Ice

With my doddery old legs, I've hardly dared to step outside in this wintry weather, so it is great to hear that the intrepid Brian McGuigan of NB Alton is attempting to reach all his customers along the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals to keep them supplied with Coal and Diesel.

Before Christmas the ice was so thick that he had to make deliveries by road, which can't be easy if some boats are moored away from a road.

He was off again yesterday, breaking 3 inches of ice along the Macc - taking five and a half hours to travel a mile or so around High Lane.

There has been some discussion about ice breaking on one of the popular canal forums, with some people worried about upsetting moored boaters. Strangely it seems that you can upset them more by moving slowly, as the ice stays in massive sheets to crunch against the moorers' hulls. Apparently, crashing into the ice at a faster speed breaks the ice into smaller pieces, but please don't take my word for that.

Some people seemed to think that breaking ice past moored boats is irresponsible, especially if some of the boats are wooden or GRP. The thought of a plastic cruiser being holed and sunk by a shard of ice is worrying, so who's fault would that be? At least one GRP boat owner thought that the passing boater would be responsible for the recovery costs and may even be guilty of criminal damage.

However, others thought that if a boat was that fragile, it should not be left in the water at this time of year, or should have protective boards hung along the side to fend off any ice.

On some of the canals down south there are a lot more boat movements so perhaps the ice doesn't get a chance to get as thick as it does on some of our northern canals. But then again, they probably don't get such cold temperatures down there!

So what do you think? Should everyone tie up and sit it out until the ice thaws, or should we do what the working boats in the past did and treat it as a nuisance but keep going?

Of course, it goes without saying that it is not a good idea to go ice breaking just after you've had the blacking on your boat's bottom replaced, as ice is very good at grinding it all off again!