Monday, March 7, 2016

Moving Bridges with Lord Ludgershall - The Duchess of Cambridge ducked this one, away Skiing


Building bridges last week, moving bridges this week.

The old bridge made from a telegraph pole split down the middle with a double thickness deck on top has a few years left in it yet and will serve as a replacement for the wobbly bridge to the island on the flight pond where it will see much lighter use.

It could have been dismantled and rebuilt, but the prospect of raising some sail and driving it up the river seemed far more fun, so the coast guard was consulted, the shipping forecast duly noted, and with Lord Ludgershall on hand to record events with his box brownie the flag was raised and we made haste for the flight pond.

There was a poignant moment when the old bridge passed beneath the new one, a changing of the guard if you will, before we were into the bends and some tricky manoeuvring , I'd adopted the method of taking the racing line, but the salty old dog on the bank was consulting charts and at one point produced a sextant before warning of dangerous waters ahead and I was advised to alter my approach.

Once again he was right and the weir on Wells Ride proved to be a perpendicular clash between two gnarled old telegraph poles, each eager to gain an advantage over the other; a clash threatened to go the distance,

so the sail was furled and the tractor summoned to haul the bridge over the obstinate weir and end the stalemate (Note to self - if we do this kind of thing again I may need to build some kind of lock at this juncture)

Over the obdurate weir, it was on with the motor for a brief bit of cruising on flat water and for a short time the craft was up on the plane before we entered shallower water as the river rattles down a steeper gradient. The vessel ran aground and I have to admit that I nearly gave up at this point and was considering dowsing the thing in diesel and sending it off downstream, and if anybody asked any questions? well the Vikings were obviously back in town.

But Lord Lugg was having none of it and was reminded of the time he was involved in the search for the source of the Nile when natives had been coerced into carrying his forty foot cruiser several miles through thick jungle,

and so to the beat of his drum from the bank, I switched off the engine and hauled the thing up the shallows step by step through the fast flow over the clinging gravel to the double bends and water too deep for me to wade.

The engine was set to tick over and what may well have passed as the world's first wooden aircraft carrier was set to auto pilot and guided up the long slow straight with punt poles to the tight bend at the end where some expert handling (as we were nothing short of veteran bargees by now) saw it around the corner and I resumed my role as Captain.

The fast stretch that follows which is perfect for a left-handed fisherman and where many fish tuck hard under the bank, was negotiated and we briefly considered going on past the flight pond as we were held rapt by the possibility of what may lie beyond each bend and anyway we were quite the cruisers now and didn't want to make shore, at which point Lord Ludgershall suggested that the boat we had passed earlier with the orange glow may have been the Flying Dutchman and we had now inadvertently consigned ourselves to a life afloat, so a safe berth was secured on a quiet bend from where it will be hauled to the flight pond later this week.

Returning to the new bridge to break camp and take a final cup of coffee, as it's case closed with regard to this site, an eye was kept out for a bridge sailing on by, as my knots are not what they once were and if anyone downstream does find they have received the gift of a bridge in the night please don't be stranger, as I am confident that with some assistance I can come down with my electric outboard motor and drive the thing back home, even from Southampton.

The engine that Chris and Lord Ludgershall used during this expedition was made by Minn Kota

That's Minn Kota folks

Sourced from somewhere else in the world and sent through the post in no time at all.

It's a global market everyone,

although my enquiries to buy a large number of plastic chairs for the cricket club direct from a man in China via the magic of the internet has repercussions that continue to this day


1 comment:

Brian said...

I've often thought you have one of the best jobs in the world - and after reading the last two posts I think I might be right!