History 1991 To 1995
Having pretty much completed the restoration work on the boat the previous year, we did some rather more 'domestic' work including scumbling the beds and making matresses for them. Then we went boating...
We went to Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice then headed for the Basingstoke Canal official opening, via the Thames tideway and an overnight stay at St Katherines Dock.
After the Basingstoke opening we carried on to the far end of the restored section of the canal at Greywell and back, then did the Kennet & Avon Canal (reopened the previous year) all the way through to Bristol Docks.
Unfortunately we then had a spot of bother when (due to poor advice from a lock-keeper) we left the boat moored above Hanham weir for a week - just a few days before one of the highest tides of the entire year. This tide over-topped the weir (as predicted) while none of us were there, and put the bows of Fulbourne aground at an awkward angle on a concrete bank. As we didn't think it was safe to leave it like that for a month till the next big tide, we called on our insurers who arranged for a marine salvage company to re-float the boat using a tug and winches. There appeared to be no damage other than a heap of smashed crockery in the kitchen. Lesson learned: don't believe anyone's (even the lock-keepers') assurances about safe moorings on tidal rivers - check the tide table yourself!
By the time we'd got this sorted, the far-from-plentiful water supplies on the K&A were fast running out and it looked like we might have be heading for the 'National' at Dudley via the rather shorter (but more exciting!) route via Avonmouth, the Bristol Channel and Sharpness Docks.
However the weather took a turn for the worse, which meant that the water supply situation rapidly improved and we could make our trip back up Devizes then via the Oxford Canal to the BCN for the festival. Following which we returned to our home mooring via the Birmingham & Fazeley, Coventry, N Oxford and Grand Union canals.
I'm sure we most have done some work on the boat in 1992, but I can't remember what!
This year the National Waterways Festival was at Wakefield. The short locks on many northern and north-eastern waterways meant that our only possible route to the festival was via the tidal Trent right down to Trent Falls; we decided that as this was an undertaking that we probably wouldn't be repeating for some years, while we were up there we'd do our best to do as much as possible of those north-eastern waterways that do have locks that Fulbourne will fit.
So having reached the Trent via the direct route (Grand Union /Leicester) we detoured first down the Witham to Boston and back, including the restored length of the Sleaford (or as much of it as we managed before we ran out of water!) and a chunk of the Witham Navigable Drains; then we detoured up the Chesterfield canal to the then limit of navigation at Morse Lock, Worksop; then thirdly we turned off at Keadby and went as far as the annoyingly- short Thorne Lock and back.
The trip around Trent Falls and up the Ouse was done in convoy with a lot of other boats, but when they turned in at Goole we carried on right up to Naburn. (We left Keadby at 6am and tied up in York at 9pm - probably the most miles we've ever done in one day!) Then we went to the limit for full-length narrowboats on the Ouse (Linton) and the Don (Rotherham) before the Wakefield festival, and as far as we could up the Calder (Broad Cut) and the Aire (Leeds) afterwards on our way back to the Trent. (actually we could have got a few miles further up the Don if we had but known... but the lock at Rotherham looked so tiny after the huge modern ones we'd just come through that it didn't cross our minds to see if Fulbourne would fit it!)
Another detour down the Witham on the way back, and then back down the GU to London.
The first set of canvas cloths that we'd installed over the hold as part of the 1988 de-conversion were life-expired, and the main job for the winter work programme was to replace them with a new set.
The 'National' was at Peterborough, but first we headed in the opposite direction - up the Thames to discover what was the absolute limit of navigation for us, which turned out to be about 3 miles above Inglesham. (we had to reverse quite a long way before we could turn round!)
Then we headed via the Oxford and GU to Northampton, and down the Nene to Peterborough. While we were there we took the opportunity to go to the tidal limit of the Nene at Dog-in-a-doublet, and to the (then) limit for full length narrow boats on the Middle Level, at Whittlesey where the short Ashline Lock prevented further progress.
We didn't have far to go to the 'National' in 1994 as it was in Waltham Abbey. So we decided to spent the summer touring the midlands first. This was the year of our first attempt at the BCN Marathon Challenge: we didn't do terribly well, ending up stuck on the Walsall Canal in darkest Pleck with a boat that wouldn't go either forwards or backwards. Three days later, after a gearbox rebuild, we were off on our way again, and heading down the Staffs & Worcs. Then we went via the Severn, Avon, Southern Stratford, GU, Southern Oxford and Thames to London, finishing up with a trip down the tideway before heading up the Lee to Waltham Abbey.
Our first trip to the north west since 1988, and a chance to find out whether Fulbourne would fit the tight locks and shallow channel of the Llangollen Canal... it did! We also got to boat on the recently-reopened first section of the Montgomery Canal from Frankton to the site of the Perry Aqueduct. This was all part of a rather roundabout route via the BCN (we did slightly better at the Marathon this time - we didn't break any gearboxes!) the northern Staffs & Worcs, the Trent & Mersey, the Middlewich Branch and Ellesemere Port to the Chester 'National'. The return route was rather less roundabout, although it did involve another trip up the Llangollen and back. And we liked the Pontcysyllte aqueduct so much that we did it 8 times!