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This part of the journey from Newbury to Devizes takes us from Pewsey, along about 10 miles of canal with no locks, but many narrow and overgrown sections, till we reach Devizes and start the descent of Caen Hill. We did the first three locks going down and moored up at the Black Horse pub – a break before tackling the infamous Caen Hill Flight. (Next post)

Stats for this bit:

12 miles

3 Locks – total drop: 24′ 06″

2 Swing bridges

Fortunately the weather was okay with no rain.

Honey Street
Honey Street

We passed Honey Street Wharf where there are a couple of good pubs or restaurants. A hire boat company operates out of Honey Street. We did not stop there.

Busy Canal
Busy Canal

This section of the canal was quite busy – loads of permanent boaters – and this one was really grumpy!!!!!!

Seriously overgrown stretch of canal
Seriously overgrown stretch of canal

Above is one of many examples of how overgrown the K and A canal is. There is at least 2 to 3 metres of canal lost on each side due to the reed growth.

About to pass another widebeam!
About to pass another widebeam!

And when another widebeam boat comes the other way – passing is even trickier!

Boat handling:

Being a mariner by profession, and a boater for many years, I think I have a pretty good understanding of ship and boat handling. However, over the last couple of months I have learnt a huge amount, both from handling our new Shangri La, as well as from day to day moving the narrow boats where I work.

It is interesting how many of the big ship handling techniques apply – transverse thrust, stern seeks the wind, how the pivot point moves, bank and shallow water effects, and of course using the elements (wind and current) to your advantage rather than fighting them.

Not many narrowboats have bow thrusters, whereas Shangri La which is a relatively short widebeam (58 ft x 11 ft) has both bow and stern thrusters.

Using a bow thruster is often considered “cheating” by many boaters, and initially I thought the same and tried to avoid using them on our boat.

I have since discovered the huge difference between long narrowboats and shorter widebeams – it is quite easy to manoeuvre a long narrowboat without thrusters, but having them on the widebeam really helps.

The “bank effect” was really noticeable on this part of the trip where the canal was very shallow and narrow – the stern gets sucked into the bank, and steering against it or using more engine makes it worse.

Particularly interesting now, as I suspect that this bank effect (and the failure to actually understand it) contributed substantially to the recent grounding of the Evergreen ship in the Suez Canal.

Approaching Devizes
Approaching Devizes

The above pic was taken by a work colleague who spotted us approaching Devizes.

Some beautiful canal-side properties on the outskirts of Devizes
Some beautiful canal-side properties on the outskirts of Devizes
Kennet Lock - First lock of the descent
Kennet Lock – First lock of the descent

And finally we were moored up for the night right outside the Black Horse pub. We phoned ahead to book the mooring place and a table at the restaurant. And it was a lovely stopover.

Moored up at Black Horse
Moored up at Black Horse

Next up is the Caen Hill flight – 16 locks which you have to do in one go!

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