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Bowling 23rd August

Yacht Quintet
Bowling Basin
Forth and Clyde Canal

23rd August, 2005

<-Bowling 22nd August Kirkintilloch 24th August->

It's been another miserable day today, especially contrasting with such a beautiful day yesterday.

Click for a larger imageWe moved the boat over to the mast crane in the drizzle. We fixed a strop round the mast just below the lower spreaders in the drizzle. We tensioned the crane cable to support the mast and went round disconnecting the bottle-screws from the shrouds in the drizzle. And then we waited for the lock keeper to return to oversee the lift, in the pouring rain!

The mast crane at Bowling is a simple affair. Rotation of the arm is by a chain driven ratchet and the hoist is powered by a rotating handle, so lowly powered that a foot of lift appears to require more than fifty rotations of the handle. It's a slow process. When I suggested that we might lift the mast on to the ground beside the boat before raising it into its position along the deck, Billy showed extreme horror and indicated that he was hoping to get our mast out and into its travelling position in less than two days.

But it is a great service, included in the transit licence fee for the canal. And the transit fee for Quintet is just 50.00. It would cost much more than that for overnight mooring fees just to get to the Caledonian Canal.

The lift went very well. I was sure that such a low point as the lower spreaders would be way below the balance point. This would mean that the moment the mast was free of the tabernacle it would invert and come crashing down on the deck, or, more importantly, on me. Clive insisted that this would not be so and by using a line from the front of the mast to a ringbolt in the deck, total control was maintained and our monstrously heavy mast was placed gently into position, resting on pulpit and pushpit and cushioned on the doghouse roof by the genoa in its bag. All was firmly lashed into place and we were ready to go.

However immediate departure was not an option. Unlike English canals, all locks on the Forth and Clyde are operated for you. But unlike the Thames, there is not a resident lockkeeper at each lock. On the Forth and Clyde a team of canal workers accompanies each transitting boat, or fleet if there is more than one vessel, and opens and closes all locks, taking lines, offering advice on the best pubs and restaurants and generally helping along the way. And our team were busy. So tomorrow!

What to do with the afternoon was the question.

Click for a larger imageI have not been to Glasgow for many years and some retail therapy seemed like a good idea. Of course, Clive doesn't do 'shopping' so I suggested that he might like to come into Glasgow to pick up a chart for the upper Forth. His collection of charts only came as far west as Elie and North Berwick. So we walked into Bowling and checked the train times. Fortuitously we had missed a train by a little more than five minutes and the half-hourly service therefore gave us the opportunity to visit the Railway Inn, adjacent to the station, for a pint while we waited.

The Railway Inn is very posh. It has been renovated and only reopened in the last week. The beer was good and a poster on the wall advertised the Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band performing this very night. That has solved what to do after shopping.

Our search for a chart was frustrating. First the lady behind the information counter in Borders bookshop insisted that nobody in Glasgow would sell charts. Why would they? I don't think she realises that the Clyde actually runs into the sea. Of course she could order one and it would be here within a month.

We then tried Yellow Pages but the best they could offer was the chandlers at Inverkip and we had obviously tried them when we were there. We had, honestly. Then we rang Imray's and asked for the local agent. The nice girl said Kelvin Hughes in Holland Street so off we set.

We got directions from two nice, young Glasgow policemen. They knew immediately where the street was and directed us to turn left at Sainsbury's.

As the directions seem to take us back to the Charring Cross Station where we had first got off the train, we thought that grocery shopping at Sainsbury would be sensible, so we did. Then laden with dinner ingredients we headed west.

When we finally got to Holland Street it became clear why the policeman didn't have to think too much about how to get there. Holland Street is Glasgow Police Headquarters. Unfortunately it is not the home of Kelvin Hughes. Kelvin Hughes moved more than two years ago. Silly Imray girl.

We got a cab to Kelvin Hughes on the other side of town and finally, triumphant in our search for the chart made our way back into central Glasgow and the train home.

Click for a larger imageNeedless to say, all was not plain sailing, we did get a bit lost, but we finally got back to Bowling, had dinner, and pretty good was our Chinese style chicken and stir-fried vegetables and nothing out of a packet, please note, before making our way back to the Railway Inn and an evening of ceilidh music.

The band is good. They're having lots of fun with their music although, as perhaps you can tell, some of it is not quite Scottish traditional.

Click for a larger imageIt was pretty late as we staggered home through the rain. I saw a sign in the footpath. I was confused for a moment then I realised, 'whisky!'.

Les Sutcliffe

<-Bowling 22nd August Kirkintilloch 24th August->