Dick King

Aug 032018
 

British weather always seems to have something different up its sleeve each year, and this July has proved once again that the natural water shortage, from which the Basingstoke Canal has always suffered, becomes the main topic of conversation. Deepcut locks had to close early due to damage to lock gates, although replacements have been installed after an 8 week lead time.
This helped to some extent to preserve the supply in the Hampshire pound through less demand. The recent wet weekend further helped stem the fall in water level, replacing approximately a week’s loss; on 1st Aug it was -155mm, the same as on 24th July.
Restricted opening hours at Ash lock are brought in by the BCA when the water level is down by 150mm That was reached early in July; levels are anticipated to drop daily by about 5mm.
The next restriction to be applied will be at 200mm below datum, when Ash lock will be closed to all navigation. All navigation in Hampshire and the Surrey top pounds, will have to cease operation should levels fall to 250mm below datum, as this creates many conservation issues. Its time to do that rain dance again if John Pinkerton is to fulfil her charter obligations in August!

There are no restrictions in the Woking pound for the Kitty operation, as back-pumping satisfies demand.

Skippers

Congratulations to all our skippers who were training over the winter. The first exam session in May saw Colin Beale, Howard Best, Cheryl Richards, and Derek Taylor qualify for their BMLs, and have since been putting their skills to good use. The second session last Monday, delayed though a mis-timed holiday, gave Harry Glover the opportunity to show he was also equal to the task. Well done to all of them. This proves that the John Pinkerton training regime proves its worth, with the recent 100% pass rate maintained – well above the national average for BML examinations.

Old Thatch Cruise

On Sunday 1st July the first of JP’s visits to the NGS Open Days at Old Thatch, Winchfield carried 40 passengers, many of whom were in their Sunday best dress for the occasion. So it was with some relief that the ancient, rickety stile had been replaced by a new gate at the end of the footpath over Stacey’s Bridge. We did not have to try off-loading in shallow water at the garden, as last year. Much appreciated by all, and thanks go to Winchfield Parish Council and the Hampshire Countryside Access Forum for providing funding through the Small Grants Scheme, The Hampshire Rights of Way Improvement Trust for promoting this scheme under the ‘stiles to gates’ initiative, the Community Engagement Ranger, Emma Broadbent, for liaising between the different groups and the landowner, and the NE Hants branch of the Ramblers Association for doing the actual work on the ground.  It will make the Old Thatch Gardens more accessible to a wider range of passengers, though they still have to be able to manage the steps up from the towpath to the top of Stacey’s Bridge.

The autumn visit will be on 2nd Sept, given sufficient water!

Air Show Week
Contributed by Mark Griffiths

John Pinkerton has now returned from another successful Farnborough air show week. For those of you not familiar with the operation, the vessel spends the week temporarily based opposite the Fox and Hounds pub in Fleet, to provide a platform for corporate entertainment for our host client. We embark their guests at 9am for the 1:30hrs journey to the Runway’s End (Eelmoor Bridge) mooring. Whilst they visit the trade show, our crew then wind the boat at Farnborough Road, and assist in the delivery of catering ready for the guests to arrive back on the boat for lunch.
The bank next to the mooring provides a good view of the (ever diminishing!) flying display. New restrictions following the Shoreham air show disaster mean the canal is now closed west of the mooring during the flying display. Once the restriction is lifted late afternoon we head back to the Fox and Hounds, and disembark host and guests. A winding crew then take over to turn the boat round so she is pointing in the right direction to do it all over again the next day.
Following the weekday trips, there are two public trips at the weekend which are always popular. This successful formula has been running for quite some time and despite long days it does give crews an opportunity to cruise on a different part of the canal to our usual operation.

This year didn’t come without some challenges. Firstly the toilet transfer pump developed a fault early on in the week which resulted in some less than ideal odours in the cabin. Dick took it apart, ordered a replacement and had it back in operation in record time. Then there was excess wire and chain that got wrapped round the propeller mid week, and required a diving team to be called out at short notice from Portsmouth in order to free it. There were certainly some drinkers in the pub garden that began to question quite how strong their drinks were on seeing this sight!

What I have taken away from the week is just how impressive the team work is within our organisation. There were lots of you who played vital roles during the 9 days (including the transit days), but a few people really stand out and deserve a particular thank you.

Ian Sutherland did a temporary repair to the window that was smashed by vandals in Odiham before we left for the transit trip. He met us at 7am the following morning to fit it.
Ken Sankey did some urgent brush cutting to the viewing bank (after I checked it far too prematurely some weeks ago!)
Dick King and Phil Hardyman looked after the maintenance side with some long days and dirty jobs.
Derek Taylor and Cheryl Richards did a mid week pump out after the divers had finished. They didn’t get moored up until gone midnight.
Mike Gordon and his team in the Patrol Boat who made sure our mooring was kept clear.
And of course Peter Close who stepped in at fairly late notice to help me out this year.
If I have forgotten anyone, please forgive me, I’ve been awake for 20 hours; but once again a massive thanks to everyone who took part to ensure that this year’s Air Show week was such a resounding success.

I hate to use the word ‘feedback’ (which I think is the most over used word of the decade!) but as a committee we are always keen to hear your comments and suggestions with a view to making improvements for next time.

Divers at Work

The main duty of the ‘Designated Person Ashore’ – an MCA requirement – is to provide back-up to the skipper and crew in an emergency. As Boat Manager, this role falls to me, but with the help of committee members should I be unavailable to respond. So I usually answer the phone with some trepidation during the days I know JP is out. Most times I can advise on ‘how to cure’ with a bit of previous knowledge of having done it before.
On the Wednesday of the Air Show, the lunch-time phone call from the duty skipper really set me thinking – how to clear a fouled prop when the usual methods are obviously failing, and the boat needs to go out at 9am the next morning. A diver, yes, but who?
A few phone calls to contacts, and I was put in touch with Barry from UK Divers.

He agreed to provide a team, but prefaced this with:
‘You won’t get a single diver, but a full team of four. No longer does Health & Safety legislation allow a single diver operating with simple mask & flippers to operate from a Ford estate car. Plus we need one of your crew to act as our 5th person on the team.

Step up winding skipper Derek, who eventually was fully briefed with sheets of checklists and risk assessments. Think he signed his life away that day!

Why such a large team? Well, like the ‘how many do you need to change a light-bulb’ scenario, they had the main diver to actually do the work, a second diver fully booted and suited in case the first ran into difficulties. Two more were required to monitor and control, through separate umbilical cords, the supply of compressed air and communications to each diver, as well as measuring working depth. Its the same equipment they use at more extreme depths – just for 2 metre canal depth. Overkill – perhaps; but absolutely safe for everybody concerned.

It took the diver about an hour to remove all the debris, most of which was attributable to crayfish trapping nets.

Driving in Low Water Conditions

Many of you who started crewing within the last couple of years may not have had experience of driving JP in low water. The effects can catch you unawares, and you need to concentrate on where you are going. So here are a few guidelines:
Stay in the main channel, which in places is narrow, and not where you would expect.
Do not cut the inside of bends.
Watch your wash – if its breaking on the bank, you are going too fast. Slow down.
Over known shallow sections, mainly bridgeholes, and parts of the section between Old Thatch and Barley Mow, use a lower speed. You can’t force the boat through with high revs – all you are doing is digging the aft end in deeper, causing more drag.
If you loose steerage, heading for the bank, stop by reversing. Select neutral, and allow the bow to find the channel all by itself; then re-engage forward slowly.
This is where good knowledge of the channel position pays dividends; if you are unsure, please ask. Working as a team, ‘holdups’ can be minimised. Trips will take longer, and on public trips, skippers are advised to warn passengers.

Special Trips

 

 

During July a Kitty crew was host to a charter specially for Chernobyl children, who visit the UK every year. They all thoroughly enjoyed their trip on the boat.

 

 

 

 

In late June, John Pinkerton was host to the Joint Management Committee (JMC) meeting on board. Following the meeting, many members took a trip to King John’s Castle, though it has to be said several new councillor members did not bother to stay to learn about the Canal. And they are the ones supposedly charged to guide the future of our Canal!
In contrast, to begin August, Kitty was host to a group of councillors from Woking, who really appreciated the amenity on their doorstep.
It is worth quoting from the visitor’s book:
“It was a peaceful trip with the opportunity to ask members of the BCS as many questions as you wish about the canal, how the BCS supports the canal and the brilliant opportunity given to Woking by having the trip boat Kitty permanently stationed in Woking giving short trips along the canal.
The canal is a major green corridor, a SSSI in most places and really important for our environmental credentials. Well worth seeing from the ‘proper side.” (Cllr Davis)

So it still appears that the BCS has some work to do to overcome the lack of interest by certain JMC decision makers. If you live in a ward with such a member, why not tackle them about the lovely amenity that is their heritage, and how they could support it? The more that do, the quicker we can get the message over.

Volunteers BBQ at Canal Centre, Mytchett, 31st August

As part of the QAVS celebrations the Canal Society is joining with the BCA to provide a BBQ for volunteers. Food is included, but please bring your own drinks.
To allow the numbers to be gauged, please RSVP the Canal Centre: info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk or 01252-370073. If you don’t, you may go hungry!!
This is a big occasion for the Society, and if anybody can give a hand in setting up or stewarding, please let me know.

JP Statistics

The trip logs have enabled the committee to publish numbers of crew trips at the end of the year. However, probably of more concern to the operation as a whole are figures now available from recent analysis:
1. Numbers of public trips, passengers carried and the percentage take-up of capacity in each month.
2. Numbers of charter trips per month
These should help us plan our season more effectively, and organise our publicity to increase both. More Facebook posts seem to be having a positive effect this year for public trips, and especially so for Kitty. But the charters do appear to be slowly declining, so during the autumn we need to canvass coach and touring companies with the delights of the Basingstoke Canal as seen from the John Pinkerton.

So my question is, does anybody have contacts in this field to help us expand our charter base?

For information, the stats up to the end of July can be seen here. If you have comments, please let a committee member know.

And Finally …

Enjoy what’s left of the 2018 season, and pray for rain at night!

 Last updated by on 3 August, 2018
Feb 122018
 

John Pinkerton Inaugural Cruise

I was reminded recently that the 40th anniversary of the (first) John Pinkerton’s inaugural cruise will be on 20th May. Another milestone is also reached this year when the second cycle of 5 year MCA passenger licences commences just after Easter. Doesn’t time fly!
The accompanying photograph, courtesy of Roger Cansdale, shows Janet Gouge, Ray(monde) Fethney and Maggie Cansdale dressed in traditional clothes ready to serve champagne to the guests on the inaugural cruise, which followed the naming ceremony. For those new to the crew since those days, Peter Fethney was the original chairman of the Boat Company, and Stan Gouge did a large amount of fundraising. At the time Roger was working at RAE Farnborough, and helped to paint the boat; as Ray’s friend, Maggie was persuaded to do duty in the cabin. BCN reported that “on deck, John Hulbert and Martin Bowers looked every bit the bargees of yesteryear…” (BCN 80)

For the afternoon cruise that day, “the Society entertained journalists, councillors, county council officers and other guests, including Mr. Paul Vine, author of ‘London’s Lost Route to Basingstoke’ and a Vice-President of the Society. The trip so impressed one journalist that he made an immediate charter booking.”
During this cruise, Roger tells me he was handed the tiller for the very first time, – just on the approach to Lodge Bridge, much to his horror! However, he obviously coped well, as he was soon appointed Training Officer, and on Peter’s retirement, became the next Chairman.

Whilst the canal was still landlocked, the MCA had little interest in the boat, but in 1991 when connection to the Wey was established, things changed. Roger oversaw the initial licensing with the then Department of Transport, and  produced the first crew manual. Peter Wright had the initial task of training Boat Captains, and as Chairman saw the transition to a more rigorous regime of crew training and procedures introduced by the MCA following the inquiry into the Marchioness tragedy.  Since then the present committee have further regularised the training programme thanks to Tim Cadle and other skipper trainers, and ensured preparation of the boat for survey with the invaluable help of our winter maintenance crew.

JPII goes into dry dock early March for the ‘out-of-water’ survey, and blacking etc, with the running trial just after Easter.

It was interesting to note that at the Canal Society AGM in 1978, it was reported (BCN 79) that “Major work had been undertaken by Hampshire County Council in repairing Swan cutting at North Warnborough which was completed last December,”
and
“..the Council hoped to undertake this year the repair of a landslip at Dogmersfield which would be an expensive job.” Seem familiar?
Recent progress on Swan cutting, although slow, is being made; local property owners are currently being approached by HCC for access permission in order to carry out a survey, this being the first stage of rectifying our current problems of depth and moving pilings.

Training

The transit trips to and from the dry dock are being used to provide practice sessions for the new skipper candidates. A few passengers are welcome to add realism!
Training commences in the week following JP’s return to her home mooring. Most of last year’s crew and new trainees have already put their names down for a training session during March. For those who haven’t, a reminder that attendance at a classroom session is obligatory to comply with MCA requirements, so please send in your booking request to Cheryl asap. Optional steering sessions are also available for those wishing to hone their boat-handling skills.

2018 Schedule

The 2018 brochure is available for distribution, and a copy is on the website. New this year are several different Theme cruises, including a Quiz & Curry night, Sea Shanties evening, French Wine & Food tasting, and Acoustic & Ale cruises complementing the Blues & Ale and Jazz & Ale. Bookings are already appearing fast through the website, and David reports a good response for charters so far this year. However, we need to promote as much as possible, so please continue to talk up cruising JP.

Boat Company AGM

The Canal Centre has been booked for Friday 23rd March for the AGM of JPCC and SHCC. All crew are welcome, so jot the date in your diary now. Its the one time in the year when the majority can get together for a ‘catch-up’ chinwag, receive the reports on the previous season, make suggestions for improving the operation, and provide feedback to the committee.

Notice is Hereby Given that
The Thirty-Nineth Annual General Meeting of Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd.
And
The Fifth Annual General Meeting of the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises Ltd.

Will be held on Friday 23rd March 2018
At The Canal Centre, Mytchett at 7.30pm.

Tea, Coffee, Nibbles available

AGENDA

1) Apologies for Absence
2) To approve the minutes of the 38th AGM of S&HCC Ltd
3) To approve the minutes of the 4 th AGM of JPCC Ltd
4) Matters Arising
5) Directors’ Reports
6) Presentation of Accounts
7) Composition of the JP Boat Co’s Directors and Committee
8) Any other notified business

Tea, Coffee, Nibbles available

9) Presentations
10) Discussion
11) 2018 Brochures available

Barrier Code will be circulated to crew prior to the meeting.

 Last updated by on 12 February, 2018
Dec 192017
 

As the number of shopping days quickly decreases on the approach to Christmas, the maintenance team have taken a break from their labours for a few weeks. They made good use of the few warmer occasions to complete the painting of the metal work in the cabin, which was starting to look a little shabby.
Thanks go to the team Dave Foster, Chris Hunter, Duncan Paine, George Rhoades, Jem Scott, Dick King and new member Geoffrey Pearce.

Port watch

Starboard watch

Over the five years since launch of JPII, we have customised the galley in little ways to suit our working. This year is no exception, as we intend to re-arrange storage of items like cups and glasses so they are closer to where they are needed, and move the wine rack to a more acceptable place. An enhanced EPoS system is in development to incorporate bar code reading of galley items wherever possible; hopefully this will speed up the operation.

As well as dealing with the usual bumps and scrapes, and replacing worn-out items, the boat will go into dry dock in early March for hull painting, and the MCA out-of-water inspection.

 

 

John Pinkerton Report

The end of this season sees the completion of JP’s first 5 year passenger licence, and during this time she has been able to operate continuously despite the usual water shortages on the canal. The first year saw many members learn the art of helming a wide-beam canal boat. Most made the transition with little problem, but since then there has been a small but steady exodus as some move house, and others see age and physical fitness get the better of willingness. Fortunately, there seems to have been a steady income of fresh talent to replace that lost. The 2017 season saw 67 individual crew completing trips. This compares to 66 who crewed in 2014; crew numbers peaked during 2016 at 82.

Going into 2018 the crew membership is looking strong, with a fresh influx following recent Society recruitment drives. Some 83 people are currently listed, though we wait to see if they all remain available!

The downside to larger crew numbers, as someone will no doubt point out, is less trips available for each to work. The simple solution is create more trips! Mention the JP in your own social circles, spread the word, give a Christmas or birthday voucher for public trips to create awareness. And of course there are always those odd days when it appears no one wants to volunteer to crew for some unexplainable reason! Next season will bring the introduction of some new and exciting theme trips to add to the variety, thanks to Roger Stanwell.

During the season JP ran 118 charter trips, 48 Public and Theme trips, plus a further 7 Volunteers evening trips. Although slightly down in numbers of trips, we carried nearly 5400 passengers. The financial side still has to be finalised, but portents are good.

Over the winter, four candidates commenced training for the MCA skipper examination. Lots to do and remember, so good luck to them all. This also proved an irresistible opportunity to get them to help update the Crew and Domestic Safety Management Manuals by proof reading and making suggestions. So far it has proved a very useful exercise.

Kitty Report

The first season proved that not only is there demand for boat trips in Woking, but that there is a pool of volunteers willing to organise and crew the boat, including seven qualified to skipper – something that was unable to be achieved at the failed attempt in the early 00’s. In the June to September period when public trips were advertised, the boat completed 56 trips carrying over 400 passengers. Plaudits came from far and wide, including visitors from USA, Australia and Hungary, as well as locals.

The team now have the opportunity to build on this success for next season, and ideas are already flowing. We wish them continued success.

Statistics for crewing of both boats in 2017 are listed here. It is worth noting that some Kitty crew were available ‘on call’ at times when no confirmed bookings were made.

Upgrade of Stile to Gate on Winchfield FP6
(Contributed by Brenda King)

The trip to Old Thatch when the garden is open under the National Gardens Scheme is one of the most popular on the JPII calendar. Passengers have to be disembarked onto the tow path under Stacey’s bridge, and then walk over the bridge via a footpath (Winchfield 6) to the road leading to the Old Thatch entrance.

At the junction of the footpath and the road there was a slightly rickety stile, and the first time I led a full load of passengers over it, it caused us a few problems! They eventually all managed to get over it safely, but it took a large chunk out of our limited time ashore.

As a director of the Hampshire Rights-of-Way Improvement Trust (HROWIT), which amongst other things supports the policy of changing stiles to gates, I asked for their help in getting this one put on the list to be changed. They gave me contact details for Andy Tyas, the representative of the North East Hants branch of the Ramblers Association, and he kindly agreed to take on this project.

Original stile on footpath

Replacement gate

 

Although the project was originally conceived as an improvement for our passengers, and for walkers using it to access the tow path, it will also be of benefit to the trip boat operation.

 

 

 

As skippers and crew should know Stacey’s bridge is one of the emergency rendezvous points (RVPs), and in the unlikely event of it being needed, it will make it quicker and easier for emergency responders to reach the boat, and for evacuated passengers to be taken to the road.

A review of RVPs has being carried out recently, and Hampshire Air Ambulance also has the adjacent field (towpath side) on its list of possible landing points.

Our thanks to all those involved in implementing this project, including:
Winchfield Parish Council for progressing the initiative, procuring the gate and materials, and for working with the landowner.
Hampshire County Council RoW Community Engagement Ranger Emma Broadbent for supervising the installation, and bringing tools and refreshments.
North East Hants Ramblers for helping hands.

Ed Note: We will make use of the new gate when JP visits the NGS Open Days on 1st July and 2nd September in 2018.

Report on RVP meeting on JPII

Crew will be aware that during training, stress has been placed on being able to locate the boat in an emergency with reference to the RVPs on the canal. During the preceding year, when a crew had occasion to summon the Ambulance service, it was discovered that their control room had no access to this data. I pursued this with the BCA, who were instrumental in drawing up the list of RVPs, and the HCC Resilience (Emergency planning) team, who had promised to implement it several years back.
So a year on from this incident, in September, an enhanced crew hosted the HCC Resilience team, Fire & Rescue and Police emergency services and Fiona Shipp on an extended cruise to Chequers bridge to try to sort out the logistics of the problem. A great day on the water on one of the remaining sunny days!

A lot of networking took place, the result of which was that Fiona undertook to populate the RVPs on the Resilience Mapping, which can be shared by emergency control rooms. However, its still a case of ‘watch this space’, as currently, there appears to be a lack of political will on behalf of control rooms to utilise the shared maps.

As Brenda mentioned above, there are now a few places on the canal designated as Air Ambulance landing sites, and so we took the opportunity to disembark all of our passengers at Stacey’s Bridge to let them see some of the difficulties for themselves.

And finally…

A tremendous thank you to all JP and Kitty crew for another cracking season. The Society is now in the position to operate two boats at different locations on the Basingstoke Canal, thus creating greater awareness with the public.

Happy Christmas, and Good Boating in the New Year.

 Last updated by on 19 December, 2017
Aug 142017
 

 

I don’t often get involved with the political aspects of the canal, preferring to leave it to others better qualified. Early impressions of attending Joint Management Committee (JMC) meetings left me feeling that many attending councillors had little interest in the canal, and the Society promoting the current cause did so to rather deaf ears, albeit appearing sympathetic at the meeting. However, at the recent July meeting, JPCC was asked to make a presentation on the effect that silting and bank movement was having on JP trips to KJC. If the mood of the new committee members of the JMC that day is to believed, then I really think we may have turned a corner for the better. See the report below.

John Pinkerton

Just when we were starting to struggle with low water, the rain gods delivered enough water to probably take us through the rest of the season. Trips this year seem to be slightly less in number, though Steve reports that the financial side is keeping pace with last year’s results. This is good for economy of trips, but of course the downside is that crew are being asked to volunteer for fewer trips. We continue to publicise in various ways, but if you know of a local parish magazine or notice board that could be used, preferably free of charge for a charity, then let us know.

Many of you knew that David Rackham held an emergency key to JP. He is currently moving from Odiham, so we would like to thank him for his kind offer of help, made many years ago, and wish him well in his new house. There will be a combination lock available for future access to the barn mooring, and storage of the key.

With differing food suppliers for JP, the Committee were concerned there was the remote possibility of infringing hygiene regulations, so Peter Close and Roger Stanwell arranged a meeting on JP to discuss requirements. I am pleased to report that we need to make few changes to our present method of working. In fact, the lady from Hart DC awarded 5 stars, which we will soon be able to display proudly.

Following much better advertising in various ways, the Volunteers evening trips are now carrying many more than previously. It is very rewarding for all concerned, particularly Ken Sankey who has been a driving force for this, to see numbers creep up to over 30 this month. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Canal, and will play a major part in any future bid involving the Canal & River Trust, as building numbers and recorded days worked will become increasingly more important.

Kitty’s Progress
(Contributed by Ian Moore)

As we are nearly halfway through the inaugural season of Kitty working along the 4 mile Woking pound, we have seen bookings steadily increase so that on a number of occasions she has been operating at full capacity. Our passengers’ home locations are Australia, USA, Netherlands, Belgium, Wales, and Scotland, not forgetting those more local folks from Winchester, Odiham, Surbiton, and yes we have taken people from both Woking and Horsell! (It has been remarkable as to where people are coming from for the trips, long may it continue). In early August we are planning to run our first evening fish and chip cruise.

The brochures have arrived and been distributed locally, so adding another channel to our target market. The new uniforms are a smart navy blue colour, contrasting with the gold thread of the BCS logo, with ‘Kitty Crew Member’ in white thread.

Jonathan Lord on Kitty

We hosted our local MP Jonathan Lord (and his daughter) on one of the Public Trips; as a Society VP he could be a future crew member having admitted to some narrowboating experience!

This trip was highlighted in the local press with a large article about the canal, and generated an increase in bookings. In addition we have been working with both the Lightbox Museum and Woking’s Twin Town Committee with a view for more charters coming from their direction in the future.

Water levels at our end of the canal have not been too much of an issue, simply because it’s either coming downhill from Hampshire, or pumped back up from the River Wey. However as it is an urban canal we do have our problems with tyre inner tubes, plastic shopping bags, road signs, tracksuit bottoms, shopping trolleys – most of the crew are getting very familiar with the weed hatch and clearing the junk out.

Congratulations go to our two new skippers Martin Leech and Ian Johnson who have just passed the RYA IWHC assessment run onboard Kitty by an instructor from the National Sports Centre at Bisham Abbey.

And finally without the support of all those involved (too numerous to mention) we wouldn’t have been able to have such a successful opening season – so thanks to you all, and keep spreading the word around.

Report on JMC July meeting

JPII in Swan Cutting

The Society is currently pressing the issue of silting and bank movement in Swan ‘cutting’ with the BCA, and needed to impress the decision-makers at the JMC of the urgency to prevent a future closure, which would drastically affect the JP operation. Skipper Peter Close was invited by the new Chairman, Mike Goodman, to make a short presentation during the meeting. In his down-to-earth way, he spoke eloquently ‘on behalf of the bl…y infantry’, making the case well. Philip Riley followed up with the request to James Taylor (BCA) that the priority for repair be upgraded from 2 to 1.

We were told that the priority was assessed on the extent of danger to the general public (eg floods, breaches, etc), so was rated 2. However, the feeling of those round the table that possible closure of that part of the canal, and consequent bad publicity, was so strong that they recommended over-riding this categorisation. The Chairman instructed that a full briefing for a repair schedule should be presented to the autumn JMC meeting.

Also included was the requirement to contact local house-holders (something HCC have delayed doing). It will be interesting to see whether this happens. If the published minutes of the meeting do not reflect the actual, I’m sure there will be a challenge from the Society representatives! (Photo courtesy Martin Leech).

 

Deep Thought – pt 2: Chatham to Limehouse via Allington
(Contributed by Tim Cadle)

The Medway from above Chatham to Allington gets more and more shallow the further you go, and nearly dries out completely in a couple of places! This is then further complicated by a bridge at Aylesford, just a mile before Allington, which is a bit low! So, we need enough water in the river so as not to go aground, but not too much as we need to get under the bridge! I sought advice from someone who’d done it before, and the lock keeper at Allington was very helpful!

Ok, here goes, this is what happened:
The first piece of advice was to leave just after low water on the rising tide and cruise up very slowly.
The advice from the lock keeper was to leave at 1330, getting us to Aylesford with plenty of headroom, then the lock with enough water over the cill.

Low water was at 1130, so I decided to split the difference on the above advice, we locked at 1200 and this put us onto the river at 1220 (see what I mean about splitting the difference?) Upstream we went, eyes glued to the chart and the depth gauge, all went very well. Ok, the water was a bit low in places but about 9 miles up, by Burham Marshes, the depth gauge did the plummet, there was a scraping sound and we were aground. Hmmm… We were in tickover and as soon as I thought the inevitable was going to happen I put us into neutral. We sat there for 10 or 15 minutes I think, then the boat started to move a bit and we were off again, it was still pretty shallow but we were floating and continuing upstream, for about half a mile! Then the inevitable happened again, but this time we were stuck for about half an hour. We were on the inside of a bend and it took the tide the half hour to lift us from the bottom and push us round the corner. I’d deliberately erred slightly to the inside, thinking that if we did get caught, this is what would happen. I felt that if we got stuck near the outside, the tide would push us further to the outside making it difficult to float off. I’m no expert, but this was my thinking.
Eventually the tide pushed and lifted us off again; I think we touched bottom briefly once more, but I’m not sure it’s worthy of mention!

Another two and a half miles of progress brings us to the bridges at Aylesford. No idea what the fuss is all about, there is loads of headroom!! The trickiest bit is avoiding the pillars with the fast incoming tide, complicated by the large amounts of floating debris coming with it! Somehow I squeaked us through. I thought I was going to hit the left side bridge pillar, I’ve no idea how we didn’t, it must have been very close! Normally I would have used a blast of bow thruster, but just as we were lining up we encountered a large mass of floating debris and I didn’t want to break the thruster just yet!
The Allington lock keeper had asked us to call him as we passed Aylesford, which I duly did, only to be told that there was currently not enough water for us to get over the cill into the lock;he said to go real slow (no easy task as we were running with the incoming tide) and call him again from the final (motorway) bridge. We managed to make this last mile take about an hour. Eventually the motorway bridge appeared and I called Allington again, all was now well as just around the corner from the bridge was the very welcome sight of Allington lock with a boat just leaving. Into the lock we go, our ropes being taken for us, a bit of a discussion about licences (they had never seen a CRT / EA gold licence before!) And a discussion about mooring (we were done for the day). And we tied up for the night on EA moorings just above the lock.. phew!

At 0600 the following morning we cruise into the lock, there’s not enough water yet, so we wait. The lock is advertised as being available 3 hours before high water. Chatting to the keeper it is realistically abut 1.5 hours before HW!

At about 0640 it is deemed that we can go, so we lock down and start our downstream return. We are pushing the last hour or two of the incoming tide, much easier to control the boat, the only concern is the amount of floating debris likely to cause a prop foul! We get to the Aylesford bridges, there was time for a picture this time:

Aylesford Bridges

And we cruise back without the worry of the depth of the water, the tide is still coming in and only turns when we know there is plenty of depth.
At the entrance lock to the marina, we continued down to Queenborough harbour to wait for the lunchtime tide on Saturday, for the return up the Thames estuary.
We navigate our way to Queenborough; pretty good I thought as we’d never been here before and get all tied up on the town quay. We’re in yachtie world here, so a whole bunch of boats we’re not used to mixing with!

We took a walk into Queenborough, lots of pubs & we eventually found a Morrisons some miles away! We stopped for ice cream on the way back to DT.

We spent the following morning watching the sailing barges (12 I think) head out into the estuary.

Thames Barges

 

At 1300 we start to ready ourselves for departure and at 1315 we cast off and head back down this bit of the Swale to the Medway estuary. There’s quite a lot of boats about so we keep a careful watch on them as well as finding our way back into the Thames. We can see the Montgomery and all of the sailing barges further out. Soon after getting onto the right course for the Thames, the water is pretty calm, a large container ship comes steaming along heading for open sea. This makes a series of large waves which we just manage to steer into. There’s a lot of crashing from inside the boat and the bow digs into the third wave, there’s water everywhere, but fortunately all outside of the boat, just where it’s supposed to be!
It’s fairly straightforward to find our way back, albeit a bit lonely as we’re no longer with the convoy. We follow the small ships channel and cross the deep water channel at the correct point, back under the QE2 bridge, all pretty uneventful until just before Tilbury. I could see a container ship following and catching us up and just before Tilbury it calls us on the VHF to ask us to slow down so that they can pass us and turn across our bow into the lock for Tilbury docks. Exciting stuff.

Norsky Entering Tilbury

The Norsky entering the lock for Tilbury Docks, and I thought some Thames locks were difficult:

We continue on after this moment of excitement and as we pass Margaretness we call London VTS for permission for the Thames barrier. I’m a bit surprised to be given ‘Golf’ span as everyone else seems to be getting ‘Foxtrot’ so I look up the detail and it’s a smaller one, I assume for smaller vessels, it’s still 30m wide though!

There’s not much traffic about. It’s about 7pm, the Woolwich ferry didn’t bother us and we start to encounter a couple of clippers and trip boats. As we pass Greenwich I call Limehouse to let them know we’re nearly there and soon enough we’re turning back into the tide for the turn into the lock entrance. They swing the bridge for us as it’s a bit bumpy and the water is quite high. Before we know it we’re all tied up in the basin.

 

And finally….

Many of you may have taken photographs on the canal or of JP during this season. If you have any that would make good postcards, or could be used in advertising, please let us know.

And don’t forget the skittles evening to be arranged for Friday 20th October; talking to several people recently, the message apparently hadn’t got through!!

 

Good sailing!

 Last updated by on 14 August, 2017
Jul 132017
 

 

Nigel’s Birthday Cake

What a sweltering month June turned out to be! Great for all those able to enjoy the beauty of the canal, but less good for those having to work the boat in lowering water levels. The heatwave started when the level at Colt Hill was -70mm, reaching -165mm by the 25th. A few days of rain saw a dramatic improvement to -115mm 5 days later. A further 24 hours of rain, and the level is now back to -70mm – great news. Ash lock is the key to stable levels on the Hampshire pound, and temporary closure here has helped enormously; also the recent replacement of the leaky weir, and gear, near North Warnborough, which sorted another problem.
July began with Nigel Bird celebrating a landmark birthday on JPII. He was one of the project team that brought the replacement for JP1 into being, hence the remarkable cake photographed by Duncan.

 

Boat Company Committee Changes

At the meeting in June, we welcomed Roger Stanwell and Cheryl Richards to join the committee. Roger has taken on the publicity, replacing Penny Cadle who has now retired. Penny justly deserves our thanks for introducing the various theme trips, and working hard to make each one a success; the pirates and halloween trips were particularly demanding on her time. If there is anyone who would like to help bring these back next year, please contact Roger or any committee member.
Cheryl responded to a call from David to assist on the booking front to enable him take a short holiday break. We believe she will prove to be a valuable member.

The Canal Society recently re-introduced a sub-committee to cover Sales & Marketing – ie the purchase, distribution and sales of all the Society booklets and souvenir items. This is chaired by Roger Cansdale, and our representatives are Steve James and David Lloydlangston. If anybody feels they could help Denise for a couple of hours to setup, or run, individual days with the sales stall, please let any of those know.

Thanks to crew enthusiasm, souvenir sales on board JPII have increased quite dramatically so far this year. One trip in June recorded £125, which I think is probably a record! Unless your crew can do better!

Badge Promotion

For the benefit of those newly joined to the crew, the colour of badges may seem a mystery! To help you, here is a brief guide:

In your first year your badge will show your name while your learn the ropes and routines. Skills are monitored and encouraged by individual skippers, and at the end of the year skippers meet over a beer to discuss how new crew have progressed. Assuming sufficient trips have been completed, it is expected that most will have earned a green badge. Some, and other green badge holders, on the joint recommendation of several skippers, may be invited to undertake extra training to enable the award of a blue badge. In essence this shows the holder to have training and skills to enable them to undertake a 2nd in command position should the skipper be incapacitated – part of the MCA passenger licence conditions.
Red badges are awarded to those who have successfully completed the required training and MCA examination for a Boatmaster’s Licence.

Crew Medical Conditions

We recognise that all crew are solely volunteers, but in the capacity of a responsible ’employer’ the Boat Company has agreed advice in the case that any member has a medical condition, or be taking certain medications, which could affect how they should be treated by First Aiders or Ambulance Responders.
It is your personal responsibility to ensure this knowledge is brought to the attention of your skipper. Up to each member to decide how to do this, but could include the carrying of a medical ID card, wearing a medical bracelet, or info held in a medical alert in your phone or in a sealed envelope left in the galley only when you are crewing. When you board, please tell the skipper (or 2nd I/c if appropriate) where your information is stored; we do not hold any personal information.

End of Season Skittles Evening

A date for your diaries – Friday 20th October. We will hold a crew skittles evening at Hale village hall, so please make a note now, and keep the date free! More information later, but we will need a few bodies to help setup and dismantle.

John Pinkerton II on U-tube

New crew member David Tagg came on the June Cream Tea theme trip, and recorded his experience as a customer. This can be seen here, and lasts for nearly 15 mins. Well done David, maybe we’ll be seeing more of your work! He also crews on Kitty.

Waterwitch now Official Food Provider

Following the successful curry trial run at the beginning of the season, the Waterwitch pub has been added to the list of food providers on the JP website, specialising in curry menus, and will appear next year in the brochure. We look forward to a great partnership.

Deep Thought Maiden Trip Pt 1: Windsor to Chatham.

Tim Cadle attended the Dutch Barge Association gathering at Chatham, and this is his account.

We set off from Windsor about mid morning. All is fairly uneventful until we get to Old Windsor Lock. It’s bust! So we have lunch while the EA crew turn up and take about 3 hours or so to replace the bracket which holds the top gate in place, I must say – very impressive! We cruise on, only Chertsey Lock is on self serve, and end up on the ‘Lady Lindsay Lawn’ mooring below Shepperton Lock, – a jolly nice spot.

The following day (Tuesday) we head for Teddington. Shortly after rejoining the main river from our backwater mooring we spot another Piper boat ahead. Soon enough we catch up with Phil and Alison on Alphi at Sunbury Lock. We wanted to top off our drinking water tank, but I’d misread the guide book and it was only a small tap here, so we locked through with Alphi.

At Molesey the water is at the end of the lock landing and there were already two boats there, so we had no choice but to wait. One finished as we arrived and the other, yet another Piper Josephine H moved up and that gave us enough landing to get a rope on. Eventually we got the tank topped off and dropped through the last lock before Teddington. We got onto a mooring at Kingston, – we apparently needed to do more shopping and had lunch while we were there!
This mooring was one supposedly under control of the new ‘Thames Visitor Mooring’ scheme. I tried to register our arrival with them online, didn’t work! Then I phoned and got an answer machine which cut off while I was half way through giving them the required details. Sod it! I tried.

We trundled on down the last couple of miles to Teddington to find another 7 or so barges already there. We were welcomed by the DBA chairman Andy, then, after paying the mooring fee at the lock office, went off for a stroll into Teddington. Never been here before; it was quite interesting, plenty of restaurants and other interesting shops, most definitely worth the walk.

Now it starts to get interesting!
We attend the skippers briefing – safety, weather, convoy order and a whole load of other stuff. We are to be number two in line as we lock down for the cruise down the tideway to West India Dock. It all starts to go horribly wrong pretty much immediately!

All of us (8 barges) were to lock down together in the enormous barge lock, but, only 3 of us lock down and wait for the others to lock down in the smaller lock. We cruise really slowly punching the last of the incoming tide while everybody gets locked down. PLA launch Richmond shows up and starts to escort us down the river. We then encounter problem number 2: Richmond half tide barrier is still down so we have to wait until it is lifted.

Then it’s stop start, a couple of boats have trouble keeping up so we stop and wait for them to catch up. Then Vios breaks down with gearbox trouble, but eventually we all seem to get going and head at a reasonable pace into London with the now outgoing tide. We call Claire and Jeremy (Piper boat Happy Chance) as they live near to Chiswick and they come down to wave us past.

 

 

For a couple miles from the Palace of Westminster to Tower Bridge it got pretty choppy, a few waves onto the roof and a bit of pitching and rolling, but after Tower Bridge it calmed down. There was a bit of a close shave with one of the big yellow mooring buoys; the tide was taking us sideways towards it, along with several of the following barges, but fortunately we all missed it!

 

 

 

We pass Limehouse, my previous limit of downstream navigation, and turn round the big bend passing Greenwich and with the O2 arena to starboard, start to turn into the entrance to West India Dock Lock. It is big. Very, very big. All of the barges still in convoy raft up and there is room for at least this many more! I said it was big.

 

 

The barges behind us in the lock:

 

 

We lock up to find another 5 or so barges already there and we all wriggle in and raft up for the night.

An hour or so later, the previously broken down Vios locks in, we are all surprised!

 

 

 

And now it gets really interesting!!

We attend the skippers briefing for the run to Chatham, pretty much the same as yesterday, I do feel a bit nervous, but the exciting type I like to think!

Just before lunchtime on Thursday we all head for the lock, all except Vios who still has issues with the gearbox, so 13 (I think) barges lock down to the river, with probably room for a further 13!! A long line heads for the Thames Barrier:

 

 

 

And through Charlie span we go!

 

 

 

 

The river just gets wider and deeper as we go further down, in no time at all we are going under the QE2 bridge, no issues with air draft here!

It’s a whole new experience of reconciling my navigation theory with the reality of following the chart from mark to mark, attention has to be paid as we’ll be returning on our own!

We reach the Nore Swatch buoy which is kind of where the Thames becomes the sea and where we turn to starboard for the 12 mile run up the Medway to Chatham. A couple of miles up one of the barges loses it’s engine and comes to a stop. Angela Dawn is soon on the case and takes them in tow. The marks pass quickly and in just under a couple of hours we are approaching the lock for the marina at Chatham. It’s about 1930 and 13 barges, plus a small number of other vessels all want to lock in, a sort of chaos follows! 2 barges lock in and I notice it takes nearly 30 minutes to turn the lock, –  hmmmm, I think!

Not helped by the fact that we can only hear the marina on the radio, not the other half of the conversation so it’s quite difficult to work out what’s going on. We float up the river for about an hour and have dinner as we’re starving. Eventually I get onto the radio channel we’ve been using for ‘ship to ship’ to try to find out what’s happening; John from the DBA is on his way to the lock to try to help. It’s starting to get a bit dark and we are called into the lock with barge Patricia and one of the Dunkirk little ships. I have to say I’m quite relieved, even at the expense of nearly losing a fender which I caught on the lock gate going in!
We lock up to the marina and find the heritage pontoon which is to be our home until Tuesday. We raft up alongside fellow Piper boat Dea Latis. It’s nearly 2230 when the last barges arrive; they’ve been on the river outside the lock entrance for some 3 hours! Piper boat Providence rafts up on the outside of us.

 

Time for bed.

 

Zebedee will be back next month with Part 2.

 

 

 

 

 

And Finally….

Have you seen Victoria’s video post  of JP’s ‘hero of the day’ David on JP’s Facebook page?

Thank you David for rescuing a damsel in distress!

 Last updated by on 13 July, 2017
May 222017
 
Old Thatch Cottage, Winchfield

Old Thatch Cottage, Winchfield

The season started with our first public trip, carrying a full load to the NGS open day at Old Thatch Cottage, Winchfield. Although a close thing, it was able to go ahead as planned following the just-in-time removal of the navigation closure at Barley Mow culvert. Water levels were lower at the beginning of April due to refilling the Deepcut pounds closed over the winter, but with the recent rain, are now be recovering.

Our annual visit to the Fox & Hounds Fleet for public trips will be over the May bank-holiday weekend. We would like to acknowledge the help given by Andrew Parker, the new owner of the private mooring at Fleet where JP has moored in the past. He has kindly given permission for JPII to moor there overnight; thank you Andrew.

 

Training

The spring sessions of detailed training proved useful for both trainers and crew, with many variations of emergency situations getting an airing. Feedback proved informative, with several suggestions being taken up to improve our work method. In particular, the re-worked crew-specific roles for emergency situations; if you haven’t already noted this, then see the Crew 1 / Crew 2 memo cards in the galley.

It is pleasing to see that the EpoS system is now functioning as intended, with most crew showing good competence after the training. Just in case there is any doubt, please remember that all the sold invoice items should be preserved, (ie don’t delete any previous items if you fail to start a ‘New Customer’ invoice); this ensures accuracy for Steve (money reconciliation) and David (stock replenishment) when they receive their daily reports.

It also seems that souvenir sales have improved this season with some very good trip totals being achieved. With a captive audience and better presentation, we have an ideal opportunity to create more sales – the icing on top of the charter cake!

Curry Evening Trial
(Contributed by Mark Griffiths)

The first curry cruise on 20th April was a big success. The main reason was to trial a
curry service provided by the Waterwitch as a new catering option; it also proved a good opportunity for a crew get-together. Numbers were limited at 35 and all sold out within 48 hours of being advertised at the AGM!

Everyone seemed pleased with the quality of the curries; the chicken tikka makhani proved to be the favourite. There is room for improvement with the vegetarian option. The black lentil dahl was only offered so we could tick the box to provide a gluten free vegetarian choice. In future, a fourth vegetarian jalfrezi option, which is not gluten free, will also be offered.

There are some other minor adjustments which will be made. Cutlery and serviettes will be available to collect from the Waterwitch as crew arrive at the barn so tables can be set up in advance. As rice cools so quickly the curry will be served on top of the rice, therefore the heat of the curry will keep this warmer for longer.

Desserts were requested by some of you. The Waterwitch are keen to avoid supplying ice cream or chilled desserts due to strict food hygiene limitations. Serving the food half way through the trip (KJC or Barley Mow) was also suggested as opposed to at the start. This is obviously a good way to break the trip up especially as even in mid summer the return leg is nearly all in darkness with limited views out of the windows. This is certainly something we will look into.

So moving forward, the Waterwitch curries will become one of the catering options available to private charterers like the well established fish ‘n chips. It was the original intention to run public curry trips (where individuals can book direct with us); however selling food directly has presented some issues. Concerns over liability insurance, food hygiene inspections, crew training and qualification has proved to be a headache. This compares to private charterers who buy food from a third party and not directly from us.

Just a quick reminder that there is now a rubber stamp and paper on the left hand side of the galley to be used for the Waterwitch 10% discount off drinks for our passengers. They can also use the code ‘BOAT6256’. Skippers – please mention this to passengers on the PA at some point during your trip.

There are also plenty of crew discount cards still available on board also giving 10% off drinks, and also 25% off food.
(Thanks to Mark for arranging the curry evening, and the Waterwitch discounts.)

Kitty to Start her First Cruising Season
(contributed by Ian Moore)

Kitty spent the winter at Ash Lock whilst various bits of maintenance were being carried out, including producing a winter cover, an overhaul of the electrical system, better led lighting, a rudder position indicator for the wheel, and more. The wheelchair-lift has been serviced and certificated, so she is now ready to return to Woking, and her new mooring. A big vote of thanks to Dick, Graham, Martin and Derek to get us to where we are today, and also to the biggest employer in Woking for allowing us to walk across their private car park to get to the moorings when she is not in service.

She will be operating from the Town Wharf outside the WWF offices, and the trips will be about an hour’s duration. It is anticipated that a number will be in conjunction with the Lightbox, cruising down to the wharf at Monument Bridge for access to the Peace Garden on Horsell Common.
Next year, being the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Great War, will also add a degree of poignancy at the Peace Garden. In addition there are also two Bronze Age burial barrows nearby.

Bookings will be done on-line, using a separate copy of the JP booking system, and linked through the original expanded JP web pages. Currently, the schedule will include Charters on Wednesdays, and Public Trips on Saturdays & Sundays, plus bank holidays. Other dates may become available depending on demand. This is live now, thanks to Martin. See also here.

The boat will be available for crewed charter for groups of up to 12, and Society members are welcome to take advantage of this additional facility.

Committee Membership

Tim and Penny have given notice that they wish to retire at the end of the season, as other interests beckon. So we are on the lookout for volunteers to fill the gaps; Penny has handed over the publicity to Roger Stanwell, but we would like to have more help with admin – preferably from the slightly younger generation. Succession planning is a common problem with many Clubs and Societies, and it would be good not to fall into that particular trap. If you think you could help, please contact any member of the Committee.

And finally …

Below are the draft minutes of our 2017 AGM. Numbers attending were lower than in previous years, so here is what you missed!

Enjoy your boating this season.

Minutes of the Thirty-Eighth Annual General Meeting of Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd. (S&HCC Ltd.)
and
the Fourth Annual General Meeting of John Pinkerton Canal Cruises Ltd. (JPCC Ltd.)

The meeting was held at the Canal Centre, Mytchett, on Friday 10th March 2017 at 1930 hours.

Present: Directors: Dick King (Chair), Steve James (Treasurer and Secretary), Tim Cadle (Training Manager & Health & Safety), David Horwood (Bookings Manager) and David Lloydlangston (Quartermaster & Premises Licensee). Committee Members: Penny Cadle (Publicity & Website), Trevor Carter (Uniforms), Jeff Hill (Refuelling), Marion Nicholson (Cream Tea Events), Graham Nicholson (Roster Manager). Martin Leech for the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, and a total of 21 people signed an attendance sheet including those named.

1. Apologies for Absence notified:
Ron Coward, Wal Cousins, Harry Glever, Mark Griffiths (Committee Member, PBA Representative), Peter Kenaghan, Peter Wright.

2. Minutes of Thirty-Seventh Annual General Meeting of S&HCC Ltd.:

The minutes of last year’s Annual General Meeting were approved.

3. Minutes of Third Annual General Meeting of JPCC Ltd.:

The minutes of last year’s Annual General Meeting were approved.

4. Matters Arising:
There were no matters arising.

5. Directors’ Report:
The Chair confirmed that all the profits of the Companies, available for distribution, had been paid to the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society.

The Chair also confirmed that the Companies had been operated entirely by voluntary unpaid personnel and that no members of the Society, or any person connected with the management of the John Pinkerton trip boats had a salaried office, employment in the Companies or had had an interest in contracts associated with the Companies.

The Chair also thanked all the crew and skippers for their voluntary work during what was another excellent year in 2016. This was in spite of his involvement in helping to organise the Woking Festival.

6. Presentation of the Accounts:
The Treasurer, Steve James, presented the figures from the audited Reports of the Directors and Financial Statements for the year ended 31st December 2016 for operating the boats (JPII and Kitty) of the two Companies (S&HCC Ltd. and JPCC Ltd.). Attendees were provided with details of the trading and profit and loss accounts for JPCC Ltd. and S&HCC Ltd.

JPCC Ltd. Sales (charters, fares and donations) were up at £52,871 (£49,431 in 2015) partially due to 2016 being a Farnborough Airshow year. Cost of Sales (fuel & entertainment) was slightly down at £882 (£1,045 in 2015) resulting in a Gross Profit of £51,989 (£48,386 in 2015). Expenditure was higher than last year at £44,373 (£41,204 in 2015) due to the new cost of Web Ticket commission for online sales and increased repair and renewals to refurbish the new 12 seat trip boat Kitty. However the annual Donation to S&HCS (Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society) was still largely the same at £28,999 (£29,217 in 2015). Annual Depreciation of JPII and now Kitty has increased to £7,616 (£7,182 in 2015 JPII only).

S&HCC Ltd. Sales (galley sales, sales stall, donations and uniform sales) was up at £21,699 (£20,917 in 2015) while Purchases (equipment, event costs, galley supplies and merchandise costs) were down at £10,413 (£11,834 in 2015), resulting in an increase in Gross Profit at £11,286 (£9,083 in 2015). This meant that the annual Donation to S&HCS could be increased to £11,163 (£8,820 in 2015).

Steve reported that he had transferred £48,500 in cash to S&HCS for 2016 (£52,137 in £2015) but we had also paid for the purchase and refurbishment of Kitty during the year. Kitty has been added to the books as an asset of £7,000. Since 1978, 38 years of operating a trip boat, we have now transferred £760,169 to S&HCS for the upkeep of the Basingstoke Canal. Steve said he looks forward to passing the £800,000 milestone in 2017.

The 2016 accounts were unanimously accepted by the AGM attendees.

7. Composition of the JP Boat Companies Directors and Committee:

The position of Maintenance Manager and a holiday relief for the Bookings Manager are still vacant from 2016. We will also loose Penny and Tim Cadle in 2017 so the Chair is sending out a plea for volunteers to step forward into these important roles.

The S&HCC Ltd. and JPCC Ltd. Committee members are as follows:
(* indicates a Director):

Dick King* (Chair, Roster Manager & Website), Tim Cadle* (Vice Chair, Training Manager & Health and Safety), Penny Cadle (Publicity & Website), Trevor Carter (Uniforms), Peter Close (New Crew Coordination), Mark Griffiths (PBA Rep.), Jeff Hill (Refueling), David Horwood (Bookings Manager), Steve James* (Company Secretary & Treasurer), David Lloydlangston* (Quartermaster & Premises Licensee), Marion Nicholson, Graham Nicholson (Roster Manager),

8. Any other notified business:
There was no AOB.

This concluded the formal part of the Annual General Meeting
9. Presentations:

Enhanced Blue Badge Training (Tim Cadle)

The Directors, Committee and Skippers decided we needed to improve the training and standard of our operations. Blue Badge Crew should be offered an accredited first aid course and more training on handling emergencies to assist skippers and be trained to take over the operation if the skipper is incapacitated. All crew will receive regular training in helming skills and what to do in certain situations. Tim advised that we had lost two skippers for personal reasons, Peter Wright and Bob Malcolm, so before he stood down himself he would be willing to train some more skippers in the winter of 2017/18

Enhanced New Recruit Training (Peter Close)

Tim has delegated new crew coordination to Peter Close as a one point of entry for crewing on JPII or Kitty. Peter will make initial contact by email before meeting new crew on JPII for a general chat about our operation, to ascertain their level of experience and to thus assess the applicant’s suitability for training. If they are suitable but only want to volunteer on Kitty they will be passed on to Ian Moore for training. It is hoped that this system will ensure a high standard of crew.

What the Working Party has been doing (Jeff Hill)

Jeff built upon the recent excellent report from Duncan in the Basingstoke Canal News. The main focus this winter has been bank cutting between the Barley Mow and King John’s Castle. He also described plans to build a mooring at Farnborough Road to encourage canal visitors, providing temporary and even permanent residential mooring sites. The cost of this 200 metre site could be about £40,000 as a water point end electricity supple will be needed if possible.

Kitty Operations (Ian Moore)

Ian described the status of Kitty refurbishment at the Ash depot. The main challenge is finding a suitable safe mooring site in Woking. Ian has approached Capgemini who have a suitable location upstream of the Lightbox. The Lightbox museum of art, sculpture and inventions is offering their services in order to operate public trips on Kitty. Capgemini are interested and supportive but they need to carry out a risk assessment and may have to redesign the steps down to the canal from their car park. A team of people is being built up to crew Kitty and Woking Council are very supportive. Martin Leech advised that he hoped to ‘clone’ JP’s booking system so that public trips or whole boat charters could be booked online. There is no intention of providing a telephone booking system.

Curry Evenings on JPII (Dick King)

Dick reported on progress Mark Griffiths has made in negotiating with the new landlord of the Waterwitch pub to provide a discount card for drinks (-10%) and food (-25%) for crew and a code to provide a 10% discount on drinks for JPII passengers. Mark has also worked with the Waterwitch to provide the food for curry evening trips on JPII. There will be a trial run with crew families and friends to test the logistics at 1900 hours on 20th April 2017. Bookings can be made through the website for up to 35 people. There is a choice of 3 curries with rice and a poppadum. If a success, future passenger trips will be run at £9 for the curry and £10 for the trip.

Winter Maintenance (Dick King)

Dick thanked the winter maintenance work party for all their help. Main activity has resulted in:-
repainting the interior shelf around the main cabin
all the window surrounds have been fixed
the dishwasher has been returned to its original position
the chiller doors have been hung to open left and right for ease of access
the EPoS has been revamped to be more user friendly and pricing has been simplified
the souvenir display has been improved to encourage more sales– the number of souvenirs is being reduced, tea towels are displayed on laminated sheets and new postcards are available.
Dick recorded his thanks to David Jackson for providing photos for the new postcards.

10. Discussion:

It was pointed out that we sell fewer souvenirs than many other boat companies so skippers are being encouraged to mention souvenirs during their passenger briefing and all crew should encourage passengers to look at them. A book of walks along the canal is being reprinted and should be popular.

A question about cleaning JPII was answered to the effect that professional cleaning will start on 2nd April and continued for the whole season. The chair fabric would be cleaned professionally before that date.

The difficulty of navigating through the Swan Cutting was raised. Martin Leech advised that the Canal Society and the County Council engineers had met to discuss the cost of repairing the land slip before dredging can take place. Twelve metre piles will be needed to get below the slip plane which may cost £300,000 to £500,000 and result in a slightly narrower but deeper navigation. This a first estimate but as a result the work is unlikely to be done anytime soon and dredging can not take place without piling first.

11. 2017 Brochures available:
Penny Cadle handed out the 2017 ‘Cruises on the Basingstoke Canal’ brochures to meeting attendees, keeping a record of where they would be distributed to maximum effect.

Steve James
25th March 2017.

Feb 282017
 

Winter Maintenance

Early January proved too cold and/or wet for painting, but we eventually had a day’s window of fine weather at the end of February to remedy the ravages on the hull from last season. So watch the paintwork when you are on the helm, you might get handed a paintbrush if its more than a kiss!

The team continued by repainting the drinks shelf under the windows, and providing extra facilities to tidy away those items that passengers don’t need to see. There will be a few items to finish during March, but we are happy to hand JP back to the training crews for March. Give a thought to Duncan Paine, Chris Hunter, George Rhoades, Dave Foster and Jem Scott who have worked really hard through the winter to keep the boat ship-shape. They work even better on my coffee!

The annual reunion with Rob for the MCA running trial / audit is set for 10th April.

 

Training

The training sheet on the JP spreadsheet appears well populated from nearly everyone we would expect to want to crew this year. If you have not booked a slot, please do so now, as otherwise you may not be permitted to crew. The MCA requirement is for all crew to attend at least a refresher session each year.

The EPoS system has had a makeover, and internet now comes (where signal permits on the Canal) via a mobile router. A few prices have changed; some lines have been dropped, others added. There is a re-published version of the EPoS Manual on the Crew Pages, plus a hard-copy on the boat.  Following on from last year’s successful introduction, we are now in a position to take full advantage of the stock control facility offered. This will form part of the training sessions.

Annual General Meeting

Notice is Hereby Given that
The Thirty-Eighth Annual General Meeting of Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd.
And
The Fourth Annual General Meeting of the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises Ltd.

Will be held on Friday 10th March 2017
At The Canal Centre, Mytchett at 7.30pm.

Tea, Coffee, Nibbles available

AGENDA

1) Apologies for Absence
2) To approve the minutes of the 37th AGM of S&HCC Ltd
3) To approve the minutes of the 3rd AGM of JPCC Ltd
4) Matters Arising
5) Directors’ Report
6) Presentation of Accounts
7) Composition of the JP Boat Co’s Directors and Committee
8) Any other notified business

Short break for Tea, Coffee, Nibbles

9) Presentations – short information introductions, leading to –
10) Discussion
11) 2017 Brochures available

Barrier code will be emailed to all crew in the preceding week.

Deep Thought
(Contributed by Tim Cadle)

How it came to be!

As some of you will be aware, myself and Penny have sold our narrowboat and currently have a Dutch barge in build. Below is an account of my / our boating history and how we’ve got this far. Pictures of the build can be seen at deepthoughtthoughts.blogspot.com

So, its 1977, I’m 19 and in the venture scouts. Off we go on a 2 week narrowboat trip from Stenson on the Trent & Mersey canal to Llangollen & return. I fell in love with canal boating there and then!

One of the guys on the trip brought along some tapes of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ radio series; they were great, but little did I know then where this was all going to go.

So, years pass, I go on many narrowboat holidays with family and or friends, for weekends, weeks and fortnights, whatever and whenever I could. It gets to the late 90’s and I take the first step towards ownership and buy a share in the then ‘Challenger Norfolk’ syndicate, a Norton Canes 70ft traditional narrowboat, Lister engine and all. This is great, but I can’t get enough time on the boat, so a couple or so years later I buy a second share to give a lot more time and flexibility. This works.

After a while, it dawns on me that the running costs for my 1/6 share are quite high and pretty much in the ballpark of the running costs to own my boat. This, coupled with becoming a little disappointed at the attitude of one or two of the other owners, leads me to sell the shares, use some of the equity in the house, and nb Life, the Universe and Everything comes into being.

A 60ft trad style narrowboat, Price Fallows shell, fitted out by Northern Marine Services in Lymm on the Bridgewater canal. Great guys to work with, built me what I wanted and only argued when I came up with something ridiculous!

Life was handed over to me in April 2005 and of we went on many great canal adventures, one or two are blogged here: Tim’s Boating Adventures

Ok, we’re getting close now.

In 2010 my canal adventures extended to attending 2010 IWA rally at Beale Park on the River Thames near Pangbourne. Me being me, I volunteered to help out at the rally as one of the harbour masters, gives one a reason to be there. Anyway, on one of the days, the good lady (now my wife), Penny, goes wandering up to the rally site (I was on harbour master duties), upon her return she tells me that we have an appointment to see a boat. I didn’t think too much of this, she likes looking at boats, actually, so do I! So, that afternoon (I think) we both go up to the rally site and she leads me to one of the most fantastic looking boats I’ve ever seen. Yes, you’ve guessed, it was a Piper replica Dutch barge, in fact, it wasn’t just one, there we’re two of them. It being six plus years ago I can’t remember their names. I also think it was this year that I joined the crew of the ‘John Pinkerton’ on the Basingstoke canal.

Just to briefly change the subject, this was the first time we’d adventured this far South on Life and we both fell in love with the Thames, it took a bit of getting used to, but we kept coming back. I grew up in Maidenhead, my Father took me fishing there, I’ve taken my own children fishing there. It was really great to see the river from the other side, so to speak.

Right, where were we?

Ah, admiring my first Piper. Well, we duly took a look at both of them, and WOW! It was a different world, stunning from the outside and equally stunning on the inside. I wanted one.

So, there came plan number one, Penny humoured me and initially went along with the idea to sell up (the house and Life) and live on a Piper. Fuelled with much enthusiasm for this idea I / we started looking into the realities of such a plan, and to my extreme disappointment, it fairly soon became obvious that to do this, and continue working, was not practical.

So there you may think the story ends. Well, I thought that too, but, five years later while we were on a trip back from Odiham to Cropredy having attended the Magna Carta 800 years boat rally there, (we both volunteer as crew on the John Pinkerton trip boat there too, so it had been an ambition to take our own boat there) there was a moment!

I can’t remember exactly where, but we were on Life somewhere on the Thames, Windsor maybe, but I can’t be certain. I’ve no idea what put it into my head, but it suddenly occurred to me that we might be able to retire, and of course do what everyone does and downsize in house and upsize in boat!

So I verbalised this thought to Penny; although the cautious one of the team, she didn’t dismiss the plan, just made sure that when we got home (we still had a week of the trip to go) we investigated everything fully, pensions, costs, all sorts of stuff, must be the project manager in her!

So, I worked on all sorts of costing spreadsheets and a project plan, she did her best to find any shortfalls, but there didn’t seem to be any!! What was there to stop us? Well, nothing.

So, I’m not one to beat about the bush, in a matter of days we were in touch with Piper and were off to view some of their barges who’s owners were happy to show them off to us, all fairly local on the Thames. Many thanks to Calliope, Providence and Eadlin, all who took their time to let us crawl over their pride & joys. Piper hold an ‘event’ at Henley each year, we were unable to attend as we were off to Dubrovnik for a break, but there was always next year!

We also attended the Dutch Barge Association rally at Bisham Abbey (on foot). We saw more Piper’s and other barges, attended some presentations on barge type stuff and got to meet many barge owners, a pretty friendly bunch, how on Earth will I fit in?

At the end of August, we went up to Biddulph to the Piper factory, to look at what they had in production and to meet with Simon Piper to discuss what we wanted. An interesting experience, we drove up wanting a Piper 60M; we drove home not knowing what we wanted!! Simon really made us think about our reasons for wanting what we did, and made us consider other options. He introduced us to Happy Chance, a piper 49M with a guest cabin option, we decided to humour him and go take a look. After a second visit to Happy Chance, we’d decided that this was the one for us, for a whole lot of reasons and within a few days we’d sent Piper a deposit on a build slot for delivery in February 2017.

I suddenly realise that I’m learning the wrong language (I’ve been learning Spanish for 4 years and am just starting to get to grips with it). I need to learn French, so I’m booked onto the next term’s ‘French for beginners’ at college; with luck I can get 3 or 4 years in and be where I was with Spanish!!

Something that I never ever thought would happen, then happened! My pride and joy of some ten and a half years Life, the Universe and Everything was put on the market with ABNB at Crick and subsequently sold to the first people to see it. A lovely couple, Sue and Lyndon. I was pleased that the boat was going to people who would continue to appreciate and look after it.

I would also like to have a ‘coastal ICC’ This is a sort of qualification to skipper barges in Europe, I don’t really need this level, but I’m going to get it anyway. So, I pass my RYA day skipper, this is all about collision regulations, navigation, safety and all sorts of interesting boaty stuff. I will also need to pass a ‘CEVNI’ test, I’ll do this next year. And a boat handling test. I can do this at Bisham Abbey (an RYA training centre) and I’ll wait until we have Deep Thought as it will be best to learn on the boat that I’ll be in control of. We have this booked in at the end of April this year.

So we were now pretty committed to the plan and I was now boatless!

Deep Thought

Barge Deep Thought

Barge Deep Thought is born, and should you be interested we intend to spend out first 2 cruising seasons on the Thames, with maybe, excursions to the Medway and, or, the Norfolk Broads. After this (and our retirement) we will cross the channel (yes, the English one) and take a look at what the European inland waterways have to offer (quite a lot it seems). Lets hope the exit from the EU doesn’t present us with too many additional challenges.

We’re also looking forward to our first DBA rally (with a boat) The rally is at the end of May and is in the docks at Chatham.

 

 

 

 

We’ve both really enjoyed our involvement with the Canal Society (we’re both life members) and the John Pinkerton. We will continue to skipper & crew when we can during this year and next, but the current plan is to take Deep Thought to Europe in 2019 so that will curtail this involvement. We’ve both made many friends during our time with the JP operation and will always treasure this part of our lives. We wish both the Society and JP our best wishes for continued success in the coming years.

JP Responsibilities

Of course, having a new toy to play with is going to divert a large amount of both my and Penny’s time away from the JP organisation. We want to go boating with Deep Thought at all available opportunities and this will severely limit our crewing on JP. In addition to this we will both be giving up our committee duties (me as training manager and Penny as advertising & PR). I have just organised my last set of pre-season training sessions and will, should there be any candidates, train one final round of skippers during the winter season of 2017 / 2018. Penny has already resigned from her committee responsibilities.

So, the Boat Company is in need of two replacements. Please consider whether you feel you may be able to help out with either (or maybe know somebody). I’ve put a job description for each of the roles below. Remember they are kind of management roles so you don’t necessarily have to do everything yourself, just try your best to make sure it gets done!

Training Manager (Could be shared)

Organise pre-season refresher training
Assist ‘new-volunteers officer’ with training of new volunteers
Arrange specialist training (eg first aid) as required
Arrange training of new skippers for BML
Liaise with committee and skippers to assess standard of crew training
Maintain records of training for MCA inspection

Advertising & Publicity Officer

Update display boards for the libraries
Organise library displays, deliver / collect and set up, Aldershot, Fleet, Basingstoke, Farnborough etc
Updating and monitoring JP Facebook page, adding events
Responding to social media queries
Website – adding new pages to the JP website
Being members of local Facebook groups and advertising weekly or fortnightly as required, Responding to requests for venues and gifts, and things to do.
Look for  and use other free advertising opportunities, where to go etc
Booking bands and fish and chips for the music trips
Deliver brochures to uncovered libraries and other locations.

Waterwitch – Crew and Passenger Discounts
(Contributed by Mark Griffiths)

The Waterwitch is under new management, and have offered all JP crew members a discount card which entitles them to a generous discount on drinks and food. Cards will be left on the boat for you to pick up at your leisure, but please remember these are for JP crew members only and are non-transferrable. The Waterwitch will be carrying out random spot checks from a list of current crew members.

The pub is also offering a 10% discount on drinks for our passengers. This will be by either  presenting a stamped piece of paper (rubber stamp, ink and memo paper appearing shortly onboard) OR by stating the discount code BOAT6256. Skippers please remember to incorporate this into one of your PAs.

New Curry Trips

As part of our new partnership with the Waterwitch we are also hoping to begin some curry cruises. The pub will be supplying the food which will be kept simple with 3 curry options along with rice and a poppadom. Once passengers have boarded as usual at the Colt Hill Wharf, we will then move JP back to the barn mooring where the food will be delivered by the pub.

As per the fish’n chip trips, crew will receive a complimentary curry and we will also be limiting passenger numbers to 35. All rubbish will be removed by the pub on our return.

As you can no doubt imagine, there are bound to be some teething problems with this new concept. We are proposing a trial run for crew members and their families in April (date to be announced). A separate email will be sent in early March detailing the date, menu choices and a discounted price for the trial run. With a maximum of 35 passengers we are expecting this will sell out quickly, so be sure to look out for that email!

If anyone has any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to email Mark. (markgriffiths48@hotmail.com)

And finally….

Let’s look forward to another great season enjoying boating, ensuring our passengers have a fabulous time, and all the while supporting the aims of The Basingstoke Canal Society.

 Last updated by on 28 February, 2017
Dec 142016
 

Seasons greetings to all crew and their families and friends.

And apologies for the dearth of Pink’s Progress over the latter part of the 2016 season, due in part to other events, and part to the apparent lack of special news whilst the crew simply got on with the job.

The Committee again express thanks to all of you for another season successfully completed. We continually wonder at the amount of time that volunteers give up to ensure others gain pleasure from their efforts. Even the BCA are now recognising that the ‘volunteer-hours’ total is worthy of recording more accurately to reflect the true picture – perhaps something associated with any future plans for the Canal.

Crew Recruiting & Training

Crew numbers have held up well over the year, boosted by the influx following the Farnham ‘Refreshers’ Seminar’ for recently retired folk. In fact we did so well from this, we agreed to repeat the exercise again in 2017; the date is 27th February. If you are free to help for an hour or two, please contact Penny, (penny.c@btopenworld.com, 07725 956936).

We were rather unprepared to implement the training required for the extra numbers, so have planned for a better outcome this year. Peter Close has volunteered to select suitable applicants and ensure they receive appropriate training before the season starts. In fact if you know people who may wish to crew, please let him know as the first point of contact. (wellingtonias@gmail.com, 07885 372163)

Ideas for improvement in working practices often come through the Committee, but recently we received feedback from a few crew members. Discussions with them, followed by an end-of-season Skippers Meeting produced some positive thoughts on our current requirements for competence and training. Based on the premise that ‘more is better’, we canvassed Blue Badge holders, and a few others, to gauge reaction to enhanced training, covering such items as First Aid, aiding a skipper in emergency situations, boat systems, etc. Incidentally, this would bring the JP operation more into line with other similar operations, but without including many of the restrictions imposed by them. We were delighted when the vast majority accepted the challenge; the couple who declined were anticipating hanging up their tiller pins for other reasons anyway. We were also delighted that 100% of skippers attended their meeting – probably another first!

So training next year will be split into several types of sessions, focusing on the practical side of on-board emergencies, and our galley point-of-sale system. Sessions are likely to last up to 6 hours, with a break for lunch. Dates are now displayed on the web spreadsheet under the Training Tab.

First Aid Training: To include Skippers and Blue Badge.
Blue Badge Training: Enhanced training sessions, static.
Crew Refresher Training: Required for all crew not doing above training, static, max 5 per session.
Steering Practice: Voluntary attendance for those wanting to brush up on boating / helming techniques, max 2 per session. You may attend more than one session, more will be arranged if there is a demand.

Please let Tim know which date(s) you wish to book, (t.cadle@btinternet.com, 07795 956936).

2016 Season Report

For those who like to compare statistics, a summary of trips from the JP log book showed trip numbers as:

Charters 138
Public 42
Theme 10
Training 19
Members 6 (to be called Volunteers in future!)
Transit 16
Air Charter 5 (week charter)
PAYG water-bus 1 (Flags over Odiham weekend)
Skippers Exam 1

Total passengers carried (excl training) 8076.

Final figures are still awaited, but preliminary results show the JP has again raised funds for the Canal of around the £50,000 mark. It is rewarding to realise that this seems to be repeated annually, as its the largest contribution made to the maintenance of the Canal by volunteers. It involved over 80 members of the Society, many on a regular basis. The list of trips completed by members as recorded in the log is tabled in this link: Crew Trips_2016

 

Winter Maintenance

The winter maintenance crew took over the boat in early November, and have already completed several tasks. The errant window frames have been tamed with firm screw fixings, and repairs made where necessary. In the galley the bottle chillers now have left-hand hinges on the doors, allowing a second galley person to serve the contents more easily. Provision of a wine rack to replace that used for boxes means that transition to the more passenger friendly experience of bottled wine is now complete. The glass washer returns to a more accessible location.

Cold Morning for Maintenance!

 

Thanks go to Duncan Paine, Chris Hunter, George Rhoades, Dave Foster and new member Jem Scott who have formed a fabulous work team.
Early December, with ice on the canal, even our dehumidifier had to be defrosted!

 

Painting will have to wait for some warmer times next year!

 

 

Galley Stock & Souvenirs

The electronic point of sale system has undergone a make-over by replacing the date-expired hard drive with a solid state drive, thus aiding reliability and providing greater speed. Tweaks to the screen display should add to the clarity, and additional entry features – entry of mixers with spirits – should reduce the time spent entering. And finally there will be internet connection to ensure requests for replenishment stock and sales figures are passed immediately, and automatically, to David and Steve on their home computers. Similarly, David can input bought stock directly from his desk!
I hope I’m not tempting fate, but each component bit has tested working ok; just need the final link!

Incidentally, most improvements come about by crew experience during this year. If you have a pet hate (no Peter, not the system!) please let me know; maybe we can incorporate an improvement.

Extra training will be included during our March sessions to ensure everybody is comfortable with the PoS operation, as with your help entering sales, we now have the ability to have much more precise control over re-stocking for no more effort.

We have taken a look at rationalising the vast range of souvenir stock; last year we had over 60 lines listed. Many lines are no longer available from suppliers, so we are returning some of these to Denise for sale on the Society stall, where they apparently sell better. The rest will be reduced gradually by offering promotions to clear.

We would like to introduce some new lines based on photographs of JPII; however, we are having a problem in finding suitable ones. From a graphic-designer’s point of view, mid-summer time produces the best balance of greens (boat & foliage). So if anybody has some pics, and would like to offer them for use, please contact me. Specifically, we need pics of JP (with happy smiling faces!), boats, local features or canal landscapes for use on postcards and other material.

Otherwise, we’ll need to run a Photographic Competition next year!

New Boat Kitty

As anyone who has explored our website recently will note, it looks as though Kitty will be in operation next year running trips on the Woking pound. Negotiations are ongoing with the Lightbox, but things are looking positive. The JP committee were adamant that they had enough to do managing the JP, and wanted a second committee to manage Kitty. It is therefore pleasing to note there is now a steering group in existence under Ian Moore – one of our most experienced organisers, so the project stands an excellent chance of success. Its first ‘charter’ following Woking Canal Festival was Monday 12th Dec, when it ran two trips from Runways End as an ‘experience day’ for their staff.
Although no money changed hands, we believe we have banked some goodwill for Canal work parties.
A separate work party will attend to various maintenance tasks over the winter at Ash Lock. Thanks go to Graham Deavin for sourcing a winter cover to preserve the aft deck.

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR.

 Last updated by on 14 December, 2016
Jun 232016
 

Now that the noise generated by the referendum will shortly die down, let’s hope that the thunderstorms of last night will also die down and let summer begin in earnest. July is packed with trips for all crew to enjoy, followed by the Woking Canal Festival in early August to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Society. It coincides with the 25th anniversary of the re-opening of the Basingstoke Canal after restoration driven by Society members, who persuaded the current owners Hampshire & Surrey County Councils to take it on. Let’s celebrate the marvellous facility in its present glory.

Recent Appointments

As will have been seen in May’s Pinkerton’s Progress, Tim has had to reduce his time for volunteering due to pressure of work. We are pleased to announce that Peter Close has taken on the role of looking after new recruits to the crew. He has said he will meet people on the boat, show them round, assess and give initial training to ensure that the safety of the operation is not compromised. On-board in-service training will continue under skippers as previously.

The supervision of regular servicing – pump-out and watering – has been taken on by Derek Taylor. There will be an initial handover session organised by Tim on 30th June at 7.00pm, and anybody who would like to help or gain more knowledge of the boat is welcome to come along and ask questions. You never know what tasks you just might need to know how to do; it might even help you learn new techniques for your own boat!

Thank you both.

Also congratulations to new skippers Chris Hunter and Ken Sankey, who have both completed maiden trips in their new roles during June.

Safety Reminder

Looking round the boat recently, it is apparent that minor bumps and scrapes are again on the increase after previous successes following winter training. This, unfortunately, also includes some not so minor! Now, whilst accepting some errors may be inevitable, control of the boat is down to the helm to drive with care and consideration for our passengers, and the boat; sudden changes in direction by contact with hazards is not good for that glass of wine, nor for the comfort and safety of passengers.

Within JP, we have built up a system of rewarding competent crew the distinction of holding a Blue badge, but with it must come that little bit of extra responsibility. We expect – no require – novice helms to be supervised for safety, and supervising Blue badge holders should be prepared to help a busy skipper by ensuring that corrective action, where necessary, is taken in good time. The original scheme also included a test of competence to deal with emergencies.

The recent decision that disembarking crew should use the aft deck, and not the bow, seems to have caused some doubt as to how this can be achieved. There is a description of method for coming alongside the wharf in the Boat Manual, but a recap here may be beneficial. The secret to success is control of speed; far too many approach at warp speed 10, and expect to come to a stop by throwing the prop into reverse. The boat weighs 30 tonnes, and takes time to slow, and if you are aiming at the bank, the bow simply slides down the bank causing damage to paintwork – as witnessed by the marks on the bow! Aim for the bank opposite a mooring bollard, but at a very low speed. Anticipate to stop short of the bank.
Then a short burst of forward with tiller pointing towards the bank will drive the stern in for crew to disembark. Try it!
The bowman can help by an accurate two-handed ‘hoopla’ throw of the front rope from the bow over the bollard, which may save a walk from the stern! Something well worth practising!

Patrol Boat

The BCA have started to schedule regular visits to all parts of the canal by the newly refurbished patrol boat. The Hampshire pound is due for a visit in early July, so as well as a number of visiting boats, you may well see her on trips soon. She is manned by volunteers – some of them JP crew – so give them a wave! Her main duty is as a presence to inform, and discourage anti-social behaviour, but she will have other duties as well.

Woking Canal Festival

woking_canal_festival_logo_300pxAs mentioned in the foreword, 6th and 7th August are the days for the Woking Canal Festival. This is probably the biggest event run by the Society for many years, with about 50 – 60 boats expected on the canal. Each day will include a parade by working boats from the Historic Narrow Boat Club starting at 10am. There will be a commentary at Bedser Bridge in Woking describing each boat as it passes; something well worth a visit. The main events on the Brookhouse Common site start at 11am. More information can be found here as it becomes available.

Woking Borough Council are very hot on safety requirements – rather like the MCA with their paperwork – and we do have to satisfy them before they will allow the event to run. To tick the right boxes, we need volunteers to ensure the safety of visitors, provide information points, and others just to help set up, move things around etc. Following appeals in BCN and the Bulletin, we have a number already available to help, but we are still very short of the required number. This is an urgent appeal for help on either 6th or 7th, or both.  We need to fill morning and afternoon shifts, with some of the more onerous tasks reduced to 2 hours to allow for a change of scenery. As well as helping, you will be able to have a good look round the attractions; so if you intend coming anyway, please give a thought to helping the Society for a few hours. There are a few vacancies for helping to crew our new passenger boat Kitty working as a water-bus, and to organise the queues waiting for a trip.
If you are available on Friday 5th to help set up, that would also be appreciated!
Please drop me an email (wcf2016@btinternet.com) or telephone. (01730 264178)
There could even be a free T-shirt in it for you!

Canal Society Celebration Party

And don’t forget the Canal Society Celebration Party to be held at 5.30pm on Saturday evening; light refreshments and Anniversary Cake available. Already several crew members from the past have booked in to come; let’s give them a great JP welcome!

And if you book in advance (as above) a free copy of the Anniversary booklet will be reserved specially for you.

And to round off the whole event, are there any members willing to form a quiz team (4 – 6) to enter into the HNBC’s quiz on Sunday evening? Good general canal knowledge will be an essential!

And finally….

My personal thanks to Graham Nicholson for offering to take over the JP roster management for July to allow me to concentrate on the Woking Canal Festival.

Hope to see you there!

 Last updated by on 23 June, 2016
May 262016
 

The start to this season has produced a month of May unlike many preceding years. The warm sunny days normally heralding summer appear to have been alternately warm and bitterly cold. A very active month however, starting with a fabulous customer-designated ‘Pirate Fancy Dress’ cruise, a popular ‘Cream Tea’ theme cruise, charter numbers building nicely, and the delivery of a second passenger boat to the Society.

The Motley Crew

The Motley Crew

The charterer from the first provided some mood-setting photos for our JP Facebook; it was a hilarious trip, much enjoyed by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farnborough Air Show Week

You may be aware from recent press items that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are imposing additional safety precautions for future air shows, following the disaster at the Shoreham Air Show last year. As a result, the Farnborough Air Show is being required to close off an area under the flight path from the end of the runway while the air displays are in progress; this includes the Basingstoke Canal and towpath between Norris Bridge and Eelmoor Bridge, as well as the roads round about.

Fortunately, the usual wharf at Runways End where we moor is just outside, so we can still run the charter and public trips as planned. The public trips will have to start earlier at 9.30am, and all depart from Fox & Hounds, Fleet. Bookings have been coming in on-line, so if you want to go, don’t leave it too late! The downside is that there will be more boats wanting to moor in a smaller space, so we may have to have an army of volunteers to reserve JP’s space! Hopefully the BCA will resolve the problem before ‘poles at dawn!’.

For the Charter trips, we will be operating with a Liaison Officer, skipper and one other crew, as there is generally little to do for most of the day.

Whilst discussing this event with Farnborough International, we were offered a valuable reduction for any member wanting to go into the exhibition. We can supply tickets at £32 (cf £40 normally). If you are on the boat, entrance would be via the gate adjacent to Claycart Bridge, which is 400m walk from the main public exhibition. If you are interested in this special offer, whether you have booked on the boat, or wish to make your own way there, please email your interest to the jpcrew address as soon as possible (before 6th Jun). Payment required up front, preferably by cash / BACs, once we have established uptake.

JPPC May Committee Meeting Report

Two keen members volunteered at the JP AGM to join the hard-working committee, so we were extremely pleased to welcome Peter Close and Marion Nicholson – thank you both.

Both future bookings and finance reports showed a healthy position, so all crew will be fully employed for the rest of the season – regret we can’t offer a pay rise in these austere times!

The recently introduced Epos system on the boat appears to be working well, and most crew are becoming accustomed in its use. As we gather more information, we are able to add improvements, and the latest suggestion was for a complimentary entry so that accounting for freebie stock was recorded without adding in the cost.

As a reminder, crew can avail themselves of tea, coffee, chocolate drinks without limit (these do not need Epos entry) and on longer trips, snacks which should be recorded. Likewise, recording of freebies for charterer anniversaries would be appreciated. (This can be done in the entry sequence providing you use the ‘Multiple Sale’ icon; else there is an icon at the bottom of the Home Invoice page.)

A further update included the direct selection of a chosen souvenir item by using the reference number from the display cabinet.

Tim was able to report the successful addition of two new skippers on the crew. Congratulations to Chris Hunter and Ken Sankey on passing the MCA exam; training is done over a winter, but very satisfying to complete. Thanks to Tim for maintaining the JP’s 100% pass rate in an exam which nationally achieves less than 50%! A new course is anticipated for winter 2017/8.

The committee engaged a cleaning company to keep the JP in tip-top condition throughout the season, so we hope you can all see an improvement in standard. If you have any concerns, please let a committee member know.

Many of you know that Tim is not yet of the ‘retired brigade’, and recently has found difficulty in splitting his time between work and JP, so would like to reduce some of his duties.
He will continue as Training Manager, but is there anybody out there who would be interested in helping with either of the following roles?

Service Manager

Duties involve ensuring the the boat’s water tank is filled and holding tank is emptied. This needs to be done every 1 to 2 weeks during the season and is vital to the continued success of our operation. Full training will be given. If you are not prepared to manage, but are willing to assist on a regular basis that would also be very useful.

New Volunteers Coordinator

Duties involve initial contact with potential new crew members to explain who we are and what we do, with the objective of getting them totally hooked into crewing on the JP. This is usually done on our Monthly members trips held on Monday evenings. Again, full training will be given.
Would anyone interested in either role please contact Tim on 07795 956936 / t.cadle@btinternet.com

Maintenance Manager

And whilst we are advertising, we would welcome a volunteer to oversee the maintenance schedule. Contact jpcrew.

Society Buys a Second Passenger Boat

Kitty ( previously Egremont) lifted out at Chichester Basin.

Kitty ( previously Egremont) lifted out at Chichester Basin.

The Bulletin broke the story earlier this month that the Chichester Ship Canal Trust were disposing of their 12-seater trip boat, and which now is owned by JPCC on behalf of the Society. Several names had been proposed in response to Martin’s appeal, and members at the BCS AGM were very positive in the suggestion to rename her Kitty. For those of you who haven’t attended one of Roger Cansdale’s history talks, Kitty was the name of one of the barge horses, seen in photos with Mark Hicks, the lengthsman at the time. He is recorded in the Guiness Book of Records as having the longest recorded service in one job! Kitty was also used to take children on trips on the Canal in the time that Joan Marshall (our joint President Liz’s mother) was owner of the canal, and to tow the family caravan on holidays to the New Forest.

The immediate plan is to re-survey the bottom, carry out any required remedial work, and bring her to the Basingstoke Canal. Her first outing is hoped to be acting as a water-bus at the Woking Canal Festival in August. We would like to form a separate group of members to organise its further use as a trip boat in Woking, so would anybody interested in this project, please volunteer, and let us know. There are several jobs needed to be filled to make it all work, and there is plenty of advice and experience available to get you going.
This would mean that each main segment of the Canal will be served by a trip boat, maximising interest in boating and fund-raising. But essentially, we now need a working group to take on the organisation. Please let Martin know if you would like to be considered.

 

Delivering Customer Service – Part 2

By Alan Norris

Following my comments in the April Pinkerton’s Progress on the JP seating layouts, this month we cover other aspects of improving customer service. I prepared a short presentation on Delivering Customer Service, which was given at a skippers’ meeting in March. Unfortunately at the Boat company AGM there wasn’t time to repeat this for other crew members present.
Drawing on a recent presentation on Delivering Customer Service at St Pancras International station I gave some thought to how our customer service on John Pinkerton could be improved. The key points from the St Pancras presentation were:
Knowing your Customer
Working Together
Details make a difference

Applying these points to the John Pinkerton II and our customers:
Our customers can typically be categorised as:
Small groups on public trips
Theme trips – children and their parents
Theme trips – adults (jazz and ale, cream teas)
Family celebrations – birthdays, anniversaries
Local groups / societies
Schools / youth organisations
Coach parties (longer distance)
Office / business groups / Airshow charters.

Each category has similar but different needs and the approach should be tailored to suit their needs and expectations. But for all our trips:

A trip on John Pinkerton II is a SPECIAL trip for ALL of our passengers.

What do our passengers / customers expect?

A friendly welcome
A clean and tidy boat
Competent, knowledgeable and helpful crew
Be informed – where we are going – when due back
Be told about the canal and JP history
Be served with refreshments promptly / efficiently
Go home after an enjoyable trip knowing more about the canal and JP than before.

Let’s look at some of these points in more detail. Some of the comments are already put into practice by skippers and crew, but not universally.

A friendly welcome:
The skipper can make contact with the hirer before the trip – either by e-mail or phone to check arrangements and any special requirements. (This is not practicable for coach party charters.)
Don’t keep passengers waiting unnecessarily before boarding.
Help passengers when coming on board, with the crew located at key positions on the boat.
For a coach party – go and welcome the passengers before they leave the coach. Ask to use the coach P A, and think of some appropriate humour to include in the welcome.

Competent, knowledgeable and helpful crew:
The ‘spare’ crew member can walk through the cabin checking that passengers are happy and contented, answering their questions, but not being intrusive where groups of passengers are in conversation.
Being friendly, polite and cheerful (which is stating the obvious!).
Collecting empty mugs, glasses, bottles, etc. regularly.
Offering to help to serve refreshments (cream teas, fish and chips, etc.).

Keeping our passengers informed:
Many of our customers send David Horwood a complimentary message after their trip, and he shares these with the crew members involved. Some passengers post their comments, again mostly complimentary, on Trip Advisor. But one slightly critical comment from a passenger on a public trip was posted on Trip Advisor in August 2015:

Skipper gave little talk but a running commentary of the history of the barge, John Pinkerton and the refurbishment and clearing of the canal from the beginning, also the Castle and the lift bridge would have been good.

Taking this comment on board (no pun intended!) it is recommended that some planned PA announcements and commentary are made during the cruise:

Skipper’s welcome and safety briefing (which is mandatory).
At halfway on cruise shortly before winding.
About 15 minutes before arrival, but earlier for coach parties (much use of the toilet!)
Just before arriving back – thanks for coming, etc.

For many of our passengers it will be their first time on the John Pinkerton and they will know nothing or very little about the Basingstoke Canal. They will expect to have a commentary about the canal, the boat and where they are going and when due back. On trips to King John’s Castle tell passengers about the castle and its history shortly before arrival.
A series of laminated cards has been prepared as an aide memoire when giving a commentary. These cover the following topics:

John Pinkerton II – about the boat
History of Basingstoke Canal (3 cards)
Where the Basingstoke Canal goes
Basingstoke Canal – Now (2 cards)
Odiham /King John’s Castle – history (2 cards)

These cards should be used as a routine for giving a commentary on public trips and coach party charter trips. For other charter trips ask the party leader if their party would like to hear a brief commentary about the canal.

Details make a difference:
Think about the details for the cruise beforehand and discuss / agree in the skipper’s briefing with the crew. These could make a significant difference in creating a memorable cruise for our passengers. The extent of implementing any of the following points will depend on who are our passengers, i.e. knowing our customers.

‘Reserved’ card on seats / tables for pre-booked groups on public trips so that the group can sit together. (‘Reserved’ labels with the lead name of the group are used on theme trips.)

Selling Canal / JP booklets etc. to passengers. Walk through the cabin with the new canal guide book.

Have a roll of food bags available in the galley for passengers to use if they need to take away left-over food. They are also useful for protecting any souvenirs sold. (There used to be some small paper bags kept in the galley for souvenir sales.)

Give a small gift (e.g. JP coaster) for special birthday / anniversary passengers. (Some skippers already do this – it generates goodwill and the value of the gift is often repaid in donations.)

If the crew is offered food by the hirer, thank them in the skipper’s closing comments.

On warm sunny days set up the tables for food on the shaded side of the boat (depending on the direction of cruise) to avoid food heating up in the sun. Put cream and other perishable food in the fridge, even if this means temporarily removing some chilled drinks.

Invite a child (or perhaps an adult) to operate the lift bridge under supervision (i.e. pressing the buttons), but ensure that a responsible adult goes with them.

Can you think of anything else which could make a difference on a trip to improve customer service? Or any other JP topic, just email it in.

And finally…

A reminder that JP Crew pages on Facebook are for internal musings amongst the crew. The first year saw some useful tips as well as some more inane remarks. Perhaps the standard of the latter will improve if more join and get involved. We strive to make changes for the mutual benefit of all, but many originate from suggestions from crew members. This must surely be one of the modern ways of communicating!

Congratulations to crew members Ian Johnson and Janet Quinnell who got married recently. Good to see you will both be out crewing in June.

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