Kidderminster Trip Day 3 – a technical perspective
Travelling through the 1.66 mile long Harecastle tunnel was an experience. We had been warned to go quickly by the attendant, and that most people with new boats go too slowly and end up zigzagging, hitting the walls and scratching their paint. I took the man seriously and took my first opportunity to see just how much power we have from out electric motor tried to see just how much power our boat has, my first opportunity.
We travelled through the tunnel in exactly 30 minutes at 580RPM, at 147 amps, (7.5kW). In total we used 73.5AH (3.7kW hrs) traveling through the tunnel at an average speed of 3.3MPH. That is the equivalent of less than 1.25 litres of diesel or 89p at the price we pay.
I was pleased with this because we were told that the normal time to do the tunnel is 40 minutes and we did it in 30 minutes. Apparently one boat the day before 1 hour 15 minutes.
We travelled from the tunnel to Stoke at high speed because the canals were wide, deep and with very few boats allowing me to test how well the boat performed in wider canals, at higher speed. The boat handled well and I had plenty of extra power in reserve.
Distance cruised – 15.3 miles
Locks – 11
Tunnel – 2,675m
Cruising time – 8 Hrs 40 mins
Battery used – 358 Amp Hours (33%)
Power used – 18.6 kW hrs
Average speed – 1.8 MPH
Kidderminster trip day 3
So much for me getting an extra long lie in after all those locks on Saturday, Eric was keen to get going in case there was a queue for the tunnel. But it was a lovely day and we were feeling adventurous so I didn’t mind.
Our first encounter was the stop lock at the bottom of the Macc that re-levelled us onto the Trent and Mersy canal. Stop locks were originally built by rival canal companies to stop the loss of water from one canal to the other.
The Harecastle tunnel is only a short distance after the junction and there was only one boat ahead of us, which meant we could go through together. I was very impressed by the ‘system’. There are tunnel keepers at either end and they come to speak to each boat individually to assess our abilities and give advice about safety etc. If we got into trouble we were to sound our horn every 30 seconds until we heard them respond however our horn isn’t loud enough so we were issued with a portable horn that we had to hand back at the other side. We also decided that this would be an apt occassion to wear our bouancy aids for the first time.
It was cold dark and drippy in the tunnel, it’s 1.6 miles long but following their advise not to go slowly, Eric put Firecrest through her paces and we got through in 30 minutes, not bad for tunnel newbies.
After the tunnel we sauntered through Etruria where there was a festival going on with hundreds of people but of course we handled the locks like old pros.
The urban jungle of Stoke assaulted our senses and we hurried on in search of greener pastures.
We ended the night in Stone sharing our mooring with a family of swans. Mum and Dad were very proud to show off their cygnets and take the porridge oats I threw for them.