30 September 2011
The Cat’s Whiskers is afloat – launched yesterday morning in the Erewash Canal on one of the hottest days of the year.
I had a break from my duties at the St Albans Beer Festival and was up at 5am to catch the three trains I needed to get to Long Eaton for 10am. Normally, I would have travelled into London and caught a direct train from St Pancras, but my trusty senior railcard, doesn’t give me that luxury at that time of day.
Carrying my trusty Brompton fold-up bike, I pedalled down the Erewash Canal from the railway station the short distance to Trent Lock, and what a lovely ride. The mist was just clearing from the water and the sun shone brilliantly. Can’t wait to experience this on the water. Mick picked me up and took me back to where I had started pedalling, to a boatyard they often use for launching in Long Eaton, that has a slipway.
On arrival, everything was in place. The owner (Paul) was prepared, the crane turned up on time and then, 15 minutes later, so did the low loader with the Cat’s Whiskers on the back, now with a coat of holding primer and some stern gear fitted.
The low loader backed into the yard and after some adjustments with the slings up she went. Not as far in the air as I have seen some boats suspended, but still high enough for a small level of concern. Paul from the boatyard backed his slipway trailer underneath and the crane dropped her back down on to it. Then, all Paul had to do was to back her down the slipway, until she floated.
From the nearby bridge, Jan and Dai, from Kingfisher’s last custom build, shouted out to me “Exciting, isn’t it”? I think I felt more relief than excitement. We had waited for this day for nearly a year, and not a day had gone by, when I hadn’t thought about the launch, how it might go, and how she would look in the water.
Mick and John, then tied her to Jandai, becoming effectively a butty, and she towed us down the cut to Trent Lock, her home for the next six months. It was good to see Jan and Dai again – we seem to keep bumping into them and it was good to have a look at their solar array on the roof of Jandai, now they have had it a month or so. They are mooring at Trent Lock for a while. It was also kind of neat that the last custom-built boat the Kingfisher boys had built, had now helped pull their newest boat.
And that was that. After a chat about real ale and cider, I was back on my bike, up the tow path and wending my way, back south again. Next time we see her, she should be sporting her cruising colours.