Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Fotheringay and Ashton

Surviving the lightning strikes we - and our wives - took a leisurely two days down stream from Oundle to Fotheringay and back via Ashton.
Though too hot at times this was a relaxed trip, being not very far along the beautiful winding river Nene punctuated with meals at The Falcon, Fotheringay, and The Chequered Skipper at Ashton. Both have been mentioned on earlier blogs, for example here, so I won't repeat myself, but I'll take the opportunity to feature a photograph of The Chequered Skipper ...
and feature our wives relaxing at Fotheringay
Only one other thing worth noting. An elderly chap at Ashton lock had screwed a small winch handle to the large wheels that raise and lower the guillotines at the non-electrified locks on the Nene. Apparently this used to be the way EA staff operated the guillotines some years ago. Nowadays they use battery drills with a fitting to match the boss in the centre of the wheel. The small winch handle had been taken off because of the risk of it catching someone's arm as it sped around - however the screw holes remain and this fellow had fitted an old handle to speed up the guillotine, and was in the process of removing it when I arrived.
Given that it's not legal and could be dangerous, and that you're unlikely to be able to lay your hands on one, and that the time taken to screw it on and unscrew it again more than made up for the time saved in raising the guillotine, it's not something to be recommended. But look out for the remaining little screw holes. They're a curiosity.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lightning strikes

Still at home but preparing to get back on Patience, there were massive local and long lasting lightning strikes which kept us awake and were very close indeed!
Of course it's common to say that the odds of being struck by lightning are low, but years ago a house I was in (and on the top floor at the time) was struck by lightning and I saw the wood splinters and debris falling past my window, leaving a jagged line on the glass. Since then I've sometimes wondered whether my odds of being hit have narrowed or not.
Anyway, there I was, grateful I wasn't lying in Patience with water and thunder and lightning all around me, but trying to remember whether a narrow boat is a Faraday Cage or not and whether I dare touch the metal window frame.

Now, scanning the forums, I see that the odds of being hit in a narrow boat are very low. Ships at sea are frequently hit, but then they may be the only thing above sea level for many miles. Narrow boats are generally at a low level in cuts and on rivers where trees are far more likely to take the strike. In fact the danger there is more being hit by a smoking branch than the lightning itself!
So the odds are low. If you are struck it's almost sure that you'll be protected by the Faraday Cage effect. If moored up (and who'd want to be under way when there's lightning about?) try to be fairly near - but not under - trees. Minimise the slight risk by taking down or at least disconnecting a TV aerial so any charge doesn't fry your TV on the way out. Avoid use of umbrellas, especially where clamped to the superstructure, whose metal points can attract a charge.
But sleep tight. For a narrow boat on UK waterways, as Macbeth would have observed, lightning storms are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.