Thursday 27th May
A frenzy (maybe a slight exaggeration?) of cleaning and tidying was the order of the day! Finally – after months of lockdown – today was the day we were finally going to see my brother. He was supposed to have come for Christmas but lockdown had put an end to that plan. But at last the day had arrived. Bruce and our nephew Lenny were coming for a two night stay.
They arrived about about 19:30, having picked up our Fish and Chips order from Queen’s fish bar on the way. I suspect there had been some snacking in the car, as neither were that hungry. We had a quick catch up and got the car all unpacked, ready for the off the next morning.
We opened our very much belated Christmas presents – a stove top percolator and water jug for me and a sweatshirt for Paul – and then it was time for bed, adopting the same bedtime routine as we had with our previous guests.
Friday 28th May
We were up reasonably early, allowing time for the chaps to pop in to Waitrose and pick up our last Alex Gooch sourdough for some months, for our breakfast. It was nice to be with Bruce on what would have been our Mum’s 89th birthday, bless her.
We were off down to Worcester to be ready for the event in which we were taking part the next day. Luckily this week, there were no delays and we made it down to Worcester in good time, with Bruce and Lenny doing sterling work on the 17 locks.
We stopped off at Lowesmoor Wharf on the way down, to top up our diesel (under 10 Litres) prior to heading into Diglis Basin. As we approached the first of the Diglis locks we saw our cousin Jonathon, who lives in one of the lovely apartments overlooking the basin. He had just had a gruelling 5 hour drive from Devon, where he had been holidaying. We exchanged a few words and then pressed on. We’ll catch up another time.
Our planned mooring spot for the night was at the “Worcester Trip Boat Moorings” near Croft Road car park. The river is a good place to learn to steer and so we let Lenny have a turn at the tiller, which I think he really enjoyed. We powered up river and saw that our friend Roy Smith had already moored up. There was still plenty of room for us, even though places to actually tie ropes to were rather sparse This was where the event would start from, tomorrow.
We had a quick supper and then Bruce and Paul went off to The Anchor in Diglis Basin to meet the crews from all the other boats taking part for a drink and a chat about the day to come. I stayed behind and spent some time with Lenny, playing cards and games until his bedtime. It was so lovely to see him and spend some quality time with him after such a long time, thanks to Covid.
The boys rocked up a while later and we agreed that we needed to set alarms at 7 to be ready for the Breakfast Briefing, scheduled for 08:00 the following morning.
Saturday 29th May
The day of the event! And a bit drizzly! But a gathering of Ortomarine boats of varying shapes, specs and sizes. The intention of the day was to pit one boat against another and collect stats about performance. This unique event was the first of its kind, to our knowledge and was the brainchild of Ortomarine whizz kids, Caroline Badger and Rob Howdle. The Ortomarine “Electric Propulsion Trials Event” saw a small flotilla of eight boats gather in Worcester.
There were 3 diesel boats. The first “Here We Go Again” was the benchmark boat (and actually the first private boat that Ortomarine ever built). Owned by Roy Smith, whose brief was to “cruise normally”. Another – Oyster Moon – was helmed by Ortomarine’s Paul Weaver, running with HVO in the fuel tank and the third, Mokoro, owned by Guy and Sally Campbell was required to cruise as conservatively as possible – switching off the engine in locks and so forth. HVO, by the way, is “Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil” – which is a greener diesel substitute. More info here.
Next were the “parallel” hybrid boats. These boats have both a diesel and an electric engine, either of which can propel the boat. The first of these was Stannator, owned by Andrew Ford and the other was Mordiford Dragon, owned by Rob and Karen Barker.
And finally the “serial” hybrids, Phil and Mel Woods’ Hunky Dory, with its Bellmarine electric engine, Perseverance with its Tema electric engine – owned by Dave and Roma Jesse, and the newest boat in the flotilla. And last, but by no means least (because it’s ours!) Old Nick with its brand new Vetus E-Line engine.
We all assembled at 08:00, in the drizzle, for bacon, sausage and vegetarian sarnies (from Cafe Viaduct and delicious with masses of filling) and a briefing about the day, given by Paul. Also attending were a selection of waterways journos, vlogger David Johns (Cruising the Cut), representatives from the Electric Boat Association, the IWA, Crown Oil (who distribute HVO) and more.
And then it was time for the off! And what a sight it was! We all moved off and then settled into our allotted cruising order. The Severn was still quite lively, being on Amber (but falling). Definitely not as lively as the previous week, when it took us nearly twice as long as it did on this day.
We had David Johns aboard for the passage up the Severn and he was pretty impressed with how quiet the engine was. The Old Nick video he posted on Twitter has had over 4,000 views!
We could see the moorings that we had attempted to get on at the pub the week before. They were actually not at all submerged any more. I would say that there was a good foot less water there.
We soon reached Hawford lock and proceeded up the locks in tandem with Perseverance until we reached the end of the Barge Canal and joined the Junction Canal. And then it was single file all the way back to base, with Mark at the helm. And all the way along, we were assisted by past, present and future Ortomarine customers, plus Paul and my brother Bruce, which made our lives very much easier. Many thanks to them, stalwarts all.
We had left Worcester with our SOC at 91% and arrived back at Droitwich Spa Marina on 63%, without having to use our generator. Not too shabby, given the river conditions. We popped Old Nick back on the mooring and went across to the Boaters Lounge to await delivery of our many pizzas, from the amusingly named ” The Leaning Tower of Pizza” in Droitwich.
The rest of the evening passed with much chat, a little alcohol and plenty of pizza. It had been an amazing event to be part of and we look forward to seeing all the stats from the day being published.