Since my last post we have been on a bit of a mission. Our friends, Colin & Katie, who have been fitting out a widebeam at the Colecraft yard in Long Itchington, announced that the long awaited launch was to be on the fifth of June at the marina in Braunston.
We had five days to get Oakapple back to Aston, where we planned to leave her for a short while.
In truth, not particularly arduous, but we did have to cruise through some of the showers of last week to maintain the pace. On cue, we arrived at Aston on Thursday ready to drive to Braunston on Friday morning, (a very early start), for the big event.
By 9.30 there was quite a gathering eagerly waiting the arrival of the star of the show. First the huge crane backed down alongside the arm, followed half an hour later by the boat on top of its lorry, complete with escort vehicle. She looked enormous. After some nifty juggling of the craft in the marina, the guys set to with strops and all the gear to lift the 37 tons of boat and swing her round, just clearing the trees, and lower her gently into the water. A round of applause as she bobbed up and down exactly on her designed waterline. Phew!!!
After a brief naming ceremony with a bottle of Champers supplied by yours truly and some last minute check by the boatyard guys, she was ready to be very gingerly inched out onto the canal.
With an abundance of experienced crew available, she was taken on her maiden voyage up the six Braunston locks to a mooring before the tunnel.
Colin was generous enough to offer my Captain a turn at at the wheel, which he found very different to what we are used to, and was pleased to hand her back to her owner. Of course, being 12ft wide she has to book a passage through the tunnel, unlike us skinnier vessels, so she is now waiting for her turn on Monday morning.
It was an exciting day and a unique experience. The new 'Fratie' is a lovely boat and we wish Colin & Katie many years of happy cruising in her.