Today was a perfect day for a trip in my pedal powered boat with cloudless skies and temperatures of 18 Celcius. Any warmer may have been less pleasant since it takes some effort to drag the boat to the canal on a wheeled trolley. Once on the water it’s a recumbent cycling experience, laid back in a comfortable position. The reclined position gives the boat excellent stability which is needed because the hull is less than 8 feet in length. This is a mini boat which is a type of vessel being built in many parts of the world. Most use a battery powered outboard motor but as a cyclist I decided to build a pedal powered propulsion system. Obviously if I built another boat I could make it better but my first attempt met my design criteria so I’m happy with it. I don’t intend to replace mountain biking with boating but it is a similar type of experience and gives me additional exercise. With the gearing of the paddlewheel which propels the boat it’s a little more muscular and slightly less aerobic than cycling.
After a 10 to 15 minute walk to the canal I removed the boat from it’s wheels, which I carry with me, and put it on the water. I had a vague plan to sail southwards for a longer trip but changed my plan once underway. I turned by Frederick’s Ice-cream parlour and tried to make some videos of the boat in action. I admit, I need more practice. I returned past my starting point and went to the Cowling slipway. I covered just over 2 miles in 48 minutes at a gentle pace to begin with, increasing the effort and my breathing later. I’ve added another layer of seat cushioning but comfortable isn’t the first word to spring to mind. My average speed of 2.5 mph is easy enough to maintain but to cover 3 miles in an hour would be very tough. Top speed is 4 mph but this is determined by physics, not just the work on the pedals. I don’t think speed is too important on the water, it’s more about just being there in a different environment, scaring ducks and being waved at by children as well as adults. I must make the time for a longer trip one day. The boat has been reliable for some time now and it would be good to pass the many boats going to the White Bear Marina.
Just as I was about to leave the canal with the boat on it’s wheels I heard a sound just like the slapping and splashing of my boat at full steam. Could someone else have built a pedal powered boat? Of course not. It was a train on the railway which crosses the water a few hundred yards away. It was the steam locomotive 44871 pulling a few carriages. Steam trains are run occasionally for enthusiasts, many on heritage railways but also on the main lines. Below is a picture of the engine on the North York Moors heritage line.