Cruise on the Wey and Arun Canal

Thursday 14th May 2015 Cruise on the Wey and Arun Canal

On a very wet day thirty six members and their partners met at the Wey and Arun canal at Loxwood. Twenty-four of the group chose to have lunch at the nearby Onslow Arms before embarking on the Wiggenholt canal boat. This is a modern electrically driven vessel (a technical description is shown below).The skipper, who had already operated a morning cruise and was somewhat damp, gave his safety drill before going out into the rain again. Teas and coffees were served as we progressed. We then went through Baldwin’s Knob lock and the canal seemed to get narrower, probably due reeds etc, growing on the canal banks. We approached Drungewick and slowly entered the aqueduct which crosses the River Lox. We paused there for a short time and those willing to brave the weather went onto the prow to look down to the river below. The aqueduct had been constructed in 19xx and allowed the reconstruction of the canal to proceed through Drungewick Lock and onwards to where the River Arun was close enough for water to be extracted and back pumped around the locks towards the summit. We were told that extraction from the Lox was very restricted.Wiggenholt then reversed, turned at the winding point adjacent to the slipway where canal boats are removed for maintenance, and set off back to the Canal Visitor Centre near the Onslow Arms.
Despite the rain most people indicated that they had enjoyed the trip. Those that had not probably kept quiet!!

Wiggonholt – technical specifications

Length Overall 18.5m (60ft 8in) without fenders. Decided on as the maximum length that will fit in the Wey & Arun Canal locks. They are notionally 68ft long but measurements show substantial variations under this figure.

Beam 2.9m (9ft 6in). Chosen as the best compromise between passenger seating plus adequate gangway and capability of passing through bridge-holes without hitting superstructure. Even so, the cabin walls have a substantial ‘cutaway’ to the roof.

Draught 0.46m (18in) laden – chosen to be similar to the Trust’s current boats and therefore able to move through the shallow sections.

Gross Weight (without passengers) approximately 21 tonnes.

Passenger 52 seated in groups of 4 around small tables. Licensed to carry 60

Seating Totally flexible. Chairs and tables (or no tables) can be arranged in any configuration.

Facilities Access lift to enable goods and materials to be brought on board without lifting down steps.
Adaptable to allow passengers in wheelchairs to be brought on board. Flushing toilet. Wash basin with running water. Toilet capable of taking passenger in wheelchair. Large foredeck, seating for 6. Double sliding windows, so that in the normal seating configuration each passenger by a window will be able to have it open or closed. Cabin and running lights fitted so that the boat can be operated after dusk.

Propulsion Two ‘Lynch’ type, permanent magnet, 48-volt DC motors. Each rated at 10kW. Normal cruising will take between 2 and 4 kW. Reserve of power is for emergency stopping or manoeuvring. The two motors drive the single propeller shaft via individual toothed belts. This allows a ‘get home’ capability should a belt or motor fail. The boat is also fitted with a bow thruster to assist with manoeuvring through some of the tighter bridge holes on bends and when turning.

Power supply Two banks of 24-volt, lead/acid traction batteries, connected in series to give 48 volts. Batteries have a capacity of over 1250 Ampere hours.

Range On a full charge the boat is expected to be able to do 3 full-length trips and 2 short trips, fully laden, and still have an emergency reserve equal to an hour’s running. Without the reserve the capacity is equivalent to travelling approximately 20 miles, negotiating 22 locks and turning 10 times.

Speed Design average speed on the Wey & Arun Canal is 3.2 kph (2 mph) due to the shallow and silted nature of the canal. On open or deep water the boat would do considerably more. Any attempt to travel more than 4.8 kph (3 mph) on the W&A canal will result in a dramatic reduction in range due to the extra demand for power on the battery.

Charging Power will be taken from the electricity supply opposite the Onslow Arms. The charging system is designed to give a full charge overnight.

Solar power Consideration has been given to fitting solar panels. At this time they do not give a financial return on the cost. However, the system has been designed with a future installation in mind should such panels become financially viable.

Derek Webb