The rudder on Tyseley is very big. I know this now because I have seen it in it's full glory - lying on the towpath like a beached whale.
That crunching sound that every boater dreads assailed our ears in the bottom lock of the Napton flight having made excellent time from Fenny Compton with a 6am leave and much fighting our way through the shallows of the Oxford canal. We had managed to sit the rudder neatly on the cill coming down and she popped out of the skeg and bent round like a hairpin with the full weight of the venerable lady Tyseley sitting on top of her.
Now members of River Canal Rescue we got a prompt visitation from Mike who managed after three hours and much impact engineering to get the swan neck off and the rudder dangling by a rope in the canal. Admitting defeat he contacted Calcutt boats who sent Ian out to us, again very promptly and he managed to pull the rudder out as we pulled Tyseley forward on ropes. Getting the rudder onto the towpath we could see firstly the impressive size and secondly the serious damage - the stock was bent at an angle of 45 degrees. Despairing of ever being able to continue the tour by boat we got the van from Aynho and went by road to the Boat Inn at Stockton for our next show.
There in the bar was Ian. 'I fixed the rudder' he said calmly. He had shredded the shaft with oxyacetylene, heated it to red and used the weight of a JCB to put it straight again and then welded it all back together. And he was coming to fit it at 8am the next morning!
The next morning we backed into the lock to give us space below and with two extra helpers from Calcutt boats Ian pulled the rudder back up, fixed on the swan neck and incredibly we were on our way less than 24 hours since the accident. We stopped in at Calcutt boats for Ian to make a final adjustment and for us to express our sincere thanks for the great service. Thanks once again Ian and Calcutt Boats.