After a much needed day of simply nothing we decided to hit the water again. The rain that was planned looked like it had backed off so we cast off and headed the last bit north for the plan of this trip (little did we know it had not). Etiquette on the water is much like it is on land, some have it and some don’t. Most people on the bank are cheery, wave and say hello. Some boaters respect others by going slow near moored boats or ensure locks are left as they should be and some just don’t. The last lock of Tardebigge for example the boat (that i watched leave) didn’t check the top gate was shut properly, only when i emptied the lock i could see the mass of vegetation causing it not to shut so i had to waste water filling it back up to clear the obstruction to empty it again to get in.
A hire boater wasn’t very helpful when passing us a bit fast as i was forced into the bushes by him. As i carried on i couldn’t figure out where the canal was going ahead as there was a boat but it looked all wrong in its position. Aha, it all made sense as we got closer, there had been too many boats going past at speed and for this boat it had caused its mooring pins to come out and it was horizontal across the canal. I let Richard off to re-tie her as i tried to hover until he was done.
Straight ahead was the tunnel which i was nervous about. It was a long one with an estimate of 40mins to 1 hour to get through. The thing i was most nervous about was meeting a boat coming the other way and having to scoot over to the right of the tunnel to pass each other. While we were faffing with the loose boat another one came out of the tunnel. Thanks Universe, totally loved that this intervention of stopping to help this boat out meant i didn’t have to deal with my fear as no other boats came through while i was in there!
Tunnels are weird, they play tricks with your mind. You think they are bending, they’re not, you see weird things in your peripheral vision that aren’t there. When i entered the exit was literally a tiny pin prick of light the other end, it just went on and on. The light is this photo i assure you is the flash, it is otherwise pitch black apart from whatever light your tunnel light at the front of the boat is throwing. We open the blinds and turn on the cabin lights to help and have head torches close by incase the tunnel light goes. The YouTube video shows how dark it truly is.
Taking photos in there is a challenge but we wanted to capture it. The flash bought out some interesting ones!
Woohoo finally free of the tunnel and back into daylight………………and into a load of rain!
A little journey along and a short tunnel saw the end of how far we are going up this particular canal on this trip.
A passerby on the towpath advised is there was a water point ahead. Although we had half a tank left, the next point in amongst a big flight of locks so figured stop here and top up instead. Met a lovely lady whilst there. She had a boat about 18ft shorter than Māhina so i was super surprised to see a gorgeous huge Mastiff, a fluffy black & white cat and a tiny grey & white kitten clamber ashore. Thats saying something when you can live in a small home, with the dynamics those pets bring and it showed as they were all super chilled and very friendly. Forcing myself to stop the animal hugs (even though they all wanted to have a go climbing into Māhina, cats were trying to come in the back and dog on the front!), we reluctantly head off.
I was so relaxed and enjoying the journey i totally missed the signpost showing the waterway right turn to go onto the Stratford waterway. Slammed into reverse and just about caught it in time and swung her round onto the Stratford canal. Through some guillotine locks the canal felt shallower and slower to navigate. The towpath has recently been trimmed which helps with mooring but it means the water is full of the off-cuts and weeds. Desperately trying to steer around or through whilst not in gear to avoid getting anything wrapped around the propellor is a long process. Our 4hr day turned into 6hrs of full on steering and concentration. Finally got to a place where we felt comfortable to moor (when you see boats with wooden boards over their windows to prevent the local kids smashing them with bricks you know thats not the place to put yourself for the night)!
We were both soaking through and cold when we stopped, definitely a hard day boating but nothing a long hot soak in the shower and a beer won’t fix!