Trip 2021 – Week 8

Day 50: After a couple of days of terrible hayfever, I can start to breathe a bit. We had a ridiculously funny walk back from Bex & Curly’s, drunkenly giggling like schoolkids as we charged down the hill through fields and alleys, across bridges to get down to the canal. I didn’t think anything of it until the next day. We had arrived back at the boat soaked through to our underwear as we walked through long wild grass fields. I had completely forgotten that wild grass is one of my major hayfever triggers so the next morning as all the pollen that we’d tracked in on my clothes and on myself kicked in, I was in hayfever hell.

Cue a few days later and a lot of anti-histamines I was finally starting to be able to breathe again.

On the way up we scoured mooring options as I had managed to book my second covid jab. There were a couple of options, only 2 were really suitable for the long walk i’d have to take to the pharmacy. Perfect timing as we passed a boat and noticed the appearing gap in the pontoons ahead. I set off for my 40 minute walk, it was cloudy when I left and climbed the historical 108 steps (said to date pre 1696!) and bonkers hot when I returned. Pretty town but there was definitely some grumbling from me and me, hills and heat are not a good combo!!

As I had gotten back in good time and there was still plenty of daylight ahead, we pushed on to get back to Gurnett Aqueduct for the night. Note the lovely moment mid bridge when you realise theres a boat coming the other way and the turning as you’re both travelling is super sketchy! made it just 🙂

Day 51: After a lovely chilled evening meeting all the passing by dogs, we started prepping to leave. I found this little dude hanging out on one of the tire fenders we were using.

Today was a little bit of chuckle as amongst dealing with impatient boaters we also stopped to help out a little boat on a day trip. They’d borrowed it from a friend but the friend hadn’t told them where the key was to operate the bridges. We let them past us after going through the 1st one which is where they told us their predicament. Made a plan to get them through the next one, wait for them to turn around and go back through and they’d wait for someone at the previous bridge. As we waited (they seemed to take forever) we watched people getting very confused with our decision. As this bridge was a road bridge we closed it inbetween but were on hand to open again as soon as we saw them.

Around the corner they came, were so intent on trying to thank us they turned the tiller the wrong way and ploughed straight us, luckily not too fast so no damage. They were adamant they wanted to give us some money for stopping to help but we refused as it’s just not the boaters way. They went on their journey and we closed up for them, on getting back to Māhina, i noticed a note sticking out of on the solar lights, cheeky bugger had managed to wedge it in there after the little collision.

Whilst waiting i saw these lovely ducks.

Day 52: Well, Bex thought she was lucky getting one boat story to tell, now her & Curly have another one and this one is pretty epic!
We stopped above the Bosley lock flight and the pair of them were to be joining us in the morning to help us down. When I woke up everything was looking grey but dry but man did that change!

We met them at the top lock and we all went off with a windlass each so I could talk them through the first lock. By lock 4 we had met someone coming up which is always worth a little inwards cheer! The rain had started to come down by then too. Just after lock 6 the gates opened to these teeny little boats that were so cute. I hope they’re nicer than their tourbus Y-Not namesakes.

We chopped and changed to do the locking or at the helm down through the locks.

This one was a bit snug!

The rain was relentless but with the extra hands we were whizzing through the flight of 12. All until the second to last lock. Richard had gone ahead to set the last lock, we settled in and started to lift the bottom gate paddles. It got to a point and then something wasn’t right, it’s really hard to pinpoint what I had spotted but the water wasn’t behaving as it should, there were odd swirls and direction changes. I asked Alex to drop the bottom gate paddles again and sure thing we started to rise again. For a second I thought that maybe we hadn’t double checked the top gates paddles were down but they were down too. Being mindful that a myriad of problems and most sinkings happen in locks I repositioned the boat to be away from either gate and waited for Richard to come back to see what the next step was.

We tried again and same thing. We started to investigate the top gate paddle only to find it had dropped off the mechanism. This isn’t unusual in itself but 9 times out of 10, they drop and remain closed. This one had failed and remained open, this meant we could never equalise the water in the chamber to be able to open the bottom gates so we were officially stuck. Action stations commenced. I was on the phone to CRT emergency line as we knew this fix was beyond our means. We then went to send the message up the flight and down to avoid any more boats coming down too far or starting their way up. I managed to chat to a guy about to come up and he decided to come up the first lock to turn around in the pound and go back down. And then the heavens truly opened, my god it was fat, heavy, relentless rain.

I found my usual total downpour laughing Kate as honestly this was not the trip I was expecting for my friends and I was soaked through…..again!!

We knew the CRT would need to drain the pound above us in order to work on the paddle so after a call with them to agree we started to do that. The first response man, although he didnt believe us at first, soon realised we knew what we were talking about and we got out the lock, down to the next one and out to the bottom. The knock on was that there was a boat in every lock above us, all 10 of them, that due to the water preservation order on that flight would not be going anywhere tonight and would have to stay put.

I felt awful that Bex & Alex had such a wet day but they definitely had a bona fide boat story to tell from now on!

Finally Free

Although we didn’t want to, we needed to press on as we had to be at the Red Bull junction ready for the tunnel booking tomorrow.

Day 53: Tunnel day today, back through the Harecastle. I decided to turn the mini rig up today and have the tunnel help with the amplification as we sung our way down for the 45 mins ish underground. Westport lake was busy the other side but we forced ourself on for the night.

Day 54: Today we met a lovely pair of new boaters, literally on their first journey and indeed lock from picking up their boat. Sometimes you just click with people you meet along the way and these two were definitely a pair! So friendly and upbeat, more of them please.

Day 55: A pretty perfect day of boating really, good locks, good weather. Much needed after the last few days. A pit stop for supplies at the supermarket. We were waiting to hear if the marina had (or was going to) have a fuel top up so we can top up the tank there so found a spot above the marina to wait it out for the night.

Day 56: Checked in and they did indeed have fuel so it was straight off and down the lock (along with interesting map box) and left into Aston Marina. We always find their fuel to be super competitively priced but £250 to fill her up still hurt a bit!

A brief stop for water at the turning for the Tixall Wide we meet our 2 newby boaters again and another lovely boat who we would see regularly over the next few days. Stopping here for a days to see friends, go to the awesome farm shop and I would have said down time but I was in full advancing for a festival mode so more work than play. However, i was very grateful to enjoy these beautiful sundowners.

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