Thursday, 13 March 2008

Not a memorable day.

14 locks and 9½ miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Star City Casino, Grand Union Canal

Except for strong winds it was fine when we set off this morning, two boats had passed us going the opposite way so most of the locks were in our favour. As we went up through the Curdworth locks we became more and more exposed to the wind which was straight onto our starboard bow making locking difficult. The only way to combat the wind was to go straight up to the lock gate, and hold the boat steady with a bit of forward momentum against the lock gate until it was opened. Some of the lock entrances were badly silted up and we grounded at about 5 locks which made it difficult to slide over the mud into the lock. At one stage the water was so choppy that it was hitting the bow throwing up spray, it felt like a trip on the inter island ferry back in New Zealand.

At the top lock we met a BW lock keeper who had to clear the rubbish from the top gate before we could exit the lock but before I could do that I had to go down the weed hatch and remove a huge piece of industrial plastic which decided to have a love affair with the prop. The plastic was deposited in the skip alongside the lock which the lock keeper told us that it only took him 2 days to fill the skip but it wouldn't be emptied for a week.

Not long after this we had to stop for another visit down the weed hatch to remove yet another sheet of industrial plastic. After we had been underway again for about 15 minutes I noticed that the stern of the boat was sitting rather low in the water so another hasty stop to find the bilge half full of water, luckily no damage done. The weed hatch appeared to have sprung a leak and soggy newspaper had clogged the bilge pump. I got the pump working again but it was going to take for ever to empty all the water so out came our self pump out gear again which made short work of the job.

By this time we were in the industrial heartland of Birmingham and what with the previous problem Dot was starting to get the heebie geebies especially when we passed under one building that has been built over the canal and we were in the constant shadow of the M6. At Salford Junction we had to do a very sharp left turn and the easiest way to do it was as if we were winding the boat.

When we were about half way round a couple of young hoodies stopped on the bridge above the bow of the boat and we were not sure of their intention's but it turned out that they were concerned we might have got stuck because once they could see we were OK they gave us the thumb's up and left. As soon as we moored up on the pontoons outside the Star City Casino I returned down the engine hole to finish cleaning up the rest of the mess and thoroughly check everything.

A big thank you to Paul from Waterways Routes and Adam from N/b Debdale for the emails with help on the moorings in Birmingham.

921 locks, 1292½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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