Margees Garden to Broadoak Bridge 109
Yesterday evening a swan that had been sitting on her nest a month ago in the bottom of Alison and Laura’s garden brought her babies along to meet us. Still quite small, the cute factor enhanced by them still being so fluffy. I apologised to Mum that I had nothing for them, but would defrost some peas for the morning. So when Mick had headed off for a newspaper this morning they headed over to see what goodies I had. Mum let her youngsters dive for the peas whilst she watched, she wasn’t interested, maybe some white sliced would have been more appealing. But then if this was a swan that knew Laura I suspect it would have a far superior pallet. The cygnets ducked and dived to retrieve the peas (which all wanted to sink) and all ended up with spiky hair dos.
With breakfast consumed we pushed off and soon approached Seabrook Swing Bridge which was open, well almost. We paused for me to jump off to try to close it, but a boat was following, so we left it for them to close and went ahead to set the lock. The next three locks were set against us, but with partners we soon had them filled and cruised on down. Below Seabrook Bottom Lock our partners winded and then were going to reverse back to their mooring. The wind had picked up today so this would take them a bit of doing.
At the Ivinghoe Locks I could see a boat approaching and the lock was in their favour, so I pushed open the bottom gate and waited for them. This was all I did to help as on board there was a troop of scouts, so plenty to work the lock and open gates. They were out for the weekend and when asked if they were enjoying it one replied he liked sleeping on the boat, although they had only this morning discovered barriers that they could pull up to stop them from falling out of their narrow bunk beds! They were going to see how far they could get, possibly the Wendover Arm, before they had to turn to head home. The next lock being in our favour we headed down and as we were finishing a boat appeared below, so I could leave the gates.
Approaching Slapton Lock the world got busier. A boat was on the water point just through the bridge and two were waiting. We joined with one of them down the lock. They used to have a mooring here and had planted all the shrubs which were looking good and very much looked after. They were coming down to the lower pound as the one above had dropped somewhat, but both pounds looked as they had done when we were heading southwards a month ago, quite low. We stopped for some food in amongst the boats, not able to get our stern in, but that didn’t matter, just so long as we could get off when we wanted to.
Church Lock had both it’s bottom gates open, was this due to the wind? No, someone was coming up. Two single handing ladies brought their boats into the lock. One a Sea Otter (small aluminium boat) and the other what looked like a 70’s style cruiser. I helped them up and chatted to the lady on the cruiser. They were on their way to London. Normally when people say this they mean that they are going to join the masses of shufflers living on the Paddington and Regents Canal, but these two ladies were out for the summer from Ripon, both in their 70’s. They’d left in April and were due back at the end of August.
As they were rising we were joined at speed by a narrowboat who just about managed to pull in on the off side. As the ladies pulled out from the lock, Mick gestured for them to go in, but they were waiting for another boat that appeared soon afterwards. We worked our way down and as we got near to opening the bottom gates crew came from the speedy boat and sat on the top gate waiting to refill it. When Mick mentioned that there was a boat waiting to come up, she returned to her boat to wait. Nothing like lending a hand and getting to chat to others, making your wait shorter, oh well, it takes allsorts.
Grove Lock was empty and with an approaching boat I opened the gates for them, might as well save water. The boat came in at such a lick that the lady at the front had no chance of stepping off to help. She finally managed to step off when the lock was nearly full. A procession of people and their dogs then wanted to cross the top gates, each dog having to be carried over separately in turn. The boat was after a pump out at the marina but that meant a wide beam needed to move, which it did aided by the strong wind after Mick had brought Oleanna into the lock. The lady from the narrowboat walked to climb on board her boat, but the chap said he’d pick her up on the service mooring. She then crossed the gates and waited behind a set of railings that didn’t allow her access to the services just as her boat was blown right back to the other side infront of the widebeam. As we were going down I could see that the chap had managed to get his stern over to the services and was starting to pull the boat in just as the speedy boat from before arrived above the lock, thankfully managing to stop before ploughing into everyone! To add to the mayhem a young lady was trying to cross the top gates with her toddler in her arms. We were glad to be away from it all.
A quick stop to stock up on suncream from Aldi and some perishables from Tescos before we were on our way again. One last lock for the day stopping with a view of the West Coast Main Line, we should have carried on to the Soulbury Three, but we didn’t fancy going through with a crowd of Saturday afternoon drinkers gongoozling, so that has been left for tomorrow morning before the pub opens.
Once moored up, my brothers old T square came out from storage (I knew it would have another use) and had inches over 2ft marked on it. Our mooring wasn’t deep enough for us to get the end of it under Oleanna’s hull. so Mick slid it down the side until it touched the edge of the base plate. This gave us our current draught, a more accurate measurement than using the boat hook. At the moment we exceed the depth for the Ribble Link, but we are hoping that this will be sorted by Finesse as we know we shouldn’t be quite so low in the water. Another phone call with Bridget and Storm from NB Blackbird who had also been measured today. We decided to go ahead and the two of us clicked through the booking pages on the C&RT site. As we both read out that our passage was confirmed Bridget said “Oh what have we done!” No going back now!! Later on we also booked a week in Liverpool. North here we come.
10 locks, 9.04 miles, 4 shared, 100 floz of peas, 6 spiky heads, 2 single handing ladies, 10 scouts, 1 queue, 3 dogs, 1 toddler, 2 bottles suncream, 2 lots mushrooms, 1 more late finish! 1 week Liverpool, 1 month Lancaster Canal, 2 slightly nervous boaters, 1 oblivious cat.