Springwoood Haven to Grendon Bridge 49
Before pushing off this morning there were a few chores to do.
Every three days we empty our yellow water tank, Mick unscrews the cap on the side of Oleanna, attaches a cap with a hose attachment, hose attached which then goes into a large black plastic tank that we can carry to an elsan for disposal. Once everything is set up I am given the okay and flick the switch inside to turn on the pump to empty the tank which is below our bathroom floor. Today though, shortly after I’d started the pump the noise changed for a second. What followed I could not see, but could imagine. The hose detached itself and a huge pumping plume of yellow water sored into the sky above Oleanna. Those whale gulpers sure can pump! I flicked the pump off as soon as I could get to it, but the roof and cabin side were covered. Luckily Mick remained dry and an oncoming boat was far enough away to maybe not know what had happened.
Hose reattached the tank was emptied and then Mick washed Oleanna down with canal water. There was still quite an aroma. So as no-one was at the water point at Hartshill Wharf we decided to give the roof and cabin side a good wash down with fresh water using our blue brush. No way would we normally wash a boat on a water point, but today it was done as speedily as possible before we topped up the water tank. I suspect we’ll be being criticised on Narrowboat Users Group for doing so as we were seen by several boats passing, no-one showed any sign of wanting water, if they had done we’d have moved on and winded to wash her down by hand.
All connections will be double checked in future to avoid a yellow fountain off the port side.
We moved on to find somewhere for lunch before the Atherstone flight. But as soon as we got anywhere near every space was taken. No choice but to start the locks and hope that there would be space five locks down. Except we had to wait, forth in the queue to go down and just as many coming up the flight, an efficient use of locks. The flight has a band of volunteer lockies, today there were four in radio contact with each other, so they can inform each other of boat movements and hold locks that are out of view from each other. We timed our descent with most of them stopping for lunch. But this didn’t matter that much as once down the first lock a boat was coming up in most of the next locks, so gates could be left and boats could just swap over. There were a couple of helpful souls on the flight who would open and close gates for us which made it all very easy.
Coming down the fifth lock we were closing the gates when we were shouted at that there was a boat coming out of the next lock, so we started to open them again. However the chap who had shouted was a local man who is autistic and comes to watch the boats, write their names down and has a great time, we’ve seen him before. He is harmless but you can’t take what he says as what is actually happening, he is too wound up with the excitement of it all, so we closed the gates again and found a space to stop for some lunch.
This however meant that when we pulled out again we were number three in the queue waiting to go down and ahead were a couple of single handers. With no-one coming up the lock had to be reset between each boat. In front of us was NB Ouse Dunnit, who we’d seen in Paddington basin a month ago. Despite living in York they moor on the Leeds Liverpool, we compared notes on various things in York and Scarborough as we waited for locks to fill and empty. After the first two locks boats were evenly spaced so you could help close up and have someone else arrive to help you close up. Towards the bottom of the flight there were boats coming up so we could swap chambers with them.
The sun had well and truly come out and the thought of stopping in full shade kept us going to finish the flight of eleven locks and push on a bit further to find a shaded mooring for the evening. Today we have managed to keep a day ahead of our plan, but instead of it taking us 3.5 hours it took around 6! The number of boats waiting at locks is slowing us down somewhat, and this is still two weeks before the season is at it’s busiest! Glad we’re not trying to do 7 hours cruising a day.
11 locks, 6.43 miles, 12 ft of wee, 2 scrubs, 4th in line, 11th boat down, 3rd in line, 30C, 6 single handing women! 2 in reality, 1 invisible boat coming, 2 hot for sun, 1 catch up tour, 1 shady mooring with trees!