Sunday, 29 April 2012

Big Thanks To Sarah & Jim!

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

The mud says a lot about the weather!
We really had no choice that most of this weekend's boat moving would happen today - it was just unfortunate that the weather forecasts had long predicted a very wet windy day, with gale force gusting.  In reality I think the winds seldom reached the worst gust speeds that had been predicted, but the wind was bad enough enough to actually visibly be lifting water from the surface of the cut, and then propelling it straight at me!

Leaving the bottom lock of "the 21".
So as we looked at various forums, blogs and Facebook, where other boaters were declaring today very firmly a "don't even consider moving day", we knew we had a long lock flight to get through, and even then quite a few more miles to get to where we had to be.

So when Jim & Sarah from "Chertsey" & "Bakewell" actually volunteered to turn out on a squally, rather nasty, Sunday morning, and lock-wheel us up the Wolverhampton 21 locks, whilst slightly doubting their sanity, (we were already doubting our own!), we didn't actually protest too much!

Into a rhythm by now
In fact we couldn't even manage to be with them on time, as various things didn't go to plan, as we attempted to get away from our overnight mooring at Autherley, and through the shallow stop lock there.  The water point is hardly conveniently located, and the "Elsan" facility for toilet emptying that is in our canal guide no longer exists.  (Don't ask, but we had a VERY full toilet, and were relying on emptying it here!).

Sarah was already waiting at the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 locks when we arrived a bit late, and the ascent was quickly under way.  We hardly saw poor Jim until very near the top, as he was constantly setting up the locks ahead.

It's not all industrial dereliction.
It was wet enough, and slippery enough, that I certainly wasn't boating trying to set any records, although Cath and Sarah together were fairly slick at each lock, and I guess we wasted very little time at all.  Possibly had we not let the cabin range virtually go out, I might have been less distracted trying to revive it, although I think this was done almost entirely as locks filled, so probably didn't slow down progress.

Finished the flight, thanks to our very efficient helpers.
It actually appears we got through the 21 lock flight, (which involves boating 2 miles, as well as the locks themselves) in around 1 hour 50 minutes.  I have no idea if that is considered a "good time" or not, by those who regularly do these things fast, but given the weather, we all thought not a bad result.  Our enormous thanks to Jim and Sarah.  I have little doubt that Cath and I on our own would have taken more around the 3 hour mark, so this really made a huge difference to a difficult day.

Savouring the lack of weather in Coseley Tunnel.
That really only left, I guess, 6 or 7 miles of lock free canal to run, although this part of the BCN proved to be more litter strewn than I remember from previous passages, and we were regularly taking the boat out of gear as we went through the worst detritus, in an attempt not to foul the prop.  This was also one trip where the 360 yard Coseley tunnel provided some respite from the weather - there were a few drips in the tunnel, but it was positively dry compared to "outside".

At the Black Country Museum we could not find anybody who knew for certain where we should leave "Sickle", but it was quickly apparent that actually getting her inside the site itself, (which involves a large lifting bridge), was not going to happen - I'm guessing she will now stay on the visitor moorings there until next weekend.

The plan was to cycle to Tipton station, and to catch trains, (change at Wolverhampton), back to Penkridge, being the closest station to Stretton, where our car still was.  We thought we had fouled up, and left too late, but found Tipton station very quickly, and were lucky enough to catch the planned train on time.

This is the point at which our friends generosity kicked in again, as Jim turned out to collect us, (and our folding bikes) from Penkridge station, and to ferry us to Stretton.  We really can't thank him enough - although it is only about 5 miles, they are some horrible roads, the weather was still foul, and we were knackered, with a 120 mile drive still ahead of us.  "Bloomin' marvellous", Jim - Thanks!

And thanks too to Sarah, who kept the tea flowing, until we had warmed up in Bakewell's warm cabin.  In fact more "boater hospitality" was imminent, as "Hairy Neil" and "Starcross Jim" were due to go pubbing with Sarah & Jim.  Unfortunately joining in with that would have made us far too late, but we did stay around to see Neil arrive, and have a bit of chat before we had to go.  In practice we didn't arrive home until about 10:00 pm, by which time, I think it is fair to say we were exhausted - how much more exhausted we might have been if not for jim and Sarah, I shudder to think!

Autherley Junction (Shropshire Union)
to Black Country Museum (Dudley No 1 Canal - Birmingham Canal Navigations)
Miles: 8.9, Locks: 22

Totals for extended trip....
Miles: 236.7, Locks: 170

1 comment:

  1. If you allow 30 minutes for the two miles that's 3.8 minutes per lock. Sounds pretty good to me! At least they earned their beer that night!
    "Starcross Jim"


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