Sunday, 23 April 2017

Brownhills Pictures by Others

"Flamingo's" attendance at Brownhills has featured in a number of albums of the event published by other people, so I have asked if they can be used here.

From the excellent Kev Maslin Photography.....


And this from an album by Brownhills Bob, but where the photographs are credited to David Evans....

Blog posting comments by others.

We have (finally!) been alerted to the fact that many people have been unable to post comments on this blog.

It seemed a bit odd, as people used to, but it has stopped occurring - we assumed perhaps people had lost interest in saying anything about it, but we have received contact via other route indicating people have tried and failed.

We have changed some settings, so hopefully now possible again, but I guess it will need some comments to be made to actually prove it.

Comments should still be moderated, and you will need to enter word verification, to try and stop the spam appearing.

Alan & Cath

Saturday, 22 April 2017

And finally.........

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Some serious tree surgery has happened here recently.
The final run back to the home mooring today.

We were away before 9.00 am, and into Bucby top lock when a hire boat was spotted approaching at Norton Junction, so, of course we waited and shared the first lock of the flight with them.  So I was not a little surprised when Cath caught up with me again at the second lock down to be told they were stopping to moor up to go to the pub!  Does the New Inn do breakfasts?  Is it even open at that time?  Anyway we went down the rest of the flight on our own, getting into a comfortable and relaxed rhythm.

Following some recent exuberant behaviour, (and Max's dip the other day), Cath has decided to try and instill a bit more discipline in the dogs, so, as yesterday, is now getting them to lie down and wait for much of the time taken at each lock.  They responded well, and I think we will do much more of this on future trips -  undoubtedly it makes things safer if they are not just running around freely all the time.

Where safe, the dogs are allowed to run between the locks.
We seemed to make good progress, and were soon on the final miles back to our mooring.  The results of re-modelling the prop are now far more obvious on stretches we had used it several times before this work was done.  It is now much more responsive on the rudder when negotiating the tighter bends, and many that seemed pigs before are now quite easy.  Also surprising is just how much progress can be made in deep water at tick-over, (or slightly over tick-over).  Even though the engine is making a quiet "bomp bomp", it is travelling quite briskly, although nobody has shouted at us yet.  The excellent design of Flamingo's hull generally produces far less wash than many modern boats that sit far less deeply in the water.

It is still a slow stopper, and I suspect will remain so, unless we were to start experimenting with props of a different design.  Our blade appears to be designed with an symmetric shape to make it less prone to fouling, but I suspect this means its reverse capabilities are somewhat compromised.  I'm getting pretty good at stopping in the locks, but the unexpected appearance of another boats bow in a bridge hole can still cause moments of doubt.  Still, it is far, far better than it was.

Getting towards the bottom of the flight.
On another positive note we have added about 100 running hours to the rebuilt engine over the 14 days we actually moved.  It has run faultlessly, with no perceived issues at all.  It smokes a little from cold, but certainty not excessively, but really settles down to a very clean exhaust once it has been given enough time to warm up.  We had several things to worry about on this trip, but at last we are at a stage where the state of the engine is not one of them.

Overall the trip has been hard work - I suspect taking Flamingo round the much less used  bits of the BCN always will be hard work.  But we have learntd a lot, and are both more confident of the boat, and our abilities to handle it.

Buckby Top Lock to High House Wharf, Weedon
Miles: 6.2, Locks: 7
Total Trip Miles: 166.6, Locks: 161

Friday, 21 April 2017

Familiar territory, but a good day.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Motorised River class "Wey", in use on towpath contract by Rothens.
We stopped rather short of where we had planned to be last night, as explained in my last post.

So the objective today was really to get as many miles and locks under our belt, to reduce the number we will need to do on our final day on Saturday p we need to be back home on Saturday, for an event on Sunday.

Max (left) and Odin wait patiently as we work through Hillmorton
The remainder of the trip from All Oaks Wood back to our home mooring is one we really are getting very familiar with. and, until recently, somewhat to the exclusion of other routes.  AS we have shuffled each of the boats to Brinklow Boat Services for work, it has been along this route, and in fact All Oaks Wood has often either been our first or last nights stop from the boat yard, depending on whether we are "delivering" or "collecting".

In the top pound at Hillmorton locks - our last narrow ones this trip out
There's nothing wrong with the Northern Oxford, but I'm not a great fan of endless miles with no locks, and whilst on the Oxford you only pass through the three pairs of locks at Hillmorton.  The rest is either fairly twisting, where it follows its original route, requiring a fair amount of concentration, or is dead straight and fairly featureless, where it is on the parts where the canal was reconstructed to shorten journey times.  As Cath is still struggling with a bad back, I largely did the twisty bits, whereas she was able to stand me down on the bits that need far less tiller work.  At least at this very quit time, (surprisingly quiet, we thought), we could go at our own pace, rather than be restricted to a long convoy, as all the boats turn out of the marinas for a day out in the sunshine.

Sharing with a rather lovely modern boat, (and someone very efficient.)
It remained quiet once on the Grand Union at Braunston, amd we worked up the locks with a very efficient single hander on a really rather immaculate modern boat which we were told had been built at Braunston by Roger Farringdon.  It was frankly as good an example of getting a pleasing boat that replicates traditional lines as I have seen, and although I am not normally a fan of fake rivets, these were done so subtlety that they didn't trouble me.  An immaculate presented Lister JP3 made up the picture, and when I suggested it was a lot of powr, I was told it is great on rivers, and also "I like to open it up in the tunnels".

Dane and Clara - There are not many wooden pairs about these days, unfortunately.

We alternated up the locks, sending ahead which ever boat it was easiest to release first, the other usually using the same gate, both when leaving and entering locks, hence Cath's work as lock wheeler was considerably reduced.  It is a very long while since I have been up Braunston so efficiently, although I did wonder if the fact that the pound one from the top was about 18" down might bring Flamingo to a temporary halt.  Fortunately I was able to gets its deep draught over the lock cills, and stick to the restricted channel through the sludge between the locks.

Pacific - the first of two lovely historic tugs passed near Norton junction.
At the top lock our sharer suggested we go off into the tunnel first, which given his previous comments I tactfully declined.  A good move, because although I opened Flamingo up to a very good speed, no way was I able to keep up, and e drew steadily away from us until he took the opposite route to us at Norton Junction, and headed toward Leicester.

And Typhoon in pursuit - lovely to see but less familiar to us.
We were able to find moorings above Buckby top lock - unusual with a full length boat, and I'm grateful to the person who volunteered to move back to create enough space, without even being asked.  We went to the New Inn, just assuming we could easily get a meal, and were staggered to find that what was a pub that was struggling some years back, (and closed for quite a period), is now so popular that it is full and booked out.  Luckily they squeezed us in, but those behind us were politely refused - something that seemed unthinkable a few years back.  Good to see not all our canal-side pubs are in decline.

All Oaks Wood (Oxford Canal) to Buckby Top Lock
Miles: 19.3, Locks: 9
Total Trip Miles: 160.4, Locks: 154

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A "life got in the way" day.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Fortunately by the start of today, we were running with a bit if time in hand before we need to be back at our mooring.  For this was a day when things did not go strictly as we had hoped.

Cath had been fighting an infection which wasn't going to go away without help, and needed a Doctor's prescription.  This was not as difficult as it would have been not that many years ago.  Our home surgery put Cath on a list for a call for a duty GP, and we in turn investigated where best to stop fot a chemist that a prescription could be sent to electronically.  The answer was Nuneaton - not somewhere that is usually a natural stop for us.  In practice all worked as planned, but by the time our surgery had rang Cath, and I had walked to the chemist we were several hours beyond even our most casual usual starting off time.

A bonus was that I discovered quite a good Sainsbury's local really very close to the canal. Previously when we did go in search of a supermarket in Nuneaton it was a very lengthy walk.  I celebrated, (as you do), by buying impromptu raspberries and cream.

Whilst we awaited the doctors call, I investigated a suspected leak in our domestic plumbing.  I didn;t have time to find the actual leak, but instead found the real evidence, and removed several buckets of water from below the floor.  Or at least I hope what I found is leaked domestic water - the other possibility would be a worse result - namely that the amount of things we have grounded on in Birmingham has put a hole in the hull.  Fortunately there is every evidence it is NOT canal water.

Once we could restart our travels, I pressed on as much as I could to try and regain some of the lost time.  We had hoped to end the day near Rugby, but the end result was a couple of hours travel short of that - not enough to be a problem - provided we didn't have a "life got in the way" day tomorrow, we should be able to get back on track.

Sorry - no pictures today - as I said, life got in the way.

Springwood Haven (Coventry Canal) to All Oaks Wood (Oxford Canal)
Miles: 15.6, Locks: 1
Total Trip Miles: 141.2, Locks: 145

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Taking it a bit easier

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Last night's mooring at Alvecote.
Before this big trip out with "Flamingo" Cath and I really have not had the opportunity to do any really serious boating for far longer than we would have liked.  Yes, we certainly managed various rallies and other gatherings last year, despite many major other things going on in our lives, as well as problems with the boats, but other than that most trips were fairly short ones delivering the boats to places they would be professionally worked on, or bringing them back to their moorings once works were completed.

In a rhythm ascending Atherstone locks
So to take on the current tour whilst not up to the full levels of fitness required to do it well has left us both fairly physically exhausted.  It is true that yesterday proved far easier than the several days spent on Birmingham's more run down canals, but I still wasn't going to argue with Cath when she suggested aiming for a shorter day today.

The bridges between the locks are a feature
In practice it has all gone really quite well, with both halves of our passage up Atherstone locks, (we moored up in the middle for a shopping trip followed by lunch), being particularly smooth.  These are very easy locks compared to many we have done in the last few days, and although we didn't need the help of the volunteer lock keeper that set a few in the middle up for us, we weren't going to decline it!  I love watching people's faces as each lock is finally full, and "Flamingo" slowly pushes the gate open and sets off without steerer - of course I hop on long before it is too late to, but clearly many other boaters are thinking, (or hoping?), I have forgotten.

Max jumped up on his own, but Odin seems less happy to be asked.
From Atherstone on through (particularly) Mancetter, this has been a useful test of the re-pitched propeller, because this is a stretch I have in the past really struggled to get around many of the worst bends before the propeller was altered.  Previously I had neither enough reserves of power to try and power out when things started going wrong, and certainly not enough to bail out in reverse if it became obvious that I wasn't going to get round.  Today I had no such problems.  I'm sure the propeller changes are a major factor, although I have also got more used to what works and what doesn't.  Overall I guess the improvement is partly in the boat, and at least to some small extent in what I am capable of.

Flamingo leaves a lock, waiting for me to hop back on.
Anyway, we felt the peaceful surroundings at Springwood Haven would be a great place to stop before the largely depressing environs of Nuneaton kick in, and make boating a less than perfect experience for quite a few miles.  A bonus was getting the boat right against the piling at the first attempt - it doesn't happen that  often, but means neither we nor the dogs need to leap across gaps in the dark.

Alvecote to Springwood Haven
Miles: 10.3, Locks: 11
Total Trip Miles: 125.6, Locks: 144

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A much easier day

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Cath)

Like many places we have seen Minworth is going up market.
We woke up tired after the exertions of the previous day, but the prop was still fouled, so we tied the back of the boat on a slack rope, then Cath held the back out from the bank with a mop, while Alan fossicked underneath with the boat hook.  He managed to remove a bit more of the foul, but it was clear that there was still some down there - oh, for a weed hatch.  It was decided that the foul would be unlikely to cause any problems as most of it was now gone, an we needed to get on, so after breakfast, and checking everything we set off back towards Salford Junction, only a few hundred metres.

New housing is on the site of the Cincinnatti factory, and has cut its name half.
At the junction there is a very sharp right turn, which proved to be difficult for a boat as long as Flamingo, but we were eventually heading along the Birmingham and Fazeley towards Fazeley Junction.

Curdworth tunnel  - small in most dimensions.
Our discussion the previous night had been whether we had had enough time at the bottom of the Perry Bar flight to reach somewhere considered 'safe'.  One of the problems with large cities is that there are areas where it is not a great idea to moor, in case you attract the unwelcome interest of some locals.  We were not sure where the first 'safe' mooring was considered to be, nor whether we had time to get there.  We had two hours to sunset, and dark doesn't fall until a little later - we had perhaps two and a half hours.

The Curdworth flight is kept very tidily and well maintained.
The first locks are the spread out three locks at Minworth - and right next to the top lock, which used to be considered an unpleasant place with disused factories, there is now a development of 'executive' homes.  I can see this place being considered 'safe' in the future.  Two locks further down we found a perfectly acceptable mooring, two hours from Salford Junction - we would have had time to make it.

In the Curdworth flight, eleven locks in total.
The day was chilly at first and a little windy, but it was sunny and bright, and it felt a perfect antidote to the depressing day we had had the previous day.

Curdworth locks were very pleasant, we got a bit of a boost from a volunteer lock keeper who helped us through locks 4 to 6, while Cath went on and set some more locks.  The dogs were in their element, trotting along the towpath in the sunshine.  By the time that we got to the bottom of the locks the sun was shining warmly and we had shed all coats and scarves, and considering shedding jumpers.

Distinctive foot and seing bridges at Drayton
At Fazeley Junction we realised just how tired we were feeling, so moored up for a little while we spent some time on the outside of the boat which was looking very uncared for.  Alan polished brass, and Cath scrubbed the roof.  Then on to Glascote locks.

Glascote bottom lok.
Soon after that is Alvecote Marina, and the Samuel Barlow pub.  We arrived and tied up at much the same time as the previous day - about 7:30, but feeling very different about things.  The previous day had felt like a struggle from beginning to end, while this day was sunny and perfect for boating through the English countryside.

Sadly work seems to have stalled on "Sickle's" twin "Theophilus".
We went for a meal at the Samuel Barlow, and were joined for a drink by our friends Tracy and Rod, and were pleased to hear good news about Rod's recent health problems.  Then off to bed.

Star City, Birmingham to Alvecote Marina
Miles: 15.7, Locks: 16
Total Trip Miles: 115.3, Locks: 133

Monday, 17 April 2017

Far too little water followed by rather too much water.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Cath 

First lock of the day - Rushall top.
I woke up early, my back aching and painful.  I had thought that I had largely got over the back injury that I got a few days ago, and that had made the trip from Walsall to Brownhills very difficult - so I was very fed up to find that I couldn't even sit up in bed without groaning.  Fortunately, Alan was on hand to give my back a painful massage, and, with the help of some painkillers, I was ready to work down the Rushall flight.  A nod to the CRT man, who was just checking water levels in the flight and we set off.  This is a nice area, middle class detached and semi-detached properties, carefully cared for.

Odin and Max run ahead of the boat.
A very brief stop for the friendly Coop supermarket in the long pound after the second lock, and we set off again - only to come to a juddering halt mid-pound not far before the third lock.  We were stymied.  The pound was down about six inches and we couldn't get the boat to move in forward or reverse gear.  We tried using the long shaft against the bank but couldn't get much of a purchase.  We tried one of us using the long shaft while the other used the engine, but nothing.  We were stuck on a hard, gravelly surface, just in front of the engine room - and the boat was pivoting on that - and we were several feet from the bank - too far for even a daring leap.  I was aware that we were being watched from the well cared home on the off-side and hoped that they might come up the embankment to ask if we needed help - with a thrown rope they could have pulled us off the obstruction - but they obviously decided that it was not a good idea to go to talk to these people at the end of their garden.

Believe it or not, it's the tow-path side we are aground on!
We tried a number of ideas, trying to rationalise what we could do, but every idea failed.  However, somehow we tried pushing the bows considerably to the left - into the bushes, and this allowed Alan to get a plank off to the bank (just - I had my heart in my mouth as he walked across, with barely an inch on anything solid at either end).  Once there he tried pulling ropes - no good, and I was just looking up the CRT emergency number when finally Alan managed to slowly start to shift the boat with the long shaft that I had managed to pass to him.  We had been stuck for something over an hour.

The Rushall flight us quite attractive - when not firmly aground!
In lock 4 we had to watch the boat very carefully, as the Nicholson's guide says that it is very narrow - and Flamingo has spread a bit as she has aged.  We think that there was about a centimetre spare on each side at the bottom of the lock.

The rest of Rushall was something of a relief after that, although we encountered a low pound or two.  Fortunately, going down, it was less of a problem than going up, as we were taking the water down with us.

Tame Valley canal - novel attempt to secure rock cutting.
At Rushall Junction we met with a contractor's work boat and push tug in the middle of the cut as we went round - something very similar happened the last time we went through the junction three years ago.  I made lunch, and fed the dogs, and before we knew it we were at the top of the Perry Bar flight - as was the smiling CRT man from that morning at the top of the Rushall flight - with a van full of rubbish that he had cleared from the flight.

Tame Valley canal - much is deep cuttings or massive embankments,
He asked how things had gone, and I told him about our long stay in the middle of the Rushall pound and he said that I should have phoned him - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week he said - the evidence was all the work that he had done on Easter Monday.  I asked him about levels of water in the Perry Bar flight, and he said that they should be OK, but, as we are a deep draughted boat, he would make sure to send some water down for us once we were out of the lock.

Looking down the "thick" of Perry Bar locks (known as the "new thirteen").
A pleasant flight at the top end, we carried on down quickly, although I had a momentary fright when I turned around at one lock to see Max swimming along the pound behind me - and trying to get out of the water.  Unlike Odin, he is very wary of water, so I can only assume that he fell in.  I rushed up, and grabbed hold of his harness (both dogs wear them if we are boating), and he was out in a second - I didn't even need to pull, he just needed a bit of stability.  No worse the wear, but a bit surprised.

It's usually Odin that turns up this wet - this is Max.
Soon after that we met with a couple of very nice young girls who offered to help to push gates, and who asked questions about how the locks work, and the boat.  I do enjoy talking to the people we meet as we are on our boating travels.

The further we got down the flight, the more water there seemed to be - our CRT man must have pulled out all the stops, although we couldn't see how the water was getting down the flight.  Pounds began to overflow, and the lock areas were decidedly soggy - I had to wade through wide puddles around the locks to go to work the gates and paddles.  Passing cyclists and walkers began to comment on never having seen the pounds so full.

Charming young helpers

Near the bottom of the flight we met with a lovely Polish family out for a walk, who wanted to ask lots of questions, but were limited by language.  Fortunately one of the sons spoke very good English, and acted as an interpreter.  They helped us work some of the locks, while asking questions about the boat, and the history of the English canal system.

Finally, we were at the bottom of Perry Bar.  Two hours to sunset - could we make it to Curdworth six miles and three locks distant (the Internet said this would take three hours) - what if we hit any more problems?  So, we decided to take the sensible option - to stop at Star City Moorings - despite the fact that we had heard about some recent problems with them.   These are a short distance down a branch from the Birmingham and Fazely canal that we were on.  The problem with them is that we need to go back in the same direction in the morning so, either you have to travel several hundred metres of the canal in reverse, or you have to carry on for several miles to find somewhere to wind.  We decided to reverse.

Big, big mistake.

And everybody else has been complaining about too little water at Perry Bar.
We were all over the place, the boat didn't want to go backwards, then, not entirely surprisingly we picked up a huge bladeful of rubbish.  We managed to clear some of this in the remains of the narrow stop lock, but then we got a large floating propane cylinder wedged down the side of the boat while we were in the narrow area - requiring Alan to get handy with the sledgehammer.  We got to the moorings one and a half hours after the bottom of the locks.

I cooked dinner, Alan delved under the back end of the boat with the boat hook to remove some of the rubbish - although I think that he has more to remove in the morning.  The only other moorer at Star City came to talk to him - perhaps impressed by having seen the antics with the sledgehammer - and asked if we didn't have a weed hatch.  I know that some old boats have been fitted with a weed hatch, but Flamingo isn't one of them - the only ways to get the rubbish off the prop, is to delve under the back end with a boat hook, or, if things get really bad - to get in the water and hack at the rubbish with a knife.

Rushall Top Lock To Star City Birmingham
Miles: 8.1, Locks: 22
Total Trip Miles: 99.6, Locks: 117

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Moving again.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

I may write up yesterday at some stage, but we were at moored at the event throughout, and didn't venture anywhere by boat.  Other people are pub lishing pictures far better than any  I managed to take.

Anglesey Basin - "Bream" about to turn
I realised that I had actually been quite envious of those boats that were taken out for a bit of a jaunt, particularly those making the trip up the Anglesey Branch - a place actually quite special to us, because it is where our dog Odin first learned to swim in August 2013, and the reason he now goes quite manic when he senses access to any suitable water for swimming, (or indeed even any unsuitable water for swimming!)

I was surprised how easily we could moor tight to bank
We had the perfect excuse.  Until we can change our heating arrangements, our massive stove that drives radiators can't be run without using a mains central heating pump, which in turn needs the rather massive inverter permanently on, depleting our battery bank faster than is ideal.  As I have just spent a great deal of money replacing the battery bank, I am keen not to kill the new batteries by over discharging them, and they are being monitored closely  Although performing well, I didn't wish to risk a further static day without charging them, so rather than wear the engine out just to charge batteries I persuaded Cath that a trip out would make more sense.  The only potential downside was a weather forecast that looked fairly poor.

In his element, (although I suppose water is made up of two elements)
The Anglesey Arm proved the perfect antidote to the poorer stretches of canal that we travelled up here by, and was really pretty good throughout.  We were surprised that mooring is no longer possible at the rings in the feeder where the water flows in from the reservoir - the place we have always moored in the past.  A steel cable is stretched across it, but we were pleasantly surprised to be able to tie right against the side a bit further up.

Not content with reservoir, back in the canal basin itself.
Needless to say, Odin had enormous fun in water, but was not content to wait until we were by Chasewater reservoir - he was in the actual canal basin long before then.  Normally swimming in the canal is discouraged, but here it was exactly the same clean water the reservoir feeds in.  Max also bounced around, but doesn't do swimming - although he did manage a tentative paddle, whilst trying to figure out what the attraction of water is for Odin.

"Tucana" - recently restored full length version of how "Sickle" once was.
All too soon we had to head back, and went onwards just past the assembled boats at Brownhills to use the service block.  With water tank full, and toilet cassettes and rubbish bin empty we returned briefly to our moorings.  However unlike some of the others we needed to head off tonight.  We walked up to the community centre where the "tat" auction had just ended, admiring people's purchases on the way. We had not only managed to avoid buying anything, we could laugh at  those who had!  We said final farewells to friends and the organisers, then returned to the boat, setting off in the opposite direction to which we had arrived, hoping to make the top of Rushall locks tonight.

Last look at many of thed boats from the bridge.
Again the condition and depth of the canal was very variable, but I am still trying to work out why I can consistently get round most of the worse left hand bends, but struggle with the right handers, even those that on the map don't look the most severe.  At least I'm not now hitting the bank, but a couple of times had to go heavily in to reverse when it looked fairly obvious I would not be able to power round.

I really liked this - magnificent!

Ready to leave
We have been luck that the promise rain largely held off for much of the day, but as I steered towards our target in failing light, it rained progressively harder.  However it saved really chucking it down until we were trying to tie up - I got wetter in about  minutes than I had done all day.  Fortunately Cath had the stove p and running, and an excellent meal almost ready.

Today has been a good day - I'm tired, but happy none the less.  It is almost impossible to wake Odin up, however - I can't imagine why!

Brownhills to Anglesey Basin and Return then Brownhills to Rushall Top Lock
Miles: 11.7, Locks: 0
Total Trip Miles: 91.5, Locks: 95

Friday, 14 April 2017

Hard Work!

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

A bit of a gloomy place to try clearing a propeller.
The crews of the four boats that over-nighted in the basin at Walsall, agreed we would all set off together today.  Cath has hurt her back badly so people kindly agreed that we would be one of the middle boats up the Walsall flight of eight locks, which you tackle almost immediately after starting.

Walsall flight
Based on yesterday's experience we put the boat with keb first, and this quickly proved a good decision, because Nick on the lead boat fairly quickly found a lock where the bottom gate would not shut due to debris on the cill.

Thereafter we were able to go up the locks relatively briskly, with no serious difficulties, although I picked up quite a bit of fouling of the propeller, which had to be removed with the short shaft.

Swallow following us up
After the top of the locks for the remainder of the Walsall canal, things got quite difficult, and at one or two of the bridges we were brought to a complete halt, and only got going again with some difficulty.  For whatever reason I'm not exactly sure, maybe to do with the rotation and dynamics of the propeller, I continue to make most of the sharp left hand turns OK, but regularly foul up turns to the right of similar magnitude.  It is almost becoming a psychological thing - I see the map shows a very sharp right hand turn ahead, ans start to get freaked by the idea of getting ut wrong, and increasingly seem to be doing just that!

Beatty arrives at the top of the Walsall flight.
I hoped things would improve after we turned onto the Wyrley and Essington, (needless to say another sharp right hand turn that I messed up), but for a while they got distinctly worse.  Immediately we found Nick on Beatty stuck in the first bridge after the junction, with Nick and Liz manhandling through on a combination of ropes and engine.  They eventually extracted themselves, but we then stuck as least as hard.  Fortunately Nick offered us a long line, and towed us over the scour - the second time the crew of Beatty have had to bail us out in two days.

Whilst I'm fighting a very large carpet, Swallow slips past.
Fortunately things did eventually improve a bit, although we ended up dragging quite the largest thing I ever have, (apart from another boat, of course).  The piece of industrial carpeting we stopped to remove was really quite impressive.  Being too heavy to drag on the boat, the best I could do was roll it out of the way down an embankment.

Beatty leads, Swallow next, by now, and Flamingo is third.
When I thought we were nearly at our destination, the map showed three very sharp right hand bends in fairly quick succession.  I messed the first two up, but got better for the final two - I'd like to think I'm improving overall, but I'm as yet far from convinced!

Whilst Enceladus brings up the rear.
As a final note the canal route planner we use estimated this as a trip of around four and three quarter hours, and I think in a modern leisure boat I could easily have achieved that.  Today we took about an hour longer than that, and I was surprised it wasn't a lot more.  Despite all the hold ups, our time was nothing like as bad as might have imagined.

Walsall Town Basin to Brownhills
Miles: 9.0, Locks: 8
Total Trip Miles: 79.8, Locks: 95