Sunday, 11 August 2013

Today We Make Good Progress, But Manage To Be Very Relaxed.

(Boats Chalice and Sickle together - posted by Alan)

"Chalice" draws into the stop lock at Hawkesbury.
Our overnight moorings before Brinklow were very pleasant, but we did have the complication of not being able to get even Chalice against the bank.  OK for the humans on board, but Odin really was not happy to try and negotiate a very uphill gangplank!  We eventually substituted one of Sickle's very much wider deck boards, and at this point he could be reluctantly coaxed over it - or at least he could in daylight - once it was dark, he wasn't happy!  So we were treated to the sight of David trying to carry 30 kilos of reluctant "Lab" down a wobbly board - something I wasn't going to try.  Of course in the morning David is not an early riser, so I was faced with trying to entice Odin down the plank again.

"Sickle" waits below for "Chalice" as steam tunnel tug replica "Hasty" arrives.
Soon after we set off, we found ourselves in a long "convoy".  The person leading us proved to be a canal World Forum member, and soon waved us past saying he didn't want to be going as fast as some in the "convoy" wanted to.  We in turn let a faster moving fibreglass boat past us.

We then made good progress up to Hawkesbury, although I was far enough ahead in "Sickle" by now to lock through on my own before "Chalice" arrived.  We were treated to the steam tug replica "Hasty" coming the other way, before a lack of clear understanding about another boater's intentions at the turn under the famous bridge left us both momentarily powering towards the same spot, (wisely he decided quickly that "Sickle" was far the faster!).

Heading away from the turn at Hawkesbury.
We stuck to our guns on actually pulling over for a proper lunch, whilst deliberating on how far we might get without a late finish.  We thought stopping much before Atherstone would probably be too early, but that equally if we pushed down most of the flight, it would be a lot later than we wanted.  This seemed even more so when we stopped for over a quarter of an hour whilst David attempted to re-secure a boat we found had broken from its moorings, but only had an unsuitable mat of knotted rope to try and correct the situation, (David takes these challenges quite seriously, and always tries hard to make sure a drifting boat will stay put after he has retied it!)

Single handing "Sickle" down the Atherstone flight.
In fact we got to Atherstone top lock far sooner than we thought we might, so I set off down with Sickle.  I am not a natural single-handed boater, but these are gentle downhill narrow locks, making it about as easy as it gets, so I stuck with it.  For the first 4 or 5 people eased my task by coming the other way at regular intervals, but after that the flow of uphill boats died out, so I had to pull over to set each lock before I could enter it.  I have to say I surprised myself how well I did, and for some time was far enough ahead of Cath and David with Chalice, that I had little idea how far ahead.

In my view the evening is a superb time to do this otherwise normally busy flight - total tranquillity!

"Sickle" waits in the mouth of lock 9, with "Chalice" having just entered it.
We had decided the best overnight stop was in the long pound before the two bottom locks, so I paused below lock 9 until we were all together again, and then we moored in a very tranquil location.  Sat outside my old tug, but with a laptop wi-fi connected to Chalice, and a glass of wine, we observed a brilliant sunset.  Boating at its best!

Easenhall Lane Bridge, Near Brinklow to below Atherstone Lock 9
Miles: 21.1 (Each Boat), Locks: 20 (10 twice!)

Total Miles: 167.1, Locks: 62

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