Monday, 11 August 2014

A very windy day

(Boat Chalice - posted by Cath)
Post for Monday 11th August

"Please can I be involved in some small way?"
I haven't bothered to buy new jeans for a while, I lost a bit of weight last year, then found  a month back that I had lost a few more pounds. I was thinking that I would continue to keep my jeans up with an increasingly tight belt, then buy some new ones when I could fit into a smaller size, since the ones I have are getting a bit baggy.

The Aire & Calder locks make a narrow boat look very small,
However, the jeans really have suffered from boating. They are increasingly stained, and no amount of pre-treatment and scrubbing with 'Vanish' will lift the marks. I decided the other day that they were now getting so thin that you could, as my late MIL used to say when faced with thinning fabric, "shuffle peas through them". I left one grubby pair on Sickle, and had only two pairs on Chalice, a bit of a problem to wash and dry them before the other pair was dirty too. No choice, I would have to buy some more. Leeds provided the answer, an M & S only half a mile from the mooring, and opening at 8 am. I noticed also that one of David's pairs of jeans was in danger of wearing through in the derriere - not a good thing.

These really are very big locks.
So David and I set off to buy jeans, which we had done by 8:30. I'm really quite shocked when I get things done early in the day, I'm usually a get things done late person. We then hit the food halls and were back at the boat by nine, ready to set off. Everyone in Leeds seemed so friendly and helpful.

Will take a boat 200 feet long, and 20 feet wide, according to the guide.
It was getting very windy as we headed towards the lock. We helped Grace and Favour, a large widebeam, whose owners are on Canal World Forum, lock down, then a family of hire boaters lock up. The parents stayed on the boat while some youngish teenage boys helped us. I suggested that they might like to find out how to operate a lock, so the mother climbed up. They seemed completely bemused by paddle gear. They had come off the river, where all the locks are electrically operated, you just push buttons. "So, after this lock, there are lock keepers, then?"

On some parts river levels were just into the yellow/amber.
No, I explained, some of the more difficult staircases have lock keepers. "And they do it all for you?"

No, they expect you to help them, and not all the staircases have keepers, so you need to learn from them while you have the chance.

We also told them basic rules for double staircases, to open ground paddles before gate paddles, to use the ratchets when winding up, and suggested that on such a windy day they might need their ropes in a hurry, so perhaps the tangle in the front well deck and the centre line wrapped around the chimney should be tidied up.

At this point we need to confess, or rather I do. Before we set off on this whole trip Alan had asked if we were going on any rivers, and did we need an anchor. No, I had said, I don't think so, but I forgot to check. At the end of the Leeds & Liverpool canal you head out onto the River Aire, and then, to get back onto the canal system, you turn right onto the River Calder. It's not far, a day's journey, some 12 miles, and it is canalised river, so there are locks. But, we are very cautious boaters, and we didn't have an anchor, because I'd told Alan we wouldn't be going on rivers.

Seriously strong wind alone caused these waves.
Grace and Favour kindly lent us a 25 kg mudweight, to add to the one we already have. (These are heavy weights dropped overboard on a long line, which will keep you still if you are in still water, and will slow you down if you are drifting on a river, but they are not an anchor.) So, with a careful eye on the river level boards, which were still green, but bordering on the amber, we set off.

The locks on the river are huge, but they fill and empty through electrically operated sluices, which control the amount of flow, so they are not a problem - most of the time.

Those waves again.
We only had problems at one lock, King;s Road. The wind was howling, it was so bad that I was worried about some children with their grandparents on the other side of the lock. I was concerned that in that wind they might be blown off their feet. Above the lock the river was very choppy, and the wind was coming directly towards the lock entrance, although inside the lock the water was almost completely calm.

CRT's works at Stanley Ferry where new lock gates get built.
We struggled with the boat in the lock, with it blowing across the lock, although David and Alan together managed to pull it back to one side. Once the gates were open, getting the boat out of the lock, into the bucking water, and managing to shut the gates was difficult, with Chalice heading off towards the narrow weir on the right, once again needing all of David's strength to pull the back in again. We discussed pulling over, but kept on for one more lock, when it all died down again.

One of many rainbows seen over recent days
On into Wakefield, where we moored in the town centre. Hopefully tomorrow the wind and rain will have died down.

In the evening Alan and I consulted the Nicholson guide and the Internet, and headed off a half mile to the Fernandes Brewery Tap. We ended up passing a series of dodgy looking avenues, then went down the final one. At the end of the alley was a door, leading up two flights of steps, where we found a 'real gem'. There was a problem however, we had brought Alan's laptop to be able to do the pictures for the blog - and Alan had left his glasses on the boat. So, he checked what I had typed up, and selected photos, while wearing my glasses. I knitted, and every now and again I got my glasses back to check what I was doing.

Oh, and I needn't have worried about having to buy baggy jeans, I easily fitted into a size down on previously.

Leeds to Wakefield
Miles: 18.4 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks: 11

Total Miles: 546.0, Locks: 297

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