Saturday, 12 February 2011

Thanks, Mate!

Early morning at Penkridge

Just untying at Penkridge, with the intention of returning up through the locks to Gailey Top when narrowboat "The Glass Bead Boat" comes by. The steerer must have seen the look on my face as he offered to raise a paddle (actually he said "drop a paddle") to reset the six locks in the flight up to Gailey.
At the first, Filance lock, he did just that and I was able to take Starcross straight in, nudging the bottom gates open with the bow, knocking it out of gear and running up the bottom steps with a centre rope, ready to close the gates behind  and work the lock.
However  Otherton lock was full, requiring a stop to tie up and empty it before penning through. I therefore assumed Rodbaston lock would also be full, but no, it was empty. I took Starcross in and, without thinking why, looped the centre rope around one of what I've always previously thought of as BW's useless wooden bollards which have only appeared in the last few years. I was glad I did: The lock seemed to be taking a long time to fill and, eventually I realised that a bottom paddle must be open. The preceding skipper had raised it by no more than a notch. Certainly not enough to be easily visible. But as soon as I closed it, Starcross, shot forward in the lock: I had visions of her colliding with the top gate - or of the centre rope snapping followed shortly afterwards by a collision - but thankfully the rope held and as the water levels equalised the forward pull disappeared: a near miss!  
The paddle at Boggs Lock was similarly raised, but I was ready for it, Brick Kiln Lock was full - no paddle raised - and Gailey Top was ready and waiting.
I was grateful for the help but a little more consistency would have been welcome!

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