Monday, 13 June 2011

Stockton Locks

Finally I'm able to slow down a bit and today's run was the short hop from Long Itchington up to the Boat Inn at the top of the Stockton Brook flight.
For the first time I had no one to share with, but that didn't matter as it gave me the chance to hone my broad-lock, single-handed skills!
Stockton Brook Locks - and no one else in sight.
My way of working is this: Open one gate, preferably on the right hand side to eliminate any danger of a rope fouling the roof vent for the water-heater. Take boat in slowly and give a touch of reverse before stepping off with the centre-rope and running up the steps to bring it to a halt using a strapping post. Close gate and open one top paddle gently and in stages to minimise turbulence. When lock is nearly full make sure boat is loosely but securely tied up and go ahead to set the next lock. Take boat out, stopping in the mouth of the lock to close the top gate - and repeat until done. This way of working avoids any use of lock ladders, minimises the number of times you cross the lock and is still reasonably quick.
Starcross in one lock whilst I go on to set the next.
I did get some help when I passed a downhill boat, although as they left both bottom gates open it was a mixed blessing and the eight locks from the Blue Lias to the Boat Inn took just two hours - an average of 15 minutes a lock - which I was quite pleased with given most of them were "against" me.
I have fond memories of the Boat Inn at the top of the locks from a time in my hire-boating days when an unscheduled stoppage somewhere down the locks meant we had to spend a couple of hours drinking some of the best-kept beer (Draught Bass) that I've had before or since; but it's glory days are behind it and like so many rural pubs it's mainly a food pub now, so I contented myself with a single pint before returning to the boat for the rest of the evening.

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