Monday, 12 September 2011

What's the Opposite of "Becalmed?"

Because whatever it is - that's what I've been all day!
Yesterday's trip from Nantwich to the bottom of Adderley locks was bad enough, but the wind was a mere breeze compared to the gale that was blowing this morning. In retrospect, I didn't choose a very good mooring as the wind was blasting directly over the fields and pinning me - and everyone else - to the bank this morning.
Nothing moved until 11.00 when hotel boats "Duke and Duchess" came past. Their appearance prompted at least one of the boats on the mooring to set off, but I walked up to the locks to see if the crew needed any help getting the butty through in the wind. Needless to say they could manage perfectly well on their own (they are true "working" boaters after all) but I was able to assist a couple of hire boats down the flight. At this stage it was only those boats with a schedule to keep that were moving. 
By half-past three I'd had enough and convinced myself that the wind had dropped enough to make a start. The first problem was just to get away from the towpath - achieved by laying the front fender on the gunwale to protect the paintwork and pushing against it to get the bow out with a metal rod that I've been keeping on the cabin top on the basis that "it will come in handy one day" before dashing back to the counter to get some revs on. It took me three goes. Once into the locks there was the opportunity to hone some of my single-handed locking skills: Get ahead to set next lock, power straight through, start lock filling, go back to close top gate of previous lock , then forward to set next lock etc etc or, alternatively, as at lock 2, leave Starcross tied to the bottom gates as the lock emptied and I went back to close the one below.
Starcross waiting for the lock to empty while I run back to close the lock below
Despite all the running around I was able to keep pace with the hire-boat coming up behind and carried on to Market Drayton where I found a convenient Starcross-size gap in the moorings above bridge 62.

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