Monday, 12 September 2016

Another trip through the tunnel

We've long since lost count of how many times we've been through Harecastle, but it must be between thirty and forty. After filling the water tank this morning, we got away around 7.45, down the stop lock and along to Hardings Wood junction. The wind was a bit tedious, blowing in just the wrong direction for the turn, so that the bow was reluctant to swing and I had to back and fill a couple of times to get round.

Well, that's my excuse, anyway. Unusually, the first convoy through the tunnel had been southbound and had set off twenty minutes earlier (it was now 8.30). Since there were a couple of boats waiting at the south portal and it takes around forty minutes to get through, we had an hour or so to wait. We pottered about, having first checked that the tunnel light and horn were working.

The tunnel keeper came over for a chat at quarter past nine, the first of the northbound boats emerging not long after. The second one was a bit slower, so it was indeed about half nine when we got going. We were the first boat in, something I hate as they make you queue right up close to the portal which is at an awkward angle to the towpath. I had to lean the bow on the curve of the washwall to motor us round, but once done, it was a case of open the throttle and head straight on.

There's a light kept burning at the other end to make up for the doors being closed, so there's something to aim for once your eyes have dark adjusted. We were followed by a share boat, then the tunnel rescue boat, whose crew were going to come back through immediately, checking whether the new mobile phone signal is working in the tunnel. It's on Vodafone, apparently, but of course any mobile will be able to use it for emergency calls, which is the point of the exercise.

We took about 35 minutes this time, not bad for us – the water level is reasonably high at the moment.

Sheila had got the washing machine running as we went through and made a coffee once we were out the other side. As usual, it was quick going along the summit pound, which is deep and wide, and we got to the Festival Park mooring before half eleven. There were a couple of boats tied here, though for once there was space outside the Toby Carvery. It's still comparatively quiet, indeed there were no boats at all at Westport Lake, the first time we've seen it deserted like that.

We've had a walk up to Sainsbury's for stuff we couldn't get in the various Co-op's, but otherwise have been chilling out in the boat. Tomorrow, a fairly early start down the Stoke locks, aiming for the Wedgwood moorings.

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