Thursday, 27 April 2017

Up Tardebigge

We got away at ten to eight today. It had been quite frosty overnight with some on the inside of the Houdinis even, but in compensation it was quite sunny to start with, not that it lasted. With a long flight like Tardebigge, we work in blocks of five locks. Since the bottom lock is number 29, this meant swapping jobs at locks whose numbers ended in a three or an eight.

Although an Alvechurch boat had gone up ahead of us, whilst we were still getting up, indeed, the first two locks were empty, a result of leaking bottom gates. Soon, however, each lock had to be turned before we could use it. Our pattern of working was for the lockwheeler to see Sanity Again into the lock, close the bottom gates and draw one top paddle. Once the boat is rising steadily, the lockwheeler walks on to the next lock, checks for oncoming boats and then turns it.

Meanwhile, the steerer gets off the boat when she's risen far enough to do so without climbing on the roof, opens the other top paddle and the gate in due course. The steerer usually has time to drop both paddles before getting back on board and steering into the next lock. The lockwheeler walks back to close the top gate and then back to the upper lock to repeat the sequence.

There was just enough water in the pounds between locks for us to get along and for the first hour and a half no other traffic was seen. After that, we crossed with a couple of boats, first a privateer then a CRT workboat. The lockwheeler from the latter said that if he'd known we were coming up, he'd have left the gates open for us. This downhill traffic was enough to bring a lot of water down, such that it became quite tricky to get into the lock past the outflow from the by-wash.

Just after Sheila had taken over lockwheeling for the second time, a couple of locks after meeting CRT, she radioed back to say that another lockwheeler had turned the next lock. In fact, that lockwheeler had turned the next three locks, so that I had to sit in the lock below for about 20 minutes waiting for them to work down. Apparently, when Sheila had told them that I was waiting below, the response was "Splendid!".

The lockwheeler actually said to me "Thanks for waiting", to which I'm afraid I replied "I didn't have much choice, did I?" I think it was only then that she realised she might just possibly have been guilty of inconsiderate boating. To add to my irritation, it was now drizzling steadily.

Indeed, the Indy's unusual word today was that guid Scots meteorological term "dreich", entirely appropriately today.

By half twelve, we were tied on the visitor moorings below the top lock. It's continued dreich all afternoon, but is forecast to dry up by the morning, or the morn's morn to continue the Scots flavour...

We're pretty tired but not exhausted. It's a good flight to work, though the long throw windlass makes the top paddles much easier to wind. Tomorrow, on to Alvechurch or a bit beyond.



Ann Street said...

Hi Bruce, reading your blog, I was surprised to see that the lock wheeler walks back down to close the top gate on the lock. Could the steerer not drop the paddles (as the boat slowly emerges from the lock) then by putting on a bit of reverse and stepping off with a rope, close the top gates. I am afraid this lock wheeler, is not fit enough to keep walking back and forwards between locks :-). Mind you, the procedure did once not quite go to plan in the Audlem lock below the Shroppie Fly. Iain doesn't always bother with a rope and hadn't on this occasion and some weed got round the prop which meant that reverse didn't engage. kelpie continued slowly on her own for a bit much to the amusement of passers by before she decided to do what she was told and come back to pick up Iain.
Enjoying your blog!

Bruce in Sanity said...


We used to do that with Sanity, but with the heavier boat (SA displaces over 23 tonnes) slowing her and getting going again wastes too much time for us. Also, the locks are very close together in Tardebigge so the double walking jut works out ok.

Glad you're enjoying the blog!



Ann Street said...

I knew there must be a reason for it!