Sunday, 20 May 2018

Tricky trip to Filance

Actually, most of it was straightforward, an eight o'clock start, myself steering and Sheila locking. She had to turn Brick Kiln and as I slotted Sanity Again into the lock, a towpath walker stopped and had a long conversation with her. It was to the effect that the pound below was very low, so low, in fact, that the GRP cruiser coming along was struggling. Her lockwheelers arrived as we got the gates shut and the lock emptying.

The pound was indeed well down with substantial muddy beaches showing on the offside. Once the bottom gates were open, I set off to get out but soon stopped dead. The radios came into their own here, allowing me to ask for a flush from the top paddles. With them drawn, out we swam and I signalled to drop them only to run hard aground immediately below.

More flushing was needed, after which I was able to make a snail's progress down the centre of the channel. From time to time, sinister grinding noises would occur and once the boat leant over a shade as she slid across something on the bottom.

When Sheila got to Boggs Lock, it had emptied itself through the leaking bottom gates so she waited until the boat's bow was almost on the top gates before drawing the top paddles and refilling the lock. As so often, there was better depth immediately above the lock and we were still floating when the lock was full.

Now came the tricky, not to say dangerous bit. With just a short pound behind me, the risk was that Sanity Again would get most of the way into the lock, stick with her back end on the top cill and sit there whilst the water draining through the bottom gates lowered the pound so much that she submarined and sank.

I gave a sigh of relief when we were fully in the lock and I could use the cabin shaft to hold her forward of the cill. Sheila took over that task whilst I dropped the offside paddle. With the top gate closed, the bottom paddles could be drawn by the lockwheelers who had appeared from a boat below.

The rest of the run was comparatively straightforward. Sheila walked the lot as we went down Rodbaston and Otherton locks and then she scouted the moorings by the Cross Keys above Filance. We've come through the bridge onto the 5 day moorings between there and Filance Lock. It was now ten o'clock.

After a coffee and a chance to relax, we went into the village, walking along the towpath to the bridge just above the lock, then straight down that road into the village centre. A raid on the Sainsbury's Local got all the urgently needed stuff like bread and tomatoes – we'll go back tomorrow morning to the Co-op for other supplies.

We've spent the afternoon relaxing on the bow (I nearly said 'chilling out' but that would be completely misleading). Folk wander past and there's been a lot of boat traffic, so plenty to keep us entertained. Reading Number One just now, I reached a bit where Foxon reports spending the night at Filance, arriving just in time to get a drink at The Cross Keys. It's great to have such a sense of connection with the carrying days.

We'll probably be here for a few days, depending on what we decide about fly screens.

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