Sunday, 24 June 2018

South of the tunnel

I've said before that long tunnels form psychological boundaries, at least for me. Harecastle certainly does, so that coming south through it makes for a feeling of being on the way home. We got going at around twenty past seven, following another boat to the paired locks, up which we worked in great amity, helping each other out as needed.

I took to going ahead, once Sanity Again was rising in the lock, and setting the next pair so that we fairly zoomed along. When we got to the service wharf, there was a boat using the tap by the pump out cupboard, but they very kindly moved back to make room for us. We'd realised that, as we had a card for CRT pump outs, we didn't need to trouble the folk at Etruria at all.

One word of advice – after you've inserted the card, the light for "card accepted" comes on but nothing else seems to happen, no sound of a pump starting up. Do not panic, just wait until the ready light comes on, just like it tells you, and open the valve on the probe. I'd had a bit of trouble getting the probe to go down into the deck fitting, finally standing on it as usual. This was all fine, but when the tank was empty, I went to pull the probe out and pop it into the water to clear the pipe.

It wouldn't come out.

In the end, it took the two of us to hoick it out, by which time the pump had stopped. It's done a good pump out, however, much better than the one we had, for more money, at Stone the other week.

Off we went again, washing machine chugging away, up the final three locks of the climb. There was one boat waiting at the tunnel portal and we were told we had a forty minute wait to go in. That was no trouble, we got a cup of coffee and hung about, chatting to the other boats waiting. In the event, it was half ten before we were heading in there.

The sand bar has reappeared at the entrance to the tunnel, which gave Sheila a bit of bother getting the bow round and the boat lined up, but once in there, she boated through in fine style.

We got to Westport Lake by half eleven and found plenty of room. Two of the boats which followed us through the tunnel have tied near us. One, Wandering Snail, is crewed by fellow Canal World forumites Peter and Stacey, aka The Biscuits. We've had a good old natter with them and "Bob" off the other boat.

We even talked about toilets for a bit.

Tomorrow, we'll head on down through Stoke to Barlaston.

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