Tuesday 17th March 2009... and catastrophe averted
Up at 06:00 and away at 06:40. Lots and lots of locks today. At one I saw what looked like a blue tarpaulin by the bottom gates. While we worked through the lock it moved, and the tramp inside got up. I said I hoped we hadn't disturbed him, at which he smiled.
At Boxmoor Lock we waited for a motor and butty pair to come up. This was Bletchley and Argus, carrying coal and diesel. We needed a fuel top-up, so Peter Hawker came alongside and dispensed 50 litres.
Before we could enter Lock 69 we had to wait for BW to repair a collar on a bottom gate. I believe a key which holds the collar to the quoin had broken, so new ones were being fitted. Or did it need a new collar as well? I should write stuff down as soon as I know I'll need it - I can't rely on my memory these days!
If that wasn't enough excitement for one day, at the next lock we witnessed a near disaster. Wol was coming up, so we tied up above the lock and sauntered over to chat to the crew. I glanced down to the boat, and saw that water was starting to enter the well deck via the drain holes. Something's not right here. Water should be draining out of those holes, not coming in. Excuse me, you seem to be taking on water. AARGH! Drop the paddles! I lowered the paddle nearest me, and Wol's other crew lowered that on the other side. Then we both rushed to the bottom gates and opened the paddles there to let water back out of the lock. The counter was a good few inches up in the air, but it quickly came down again and the boat settled properly back in the water. Mr. Wol was very grateful for a catastrophe averted. Wol's baseplate extends an inch forward under the bow and had got caught under the cill. It's happened once before, apparently, in the 20 years he's had the boat.
one very relieved boater
After a pleasant run down Cassiobury Park we moored below Iron Bridge Lock 77. Here, as at Stoke Bruerne (just two days earlier - seemed like months ago!) we enlisted the help of passers by to open a top gate. The bottom gates were leaking so badly that the lock wouldn't quite fill: as much water was leaving at the bottom as was coming in at the top. Until help arrived I was thinking about how I could temporarily seal the gap. Didn't boaters in this situation tip ash into the lock by the gates to stem the flow? No good - I'd already emptied our ash before lighting the stove. Perhaps a leafy branch would have done it? Academic now, as we were through and tying up in woodland just before the Metropolitan Line crosses the canal on its way to Watford.
Academic now, as we were through and tying up in woodland at the southern end of Cassiobury Park. One of the first jobs was a spot of washing up: here's the galley slave - I mean my dad - in action. (I did wash up and cook sometimes!)
And the reward.
Purton on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal - This is a lovely mooring at *Purton* on the *Gloucester and Sharpness Canal*, just above the Purton Hulks on the River Severn Estuary. [image: Lower Pur...
4 hours ago