Thursday, 21 August 2014

It came apart in my hands, guv

Mexborough to Eastwood Lock

We didn't move far today as we had only to get to Eastwood Lock, Rotherham, in preparation for the ascent of the Tinsley flight into Sheffield tomorrow. Also we were due a visit from Ally and Ben on their way home from visiting Ben's parents in Huddersfield.

There were two incidents of note at Mexborough Top Lock. Jan had gone to set the lock (while I was still washing the boat) but I saw her indicating that she'd quite like me to come on foot.

Mexborough Top Lock is surrounded by a high mesh security fence with gates each end of the lock fastened with BW padlocks. Or should I call them CRT padlocks? Whatever, the shackle of the padlock had come adrift from the body, and Jan couldn't put it back. And neither could I. I became worried that my key would get stuck in the padlock so I gave up and put the two parts on the boat to give to CRT tomorrow when we had the assisted passage to Sheffield. (Yes, the shackle came easily of its chain.)

Not a good start to the day. The next incident was after I'd taken Jubilee into the lock and Jan had closed the gates. While I was still manoeuvering to the side to get a rope over a bollard the top sluices started opening of their own accord. Jan hadn't even got as far as putting the key in the control panel. We didn't want another lock failure (after the problems at Sykehouse Lock on the New Junction Canal the other day), so Jan left it until level had been made before inserting the key and opening the top gates. I thought this was a bad thing. If a boat had been nearer the top gates the sudden turbulence could have been dangerous.

As it happened we saw a CRT lockie later, who was manning Waddington Lock to let a couple of CRT boats through. I gave him the broken padlock and told him about the autonomous sluices. He said, though, that they were meant to open by themselves. I didn't follow his reasoning why - something to do with water flow.

While we were waiting below Waddington Lock, and before CRT had arrived, I took this photo of two working boats, Resilience and George Dyson.

Next to the lock is what looks like a big boat scrapyard, with sections of big boats lying among caterpillar-tracked cranes. Immediately above the lock is the entrance to the Dearne and Dove Canal; the whole area is occupied by E.V. Waddington's boatyard.

As we were about to go up the lock Ally and Ben turned up, having parked nearby, and we went through the lock and round the corner to an exposed but peaceful mooring. This was notable for the freight railway line opposite the towpath. Many interesting locomotives and freight trains went past, including two trains of rails.

A few work boats passed us too, including Eric of Lincoln (below) and William Jessop.

At these large push button-operated locks Jan pushes the buttons and I steer the boat. Here's Jan at the controls.

Tomorrow we have to be away by 0800 in order to meet the lockie at Holmes Lock at about 0900. 2.5 miles and 2 locks - we should just about do it. I think I'll aim for a 0745 getaway to be sure. By tomorrow afternoon, then, we should be in Sheffield! I hope Andrew and Bekka are in.

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