Well not quite always Mr Wilde. But it certainly doesn’t help the general health of the boat or the waterways.
There were certainly causes for confidence – Double Fracture and I had made it to day three of the excursion relatively unscathed. Wednesday’s crew had previous lock experience (little did he know just how much more he was about to accrue). And we had relatively little ground (water) to cover.
Richard’s previous boating adventures had come on the Canal du Midi. As onboard toilets on French narrowboats deposit their contents directly into the canal, contact with the water was not recommended. Rescue boats were called for any problems which might necessitate body parts being submerged. So when one of the boat’s ropes got tangled around the propeller there was no messing about with the weed hatch for Richard lest he contract cholera* or some other water borne delight; an engineer in full frogman kit attended to cut the rope loose. The closest the Erewash Canal could get to a helpful frogman was a shy frog, that seemed to live in one of the lock gates. It was safe to say this was going to be a different experience to his French cruise.
I had taken Richard’s story as an interesting tale about how continental canalboating differs to the English variety. I should have taken it as a cautionary tale, for we were not far into the trip when the centre rope suddenly whipped itself taut, and the end of the line was nowhere to be seen. Until I wriggled into the engine space to open the weed hatch.
One extremely cold arm later, the rope was free and I was resolved to curb my newfound laissez-faire boating ways. Or at the very least pay more attention to trailing ropes.
The day’s drama did not end there. We reached Stenson lock, and discovered that one of the ratchets to open and close the paddles was stuck partially open. (I have a sneaking suspicion that Double Fracture was the last boat to pass through this lock, and so I may not be blameless in its current predicament. But let’s not dwell on that.) No amount of jiggling seemed to loosen it, so we decided to try the lock anyway.
It all went well until the lock water was about 6 inches above the canal water. And then it just stopped sinking. (I believe this is something to do with us reaching the level of water pressure inside the lock that meant as much water was being pushed into the lock as was being pushed out.) There was nothing for it but to fill the lock back up, reverse out and wait for help.
Two CRT chaps turned up not long after we had made a cup of tea (coincidence?), and with the aid of a large crowbar and a hammer, they released the ratchet from the holding mechanism. (Which was what Richard had tried to do, but Double Fracture is woefully undersupplied with crowbars or crowbar substitutes.) Before long we were on our way once more.
It was probably then that it started raining. Or it might have been at that point that I hit one of the low bridges and crushed the box the solar panel sits on. (Remarkably, the solar panel is still working.) It was almost certainly at this point that the crew started to wonder when the relaxing, sunny, breakage-free part of the day was going to start. But at least there were nachos. Really good nachos. And really good nachos can go a long way towards saving a boat trip.
The mooring site for the night was once again near The Gallows Inn. This time I didn’t need to nod in a steely fashion towards the passing joggers, because there weren’t any. My reputation must have spread.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Blame it on the boogie‘ by The Jacksons.
*Cholera may not be floating about the French canals. It’s possible I’m being a bit dramatic.