Friday, July 04, 2008

Plans Are Not Necessarily A Good Idea!

4.24 miles, 5 hrs 35 mins, 22 locks, 4.71lmph

Yesterday en route to The Bridge Inn there is a tight bend - look how tight! On the right are permanent moorings and opposite on the bend a very large wide boat!

Some of our readers will have encountered this boat and will now be having a wry smile!

What a funny day today turned out to be! We had a plan for today so off we set!

I left the boat at Horton Bridge and took the car into Devizes for some shopping and John cruised down to Devizes. After London Bridge the police had closed off the towpath and were looking for something.

This is where a disabled lady on a motorised scooter lost control and had to be rescued from the canal yesterday. The bank is very steep so she must have had a nasty experience. Apparently she is not too badly injured.

I parked the car and met John at Kennet lock (50) where nb Beau was waiting for another boat to go down with. We went down with him and his dog Bill through the 3 locks to the Black Horse pub. I know Collies drive sheep, but narrowboats through locks?

Bill does look a little scared though, maybe he is wondering what his master is doing leaving him in charge of the boat whilst he operates the lock!

At the Black Horse John walked back for the car - unloaded the shopping, loaded the empty gas bottle and went back to Devizes for a new one and some rope from the marina, a long length for a long bow rope - apparently for me to practice my skills at throwing the rope to lock keepers on the Thames!

Epiphany at the Black Horse pub moorings

Back he came, unloaded the car and took it down to Sells Green, caught the bus back and as the sun was shining we set off with the intention of going down to Caen top lock - 3 more locks. The flight closes at 5 pm and we were pretty sure we would not be there in time.

So Caen Hill on Saturday as planned, although Gill from Petroc told us the weather was going to be bad and they had decided to stay down below at Seend for the weekend! We would meet up on Sunday.

We met the lock keeper who asked if we planned to go down the flight - "up to you" said John! He said "it's OK there is a boat coming up so they will be set and as you go you can leave the bottom paddle open" as per usual when they are closed. A change of plan? - OK, we said and we set off down the flight at about 5.10!

The lock keeper warned us that there was a lot of water in the flight - a bit of an understatement, as it turned out. There are no by washes on the Caen Hill 16 locks and so the water continued to come in through the "letter boxes" (the ground paddle overflows) and into the lock when the top ground paddles are fully closed! He said it would probably be difficult to open the bottom gates of the first few locks because of this! Another understatement!

It was a good job John was locking - even his weight, strength and sheer brute force was only just enough to open them with difficulty! This was the scene at lock 41, it felt like being in a film set imitation sea tank!

The turbulence from the water coming in at my stern was rocking the boat from left to right! It also made steering out of the lock fun!

The water in lock 40 was very high - in fact it was going over the bottom gates, as you can detect if you notice the dark, wet, tide mark!

As the lock emptied the turbulence began again. John then decided we needed to stop some water coming down and shut the bottom paddles of the previous lock, thereby damming the flight!

When we entered the next lock (eventually!) the lock keeper appeared and said he was going to let some water right down the flight otherwise he would have a flood! I think he might have been right!

So lock 38 had all its paddles raised as did the rest of the flight!

Once this had been done it was "plain sailing" from there on and we finally arrived at the bottom about 8pm! Moored on the visitor moorings and had a well deserved meal!

The only other problem was that we were unable to "live track" our journey down Caen as for some reason John could not get it to start - so our journey has been entered manually!

Dare I say it - our plan for tomorrow is to go down the 6 locks to Foxhangers and then on to Sells Green.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like an interesting trip.
    The wx this am does not look nearly as bad as forecast, but we are bedded in here now for the weekend.


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