Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Lapworth (another holiday stymied by lock closures)

As is usual on Mondays I took Karen to work in the morning so I could pick her up in the evening on our way to bridge classes in Stratford.  Even though it was frosty it was really good not to have to use a torch when walking along the towpath.  It was the first time this year that it has been light enough before 6.00am to be confident of walking without a torch knowing that we will see all the puddles and muddy bits before walking into them.

Buddy taking the boat through lock 22 on our way to get water on Sunday

Back on board I was having my morning coffee and croissant when I heard a boat coming down the lock behind us.  As it went past I waved the woman driver down and told her the locks were closed so she may want to reverse back to the junction and take a different route.  She thanked me and said she would talk with her husband who was getting the next lock ready.

I wandered down to the next lock with Buddy to see why they were carrying on.  The guy told me that he had checked the CRT site and that there were no closures.  He wouldn’t have it that there was a closure so I left them to it.  They were on a week long holiday on a private boat and looked very unsure of handling it.  That, coupled with the fact that the boat looked so unlived in, made me suspect it was either borrowed from a friend or a private hire.

I left them to it and got ready for our morning walk.  Of course, I walked down the canal to see how the couple were getting on.  I caught up with them at another lock where they were trying to turn the boat round.  Apparently he had contacted CRT who confirmed there was a closure.  The poor lady was still driving and he was at the front shouting out his orders (just like was doing at the locks I may add). They were having a lot of trouble turning round as the winding hole was very shallow – I offered to help by taking a line and pulling them round but he was so embarrassed (I had seen him fall over whilst using a barge pole on the front deck) he declined my offer.  Fortunately he had fallen into the boat rather than out of it.  

I left them to it and carried on walking.  After a while I turned back and caught up with them at a lock.  He had recovered his composure and was quite chatty.  I asked him where they were going to go next and he said he wanted to go onto the Grand Union and follow a ring through Birmingham.  His wife had had enough though and wanted to go straight back to the boat yard – I suspect she’d had enough of being shouted at in public.  Anyway I walked on and set the next couple of locks for them and she was most grateful as they passed me again.

Buddy waiting for me at Lapworth basin on Sunday

As I was due to service the engine this week I spent some time making sure the engine bay was clean and dry so the job wouldn’t be a messy one.  It always amazes me how much dirt and leaf debris gets in the bay even though it is covered up.  The trouble is, is that every time the cover gets lifted stuff falls in unnoticed.  I had also spilt some oil during the last service so mopped that up with a couple of disposable babies’ nappies.

Karen’s boaty cousin, Dave Heatley, had given me a useful tip to change the alternator belts for the spare ones I have.  Even though they don’t need changing it means that I will definitely know that the spares will fit if needed in an emergency.  Dave was a chief marine engineer and is just the sort of person who is full of good ideas.  I am always fascinated that the really clever ideas are often really simple in origin.  Even though I am logically minded I am so impractical that I could never think of these things for myself.

Arriving at the water point on Sunday

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