Thursday, 8 February 2018

Saltisford (Progress seems slow on the lock repairs)

Even though I’ve been having a few walks around Warwick this week, there is very little to report that I haven’t covered in blog entries previously.  We stayed here for a couple of weeks in January 2017 and again in July and blog entries from then contain enough to keep my memory going.

It’s been nice and sunny this week, so I’ve only had to run the engine to get hot water.  The trouble is, is that I sometimes almost forget that the engine hasn’t been on all day and so there won’t be hot water for morning showers.  I hate to imagine Karen’s reaction if she got in the shower at 5.30 on a work morning to find no hot water

Talking about Karen, reminds me that she has been walking to and from work each day. At two miles, her office is further away than when we moor in Leamington, but she finds it a pleasant change from driving.

Although the Hatton flight officially closed on Monday, boats could still get through if they knew the locks were still open.  Every day there are plenty of workers at the locks that will be repaired but they seem to be spending their time unloading all the equipment from barges rather than shutting the locks up.

On Thursday morning a pontoon with new lock gates was brought down the flight.  The lock gates are clearly marked for lock 27 which is the lock above the lock we are moored at.

New lock gates having just emerged from lock number 28

Lads were dragging another pontoon into the lock.  This pontoon was carrying a caterpillar tracked crane. 

Once the crane was through the lock it was reunited with the lock gates and off they chugged to lock 27.  The combined length was far more than the 80’ or so that can be accommodated in the locks on this flight which is why they had to go through the locks separately.

Apparently, it had taken them over six hours to bring the outfit down the flight

These gates had been made at the CRT workshops at Bradley near Wolverhampton.  There are just two workshops left in the country now and they make nearly 200 gates a year between them.  They are still made of oak and last on average 25 years.

There is still a lock cottage at the bottom lock where we are moored and its only access is down the towpath or across the lock.  It was sold last year and is now rented to a pleasant couple who cross the lock gates each morning to get to their cars to drive to work.

The bottom lock cottage – would be ideal were it not for its closeness to the A46

Attached to the cottage are a couple of outhouses.  One of them is for boaters’ use and has a toilet and sink in it.  If we do get badly iced in and not able to move, then it will be an ideal place to fill water carriers as it shouldn’t freeze like the outdoor water points.  

The other outhouse is a kitchenette for the CRT workers and it does seem to be rather full a lot this week.  There’s only really room for two or three people but they seem to be really cramming them all in 😉

Door on left for boaters; door on right is workers’ kitchen

Later on in the afternoon I had a wander back up to see how the works had been progressing.  The crane had been positioned over the lock with its pontoon left in the lock chamber.  This is so the old lock gates can be lifted out and then laid on the pontoon to be towed away.  The new gates had been taken through the lock on their pontoon and were positioned ready for lifting up and dropping into place.

Crane positioned over the lock with its pontoon below

I must admit that it does look odd with its caterpillar tracks suspended in mid air

Now the crane is in place the lock is well and truly closed to leisure boat traffic 😊

Mike got in touch from France on Wednesday as he had thought of another modification we should consider having to the boat before we come over.  Over there, black water is dumped directly into the canals and rivers.  In the UK this is no longer allowed so you have to pump out the black tank at pump out stations.  There are a few rivers in East Anglia, controlled by the Environment Agency, where you can still pump out into the water or use sea toilets, but that is very unusual.

Mike and Aileen bought a manual pump out kit before going to France and use that to pump out their tank, but now wish they’d done something different.  His suggestion, from seeing other boats in France, was to add an outlet with a valve, below the water line from the tank and install a pump.  The tank can then be emptied without all the messiness and kafuffle associated with getting out the manual apparatus.

Thanks Mike – something else to add to the growing list of jobs and things to do – but it sounds like a good thing to get done when the boat comes out of the water for blacking in October 😉

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