Planes, Trains, and Watermobiles

On most canal trips, we go to great lengths to ensure that the engine checks are completed daily. This also involves thrusting a hand into the icy cold, and filthy dirty canal water to make sure there’s nothing unexpected wrapped around the prop, as well as checking that the engine is generally in good health.

On this trip we’ve been advised by the hire company not to worry about that. Only check if something seems wrong.

Well, this morning the Captain felt there was something wrong and so, shortly after setting off, we were moored up again. Not that it’s a race, but the Captain wanted to make sure we were operating at full strength and ready for anything.

To satisfy her curiosity, the Captain performed all of the checks herself – including the weed hatch as described above and dipping the fuel tank to make sure we had enough.

What do you use to dip the tank if the boat doesn’t have a dipstick? The nearest available tree branch seems to be the answer. We had plenty of diesel in the tank.

Given there was nothing wrong with the boat, we carried on our way.

We planned to end up just beyond Pigeon’s Lock, which was about 9 hours away. Fortunately, we had a largely event free day. There was little to delay us on our travels and all of the many locks we passed through were set in our direction, with no queues or issues of any kind.

And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything!

The locks on this stretch of the canal are all in need of some care and attention.

And they all leak quite badly.

This meant that we had to top up each lock before we could enter, even though they were all set in our direction. Not that it’s a race, but this certainly slowed us down.

King Sutton Lock was particularly notable as one paddle was completely out of action and all the rest were so stiff I could hardly turn them. We nearly didn’t make it through this one.

The superbly named Allen’s Lock also had a paddle out of action and took a very long time to fill up. Slow and steady, as all good Allen’s should be.

Dashwood’s Lock had a broken arm. The CRT having hastily replaced it with a temporary solution, but it’s so flimsy that you feel like it’s going to snap off again whenever you push it.

Anyway, we made it through them all in the end.

There must be an airfield somewhere around here, as throughout the day we were accompanied by at least a dozen light aircraft buzzing around like giant bees going about their business.

We spent a good part of the day watching various goods trains hauling huge lines of storage containers around the country. We may have a shortage of lorry drivers right now, but the railways are very active.

We also came across a couple of fellow hire boaters who were heading back towards the same base as us. Not that it’s a race, but we overtook them all, engine chugging along perfectly, and the Captain was very pleased.

We arrived at our mooring spot for the night, just past Pigeon’s Lock at about 1700, and for the first time on this trip we had to use the plank.

This has perhaps been our least eventful day, but we’re taking that as a good thing. After all, it’s not a race.

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