The first thing we did after breakfast was take our canopy off, as the next lock en route had limited height and we nearly came a cropper on our first trip!
It’s only a short distance from Offenham, and we were through it by 8.55.
I was at the helm today, determined not to let things get the better of me. I took my time, and finally some of the co-ordination issues started to resolve themselves.
There was an absence of just about everything, so we tried to identify the trees as we chugged upstream.
The weeping willows are amazing, but there are also white willows and silver birch along the banks.
Fishermen were out early with their tackle, so we had to be careful of cast lines, especially as some of their seats were obscured from view and it wasn’t until we saw a head move that we realised someone was there! Waving as we went past, we asked if they’d had any luck, and of the 20 or so we saw, only three had had a bite.
Eight locks in total to do today, unless we decided to stop at Luddington for the night, which is where everything happened last year (crash, speedboat wash, near sinking).
We met up with the Norwegians again, and shared a couple with them.
My Knight (Hubby) was on lance (boat hook) and cutlass (windlass) duty, and I was gradually getting the hang of things again.
We follow a map book of the river which shows the locks and weirs, and has annotations of shallow water, underwater obstacles and notes on the locality. We’ve added our own observations and notes about gates/paddles/depth etc.
Weirs have cross currents, and if you’re not careful or take your mind off the job in hand for a second or two, you can easily get caught out. Just because we weigh six tons plus doesn’t mean we don’t drift!
Some of the locks were against us, so it was a double whammy as we had to empty them before going in. This took a toll on Hubby, so as my knee had held up remarkably well and we knew some of the locks were easy to operate, I did a couple too.
Going into Weir Brake (pictured above on approach), a commercial widebeam came up behind us, so we had to give them priority. As we waited for the lock to re-empty, a share boat came along, so we could share.
A couple about our age were aboard, and he dropped his wife off at the platform to do her side, but not without taking a small chunk out of his hull by clipping a piece of metal that was jutting out. She was not impressed.
As we chatted across the gap, I learned they had a 1/6th share in the boat, and were heading to Stratford for the changeover. They also had tickets for A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre that night at £10 a head.
At a proud boast of 63 feet, I let him go in first, then chugged in alongside.
They were having all kinds of problems with ropes, tempers and frustrations whilst ours went swimmingly, so Hubby gave them a hand, and us skippers held on as we went up.
Just one lock to go, and we shared that one too, Hubby taking the helm this time as we two women operated the lock.
I felt really sorry for her the way he was talking to her and blaming her for dropping the rope in the water which he’d thrown short and out of her reach. It’s a deep lock too, and she was having problems closing the gate, so I asked if she wanted a hand. She shook her head, and we started opening the paddles.
Locking up, you’re letting the lock fill, so Hubby and I always do it slowly so as not to crash the boat against the side. She did the same, so we appeared to operate in a similar manner. She told me she’d had enough this trip and would be glad to see the back of the week and the boat. They’d been on the canals as well as the rivers and she’d had to do all the locks on her own. I told her he owed her a double G&T at the theatre.
She just looked at me and shrugged.
With the thumbs up from our men, we opened the gates, closed the paddles, and got back aboard our vessels.
We followed them upriver wondering where they were going to stop as we intended to go past the little ferry and moor up alongside the park where there were proper mooring rings and we wouldn’t have to plant our metal stakes.
It looked like they were going to stop before the ferry, then changed their mind and stopped just short of where we were headed. When they realised, they continued forward so we hung back until they got their ropes sorted, and Hubby brought her in.