The stillness and calm of the canal…..
So I’ve been on holiday for a week on a Narrowboat in Shropshire & Wales. It’s not our first time, its our second, so naturally that makes us Pro’s lol… Not… hahaha anyway, as usual we have some fab photos and tales to recount. I thought I would share one of those tales here from my Travel Journal which I like to take with me when I holiday… enjoy.
Thursday 18th April 2013
We had a rough night, it was blowing a gail and raining and although we thought we had a sheltered spot, it wasn’t! Detritus of all sorts hit the boat and paranoid after yesterdays episode where the rope untied and drifted away from the bank, we kept checking out the window that we were still moored! Gerry and I both had bad dreams and cold sweats, mine was about Spiders, again, lots of em! Anyway…
By the time we got going again it was about 10am and although the sun was shining brightly, it was still very windy and blooming freezing! I sat in the front of the boat with my hat, gloves and glasses, determined to get some good pictures even though I looked like I was going mountaineering!
We were aiming for the Narrowboat Inn just after Bridge #5 on the Llangollen Canal. But first we had the two locks to deal with again. It wasn’t something we were looking forward to as the wind was really strong and blowing us across the canal.
Just as we were approaching the first lock, two other boats who had already been through warned us that lock #2 was causing a lot of people trouble, they told us to moor as soon as we came to the first bollard as the wind was pushing people into the weir and they were getting stuck! O_o
We went through the first lock no bother… Phew!
Lock #2 fast approaching. The weir on the left of us gushing water and the wind helping us to get a better view of it! We moored on the first bollard as instructed, or at least we tried to! It was hard work, the current had attitude and so did the wind. I was desperately trying to hold the front of the boat’s rope, Gerry had the back. It kept swinging out and I was struggling to hold it, the rope being yanked and burning my hands. I called my son Max to help who was blissfully and happily inside watching TV, like he had been for most of the trip <rolls eyes, teenagers!>. Max came and held the front whilst I ran to the lock to open it. Damn it! It wasn’t in our favour, I had to fill it first!
Once filled, I opened the gate whilst the boys showed how strong they were! We only had one hope of getting in this lock without getting blown over that weir, as pretty as it was, I didn’t want to be in it! We steeled ourselves and made a run for it – full power – charge!
Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug, arghhhh the back is twisting towards the weir, chug, chug, come on ya bitch move that backside over, chug, chug, Yes! We made it….! Yeehah!
Had we have thought about it at the time, or even noticed the long pole on top of the boat with a hook on it, we could have attempted to fish the windlass key out that we dropped in this lock on our journey out, but we didn’t notice until we had passed it, damn it, c’est la vie! We did have another one, so it didn’t hamper our journey and this was the main reason were heading for the Narrowboat Inn who also had a Chandlery (Boat Yard) so we could purchase a replacement and not lose our loss or damage deposit!
It was a breezy run with not much shelter stopping that wind knocking us back and forth and zig zagging us across the canal. We stopped just after Bridge #5 near the Narrowboat Inn. Gerry went to the boatyard to buy the key and I stayed with the boat and got dinner on the go, well it was more brunch I guess, Ham Tortellini and Garlic Dough Balls. Yum! Gerry returned with a replacement key – hooray, not too pricey either, £12.
A couple of boats were heading downstream towards us, nothing unusual about that, but the wind and current against everyone meant they could easily run into us. The first boat, a similar size to our own (45ft) was having problems making the bridge turn, every time they tried to turn, the wind whipped them back off angle and they had to reverse and try again. He did this several times before he finally made it through.. we watched bemused out of our warm living area, snug and cosy having just had lunch and out of that wind. The next boat behind was much longer about 65ft and about to attempt it. It was an elderly couple, probably guesstimated to be in their late 60′s. They couldn’t even get passed us <moored about 200 yards from the bridge> because of the wind pushing them away from their intended course.
They immediately got grounded at the front of the boat which then caused the back of the boat to jut across the canal and get firmly grounded on this side of the bank as well! Diagonally they sat across the canal. Stuck. Well and truly stuck! The old boy jumped off and was standing on the bank with the centre rope of the boat pulling like mad, it was clear to us that a boat grounded as firmly as this is not going to take a blind bit of notice of an old man pulling aimlessly on a centre rope. It was hopeless.
Max and I jumped off and started to help push the back of the boat away from the bank we were on. The lady was now on the revs, giving it some welly and soaking us poor saps trying to help them, the old boy still aimlessly holding the centre rope! Nope. Not a chance. Not whilst the front and back were stuck!
Max scrambled along the side of their boat to the front and jumped to the other bank. He pushed towards me and I pushed towards him. Nope. We could be here a while! The old boy had now disappeared into the boat, he was slowly changing his shoes! O_o Really? Really! Now is not the time mate!
The lady said “I hope Mark comes back for us”, “Who is Mark?” I said “Our friend in the boat in front” she said.
Mark didn’t come back, what an A-hole! – some friend!
30 minutes later we are still rocking the boat trying to loosen it from the shallows so that we could push it back into the mainstream, still no sign of Mark!
By now, Gerry and Max are at the front of their boat pushing as hard as they can with ropes, poles and sheer brute force! The lady is on the back revving the engine like its going to be of any help, I’m still at the back pushing from this side of the bank… I wished she would stop revving that dam engine as it wasn’t helping and I am getting wetter and wetter and she is only serving to keep the boat embedded! Arghhhhh!
The old boy appeared with his ‘other’ shoes on, they looked no different to the pair he had on before! He took up the same useless position he had before,holding the centre rope! <smh> I was beginning to wonder how and why this couple are alone on such a big boat, which wasn’t even a rented boat, it was their own!
Finally, realising that having the boat in gear was probably not a good idea, she put it in neutral so that the engine was just ticking over. No sooner had she done that – a miracle happened, the boat came loose with our combined strength. Our being Gerry, Max and I.
We walked them down to the bridge and they were extremely grateful if not a little embarrassed! Too right you should be grateful, the 3 of us have all got aches and pains already from the effort, I dread to think what we are going to feel tomorrow!
Ha! We rock!
All I can say is, if ‘Mark’ was one of my ‘friends’, he wouldn’t be a ‘friend’ for much longer and I would also consider having someone else onboard to help with such matters when they arise… the canal does not care for your age or whether you’re wearing the right shoes! If another boat had come along during this, we could have had a pile up and a much bigger problem than being grounded on their hands! It was a stroke of luck for them that we were there and that we are also the type of people to help.
I hope they think on the magnitudes of the situation that they were in and will get in again. The weather, the current and other boaters are obstacles that have to be navigated and accounted for all the time! It’s not a place for frail old people with no strength. I suspect though, that they will have to learn the hard way… I can’t help but wonder how they managed on those locks ahead of them!? O_o
Anyway, we decided to move after this, we had aches and pains in places we never knew existed and although we are naturally helpful souls, we didn’t want to go through that again with another boat! Off we went as far away as we could!
An hour or so later, after much scenery and photo snapping we decided to moor for the night in the most sheltered spot we could find, the wind still a pain in the arse and face
It was time to chillax and write up my journal – what a busy day! There’s always something going on on the river, even the seemingly quiet ones. But for now…. a well earned rest, enjoying the scenery and some Vodka!
Finally finished it! I call it ‘Melancholy Memories’.
This one has a little story to it too.
On Monday I was painting the ‘Easter Bunny’ abstract and I was listening to music as I usually do when painting. A particular song came on and I immediately thought of my Dad. It was his favourite song. Once I would turn it straight off, too distressing to be reminded of his passing. Then in time I came to be able to listen to it. It came on whilst I was painting the other one and I jokingly said out loud… ‘Hello Dad, I guess you want me to do you a painting as well?’ I chuckled to myself and continued listening to the tune and singing along. I decided I would do Dad a painting. This is it, his favourite song…. Can you guess it?
For Dad x