Thursday, 5 August 2010

Day Fourteen: Doors of Perception


Trent and Mersey Canal

8 miles, 5 locks

4 hours

We had a morning in Shardlow today, attending to some small tasks. We masked and painted the gunwale on the left-hand side, and sprinkled on some oven-dried sand as the first step of forming the non-slip surface. Later in the day we painted over it with International Atlantic Grey, to finish off the non-slip strip down the gunwale.

Lyra has been getting more adventurous, and whilst she's content to sleep in the bedroom or perch on the back of the sofa and look out of the window whilst we go along, the moment the engine stops she wants to head outside. We have let her do this, but often she wants to come out whilst we're in the middle of mooring up, or at an inconvenient time, and the net hasn't proven completely cat proof. It's also a big barrier to getting through the boat, so we bought the materials necessary in B&Q back in Loughborough to make a door to fit the gap between the bedroom and the engineroom.

Not too bad, if I say so myself! The shape of the aperture was very difficult, with protruding bits of beading and an odd angle, hence the large gap visible on the left-hand side of the door. Getting it to fit the doorway was tricky, but after several modifications with a saw, it fits well. It's made of a sheet of 6mm MDF with some pine strips re-inforcing the edges and providing a frame for rigidity and for the hinges, and will eventually be replaced with something nicer. In the mean time, it's very cat-proof, and will stop drafts and keep us warmer in the winter, so definitely a job worth doing!

We also recieved a gift this morning- a pot of home-produced honey, from Paul (I think) on nb Jubilee, who is aparently an avid blog reader! We're very grateful, and I'm certain that it will be splendid on toast for breakfast tomorrow.

So we set off at 2pm, after lunch, and trundled along towards Willington and the waterpoint and sanitary station there. The locks were double and deep, with most having a rise of 11- 14 feet or so! They also had terrifyingly efficient gate paddles, which cannot be opened until the lock is partially full, otherwise they can flood the helpless boats below them.

We managed to share several locks, which made them a LOT easier, but on the few we had to do by ourselves, we resorted to the Nene method of keeping the boat secure- our very long mid-rope led back and tied with a boatman's hitch (it never jams and is easy to undo, depite the load on the rope) onto a bollard, and then putting the boat into forward gear. The rope then holds the boat against the side, despite the very fierce flows from the paddles. Nonetheless, we're looking forwards to the next few locks- they're all narrow from here onwards!

We also saw many historic and interesting boats today. The Joshers Trout and Petrel , LMS boat (paired with Trout) Dabchick, the big woolwich Bath, and- around a blind bend!- the star-class Aquarius.

We chugged on to Willington, did the necessary filling and emptying, and visited the Co-op for supplies. At 7pm we moored at a pleasant spot just out of the village, and we intend to make the short hop to Burton-on-Trent for lunchtime tomorrow, and then possibly a shorter jaunt afterwards further along.

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