Today’s first port of call was Kilby Bridge wharf, to use the facilities. They are really very well kept – spotlessly clean and secure. We used the Elsan waste disposal for the toilet cassettes, and filled up the water tank.
Rosie was pretty spooked by the experience. She doesn’t like unfamiliar objects and there were loads of them here. She ran around barking for a while, so we put her back on deck, where she seemed happier, but also inquisitive about what was going on. Here is her close-up. She really is a prima-donna!
So, fully replenished, we set off. The weather was already beginning to get up. Here we are fighting the wind as it blows us over to the far bank.
But mostly we managed ok…
Some of the locks we encountered have dates, reminding us of their industrial importance. Here is the oldest one we saw today:
But by 1894, the railways were already putting the canals out of business.
So we cruised onwards, rising higher and higher with each lock, and becoming more and more exposed to the winds, which responded by gusting harder and faster. The locks became really difficult to do, because the gates would blow open. As fast as Louise shut one gate and went around to the other, the first one would blow open again. Andy would use the boat to wedge one gate shut. But even this was not enough to prevent the other gate shutting as Louise went forwards to open the paddles on the front gate:
Each lock has a ladder up the side:
So, on the final lock we attempted, Andrew climbed the ladder, and then controlled the boat using the centre rope. This meant he could hold the gate shut. Louise then made a mad dash from the other gate, and just…only just… managed to open the paddle in time for the water inrush to force the other gate shut.
It was a close call, and now the winds were howling with enough strength to blow down branches. This was a dangerous situation, and we were at the bottom of a flight of four locks with only a pound between each. We have therefore done what you are not supposed to do – moored for the night using the lock marker bollards in the pound. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that no boats will be travelling in either direction in this weather!
To give you an idea of the strength of the wind:
As I write now (21.00), the wind is as fierce as ever, and we have driving rain to accompany it. But we are sitting inside in comfort. Rosie is asleep in her basket. Louise is making leather roses. The fire is glowing in the stove – in fact, it is so warm that we have had to open some windows! We have had an excellent supper and are now enjoying some Old Speckled Hen beer while listening to The Unthanks. All in all, it’s a perfect evening.
According to the forecast, there will be a few hours tomorrow morning of relative quiet, before the storms kick off again. It looks as though progress will be slow on this voyage. Ah well, we’ll just have to have more evenings like this one…