Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Who stole the boat?

We were off before 8.00am this morning hoping to complete today’s cruise before the forecast rain.  As we passed Oxley Marine I was able to identify the daily map ‘find’.  We take great delight in reporting them to Paul Balmer (Waterway Routes) so he can update his excellent canal maps.  Numerous large pipelines cross the canal immediately west of Oxley Marine and I discovered during my walk last night that they all go to two huge sewage treatment plants on the north side of the canal.  Treated effluent is then discharged in the Shroppie and the Staffs & Worcs.  The discharged water is either warm or contains high levels of nutrients as there were numerous small fish in the water around the outlet.

Our plan for the day was to turn left at Aldersley Junction and go up the 21 locks of the Wolverhampton flight.  Despite our early start it looked like there might be a queue because there was a hire boat on the lock mooring at the base of the flight.

Fortunately they had only moored there for the night! Winking smile

I did a very nice 90° turn to face the lock entrance only to discover there was a boat was coming down.  That was a surprise but I recovered and managed to complete a reverse turn back down the Staffs & Worcs.  The boater in the lock took ages to exit.  Then I realised he was bow hauling his boat with two ropes.  Apparently he had done the entire flight that way after his engine had broken down.  His plan was to haul the boat to Oxley Marine!  Glad it wasn’t us……….

The second lock in the flight (lock 20) is the lock that was repaired last month after it was damaged when vandals opened a number of paddles in locks above which flooded and distorted this lock.  The only obvious sign of the repairs is the new paving beside the lock.

Waiouru was in Lock 19 and I went forward to prepare Lock 18 when I was approached by a nefarious individual in a heavy coat with a rucksack on his back and large hat over his face.  Anticipating the worst, I was surprised when he smiled at me.  It was Paul Balmer (Waterway Routes) complete with windlass! Smile

He had gone to the effort of travelling from his home to his boat mooring in Gas Street Basin where he had spent the night and then risen early this morning and caught the train to Wolverhampton before walking down the flight to meet us.

The pound (stretch of water between locks) was very low but Paul thought Waiouru would make it if I took it slowly.  Alas he was optimistic.  Waiouru ran aground at the entrance to the lock.

You might be able to see the list in the above photo.

Jan and Paul filled the pound with another lock full of water which was just sufficient to get the boat into the lock.  I then decided this was an ideal opportunity to do some locking and see how Waiouru moves through the water by co-opting Paul into taking the tiller.  We then got into a routine and almost flew up the locks in just under three hours.  Paul pointed out a number of interesting things along the way and also suggested Jan take the obligatory photo of Waiouru passing under the rail bridge.

The relevance of the above photo is the canal will be at the same level as the height of the bridge by the time we reach the top lock.

Paul then mentioned there was a boaters tunnel at the next lock.  The tunnel enabled crew to step off the boat below the lock and gain access to the gates.

Interestingly, the tunnel is on the non-towpath side of the canal which made me wonder why the tunnel was built?  The last four locks were not in our favour which gave me a short “workout” before cruising finished for the day.  Another interesting piece of information from Paul was all the BCN lock cottages are numbered.  The two at the top of the flight are 109 & 110.

Once Waiouru was moored we enticed Paul aboard and started “pumping” him for information.  Initially it was the BCN (Birmingham Canal Network) and in particular the state of the canals (depth and condition) followed by suggestions on where we might go in the time we have available.  Then we moved onto canal e-maps and what future enhancements Paul might be considering for his Waterway Routes canal maps.  Then he explained how I could get my Mio gps to self-track (scroll the canal map) as we cruised.  Finally, we commenced a long discussion about all things canal.  However toilets were not discussed……. I guess we ran out of time!  Thanks for all the help today Paul!

The temperature has obviously dropped as I turned on the Hurricane heater this morning by poking one finger out from under the duvet and pressing the ‘button’.  By noon it was not only cold but raining.  This has now turned to drizzle and we’ve some sympathy (having been in that situation) for the hire boats going past with the crew all wrapped up and looking rather miserable.

If it’s fine tomorrow morning we’ll try and have a walk around the local shops before heading to the nearby water point.

1 comment :

Don said...

I was assisted by Paul a few years ago down Farmers Bridge locks. On that day Paul was wearing a suit and tie! When he first called out to me I thought I must have done something wrong. He looked like a BWB official. He was there to suprise Adam & Adrian in Debdale on their way up. Evidence here: