Sunday, 21 September 2014

A welcome helping hand

With 20 locks between us and Ducie Street Junction (the junction in Manchester where the Rochdale and Ashton Canals meet) the suggestion from Ray of a 7.30am start seemed a good idea. Jan was awake and up very early.  So early that she was able to inform me the boat in front of us had its lights on at 4.00am.  I happened to be on Waiouru’s stern at 6.00am and observed Tug Harry’s departure.  We wouldn’t be the first boat to go down the flight today!

The performance of the “Electric Pole” (bow thruster) has been seriously degraded.  I suspected (and was dreading) something might be wrapped around the impeller.  The bow thruster does have a small weed hatch, but access is difficult.  However I remembered my fault finding principle of “look for the easy thing first” and checked the grills at the ends of the bow thruster tube.  Water clarity was very poor but there appeared to be something in the port (left) grill.  Using the boathook I attempted to extract the object from the grill.

Eventually I was able to remove a large clump of shredded blue cordage and a heavy duty plastic bag from the grill.  At some stage I’ll have to check the bow thruster via the weed hatch and see what else is down there.

I’ve heard of Arabian stallions.  Is this an Arabian mare? Smile

The stretch of canal from last night’s mooring to the M60 motorway was rather shallow and we had to reduce speed otherwise the engine started to smell of hot oil.  As it was we collected a few items on the propeller which (fortunately) I was able to throw off with bursts of reverse.

Immediately after Kay Lane Lock is Grimshaw Lane Lift Bridge.  This is the first time we’ve been under a lift bridge which rises at both ends.

The canal around the M60 appears to be a deep concrete trough and we made good time before having to slow yet again on the approach to Failsworth Top lock where there were a couple of dead shopping trolleys in the cut.  It was obvious they were dead as they were on their backs with only their feet sticking above the surface.  This is the first of the 20 locks on the way to the junction.  We disposed of our rubbish in the CRT facilities and picked up an additional two volunteer crew members in the form of Christine and Paul Balmer (nb Waterway Routes)

Paul and Christine produce canal DVD’s and route guides.  They also tend to turn up and help boaters at the more strenuous locations.  Last year Paul appeared at the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 and assisted us up the flight.  The additional pair of hands enabled the crews of Firefly NZ and Waiouru to implement a quicker locking routine.

Leonie wheel-locked ahead on their folding bike filling locks and opening gates; Paul and Ray steered whilst Christine, Jan and I leapfrogged through each other working the gates and paddles.  This made for very quick progress and we completed the 20 locks in 3.5 hours.

There is some reasonably attractive parkland about four locks prior to the junction.  It’s a pity there are no mooring rings.

There is an arm to the left just prior to Lock 82.  Paul informed us that Manchester has never had a beach.  However when the arm was redeveloped sand was dumped at the end to form a beach as part of a children’s play area.  It’s now colloquially know as Ancoats On Sea.  So Manchester now has a beach.

The arm with beach at the far end

Paul is obviously are far better collector than me.  He steered Waiouru today and managed to collect the following in half a day.

Apparently this is a rather poor result for him.  Christine informed me that when they did the Rochdale last year Paul had to go down their weed hatch 15 times.

Not wanting to contribute to the UK obesity problem; we fed Christine & Paul one bacon butty and a freshly baked blackberry muffin.  Paul also accepted a small shot of our sloe gin.   We then became engrossed in canal discussions and time seemed to fly bye.  All too soon Paul was off to check the accuracy of his map data in the local area whilst Christine headed for the station for the journey home.  Great to see you both and thank you very much for your time and efforts today!

Having now completed a return Pennine crossing I have to say that IMHO the eastern side is the more attractive.  The journey up the Aire & Calder and then the Rochdale Canal was the highlight of the trip. I’m pleased we were encouraged to undertake the trip as there was a strong possibility we would have opted for the River Trent instead.  The only time we struck a lack of water was at the ends of the summit pound.

Now for the Ashton and Peak Forest Canals


Harryman said...

We learned about getting an early start from some Kiwis! Thanks for your help along the way. Amazingly we didn't collect anything round the prop despite – or maybe because of – our 3ft draught.

Tom and Jan said...

Haha! I had my suspicions that Ray's suggested 7.30am start for the Rochdale 19 might not work! Confirmed when I noticed you slipping away at 6.00am! You may not have caught anything around your prop but you certainly stirred it up for us....... as you will have noticed in the post!

We hope the Rochdale 9 goes equally as well for you!