Wednesday, 15 July 2015

At the Top

Yesterday’s cruise to the base of the Caen Hill flight was done in a steady drizzle.  Jan couldn’t decide whether to wear her raincoat and overheat or discard it and slowly get wet.  In the end she opted for the latter. We were accompanied through the locks and swing bridges by Dave and Diana on NB Silver Dream.  There was only one boat moored at the base of the flight.  A widebeam hire boat with a kiwi couple from Whangarei.

This morning both of us were up before 6am with the intention of an early start up the flight.  All the locks in the flight are left empty overnight so the first boat away will have them in their favour.  The first lock keeper arrived at 7.30am and the widebeam with the kiwis aboard headed up. 


Dave set the first four locks for them and then we paired up to follow.  Having a boat immediately in front of us meant all the locks were against us, however Jan and Dave quickly developed a routine with them leap frogging each other at the individual locks.  We made very good time up the first 11 locks but things started to slow for an hour as we met the first of the boats coming down. 

There was a very short pound between the first change over point but eventually we managed to agree a passing sequence with the two boats coming down.


Silver Dream went out and loitered to one side which allowed the hire boat to directly cross into the lock beside Waiouru.  I then went across into the opposite lock beside the second boat.  It then crossed into the position I’d just left and finally Silver Dream came in beside me.

The second crossing wasn’t nearly as organised.  The boats coming down had failed to empty their lock as we were filling ours.  That delayed things.  Then when they opened the lower lock gates we could see an old narrowboat and a fibreglass cruiser.  Six youngish females and it wasn’t a hens party.  By their dress and appearance it seemed obvious they lived on the boats.  Some weird clothing, dreadlocks and plenty of facial metal, along with tramp stamps.  When I see someone with a ring through the flesh between the nostrils it seems so bovine!  My guess was we were seeing “benefit britain” on the move.  Perhaps as a result of the CRT enforcement officer who had passed us when we were further down the flight?  Anyway, they eventually managed to sort themselves out and we managed a slow crossing.  Another two boats were waiting at the lock above and were decidedly annoyed with the slow pace of the girls in front.  One commented “It’s going to be a very long day!”

One of the boats was nb Free Spirit and flying an Australia flag on the stern.  I noticed the steerer was wearing a top with “Web Ellis” embroidered above the pocket. 

shuffle2I took some small pleasure in suggesting to the crew there was no need to stay for the Rugby World Cup this year.  The final would be between England and NZ!  SmileHe took the comment in good spirit.

The only sour part of the day was when Jan slipped over at lock 44 striking her right cheek and upper arm on the steel gate beam.  She now has two beautiful bruises.  I’m going to somehow have to keep her out of sight in Waiouru otherwise I’ll be accused of wife beating. 

We reached the summit pound at 1am finding a vacant spot on the 72 hour moorings.  Actually we just squeezed in.  However later in the day the boats immediately in front and behind departed.  Was it because we flushed the toilet?  However the moorings didn’t stay vacant for long.  An Anglo-Welsh hire boat took the mooring behind us and the a Braidbar boat took the one in front.  As it was Tuesday and the sun was out Jan patiently waited to see if the owners were going to wash and polish their boat! Smile

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is for rain all day.  Looks like we might be staying in Devizes until Thursday.


Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Tom. Get some Arnica oil for Jan's bruises, it's good stuff! You did have a long day didn't you, Off soon after 07:30, "...reached the summit pound at 1am..." I don't think we'll bother with the K&A... ;-)

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Geoff

The western end of the K&A is attractive but it does mean doing Caen Hill. If we had been first up this morning all the locks would have been in our favour.

Jenny said...

Although our narrow-boat adventures were limited to the wonderful LLangollen Canal, which we thoroughly enjoyed, we stopped to have a look at the Caen Flight once we had collected our rental car and continued on our trip around UK. What an amazing piece of engineering. We joined all the gongoozlers and had a great time watching all the boats go to and fro, as we sipped our coffees at the cafe.

Robin and Jenny

Ade said...

Hi Tom & Jan,

Ooch for Jan I do hope she is ok. Geoffs advice is good something my nurse recommends 😉 .
Glad you have had a good trip back to the top of Caen Hill, motoring on like you were intending.
I bet your lock wheeler will be glad of a break tomorrow !
Take both regards and best wishes to Jan.

Ade & Karen

Tom and Jan said...

you must have struck it on a lucky day as most days there are fewboats and even fewer spectators!

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Ade
Yes, Jan should get some relief from locks today.