The other boater at the Dudley Canal Trust suggested we consider the offside floating pontoons at Oldbury as a safe mooring. We had remembered them from our last cruise on the Old Main Line. They are adjacent to a large cafe and access to the moorings is cut off when the cafe closes its gates.
The cruise was uneventful and as we approached Whimsey Bridge I could see the pontoons. There are also moorings with bollards on the towpath side but obviously they would be less secure. I put Waiouru into neutral three boat length short of the pontoons allowing the momentum to take us forward. Jan collected the starboard (right) centreline and moved around onto the gunwale as I carefully steered the boat onto the mooring. We were still slowly moving when Jan stepped off with the rope whilst I continued to look towards the bow carefully avoiding hitting the pontoons. In that instance there was a cry and I looked back to see Jan gracefully fall backwards as her feet went out from underneath her. She was down with her arms in the air and left leg hanging over the edge of the pontoon. Meanwhile the boat was slowly continuing on. I called to Jan “Get up or I’ll leave you!” Of course I meant the boat was still going forward but no doubt I’m going to be reminded of this inadvertent slip of the tongue for quite some time!
Jan floundered around like a turtle on its back. Meanwhile I stepped off the stern thinking to tie off the loose centreline on to a bollard and go back to assist her. That’s when I discovered the timber decking had a surface made of roller bearings. Not only was I sliding all over the decking but the centreline was in the water. I eventually managed to grab the cabin handrail and get back onto the gunwale where I recovered the centreline.
Meanwhile Jan was making unsuccessful efforts to get back onto her feet. After several minutes she managed to get herself into a sitting position where she was able to remove her boots and socks. I reversed Waiouru back to her location and she was able to carefully get back on board. Obviously this isn’t such a good mooring!
Floating pontoons on the right. The moorings on the towpath side are very close to the busy bridge. We decided to reverse 100 metres to the moorings before the bridge.
These moorings don’t get much foot traffic and are slightly noisy during the day due to the adjacent commercial premises. The local area appears to all be light commercial rather than residential so we’re not anticipating any problems.