Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday. It was a very long day with us finishing cruising at 8.30pm.
The weather in the morning was a mixture of strong gusts, rain, hail and snow. Despite this our youngest and I ventured out to Argos in the Arndale Centre to collect a item he had purchased online. My umbrella decided to invert itself during one heavy gust but the two of us managed to reverse the ribs without any damage occurring.
Once back at the boat we dried ourselves out whilst checking the weather forecast. This indicated the afternoon would be mostly dry with the following day reverting to rain. Consequentially we decided to cruise up the Ashton Canal to Dukinfield Junction in the afternoon. We have an additional crew member which enabled me to work the locks and allow Jan to stay inside Waiouru where she can recover from her bout of bronchitis.
It’s two years since we last cruised up the Ashton Canal and it’s condition has deteriorated in that time. I calculate the cruise took an additional three hours which was a combination of obstacles/silt and the poor condition of many of the locks. Most of the locks were in our favour with one or both bottom gates already open. It quickly became apparent this wasn’t due to a boater leaving them open coming down. They wouldn’t stay shut when closed. In the end I resorted to getting Waiouru into the lock and then half opening one top paddle. I then shut the lower gates which allowed the water pressure to keep them shut.
We lost the top of the stove flue on a low bridge at Cambrian Street. I did fish for it with the boat pole recovering two other flues and a steel pole. No luck finding our flue. It’s made of stainless steel so a magnet wouldn’t have been any use; even if we had one! The cowling on the flue was already dented so we were always going to need a replacement.
Fun and gates at Beswick Top Lock. There was a large sheet of thick plywood wedged across the mouth of the open bottom gates and the lock was empty. I decided to open both top paddles and that freed it, flushing it away from the lock approach.
There were problems with the handcuff locks on most of the paddles. The exterior diameter of the shaft on one of our handcuff keys was too big to fit the hole on some of the locks. Our second key has a smaller diameter shaft which would fit the locks our first keys had problems with but then it wouldn’t fit others. As a consequence I was constantly juggling keys. Most of the paddles had a hydraulic mechanism and several were obviously low on oil because I had to rapidly wind like hell for ages to get the paddle to raise and lower.
The boat went aground on several occasions but we managed to wriggle it free. I walked up to Clayton Top Lock to find a dozen youths loitering around the full lock. They were taking it in turns to run and jump across the lock. I put on my friendly face and unlocked the lower paddles with the handcuff key before commencing to empty the lock. That’s when I noticed the very large tractor type tyre lurking in the lock. It was obvious the tyre was going to be a hazard if I left it in the lock. The bottom paddles were closed and I refilled the lock before opening the top gate. The tyre was too large and heavy for me to drag out of the lock with my boat pole so I pushed it out of the lock through the top gate.
The lock was then emptied and I worked Waiouru up. I needed to get the tyre away from the top gates and turned to get the boat pole only to find it was missing. I eventually cajoled the youths into returning the pole. One of them left the lock returning several minutes later with the pole. He then requested a ride on the boat to which I agreed.
You get an idea of their socio-economic environment when you get asked questions
Youth 1 “Are you from Australia?”
Youth 2 to Youth 1 “Where’s Australia?”
Youth 1 “The other side of the world”
Youth 1 (airing his knowledge to his peers) “What city do you live in?”
Answer “Sydney” (only because it happens to be the biggest and most well known city)
Youth 1 “Where’s that?”
Youth 3 “Where are you going?”
Youth 3 “Where’s that?”
Answer “A little further up the canal”
You get the picture.
At 7.30pm we completed the last of the 18 locks and stopped for water at Fairfield Junction. The area didn’t look that salubrious and despite the late hour we continued on to Dukinfield Junction finding a mooring just before the entrance to the Peak Forest Canal. Along the way we passed yet another sunken fibreglass cruiser.
Fairfield Junction with Waiouru on the water point.
But at least it didn’t rain!
The boat that was moored two behind us at Manchester is again moored behind us. They came up the canal in the heavy rain the day before us and the lady wasn’t pleased with the condition of the canal.
I’d actually prefer the weather here to remain poor in the hope it will keep most of the bored local youths at home in front of their Play Stations.