The Northgate Shuffle. 21st February

Chester Basin to Duttons Bridge 112
Chester students are far quieter than those in Nottingham, we hardly heard a sound from them all night. The down side however of mooring on that side of the basin is the bright lights along the towpath, Tilly is a right b**ger at opening the curtains for a nose at 3am! But on the up side it was very easy for the man from Sainsburys to find us this morning. The back steps are almost hovering with the extras that get stored under them!
Bye bye Chester
The bins were sorted ready to be disposed of at the top of the staircase and we made use of the nearby elsan to empty our yellow water tank. We were then ready for the off.
Middle chamber very full
Swinging under the bridges at the bottom of the staircase we could see that the bottom chamber wasn’t empty, well there had been a Carefree Cruising Boat head up earlier in the morning. Then we could see a red boiler suit near the top, it had to be Brian from NB Harnser. I walked up and introduced myself. They were sharing the top chamber with another boat, but we were welcome to enter the bottom one and then we’d do a shuffle.
Oleanna below, Harnser above and Brian in red on the right
By the time the bottom chamber was empty both descending boats were in the middle one, water cascading over the gates. As soon as I’d looped our centre rope around a bollard and closed the gate Brian did the honours and started to lift the paddle to lower their boats and raise Oleanna. The other day when we’d walked up the middle chamber had been as empty as it could get and we’d been puzzled as to where the water came into it from the chamber above. We’d looked along both sides but could see anything. Mick did a bit of hunting on the internet and discovered that the water actually enters the locks below the cil, so centrally below the next set of gates, not from the sides. This made for an easy transit up the staircase.
Harnser making the first moveSecvond and third movesForth and fifth moves
Once the two chambers were level Brian moved NB Harnser into the bottom chamber alongside Oleanna, the chap on the other boat moved over to create a space for Mick to move forward into. As soon as Oleanna was out of the way Harnser was pushed over to take her place and the other boat could then move in along side. Gates closed, shuffle completed, we could all carry on up and down the staircase. I still had to fill the top lock as I’d been too busy chatting to Brian to do it earlier, so they reached the bottom before I’d even started to fill the middle. Waves all round as they disappeared under the railway bridge.
Goodbye Chester
Hoole Lane Lock is the first out of the city. The two times we’ve come up these locks before to The Cheshire Cat we haven’t been able to control the boat and poor NB Winding Down got biffed around quite a bit, even dropping paddles didn’t help. Today we are four years more experienced, but this didn’t help!
We passed the centre rope round a bollard, tried the same side ground paddle, no! Other side paddle, no! A bit of one then the other, no! Sitting closer to the top gates, no! Sitting further away, no! Other than just letting a trickle of water thorough and it taking forever, is there any way of working these locks with one boat and not biffing around?
Hmmmm Yummm
Once up Christleton Lock we pulled in and filled with water. We took the opportunity to have a late lunch too. The first of the cheeses came out, Cenarth Brie and Ribblesdale Blue Goat. Both very nice especially the goats cheese, shame it was the most expensive.
This is good out hereLooking where we are goingOriginally we’d planned to stop at the Cheshire Cat again but instead we decided to push on a bit further today. The next pound is over eight miles long, so steady going. Tilly was making quite a fuss inside, shouting at us I don’t shout!  So I offered that she could join us for a bit. This means her wearing a harness and being attached to a lead, I don’t trust her not to jump off or get into trouble. Putting the harness on is quite easy and once out on the roof on a short reign she had a good nosy around. Sitting on the wood above the morse control seemed to be a favourite today. Metal can be so cold on one’s derriere. She stayed with us for a good twenty minutes, she normally only lasts five. That is because I am far more experienced now, it’s just when someone steals the sky that I get worried. She finally made up her mind to return indoors as we approached Golden Nook Moorings, the mile of boats.
A mile long
As we passed NB Blackbird we wondered when we might see her again, our paths aren’t likely to cross this summer. One more boat in the line today. We carried on to bridge 113 where there are moorings, but decided to go past the entrance to Tattenhall Marina and pull in. Well we would have if we could have, but the bottom was too close to the top on numerous attempts. First spot that we could pull in at was through the next bridge. Tilly had been shouting at the bathroom window so I quickly recited the rules and even though it was half an hour before sun down she was allowed out.
The day she moved in
The day she moved in
A year later
A year later, well setlled
Back end of last year
Two years later, she rules our lives.
Today marks the second anniversary of when Tilly came to live with us. She has grown up and is very accustomed to living on a boat now, I often wonder what she’d make of living in a house.
8 locks, 3 a staircase, 1 shuffle, 8.67 miles, 1 blogging boat, 1 ex-blogging boat, 2nd water point working, 4 croggies, 5 annoying locks, 2 cheeses, 20 minutes they just stand around whilst the outside changes itself! 118 boats, 1 mooring too close to a chilled medication farm, 2 years of not needing a hot water bottle, 2 years of purrs, 2 years of being shouted at, 2 years of life with Tilly.

3 thoughts on “The Northgate Shuffle. 21st February

  1. Quaysider

    I so wish our cats had taken to living on the boat… they spent 8 years in a house before being dragged onto the boat full time – they both hate it. George especially, he over-grooms to the point of having a totally bald belly now. When we start the engine, he hides until it stops. Sox is braver but still skittish. We're looking for a new home for them (together) as it's just not fair on them. Finding new parents for 8 year old siblings is proving quite difficult – even though they've got vaccinations for life, insurance and chips. 😦


  2. Pip and Mick

    Have to say Tilly wasn't too happy about the locks yesterday, think she'd have rather stayed in Chester. Sorry to hear that you're not having any luck re-homing your two and that they hate it so much. Have you tried other places other than Cats Protection? hope they find new parents soon.



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