Radford Semele to Long Itchington
We stayed up quite late last night as the wind biffed us around. Everything was either tied down or brought inside the pram cover, only a large piece of wood that we’d forgotten about on the roof made a bid to escape, which was brought into the cratch before we retired to bed. Both of us slept very well, outside the elements must have calmed down.
This morning the wind was still quite strong, but with a dry day forecast we wanted to be on our way. Whilst I finished up inside Mick prepared Oleanna to cruise, I joined to roll the cratch covers up as we’d be going through locks today. Experience has taught us better to have them rolled out of harms way than try to avoid missing them entering and exiting locks. The pram cover is also folded down, removing the sides first and folding them for storage whilst we cruise. This reduces the amount of bulk around the hatch and hopefully will mean that they last longer, not being scrunched up with creases in them day after day. The main frame and cover are the last things to be folded down before we set off
The temperature was such this morning that fleeces and gloves were needed. Having not seen our gloves for sometime they would take a bit of finding. I know where they should be, it’s just are they still there, or have they found their way to the bottom of the bike cupboard! Mick went in to have a look, but I could tell that this would be a boy look rather than a more successful girl look so I came in to look instead. Some gloves had been found, but more were delved from the depths of the cupboard. This done we were ready.
As I made my way to the bow to untie Mick started to look around, puzzled. He wasn’t unpoppering the cover. I quickly realised what he was looking for, we both hunted round. The wind had picked up the starboard side of the pram cover that had been folded and placed where it always is by the side of the hatch and deposited it out of view. Experience has now taught us that covers do not float!
It wasn’t in the hedgerow, so it must be in the canal, somewhere! With boat hook in hand Mick gradually walked down the gunnel prodding at the base of the canal. With only one hand on the boat hook due to the other clinging onto Oleanna this didn’t find the cover, what it did do was mean that Mick lost grip of the hook and that too ended up in the canal, too low for either of us to pull out whilst stood on the gunnel, resembling Excalibur. I thought about taking a window out and reaching for it, but by now Mick was already on the roof with the landing net. He eventually managed to wrap the net around the hook and pass it along towards the stern where I managed to grab hold of it. That was one thing out of the cut, still the cover to find.
Mick sat on the roof with the hook prodding. In between the galley and dinette windows there was something, the hook didn’t sink into the silt. Inside we stowed the dinette table to give us more space, then removed the window. Had an argument as to where to put it out of harms way, no point in something else happening for the sake of another minute. With the boat hook through the window you could definitely feel a difference with the canal bed. After a few minutes of poking some blue fabric surfaced. From the galley window I grabbed hold of it, Mick leap frogged me to the stern and took it from me. Hooray! One muddy cover retrieved.
This all took about an hour and in that time nobody had gone past, just as well as they would have found our cover for us quite quickly, around their prop!
With traffic being very quiet when we reached the bottom lock, with nobody in sight I set the lock in our favour and we set forth on our own, well we had waited at our mooring. As we reached the top a couple of boats came towards us, so we could leave the gates for them and we were on our way. Kate Hire boats were all heading back towards Warwick, we passed at least three of them, one single hander glad to be paired up with them as he’d been struggling with the wind, his boat and lock gates.
Some of the pounds had been as low as when we’d come down and on narrow stretches we held back allowing boats to come through to where it would be easier to pass. They made slow progress as we battled to hold our position in the wind. As soon as they were past us we found out why, the canal was so shallow you had to coast along to get through rather than use your engine.
All the locks were in our favour until we got to Lock 18 where we could see it was partially full if not totally full. We pulled in to wait for someone to come down whilst we had lunch. Our timing was spot on as someone was opening the gates at the top of the lock as we came out to untie. We entered the lock after them just as another boat appeared behind us, even better timing. Well it would have been if they weren’t sharing with the boat behind them. So went up on our own with two boats having to reset the locks behind us. We managed to keep ahead of them up Bascote locks and staircase and pulled in on the first ring at Long Itchington, leaving the rest for the following boats.
They think they can fool me, we’ve tied up this outside before. It was okay, but today it was better. I came and went, occasionally assisted back inside as woofers came past. Then the friendly cover behind the sideways trees called. Plenty of friends to find here. I seem to have got carried away and lost the time, slipping through my paws, just like my friends. It was a touch chilly and dark when I got home for my dingding, at least it was cosy inside.
10 locks, 2 a staircase, 0 shuffle, 4.92 miles, 1 damp day that was meant to be dry, £250 saved at least, 0 boaters cursing us, 0 embarrassing phone call to Gary, 1 pair muddy jeans, 1 pair socks completed, 20 minutes extra turned into 2.5 hours! 3 friends, 1 long tail, 1 dingding of Coley, not my favourite!