The Training Paid Off. 8th October

Caen Hill Bottom Lock 29 to Devizes Wharf


Alarm set for too early and we were up having breakfast and just about ready to push off as the Lock Keeper came down on the quad bike to unlock. Steve from NB Chapman’s Rusty suggested they enter the bottom lock first as they didn’t have covers to roll back etc, so they led the way.

First lock of 22

Oleanna’s bow entered the bottom lock of the flight at 8:10am. With four of us on the bank and the locks ahead empty it was easy going. I loitered to make sure everyone remembered how to work the locks before heading on up to open the gates on the next one. This meant arriving as both paddles were busy filling the lock below so I needed to raise the bottom paddle a touch more to keep the levels equalised to be able to open the gates.

After a few locks we were starting to find a rhythm, not quite as efficient as it would be with more experienced crew. People walked up to the next lock to open it and wait whilst others took photos whilst the boats rose in the locks.

Moving from lock to lock side by side

Mick had suggested to Steve to leave and enter the locks together. The flight is a straight run, so this should be easier than going one at a time. Steve looked a little apprehensive at first but very quickly could see the advantages. This worked well although one lock has a narrow entrance so it was back to single file there.

Kai opening the gates above

The sun was out warming us all as the first volunteer appeared from above at about 8:30. He walked up the flight and would open the gates ahead for us whilst we worked our way steadily upwards.

The boys in blue

A while later another couple of chaps in blue walked down the flight, Mike one of the chaps who’d helped us down hill came to say hello and see if we’d enjoyed Bristol. Then a boat was spotted lower down the flight, we were mob handed so the boys in blue walked down to lend a hand where it would be needed more.

A pair of herons flew over, gulls balanced on the booms and flocks of Canada Geese came into land. We’ve not seen much of these noisy birds for a while. The number of locks was just starting to show as we got closer to the top. I still had quite a bit of energy so stepped in to wind a few more paddles and help with more gates,whilst keeping an eye out as when people get tired that is when mistakes happen.

Gaining height

Yesterdays 12 locks had paid off, we reached the top of the main flight in 2 hours 10 minutes. We all wanted a break so stopped for a cuppa and a slice of toast.


Once refreshed it was time to push on up to the top and to the wharf. The last six locks are further apart but our rhythm continued. Tea and toast had pepped us up a touch and conversations picked up again.


The Rusty crew all originate from Hong Kong, 50 odd years ago. Janet said she can’t bare to watch the news anymore, what is happening there is so frightening.

Steve and Mick

Jollier conversations followed turning to how we would spend Christmas. For us it will be just the three of us, but for them they may have as many as 20 for lunch.

22nd lock

The top six locks took us 1 hour 8 minutes. So a total of 3 hours 18 minutes, not bad going. Maybe with a more experienced crew we’d have done it a touch quicker, but being safe was more important than speed. The Rusty crew can now certainly go up hill!

Almost done

We settled down, had an early lunch, let Tilly out. Then as the rain started to fall around us we watched the next few boats come up the locks. We’d timed it very well this morning managing to keep dry.

With the drawing board out this afternoon I started to draw up A Regular Little Houdini. I’m still waiting to hear back about some questions regarding my design from Vienna, but time is also running low. So I just hope I don’t have to change much when I get to talk to the Production Manager out there tomorrow.

Waiting for a dry spell

Mick went out to hunt for some more card for me, but sadly came back empty handed. But he did come back with news that the 48 hour mooring on the other side, by the car park was free. Here we’d be able to get a delivery and Sainsbury’s had given us more vouchers the other day, triple points and an extra 2000. He quickly checked that there was a delivery slot for the morning, secured it with a few boxes of wine. Tilly was keeping cosy by the stove so Mick pushed us over to claim the space. Plenty more shopping was added to our order as I worked my way through my drawings.

The rain now came down in torrents. This along with being alongside a car park meant Tilly wasn’t going out. The consequence of which meant we then had a bored cat. A bored cat who proceeded to poison herself, by eating a model chair!

Someone’s bored!

Suicidal cats don’t get fed, it’s a waste of food apparently. Suicidal cats get stared at for very long periods of time, longer than a cat can stare. Suicidal cats don’t get Dreamies. This suicidal cats has taken away an hours worth of She’s life! Apparently she hasn’t got enough life for everything at the moment. Maybe I should give her one of lives.

22 locks, 1.57 miles, 1 push across, 6:40 alarm, 6 crew, 2 boats, 3hrs 18minutes, 1 slice toast, 1 cuppa break, 4 sheets drawings, o mount, 4 boxes on order, -1 chair, 1 cat with a death wish!