Salterhebble Middle Lock to Lock 1, Rochdale Canal
As we made ready this morning a boat was coming down the middle lock of Salterhebble, I walked with windlass and spike to show our intentions, the gates were left open.
On Lillian this was the shortest lock we encountered. We came down it backwards without bow and stern fenders. Getting the stern past a closed bottom gate took a bit of doing, with tiller hard over we reckoned we had about an inch spare after the stern nav light. Oleanna’s length was chosen with this lock in mind, a foot shorter than Lillian, we should be fine.
Mick brought her in through one open gate, slowed her down, bow touching at the front. At this point there was a chance that we might have to lift a fender to sneak her in past the closed gate.
Would she slide in? Breath in! The stern fender looked like it was just over by an inch.
Then Mick pushed on the gate, it wasn’t quite fully closed. This gave us a few more inches.
She slid past no problem! Phew.
By this time there was someone saying ‘Hello’ to me, a Lockie who would be seeing us through Tuel Lane in a couple of days. With the gates closed we started to lift the ground paddles, keeping an eye on Oleanna as she rose. Now that was easier than we thought it would be, maybe we could have had her built three inches longer!
With another boat waiting to come down we went straight into the top lock instead of filling with water in the intermediate pound. Here we had gongoozlers, the crew from the other boat and two more Lockies. The lady from the other boat alerted me to water spraying into the well deck from the top gates. Yes things would be getting wet, but it wasn’t really all that much concern, Mick nudged Oleanna a bit to avoid the pisser from the gate and she carried on up with no problem.
The two locks were over very quickly and with ease. There are often questions on facebook groups as to how long is the ideal boat, a go anywhere boat(apart from the 40 something foot lock on the middle levels). Lillian was 59ft 6inches plus fenders, her stern was a little bit squarer than Oleanna’s and her bow may have been a touch fatter. Removing her fenders we cruised her up to Ripon, did the Salterhebble and the Huddersfield Broad locks. All these were done with care, but were a touch tight, especially the one on the Huddersfield Broad! When we specked Oleanna she had to be able to cruise the northern canals so she was built at 58ft 6 inches. Her shape possibly also makes a difference, just that bit more curvy and slender in the right places. We had several inches to spare today with our fenders down. The plan worked, we just need to see if she’ll fit through Standedge Tunnel now.
We topped up with water and disposed of rubbish at the top. We wondered if the water pressure would have been better in the pound below, but we were patient and were out of the way for the other boat to go down. The trees looked very good here, but still they wouldn’t let me out!
A top up of diesel and a new gas bottle were required before we could settle for the day. The visitor moorings by the basin at Sowerby Bridge looked like we’d be able to fit on the end, but a lack of rings put us off. At the basin we swung into Shire Cruisers diesel point. This is where we’d left Lillian whilst we finished packing up the house to rent out, where we got a sofa bed delivered and where Houdini (our old cat) moved on board with us five years ago.
Refilled we reversed back out and winded. I’d spotted a space free below Lock 1 on the Rochdale Canal so we pulled in where the trees looked good, the river a safe distance away. Here will do us for a couple of days.
Mick headed to Halifax to pick up my new camera whilst I did some work. Whilst I wondered if I could use a sewage pumping station to base the main part of my set for Puss In Boots on, Tilly climbed trees and worried the local duck population. A good afternoon all round.
2 locks, 2.25 miles, 2 boats coming down, 4 inches spare, 1 breakfast up to standards, 1 left, 1 right, 1 wind, 1 camera, 1 very sexy pumping station, 5 friends, 4 trees, 0 wet paws, 2 geese sent flying.