Jolly boating weather 4

Thursday morning, I found it a bit hard to get up. I’d been awake most of the night which isn’t unusual, but I’d fallen asleep at just the wrong time. So we were under way by the time I was dressed and Mig was opening the first lifting bridge by herself, which I was sorry about. Only one person at a time can do it but we usually take turns. I don’t mind them as much as she does, so I did the next couple myself.

We went through the final staircase of three locks plus three more and were told of a hotel boat, or rather two boats, one pulling another. We were intrigued. There’s only room for one at a time in the lock so the second would have to be pulled through manually.  Neither Mig nor Barney had ever seen this being done, so we all wanted to look – unfortunately, we were so eager that no one remembered a camera and so, apart from a single snap on Barney’s phone (we’d left those on the boat too, me and Mig) there is nothing to remind us.

When we arrived, the lead boat was coming through the first lock gate.  We suspected that the second boat had been brought as close as possible and tied to the lock.  The water level was raised and the lead boat went through and was tied in place, just beyond the second gate.  Then the water in the lock was lowered again and they had to start pulling the second boat through.  A young man and a young woman were on top of the boat, pushing against the top of the lock whilst the man in charge, a rangy, capable bloke with a broad-brimmed hat, pulled the rope.  Then, as it came through – once it starts, of course its own momentum brought it on – the girl got off and took the stern rope, ready to tie it again, so that the boat wouldn’t press against the second gate as it opened.

Are you with me so far?

We knew that she was quite new to this job as the older man was calling instructions to her, but she was so nimble and prompt that she was clearly experienced on a narrowboat.  The Top Bloke tied the bows to the second part of the lock.  Then the water level was raised, he backed the lead boat to be joined to the second boat and they chugged through.  It was really worth watching, we were glad to have seen it – and amused ourselves thinking of the palaver of getting through the stairway of three adjoining locks.

Later, I steered again for a lot of the way, taking us through a lock unaided at last, just to show I could do it, while Barney and Mig operated the lock.  Barney did a final couple of locks and I found operating them exhausting, I’ve pulled a muscle or something in my tum.  Frankly, I didn’t know my stomach had muscles.  Anyway, I didn’t feel it at the time, just that my arms were struggling, but I have since.  It’s getting better.

We arrived back at the marina, filled up with fuel and got ready for the evening.  We were having dinner first and Zoë and Richard were joining us for a drink afterwards.  They are both delightful, we had a lovely hour or two chatting together and I’m sure we will meet again – I’ve offered them a place to stay here of course, any time they want to come to Norfolk.

The next morning, Mig and I packed while Barney cooked breakfast and then we cleared everything away while Barney washed the outside of the boat.  Inside, they use a valet service except for the windows, funnily enough, which I cleaned.  On the outside, doing the side not against the wharf was interesting.  I had to balance on the gunwale, which is the width of my foot, and bend down to clean the window.  I didn’t fall in.

And then we said goodbye and drove home.

4 comments on “Jolly boating weather 4

  1. tim

    I’ve just watched the ‘BBC4 Goes Slow’ two hour trip down the upper reaches of the Kennet and Avon. Single camera on the prow, no commentary, no music, just the occasional informative caption. Can a TV programme be boring and riveting at the same time? Yes! By the end I was desperate for a lock or something (spoiler – we got an aqueduct), but hypnotised by the sheer slowness. A swan! A boat coming the other way! All the moored longboats are completely different! There’s a bloke in lycra on a bike! Fabulous.
    Your trip with Mig and Barney was obviously a bit more eventful. More than just two hours of sitting on a sofa though.
    BTW, sorry I won’t be able to make the blogbash, yet again – I’ll (I trust) be in an aeroplane on my way back from Southern Italy at the time.

  2. Z Post author

    Yes, I understand that, I sometimes felt the slowness of it, though I was also aware that this was good for me, to take things at a slower pace. But when steering, even if I look about and know that a brisk walking pace is quicker, I am still alert all the time, a moment’s inattention leads to a drift into the bank and steering between a moored boat and an oncoming boat gives rise to real anxiety – not in a bad way, only through a wish not to get anything wrong and hit another boat, really. Watching paint dry is fascinating though, don’t you think? When one isn’t the anxious painter, worrying about every drip, that is.

    Sorry you won’t be with us on the 30th, I clearly will have to consult you first next year for the date, assuming I won’t be in the throes of moving house (I should be so lucky). It’s been ages since I’ve seen you, my fault as I’ve been your way but I’ve been pressed for time. Next time I visit Zig, I’ll let you know and see if you’re both free. Have a lovely holiday – I’ve never been to Southern Italy, must put that right before long.

  3. Dinahmow

    I think the funniest thing I saw on the canal was someone who’d tied -up when the lock was high.Then they lowered the level…oopsy! A young lad untied the rope, but Mr Silly was a bit cross that his little boat was unmanned.(He’d been having a beer)


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