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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday, 23 March 2012

A mammoth cruise

It was blooming freezing this morning and we didn't bother about lighting the fire last night, so waking up to a cold boat was far from pleasant!!!  Even Jade's hair was all 'fluffed up' and her ears felt icy, sure sign that she also had felt the cold. As much as I wanted to pull the covers up over my face and go back to sleep, Jade needed walking and the kettle needed to go on! By 7.30am we started the engine and set off. Didn't bother to moor up in Alrewas after all so no sausages tonight then! River section was in green as expected and apart from 1 lock at Branston water park, all locks were with us. Ian noticed a porta pottie floating in the canal and laughingly mentioned that it appeared as if the red light was on. Hope its only full of canal water!!

This has been one of those nondescript days where not a lot has happened. I did see a pair of very amorous pheasants but, as is my lot lately, the focus is again rubbish.

 By 1.30ish we made it to Willington but decided against stopping at the facilities. The loo didn't need emptying and the water tanks still showed 70% on the dial. Went past Mercia Marina and have almost decided that we will take a berth there in April after we have dry docked the boat. Then, on route to Stenson we found that BW, or their contractors, had been very busy cutting down tree's. We might have had a roof full of wood, but as I have said in previous posts, its impossible for us to go past all these lovely thick branches and not get even more. Wouldn't it be lovely if  BW could cut all the trunks into manageable sizes for us 'continues cruisers'. We could pay a bit extra on our licence with a sign on the logs saying "For Live a Boards" only!! Okay, Pigs might fly!!! and  'Dream on'!!!

Unfortunately we couldn't get the boat any nearer. We did try but kept getting grounded.
 After Ian had collected as much wood as the roof could hold we were about to set off when Nb Peony came along. We let him go past and felt it was a bonus to have another boat to lock down with us at Stenson. It turned out not to be such a good move after all. Firstly he was a lone boater and secondly he had only lived on board at a permanent mooring. He admitted he was a novice at boating. We found that out to our cost. After filling Stenson lock, I entered first. Ian then closed the gate my side and waited for the chap to bring his boat in. This he did. Ian then went to the bottom gates to open the paddle assuming that the lone boater would shut the top gate on his side. Wrong. Ian started to lift the paddles and then realised, to his horror, that the water was rushing through the open gate and straight through the bottom gate paddles. Ian shouted to the boater who seemed oblivious to what was going on. I don't think I have ever seen Ian move as fast as he did to close the top gate. The gate banged shut causing a bit of a tidal wave that soaked the gongoozelers watching the proceedings. Isn't that always the way. They are always there when things go wrong.  I decided to let him out first once we had descended, but typically the right hand gate still doesn't open properly.

So I backed up and got soaked by the water coming in from the top gate. Finally, out I came, only to find BW pan and dredger on the lock landing. Where to pick Ian up??? He had to climb over the dredger to get back on our boat.

Then we followed the boater onwards to Swarkstone lock at........... 2mph!!!! At this rate it would take an hour to get there. After 30 minutes he suddenly put on a bit of power and eventually we arrived at the lock. I said to Ian that the first convenient mooring after the lock we would stop. I just couldn't face travelling on to Western lock at that slow pace. So our mooring tonight is at bridge 13. We have travelled 18.5 miles and gone through 10 locks. Not bad going for us who normally only travel a few miles a day!

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