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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.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The dreaded Ridgeacre Branch

 Top lock of Ryders Green. We decided to take a trip along the Ridgeacre Branch off to our right.

It didn't bode well when floating weed hindered our progress but when thick black sludge appeared behind us I started to get worried. The boat felt sluggish and the further into the arm we went the worse the black oily mud became.  Then we touched bottom and ground to a halt. Ian tried to reverse but all we ended up doing pushing the stern toward the far bank.

Ian grabbed the pole to try and pole the stern round but the end of the pole disappeared into the thick mud giving him nothing to push against. We were basically stuck on the wrong side of the canal. Ian then pushed the pole down the side of the boat and by using that as a lever managed to bring the stern back into the center. When he tried to bring the bow round by throttling forward, nothing happened. In fact he lost drive altogether. We had clouds of smoke pouring out from the exhaust but no propulsion.

 Thankfully the bow ended up by a small bridge, towpath side, and I managed to climb from
 the bow and onto the towpath, and with Ian throwing both stern and center ropes for me to catch, I ended up being the pack horse and dragging the boat back to the junction. Ian even offered to bring me a nose bag to keep me going, the cheek of it!! Once at the junction we had the dilemma of how to bring the boat across the canal and back onto the far towpath on the Walsall canal. There was no way for me to get across other then to walk round by the lock. There was nothing for it but for Ian to get his rubber gloves on and go rummaging around the prop.

This is what he pulled out! No wonder we couldn't go forward or back.

Filled two carrier bags.
So beware. If anyone wants to try and go toward Black Lake on the Ridgeacre Arm, go in a rowing boat instead!

Ryder Green locks

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