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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.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Few....What a day to travel

What a wild night. Wind picked up in the wee hours of the morning and sleep was impossible what with the  hull banging against the side. No fenders on board AGAIN, and Ian was not going to brave the elements to do a makeshift rope fender. Tried to sleep but gave up as a bad job. Early breakfast instead and then waited for daybreak. No point in heading off while it was still dark. In the end it was 8.30 before we pulled pins but there by we had a problem. Merlin was firmly glued to the bank by the wind. Loads of revs and Ian pushing the bow for all his worth,  just about got us off the side. Then with the first lock in sight Ian legged it to get it set. Was I relieved to see the gates opening. No trying to hold the boat in the middle battling the wind on this lock. In fact every lock today was with us, which is a blooming miracle as this doesn't happen very often.Then, on the exit, more often then not I failed to get Ian back on board. Just couldn't hold the boat at the lock mouth and going on the lock landing would have meant being pinned again. All I could do was either pick him up at a bridge 'ole or get as close to the side as I dare and hope Ians leap of faith got him safely onto the deck. As for going in a straight line, forget it! It was crab fashion all the way.

Penkridge was full of boats and on both sides. Last time we did this section I struggled to see one hand in front of my face the fog was that dense. Today I struggled to avoid hitting boats as that wind was determined to push me against them and I had to move a tad faster than normal to get out of trouble. No one shouted at me but that could be because they thought we were private boaters not a hirers. No sign writing as yet, you see. In fact we even had our licence number taken by a C&RT enforcement officer, not something usually done with hire boats.

 At Otherton lock a sudden loud crack made me look toward the M6 just in time to see a huge branch come crashing down. If it had gone onto the motorway...well carnage would have ensued.  We did have small trees and branches down across our path but none that stopped us dead in our tracks.

At Gailey we stopped for water. The hire boats as usual were half way across the canal and I did wonder how I would cope getting past, what with the wind an all. A space had been left on the towpath side which thankfully meant I could squeeze past without incident.

Because of our luck with the locks we made better time than we anticipated. In fact we pushed on so we could get onto the Shroppie. Very nearly gave up and stopped before the narrows on the Staffs & Worc though, 'cause by now the drizzle had turned into rain. The wind was head on driving the rain into all those unmentionable nook and crannies on ones person and it was only the thought that the extra time done today would mean less miles to do in the days ahead. The R turn onto the Shroppie, what with the wind and rain, wasnt easy but I'm pleased to say I didn't hit the bridge or the lock. Even got a 10 out of 10 from Ian. Praise indeed! We finally stopped before Pendeford, earlier then we wanted but we were very wet and starting to get chilled.

12.9 miles, 9 locks

A few more photos from the journey

Even Santa stops for boats Smiley


Removing debris (large log) from behind the gate

What gives you the idea that someone doesn't approve of winter moorings. Seen below Gailey

And on route,

Buzzard peeking out

Do they think it's Spring??

He was really cross at his girl being taken advantage of and told him in no uncertain terms!! Good on him..Smiley

Isn't she pretty.

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