A very early start this morning. Silly time like 6.45am. We wanted to make Penkridge by lunchtime to get a decent mooring and with it being market day tomorrow, we had a long list of things to get for our holiday to the Middle East early next year. I know we still have 7 months before we set off but you try getting summer clothes in winter! Anyway all was going well, we passed the red and white gaffer tape round lock 21 on the Wolverhampton 2 1which, incidentally, is now fully open.
It was as we were coming out of the M54 bridge (being widened to accommodate the above road traffic) that I was suddenly confronted by a Stone hire boat heading straight for me. Inside the bridge was a line of mini booms to direct boat traffic away from the edge so other then scrape the whole of our cabin side against the steel, there was nothing I could do other then hard reverse and gesture to the hirer to stop. He kept coming!!! I shouted again to put his tiller the other way to try and avoid me but still no response. Next thing I know bang.....straight into the side of FS. By hitting me so hard I shot off to the right and straight into overhanging branches. By now I saw red and asked what on earth he was playing at traveling at speed toward an obvious hazard, especially when he saw me coming. He said he had everything under control, wasn't going fast and it must have been my fault! Well you can imagine what I said to him. His bow then ploughed into the opposite side of the bridge, scattering the work force in all directions. With the force of the impact he shot off toward the middle and putting on a bit of power left me to try and sort ourselves out. If only I had got the name of the boat but both Ian and myself were busy trying to rescue flower pots, wifi aerial, fishing rod etc as well as try to untangle us from the branches. I tried reversing out but all that did was to take me toward the red steel holding the bridge supports. Starting to panic I jumped off the back and pushed as hard as I could to stop us from going onto the steel. Nearly lost my balance but saved myself by grabbing hold of the tiller. Honestly thought I was a goner at that moment and heading for a ducking. The men of the workforce could only watch as they were on the other side of the bridge but once we managed to free ourselves, shouted across to Ian with a distinctive laugh to his voice 'see you got yourself free then'. Do you know I can laugh about it now especially as all the hire boat did was scrape a load of blacking off the side but if FS's paintwork had been scratched I would have been heart broken.
|If only I had got the boats name! On the front was a silly blow up palm tree|
|I was reversing out by this time and even the solar panels had been pushed across.|
|Ian fighting his way to the front to rescue my other planters|
|Mini booms to keep boaters away from the side.|
|And the overhanging tree. My stern ended up in the dark bit of the bridge heading for the steel work.|
Having got underway again we picked up a slow boat at Hatherton and it seemed like an age before we got to Gailey. Gailey was the usual chaotic self although all the Viking hire boats were out. We stopped to water up and empty loo and 30 minutes later set off for Penkridge. A volunteer lock keeper was at Rodbaston Lock and she gave us a snippet of information regarding the towpath on the stretch between Rodbaston and Otherton lock. Apparently the fishing club mows that section but only because it is in the agreement to C&RT that, to get the fishing rights, they must maintain it. On no account must they mow to the waters edge, not because of health and safety, but because of the wildflowers that must be allowed to grow. What utter rubbish. Most of it is weed, nettles, elder, ragwort and the likes. Excuse my language but C&RT cant be arsed!
So finally arrived at the cross keys pub by 13.30pm. Having been told by boats passing through Penkridge that all the moorings are full, we decided that the extra walk to the market was worth it so pulled in and moored. Fishing is great here and the added bonus is Ians Tackle shop (not my Ian) is literally a 3 minute walk away.
Must just show you these photos. When we moored below Penkridge lock last Tuesday Ian and I walked up to the tackle shop. On route this swan kept chasing a female duck. I was most surprised to see the same swan still chasing the duck nearly 6 days later. It left all other ducks alone but not this one. Most strange.