About Us

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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 5 December 2023

God that was scary!

Went to bed with the rain still coming down in torrents, the only noise heard was as it lashed against the windows. For once all was quiet above the bed, the snow deadening the sound of the drops on the roof.  When we both woke around 2 ish with the distinctive sound of drumming above us, we knew the snow must be all gone, we lay awake hoping the rain would soon stop, it was not to be.

Monday 4th

We wanted to leave today and try to get up to the Mill, the rain was relentless, not a great day for travelling. But then by 10 am a lull, just drizzle, easily coped with. Hardly any ice was left, just a few stubborn floating islands that occasionally could be heard cracking against the hull. One of those islands were full of pretty patterns where water fowl had walked across.

Ian did most of the steering until the first lock, no point in both getting wet. As expected it was full because that boat on the landing at Stanton went past FS yesterday and doing a good job in ice breaking. One thing quite noticeable as we approached Potters Lock was how much the bywashe was flowing. Most unusual for the Erewash Canal. Potters lock had another of those nasty low bridges, the chimney was still up so it was imperative then that I pull over onto the landing to get it removed. Ian obliged, started to walk toward the lock as I shouted after him to open both gates. "What for" he enquired. Mentioning the viciousness of the bywash plus the exceptional low bridge, felt it would be better for me if I had a clear run in. Well, his "If I must" tone of exasperation had me shouting back to say "Well if it's to much trouble don't bother!"  Now in a huff, I set off, muttering under my breath that it would be his fault if I hit the bridge! Anyway, he did open both gates in time and FS sailed in without incident.

I took over steering after that, had the brolly up whilst Ian went inside, no words were spoken! Then up he comes with a very welcome hot cup of coffee. I thanked him and then put my sixpenny worth in by saying he was totally oblivious of what I was up against and how difficult some situations were.  An apology was forthcoming and harmony was again restored.

Rain started in earnest, in fact it was more than rain, sleet appeared to be mixed in. Both of us decided this was stupid, and we would stop by Stenson Lock. It was near enough lunchtime after all. What to do with coats now dripping and making puddles on the floor, hang in the bathroom for the time being then put near to the stove, we fully expected that no more boating would happen today. I took the usual photo and realised just how much water was flowing over Stenson bottom gates. And that bywash looked deadly. Would not be looking forward to running the gauntlet into the lock tomorrow!

Lunch was devoured, TV on, the warmth of the boat making us sleepy but then, silence! No sound of rain on the cabin top. A look between us said it all, so coats back on, FS untied, and both gates would be opened so Ian had told me. So my dilemma, how would I tackle that bywash. Head to the left, put the power on and hope the flow would bring me nicely to the right and lined up with the lock. Yep, good plan, I would try that.

OMG, that didn't work at all!! The flow was so fierce it grabbed hold of FS's bow, pushed her hard right toward the concrete ledge under the bridge. I used the F word a lot...and sh*t and probably other words too. My only hope in averting catastrophe was to push the tiller hard to the right but too late as the bow hit the concrete hard, bounced off veering to the left. Then the stern was caught and that too headed right.  How I missed scrapping the handrail against the left bridge arch I will never know. All I remember was full throttle deployed, smoke filled the basin with the high revs and the tiller was pushed hard to the left to try and bring the bow right. God, my heart was going like the clappers and next thing I knew, I was in the lock...phew. And watching it all was Ian! "See what you mean" said he as calm as you like and totally unconcerned!!!!!!What...can I throttle that man now!!!! Did he not realise just how close I had got to damaging a lot more than the handrail? And there he stands, as cool as you like and just said "See what you mean"!!! Next time I will hand the reins over to him! With so much water pouring over the top gates I was very reluctant to get too close to the torrent, so quickly back into reverse which actually took me out through the gates again. Bugger!!! Anyway, I did creep in enough to allow Ian to close the gates but made sure to stay well back from that cascade.

In the lock and looking back


Opening the paddles he got wet....yea...how I did laugh because a jet of water whooshed up from the paddle vent just where he was standing. That helped enormously with my anxiety, and I felt a lot calmer having witnessed this.

This was at Potters lock, I managed to get the photo but not the one that happened at Shipley

Although the rain had started again, we continued, through Eastwood lock, which also had water pouring over the gates. The bywash comes in at an angle, and well away from the entrance. The Langley Bridge lock came into view with the bottom gate open. Our friends Jim and Jenn were ready to greet us and welcome us back.

So by the time we eventually got onto our mooring time was getting on and never more relieved were we that our journey was over. I can't remember if there has ever been another time when it has taken so long to get from Sandiacre to Langley Mill!  Normally done in 4.5 hours, two days was a bit extreme!

Today (Tuesday)

Rain continued all night, the water in the basin rose, and the boat rose with it, so much so, that to get off the back and onto the bank, wellies had to be worn! 

 It's the end of our travels for this year, next year has been planned, and we are hoping to get to Shetland with the motor home. There are also two exiting trips planned for March, and that is all thanks to David and Marilyn. More of that to come at a later date.


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Well my heart was in my throat while reading this post! Relieved you are both safe and sound, and FS is still in one piece. Stay warm, stay dry and enjoy the holidays. Biggs big hugs to you both,
Jaq xxx

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Thank You, Jaq, The joys of boating eh..I expect you have many a tale to tell, too.
Hope you are keeping well, and we wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Much love

Irene and Ian

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Did you mean Stenson Lock in the early part of the blog? Scary stuff, wherever it was. We had similar trouble on the Tyrley Locks when Big Neil got shoved unceremoniously on to the rock face by the by-wash. We had to have him throw the middle rope so 3 of us could haul the boat over a bit so the bow would get in the lock opening.
Bloody awful stuff, frankly!

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Definitely Stenson, Marilyn. The confusion is that there is also a Stenson on the T&M.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ian guess who?remember us paul and carole please get in touch

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Well, well, well, names from the past. Lovely to hear from you both. I think I still have an email address of Paul's. Will give it a try first.

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