Monday, 29 April 2013

The weather was the easiest thing to predict

Sunday 28th April to Monday 29th April 2013

To go or not to go – that was the decision we had to make on both days – they were pretty much identical days for us – both started off cloudy and windy; the sun made brief appearances and we cruised for slightly longer than we normally would have done.

Our intention when we headed off from Burscough was to moor up at Crooke (just out of Wigan) for the night and then perhaps make it to just before Leigh on Monday.

We encountered two separate episodes on Sunday which helped to change our minds – at least to sow the seed for Diane and then she suggested it to me.

The first of these was at Appley Lock – we were approaching it and I was already on the towpath and could see a boat sideways at the lock – we had known there was a boat there from a couple of cyclists who had mentioned it minutes earlier – why were they sideways? – it looked very much like they had decided to wind and go back up the lock.

As I got closer (still some distance away though), I saw the lock gates open; saw the boat under control and enter the lock – I was  closer by now – then saw the gates to the double lock close (with just the one boat inside) – by then I was upon the lock; striding up to the lock level – the guy operating the paddle gear turned around and realised I was there; looked up further and saw our boat and queried “I can lower the paddles if you like?” – Lower the bloody paddles if I like – you idiot, couldn’t you see us coming – I would have liked to have said that to him, but I very calmly replied “It would be good to save some water”

So we entered the lock; it appears that he usually is a single hander, but had his mother aboard who, in his words was “useless on the boat” and had become a little panicked when she had pushed the tiller the wrong way as they were getting closer to the lock – this explained the picture that I had seen; still not an excuse for not checking on any boats coming along to share the lock.

At the same lock in the disused arm were about 5 boats with a number of people around them obviously having a bit to drink, playing some music and generally enjoying themselves – no problems there.

We got through the lock and Diane headed out first, I was walking to the swing bridge at Appley Bridge; our “single-hander” friend came out next and nearly headed into the trees – (now I was sure that he could not blame his mother for that one).

I walked ahead of the two boats – passed the line of fishermen lining the canal – a match in progress – this would be interesting I thought.

Arriving at the swing bridge, I was looking back to check on the progress – even though it is a pedestrian bridge there is no point in opening it too soon; boat no.1 into view; Ferndale into view; the there were two fibreglass cruisers immediately behind her and it very much looked like they were trying to pass her as they were all pasing moored boats and with a fast approaching bridge hole which wasn’t wide enough for two abreast.

I wasn’t impressed with the sight.

Diane pulled over immediately past the bridge hole to pick me up; I duly closed the bridge once all boats were through and we then followed the two cruisers – the latter of these was getting his bonus travel points by zig-zagging from one side of the canal to the other.

Diane told me these were two of the boats moored back at Appley Lock (disused arm) and she thought that they might have had a bit to drink – mmm don’t really want to be near these guys too much.

The next lock is Dean Lock and with a water point we duly moored up to fill up.
confusion at the top of the lock

four others waiting to go up - we were glad to be filling the
water tank (on the left)

In what seemed like an instant the two cruisers were joined by 3 narrowboats – all planning to go up through the lock.

With a slow water tap we were glad that we didn’t have to share a lock with them, as in helping them anyway it became clear that not all of them operating some of the gear were completely sober or completely conversant with the way to operate it.

I will give them my due in saying that they were all very very friendly indeed and there was no trouble; they did also say that they were mooring up at Crooke for the last day of the Beer Festival –with all of this in mind, Diane suggested that for the sake of a couple of miles and a few locks we head for Wigan and moor up outside the CaRT offices – nice secure moorings – and this is where we headed for and moored for the night – very glad to be on our own.
Wigan Pier

Our erstwhile “single-hander” had gone up before we had arrived and we were clear of him; these 5 craft plus another unrelated boat had all gone up before we needed to follow.

The additional locks were all found with paddle gear left unlocked and one of the top gates left open – not blown open in the wind that was around, but just left open – we can only presume by our friend with his mother.

Sorry Maffi, if you read this – he wasn’t a great advertisement for how to do it on your own (his mother wasn’t doing much to help him from what we saw).

Monday was a bit more leisurely by virtue of the extra distance that we had travelled the previous day, but we had now revised where we would head to; it turned out to be completely uneventful – just a pleasant day of cruising once we had negotiated Henshurst Lock and the two locks on the Leigh branch.
the new-style stop planks - 7 in one go

this holday boat calmly through the bridge hole - enjoying
their break and without any of the fuss from the day before

Diane was at the helm and suggested that I might get a couple of hours work whilst she cruised to Leigh – I always agree with her suggestions!

We moored in Leigh for shopping and then off again with Worsley in mind to moor up.

approaching Worsley

Again she had a suggestion that I should take her out for dinner when we arrived – again I obeyed her suggestion – such a dutiful husband that I am.

I will await our cruising instructions in the morning and any suggestions that may be directed to me so that I know what I need to be doing!

23 miles, 8 locks, 1 lift bridge, 3 swing bridges for this period

Totals: 1601 Miles, 1269 Locks, 56 Tunnels, 27 Lift Bridges, 122 Swing Bridges

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