Wednesday, 7 June 2017

An Unexpected Dip

Friday 26th May 2017 to Monday 29th May 2017

We had spoken with Jackie and Cyril the previous evening about a start time for the morning and we all thought around about 8am would be good – I think we are as bad as each other – eager to head off and we were through the first lock by the time that 8am clicked over.

The strange thing is that the locks are double – meaning two boats can get through but the pontoons on the river side are nearly all only long enough for one boat at a time.

Yet another lovely day – sunshine everywhere and a light cool breeze – just about the best.

We found the going a bit easier this time on the River Aire – there seemed to be a bit more water under us.

The two boats worked their way through the three locks without any problems – well, bar one.
At Beal Lock, there was some difficulty closing the bottom gates – a little bit of propeller work from both boats cleared whatever obstruction was down there – we think that it must have just been a bit of silt preventing the full closure.

There was certainly some power under the engine boards.

Above the last lock – Bank Dole Lock – we were heading due west and Predator was heading back to the east. We had enjoyed the travel with Jackie and Cyril and look forward to one day meeting up with them again.

But for us it was onwards again – more new territory to be covered – a chance for Diane to colour in more of her map. We have a complete map of the waterways and over the years Diane has coloured/highlighted on it, the waterways that we have traversed – there is an awful lot of yellow highlighter on the map for this year.

The Lock Chicks

We headed off first and Predator would be making that turn just to the
right in this shot

Knottingley has an initial industrial area which is typical of what you find with canals, but after passing under the first bridge it evolves into a most delightful outlook – you could be in any town or city.

The sun was certainly out and the navigation was just like glass -  the bank sides
complemented it all

It was simply lovely to be on the water

Even the older and more industrial areas were delightful

Through the Flood Lock at Ferrybridge - that's the river heading off to the left

Past some more parks and the still operating flour mill and we were though the Ferrybridge Flood Lock and onto the River Aire – deep and wide – yet again.

The cruise between Ferrybridge and Castleford was pure bliss

Bulhome Lock ahead...

...but mooring up was a bit precarious

Just over 4 miles and into Bulholme Lock – a cruiser which had been trailing us since the Ferrybridge lock came in with us and foolishly tied up beside us.
One of us was almost crushed as the lock started filling – putting Ferndale into hard reverse to take up the slack of the rope attached to the bollard prevented sideways movement into the cruiser – they got the idea and moved forward pretty quick.

We needed to fill the water tank immediately out of the lock and finally moored up on the left hand side before the boatyard and the next bridge – the mooring side was about gunwhale height and we have been here for the duration of the long weekend.

There were a number of jobs on the mental work list - I had wanted to give the roof a good wash for a while and Diane had the dirty side of the boat to wash – both jobs got done and we had a chance to sit back for a while, whilst we watched the dark clouds come rolling in as had been promised in the weather forecast.
A few spots of rain appeared, everything had been packed away, and then it came teeming down – we moved in rapid time with chairs and made it inside the back area without getting wet.
It really was bucketing down and we were glad to be out of it – or so we thought.
Talk about a weather change...

As it was starting to ease off, Diane looked out of the window to see one of our tyre fenders drifting out in the middle of the water – about 15 metres away from the boat – too far to reach with the boat pole – just one solution for this – someone would be getting themselves into the water to fetch it.

Stripped right down to just my undies, it was rather refreshing in the water after all of the humidity and heat that we had experienced that morning.
...but with a fender out there to collect, there is only one way to do it...

....edging back - it was not the Olympics...'s your b____y fender, dear!... to get out....mmmm, no ladder - what the ???

Tyre retrieved and handed back to Diane on the boat – she had to put the camera down to take hold of the tyre.

Problem now was getting out.

It is probably appropriate to say here that we had purchased the wood and had the rope to construct a ladder for just such a situation. Nearly all of the holes had been drilled and with what would probably have taken (and did take) another 20 minutes we would have had the said ladder….

….but we didn’t. Diane managed to tie a length of rope onto the back seats base; I made a loop in the rope and using that and the horizontal plate on the rudder, managed to get out in a very inelegant manner with help from Diane and the fellow off the boat behind.

Back on my feet on land the tyre was placed back in a more secure way; I was still as I had gone in – anyone looking out at the sight would definitely have felt very sorry for Diane – meanwhile she was just smiling and laughing just enough to suggest that she also felt a bit sorry for herself or maybe I just looked like the drowned water rat that I was.

A nice warm shower and change of clothes helped a lot and we just spent the rest of the day inside.

During the days that we have been here we have been into the town a few times for coffee and for shopping as needed – an Aldi, Morrisons and a lovely indoor market have done us well.

On Sunday, we ventured a bit further afield, although it was not exactly planned that way.
We had been told that a just past the lock was a nature area and a bird hide that looked out – would make a nice short walk to have a look and then come back to the boat – we left at 5:45pm
It always looks shorter on the map

But still very pretty out there

These are old excavations and now filled with water they provide safe havens
for the bird life

Diane's favourites - mmm, not really

We had walked so far that we made it to the next county

...but it was a lovely day to have a walk - just not a 6 mile one
Two hours later we were a bit exhausted after a 6 mile walk – sure we had made it to the bird hide and spent about 10 minutes looking out onto the lake with the wildlife out but after leaving, Diane suggested that we turn right (not left as planned) – this took us to the road, a lengthy walk up the road to the Visitor Centre (it closes at 5pm and was in another county) and then we took the route back – along the river – looking for familiar landmarks as we went; hoping that we hadn’t crossed any other borders, maybe into another country (not just another county).
There was a time when I thought that I saw Blackpool Tower, or it may have been Old Trafford or even the BT Tower in Birmingham, but spotting the old disused railway bridge near the lock was so joyous and then to find the Lock – we were saved !
Back on board we both collapsed into the chairs in the lounge and took a while to recover before moving again.
Monday was a bit more recovery – except that I needed to work (not a public holiday in Australia), Diane by now was happy that the French open is on ITV4.
It seems that this weekend has again left its reputation intact as the one most likely to produce always produce a lot of rain – it continued on Monday – all the better to stay inside.

As I write this it continues to drizzle and the heat that started the day on Friday has completely gone, with some boats even lighting their fires – we are a few days closer to winter again folks!!

12 Miles, 4 Locks
YTD:  532 miles (856 km), 240 Locks, 15 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5164 Miles (8311 km), 3391 Locks, 139 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges


  1. Your unexpected dip certainly raised a chuckle - can you hear us laughing all the way down here in New Zealand? Guess completing the ladder will be your number one priority now!
    Robin and Jenny, Romany Rambler

  2. I know that you Kiwis like to have a good chuckle so I am very glad to be able to oblige - the ladder is now completed and gave it a bit of a test the following day - did not go into the water again but it did seem to be able to hold my weight OK.
    Have to admit that the water was quite refreshing - it had been humid and sticky - so who knows, if the conditions are similar I can go in again, safe in the knowledge that I will be able to extricate myself - Diane will probably still take more photos to post on the blog


  3. What, no swimming costume on board? I always bring mine in case I have to get in the cut to get stuff out that David drops overboard ...

    1. Hi Marilyn, Diane was just happy that I didn't take the undies off as well and go in naked; she was concerned about others feeling sorry for her