Sunday, 19 August 2012

Another Fast Run Up "The Twenty-One" and Another Unplanned Meeting.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Getting ready for departure at Stretton
A curious day today, in terms of timings.  Even with our own personalised parameters in Nick Atty's Excellent CanalPlanAC, which are set to quicker progress times than the defaults, it should be a long days boating.  This is principally because it involves ascent of the "Wolverhampton 21", so called because it is a 21 lock flight at Wolverhampton (!)

Autherley stop lock, where the "Shroppied" ends.
This is exactly the kind of situation where if things go slowly, and other boats and crews prevent a fast run through, it can easily take 4 hours, but with everything in your favour, an efficient crew could probably halve that time.

Entering Wolverhampton Bottom Lock - Start of ascent.
Back earlier in the year our friends Sarah and Jim had worked like Trojans in foul conditions to get us up "the Twenty-One" in just 1 hours 50 minutes with Sickle.  That does require you to be pretty efficient, though.  We had no such aspirations today with Chalice, with one less crew, and a puppy that would need comfort breaks during the ascent.

The impressive railway aqueduct, part way up.
I thought if we did it "sub 3-hours" that would be fine, and initially that looked a fair prediction, particularly when we met a slowish boat coming down, and had quite a wait.  However from about mid-way up it was obvious we were now a lot quicker, and even passing another downcoming boat happened with no lost time.

Mostly I steered - Cath and (particularly) David did the hard work.
By the top we were clearly catching someone up, as David was having to fully turn all the locks.  He was haring back and forth between locks multiple times, to keep up the momentum, and looking a bit flushed.  We did some "in flight refuelling", giving him large invections of fresh orange juice.

Cath and David close the final gate at the top lock.
Approaching the top it was apparent our time would go over two hours for the 21 locks, but not by much.  The actual result to the point of fully closing up the top lock was 2 hours 3 minutes.  Certainly no record, but creditable in the circumstances!

After that our target of getting to the Black Country Museum moorings was an absolute doddle, and instead of being there late afternoon, as we though we might, we had found a mooring and tied up by about 3:00 pm.  This was quite good news, as, by then, it was already the last mooring available in the preferred secured area at the end, outside the museum, and in sight of Dudley tunnel.

I have never in the past done the trip into the tunnel and mines on the Dudley Canal Trust electric boats, but was able to book myself on the 3:30 tour.  Cath was getting worried about school work, so gave it a miss.

"Chalice" tied up with "Iona 2" breasted alongside.
Later on we had another of those coincidences that seems to happen surprisingly often.  A boat that had come in and tied up for water proved to be Iona 2, owned by our friends Dave and Ange.  They had resigned themselves to having to moor outside for the night, so were pleased when we pointed out it was us moored further down, and they could breast Iona alongside Chalice.

Whilst each of our dogs thankfully coexisted with each other in complete harmony, we enjoyed a very sociable evening, sat out the front of the boats, and sipping glasses of wine.  One of the great things about this life, is you never quite no who you will re-meet, where or when.

Stretton Aqueduct to Black Country Museum

Miles: 14.8, Locks: 22
Total Miles: 374.0, Locks: 206 (Worked)

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