Wednesday, 30 July 2014

It had to finally happen to me one day (it has taken over 40 years!).

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Wednesday 30th July.

There's probably not a huge amount to say about this day, other than one notable event.  The object really remained to try and keep making good time with "Sickle" without flogging ourselves to death.  We had expected to put in fairly long days on this particular part of the holiday, and were now still trying to recover a bit of time after our original delayed start from Audlem.

Gailey - Cath gets in the ice creams.
For much of the day things progressed well, although I have to say the final miles at the South end of the "Shroppie" were much as I always find them - after several days of very straight runs across embankments, and through fields and cuttings, I start to look forward to a canal with more twists and turns, and a reasonable spread of locks to work.

Going well at this stage.
Once through the Autherley stop lock, (which currently has almost no difference in levels at all), and doubled back up onto the Staffs and Worcs, you are quickly into a very long and narrow cutting, which is also a surprisingly shallow one, (or at least seems to be in "Sickle", which I think I probably have too much back end ballast in for this kind of thing).  There are only a few passing places, and it is not particularly easy to move over in some of them, so I was not sorry to emerge at the North end of the narrows with nothing having tried to come South.

But 10 minutes later, wet boy and waterlogged camera.
After a few more lock-less miles up through Calf Heath, (but certainly more twists and turns on the "Shroppie"), you arrive at a stretch where the locks come fairly regularly, often closely spaced, and few more than half a mile apart.  I just thought we were setting into a nice professional rhythm, with the two of us working well together, when at Rodbaston lock something happened which is a first for me since I first started boating in about 1970.   One minute I was walking along "Sickle's" engine room gunwale, the next I was descending into the cut.  I obviously wasn't in danger, so rather than try to grab the handrails, and go slamming into the boat side with possibly broken fingers, I let the inevitable happen, and ended up standing on the bottom, just over waist deep.

I was quickly out, with nothing more of me than my pride damaged, (there was an inevitable bunch of construction workers who watched the whole performance).  However my thoughts that I had got away with it were quickly dashed when I realised I was wearing our best Canon Ixus camera on my belt.  It was full of water, and the prognosis didn't look good!

We had decided initially to stop somewhere near Penkridge or Teddesley, but (despite the ducking!), our progress was good enough to carry on past Acton Trussell, (which always sounds to me like the place referred to by Hinge and Bracket).  however we didn't wish to get caught up in the environs of Stafford with its many road bridges and railway lines, and as the railway also follows the canal for miles after Stafford, we stopped short at an idyllic spot just below Deptmore lock.  Once again food was cooked and eaten al fresco, in very relaxing style.  The camera most certainly was not working!

Brewood to Deptmore Lock (Staffs & Worcs)
Miles: 0 (Chalice), 20.4 (Sickle), Locks:12

Total Miles: 321.7, Locks: 181

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