Emptying the waste tank is an essential, if slightly distasteful part of life on our boat. The boat monitoring systems make it easy to know when it is required, and finding the locations of Canal and River Trust (CRT) pump-out stations on the web is pretty reliable. This morning we were about to move from CRT waters to the Bridgewater Canal. So I decided the best thing to do was reverse the quarter mile back to the pump-out station before driving on.
I cast off, drove away from the bank and tried to turn on the bow thrusters. Nothing. No beeps, no coloured lights, and certainly no easy steering in reverse. There was quite a stiff wind too, so I hastily decided to do it the traditional way – drive and wind (turn), twice. The second winding was a bit awkward – I eventually completed it by getting off the back with a rope and hauling the stern of the boat in to place. (While I was doing so, a passing cyclist offered to help pull the ropes – that wasn’t needed, but I liked getting the offer and thanked him for it.)
When we arrived at the pump out, I had to use the centre rope to pull the bow in so Clare could get the bow rope ashore. We know how to do all this stuff, but it takes more thought, more effort and more time. Luckily none of these are currently in short supply. With the tank emptied we carried on – what might have been a half-hour diversion had taken over two hours to complete.
Today we were heading to a branch of a large carpet retailer (other large carpet retailers are available) that I had discovered was a mere 10 miles away – the first 8 miles along the canal. We stopped for lunch in a pleasant enough spot. I thought English Sunday trading laws would mean the shop shut at 4pm. I calculated that we were not going to get to the shop before 4pm if we carried on by boat. The weather seemed suitable for us to cycle along the towpath instead.
There is no towpath on the Barton Swing Aqueduct, we had to use the Barton Swing Bridge instead which allowed us a view of the aqueduct. I then missed a turning on the route my phone had plotted (thanks OSMAnd+) and we soon found ourselves on major roundabouts with motorway sliproads. We walked much of the last mile in to this maze of consumerism.
On the way back, we used the route my phone had found – much better. The canal afforded its usual bounty of interesting sights and traffic free riding.
Our lunch time mooring has become our overnight mooring – sunset was brief, including a tiny patch of pink in a cloud over the disused factory across the canal.