The draft version of the plan for this weekend was that we would overnight in Mercia Marina on Friday, and then start heading back in the direction of Burton-on-Trent on Saturday.  The warnings of strong winds associated with Storm Malik made us tweak things.  The winds were forecast to gust to 40mph, not a big problem generally, but hard work for manoeuvring.

We came in to the marina as planned yesterday (well nearly, I didn’t plan a 360° spin on the way in).  We moored up on one of the visitor jetties which are annoyingly short.  They are only about half the length of the boat which leaves nowhere to tie the stern rope.  We tied the centre rope to the end of the jetty.  Because this is secured to the roof, gusts trying to blow us off the jetty also tend to roll the boat.  This buffeting is mildly disconcerting and is accompanied by an ominous creaking from the rope.

We went to the on-site chandlery to buy a piece of thinner rope hoping to use it to tie the middle of the boat to the jetty.  This didn’t stay tied well overnight.  This morning I managed a tighter tying, but it was still very creaky.  We walked to the Post Office in the village of Willington and also got some more food.  The way in and out of the marina is surprisingly contorted, but traffic-free and interesting.

"Duck" Written on Bridge
Duck – or Grouse!

The wind was strongest in the afternoon, and veered more northerly so it was consistently buffeting us the uncomfortable way.  The day was nevertheless quite inviting.  Even in the strong wind we were warmer outside than we were last week.  So we explored the stretch of the canal to the east of the marina.  This section is closed for months for work on the railway bridge.

Blocked Canal under Railway Bridge
No Way Through the Railway Bridge

A temporary towpath diversion was provided using a pontoon bridge to access a footpath on the other side of the canal.

Pontoon Bridge over Canal
Clare Crossing Temporary Pontoon Bridge

On the way back we spotted an early sign of spring – snowdrops in the woods.

Snowdrops Starting to Spring

By the time we got back to the boat, the wind had eased considerably but was still strong.  I’d hatched a cunning plan to move to the adjacent jetty.  By moving one rope at a time we could let the wind push the boat across to it.  Once tied up on that side, the wind is trying to blow us on to our new jetty.  Our fenders and firmly fixed bow rope can handle that.  The plan worked – we were in our new location before sunset.

Sunset over Marina
Sunset over Mercia Marina

The evening has been much more comfortable.  We managed to get a take-away curry from the on-site restaurant by going along a little earlier tonight – delicious!