Storm Arwen merited a yellow wind warning where we are. We could feel the wind blowing the boat around overnight, and hear the rain on the roof. In the morning we woke to find sleet had settled on the boat and the fields around.
The wind was still strong all day, but we wanted to move up to the bottom of the Tardebigge Flight to give us a head start tomorrow. So in late morning we wrapped up warm and set off. The wind was blowing hard straight on to the towpath, so before Clare and Bryn set off for the lock I asked them to give the nose a really big push. I was then able to drive away from the bank and down the canal at a pronounced angle.
I knew from experience that the only way to get in to locks in strong cross winds is quickly. I approach the lock at full speed but with the boat at an angle to the lock. At the last moment an abrupt turn gets the nose in to the jaws, and then hauling the tiller the other way gets the stern to follow. I was pleased to get the boat in smoothly, and repeated the trick at the other locks.
We got the boat up the first four locks which were close together. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to pass the moored boat on the towpath side, but I managed to keep enough speed to beat the wind without shaking them from their moorings. At that point I realised there was a fifth lock. Clare was still on the bank and ran ahead to open one gate. Meanwhile Bryn ran down the inside of the boat and managed to get ashore in the final approach and open the other gate just in time for me to coast in to the shelter of the brickwork. What a team!
This lock had a faulty paddle on one side, and Clare was struggling with the other. Bryn crossed over and realised that he could put his windlass on to the paddle too making the job easy.
Just around the corner we moored up on the rings. We were pleased to have done five locks in under an hour – we’ll need to do at least as well as that tomorrow. While Bryn and I were sorting out the rope an inquisitive robin hopped on to the bow, then Bryn’s foot, the rope and the ground near my feet.
I baked some rolls for lunch before we set off to a nearby supermarket (other supermarkets are available, but further away). It was cold walking up hill in to the wind. Walking back down the hill with the wind behind was much nicer. We got back to the boat just as the sun was setting.