Bartimaeus had fully charged batteries when we returned to Garstang. Waking everything up was a relatively simple procedure, but it was inevitable I’d forget something. Before we left Edinburgh I’d used the remote control to turn off the PIR (passive infra red) sensors watching for intruders on the boat. When we got on board I shut the fridge and turned on many switches including the inverter to provide 240 volts.
After we’d driven for a while and stopped for the night, I noticed the boat had sent me a warning email to say it had strayed from its geofence – a box around Garstang which we had now left – oops! A few clicks turned off the warning, but it’s good to see that it works.
The plan for Lorna and Paul was a few gentle days heading towards Preston. At lunchtime yesterday came the phone call offering us a crossing of the Ribble two days earlier than planned. I worked out that we had just enough time to make the rendezvous, so yesterday afternoon was a steady drive arriving just before sunset. Luckily Lorna and Paul were treated to lovely weather and fantastic wildlife.
We had realised that Lorna and Paul might have time to join us crossing the Ribble. To do so, they ought to have life jackets. We asked the people in another boat if they happened to have any spare. They happily handed one over – I love the way canal folk are so friendly and trusting.
By the morning our guests had decided to accompany us through most of the locks, but then leave us to make sure they weren’t halfway across the Ribble when they should have been on their train home. So they left us just before the route became officially tricky.
We were again in the section of Savick Brook which reminds people of scenes from The African Queen. In one particularly dense patch we were grounded in the middle of the channel. In order to escape, I had used the pole to push us in to the reeds at the side. Around the corner came our erstwhile lifejacket donor (also called Paul) in his wide narrowboat. I stuck my arm out of the reeds and he stopped just in time.
We just had time to gobble down some lunch before we were given the shout to head out in to the incoming tide. We were first off the mark and so we led the group. I followed the advice not to cut the corner as we joined the channel. Consequently by the time we had turned to face down river, we were some distance up river from our exit.
The following boats took a more aggressive line, and a slightly higher speed, so we were soon third in the line. We didn’t catch Paul on the wide narrowboat until we had moored up.
The weather gradually got brighter as we went. The wind was stronger than our previous crossing, but the driving was easier – and we were no longer newbies.
After turning at the confluence, conditions improved again as the wind was no longer in our faces gradually easing as we got protection from the land. The River Douglas felt like a tame canal in contrast to the fierce current we had faced in the opposite direction.
The Tarleton Sea Lock was opened for us as we arrived, and we were worked through it in no time without raising a finger. After we moored up (right against the bank – how quaint) I noticed that the front windows were covered in salt from the sea spray.
The Lancaster Canal and the Ribble Crossing are very different from all our previous canal experiences. We’ve enjoyed ourselves, but I think it will be a while before we come back.