Last night’s mooring had a lovely view over a field below us. Mist formed in the hollow just before nightfall, but there was no dew on the boat in the morning. We made excellent time up the canal. I managed to chat with former colleagues in the virtual coffee room from a moving boat for the first time. We moored up for lunch (at the usual jaunty angle) just before we reached the junction with the Glasson Branch.
We’d decided to investigate the Glasson Branch partly because it was there, and partly because we hadn’t done any locks for days – and in Heather’s case, for years. The first lock was right at the junction. We arrived just as another boat was reaching the lock from below. He was very concerned about how we could pass and insisted we’d have to come in to the lock before he could come out. We acquiesced to that, though I could think of many other solutions….
The lock mechanisms caught us by surprise – silly really, we should have known they’d be different from every other canal we’ve ever been on. There is no need to bring your own windlass – each mechanism has a handle built in. What you do need is a CRT key – a Yale key that opens many waterway facilities. In this case it is needed to remove the padlocks from the handles.
The branch doesn’t seem very well maintained. The mechanisms were extremely stiff, and in a number of cases no longer working. (Each lock has two paddles at each end, if only one is working we can still pass, but it takes longer.)
Some of the paddles were too stiff for Clare to operate – one of them defeated all of us. The gates were also heavy and didn’t always open.
However this was dwarfed by the level of silting in the canal. It was difficult to make progress above about 1 mph for significant lengths of the canal. At one of the locks we resorted to pulling the boat in with the rope. I took my turn to check the weed hatch, but found nothing of significance. I think we were just resting on the bottom, and turning the propellor merely took water away from under us.
Tonight’s mooring is in the Glasson Basin, our view is over an expanse of water to yachts with tall masts. It seems most boats in here couldn’t use the canal even if it was cleared of silt. Tomorrow we’ll have to see if the going is any easier in the other direction.