The slow progress we made yesterday left me slightly concerned about how enjoyable the Lancaster Canal would be. From the breakfast table, I saw a kingfisher flying away from the boat which certainly raised my expectations a little.
We started the day by calling at the Moons Bridge Marina, one of the few places where diesel can be bought on this canal. This was an enjoyable slow transaction. It turned out that the sign saying “cash or cheque only” was out of date – they actually prefer a BACS transfer. The tax rules around “red diesel” are very strange. When buying it, you pay more tax on the fuel used for propulsion than on that used for domestic purposes. It is up to the purchaser to declare the proportions used for each. At this marina, a sign said they don’t sell red diesel for propulsion. So we now have 100 litres of fuel in our tank that is not for propulsion. We made a point of driving away from the marina on electric drive.
We were pleased that beyond the marina it seemed much easier to make progress. It wasn’t long before we were approaching Bilsborrow where we’d thought we might buy some bread for lunch. I realised that Clare and I had been there before, while cycling home from a previous canal boat trip. So we decided to have lunch at Guys Thatched Hamlet – a strange place, but with good food, beer, and outside tables.
As we were mooring up, Heather found some strange behaviour from the controls. We were too hungry to check before lunch, but afterwards I had a bit more of a look. I soon concluded that we probably had something stuck on the propellor and that we’d need to open the weed hatch.
This was the other thing that had been bothering me slightly. The weed hatch is an opening in the floor of a narrowboat directly above the propellor. In all the boats I’ve ever been on before, this is in the engine bay. There are many dire warnings about the drastic and sudden consequences of running the propellor with the hatch open – boats sink in seconds.
Bartimaeus has the weed hatch in a separate compartment so that can’t happen. Unfortunately that means that access is from deck height, not from lower down inside the engine bay. Clare gamely offered to investigate. She very quickly found a large piece of carpet, but then also fished out a load of plastic bags bits, and a small amount of weed.
We’ve made much more satisfactory progress this afternoon. We are still not sure at which point we picked up the carpet. Maybe it impeded our progress all day yesterday, or perhaps we picked it up just as we were mooring – we’ll never know!
We soon reached Garstang for a shopping trip, and then headed off in search of a rural mooring again.