As we moved along this morning it was sunny but with a cool wind. The water was very clear and we could see water plants clearly and at one point we saw a large distinctively shaped fish. None of us are anglers, but it looked like a pike to me and a sign on that canal had mentioned not fishing for pike when the water was warm. Heather did an internet search and confirmed it.
As the morning wore on it got very hot and the wind died down. Fleeces off and suncream on! !We all took turns to drive in the morning. Heather drove to let Shane do a video chat with colleagues and I took over from Heather to let her take photos of baby swallows. We are pretty sure we saw some long tailed tits too, though the sun made it difficult to see their colour. We also saw some alpaca, or other camelid, not near enough to be sure.
Our plan was to turn into the side arm off the Lancaster canal, the Glasson branch, which is not open to hire boats as it is the only part with locks and insurance is cheaper if no locks are being worked. This means this is a particularly little used arm. Heather was keen to do the locks rather than drive through them and I demonstrated the new windlass and its features. As Shane turned into the junction, I got off to work the lock and a lady came over to say that there was a boat coming in from the other side, coming up (and the lock was set their way so they would come up first, even though he wasn’t quite at the lock yet) and that we would need to make room for him to come out. I got out to help her with the lock and assured them that Shane would keep well to one side. It was a double lock so there was room to pass. In the end they asked me to hold their rope and so they could hold their boat to the side and waited for Shane to come right in to the lock, before leaving. This gave them more space to turn on exit, at the junction. I’m not sure if I’ve seen two boats in a lock facing opposite directions before.
It turns out these locks do not need windlasses at all, but do need a key for padlocks on the top paddles. I had great difficulty working the bottom gate paddles and Heather had to help me. I fell over at one point trying to do it. At the bridge beside the lock there was a group of onlookers watching the entire procedure. We headed for lock two. I walked and Heather got back on the boat so I was working the next lock alone, when two men walked past and called ” No pressure!” Turned out they were referring to me working it with an audience – nothing compared to the crowd at the previous one! The lady we’d met at the first lock had said the locks are meant to be left empty on this canal. I’d never heard that before, but when I reached the lock it was empty so she had indeed emptied each one after they left it, so they were all set against us. They were very hard going and slow filling and I was very grateful for Heather’s help. At the third lock I couldn’t work it at all, even with Heather’s help and Shane got out and helped. We decided to swap over and I would drive and let him lock. This time we had a herd of sheep cross the bridge beside the lock, and they paid us very little notice. As I drove out I heard a loud bleating and turned to see a lone lame sheep hobbling across.
There was a lengthy gap between 3 and 4 and the going was very slow, as it was really shallow. I could see the plants and the bottom and tried to keep to the very middle of the channel but even then got a little grounded. I managed to get moving again but had very little speed. I could see trailing weed behind, perhaps on the propeller or rudder and steering was sluggish. I didn’t feel I could investigate the weedhatch in the middle of the canal alone and made my very slow progress to the lock. I did some bursts of reverse but it didn’t shift the weed. One more grounding at a wide, shallower bit and Heather came back to see what was becoming of me just as I was getting afloat again. She rang Shane to tell him I was coming but very slowly. A couple passed and shouted to me, “He’s waiting patiently for you!” I replied that I hoped he was patient. In the deeper water of the lock the going was easier. I thought it was easier between locks 4 and 5 and we were watched by some cows from a bridge. When I tried to go in lock 5 I seemed to stop completely again. I could reverse but not go forward and we entered the lock by Heather pulling on the rope and the engine off. We decided to investigate and this time it was Shane’s turn.
Shane then drove to the last lock and Heather and I worked it watched by several people from the pub. We briefly contemplated a drink at the pub as we were hot and thirsty but in stead jumped on and slaked our thirst on board.
Soon we were at our destination of Glasson docks and got moving more easily but Shane had to take care to avoid the boat steering wheel sticking out of the water. On investigation it was indeed a sunken boat.
On investigating around the dock, I found I was not alone in getting a bit stuck. So glad I didn’t get get quite as grounded as these.
We are in a lovely spot and have seen lots of birds here and we all went a walk to look for a lighthouse. We didn’t find one big did find a viewing point and a smoke house. Back on the boat, Heather made a delicious meal.