Too Wet

Looking ahead this morning, both the weather and our route showed more water than usual.  We have the luxury of a very relaxed itinerary, so we generally avoid driving in the rain.  Often we manage this by driving short distances when the sun is out, and then mooring up as soon as it gets unpleasant, but this is much harder to do on a big river.  Moorings are less frequent and the middle of a wide river is a lot more exposed than most canals.

A sharp shower reminded me of the weather I was trying to avoid.  As it subsided, a boat passed us going our way.  I decided to try to join them in the locks and leapt to action, starting by putting my big waterproof coat on. It was a few boat lengths in reverse to the junction.  We’d seen a number of other boats approaching the junction with varying degrees of caution.  The bridge completely obscures oncoming boats and the right angle turn would be tricky enough without it.  Driving in reverse gave me the distinct advantage of being at the end of the boat that arrived first.  As it turned out there was nothing else moving, so I was able to drift straight out and let the bow thruster do all the work.

We caught the other boat up easily and they welcomed us joining them in the locks.  As we approached Zouch Lock  the flood defences and warnings about them seemed to be getting larger and larger.  The other boat pulled in before the lock – the temptation of the pub had apparently been too strong, so Clare worked the lock on her own.

Flood channel.  A side channel from a canal blocked off with red and white floats.  A short distance down the channel is a rotating barrier - currently closed.
Side Channel For Use in Flood conditions

We saw very few other boats moving during the day, but did come across the chirpy chap we’d seen a few days ago.  This time he was working hard at cutting riverside vegetation.  I steered well away from him, but in the wide river that was not a difficult thing to do.

Reed cutting.  A small specialised boat occupied by a single worker is facing the bank of the river.  Cutters on the front of the machine are used to cut riverside vegetation.
Reed Cutting in Progress

As we approached Kegworth New Lock we saw a new variant of the sign warning to keep off the cill.  This lock is particularly deep, and has wires running down the inside to attach ropes to.  In theory this makes it easy to hold a boat in the lock.  In practice, sometimes the rope doesn’t slide smoothly, which can lead to problems.  I don’t know if these could be called cill hang ups.

Danger sign. A red sign says "Danger Risk of of cill hang ups in lock".
Some People Must Tell CRT About Their Hang Ups

Not all of the warning signs are well maintained. Clare was driving as we approached one which seemed to suggest we should be in a submarine. The bank of reeds almost obscuring the side channel made it easy to see that the right thing to do was carry straight on.

River view.  The view from the back of a narrowboat looking ahead.  Hidden in the trees at the side is a sign with black and white chevrons on it.  The sign has slipped so that it points in to the water.  There is a very dark cloud in the patch of sky ahead.
Warning Above and Pointing Below

It was after lunch time as we approached Ratcliffe Lock.  At my suggestion Clare stopped on the piling at the very back end of the lock mooring.  A boat was ahead of us waiting for the lock which was occupied by a boat coming the other way.  We thought we would have lunch before going through the lock.  I grabbed a slice of bread but took it with me and went to see what was happening at the lock.  They were having great difficulty getting the top gates open.  With three large men on each gate, it was only opened by also ramming the gates hard with the boat.

I was concerned that once the boat in front of us had gone through we might not be able to open those gates again.  Clare hadn’t seen the excitement and was puzzled by my sudden change of plan, but we joined the other boat in the lock.   Fortunately, we were able to stop on the lock bollards immediately below the lock and have our lunch.  While we were doing so, the heavy rain that had been threatening for some time finally arrived.  I was glad we weren’t in open water at the time.

Once lunch and the shower were over we continued gently down river until we reached Trent Lock – the confluence of the River Soar and River Trent.  We moored up right next to a sign which summarises our plans for the next while.

Canal Sign.  A large sign says "River Trent & North"
Remind Me Where We Were Going

There have been a few extremely heavy showers since we moored up.  We have done very well today to avoid a soaking – we didn’t even get wet on our way to and from the pub for our evening meal.