What’s Going On?

I had planned to have a shower this morning and Shane had kindly set a timer for the heat to come on as otherwise there would be no hot water. I had made the mistake of not waiting long enough for the water to come through on a previous occasion so gave plenty time today. At last I gave up and Shane was momentarily puzzled, then it dawned on him that setting it to come on only on a Thursday morning on Thursday night, meant it would not be on for me on Friday… never could get the hang of Thursdays, nor Fridays nowadays. I could have my shower later on then.

Over breakfast, Shane was pleased to report that our replacement solar panels have arrived at Ortomarine. We were still wondering where and when they might be fitted and will we be aboard when it happens or not, as Shane has offered to lend a hand. Further communication to follow….

Shane felt we wanted to do the locks in the morning and we both felt I should sometimes be in the habit of starting up the boat as I habitually go to the front to cast off while Shane gets the engine going (or sometimes Shane does it all himself). Nothing was coming either way so we cast off the ropes. By the time we were all untied, a boat had appeared behind, but it was three boat lengths away and passing a few moored boats, so we set off as they shouldn’t be coming fast if passing moored boats and I aimed to not go too slowly myself.

Soon we were at the Hillmorton locks. Lockkeepers were there and Shane wanted to work them as I had done them in the other direction. The one that was ready for us happened to be a slow filling one as only one paddle worked. These are paired locks so shortly after the boat behind went into the parallel lock. I greeted him to be met by a long stare and a comment along the lines of what was I doing coming out in front of another boat. I decided not to argue that waiting for him that far back would surely have been a very long wait as he was well back and if he had been slowed at all, it meant he was going too fast past moored boats.

As it was he was now in the faster filling lock that meant he was now overtaking us and had he arrived first he would have been behind. I couldn’t really see why he was that bothered. His partner seemed bothered at the lock by wet paint and the gates did say there was wet paint but they were no longer wet. The winding mechanisms were very oily though (Shane remarked on it later and I saw him wiping his hand on the grass) so that might have been the issue.

When he came out of the lock, for no reason that made sense, he steered right across in front of my gate so I couldn’t come straight out and had to wait a bit then I came out slowly so as not to appear to rush him. Before the next set of locks there was a bridge. He went through but as there was another boat coming the other way, I slowed right down and pulled to the side and let it come through then went on through the bridge. I was happy to have enough distance to not have to be level with him again at the next lock anyway.

Meanwhile Shane was getting the lock ready for me and helping them with their lock as well. It was pretty good timing for me in the end getting there just about when the lock was ready. I did have to hover briefly setting off the “clutch slip detected” alert. Fortunately this isn’t a problem. It’s just is another distraction and needs a reset. It only happens when you try to go very slow in diesel but it doesn’t stop the engine working. Everything happened smoothly at a slow steady pace – not quite poetry in motion, but there was poetry on the lock gates.

Gates at Hillmorton middle locks with excerpts from the poem “Locklines”

Leaving the middle locks there was an oncoming boat and as people were arriving with windlasses to both locks I thought there would be two boats approaching from the paired locks so we could leave our gates open but there was only one but the locker and driver had arrived at different locks, the boat having changed sides to the lock that was ready.

At the last lock we did the same, crossing to the other side to the free lock, but Shane’s early signalling made that easy enough to negotiate. A boat appeared as I was leaving and it looked like it would be easier to pass on the “wrong” side, which is common at a lock and I indicated this, but unbeknownst to us there was a strong stream of pumped water coming out just where his bow was so in stead of staying on course he was thrown sideways towards me just as I was trying to go round him. I was also being pushed over by the rush so there was no collision but I was more in the trees than I’d have liked, but we got back into the main channel unscathed.

Funnily enough, Shane had had a conversation with the man in the other boat going up the locks with us, about the water management at the locks. The other man had commented that the lock volunteers didn’t seem to be that concerned about conserving water, (usually water management and conservation is a major concern and comprises most of their training) and Shane had said it might be that there was a water pump. The other man said said ” there isn’t”. That flow at the top was indeed from a water pumped to the top of the locks and it is indeed a noted feature of those locks in the CRT web page.

The view opens out afterwards and we had a fine view of cows drinking at the water, sheep and a llama. It was sunny with a cool breeze. Shane had remembered it being very pretty and was pleased to take our time through it.

Sheep leaving the water’s edge

We stopped for a late lunch and Shane’s phone alerted him that he had a meeting soon, his monthly video call with his ex colleagues. “I knew there was a reason why I wanted to get the locks done in the morning,” he said. He tried out the set up of a new table height he was working on the other day and sat outside with the laptop on it. It is a lovely spot to sit outside.

I had a peaceful crafting afternoon (almost done!) and had my shower, now the water was hot. As I was hanging a towel to dry outside, a boat moored ahead of us. I noticed later that they didn’t seem very securely attached. Shortly after a boat went past without slowing and sure enough they had caused the nearby boat to become detached from the bank so Shane went to tell them and offer advice on how to use the mooring gadget if needed. Everyone was very happy and they are now securely attached. Tranquility is restored.

Evening light on the fields opposite