Thursday 19 July 2018

Onto the Llangollen but only just.

On Sunday Chris and I went to partake of my birthday present from her.  Chris had bought me an hour on a flight simulator used by commercial pilots.  I was to fly a Boeing 737-NG from Manchester to Gatwick in the simulation.  I used to have the Microsoft flight simulator on my PC for many years and so could not resist the chance to see what the real thing was like.

My co-Pilot is actually a commercial pilot instructor and he helped me to get to grips with the aircraft.  I managed a perfect take off and we followed the flight plan to Gatwick without too much ado.  My landing was a little bumpy, well quite bumpy, but at least I did not crash!  Have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Relief after landing without crashing.

I had been asked to tow a boat from Tattenhall to Nantwich marina and I had agreed, so on wednesday we roped up nb Jenny via short crossover straps and set off.  Jenny's engine had been flooded in a lock accident and water got into it totally destroying it.  I enlisted our friend Graham to help out and he really enjoyed the experience.

It was a long day and we had a few exciting moments along the way.  The first at Iron lock.  This lock can only take one boat at a time so we locked AmyJo through without problem but when we returned to Jenny she had drifted onto the bank and was hard aground.  It took nearly an hour to free her and then we bow hauled her through the lock.  Good job there were no boats waiting!

Graham following behind in Jenny

The next problem was just before Tilstone lock.  As we had gone through Beeston Stone Lock we decided to leave the boats breasted up, however, rounding a bend we were confronted by a dense bush blocking half the canal.  We quickly untied Jenny and let her though under her own momentum but when I followed with AmyJo she ran aground.  It took two or three attempts to get past the bush.  After that and with Bunbury Locks ahead we put Jenny back on the cross straps astern.

Last locks of the day, Bunbury, from here it is plain sailing to Nantwich.
With the help of the volunteer locky we got through Bunbury without a hitch much to the enjoyment of American gongoozlers who watched on with interest, cameras clicking way.

This morning, having delivered Jenny we watered and dieseled up then got ready to leave.  It was a bit tight winding at the end of the arm and a family, just getting ready to leave on the day boat, were treated to a very close up view of AmyJo's Bow fender much to the children's delight yelling "Prepare to repel boarders" and scuttling about their boat like mad pirates  (wish I'd been flying the Jolly Roger).  Fortunately there was just enough room to get AmyJo round without too much problem and we left with the young pirates celebrating their victory.

nb Jenny safely delivered

It was a short run to Hurlston Junction.  As we approached a gent mooring up asked if we intended to go up the locks and we indicated we did indeed intended to.  He informed us his boat had got stuck halfway in the bottom lock and at 6' 10" wide he informed us he was surprised.  The locky had refused to let him continue as a result.  He was most upset about this as he had travelled the entire system and the Llangollen canal was the last one he had to do.

We know AmyJo is 6'10" wide so with trepidation I krept her into the open lock ever so gently.  Thankfully she went all the way in though it looked extremely tight.  I reckon the gents boat was wider than he thought.

Entering Hurlston bottom lock with great caution
The problem with the bottom lock is the wall is bowing in and C&RT have plans to repair it in the winter, however, for now they are digging sumps to try to drain off water trapped behind the wall to ease the pressure on it.

Before raising the lock level I got chris to check with the locky if it was OK to ascend.  His answer was if your in the lock fully you should be fine.  We still took it gently only half opening one paddle.  We both kept a good watch on the gunnels but to our relief AmyJo rose without getting stuck.

You can see just how tight it is in the lock from this angle.

 The good news was AmyJo now sat free in a full lock, but, the bad news was a tupperware cruiser was jammed solid in the lock above.  Apparently its irate owner was being rather nasty to the lock keeper and insisted he could get up the locks.  He'd already got jammed in the bottom lock, had been asked not to proceed, ignored the locky, and now was jammed tight in the next.  

The errant cruiser holding everyone up.
 We waited patiently in the bottom lock until 30 minutes later they eventually got free by losing a wooden rubbing strake and plenty of fibreglass.

The rest of the climb went uneventfully.  We then had a pleasant cruise through Burland and are now moored in the middle of nowhere on a delightful stretch in the sun. 

This chap passed us with a pair of dog ends (not book ends sic) on the back of his boat

Finally an update on Smudge and his broken leg.  He has now had his stitches out and the wound has healed nicely.  Only problem we have now is he has returned to his usual exuberant self.  Trying to keep him from running and jumping on and off the furniture is nigh on impossible.  He has even resorted to sneaking out through the cratch cover if he thinks we're not watching.

The little scamp trying to escape but got caught out by mum.
Total distance:15 miles Elapsed time:13 hours Locks:12 Bridges:40 
Average speed:1.27 mph (1.94 lock/mph) 

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