Monday, 10 June 2019

Down the Ribble Link and a change of plan- 6th - 8th June 2019

Thursday 6th June 2019
Ribble Link Top Locks to Tarleton
1.75 miles, 10 locks

We woke to sun - such a rare commodity at present.  nb Rhapsody had moored behind us last night and Skillosalee, Juno and Annapurna had arrived and rafted up to him this morning.

At 09:30 on the dot two C&RT employees arrived and we were good to go.

We left the boats breasted up and used our bow thruster to swing both boats round so we could reverse in.  It was neatly done and we were soon in and on our way down.

Once at the bottom Ken reversed out,

swung round and went on his way to the first lock.  Being first was definitely a huge advantage as C&RT had filled all the locks for us and the gates were open.  As we left each one we just had to raise a top paddle to start filling the lock for the next boats down.

It was an easy trip down for us and we made it safely to the pontoon at lock 8 where the C&RT staff were to meet us.  They were surprised we had beaten them to it!  An easy passage was something we desperately needed as Chris was far from well.  We had given him the option of delaying the descent, however I think he just wanted to get it over with and get back onto the main canal network again.  He was able to helm whilst I worked the locks with Sue.

 We were let out of lock 8 and told to make our way to the holding basin to wait for the sea lock to be opened.

We passed some curious onlookers

One of which had got herself on the wrong side of the barbed wire fence - we just had to hope she did not fall in.

The tide still had a way to go up

which is just as well as we all needed to get under these two bridges

It is a long windy brook

and very shallow in places

We were moored on the pontoon with an hour to spare - time for a rest and a sandwich before we got the word that we were good to go.  Up to now it had been dry and sunny, but there was a chance of rain, so we donned full waterproof gear.

Sue and Ken making their way through the sea lock - it was all such a muddle on our way up, that I did not even notice that this was a lock!

Our turn and we were then on our way

On we crept to the mouth of the brook where we had to turn right, but not cut the corner or you get stuck on a sand bank.

This, however, is pretty much where my photos stopped - first we got pushed on the mud on the left by the tide (the sandbank is to the right), but thankfully with some heavy reversing Chris did manage to get us off.  Ken gallantly waited whilst the two boats behind emerged and were able to get past us.  It was a little scary and I am sure would not have happened if Chris had been fully fit.  Whilst all this was going on it started to rain.  Now I think I said the other day had been so wet that wet was not a wet enough word to describe it.  I lied - that was mild!  We had thunder, lightning and torrential rain that turned to hail - the type that really bites into the skin as it hits.  Monty was bundled down inside and the doors shut and I took over from Chris who had had enough.  This photo does not really show the severity of the rain - forget cats and dogs - we had elephants and rhinos!

Sue kindly gave me her photos and this of all of them shows just how wet we were and this was our second soaking as we neared the lock at Tarleton!  Do you remember our map book?  Almost dry it was and well wrapped up, but no covering was a match for this rain, so it took another soaking!

The rain did stop eventually and we even had a bit of blue sky.  The sun made a brief appearance and both cratch covers started to steam!

Chris took over for a few minutes, so I could take a couple of pictures of Cleddau as we travelled along when we were all a little drier

This is us approaching Tarleton lock (it was raining again!) - it was with some relief that we had made it

Once we moored and had removed the many layers of dripping wet clothes, the boat resembled a laundry drying room!

I had worn a buff to keep my neck warm, never thinking for a moment that the rain would be that bad and that the buff would act as wick!  My waterproof trousers are usually fine, but they did not withstand the lashing we received today, so there was a lot to take off and dry!

If you want more information on the crossing go and have a look at Sue's blog - The Brook, The Ribble and the Estuary.

Friday 8th June 2019
Tarleton to St Mary's Marina
3.75 miles, 3 swing bridges

We woke to a fine morning and were able to appreciate our mooring - it was just too wet for photos when we arrived.


Monty and I went for a walk along the River Douglas as we had done the morning we went up the link

We gave up when the path narrowed to this!

 There were a couple of tufted ducks by the swing bridge

Which I worked for both boats.

Sue's turn at the next one, but she was having trouble.  It then dawned on me that this was the one I failed at when we were on our way north.  I got off to see if I could help.  You can see what remains of what, I am assuming, were instructions.  The normal way to release the bar that secures the bridge (centre front of the photo) is to insert your anti vandal key (yes they are called that on the signs round here), into the hole facing you and twist.  The bolt at the end should then release and you can open the gate.  The mechanism here has failed and I'm afraid that Sue and I both misinterpreted Ken's advice to "turn the bolt". There is a 'contraption' at the end of the securing bar that has a T shaped bar at the end - it is secured by nuts and bolts.  It was the "T-bar" that needed to be twisted not the bolts - a case of Mars and Venus I am afraid!

Ken had to fight the wind to get Cleddau back to the landing stage and at one time Chris had to help gently push him over, but make it he did, tied up and opened the mechanism in a matter of seconds!

We stopped at the services before we arrived at St Mary's Marina, Rufford, to empty two tanks of yellow water, off load rubbish from both boats and fill up with water, on the grounds that you are never sure how far these facilities are away in a marina.  Cleddau went ahead to see if both boats could stay for a bit longer (we were initially due to leave on 12th June) .  They have been really accommodating and very helpful and we are both able to stay for a while.  They even ensured that we had a mooring close to the car park and other facilities to make things as easy as possible for Chris.  Sue and Ken were not quite so lucky.  Once we were moored the heavens opened and continued all afternoon, night and into the next morning.  The two crews went for lunch in the marina Brasserie which I can highly recommend.  Ken collected their hire car and they headed home that evening.

The next issue was how to get home?  A hire car had been booked, but Chris was in no state to drive for three hours and I have not driven since Feb due to my knee and a three hour drive along a wet motorway is not advisable way to see if it is okay!  Thankfully we have children we can call on and our daughter drove up to collect us - almost six hours of driving and over 5 of those in the rain.  We did give her lunch in the brasserie - well it was the least we could do!  Thankfully as she drove north she noticed an incident on the southbound carriage of the M6 between junctions 23 and 24.  It meant we could take a small diversion and not join until junction 23.  The motorway was shut for several hours due to an extensive oil spillage after a three vehicle incident.  It is quite surreal joining a motorway with no traffic coming from your right!  As we progressed south we came across a motorway bridge that had more police vehicles on it than I have ever seen in one place (well apart from when I was in Oxford Street many moons ago and there was an IRA bomb scare) and behind that on the north bound carriageway the traffic had been stopped by yet more police vehicles.  We found out later it was due to an incident in the Knutsford Service area where four men on motor bikes had been stabbed.  Another long delay we avoided.

We made it safely home and now we are going to take things easy and recover.  With the current weather we may well be in the right place. 

Stats to the end of part 2 of our summer cruise:

275.5 miles, 162 locks, 21 swing bridge, 6 tunnels, 77 aqueducts and we have passed under motorways on 13 occasions.  We have travelled on 8 different waterways, 2 arms and one tidal stretch (twice)  and been through 5 counties on the boat and 1 by train.

Where to when we resume?  That remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Lancaster Canal part 9 - Ready & Waiting & in Pole Position! 4th & 5th June 2019

Tuesday 4th June 2019
Barton Grange to After B24
8.5 miles

We woke to rain and had to don waterproofs to head off to the Garden Centre for our breakfast in the Cafeteria.  By the time we emerged fully replete we felt completely overdressed as the sun was out and it was pleasantly warm.

Before we headed off  Sue spotted a duck trying to devour a small fish without a great deal of success.  She was being pursued by several others trying to steal her meal.

As we were about to leave a boat went past us going in our direction - it was clear they were hoping to moor up and visit the Farm Shop.  Ken alerted them that we were about to move and Cleddau pushed off.  By this time the boat hoping to moor had gone past us and was trying to reverse.  We started to move to allow them even more space, however there was a boat coming towards us.  We had hoped they might wait, but no they just kept on coming!  Chris had to put full power on to avoid hitting them.  Miss we did, but somehow they ended up in all sorts of bother and almost winded in the marina entrance

before sorting themselves out

and heading on their way. 

Soon after we set off it started to drizzle - very wet drizzle it was too!  Both boats stopped at Moon's Bridge for fuel.  Not an easy task as to get the stern in the right position you had to have the bow sticking out to the right of the cruiser, thus completely blocking the bridge!

By the time we left the drizzle turned to rain - wet is not really a wet enough word to adequately describe how wet it was! The camera went away and we just got our heads down and carried on until we found somewhere to stop.  The flag was still up and there it remained as it could not get any wetter.  Even Monty had had enough and could not wait to get inside to dry off.

What a view!

We did have one casualty - our Nicholson's guide book is kept in and A4 plastic pocket when we are en route.  The open end is closed with a bull dog clip to ensure it stays dry.  What we both failed to notice was it had a hole at what should have been the closed end and it was soaked.  Many sheets of paper were inserted in the hope it dries out.

Over 24 hours later it is still damp and I think will remain ever wrinkled!

 Dinner was aboard Cleddau - salmon that they had purchased at The Smokehouse in Glasson. Cooked in foil with parsley and tarragon it was really good.

Wednesday 5th June 2019
Before B23 to The Ribble Link top locks
2.5 miles

This mooring looked a lot nicer this morning

Thankfully it was dry, but still very dull, grey and chilly.  Monty and I headed off on foot to find the bridge we had hoped to be scooped up from was under repair.  I checked with the workmen who said it would be okay. Once we had passed through you could see that the repair work was quite extensive.

So just a short journey and all in the dry before we moored up in pole position ready for the descent down the Ribble Link tomorrow.

We know that at least one more boat will be joining us, hence we are breasted up leaving space for others behind us.

Do you remember the blanket of brown when we arrived on 17th May?   Debby from nb Chuffed thought it might be Azolla

and she was right

The rain started again early afternoon, but thankfully today we were warm and dry and it stopped mid afternoon allowing Sue, Monty and I to go for a walkabout.  First down the staircase of three locks where we discovered there is no easy link on foot to the rest of the locks, so we retraced our steps and stated to walk towards Preston.

We had expected the area to be slightly more run down, however just past the first bridge is a lovely brick house

 with a waterfall in the garden

and a stained glass window in what I assume is the upstairs landing that is in keeping with its position bordering a canal

and next door they have a small brick bridge, but sadly no water running down to the canal.

So far (18:00) no other boats have come to join us - we know that nb Juno is booked in and someone walked here from B17 to suss out the lie of the land as they are also booked for 09:30 tomorrow.  We are keeping everything crossed that we will not be separated tomorrow and that we will be the first two boats to go down the locks.  The weather might be dry and there should not be too much wind.