Sunday, 7 September 2014

A day of " Dawn's" and our slowest cruise yet!

It has been a truly beautiful day. Blue sky from the off and hardly a breath of wind.  The Middlewich branch is all rural, with stunning views as it slowly climbs above the Weaver and the flashes.  We left our mooring mid morning.  We had anticipated the locks on this stretch would be busy and we were not wrong.

Someone had been busy during the night

There had been a Share boat convention at Kings Lock on Saturday I believe and they were now dispersing.  Many were heading for the Shroppy.  Two or three had passed us before we set off and by the time we reached the first lock, at least two more were behind us.  I think we were fourth in the queue.  As usual, Ali went ahead to assist at the lock and we were up by eleven after a wait of some forty minutes.  Not as bad as anticipated really.

Nearly all the share boats we saw had the name "Dawn Mist" or something with the same prefix word.  We were dawned out!  The old bow thrusters were getting hammered, that is for sure.  I did ask one chap if his was hydraulic as he used it for minutes.  "No" he said, "my old one was, but this one is electric".  I did not have the heart to tell him that if he continued using it like this, his fellow sharers would not have the benefit...

We were enjoying pottering along.  Nobody chasing us, blue sky and wonderful views.  We had considered stopping at Church Minshull but decided to carry on.  How we wished we had stopped!

As we approached bridge 14, we saw a boat ahead of us going very slowly.  Now there were boats moored here and there, so we thought, how considerate.  But.  As we progressed we realised that ultra slow was the speed he travelled at.  And I do mean slow!  Out tickover is 800 rpm, and at this, we were catching up with him, to the extent that I had to go into neutral.  The chap never looked behind him.  At every bridge, he came to a stop, causing utter confusion for boats approaching from the opposite direction.  This went on for the next two miles, until we reached Minshull lock.  Ali again went forward to help and it became apparent that this chap was odd.  Ok, he was in his late 30's, a caucasian male with dreadlocks, but apart from that, he appeared to be instructing a friend how to steer.....

He could not get the boat into the lock, throwing the bow line to his mate and Ali to pull him in.  The engine did not sound well, but then again, the prop sounded worse, that is if it had any blades left on it!  This was not an old or ill kept looking boat, but something was seriously amiss with either the boat, the driver, or both!

Anyway, we let him proceed up, thinking this would give us breathing space, but not long after ascending, we had him in sight again.  Well, decision made, we would stop for the day at the Shroppy moorings half a mile prior to Venetian Marina (were we think Oddball was heading)  and Cholmondeston lock. These have picnic benches and were surprisingly completely vacant.

So moored up.  I got the fishing rod out, Ali picked Sloes (which were very early but ripe) and all was good.  Caught a couple of decent sized fish and Ali gathered then froze enough Sloes for several bottles.

So a somewhat frustrating day, but the weather made up for it. 

Miles 7
Locks 2

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