When the wind blows it adds another dimension to boating. Thankfully for me it was the right type of wind today, well for the vast majority of the trip from Tixall wide to the top of Woodend lock. The right type being an east north easterly when I was travelling south west, meaning I has the wind at my back or over a shoulder most of the trip.
Not so the start....the wind was blowing straight across Tixall Wide trying to pin Percy to the armco. It was so bad I had to wait for a lull then push off and reverse off the mooring. The heavier stern with prop and rudder control thwarted the wind and I was able to get out enough to put in an arc without the bow hitting or the stern as I swung out..... the ramblers were not so keen on the black smoke from Percy's engine !
I got another question today - where is Cobden Junction ;-) The guy was walking with me for some distance off the wide, he was one of the ramblers, curiosity/frustration got the better of him so I gave him the story....
After the turn on the junction, the ramblers were amassed watching so I was pleased I did not give then anything to cheer about, the wind was my friend (ish) it was still trying to take Percy to the cafe at Haywood lock. The guy following who came to help with the lock, left me to it as he was concerned his wife would not be able to hold the boat, she seemed to be doing ok, had the centre rope around the bollard on the landing..... but he still went back to give advice/check. They were heading for Alrewas but I did not see them again after Colwich lock so I guess the wind was too much for them. I forget sometimes how heavy and low Percy is, much easier than Waterlily that was like a cork on the top of the water.
It still took some concentration to get the boat positioned correctly. After Colwich lock where I once again met the retired boater /lock wheeler who complimented me on the boat and then advised the forecabin was not authentic as it needed a pot bellied stove as was in the one he was born in ! Lots of help at this lock unsurprisingly as it is the first lock northward from Woodend just above Fradley. That makes this stretch of canal also quite a challenge, in that most stretched 'pulse boats' via the locks, one every 10 minutes or so, such a long pound you can see no boats for a while then 2/3 or 4 can be met at a bend or bridge hole and this canal can be bendy. As it turned out I was very lucky meeting quite a few boats but all in the 'right' places, even meeting a boat just exiting the narrows at Armitage.
It was a beautiful autumnal cruise in warming (for me - those approaching were coated up into the wind) sunshine. I decided to moor up in perhaps my favourite canal location - just above Woodend lock, very quiet and atmospheric, especially when the buzzards are circling with their echoing cries in the sky.
Here are some pictures taken on this special mooring... kitchen window view Thursday morning 8th October, it really has been a great few days weather wise.