Friday, 31 July 2020

Job done(ish) and Yarwood

Rain stopped play on Monday so I walked to get ' the package' leaving the last side to be polished on Percy for Tuesday. Two of us putting on and taking off made short work of the fettling of Percy. 

Feeling quite good and then a real head turner came past.....

That's Lesley and Joe's 'can't call it old' boat so ' last but one' boat is a better description. I was lucky enough to get a guided tour a couple of years back when they came through Fradley - it's a lovely boat inside and out.

The title is based on the fact one side really needs another going over as the polish we used was quite old and not really buffing up well. A reason to revisit ......

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Recovery operation

Conscience is an important moral guide. It drives good behaviour in the main and that has to be a good thing.

Now back to this picture .....

It was taken as we set off on our four counties cruise on the 4th July from the double culvert bridge in Grub Street cutting. I’d walked ahead with Leia to video Rachel coming along this atmospheric cutting. I dropped a poo bag to take the shot and forgot to pick it up when I left to rejoin the boat.

Skip forward to yesterday 27th July and Leia and I walked back to the cutting to collect the ‘litter’ and it was still there.... a little trampled (!) but intact so conscience cleared and plastic removed plus a nice if not wet walk for us both.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Not a normal day

Well yesterday we got 3/4’s of the boat washed and polished. She’s got a few little chips on the side Fountains pebble dashed for me nothing too bad but will need spotting in over the next couple of months.

We took a judgement call on the starboard side not to try and polish it from the gunnels so as Rachel set off for a bit of shopping ( her first shop since March) I took Percy to the Grub Street winding hole to present the last side for polishing. By the time we rendezvoused back neither of us fancied the extra work so we put the cleaning stuff away, ran a deep bath had a soak and a couple of drinks and relaxed.

My goodness the canal was busy. Compared to our recent four counties cruise where we saw very few boats moving they were a constant flow today. As there are few locks close by boats do get clumped up as faster boaters catch the slower ones then have to go slow (go figure). I was pleased to moor up again and watch them chug by.

The forecast rain arrived in the early hours of today Monday 27th July. There is something extra nice about being on the boat when it’s raining hard on the roof.... especially lying in bed.

So today is a wet day until about 5 so no polishing. - that’s a tomorrow job. Today is a kick back drink coffee and read my latest detective Kim Stone (Angela Marstons  - author) book. Not a normal day as usually there is something being ‘done’ I may black the stove.... watch this space, otherwise a lazy boat day. 

Sunday, 26 July 2020

We all do it, some more than others

Many have a rose tinted view of boat ownership, they see the lovely pretty canal boats chugging along the cut and imagine themselves at the helm, enjoying nature’s linear slide show. But what they don’t see is the on going maintenance, cost and hard work that is needed to keep a boat tidy.

I cannot rest easy knowing Percy is in need of TLC, I’m not the sort who gets the cleaning stuff out at the end of each days cruising- yes I’ve see them, they even have individual job roles and set to as soon as they moor up. I’m jealous of course as I set to with the fishing rod and then beat myself up over the cobwebs and bird poo that signals a lazy boat owner.

So every now and again and today (Sunday 26th July) is a now and again day we set to with buckets and cloths to spruce up our pride and joy .... but it’s bloody hard work and I know come the morrow I’ll be aching like a man who aches a lot. It’ll be worth it as it’ll allow me the right to fish and ride my motorbikes ( therein  lies the issue.... too many interests) and start worrying about when I need to do it all over again !

Plus it’ll give me the option of posting some pictures of the shiny boat.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Makes you want to cry

I’m reading a book at the moment called Stargazing by Peter Hill. It’s his recollections of his time as a relief lighthouse keeper in the seventies in Scotland. It’s quite enchanting and very well written. The reason for the blog title is his observations of the change in a lifestyle that I liken to the loss of the staff who looked after the canals with a passion akin to ownership.

It also reminds me of a old colleague Tom ( long passed sadly) who was a guard on the trains in the 50’s. He was a porter at the university Green lane campus and he used to tell some lovely tales of sunrise views from the back of the guards van as they trundled across the country.... another lost lifestyle.

....and to present day, in a lesser context Sandra on NB AreandAre recently blogged about their  visit to Midland Chandlers Teddesley and the fact it’s not reopening. Just serving ( for the time being) on line orders. It’s all change and towards a faceless online automatic future. Not something that in my opinion is good for us, we need contact and society will be the worse for it.

Anyhow I hope Peter will not mind me using an extract from his book.....

As I write this there are no longer any manned lighthouses around the coast of Britain. No aspiring novelist is up in the light chamber doing his word count with pencil, mental arithmetic and youthful optimism. No human presence is there in case of emergency. No wise old men are teaching the young the ‘routine’ and the ways of the world. No Finlay Watchorn passing on his culinary skills or Jim Codey teaching a boy to row and set down lobster creels. It’s a damn shame and it makes you want to cry.”

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Pondering a cratch

On Waterlily we had one, but it was a bit small but essential for keeping a few bits in. We have the fore cabin on Percy that to be honest is a dumping ground. I should practice the one season rule - if we don't use it within a year then it comes off the boat.

The small issue is the fore cabin is remote from the main saloon. Percy is a 60 foot boat but take the engine room out and the well deck plus the fore deck then you have your working space so it would be good to bring the fore cabin into use a bit more. Putting a cratch in/on would connect the forecabin to the saloon and also provide more weather protection for the well deck and saloon doors.

I may have to seek professional advice on what would look best. I could opt for the cratch to just go to the doors of the forcabin and step down to the top of the forecabin (just realised that would not work as there is a flip over hatch to make entry into the forecabin easier) Or we just cover the whole forecabin with the black cloth look at the front of the boat. The latter would mean less to protect with regard to paintwork etc. So if we are to go with a cratch it would be a long jobbie covering the forecabin which in turn would give us space above the forecabin to store more stuff !

Might give Bethsaida covers a call as they are literally 50 yards up the cut from us and would have an eye for the art of the possible.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Mayhem in Middlewich

Yes I was back at Middlewich yesterday. Sadly not on Percy but on my Honda Nc750x. When we arrived at Middlewich on Percy it had taken us 7 days to get there from 'home'. On the bike about an hour and that was via some narrow lanes for fun.

When we were there on Percy I said to Rachel this will be my new Gongoozler place of choice. (previously was Stone) and so it was today and what interesting things to see. As I have said previously the turn onto the Wardle canal is a bottleneck not helped by only one top paddle working  (as was the case when we went through) When we were there last Friday evening we followed a single  boat around with little delay. Today when I arrived there were three boats waiting to turn from the south and one from the north, then the lock gates opened and it was four waiting from the south.

I recon it was taking a good half hour to process a boat onto the Middlewich branch so the boat arriving in the lock would have had over  2 hours to wait to get onto the Wardle canal !

Then it was the hire boaters turn to entertain (sorry it's what gongoozlers do !) I am surprised there is not more 'planning' when they have a junction to navigate. The wind was hitting their port side causing them to kite across the canal and into the far bank. The first (what looked like a 70 footer ) was pinned to the far bank and the next one out exactly the same. A bit of forward planning and someone on the bow rope to help pull the bow around would have helped. 

Another error was to have all the crew on the tow path so no one to help push/pole the bow off ...the picture below shows the little huddle of crew (middle left of the photo) watching the poor fella scrape the (tidy looking) hire boats side along all the bushes/trees while thrashing the poor engine to try and recover his skipper reputation. All been there and done it !

Then it was off to a busy Audlem where I did not stop allowing the bikes sat nav to take me to Meaford.

Here is one of my P&J's. Just right for exploring and taking it to places where the other 330kg bike would be a risk to take. This one is 239kg a mere light weight  !!

Then it was a bimble home via a diversion as there must have been a nasty accident just up the road in Kingsley Moor as there was five police cars two fire engines two ambulances and the air ambulance. Sadly nothing acting in urgency, so be safe out there whatever you are doing. 

Sunday, 19 July 2020

In balance - well done C&RT

I hope you do not think I am a C&RT hater - quite the contrary, I think they have improved the image of the canal but I do think they do not  have the balance (priority)  right when it comes to what the canals were built for  - boats !

As an aside and some unsolicited support for C&RT I recently asked a C&RT employee (not a volunteer) who they preferred working for  - BW or C&RT, the reply was 'I took early retirement from BW now I work for C&RT" Says a lot.

Anyhow back to the title  - Remember my unconscious bias post here, click me I did not get a reply from the region despite them putting an email address in their communication. So I emailed the main office and to their credit I got this reply;

Hello Neville,

Thank you for your patience; I do hope you are well. 

Please view the following message from our content and marketing team - 'We’d like him to know that we’ve fully taken on board his point and we’re adding this to our style guide, which gives guidance to all our colleagues. This will also include giving alternatives to using the term “manned”. We’re also let the local team know about this too.'

I hope this is okay, please let me know if you have any further questions.

Best wishes,

It's a small detail but one that I hope will help remove such unconscious language in the future.....

Saturday, 18 July 2020

C&RT don’t want to share their furloughed staff numbers

After hearing C&RT had furloughed some of their staff (operational) I was interested it understand how many and of what areas (admin/backside etc) so I put in a FOI (Freedom Of Information) request.

Here is their response.

Reference No: FOI 79/20

Thank you for your request of 8 May 2020.  We have treated your request as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).

I can confirm that while the Trust holds the information you have requested, its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 are limited in scope to information relating to statutory functions which were transferred to it from British Waterways under the British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order under 2012 – these functions relate to the operation and licensing of vessels on our inland waterway network.

The information you have requested does not relate to the operation or maintenance of our waterways, rather it is in relation to rather it is in relation to the Trust employees that have been furloughed. Therefore, the information you have requested falls outside the scope of the Act.

In my opinion they have conveniently mis-interpreted the FOI, I will follow this up as I think they have (like many others) used the furlough option to in effect save money on staff costs. Now I expect some may disagree with me and I'm happy with that but I think they (C&RT) should have taken the opportunity (with all safety precautions) to use the time the canals were quiet to as a bare minimum do some effective length persons work.

Friday, 17 July 2020

C&RT (Fountains) did damage my boat

You need to read this post way back a week after we took Percy out of the paint dock at Dadsfords wharf on the Stourbridge canal.

Percy has three decent sizes scabs of rust now showing that need attention certainly before the winter sets in. They are all on the side that took the strimmer “spray”. Bear in mind we had two windows broken by the same process on Waterlily. In the end Fountains stopped strimming on the Hunts lock moorings as other boats also had windows broken.

C&RT did compensate me only after a lengthy exchange of emails and progression through their complaints process. I just hope they recovered their costs from Fountains.

So now I need to practice my touching up, it’ll show up sadly but its better than allowing the rust to grow. I have already Fertan’d the rust.....

Percy is in need of a good wash and brush up as well as an oil change, all things delayed due to the Chinese virus. I have ordered the oil, I just need to gain the confidence to open up the engine to clean the sump. On the old engine there is no oil filter, the oil used just drops any particles into the sump that needs the side of the engine off to gain access to clear the mesh and sump sludge if there is any in there. I’ll take some photos when I do it.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Well we didn't expect that.

110 miles and 94 locks as well as 65 hours of listening to the Lister doing its thing.

Despite some reservations on the canal maintenance (see last post) we had an enjoyable ten days out. The reason for the title was we did not set out to do the four counties, in fact we did not have a plan of where we were going to turn when we set out and as it happened we did not turn (wind) we kept chugging along.

For my record our stops were

Night one - SUC by bridge 8
Night two - S&W at Teddersley boat yard
Night three  - T&M at Salt fancy bridge
Night four - T&M at Wedgewood visitor moorings
Night five  - T&M at Westport lake
Night six - T&M at Malkins bank
Night seven SUC Middlewich brance just outside Middlewich
Night eight SUC at Nantwich
Night nine - SUC Adderley bottom lock
Night ten - SUC Shebdon

It was six hours a day average with the longest I think seven and a half, a bit more than we would have liked but nice to say we have done the ring on Percy now.

It was also nice to get some more locks on my total over there on the right >>>>

Where we moor e have locks a plenty north and lock free pounds south. We can have day cruises where we don't have to lock up or down which also allows an easier cruise if I do it on my own (although I have done many locks single handed of curse)

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Would I buy a brand new narrowboat ?

One thing that cruising a distance in limited time provides is opportunity to talk. We have been fortunate to have owned three and a bit (the bit was a shared scheme) narrowboats in our boat ownership lifetime as well as hiring a few more. We got to chatting about "would we buy another boat" - no, but thats a small word for a long consideration.

I guess in life aspiration is a positive, it gives focus and milestones of achievement. It feeds ambition  and satisfaction when aspirations are achieved. So it can easily be seen as mean to challenge or question the pursuance of many peoples dreams of buying and living on a narrowboat. But we are where we are, we have got a lovely boat and we have recently had the opportunity to explore on it and refresh out view of the canals and the system in general.

... and thats why I'd not buy a six figure sum asset that is a depreciating asset but more critically is reliant on another asset that in my humble opinion is declining and more concerningly after the last three months has a poor prognosis for on going maintenance and repair.

The C&RT is still being funded by the government but in the future will be expected to stand on its own funded by boaters, commercial income and donations. All three are going to be under considerable pressure to keep delivering the ££'s which are needed to keep the system 'flowing'. Again in my opinion the C&RT does not need to have boaters on its complete system, walkers will still enjoy the towpaths as will cyclists and anglers even after the essential assets on canals (locks, bridges, dredging, vegetation etc) have failed and rendered the canal unnavigable.

Thats a pessimistic outlook but based on what we saw - especially on the Cheshire locks, and experienced with leaky gates, out of service paddles C&RT are not performing not even in the present regardless of the challenging future. Now I now there have been massive challenges when it comes to staffing around the pandemic but other organisations have managed, even prospered as it provided opportunity. The same opportunity for maybe surveying planning and getting on ( all socially distancing 'friendly')  the works needed on the system while it was in effect closed.

I get it that the world is working around different approaches and challenges but the bottom line for organisations like C&RT and assets like our canals is they are not 'essential'. So when it comes to who gets the money and how they get it C&RT are going to be in a real dog fight to get what is needed to keep the system open.

So no I'd not be buying again, I'd not discourage anyone following their dream, thats how I have my boat but I'd caution go in with eyes wide open, do the due diligence not only with respect to the asset you are buying but the asset you are relying on that in the main you have little influence  on how its is managed (other than paying the licence fee etc)

Monday, 13 July 2020

The guaranteed mooring

We let the 9am’ers go on their merry way north and south this morning knowing that we had a really good guaranteed mooring for Monday evening.

In fact there was predictably little southward traffic after the initial burst of boat that moored between locks two and three on the Audlem flight. Even more predictably as we set off there was a flurry of boats coming north. After the lovely Adderley flight it was a steady cruise into Market Drayton. I’d forgotten how nice the stretch was .... even in the rain.

We motored on through a very full Market Drayton to the Tyrley flight. Not an easy flight due to the by-washes, the first lock’s by-wash has been tamed in sorts by a baffle to force more of the water down the side rather than across the canal. The rock wall on the far side attests to many a failed (slow) entrance into the lock. Speed as well as angled alignment into the by-wash’s current with a last minute realignment saw Percy safely into the chambers.

I have a photo of me and Leia on this bench taken when she was a pup.... I’ll find it out and compare it to the one we took as we passed through. For now yours truly and Rachel enjoying the day.

There was a fella single handing behind us and despite him having two boats behind him they were not offering any help. He’d obviously done the flight before and was aware how hard it is to moor up then try and beat the by- washes from a standing start from the lock landings so was holding the boat in the previous lock then walking up next draining it ( nothing was coming down) opening the gates then walking back to his boat. I spotted this at the first lock and then held Percy on the upper gate and emptied the lock and opened the gates for him. I did this until a boat came down to enable him to swap the chambers... simple. Having single handed you do get an appreciation of the small things that help a lot !

This lovely row of cottages always appeals ... tempted by the one for sale at the end..... 

C&RT have their work cut out in Woodseaves, it looks like a lot of work will be needed t keep it stable. 

Very remote and atmospheric. I held for a few minutes to make it easier for a hire boater to exit the cutting then went in ! 

We spotted right in the distance a boat holding and it must have waited a good 20 minutes for us to come out....there are passing places. When we exited there was a boat behind the waiting boat that then overtook him as we came out.... I did tell him there was a boat following and I think the look on the ladies face said it all. There are spaces in there to hold to pass .... some people maybe just don’t fancy it.  He could still be there now ! 

Soon We were on home ground passing the winding hole we use then the home straight and ploughed our way onto our mooring. 

A celebratory double for those who cannot be with us in person but were on our shoulders enjoying the trip with us.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Nothing stirring at 5.15 am except me

.... I was itching to get going, literally. I have two horsefly bites on my neck of all places, like Dracula these dammed Horse flies. They woke me at 5.15 itching like crazy, we were due an early start to get up the Hack Green and Audlem flight of locks before it got too hot so having done the engine lubing the night before I pulled the boat a little forward of out neighbour and started the engine and we slipped away into a beautiful summer early morning.

The nearby church bells signalled 6am and we were off. A beautiful morning cruise to Hack Green locks.

Even with our early start we still met a boat coming down the second lock and noted a boat coming up to the locks as we went up. 

Then it was the slow cruising to the lovely Audlem flight. We were turning  the first few locks which gave us (me) the opportunity to empty the cassette at the services near the Shroppie Fly.

We arrived at the bottom lock at just 8.30 am and emerged at lock 15 just after 11.30am so not too shabby especially as we turned quite a few locks and I helped a very competent single hander in front of us. 

We moored up with just three boats about but now all the moorings are taken and some ! 

The view from the bow 

We went for a walk to Adderley this is not the sign you want to see when you exit a field full of heifers who were taking a keen interest in Leia 

There has been a lot less boat traffic today certainly after we moored up. Tomorrow it’s 10 locks and home to Shebdon. I’ll be pleased to be back moored up for the next couple of months as no doubt the school holidays will see many many hire and private boats out. 

It’s looking like out sailing holiday in Greece will not happen but the silver lining to that black cloud is we may well have a two week trip up the Llangollen in mid September now ! 

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Now the boats are moving and some

We did not wake until nearly 9am so quiet was the mooring and the cut on the Middlewich branch. Nicholson’s says it’s a lovely bit of canal and they are not wrong, there are some superb moorings with rings and certainly today - no boats.

It has taken us to Chalmondeston lock to have to wait behind a boat at a lock. It gave me time to refresh the crew with Magnum ice creams while we waited. Again lots of happy people, all being sensible and responsible.

These looked like air bnb’s ... all closed up sadly. The house behind had some metal shutters on the tow path windows in a very rural area.

They certainly knew how to lay a decorative brick when they made these bridges. 

Finally the sun came out and the wind was much less but still from the north. A beautiful day to be ‘put putting‘ along the canal.

Rachel bringing Percy into the first of only two locks today. 

Quite some cill in this one. 

Rachel made the turn onto the main Shroppie look easy —- the wind from the north helped

A vlogger’s boat looking a bit too empty at Nantwich.

We got to Nantwich and it was full.... we got the very last mooring on the aqueduct going south at 4.30 pm - six hours today. W did a quick lock up and headed for a walk and supplies from M&S in Nantwich as well as fish and chips brought back to the boat. So we are refreshed (bloated) as we had to sample the cherry liqueurs from M&S. Rod Stewart is on Spotify serenading us and the boats have just stopped passing. 

Tomorrow it’s the Hack Green  locks then Audlum flight with a stop just short of the Adderley locks. The boating is back to summer normal so it will be an enjoyable day, hopefully.  

Friday, 10 July 2020

...and the weather keeps coming

Today was supposed to be the start of the nice stuff weather wise, so to wake to more spitty spiteful rain was one thing but it’s big sister mrs wind was back and gusting from the north to add more flavour to the weather mix. 

It was a long day today 21 locks and a bit of distance to get off the Trent and Mersey and onto the Middlewich arm/branch of the Shroppie. 

Only thing of note was we got a lock turned in front of us by a lovely lady on a private boat, no big deal other than the wind was a challenge to Percy blowing right across the canal to the off side  threatening  to pin Percy in the shallows, it all ended ok. 

We did the servicy bits at Weelock when it went from quiet to mad busy in the blink of an eye. But we were quick and soon passed the bushes where many years ago our youngest jumped from the roof of the share boat we had straight onto the boat hook that penetrated his trainers and right into his foot.... resulting in a visit to Crewe A&E ! 

We shared the lock duties a I drew the short straw of the turn onto the Wardle canal, just being beaten to it by a boat coming from the north. It was busy but nothing like the queue busy we had when I last did the ring anti-clockwise. The timings and no doubt later in the summer it’ll be the place to Gongoozle as there is just one top paddle in operation so mayhem will possibly be evident.

We pressed on past the  Middlewich moorings to a lovely mooring on rings ( thank you Shropshire union society).

An easier locking day tomorrow but I am expecting  boat numbers to increase as the marinas start to empty and the hire boats keep coming out.... all good fun and what the canals need.

Leia ever patient at the locks 

The weather ....

More weather 

It took a lot of wind to shift the heavy clouds 

We did try and tell the hire boat crew there was not a lot of room on the Wardle canal.... thankfully they eventually pulled back to give everyone a chance to get where they needed to be ! 

Thursday, 9 July 2020

A scare at lock 50

More rain greeted us when we awoke this morning. Luckily we were on a slow time start off due to the 11am tunnel booking. I predicted a flow of boats around 9am and sure enough at 8.55 am three boats motored past. I hailed the first and asked how many boats were waiting for the 9 am tunnel passage and was advised two were waiting when they came out.

I set the engine ready to fire up ( it has a lubing procedure !) had some breakfast and then we set off just after 9.20. Predictably there was mooring at the tunnel with just two boats moored up. I set to watering up and chatted to the tunnel keeper. He told me there were just two of us going through at 11 with six boats on the way southbound at 10.

One of the two moored boaters came to ask the tunnel keeper if he could be added to the 11 am run, he was denied yesterday as his tunnel lamp was not working !

It was nice to meet you Barbara and your other half, even if it was a snatched 2 minute chat. A lovely Braidbar boat similar in sign writing to Adam’s Briar Rose.

I have to say I was quite excited as we were called forward. We were first boat there but I asked if we could go last as I did not want to slow the other two boats down. As it worked out I was on just over tickover for part of the trip as the other boats seemed to be not in a hurry.

So it was three of us set off at 10.55 am. The cutter on the exhaust just cleared the gauge ( seen in the picture above). Towards the middle of the tunnel the roof is very low and I recon there was only a couple of inches of free air above the cutter at that point.

When we emerged at the northern end there were two boats waiting, the lead boat an Anglo Welsh hir boat had a couple on it all wet weathered up and the lady’s smile was soooo wide she looked so excited it was truly infectious I really hope they had a good run through the tunnel.

Out the other side at 11.40 so a slow trip but immensely enjoyable and a little feeling of pride having taken Percy through for the first time. Last time I did the tunnel was on Waterlily with a couple of friends in .... 2010 and the year before that with my mum and her late partner Ross. 

The two boats in front of us moored almost straight away so we had a clear run at the Cheshire locks, far too many of the pairs now single due to one being out of action. 

We were making good progress and got to the Lawton treble locks where Rachel started me on the decent of lock 50 and went ahead to set 51. As I got lower I was being drawn back to the cill and realised we had left a top paddle open and the lock was filling while emptying. Two loud blasts on the air horn got Rachel back sharpish and the lock was stabilised.... a close call and a reminder to be alert and work the locks as we normally do as a team checking each other’s actions. We had a cup of tea in the lock while the adrenaline departed our respective systems !

Then it was a gentle and aware last couple of locks before we tied up just past Chell’s aqueduct. Two locks short of today’s target so a little longer day tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Goose poo and not happy with C&RT

These two topics are linked ....

Woke to more steady drizzle today but it was a lesser cruising day so we held off leaving the Wedgewood visitor moorings till just after 10. We soon past the winding hole that would have returned our route so now we are committed the the four counties ring.

Surprisingly as I approached  Trentham lock a boat was just descending. It was a Norbury hire boat and chatting to them they had terminated their four counties and were reversing the route due to boat problems. She said they had had an engineer to the boat every day of their cruise.... a bit sad for them,  I’m sure David at Norbury will make good their disappointment.

We chugged on in the dry thankfully into Stoke which I have to say was in quite a clean canal, hardly any plastic floating so well done to all those keeping the place a little tidier.

Rachel wanted Percy to look like this .... I unsurprisingly disagreed.

We were soon at the Stoke locks and met a rash of boats coming down. All very jolly and we were lifted up the last two locks by the cheerful volunteers.

The top lock is always fierce, even half a paddle at a time got the boat moving about a bit but with a bit of extra drive onto the top gate we stayed relatively stable. 

Now my moan... chatting to one of the volunteers her told me C&RT had not brought the tunnel staff back full time hence the timing and booking restrictions. Now in my mind C&RT have had a bit of a windfall during the lockdown, I fully expect a lot of their staff were furloughed saving them cash so to only bring the staff back part time when the system is now fully back up and running it a snub to boaters. I was further frustrated to arrive at Westport to find all the moorings taken. The boat in-front of us at Wedgewood was a tidy private boat and they set off a good hour in front of us this morning. My concerns were raised when they past us coming back towards Festival park at Longport.... Either not booked the tunnel, no moorings at the tunnel or no moorings at Westport lake.

We soon found there were no ring moorings at Westport and not wanting to go to the tunnel to find no moorings for our 11am passage and if they were we’d be in the way for sure. So I have Percy on pins at the end of the moorings ( I’d say about 10% look like occupied boats lots just tied up) Of course in the grass and off the ring mooring the goose poo is everywhere, it’s like the Somme of goose poo. 

I may well take a walk up to the entrance later to see how many boats are waiting.... only one has past us to go up there well after the 2pm cut off so he either had an early booking or doesn’t know/ care about the whole restriction.

C&RT should have this essential passage open normal hours to match the normal cruising. An email will be sent to alert them to the not needed restriction. I am turning into a cranky boater but C&RT are playing fast and loose with my mooring and license money by not being fair on boaters or their staff.