Sunday, 26 June 2016

Carl's in Charge. Blue Ropes


Morning all.  Linda has charged me with this week's jottings, so I'll crack on.

Monday was a sort of a “come on, let's get a move on” type of a day.  The first water-point we came to was bereft of boats, so we moored and refilled our tanks.  I really should get a tap fitted to the end of the hose that goes into the water tank.  While the water tank is filling I always find myself perched like a hawk in the cratch, staring at the hole that the hose disappears into, in order that I can guess when the tank is almost full.  On recognising the signs (actually there are no signs; the tank is either nearly empty, or it's suddenly full, overflowing and flooding the cratch) I leap off the boat and dash to the main tap to frantically turn it off.  On this occasion I made it to the tap on time and disaster was averted.

As the rain had almost stopped, and things were going well, we decided to continue up the next set of broad locks.  Once again, the passage was quick and problem free.  Our car was parked on a bridge not far away, so Linda left the boat at this point and went off to drive the car to Braunston, leaving me to carry on along the canal and through Braunston tunnel.  It sounded a good idea at the time, but I hadn't taken into account that Lady Luck, that fickle entity, had left with Linda.  Of course, I didn't immediately realise this, what with Lady Luck being invisible etc.  So I set off.

Then the rain started.  It was really quite biblical in intensity, so I reached over to the hook and put my coat on.  This was the signal the clouds had been waiting for and immediately the rain stopped and the bright June sun came out.  Within seconds I was too hot, so, although I had my suspicions, I took my coat off again and put it back on the hook.  I was right to be suspicious, as the rain started again.  After a cursory look around to see if Noah was in the house, I put on my coat again.  You can probably guess what happened then, and you'd be right.  Eventually, I thought “sod it” (I apologise for the bad language) and kept my coat on.  The weather gods weren't happy to see that I'd not only come up with a cunning plan, but that the said plan had thwarted them.  They promptly had a quick chin wag with the gods of rope and rubbish.  Sure enough, after a couple of hundred yards, the prop picked something up and my progress slowed down to a crawl, with an accompanying and extremely annoying vibration of the tiller.  Once again, various thoughts tripped the light fantastic inside my head, which I dare not put into print.  I think I'll start a new paragraph now, whether I need to or not.

I managed to bring the boat into the side and tie her up.  Then it was off with my coat, up with the stern deck-plate, and time to open the weed hatch.  Right on cue Noah's rain started, but I was determined to proceed.  With the weed hatch out of the way I gingerly put my hand and arm into the murky water and felt around for the prop.  These moments always remind me of Jaws, and I had visions of a monster pike sneaking up and biting a few man-fingers off to have with his chips.  I'm pleased to report that I still have the same number of digits as I was born with, so there's no need for any of you dear readers to worry.  Back to the prop.  There was a length of rope (a particularly nice shade of blue) tangled hopelessly around it.  As well as the rope there was a rag-tag assortment of fishing line (with no hooks), a Tescos plastic shopping bag (with no shopping in it – a pity as we needed some bread), and canal/river weed.  Within minutes I'd cleared all this mess and replaced the weed hatch and stern deck-plate.

After checking  that there were no boats approaching I slipped the lines and headed for the tunnel.  Compared to some canal tunnels, this particular trip through the Braunston one wasn't too bad.  There weren't too many waterfalls.  The tunnel isn't entirely straight, though; there are some slight bends which can make steering tricky if you don't pay attention.  I almost got through without meeting any other boats, but one pulled into the other end while I was just a few hundred yards from the exit, but we passed without incident. The weather was better on the other side of the tunnel, and Linda was waiting there with Tricky.  We moored at the top of the locks and called it a day.

We passed through the Braunston locks the next day without incident, although there were plenty of other boats around, and found a quiet mooring a few miles further on, where we tied up.  On waking early the next day, I steeled myself and opened the side-hatch to check the weather.  We had intended to have a quiet morning on the boat and thought we'd maybe set off early afternoon, but as I looked out of the hatch I saw a strange object moving through the water near our boat.  I didn't have a clue what it was, but it was big.  As big as a cow.  In fact it was a cow.  It had fallen in and was swimming up and down, desperately trying to find a way out.  Soon the rest of the herd in the field opposite had congregated to the water's edge and were mooing encouragement to the poor creature.  I called to Linda to see if she could find out which farm we were near and see if there was a phone number we could call.  Then I quickly got dressed and ventured outside.  I looked up and down the canal but there was nothing.  Not a sound, not a ripple.  The herd opposite looked at me as if it was all my fault.  I started walking along the tow-path towards the place I'd last seen it but there was nothing.

Eventually I went back to the boat.  Linda was dressed and Tricky was examining her breakfast, in case there was anything she felt was edible in it (she is so fussy).  Linda had had no luck finding a phone number, so I started the boat and cast off, hoping that we might find the cow again.  As we came round a bend we saw it.  It had managed to clamber out and was standing in the next field, dripping wet and looking very sorry for itself, but it seemed none the worse for its morning dip.

Today we came through the three Hillmorton locks.  These were very busy, there seemed to be boats everywhere, but we managed to make it through without too much of a wait.  I am now moored up just a couple of miles further along.  Linda has taken the car back and will be catching various trains tomorrow in order to join me at Rugby.  So that's about the size of it for this week.

Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers

PS Last time I did the jottings I added a PS but had nothing to say.  Sadly, I can't think of anything to add this time either.