The water run is not usually very eventful.
This week we started quite early, as soon as the engine was started in fact. At about 0700 we (I) start the engine to heat water for our morning showers. I moved from our overnight mooring in town to the lift bridge with the crew asleep. The Best Mate popped up to steer SONFLOWER through just after I had raised the bridge and re-joined her so could not get back off. Still she showed willing. We then settled on the water point and started our fill.
This takes about 45 minutes so there was ample time to fill the lock. We were obviously the first craft of the day and there was a huge amount of debris above the lock gates including a four by two varnished plywood panel which would have prevented any gate opening. I cleared this and a few hook loads of reeds to make sure the gates would not be impeded.
Having finished watering, we entered the lock and emptied it. Unfortunately The Best Mate could not open the bottom gate. "Something must be behind it!", she called. I moved the boat as close to it as I could and, armed with the boat hook, went fishing. What I found was a submerged log. It was far too heavy to lift out so I manoevered it free from behind the gate and through the gate opening. But my work was not finished yet. This log would have jammed us in the lock entry if it had been allowed to get between the bow rake and the canalside.
"Do you have to do this often? asked a gongoozler from the footbrodge overhead. "No we aren't often troubled by debris" the Best Mate replied. "No, I mean do you have to use the lock much?" he said. "Oh, yes ALL the time".
The rest of the run was uneventful. I was single handed back through the lock and lift brdge as The Best Mate was meeting a friend for coffee but I did not need to worry. By now the lock pool was full with boats coming down and I didn't need to get off to close the lock gate or raise and lower the bridge.
On then to Sovereign Wharf for the PUMP OUT and chat. Is Dusty really giving up the coal boat this month? Then back to home mooring without incident, noting that Canal and River Trust had trimmed the willows opposite our mooring. They haven't touched the dead trees though. Apparently they are not a danger to navigation.
2 locks, 2 lift bridge, 2 miles, 3.1/2 hours
Chester Monday 22 May 2017
3 hours ago