I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
The first segment of this narrowboat trip
was all about spectacular aqueducts, with a few
In the lock
tunnels thrown in for good
measure. The second part where we went from Whitchurch into Chester was all
about locks. We did a couple of single locks where our 70 foot boat just fits
in, but a lot of the locks were double ones where two boats could fit in
together. Most are made of stone and brick, but one was made entirely of Iron. All
of the locks have unique features, making each one a little different. You
never know what to expect until you get there, but enough us have worked enough
locks that we have had no problems.
With six people on the boat we have become
pretty efficient at working the locks. Here is a explanation of what is
involved. Although all locks have a spot where you can pull over to let someone
off to work the locks, we usually let someone off at the bridge before the lock
and get them to go on ahead to get everything ready for the boat to go through.
First you have to check if there is another
boat which can use the lock first to take advantage of the water in the lock.
If you are going down, and the lock is empty it is good to allow another boat
coming up enter the lock and come up as you fill it. This time of year there
are not as many boats on the canals, so only once have we had to do this and it
was to our advantage. I arrived at a lock just as another boater was going to
empty the lock to allow his boat to come up. I asked him to wait for our boat
coming down and he happily did this. That way we slipped into the already full
lock, emptied it, lowering our boat and then he came in to go up.
Normally you come to a lock and determine
if it has to be filled or emptied. Each lock has
Another lock right ahead
doors on either end. The upper
door is sometimes a single door as there is less water to go through at this
end. The bottom doors are usually double. At each end there are paddles that
allow the water in or out. If you need to fill the lock, you open the paddles
at the upper end. If the lock has to be emptied the paddles at the lower end
perform the task. These paddles are operated with a ratcheting gears drive that
you operate with a special crank or “Windlass” which the crew always take off
the boat with them. Some of the mechanisms are over 100 years old and sometimes
a bit cranky. Our smallest crew member had to literally jump up to get enough
leverage to move the windless.
Not getting much help here . . . .
Once the water level in the lock is
equalized with the outside canal the doors can be opened. This is done via a
foot square hardwood lever which is moved with sheer force. You lean back into
it and slowly push it open by walking backwards on a short curved brick
walkway. The doors will not move until the water is equalized and inexperienced
or impatient lock workers can be seen trying in vain to push on the doors levers
before they are ready. Once the boat leaves the lock, you close the doors,
ensure all the paddles are closed and move on to the next lock.
Sharing with a swan
If the locks are not to far apart, the lock
crew will usually just walk along the towpath to the next lock. With our six
person crew, we often can send one person on to the next lock while someone
stays behind to complete the lock labor on the lock the boat just left.