Tuesday, 24 November 2009

What is at the bottom of the canal? - We are!

We pulled pins at 08.30 yesterday morning and headed east up two more locks to the services immediately below lock 24W. The water was lower in the pounds which seemed a bit strange given the amount of rain we had had overnight.  Our plan was to service Caxton, wind (turn) and head back down past the slumbering crew of Matilda Rose leaving the locks prepared for them as we went.  Mice and men...... the water pressure, pressure being perhaps not the appropriate word, was abysmal and Caxton was taking an age to fill.   We then had a prop snag whilst winding (turning) and Joe had to submerge himself in the weed hatch to clear the obstruction. 

Below, Fletcher inspects the haul from around Caxton's prop!

NB Matilda Rose had called to say that they had set off and were watered and were through the first lock - so we were now the tail runner rather than the vanguard.  The water in the pound had dropped further since we had serviced and Caxton was scraping bottom at times.  We got grounded between locks 23 and 22, a very short pound.  I let another lock full of water down from above and we managed to get Caxton into Lock 22.  The next pound, the one we had been moored in for three days and our starting point at 08.30, was fine and we made our way to the next lock, 21W.  We were aided by the owner of the one other narrowboat hereabouts, NB Chug. His wife had called BW to say that the canal had de-watered.  Caxton got out of the lock to find that there was barely a cupful of water in the canal.  Joe called BW. A couple of hours later, I called BW. We were sitting on the bottom and there we stayed.  I ran down closing paddles of locks that had been prepared for us.  I ran up opening paddles to let more water through. By 14.30 we had got Caxton to the mouth of the next lock, the lock that had caused the problem.  Here the gate paddle mechanism was so knackered and stiff that the paddles had not been fully closed. I literally had to force them closed cog tooth by cog tooth using my shoulder under the windlass. And then I watched water gush from the lock through the brickwork.
My call to BW had explained the mystery of the low water, the flow from the summit reservoir had been turned off because of the flooding in Cumbria - I am still trying to work out the connection - but had now been turned back on.  It would take three hours to re water the canal apparently.
Then help arrived.
No not BW, but Graham from NB Matilda Rose.
He went back to lock 21W and opened the paddles to let water through. As soon as Caxton was afloat and making her way into the lock I called Graham ot close the paddles above us.
Two hours later and in the dark we moored up behind Matilda Rose below lock 15W.  It had taken eight hours to cover barely 2 and quarter miles.
Not an experience you would want to repeat but hey ho it happens.  We do owe a big thank you to Graham and also a big thank you to Jill because as we arrived our dinner was being served up? 
And very nice it was too!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a shame - it's experiences like this that let the Huddersfield Narrow down. Glad that you found a good dinner at the end of it...
Sue, Indigo Dream

Nb Caxton said...

Hi Sue
I think the experience underlined for me just how stretched, or inefficient, whichever it is, BW are. There are no lengthsmen to keep an eye on things but the level of goodwill by volunteer groups and boaters would probably fill this void if BW had the sense to use it!
All down to experience anyway - I now know to find solutions for myself.
Lesley

Halfie said...

I bet lots of people read this wondering if you'd sunk!

Nb Caxton said...

Halfie
Ever the drama queen!!
Lesley

Halfie said...

A good headline always drags 'em in!

Anonymous said...

Aw that's unlucky.
But i've always wondered what the bottom of the Canal would look like if all the Water was gone.

Did you see lot's of old shopping trolleys and rubbish? No hidden treasure then i guess?