Saturday 1 October 2011

Wind and Worcs

Warm it was, but breezy with it. With a start delayed by the England / Scotland rugby match and a visit to Great Haywood to collect a package from the Post Office, we filled up with diesel and set out for a four day cruise down the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, generally abbreviated to the Staffs and Worcs. Now "Staffs" is obvious, but how on earth do you say "Worcs"? Works? Wawks? Wuss? I can see  moment coming when, in conversation with another boater, I'll want to refer to this canal by its abbreviation. Does anyone know what the favoured pronunciation is?

Anyway, we got down from the marina to the junction, preparing to turn right under the bridge into the Staffs and Wuss, only to find an Anglo Welsh boat backing out – Anglo Welsh have a boatyard and hire centre right on the junction. They wanted to turn away from us and head off down the Trent & Mersey, but couldn't work out how to get their nose in the right direction and clear the other moored boats. The wind wasn't helping. It was about 20 minutes later that they found themselves facing the wrong way, on our side of the junction, and decided just to wave us past.

We got down to Tixall Wide – the furthest we'd been so far on the Staffs and Wawks – and decided to tie up for lunch in a space we were passing. I stopped in a hurry, and tried my own bit of reversing towards the bank. That was when the wind took over, and blew the front of the boat right across the cut. It didn't seem particularly strong, but a boat has a large side surface area and no keel. So it was our turn to block all traffic, while tug-of-war technique with the centre line and some help from some nearby boaters eventually got us out of everyone's way.

It's no wonder wind becomes a metaphor for fashionable ideas that power through a nation or group, exercising control for good or ill. For me, the point is to recognise it so as to make a proper judgment and not just be swept along with the debris. The old boaters used the wind to help them turn in the winding holes. Harnessing the wind for good – that's a skill worth having, wherever you may be on the Staffs and Works. All is quiet this evening at Bridge 96 by Wildwood.


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