Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Ten thousand holes

Well, six locks and 10,000 ol' plastic bags. Blackburn, Lancashire (if you don't know the reference, ask a Beatles boffin) is a bit bottom right quadrant on our favourite places / excitement diagram. It certainly gave some excitement but doesn't rate as a favourite place.

The canal runs in a scruffy green corridor above the town, passing through a mixture of residential and small industrial areas.

Two minarets competed with the spires.

The flight of six locks was not very pleasant, with water overtopping the gates,

and lots of rubbish and weed everywhere, just itching to get wound round the propellor.

The water flows were pretty strong and had to be negotiated carefully.

It's normal to wait in a lock for a boat to emerge from the opposite one, when they are as close together as this…

but we fell into the same pattern, even when there was nothing coming the other way.

My best beloved would go ahead and open the bottom gate on the next lock, while I waited for Erin Mae to rise in the lock she was in, opened the gate(s) and brought her through. If conditions were OK, I was able to shut the gate behind me before my best beloved returned to do so, but it didn't help that there weren't any bollards to tie a line to. It's much easier to do all this with the narrow locks we're more used to, unless you have company.

Having finally made it through all six, and admired this chappie on the way, it was clear we had something clogging the propellor, so we pulled in at Eanam Wharf to clear large numbers of plastic bag bits, some rope and a load of weed. Whoever invented the weed hatch deserves a medal. We thought that would be that, but a few hundred yards further on came to a shuddering halt. It felt like more gubbins round the prop, but an investigation revealed nothing. On the other hand we now seemed to be stuck on the bottom. It took a lot of work with poles and gentle use of the engine and rudder to finally get us free.

We were quite glad to get this stretch behind us and moor up a mile or two out of town. At least the rain has stopped and it's a sunny evening. Time to catch up with Wimbledon.


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