Monday 28 September 2015

Moon river

Our river mooring last night was peaceful and safe in every way. The river flowed gently past, but we hardly noticed the movement.

A big event was on the horizon, of course. I expect 50 million photos of the eclipse have found their way onto the internet today. I wouldn't want to buck the trend.

We set our alarm for 2 a.m., and woke to find the river was swathed in mist again, but the moon was visible through it. I set up the camera attached to the frame of Erin Mae's side hatch, which was perfectly positioned for us to watch the spectacle.

The view-finder picture was generally much better than that with the naked eye, especially through the river mist.

The earth's shadow began to creep across the moon's surface. I took my photos by setting a 2-second delay, to avoid all hand contact at the point when the photo was actually being taken. But I took so many that the battery ran out, and I was switching between charging the battery via the computer for a few minutes and then taking a few more shots. I couldn't do both at the same time.

Finally I dug out a charger that links direct to the mains, and found that the camera would take pictures while attached to that. Phew! I had to adjust the position of the camera frequently, and this was a reminder of how much the moon moves across the sky, presumably in an arc that depends on its own movement round the earth, and the rotation of the earth itself.

It was remarkable how red the moon got as the shadow got to cover most of its surface. It stayed this way for a long time, and then eventually the shadow won out and, with the extra effect of the mist on the river, meant there was very little to see for a prolonged period. We sat in our chairs, keeping an eye on things through the window when we weren't dozing off.

Eventually the light began to return, but there was little sign in this phase, that I could see, of the redness we'd seen before. By now we were pretty tired, and went back to bed before the whole of the moon was visible again. Surprise, surprise, we got up pretty late this morning!

This didn't really matter, because the mist only cleared around 10.30 a.m. We set out shortly after to make our way to Nottingham.

We had two of the enormous river locks to negotiate first, with friendly lock-keepers to operate them, and then found ourselves at Meadow Lane Lock, which leads from the Trent up to the cut through the centre of the town.

It was rather odd to be back on a normal sized canal, with locks you have to operate yourself with a windlass.

And I think this is the first time either of us has been in Nottingham, though this wouldn't be the first castle under whose walls we have cruised.

We shall rejoin the Trent proper eventually, for just a short stretch. We shall remember it particularly, I think, for the tidal reaches that offered their own challenges, for the sparkly delights of the section below Gunthorpe Lock, and especially for the eclipse seen with the river mist rising and making for a highly atmospheric middle-of-the-night.


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