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read ricks story below -
We purchased Clarinnish, a 57 foot narrowboat from Whilton Marina back in April 2017. What follows is part of the adventure we had bringing our boat back to the Kennet and Avon Canal from Whilton Marina.
Day 5 Afternoon Update
So boredom finally drove me to it. We upped sticks and set off in the rain. Shelagh glued to her laptop apart from the odd occasion I came across a lock.
The routine is, I sound two blasts on the horn and Shelagh comes running. I must confess to taking a certain wicked delight as I know the unexpected sound of the horn enables a skill, Shelagh has hitherto not had. The ability to leap in the air from a sitting position 🤷♂️ Its just funny ok!
Anyway the afternoon goes on, not particularly enjoyable as rain starts to penetrate areas I cannot remember having. Shelagh had a bungee session with a lift bridge (I'll leave her to tell that story).
Then, as if the Excitment Pixies (EP's) know we are in need of a pick me up, we arrive at Sommerton Deep Lock. Built in 1787, it's one of the deepest locks on the whole of the narrow canal system. I have pics of the bridge immediately on the exit of the lock (bridge 194) and the exit gate of the lock itself. This gate enters into our own little 'History of Horrors'. I shall explain.
Shelagh opens the gate. I chug right on in. Totally unaware of what the EP's have in store for us. Shelagh closes the gate behind me and starts to let the water out. I start to descend. It just keeps going down. Starts to get a bit spooky, I can't see Shelagh anymore. Then, she appears over the top lip of the lock. She starts to open the one very big gate. It's swings to almost full open then stops. Engaging my GTC (Getting Tiller Cocky - see yesterday's post) , I am confident I can make it through. Shelagh is unable to open the gate any further so I press on. DISASTER!!!! The front third of the boat makes it through and then..... I'm wedged in. No amount of forward thrust, reverse thrust, or obscene language is moving me on. I'm also not in a position where I can clamber up a ladder to aid Shelagh. She suddenly adopts an Arnie Schwarzenegger expression, attacking the gate with all the verve and vigour she can muster but to no avail.
I clamber up on top of the boat, desperately seeking a means of reaching my damsel in distress. Aha! a sloping side wall. I leap on to it, only to find it's got about as much grip as an exotic mud wrestler combatting a greased eel. A combination of luck and adrenaline help me it make it across the wall and on to the steps. I rush up to see if I can budge the gate....NOPE!
Taking stock we realise, our boat is stuck. There's no easy way back onto the boat. Our only means of calling help, our phones, are....... on the boat. "Oh dear" Shelagh exclaimed " What a to do".
Ignoring the 'Beware of the Dog' sign, I enter the garden of the house sitting next to the lock. I knock the door but there's no reply. "I know, I'll try around the front". Rounding the corner I come across an Alsatian the size of a horse!!! Fortunately he's in a compound. Unfortunately the fence is not very high.
He looks at me and a speech bubble appears "Dinner!' He starts to bark and my buttocks clench in response. Walking very slowly backward I say "hello, who's a good boy" In retrospect, not the best thing I could have said. He starts barking again. As I get out of sight of him I beat a hasty retreat to the gate with a somewhat increased pulse rate.
Returning to Shelagh I am now determined to get back on the boat. I straddle the sloped wall (some 15 feet) above the level of the water and manage to regain the boat. Trying once again to move the boat with the engine has the same negative result. A calm then descends. I note the bottom of the offending gate is further out than the top. My GTC kicks back in and I come up with a cunning plan. I ask Shelagh to open the top gate very slightly to allow a bit more water back into the lock. This lifts the boat just enough to allow me to move on and out of the lock.
Well I'm sure you'll agree this is turning out to be quite an adventure. A few more hours cruising and we are now moored up near Middle Aston on the Oxford canal. The fire is lit and my soaking wet boots are drying in front of it. We've had our dinner and we're now going to sit down and have a nervous breakdown.
Good night everyone
See you tomorrow.