Sunday, 26 June 2016

Canal and River “Medley” (oh, and those locks!)


Since leaving Manchester the locks, both single and double, have provided a series of novel or awkward problems. The “broad” locks, although they are wide, they are not long. That means just one boat at a time and positioned diagonally. One of the hazards is that the bow of the boat can get caught on the footplates of the bottom gates and that’s just what happened to “Waterlily”! Pauline and Doug had to quickly lower the paddles to stop any more water leaving the lock as it could have turned the boat over.


Eventually, when we got onto the Calder and Hebble, we left the “stumpy” locks behind and they became both wide and long enough for two boats. That meant that our two lock operators could stand around chatting, as the efficiency of the operation improved by having both boats in together. 


The Calder and Hebble is an alternating sequence of the Calder river and canal cuts (known by specific names like Kirklees, Battyford, Mirfield and Long). After the very descriptive Long Cut, and getting through the double locks at the end of it ( with it’s pretty little circular pound between them), we decided to moor up for the night. We were alone on the relatively generous visitor moorings – indicative of the how few boats were around.


Back to the idiosyncrasies of locks – this is Pauline, armed with her “spike”.


To fill some locks the “spike” is used to raise the paddles. It’s inserted into a slot in a wooden wheel which is attached to a rack which is attached to the paddle. Levering the “spike” round turns the wheel. Usually you need a second pair of hands to operate a lug which stops the paddle from crashing back down while the first operator takes the spike out of one slot in the wheel to put it into another slot in order the repeat the process until the paddle is in the fully raised position. If the two operators are left with all their digits still attached by the time they finished this malarkey it’s considered a success! 


After the exhausting process with her “spike” Pauline then has to negotiate the slippery ladder down the side of the lock then jump across the gap and onto the boat! She’s a fit lady is our Pauline!


It’s a “James thing” – getting excited about going under motorways! This is the M1 no less!


We arrive in Wakefield on Tuesday evening (22nd June) to some very nice, and again empty, visitor moorings. That evening we were visited by lovely blog readers, Mark and Andy, who are having a sail-away hull built at this time They are going to fit most of it out themselves and Mark busied himself by taking notice of some of the finer details of “Chance”. Of course, there was a lot of chatter, wine and nibbles as well, then we all went across to the local pub for a wonderful meal, It was great to see you two guys and we wish you well in your new venture. We must keep in touch!


Leaving “Chance” in Wakefield in the capable hands of Pauline and Neil for a night we made our way back home. The fleeting visit was to mow lawns, cut hedges, see doctors, vote in the EU referendum and to spend the evening with friends Alan and Kim over a nice Indian meal in the village.


On Referendum Day more gardening was done and we were treated to an aerial display by three Spitfires. They knew we would be at home that day!


We got back up to Wakefield for Thursday evening and a very welcome dinner on our arrival provided by Pauline and Neil on nb Waterlily.


On Friday we set sail again and one of the first interesting sights that morning was the CRT workshops at Stanley Ferry and brand new lock gates being kept wet by continuously pumping water over them. Obviously if they dry out the wood shrinks and distorts and they aren’t any good!


We were back to the alternating River Calder and canal cut again. Some of the cuts are incredibly long and straight …………


…….. and the locks! Well, they still present surprises. They were now so big ……..


…….. we could have four narrow boats in each one. And to add to the novelty they were electrically operated.


The river sections of the waterway were getting quite wide and, to add to the drama and atmosphere of a good river, the storm clouds began to form overhead.


We decided to call it a day at Ferrybridge. Again, the visitor moorings were very good and, this time, we had a few neighbours for the night.


Saturday saw the storm clouds reaching threatening proportions as we cruised down a new river this time - the River Aire. A much flatter landscape than that of the River Calder and so we could see above the river banks!


At Beal Lock (built to cope with the 18 inch high weir!) there was a strange cautionary sign for us to take note of. If we hadn’t got a bent propeller James was all for taking part!


Off the River Aire our last leg of the day was the delightfully beautiful and tranquil Selby Canal. Not very deep but quite wide it required a slow and relaxed pace to enjoy the beauty of the flora and fauna.


And, at 2:30pm, we arrived in Selby Basin to await the next day’s little adventure – to be let out onto the tidal River Ouse to make our way up to York. We are booked to go through the lock at 10:45 in the morning so we made some use of the afternoon and took advantage of the water and pump our facilities.

After a walk into town with Pauline and Neil for some shopping, and for James to visit the glorious and famous Abbey, we got back to the boat and, with great delight, we had a visit by friends Alison and Adam who we first met in Soho, London a couple of years ago and who live very close to Selby. (Unfortunately no photos as we forgot!). After a lovely catch-up chat Alison and Adam left and we had the wonderful thunder storm which had been threatening for the last couple of days.

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