Whenever I set off it is always a rushed affair. Despite doing all I need to do in preparation, fuel, water etc there always seems to be things that escape preparation and planning. It gets to the point where I have to just cast offf and go.
Last year when when I left for the K&A I once again left my keys behind in the water point lock. Doh! Anyway I left Thrupp at 11 o’clock heading north. I thought to moor up in Heyford about 3. Oh I so wish!
The sun came out to herald my departure and I puttered along the canal enjoying the sunshine. My first obstacle was Shipton Lift Bridge. This quaint reminder of days gone by is supposed to be balanced open. However, at this time of the year the bridge deck is wet and heavy. The bridge is permanently down. This is one of the reasons we had lengthsmen, to balance bridges during the year as the weight changes. Of course this is no longer necessary or so the powers that be have decided. I would agree that from a cost effective point of view balancing bridges is not at the top of the list, but whether it is up or down balanced they must be! There is a simple solution to balancing bridges. The problem as I see it is rain water soaking into the bridge deck. Stop the rain and the problem is solved. With a dry deck the balance can be set and left. Well we cant stop the rain, but we can stop the rain from soaking in to the wooden decks. A piece of wood pressure soaked with say, silicone, will not absorb water ergo the balance can be set and left. Is it just me or does this seem like a reasonable (simlpe) solution?
I don’t mind if the bridge is set down as long as the wieght is set so I can lift it and place as pole under it, but yesterday I really struggled, not only to lift it, but to hold it up while I put the pole in place.
Shipton Weir Lock came next. This lock has its own problems. The bottom gate used to be a two paddle gate. Nowadays, since the last gate change, it only has one paddle. This gate is perforated, by that I mean there are big gaps (worn by water) between the planks, the bottom edge doesn’t seal properly either. With the lock full there is almost as much water leaving the lock as there is entering through the top gate. It took me over half an hour (after it appeared full) to open the gate
While waiting I recieved a call from a friend in Thrupp asking me where my keys were? OH NO NOT AGAIN! I moored the boat up outside the lock and set off back to Thrupp to collect my keys. It was about one thirty by the time I got back to my boat and set off again.
At Pigeons Lock on the bottom gate there the is a ‘CRT aware’ label on the gate handrail. What they are aware of is that the handrail is loose. It been like this for some time. I got out my biggest spanner and tried to tighten it, but no joy the nuts are about 40/45 mil. If anyone is passing with a decent size stilson please try to tighten the nuts (tip: do it with the gate open). If you should manage to do it please inform CRT so they dont waste time/money sending someone to do it.
Above Northbrook Lock the bank has been draped in orange Defra rash for many years and recently the problem has extended along the bank to the the lock mooring where there has been damage from underwash. CRT are on the case and the repairs are almost complete. What I did find most annoying was a boat moored on the lock moorings with no one aboard. Mooring on lock moorings seem to be the norm these days, I notice it a lot.
My belated arrival in Heyford was well after 5 well over 6 hours!