We left our mooring around about 10, weather wise it felt much cooler, what a relief.
We nearly made a rather embarrassing mistake at our first lock of the day ‘Lower Ringstead Lock’, saved only for a man that was lying full length on a hammock next to his boat. What was he shouting at us? Had he been drinking? Was he telling us to slow down? We were already going very slow as we were trying to work out where the lock was, we could only see a weir in front of us, and we wanted to see which side the lock landing was. At the last minute, we understood….. he was shouting “Go Left!” Normally there’s a sign with an arrow directing boats to the correct navigational channel, but this time it was missing. “Thank you that man! Sorry we misjudged you!”
We met a lovely young chap (about 14 years old), at Higham Ferrers Lock. He was with his mother and brother on the bank by the lock. But he came running up to me at the lock as he was so interested how locks worked, and was desperate to be hands-on. Higham Ferrers lock was the first lock for months we’ve had to work that has 2 gates at the top, and two at the bottom. Apparently boaters (for some reason) don’t have to leave this lock empty, so I had to let the water out first, obviously before I could open the gates. The boy asked so many questions, he’d never seen a lock worked before, and wanted to know all the ins and outs. He did me a favour though, as he helped with the really heavy gates. It was fabulous to see a youngster so enthusiastic to learn. Perhaps he will one day be a dedicated boater?
Just before our last lock of the day, Ditchford Lock, with its electric ‘up and over’ bottom gate, Cyan managed to get stuck in the mud by a nettle infested bank. This stretch of the river is quite narrow in places, with several 45 deg angled bends. A couple of times John sounded the horn as he couldn’t see 10′ beyond Cyan’s bow. Coming around one of the bends, at quite a lick, was a narrowboat (John thought it was a hire boat), with 2 or 3 young kiddies sitting on the roof. We were very nearly t-boned! The other boater could hardly get around the bend in time, and as he swung around, his stern was inches off our bow. John successfully, thank goodness, took avoiding action which put us into the bank. After shuffling and pushing off with the pole, we eventually were freed. Not that the other boater cared, he just sailed away with a couple of, hopefully embarrassed, backward glances.
Today we’ve travelled just over 8 miles, and 5 locks.