Before we took off from our moorings at Saddleworth Visitor Centre Winding Hole, we did a little shopping for bread and milk. On the outside wall of the bakers was a commemorative plaque to Arthur Rowbotham! It’s great to know that even a ‘baker’s boy’ can be so highly thought of to have his own plaque, for ‘giving his all’!
We planned to travel through two locks only before mooring up for the day. The closely situated flight of 9 locks which will take us to Diggle, will need to be done in one ‘trip’. Diggle is the start of the Standedge Tunnel, where our Wednesday passage is booked.
At Dungebooth Lock (#22W) we encountered an audience of Gongoozlers! People are fascinated with locks, and they asked us the same questions, “Where have you come from?”, “Where are you going?” It’s difficult to know how to answer such questions. “Do you live on your boat?”, and many more questions, some are quite bazaar and strange. It makes us wonder just how eccentric we are!
But those Gongoozlers didn’t prepare us for the next lock’s ‘audience’ of about 50, nearly all taking photos, and most having dogs who seemed to be having a great time.
The Lime Kiln Lock (#23W) was a tricky lock to manoeuvre into, and I was glad I was doing the locking, and John was on the tiller. The lock doors are just behind the support leg for the railway viaduct. The ‘leg’ has restricted the navigation, even though the canal was ‘here first’. You can just about see from the image below that the bottom part of the ‘leg’ has been ‘shaved’ away to help boats entering this lock. Remember narrowboats are not articulated, they don’t bend! They are rear drive, and they pivot from the centre.
Being the main ‘entertainment’ for the Gongoozlers, and as sod’s law would have it, I’d never encountered before the type of locking mechanism as this. At first I wondered if the mechanism was locked, as some previous locks on the HNC are. Eventually, I managed to work it out, and I was able to lift up the paddles, letting water into the lock. The mechanism’s so stiff that it needed brute force to move it, hence me thinking it was locked.
Our dog Rusty has a problem with locks, he gets so anxious if he can’t ‘see’ where the one who’s doing the locking is, or if he hears them talking to a stranger. When he’s in an empty lock he frets until Cyan comes up in the lock, and then he can see us. If he gets too agitated, he becomes a danger to himself, to the one who’s on the tiller, and of course to Cyan, so he gets sent down into the boat, and the doors gets locked – he’s still anxious but at least he’s in no danger down in the boat. At this time John thought Rusty was being good through this lock so he was allowed on deck. With all the ‘audience’ watching, Rusty decides to make a dash to get to me, and he jumps from the boat. As his lead is tethered to John, Rusty got pulled back from landing on the lock surround, and fell back, into the lock and water! He always wears his ‘life jacket’ when cruising, which has a strong handle, and I grabbed the handle, to yank him out! Why now Rusty? In front of all these people?
We managed to moor up at Wool Road Winding Hole, just before the services, and Wool Lock (#24W).
All boats take on water, whether it’s through rain, condensation, or a leak! For this reason Cyan is fitted with an automatic bilge pump. We noticed the bilge pump had worked quite a few times over the past couple of days. As we’d hit the bottom ‘many’ times, and sometimes with a loud crunch, since being on the shallow HNC, we wondered if we’d got a problem of the leaky kind!
John opened up the engine ‘hole’ for an inspection, and yes…. we’ve got a plip plip of water going on, coming from the stern gland!
Basically, ‘we’re sinking’!
The automatic bilge pump is looking like it’s going to be our ‘saviour’!
First thing this morning, being Monday, John phoned Aspley Wharf Marina, situated ahead of us on the canal, for help. John told them we wouldn’t be with them till later this week as we’re booked to pass through the tunnel on Wednesday, and then we’ve 41 (I think) locks to get through, before we reach the marina. Alan, the manager of the Marina was extremely helpful and said he’d be ready and waiting for us. Depending on Cyan’s type of system, she might need to be taken out of the water to repair her.
Today we’re staying put! It’s been raining quite hard since 5 a.m. this morning. I can imagine the canal, and HNC authorities are loudly taking a sigh of relief. From Cyan’s window we can see a small weir. Yesterday the water level was about 2 inches below the top of the weir, at the moment of writing, the water’s trickling nicely over it.
We’re moored right next to a winding hole, and our ‘neighbours’ are a family of geese, and they are fascinating to watch!
We’ve got the fire lit, good WiFi, and TV reception – we’re happy!